The Work: Private View

CREATIVE - Steve Henry, creative director, United London

When you have been in the business as long as I have (and pretty soon I'll be old enough to do a start-up), you feel like you have seen it all before.

But, unlike Sir Alan "I'm Alan Sugar and I don't like surprises" Sugar, I do like being surprised.

PlayStation (3) is surprising ... ish. Even at x30 on my personal video recorder, it stands out enough to demand attention and repays repeat viewing.

But the idea of a young bloke travelling very slowly and an old biddy going like the clappers is a somewhat familiar gag - first done by Benny Hill, I believe, many years ago.

I'm a fan of old Benny Hill gags, as long as you're careful of the PC aspect. I'm thinking particularly about Benny's propensity for jokes about huge, balloon-like breasts. Such things are beneath us these days. Well, on a good day they are, anyway.

The Observer (5) is another striking ad. It reminds me (in a positive way) of American Beauty and plastic bags. And I am sure it will provoke discussion about a brilliant product innovation.

Murphy's (1) Fast Flow also has a product story which is genuinely motivating - a fast pour. I remember a very brave Guinness client in Ireland trying to do away with the double pour because it deterred drinkers in busy clubs.

It probably doesn't matter that I have seen the "let's do it as a rough" idea in a lot of spec books. What matters is that the product message is communicated quickly, clearly and wittily.

And I love the way it challenges the "good things come to those who wait" Guinness strategy. I knew if I waited around long enough, somebody would.

Metropolitan Police (2) anti-knife crime. In order to make knife crime seem un-cool, they have made a demo of a gritty new computer game in which people fight with knives. Huh?

I remember, years ago, a government anti-heroin campaign in which the wasted models and the line ("Heroin screws you up") ended up being the chic-est posters of the year. The images adorned thousands of children's bedrooms and meant that hundreds of dealers had to apologise for the late delivery of the brown sugar.

It is brilliant that the people charged with putting this important message across have come up with something other than conventional advertising.

But their strategy worries me - in fact, it scares me almost as much as the thought of bumping into some guy in a hoody who's just been watching their demo.

John West (4). OK, I haven't seen a man casting his rod off a railway bridge before (although there was an incident near Chorley Wood that involved a fisherman and his flies, but the less said about that the better). This is witty and fresh and I wish it was a TV campaign, even with the PVR revolution killing television ads left, right and Charles Kennedy.

AOL (6). I have seen this before because I have done it before. The First Direct launch used deliberate polarisation of opinion, and it also worked very well for Marmite. Does this matter? Maybe not, when the ads are as beautifully written and compellingly shot as these are. I love them.

It's interesting when you consider that until quite recently the AOL vehicle was Connie, one of the worst ad campaigns of all time.

A woman who wore her heart on her sleeve and her strategy - well, everywhere else, really.

So, some great work and some good work. The difference is that great work always has something wrong with it. It takes risks. Good work has nothing wrong with it and sails through research and then doesn't do as well as everybody hoped. Great work gets talked about, it gets watched even when PVR technology should, in theory, kill all TV ads. But great work has to break the right rules. In my opinion, AOL does; the new Honda ad definitely does; the Met work I'm not sure about.

AGENCY HEAD - Alison Hoad, vice-chairman, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

So, after years of reading Private View, I am delighted finally to write one. But I have a dilemma: my wonderful grandfather always said that if you didn't have a good word to say about something, then you shouldn't say anything. I'm following his advice as my New Year's resolution, so this review could prove tricky ...

First up, a lovely little Murphy's (1) campaign - as a Private View virgin, when I first saw this I thought "Blimey! Campaign sends you scamps instead of finished print work", but the moment soon passed as I realised the point and charm of these ads was indeed their rapidly drawn nature. Simple, clever, and a good counterpoint to the long-overdue return of Guinness' "good things ..." campaign.

John West (4) elegantly resolves the issue of how to entice people to buy canned fruit from a brand that hitherto has been synonymous with oily fish. Instead of running from its fish heritage (I don't know about you, but the merest whiff of fish oil near my apple slices and it would be man overboard), it has embraced it, building on the idea of freshness it captured so beautifully with the man-wrestling bear stuff a few years back - it feels mellow and warm and made me smile.

So far, so good, Grandpops.

The Metropolitan Police (2) anti-knife campaign is a poignant and innovative response to a horribly difficult task. A compellingly simple truth sits at the heart of it - that "it's not a game" - and packaging this idea as a console game called Knife City was a brilliant piece of thinking. But, for all its cleverness, I was left wondering if it would actually connect and get a child out there to rethink putting that knife in their jacket. I hope it does.

I was intrigued when watching TV at home when I saw a piece of paper dancing beautifully to an enigmatic track against a breaking dawn, but was left somewhat deflated by this ad for The Observer (5) when it ended bluntly with: "Change your Sunday." I see this spot is titled "wind of change" and I can't help thinking that might have been incorporated to make a more uplifting and eloquent finish.

Looking at PlayStation (3), I am feeling less resolute. I like its quirky look but, that said, it is a classic case of "whoops! Your strategy's showing". In fact, it's positively screaming. Sony may well want to extend PlayStation's appeal, but it had better let those of us who are not in its gang know why it is relevant rather than simply asserting that it is.

AOL (6) is to be my undoing. Yes, it is brave; yes, it is reaching for the high ground, trying to inject emotion into a very transactional category.

But, boy, did it miss the mark for me. The very notion of AOL taking the stance of a conviction brand is as ludicrous as it is hollow - let's not forget, it stands for America On Line. Who is it to associate itself, however loosely, with the plight of tsunami victims and the horror of babies traded over the net? The subject of the internet also feels a bit yesteryear. I think we are past the "is it a good thing or bad thing" stage; it is here to stay, just like mobile phones and the lottery. Last, I am not sure what AOL gets out of this "discussion" - what am I meant to do as a result of seeing it? I knew it was big in all things internet-related before and I still do, but I am further away than ever from switching to it because instead of emotionally engaging me, I am afraid it has done the complete opposite.

Oh well, that's my New Year's resolution well and truly busted. Still, I take some cheer in the knowledge that I have outlasted the 25 per cent of people who gave up after week one. That, and the fact I can now head out for a nice fat cream-cake.

1. MURPHY'S Project: Pint, dot-to-dot, pub Client: Jon Sampson, marketing manager, InBev UK Brief: Raise awareness of Murphy's Fast Flow Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Writer: Nick Kidney Art director: Kevin Stark Typographer: Chris Chapman Exposure: National press 2. METROPOLITAN POLICE Project: Knife City Clients: Luke Knight, campaign manager, Metropolitan Police Service, Directorate of Public Affairs Brief: Discourage London youths from carrying knives Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy Writers: Adam Chappie, Gavin Torrance Art directors: Matthew Saunby, Danny Hunt Director: Ben Dawkins Production company: Love Exposure: Youth events, computer games titles 3. PLAYSTATION Project: Pace of life Client: Sony PlayStation Brief: Demonstrate that PS2 offers a range of entertainment Agency: TBWA\London Writers: Danny Brooke-Taylor, Tony McTear, Clive Pickering Art directors: Danny Brooke-Taylor, Tony McTear, Clive Pickering Director: Nick Gordon Production company: Academy Exposure: International TV 4. JOHN WEST Project: John West fruit Client: Jane Hilton, marketing director, John West Brief: Raise awareness of John West's tinned fruit Agency: Leo Burnett Writer: Steve Wakelam Art director: Steve Wakelam Photographer: James Pursell Exposure: 48-sheet posters, magazines 5. THE OBSERVER Project: Wind of change Client: Marc Sands, marketing director, The Observer Brief: Announce the launch of the Berliner-sized paper Agency: Mother Writer: Mother Art director: Mother Director: Rupert Saunders Production company: MJZ Exposure: TV, cinema 6. AOL Project: Discuss: good Client: Timothy Ryan, director of brand marketing, AOL Brief: Help AOL take the leadership stance in the market Agency: Grey London Writers/art directors: David Alberts, Nick Rowland, Lee Brook, Paul Belford, Nigel Roberts, Nicola Hawes, Andy Forrest, Mark Cakebread Director: Errol Morris Production company: Moxie Pictures Exposure: TV, cinema, print, online