You don't want to be reading this. You want to be reading that Ian-fucking-Nucci. The man himself. The creator of On the Hour and The Day Today. People like me do funny for laughs, with him it's a way of life. He had a big hand in Alan Partridge; I had an exploratory finger in the Green Cross Man. We're not comparing like with like here. And why is Campaign bussing-in celebrity reviewers? Because a precious few of our creative elite refuse to get their hands dirty with the business of gutting and filleting work for the edification of others. The "too posh to mosh" brigade is letting professional funny-men in through advertising's back door. Don't look for the witty erudition of Henry or the purifying fire of Morris on this page anymore, next week it's Ant 'n' Dec.
Speaking of Private View no-shows, Bartle Bogle Hegarty has spun a visual confection around the underwhelming fact that the new Audi A6 (4) has more patents than Nasa's early attempts at unmanned space flight. To be fair, the creative team seem similarly unimpressed with this nugget as they've thrown the kitchen sink, island unit and walk-in refrigerator at it. There is some middle-period Levi's imagery here, some Soviet cartoonski graphics, some sturm and a lot of drang but in the end all this eye-candy can't disguise the emptiness of the proposition. More worrying for Audi must be how close their brand "body language" is becoming to BMW.
At the opposite end of the production budget spectrum sits a fat greasy sausage from Mattessons (1). Such is the paucity of funds available for this table-top effort that the team has had to persuade a passing street person to put down his tin of Tennants' Super and do the voiceover. "Yoonoseyoowantityoobastard," he purrs in a rich Scottish burr and, giddy cow that I am, I think I do.
Mercedes (5) is using expandable banners (oooooh) to demonstrate that its new 4x4 combines the offroad power required to invade Poland with an onboard stability that permits the odd game of Jenga. Hyperbolic or hype 'n' bollocks? You decide.
Speaking of bollocks, regular reader(s) of this column will know that I am a student of the Stallone School of Creativity and it is with some regret that I have to report a rare and painful case of an agency "cupping the shaft and working the balls". It's not the first time that Virgin Mobile (6) has been dazzled by its own celebrity, and here Pamela Anderson and an amusing sketch about Mexican wrestling gradually overwhelm a valiant product story. Apparently you can get free live TV on your Virgin mobile but you may have to rewind the commercial a few times to appreciate that.
The Cobra (2) commercial seems to come from a time when Spacehoppers and platform shoes stalked the Earth and I fear it may have been done by people who have been "trafficked". I really can't think of anything constructive or amusing to say about it, so I'll pass.
It's only recently that I've discovered the difference between Trinny and Susannah. Susannah looks like an English scrum-half from the 70s who's been surprised on all fours, wearing a frock. Blonde, impossibly brave, but ultimately, slightly uncomfortable in that position. Trinny, on the other hand, has a kind of upper-crust muckiness that could "tent" a pair of cavalry twills at 20 yards. That eyes-lowered look to camera says she fully intends to suck out your very soul and, if you're very lucky, use your dick as a straw. These Trinny & Susannah Undress posters look rather more five than ITV1 (3), but I suppose that's the point.
How was Ian Nucci? Was he really good? Shit.
COMEDIAN - Armando Iannucci, comedian
Oh no, cars! I know nothing about cars. The only question I ask the dealer is, how good's the CD player? I care not a whit about them and Campaign's given me two car ads to talk about.
Actually, the one for the Audi A6 (4) is mostly about outer space, which I like. I have a big telescope at home and my wife paid some dodgy American company to get a star named after me in the constellation of Hercules. So I watched it with interest. The idea was neat, that in developing the Audi A6, more patents were filed than all of Nasa to date, and the execution was stylish, if a little dark. But I did wonder why, with all of space exploration to play with, so much time was taken up with horses waking up at night and running around a field. I was grateful I wasn't bombarded with information about engine sizes and adjustable exhaust widths, but left uncertain what it was about the car they were trying to tell me other than it has lots of new bits in it. Or maybe that's enough, if you're into cars.
The online campaign for the Mercedes (5) GL class was much more conventional (shots of car exterior whooshing stylishly through mud, shots of interior gliding smoothly enough to happily house a goldfish bowl without spillage). But showing the two sets of footage simultaneously was a simple, yet ingenious, way of exploiting the interactivity of online and made what, to me, could have been quite dull, interesting.
Oh no, clothes! I know nothing about clothes. I'm less fashionable than Bulgaria. And yet Campaign's given me some Trinny and Susannah posters to review. Ah, but hang-on, it's not about clothes. It's for their new ITV1 (3) show in which they look at relationships. That's why they're pictured covering up the rude bits of naked couples. I've been averting my gaze from these posters for weeks now. I can't tell what's more repulsive, the naked couple or the smirks on Trinny and Susannah's faces as they put their hands in front of other people's genitals. Nudity is the complete opposite of what Trinny and Susannah do, so it was brave to emphasise it in the print campaign. But it stresses all the more what a barking mad idea the programme is "we've taken T and S away from the one thing they do well," it says memorably.
Best of the bunch was a forensic examination of the Mattessons (1) smoked pork sausage. Bismarck said that there are two things you must not know how they're made: laws and sausages. This ad dwells quite close-up on the sausage and could put you off them for life were it not handled with just the right amount of send-up. The grunting voiceover does the trick, oozing in all the right places, but bordering on menace. The final "U want it!" gives the game away; we're not meant to take this seriously and so, ironically, we do.
Why do things have to be so big? I'm talking about Pamela Anderson. She sits by a pool in the Virgin Mobile (6) commercial, while someone at the other end of the phone tries to persuade her to be the girl who holds up the number of the rounds in a seedy boxing arena. If the lead actress wasn't so well known, you'd understand why this was happening, but with someone like Pamela Anderson, the proposition's preposterous. Did the client say: "Just get me Pamela Anderson?"
I think the Cobra (2) ad was meant to be funny. A guy, knowing there's only one Cobra left, diverts two other guys to other forms of excellence. I imagine the script was funny, and then things got a bit arty. And the lead has one of those smirky faces that looks good in a style mag, but when it moves in real life it makes you want to hit it in the eye with a pork sausage.
Client: Toby Langdon, strategic marketing director, Mattessons
Brief: Promote Mattessons' smoked pork sausage
Agency: Quiet Storm
Writer: Cat Campbell
Art director: Jo Wallace
Directors: Cat Campbell, Jo Wallace
Production company: Quiet Storm Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: The last one
Client: Simon Edwards, marketing director, Cobra Beer
Brief: Establish Cobra Beer as a credible alternative in the premium
Agency: Joshua G2
Writer: Steve Heath
Art director: Christian Clark
Director: Danny and Ezra
Production company: Serious Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Trinny & Susannah Undress
Client: Anna Bateson, brand controller, comedy and entertainment, ITV1
Brief: Promote ITV1's new show where Trinny and Susannah strip couples
of their clothes and associated baggage
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writers/art directors: Luke Boggins, Dan McCormack
Photographer: Uli Weber
Exposure: National posters
Project: Satellite, patents
Clients: Chris Hawken, brand communications manager; Ellie Lawford,
communications manager, Audi A6
Brief: Promote the Audi A6
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers: Dave Masterman, Ed Edwards
Art directors: Dave Masterman, Ed Edwards
Director: Johnny Green
Production company: Knucklehead
Exposure: National TV
Project: Mercedes-Benz GL Class launch
Client: Richard Payne, communications manager, passenger car marketing,
Brief: Establish the new biggest Mercedes-Benz 4x4 as the "best in
class" both in terms of the interior and engine
Agency: Agency Republic
Writer: Ben Harris
Art director: Jim Stump
6. VIRGIN MOBILE
Project: Pammy wrestling
Client: Virgin Mobile
Brief: Announce that for the first time ever, mobile users can get
real-time TV on their mobile
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writers/art directors: David Gamble, Simon Labbett
Director: Paul Hunter
Production company: HSI
Exposure: National TV