Cadbury Dairy Milk (1) first. When you've done drumming gorillas and dancing eyebrows, surely the world is your oyster. In this spot, we see how every bar of Dairy Milk is made. A bowl of chocolate and a bowl of milk are drawn upwards as if on a potter's wheel by a mad professor/DJ/conductor. The grand finale: the chocolate tower mixes with the milk tower. Et voila.
Oh, there's milk in it is there? You've told us this before and managed to entertain us with something brilliant. Please do it again.
A brilliant agency and a brilliant brand should feel more confident.
I see dead people in the St John Ambulance (2) work. But they would have been alive if the people around them had more knowledge of first aid. As a parent, the reality of being unable to help a child in trouble is terrifying. I just wish the deathly portraits were less art directed and more brutal. I think they could have hit harder. And how do I get involved? Where can I sign up to a course? This is the info the reader needs to act and change the fortunes of everyone involved. I hope the info wasn't left off because art direction may have been compromised. It's rare in our jobs that lives are at stake - but here they really are.
The people at MasterCard (6) have gone mad. One customer, Neville, has bought his shopping with his MasterCard and, to thank him, Bonnie Tyler is floating in the air singing a song - thanking him for his efforts. I'm sure it'll be a love/hate success, but I love the effort. It's advertising with a smile on its face and for all fans of small dogs operating miniature cars - there's something there for you.
The Green Party (3) must be over the moon. Its Icelandic volcano PR stunt kept planes out of the sky for more than a week. Job done. And to carry on the good work, it's made a very charming piece of animation using the main party colours - red, blue and yellow. Then introduced its own. Green. It makes the point that the party's not all about "green" issues. Pensions, employment, debt. It has policies for them all, apparently. But they do all seem to have a giant green thread running through them. Policy aside, it's cute and because Brown, Cameron and Clegg's faces don't appear at all, you don't want to punch your laptop screen.
Just as the whole world moves into the world of 3D, ITV (5) gets round to sorting out its HD offering. And who better to introduce it than the Peter Pan disease sufferers Ant & Dec? As they walk and talk in that relaxed Geordie manner, in their little Geordie jackets, lots of "HD-esque" visual treats happen around them. I'm an Ant & Dec fan and their performance is great. Just a little too late to screen, I think - the BBC did its Antiques Roadshow in HD spot yonks ago.
Last up is an ad for Maryland (4) cookies. I'm a fan of these too, as my hips will testify. In the ad, a mum at a school parents' evening can't help herself but tuck into the cookie that talks to her. The "temptation" strategy is as old as the hills. Especially in the biscuit/snack world. Any work built on a tired strategy can't help but feel tired. Someone should have spotted this. It may still shift cookies but it won't change the category.
DIRECTOR - Johnny Hardstaff, director, RSA (director of 'darkroom', one of Philips' 'parallel lines' series of films)
Call me "devil may care" but unlike the rest of Western Europe, I'm going to resist the temptation to compare Cadbury Dairy Milk (1) "the charmer" with previous Cadbury ads. This commercial is best judged within the increasingly woeful TV landscape it will awkwardly sit amid (a vista of DFS and Moonpig) like a veritable millionaire among swine. I find it to be a joyous, delightful, distinctive experience that entertains and commands attention, interestingly placing "chocolate" tangibly at its core. This ad has been crafted with passion, care and creativity. If all commercials were half as playful, then I would be glued to the television.
Sadly, they're not. Maryland (4) "temptation" uses the well-worn device of food literally tempting consumers. This is a purposefully dated approach to a dated product, but the combination of a great voiceover and the mother's performance strangely pleased me every time I watched it. Clearly, I'm a slave to mirth.
Confused, dull, lifeless - no, not Ant & Dec, but rather ITV1 HD (5) "the brighter side just got brighter". It has long been my opinion that, much like illegal minicab drivers and amateur doctors, some of us should require a licence to practice our art. This film in particular provides a compelling argument for tighter regulation or, at the very least, an entrance exam. It is more than a little baffling that a channel launch spot featuring the nation's two most beloved and far from disagreeable TV stars should result in an experience akin to someone with breathtaking halitosis yawning openly in your face.
If Channel 4's Time Team would struggle to find the entertainment (or message) in this, then Ray Mears would struggle to survive its humour. Taking a cue from the master of bush craft, I attempted to watch the ITV1 HD ad a second time while sewn inside a deceased yak. Still I could hear it. If you subscribe to the theory that all scripts can be made good (and I do), how has this calamitous ad achieved the opposite so comprehensively?
Fortunately, St John Ambulance (2) is on hand with some wonderfully tender photography from Nadav Kander. Expertly commissioned, these beautifully lit stills are sensitively combined with copy, effectively making life-saving skills a personal responsibility. The images are perfectly poised between sleep and the grave, the graphic sensibility and simplicity of the finished compositions in particular worthy of applause for their innate communication of life and death. Bravo, Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
I am ill-placed to offer a critique of MasterCard (6) "World MasterCard" owing to a personal loathing for all things Bonnie Tyler. Given that one would have to be over 35 to remember Tyler in the first place, I imagine that those younger are also going to be rather perplexed by the significance of her reappearance (not to mention her appearance), while the over-35s will understand for perhaps the first time the emotional landfill that lurks somewhere beyond irony. Somewhat brilliantly, this ad does a not unimpressive job of suggesting that Tyler has sold out, the vast irony of which would need its own handling facility somewhere remote and unpopulated.
Lastly (no pun intended), the Green Party (3) election campaign. Disconcertingly, it transpires that I am its target audience. I genuinely want to like this. I like the Green Party. I may not vote for it, but I like it. I still like it, but I will no more likely vote for it having watched this. Party election broadcasts are tricky to get right (who does get them right?) and this is a fair attempt made into an uphill struggle by invoking the primary-coloured visual language of pre-school to address an audience exclusively over 18. I feel that I can be forgiven for failing to digitally "create a bespoke personal video that I can send to my friends highlighting the party's stance" because, had I done so, my friends would not be nearly so forgiving.
1. CADBURY DAIRY MILK
Project: The charmer
Client: Margaret Jobling, director of marketing, Cadbury Dairy Milk
Writers: Nils-Petter Lovgren, Dan Watts
Art directors: Nils-Petter Lovgren, Filip Tyden
Director: Henrik Hallgren
Production company: Rogue
2. ST JOHN AMBULANCE
Project: The difference
Client: Scott Jacobson, director of marketing, communications and
fundraising, St John Ambulance
Brief: Create brand awareness for St John Ambulance
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers: Will Bingham, Alex Grieve
Art directors: Victoria Daltry, Adrian Rossi
Exposure: National press and poster, iTunes for app
3. GREEN PARTY
Project: Green Party election campaign
Client: Tracey Dighton-Brown, external communications co-ordinator,
Agency: Glue London
Writer: James Leigh
Art director: Darren Giles
Production company: Rokkit
Exposure: Online, outdoor
Project: Maryland cookies
Client: Jaspal Chada, marketing director, Burton's Foods
Brief: Communicate new recipe including golden syrup
Agency: Adam & Eve
Writers/art directors: Matt Woolner, Steve Wioland
Director: Simon Willows
Production company: Blink
Project: ITV1 HD channel launch
Client: Rob Farmer, director of viewer marketing, ITV
Brief: Launch ITV1 in high definition and reinforce the brighter side
Agency: ITV Creative
Creative team: Chaka Sobhani, Oscar Cariss
Director: Dave Meyers
Production companies: Radical Media, ITV Creative
Project: World MasterCard
Clients: Rita Broe, vice-president, head of marketing, UK & Ireland and
head of brand, Europe; Ben Rhodes, vice-president, marketing UK &
Brief: Launch World MasterCard
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writer: Matt Crabtree
Art director: Simon Hepton
Director: Neil Gorringe
Production company: Moxie Pictures