So far, the new year at Nitro has brought me landlords, company acquisition lawyers, architects, space planners, prospective European account directors ... you get the drift. Which got me thinking what a great job just writing ads is.Get a pad/laptop, sit opposite a mate,have a laugh.
Best job in the world, other than kicking a ball around. Until some berk spoils your day by criticising an ad you did last year in Private View.
"Elton takes David up the aisle," The Sun's headline screamed. Very similar headlines (in fact, one exactly the same) feature in the campaign for Pinkspeeddating.com (5). Now, I imagine readers of The Sun find this sort of humour funny (I did), but I can't help but think the gay community, who are the target audience for these ads, would question this Frankie Howerd approach. I do confess, though, one of the funniest ads I have ever seen was for the Amsterdam Gay Olympics, where one athlete wouldn't let go of another at the relay handover, and that was written by a gay guy ... so maybe I'm just, well, a little confused.
First Choice (4) conjures an image in my head of a Pedigree Chum ad with thousands of dogs running over a hillside. This time, though, it's children running down to the beach because First Choice admirably teaches 5,000 children a year to swim. It's very simple and, although not a work of creative genius, it gets its point across.
Audi (6) "spider" continues the animal analogies on from the "bull" execution, which I loved - particularly the brilliant sound design. As you'd expect, the production values in "spider" are also excellent.
I can't help but think, though, that Audi has become a bit "dark" recently.
Contrast this with Honda, which seems to have found a whole new tonality as far as car advertising is concerned and has therefore taken the higher ground. Something I'm sure will not have gone unnoticed by Audi's agency - genuinely the best in the world right now.
Super Noodles (2) gets the eating shot out of the way in the opening scene, with five pots being eaten simultaneously. The surfers are there because they are young and attractive, which contrasts with the music, which is Since You've Been Gone by Richie Blackmore's Rainbow (1979) - post-modern ironic (hopefully). Add the singing forks idea and it resembles a pot of Super Noodles tipped on the floor: a bit of a mess, unfortunately.
You always know someone isn't mad when they tell you they are. I felt this with the first execution in the Thomson Local (3) campaign, which seemed a little incomprehensible until an explanatory voiceover was added.
This "I'm bonkers, me" attitude is also present in the new TV spot. A Halle Berry-type in a blue cat suit (the modern, new Thomson cat branding) chases a man dressed as a dog through a wood and shoots him with a paintball gun. Out of this, we get you can use Thomson Local for paintballing places or dry cleaners.
I have to admit, I prefer the more populist James Nesbitt "haircut" ad for Yellow Pages, which sort of does the same thing, slightly less "madly".
For delightful genuine lunacy, there's a new Egg (1) recipe.Take some guinea pigs (because guinea pigs test things), add an Eastern European mad-professor voiceover, some weirdy music and you end up with original, amusing and memorable. It also manages to get the product points across.
One slight quibble: I prefer the non-speaking guinea pigs to the Phil Daniels-type cabbie version, but at least we're in fresh, different territory, which isn't a bad place to be in a new year.
DM CREATIVE - Steve Aldridge, creative partner, Partners Andrews Aldridge
Welcome to Steve Aldridge's Christmas TV burp. I have decided to repeat my Christmas viewing experience and invite friends and family round to watch this week's Private View with me.
Lunch is over, the TV is on and the Audi (6) ad plays - again. I find it fascinating and compelling. Everyone else screams. "Turn it off," Grandma cries. "That spider - it's horrible," my sister says. It splits the room.
Surely the sign of a great ad? It's a very clever metaphor that rises above car-ad cliche. It's macho and stylish and makes you think if you get one you'll be the Predator. Or, at least, that's what me and my brother-in-law think.
I was always told not to play with my food. Watching the Super Noodles (2) ad, I understand why. "It's not funny and it's not clever," is my mum's opinion on the subject. Well, it certainly doesn't make food look enticing. Dancing forks with noodle heads on them jiving to Rainbow's Since You've Been Gone (great song). Sadly, it makes me remember the noodles but not want to eat them. Super Noodles come a poor second to Pot Noodle, and so does the advertising.
Suddenly, the screen is full of guinea pigs and everyone is mesmerised.
Personally, I thought these Egg (1) ads were a case of style over substance.
The "tested on guinea pigs" doesn't seem like a big enough idea. But everyone else loves it. The character guinea pigs are brilliantly detailed and cleverly pastiched, with some great observation. It's really well shot and works because it's a simple twist on a situation everyone can relate to. There's a buzz of enthusiasm in the living room.
From pigs to dogs and the Thomson Local (3) blue cat - or, rather, people dressed up as both, playing a game of paintball. The good news is the cat gets the dog, with a twist at the end that brings in a relevant demonstration of the listings. The dog suit is hit by paintballs and he needs a dry cleaners. I think the creative team did a great job with a very limited brand idea. All they have to work with is a person in a blue cat suit! But what do the family think? I look around the room and see everyone has dozed off.
I wake them up for the next one and it goes down well. As holiday ads go, the First Choice (4) spot offers something different and refreshing. The ad dramatises what must be one of the first lines out of the brief: that First Choice taught 5,000 children to swim last summer.
This is a very sharp, well-crafted ad, which, from the smiles on the faces around me, identifies well with its audience. I assume if you have children you are prepared to be on a beach with 4,998 others.
So the TV is finally turned off and everyone leaves. I realise that I forgot to share the Pinkspeeddating.com (5) ads, which, judging by the lines, is probably just as well. These ads feel like cheap gags written by straight men. It doesn't help that one headline is a close copy of The Sun's headline: "Elton takes David up the aisle." The Sun is not noted for its love of the gay community. The work just doesn't seem to tap into any real insight and as a result feels hollow, almost like a spec campaign.
Ah well. It wouldn't have felt like Christmas revisited without a proper turkey.
1. EGG Project: The experiment begins, using the card Client: Mark Pearson, brand director, Egg Brief: Launch the new Egg Money card Agency: Mother Writer: Mother Art director: Mother Director: Ne-o Production company: Stink Exposure: National TV 2. SUPER NOODLES Project: Surfvan Client: Rachael Munby, marketing manager, Batchelors Brief: Demonstrate the fun of eating noodles Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners Writer: James Hodge Art director: Richard Fox Director: Guy Manwaring Production company: Therapy Exposure: National TV 3. THOMSON LOCAL Project: Localplus Client: Kendall Gordon, marketing director, Thomson Directories Brief: Emphasise the variety of services available in Thomson Directories Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy Writer: Jeremy Carr Art director: Jeremy Carr Director: Andy Lambert Production company: Blink Exposure: National TV 4. FIRST CHOICE Project: Sea rush Client: Andy Laurillard, business improvement manager, First Choice Brief: Give people reasons to believe First Choice is different by expressing extraordinary things it does for its customers Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay Writer: Richard Harris Art director: Jamie Starbuck Director: Medhi Norowzian Production company: Joy @ RSA Exposure: National TV 5. PINKSPEEDDATING.COM Project: Relaunch of Pinkspeeddating.com Client: Martin Stead, founder, Pink Brief: Bring Pinkspeeddating.com out of the closet Agency: Leo Burnett Writers: Tony Malcolm, Guy Moore, Caroline Oliver Art directors: Tony Malcolm, Guy Moore, Sarah Clift Photographer: Tif Hunter Exposure: London 48-sheets 6. AUDI Project: Spider Client: Nigel Brotherton, head of marketing, Audi Brief: Launch the Audi RS4 Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Writers: Claudia Southgate, Verity Fenner Art directors: Claudia Southgate, Verity Fenner Director: Lynn Fox Production company: Blink Exposure: National TV, cinema