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Specially trained rodents, interactivity and Big Brother's Alex are used to promote the traditional virtues of charity and cleanliness in this month's selection of ads.

Rats have been making the headlines lately, thanks to the roaring success of the somewhat horrific Lake Design and Encam's Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

The film depicts a woman being attacked by hundreds of rats who jump on her bed while she sleeps. The 30-second cinema ad's shock tactics have proved so effective that litter and rats have become the focus of pub conversations not just in the UK, but globally.

Worldwide coverage has been particularly impressive with the campaign hitting TV and radio news in France, Spain, South Africa, Germany, Russia and the USA.

Encams director, Sue Nelson, said: "What we are asking is: 'How close do you want them to get before you change your dirty habits and use a bin?'"

Keep Britain Tidy blames litter for helping to breed an estimated 60 million rats in England. To push the point, the production team used 100 specially trained rats for the ad.

Elsewhere this month, we find more hard-hitting tactics, this time in the service of charity. And the two-minute spot for the homelessness charity, the Depaul Trust, has got everyone talking about interactivity again.

The ad follows the story of Paul, a teenager from a troubled family. As his fortunes dwindle, viewers can decide his fate by clicking on various choices: for example, should he report his bullying father to the police or go to London?

Whatever choice the viewer makes, the unfortunate Paul ends up on the street every time.

The ad was launched on Video On Demand Kind of Advertising, VODKA. This broadband video-on-demand technology allows viewers to make their narrative choice by using their remote control. Viewers can also press any button at the end of the ad to enter a microsite via which they can donate money. Donations are added to the viewer's monthly bill in the same way as a pay-per-view film.

Until recently, use of interactive television has been limited to mechanisms such as ordering a pizza, playing a game, or perhaps viewing a recipe during a related commercial.

Critics claim that viewers are too lazy for interactive advertising to work, and just want to sit back and be entertained. Indeed, most of the press coverage of the ad focused on whether viewers can be bothered to interact with ads at all. The fact that a charity should pour money into these still uncharted waters was, quite frankly, a pioneering move and news in itself.

"We were trying to normalise homelessness," said Joanna Perry, co writer of the ad with art director Damon Troth. "People think that the homeless are a breed apart, but it can happen to anyone."

Finally, and on a more frivolous note, a well-known face talking about a cleaning product is always bound to get buckets full of press coverage. And that was precisely the intention behind Domestos' latest campaign featuring Big Brother's Alex Sibley.

The ads aim to get a younger audience interested in Domestos by turning its old-fashioned image into a hip and relevant brand. Recent press coverage has been devoted to rumours about how Alex had lost the chance to feature in Brylcreem's advertising. Somewhat ironically, Brylcreem now pictures Alex as appealing to older women, thanks to his ad contract with Domestos.

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