Red Letter Days is an interesting concept - the idea being to give someone a trip in a hot-air balloon as opposed to, say, a toaster. Which is a great idea, assuming you don't suffer from vertigo and your toaster works properly (apparently, in this context, I heard that Tony Scott gets his kicks from free-fall parachuting and scuba-diving - while Ridley Scott remarked that he achieved the same results with a bottle of wine. I must admit that I fall into the Ridley school).
The ad shows Santa's helpers (who seem to be in every second ad I see) telling me that I can give someone a trip in a hot-air balloon, as opposed to a toaster. There are some nice touches, but the thinking is a bit straight-line.
The Emirates ad is also well directed. It's stunning, in fact. Even the end shot of a boy running up to an airport window has been beautifully executed. But what's the thinking? The argument "Do something for the first time" is hardly an irresistible argument, is it? Do it ... because you haven't yet done it. On that basis, I should be spending this weekend cottaging in Sheffield, with a female friend dressed as a panda. But I don't think I will be (because, actually, I did it last month and I can tell you - it's over-rated).
The Debenhams ad has great music but looks like a less interesting version of a striking ad it ran last year. Now, I may have got this wrong, but surely year-two ads should give the idea that the company in question is going from strength to strength. Doing cheaper versions of your previous year's advertising doesn't really meet that criterion. In fact, the overriding impression is just that you've cut your marketing budget.
The O2 campaign tells me that it offers a picture messaging service on its mobile phone system. Now, is this news? Hold the front page - bear shit discovered in woods. I mean, who doesn't offer a picture messaging service on their mobile phone system? These days, you can get a picture messaging service on your dry-cleaning bill.
Waitrose's print work has beautiful production values; impeccable art direction and extremely evocative photography. It's an unfashionable campaign among some trendy London creatives, but I'm a big fan. Again, I just feel that the thinking could have been a bit more ambitious.
Waitrose cares about quality. Red Letter Days presents are more interesting than toasters. Debenhams has some Christmas stock in for Christmas. People who haven't flown with Emirates will find flying with it a new experience.
O2 offers a picture messaging service. The sum of human knowledge has not been greatly added to (really interesting strategies tend to offer an opinion, which people can agree or disagree with, rather than simply stating the obvious).
But I did like the Daz ad, which is based on a promotional link-up with Burger King. I loved the cliched shot of the woman holding up the stained shirt - because in this case, the shirt is stained as a result of using Daz (and then going to Burger King). And the endline is inspired: "Only Daz makes a meal out of washing up." The spoof 50s-style ad isn't particularly original, but with touches like that, there's obviously a great relationship between client and agency. It's brave, witty and it deserves to work a treat.
Mind you, there's one thing that you need to know about that lot at Leo Burnett. They're ugly bastards.
Project: Christmas brand campaign
Client: Alison Jones, head of marketing
Brief: Position Debenhams as the one-stop solution for Christmas gift
shopping for all the family
Writer: Jude Healy
Art director: Dave Kelly
Director: Joe Roman
Production company: Rose Hackney Barber
Exposure: National TV
Client: Amanda Bindon, head of marketing
Brief: Unlike others, Waitrose defines value as the relationship between
quality and price
Agency: Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB
Writer: Chris O'Shea
Art director: Ken Hoggins
Typographer: Martin Crockatt
Exposure: Weekend supplements and magazines
Project: "Keep discovering"
Client: Steve Wheeler, general manager, advertising
Brief: Encourage trial of the brand among business travellers
Agency: St Luke's
Writer: Roderick Fenske
Art director: Steve McKenzie
Director: Rob Sanders
Production company: HLA
Exposure: National TV
Project: Daz Burger King consumer promotion
Client: Jo Cooke, brand manager
Brief: Communicate the fact that Daz is so confident about its cleaning
and whiteness benefit that it is partnering with Burger King to offer a
free children's meal with every pack
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writer: Nick Bell
Art director: Nick Bell
Director: Jeff Stark
Production company: Stark Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Media messaging
Client: Will Harris, vice-president, marketing
Brief: Position media messaging as young, fun and something for the
Agency: Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest
Writer: John McLaughlin
Art director: Mark Orbine
Photographers: Tara Moore, Gary Simpson, Paul Quinn, Roy Mehta, Ness
Sherry, Danny Burn Forti
Exposure: National posters and magazines
RED LETTER DAYS
Project: Red Letter Days
Client: Gwen Miller, marketing manager
Brief: Red Letter Days is a better gift this Christmas (than the usual
rubbish you get)
Art director: Mother
Director: Michael Patrick Jann
Production company: Independent
Exposure: Selected national TV regions