I'm not going to lie to you. December is a bad month for Private Viewing.
When I looked at this lot, I felt like a Christmas vicar trying to rustle up a tombola stall with a couple of jars of mustard and some lemon curd.
You want hope, try skipping to the eager voice of youth below. You want an old curmudgeon, stick around.
The best ad here is for Transport for London (1). Eleven people a month are sexually assaulted by unlicensed mini cab drivers in the capital.
The commercial suggests that unless we are more careful about how our friends get home, we are potentially aiding rape. It's provocative and uncomfortable, which might enable it to penetrate the drunken haze when you're propping up a friend on Shaftesbury Avenue one night.
The Gordon's Gin (3) ad is well done but slightly baffling. In a painting-by- numbers world, the numbers start peeling off things to form a huge swarm which ends up landing in a glass. The voiceover tells us "it's what goes into Gordon's that gives it its colourful flavour". Hmm. According to what we've just seen, a G&T now tastes of sausages and chimneystacks, which is not how I recall it.
In the Tigra (4) commercial a woman drives around with an unpleasant bloke who sniffs and stares at her breasts. I think we're meant to think he's a driving instructor. But then it seems they're on a date. Look, I'll be frank.
I'm not sure what's going on. At least you know where you are with Spirito di Punto.
We're now deep into the bran tub. I'm digging but all I'm feeling is bran. Or possibly tub, in the case of the idents for First Choice (5) which intersperse I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!. What couldn't you do if your brand was linked to the tabloid sensation of the season? With a bit of luck, this.
Next, a piece of direct mail that tells us: "You can sell almost anything with Loot (2)." It opens up into alliteration land: "From tents to tubas, from property to pets". Right.
And wearily we conclude with some workaday online work for Energy Saving Trust (6) that links us to a dull-looking website. I had a browse and to be fair it did correct one famous advertising claim. Apparently they recently changed some street lighting in Scotland from orange to white and crime dropped noticeably. They're going to do more of it.
So we only had it half right. The future will indeed be bright, but it bloody well won't be orange.
CREATIVES: Johanna de Mornay Davies and Iskra Tsaneva, creative work placement team, WCRS
Payback time! One hundred and seventy-four crits later, we get to give one. We've noticed with most teams, there's a good cop and a bad cop.
The bad cop is usually the main speaker, tells you how shit you are; the good cop tries to ease the pain by smiling, twitching or commenting on how difficult it was in their days of job searching because they couldn't afford to brainstorm in Starbucks and had to go to Burger King. So, let's open the book.
The first ad is for Gordon's Gin (3). Good Cop: Beautifully art directed and fun to watch, good soundtrack. Paint by numbers is a clever way of saying colour without actually showing it. Bad Cop: The "clear yet colourful" link with the product was a disappointment. Colours and numbers ... hmm ... can't help but think of E numbers.
On to Energy Saving Trust (6). Good Cop: This campaign uses nice, simple graphics to illustrate good energy saving facts. The most eye-catching was the spinning washing machine emerging from the web page. Bad Cop: It's quiet and gets lost on the page (except for that annoying washing machine). There are more powerful ways of communicating such a strong message.
With Loot (2) "you can buy almost anything". Bad Cop: So why are we only offered mundane items like pets and property? Where can I find, let's say, a Toby pint jug or an elephant's toenail? That's the beauty and bizarreness of the Bargainest Goldmine Ever! Good Cop: Well, what can I say, it's bright and colourful.
I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! idents for First Choice (5). Good Cop: They do the job and the ones without dialogue are actually not too bad. When in doubt always use animals! Bad Cop: If you've seen one, you've seen them all. They bear a striking similarity to the creature comforts Heat Electric ads.
It took five takes to understand Vauxhall Tigra (4). Bad Cop and Bad Cop: So it's a driving test. He's testing her, no she's testing him, they're testing the car, oh it's a date. The man fails. Why? Because of his itchy nose? As female cops we're completely repelled by this obnoxious woman and definitely wouldn't associate ourselves with her or the car.
Our friends at Transport for London (1), however, have done really well.
Good Cop: A clever ad to make women aware of fake taxi drivers. A nice twist on convention, the idea being that if you let your friend take a dodgy cab, you are an accomplice to rape. Shot honestly and down to earth, favourite bit-the expression on the girl's face in slow motion. Bad Cop (frustrated): It'll never run!
Good Cop, Bad Cop: Merry Christmas!
1. TRANSPORT FOR LONDON
Project: "Safer travel at night"
Brief: Reduce the number of sexual assaults committed by unlicensed taxi
Writer: Clive Pickering
Art director: Neil Dawson
Director: Antonia Bird
Production company: Blink
Exposure: London regional television
Project: Loot relaunch
Client: Jo Earl, marketing director, Loot
Brief: Support the Loot relaunch activity and articulate the new
offering, driving advertising sales
Agency: Liquid Communications
Writer: Jamie Fleming
Art director: Steve Bewick
Exposure: 95,000 mailing
3. GORDON'S GIN
Client: Mark Sandys, marketing manager, Gordon's Gin
Brief: Demonstrate that Gordon's is a clear drink with a colourful
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers: Dave Monk, Matt Weller
Art directors: Dave Monk, Matt Weller
Director: John Robertson
Production company: Passion Pictures
Exposure: National TV
Project: New Vauxhall Tigra
Client: Peter Hope, Vauxhall
Brief: Launch the new Vauxhall Tigra
Writer: Simon Brotherson
Art director: Steve Paskin
Director: Ulf Johansson
Production company: Smith & Jones
5. FIRST CHOICE
Project: I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! sponsorship
Client: Sam Turnbull, marketing director, First Choice
Brief: Make First Choice famous by building the audience's emotional
engagement with the brand through the use of sponsorship idents around
ITV's I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!
Agency: Phoenix Writer: Paul Garner
Art director: Sarah Burrell
Director: John Offord
Production company: The Lab
Exposure: National TV
6. ENERGY SAVING TRUST
Project: "Look for the logo"
Client: Jasper Bell, new-media manager, Energy Saving Trust
Brief: Increase public awareness of energy efficiency in domestic
Agency: Dare Digital
Art director: Emily Gardiner