It's my birthday today, so what pressies has Campaign sent me?
The Flash (1) print work is a bit like getting an iPod and two hundred quid from your Nan. A lovely surprise and the idea that you can enjoy the freshness of the outdoors while avoiding its inherent dangers is a good one.
I was equally chuffed when I unwrapped the Honda (2) direct mail piece.
It charms you into filling out a customer satisfaction questionnaire with a nicely written letter and a free copy of Honda's very own Book of Dreams. The tone and feel of the whole pack is as inspirational and forward-thinking as the current TV spots.
Volkswagen Golf GTi (5) is a bit like that favoured uncle you can normally rely on for a half-decent gift, and it doesn't disappoint here. Gene Kelly's famous Singing in the Rain has been overhauled to have him body-popping through the shallows like a traffic man at the agency Christmas party.
It's a simple, well-executed idea. The thank-you card is in the post.
I'm thinking this is going to be a bumper year when I see that next up is a nicely wrapped offering from Mercedes-Benz (6). However, beneath the gloss, it's a fairly mundane tale of a man who feels restricted physically and mentally at work, but finds room to think in his new Mercedes. No matter how hard I try to force a smile and yell, "It's just what I've always wanted", I'm afraid the whole thing leaves me feeling rather depressed and disappointed.
According to the brilliant new online campaign from the Department of Health (4), depression and disappointment are two very likely side-effects of taking ecstasy. What I like about this campaign is that it doesn't wag its finger or talk down to young people. It presents them with the information they need in a way that means they're actually likely to listen to and benefit from the advice. My particular favourites were the Brucie-style Wheel of Ecstasy and the fairground ecstasy grabber. They both bring to life very simply the Russian Roulette game of chance that today's pill-poppers are involved in. The website that was still under construction because the designer was stoned also made its point effortlessly.
Delving deep into my goodie bag, I discover the final offering is a TV spot for Johnny Vaughan's Capital Radio (3) Breakfast Show. It's yet another sing-along effort from the boys at Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners.
All I can say is, I hope they kept the receipt.
CREATIVE - Steve Aldridge, creative partner, Partners Andrews Aldridge
So, RIP Hunter S Thompson. In honour of the great man, let's take a road trip to the country, with the radio playing and a boot full of drugs.
We've got three cars to choose from, a Honda, a Volkswagen and a Mercedes.
Personally, I'd take the Merc, but if I let the advertising influence me then it's the Volkswagen Golf GTi (5). The new Golf GTi ad is beautiful, elegant and entertaining. I could watch it again and again. Updating Gene Kelly's classic routine into break-dancing is a breathtakingly simple idea, stunningly executed. A worthy modern addition to the great VW advertising tradition.
It succeeds exactly where the Mercedes-Benz (6) A-Class spot fails. A tired old strategy can only result in creative work with a familiar feel, which the flashy film visuals fail to rescue. Definitely a triumph of style over content, as even when we see the car, I still feel trapped and boxed in.
Not an issue with the Honda (2) pack. Welcome packs are at the thin end of creative opportunity, as there are only so many ways you can say welcome.
However, this pack draws heavily on the "power of dreams" brand advertising and delivers it in an entertaining package. You could say it lacks a strong central idea, but it's got lovely design and is still a good example of how to say welcome in a nice way.
And so to the country, with Flash (1). I feel for the creative team whose experience of the country can't have been pleasant, judging from lines such as "farmer with shot gun", "poisonous mushrooms" and "wasps' nest".
Maybe they're agoraphobics. Or maybe it's a touch contrived. Either way, I'm confused.
Switching to Capital Radio (3), Johnny Vaughan performs a rewritten version of Dancing in the Street. It's easy to dismiss an ad like this, but I like it for all the reasons some might say I should hate it. It's populist entertainment that puts a smile on your face. Okay, it's slightly cheesy, but it's put together with charm and wit. In a perverse way, I can't stop watching it. Maybe it's the drugs or, more particularly, the Department of Health (4) anti-drugs online work. A difficult task at the best of times, persuading drug users to mend their ways, but for me this work lacks real emotional depth. To be fair, the brief seems to be about getting facts and information over in an engaging way, but sometimes it just feels flippant. My favourite is the Wheel of Ecstasy, which you can play and play. By comparison, some of the other executions seem lazy. And I can't imagine any of them would have stopped Hunter S from opening that boot.
Project: Flash Naturals
Client: Nathan Homer, brand manager, Procter & Gamble
Brief: Drive awareness of the new Naturals all-purpose cleaner range
Agency: Grey London
Writer: Ben Stilitz
Art director: Colin Booth
Photographer: Pete Seaward
Exposure: National women's weeklies and monthlies
Project: Welcome pack
Client: Emma Morgan, customer dialogue manager, Honda
Brief: Explain the Honda philosophy that has spawned Power of Dreams
Agency: Hicklin Slade & Partners
Writers: Julie Batsford-White, Malcolm Caldwell
Art directors: Lyndsay Jones, Adam Haywood
Photographer: Alun Crockford
Illustrators: David Semple, Fitz Hammond, Vault 49, Assett Graphics
Exposure: Mail to new Honda buyers
3. CAPITAL RADIO
Project: Waking up the street
Client: Carl Lyons, marketing director, Capital Radio
Brief: Extend and build on the success of last year's campaign by
bringing to life Johnny as entertainer
Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Writer: Malcolm Green
Art director: Gary Betts
Director: Katie Bell
Production company: Rose Hackney Barber
Exposure: National TV, cinema
4. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Project: Frank anti-drugs campaign
Clients: Lucy Keefe, publicity manager, Home Office; Chris Neish, senior
campaign manager, Department of Health
Brief: Increase awareness of Frank, as well as encourage young people to
find out more about drugs via talktofrank.com
Writer: Chris Baylis
Art director: Paul Beacham
5. VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI
Project: Singing in the rain
Client: Catherine Woolfe, marketing communications manager, Volkswagen
Brief: Launch the new VW Golf GTi, positioning it as the original GTi,
Agency: DDB London
Writers: Steve Jones, Martin Loraine
Art directors: Steve Jones, Martin Loraine
Production company: Stink
Exposure: National TV
Project: Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Client: Nick Ratcliffe, marketing director, Mercedes Car Group
Brief: Launch the new A-Class by taking space to an emotional level
Agency: Campbell Doyle Dye
Writer: Dave Sullivan
Art director: Tom Ewart
Director: Frank Budgen
Production company: Gorgeous
Exposure: National TV