I have a confession to make. There was a time, in my youth, when I was so selfish that I used to wear ribbed condoms inside-out. "Thanks for the shag mister," the young ladies would say. "The pleasure's all mine," would be my smug rejoinder. Recall of this shameful secret was triggered by the new campaign for Durex Pleasuremax (1). This work confirms the widespread male conviction that girls value nothing more highly than a damn good seeing-to. A well-rogered woman will, according to these ads, award you 115 times more "brownie points" than if you'd just settled for a bunch of fresh flowers. The "brownie points" idea is a perfectly serviceable wheeze, although it does put me in mind of Ali G's dismissal of homosexuality as "brown love". The problem for Durex, especially in light of thrusting newcomers such as Trojan, is that it's just not a sexy brand, and it should be.
This year, Woolworths (2) and Boots (3), those twin pillars of the British high-street establishment, both walked out on their long-suffering wives and ran off to creative love nests in Soho and Hoxton respectively. Is it time for these institutions to crawl home with their retailers between their legs? Woolworths pretty much invented the all-star Christmas panto only to be gazumped by M&S. Now their ads are stuffed with a couple of puppets called Woollie and Worth. It's cheaper, it's more childish, but is it any more cheerful? I can't really comment on the Boots campaign because I'm one of that small band of people still waiting for Harry Hill to do or say something remotely amusing. At least these spots are refreshingly free of the sugar-coating that used to cover the chemist's previous seasonal offerings.
I really enjoyed the new Toshiba (4) campaign when it was run by Sky last year. Seeing little old ladies quote lines from the likes of Dirty Harry reminded me that this much-maligned broadcaster had an unrivalled selection of top-flight movies on offer. Could Toshiba and its agency not think of a single compelling thing to say about all this big, shiny, sexy, widescreen, hard disk-drive technology?
David Dickinson is the latest celeb to consult Auntea in the Tetley Tea (5) series. David was chosen presumably because he bathes in the stuff. I worry for this kind of gentle 2CK dialogue piece, however nicely observed.
I fear the National Attention Span is now considerably less than 30 seconds.
Lastly, Selfridges (6), my favourite shop, has mailed me a charming fold-out children's theatre. It's a shame that its Christmas spirit does not extend to the niggardly special offers contained therein. I mean, "spend over £50 on Wedgwood and get a free ceramic postcard." Cuff me to a radiator someone before I do something rash!
CLIENT - Chris White, managing director, Nestle Rowntree
No-one was more surprised than me to be asked to contribute to Campaign's Private View. I mean, as some of you might have read, what do I know about advertising? What I do know is that the press in this country loves printing bad news, just as much as the British public loves reading about it. However, it does mean that good news just doesn't get the same attention. Hence you may not know that Kit Kat sales are up 18 per cent on last year, or that the launch of our low-carb products has more than doubled the size of the low-carb market in the UK. (A shameless plug, I know, but as it's good news, it'll probably be edited out of this review anyway.)
Now, on to the job at hand.
I think Campaign gave me the Woolworths (2) ads to review on purpose. As a Kiwi, how could I not like an ad that has a sheep and a sheepdog as presenters? The great use of humour makes these retail spots really work. I can see this campaign having an impact on sales in the run-up to Christmas.
I thought the creative execution on the Boots (3) Christmas campaign got in the way of the message. With only 20 seconds available, the "Three gifts for two" message was diluted by the time needed to establish the "doctor" storyline. You will either love or hate the doctor. I hated him.
When you want people to spend thousands of pounds on a Toshiba (4) television, you'd better communicate features, advantages and benefits. These ads don't do that and leave me asking the question: Why is it better to buy Toshiba? I don't know. Nor do the ads.
Next, it's the ads for Durex Pleasuremax (1). These can't be posters. If they are they will be invisible to anyone more than a foot away. Clever copy, but I gave up sex when I turned 40.
I have to admit, when I watched the Tetley (5) ad I didn't know who David Dickinson was. But after a bit of research, I decided these ads were actually quite clever. Good understanding of the target market, strong focus on product advantages and clear offer message. However, why send me this advertisement to review when I think everyone should be drinking Nescafe?
The Selfridges (6) direct mail looked expensive, but who would read it? Too much information for the 30-second attention span that most people have towards direct mail. But a nice piece to remind you they exist. You probably wouldn't bin it immediately.
Project: Durex Pleasuremax "brownie points"
Client: Catherine Gort, senior brand manager, Durex UK
Brief: Launch Durex Pleasuremax condoms
Agency: McCann Erickson Manchester
Writer: Neil Lancaster
Art director: Dave Price
Exposure: Men's and women's magazines, national press, Underground
Client: Mark Trinder, head of marketing communications, Woolworths
Brief: Showcase the offers at Woolworths at Christmas
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Adi Birkinshaw
Art director: Paul Yull
Director: Steve Cope
Production company: BBC Broadcast
Exposure: National TV
Project: Boots Christmas campaign
Client: Ian Hunter, director of marketing, Boots
Art director: Mother
Director: Kevin Thomas
Production company: Thomas Thomas Films
Exposure: National TV and cinema
Project: "Home cinema"
Client: Stephen Beresford, senior manager, marketing communications,
Writer: Ruan Milborrow
Art director: Ruan Milborrow
Photographer: David Stuart
Typographer: Kevin Shaw
Exposure: National press
Project: "Positively Tetley"
Client: Andrew Dobson, marketing manager, Tetley
Brief: Support Tetley's 100 per cent extra free promotion
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Writer: Jeremy Carr
Art director: Jeremy Carr
Director: Armando Iannucci
Production company: Moon
Exposure: National TV
Project: "Christmas stories"
Client: Laurence Cant, direct marketing manager, Selfridges & Co
Brief: Take the magic of Selfridges' Christmas stories theme into the
homes of its most valuable cardholders and incentivise them to visit the
Agency: Claydon Heeley Jones Mason
Writer: Kristian Wheater
Art director: David Morgan
Exposure: High-value customers on cardholder database