What a cruel and heartless beast optimism is. She fills you with hope and expectation, then dashes your heart against the rocks.
I know England had been woeful from the start, but somehow I had fooled myself into believing that this time things might just work out.
It is clear Sven Goran Eriksson thinks he craps out of his elbow, but what the heck, I hoped maybe, just maybe, the boys would click. Perhaps a miracle would occur and, overnight, David Beckham would develop Aaron Lennon-like pace, Big Frank Lampard would readjust his sights and Theo Walcott would miraculously garner a couple of years' Premier League experience and turn out to be a football player rather than a PR exercise.
Alas, optimism only gets you so far and the same old story was played out. I even found myself able to cope with the gut-wrenching failure somewhat better this time. We are obviously becoming more battle-hardened.
The new Orange (5) commercial makes me feel optimistic again. It is an idea that could be written in a single sentence (always a good sign): "After everyone else has gone to bed, a bicycle is free to take itself on a magical, free-wheelin' ride." The voiceover explains that it is nice to be free and that is why Orange is offering its customers free broadband. The idea is bang-on and leaves enough room for the director to tell the tale with oodles of charm.
Next up is the first work by Big Trev's bunch for Carling Extra Cold (1). The premise here is that all the horrors of the world - pestilence, plague, codpieces - have been brought about by warm beer. The line that sums this up is: "Warm beer, so much to answer for." I have been sent various media that launch the campaign. The fences, T-shirts and free newspaper are excellent. To be fair, the viral has been done on a shoestring, using mostly stock footage, and just about holds its own. Make no mistake, though, this is a good idea and I cannot wait to see some bigger-budget TV spots for it.
Nissan (2) has decided to make the BBC presenter Saba Douglas-Hamilton the star of its new Pathfinder commercial. Somewhat bizarrely, the agency has then shot the ad so you never see her face. In fact, the only reason I know she is there at all is because I read so in Campaign a fortnight ago. We follow the back of her head on a journey to a Namibian diamond mine. At the end of the spot, we are told to log on at a website to see more adventures. Sadly, the ad itself was not adventurous enough to make me want to do so.
At RKCR/Y&R, we are very proud of "your M&S" and the effect it has had on the client's business. The folks at M&C Saatchi must have noticed too and hoped some of the magic would rub off when they launched their "your TfL" campaign for Transport for London (4). I am afraid the ads seem old-fashioned and leave me somewhat cold. The best of the three is the garage execution but, as a campaign, they do not hang together.
The new Jacob's Creek (6) idea for its website is: "Welcome to our place." A nice thought. Alas, the banner didn't appear when I opened the link and the website was very slow.
And, finally, to Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners' latest effort for Halifax (3). Does the agency deliberately wait until I am doing Private View before launching these? It certainly feels that way. I have made my feelings on this campaign quite clear in the past and to repeat them would just be rude.
So, there we are.
Orange, in particular, got the old juices going and I can feel a touch of optimism returning. After all, we have got the European Championships in 2008. John Terry will lead from the back. Wayne Rooney will be in his prime. Oh yeah, and Steve McLaren will be the manager. Bugger. TEACHER - Tony Cullingham, programme leader, Watford copywriting/art direction course, West Herts College
I am miserable. It happens every year at this time.
All my lambs have left to gambol in the green pastures of advertising. Instantly, the course has gone from a buzzing hive of human energy to eerie silence. Last week, I was immersed in fizzing conversation and ideas that made my brain ache. This week, I am on my knees, scraping the chewing gum off the carpet and wondering what to do with the mould spores in my tea cup. I hope Campaign has sent me something to cheer me up. Just one great idea to confirm that my students have indeed gone to a better place.
First out of the bag, a new Transport for London (4) cycle campaign. What's this? Ken's telling me: "You're better off by bike." Of course I am. He keeps raising the bloomin' fares and sticking controlled parking zones in my front garden. Tricky visuals and platitudinous headlines such as "London. Made for cycling" and "summer's here" are not going to persuade us to pedal. Tell us about the new cycle lanes, how cycling is safer, quicker, more convenient ... this info should be up on the streets, not buried on the website. A lost opportunity to write punchy posters and convince Londoners there is real action on the cycling front.
Oh my word, Halifax (3) has raided the bank of cliches. The affable Howard introduces a quintet of suited muppets who jump about and sing bad rap amid cheesy, pseudo Matrix-style special effects. Cluttered, dated and deeply patronising for its audience. The poor old benefit, 50 times more interest rate, is suffocated. I would rather see 50 Howards demonstrate the point.
Nissan (2) Pathfinder. A posh-sounding lady drives across the shores of Namibia, up the sand dunes, to detonate a valley in search of diamonds. Why doesn't she go to Harvey Nicks? It is meant to be a "real adventure". With no conflict or drama, it feels more like a Sunday drive to your nan's. Land Rover has claimed the high ground. And the swamps. And the sand dunes. Volvo did nutter v nature with "twister"; Nissan needs a new attitude, a fresh philosophy or a good old-fashioned point of difference. Not an amalgam of used car-ad parts.
Whoopee ... at last, a simple idea that expresses the benefit clearly - Orange (5) and free broadband. Even an idiot like me understands it. A bicycle, free for the night, cruises down the road for a spin around the local car-park. A neat visual metaphor that resonates with the same emotional spirit as the Sony Bravia work. I would like to have seen a more adventurous visual narrative. If my bike were "free to enjoy" itself, it would probably swig a few pints of WD40 before burning rubber with next door's Raleigh Chopper.
My students have been writing global warming gags for a decade. And they always leave me cold. The work that is, not the students. The Carling Extra Cold (1) viral features real footage of natural disasters and people running for their lives. Cut to a bloke in the rubble shouting: "Damn you, warm beer!" The claim that global warming is attributable to warm beer is a hard premise to swallow. Dawn French once said: "If it's bad taste, it isn't funny. If it's funny, it isn't bad taste." This is the former.
Finally, the Jacob's Creek (6) digital work. I'm genuinely amazed at the creative ideas and techniques on the digital side of the business. A banner ad teases me nicely into a tour of the vineyards. It is a polished, assured and informative site that will enhance the brand's communication portfolio. Some of the graphics made me dizzy and bleary-eyed, which seems strangely appropriate. A virtual journey as smooth as a fine Shiraz.
There is a good chance that some of this work has been done by my ex-alumni. Give me a bell, tell me what fun you are having in the real world. That will cheer me up. Roll on September.
1. CARLING EXTRA COLD
Project: Warm beer. So much to answer for
Client: Andy Cray, brand director, Carling
Brief: Express Carling Extra Cold's intolerance of warm beer
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Writers: Pat Burns, Gavin McGrath
Art directors: Pat Burns, Gavin McGrath
Director: Phil Traill
Production company: Rogue Films
Exposure: Internet, music festivals
Client: Justin Ellias, marketing director, Nissan
Brief: Create a through-the-line campaign showcasing the 4x4 range as
thrilling and adventurous
Writer: Alasdair Graham
Art director: Frazer Jellyman
Director: James Bryce
Production company: RSA Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: New stars
Client: Steve Griffiths, head of marketing, Halifax Bank of Scotland
Brief: Launch the bank's new high-interest current account
Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Writer: Martin Cox
Art director: Richard Lovell
Production company: Joy @ RSA
Exposure: National TV
4. TRANSPORT FOR LONDON
Project: You're better off by bike
Client: Nigel Hanlon, group marcomms manager, Transport for London
Brief: Promote cycling in the summer
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writers: Tiger Savage, Joe Miller
Art directors: Tiger Savage, Joe Miller
Photographers: Isabelle Bonjean ("flower bike"), Jonathan Kitchen
Exposure: London posters
Project: The ride
Client: Pippa Dunn, brand marketing director, Orange
Brief: Launch the offer of free broadband for all Orange pay monthly
Writer: Micah Walker
Art director: Micah Walker
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production company: Blink
Exposure: National TV
6. JACOB'S CREEK
Project: Welcome to our place
Client: Pat Venning, head of marketing, wines, Pernod Ricard
Brief: Come and experience Jacob's Creek
Art director: Emily Gardiner
Designers: Dan Vaughan, David Boleas
Producer: Phil Wright