HP Sauce (3). We open on a guy having breakfast with his girlfriend. "I'm sorry, Susan, I just can't do this any more," he says, as he sneers at a fancy French croissant.
To the tune of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, he leaves his girlfriend and his petit dejeuner and buggers off to the transport cafe. There, he tucks into a full, greasy English breakfast, accompanied by HP Sauce and the line: "HP. Proper British." I have no issue with the positioning, which I think is very valid for HP. I find the execution a little cliched.
118 118 (1). The David Bedford-style 118 118 boys star in a commercial that parodies that popular TV series The A-Team - 70s irony layered upon 70s irony. It is an agreeably funny follow-on commercial in a great campaign. And sometimes that is all that is required. I don't know the telephone number of any other directory enquiries service, but I certainly know the number 118 118. A tribute to the power of great advertising.
Renault (4). Without much explanation, this direct mailpack from Renault contains a yellow waterproof cape. I find this confusing. Is it trying to tell me that if I buy a Renault, I'll need a yellow waterproof cape because it is likely to break down in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night?
Volkswagen (2) Jetta. A classic VW ad. Which is good. Because recently, VW's German agency has been writing the ads. And this has led to some rather humourless stuff appearing on our screens. My only gripe with this Jetta ad is that I'm beginning to find the VW advertising formula a teensy bit twee. Lines such as "not nearly as expensive as it looks" feel as though they may have been written by Alan Bennett in the early 80s. They lack the contemporary edge that all car brands, with the possible exception of Morgan, need. Perhaps that's why VW gave the Germans the brief in the first place.
Marie Curie Cancer Care (5). I'm not a big fan of these press ads. Surely, for the ads to make proper sense, the headline on the plaque should read: "Joan Parkes, skin cancer patient, 'died' here." Not "lived" here. But, to be honest, I don't think that would make the ads much better. The device of the blue plaque and the over-long, over-clever copywriting suggest to me that these ads have been written by the head, not the heart. And that the head is more interested in winning awards than articulating the very noble ambitions of Marie Curie.
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (6). This is one of my favourite brands.
The sheer audacity of the name - it's brilliant. And I love these Ozzy Osbourne ads. They are funny. They are cool. I wish I had made them. That having been said, the scripts don't make sense. The action is unclear. And the metaphor of Ozzy and an Ozzy impersonator, Jon Culshaw, is bewildering. I guess most of the above is down to the advertising censors. By the time they had finished cutting the nuts off this highly competitive idea for this highly competitive brand, you could drive a bus through its logic. Shame.
I remember when I Can't Believe It's Not Butter launched in 1991. What was so brilliant was that it did not use TV. Instead, it launched I Can't Believe It's Not Butter with a massive press campaign. The press ads explained that the reason they were not launching on TV was because the censors would not let them tell the truth about how good I Can't Believe It's Not Butter was. The effect was impactful, persuasive, mischievous. It catapulted the brand to fame.
The cost of TV advertising has gone up since 1991. The impact of TV advertising has gone down. However much Ozzy entertains, I would be tempted to explore that media strategy again.
STUDENT - Emily O'Hear, first-year history student, University of York
Before I begin, I'm sorry in advance for any hang-over-induced rambling or tactless remarks I may make in the process of this. You see, it is the first time I have managed to struggle out of bed at this unsociable hour in weeks. I mean, it is not even midday yet.
First up is I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (6). This ad seemed to have a lot more to do with Ozzy Osbourne than butter (sorry, an impersonation of butter ... so hard to tell the difference). So much so, that the creators of this ad have cloned Ozzy for extra impact. I'm sure the manufacturers down at the Unilever factory have been successful in recreating that lovely buttery taste, but the fact that Osbourne had difficulty telling the difference between a kitchen sponge and a crumpet does not exactly go to show he has the most suitable taste buds for the job.
Next, Volkswagen (2) Jetta. It made me want one. Then again, the E-reg VW Golf parked on the drive at home is not exactly in its prime anymore; a bit green, a bit mouldy, so any shiny new car would appeal to me at the moment. The male driver was not too bad either. Yet, somehow, as a student with all the usual debt in tow, I doubt I represent the target market for such a car. For me, the VW Jetta really is as expensive as it looks. This said, the ad is perfectly uncomplicated and to-the-point in a charmingly droll way.
Right, the 118 118 (1) ad. The choir of fashionably challenged yet vocally talented geriatrics did not do anything to dissuade me from humming the A-Team theme tune for at least a full 24 hours after watching this one. The catwalk-worthy, scrawny superheroes, clad in satin shorts and limp tank-tops, make quite an impression too.
So, if a phone call to the operators at 118 118 is as action-packed and entertaining as this ad, count me in.
OK, on to Renault (4). As alluring as parading around in swathes of branded yellow plastic mac may be to the Renault design team, to any remotely fashion-conscious student, the attraction is somewhat less. Scrounger I may be, blind I am not. But there is no doubting the Renault pack is attention-grabbing; the alarming yellow packaging is impossible to ignore.
Despite all its sunny promise and the mac freebie, the contents of the pack is unfortunately fairly dull: a mass of pretty dense and frankly uninviting car stuff and a violent yellow waste of a lot of very non-biodegradable material. Do Renault's marketing team expect us to wear the lovely mac when we test drive their cars? I'm slightly confused about the relevance of it, to be honest. Do Renaults have a habit of leaking?
The Marie Curie Cancer Care (5) posters: I genuinely want to like the advertising campaigns of worthy organisations. Like is perhaps the wrong word: I want them to hold power and impact. The Marie Curie campaign certainly does. It is tasteful, if a bit wordy, holding a dignified potency of message.
Documenting real examples of the importance of allowing terminally ill people to die with autonomy and dignity, the Marie Curie campaign is expertly handled.
Finally, I can move on to the HP Sauce (3) ad: I love HP. I do not need convincing of the importance of that glorious brown sauce's presence in any self-respecting bacon sandwich, or any other food, for that matter.
But it seems some of the organic-crazed GI diet foodies do and the HP ad makes a valiant and funny stab at it. Whether its slightly laddish tone will make any impact on the highbrow (too good for HP) crowd is debatable, but it certainly confirmed my feelings that HP really is the best of British in a sauce.
1. 118 118 Project: The 118 118 team Client: Alex Lewis, marketing director, The Number 118 118 Brief: Show that, whatever you need, getting it sorted right now is as easy as dialling 118 118 Agency: WCRS Writer: David Cornmell Art director: Jane Briers Director: Jim Hosking Production company: Partizan Exposure: National TV 2. VOLKSWAGEN Project: Ripped off Client: Heidi Cartledge, communications manager, large cars, Volkswagen Brief: Launch the new VW Jetta Agency: DDB London Writer: Simon Veksner Art director: Nick Allsop Director: Steve Hudson Production company: Outsider Exposure: National TV 3. HP SAUCE Project: Susan Client: Graham White, marketing director, HP Foods Brief: Demonstrate HP's unique role of perspective on modern Britain Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay Writers: Jamie Starbuck, Richard Harris Art directors: Jamie Starbuck, Richard Harris Director: Mat Kirkby Production company: RSA Films Exposure: National TV 4. RENAULT Project: Winter test drive campaign Client: Joanne Webber, internet and marketing manager, Renault Brief: Generate test drives in Q1, launch the new Clio five-door, launch the new Megane range and highlight three special-edition MPVs Agency: Publicis Dialog Writer: Robert Steeles Art director: Andrew Pogson Photographer: John Lawrence Jones Exposure: 300,000 mailpacks 5. MARIE CURIE CANCER CARE Project: Brand campaign Client: Chris Dainty, director of public relations and marketing, Marie Curie Cancer Care Brief: Raise awareness of the fact that Marie Curie Cancer Care gives terminal cancer patients the choice to die at home Agency: MBA Writer: Simon Davenport Art director: Martin Pierson Photographer: Morgan Silk Exposure: National posters, press 6. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT BUTTER Project: Rock cakes, blind taste test Client: Noam Buchalter, brand manager, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Brief: Reclaim best buttery taste for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Agency: Mother Writer: Mother Art director: Mother Director: Daniel Kleinman Production company: Kleinman Productions Exposure: National TV