January's been a month of surprises. First the chimp turns up, then Unilever comes knocking and now this - someone wants my opinion on a bunch of ads. How hard can that be?
Right, kettle on, crayons out. It's got to be money for old rope, hasn't it?
Err ... spoke too soon, didn't I? The first DVD's gone in and it's HSBC (1) showing me two Chinese sleeping with a dog. I think someone's been on the magic markers here (and you'd think a bloke who lives with a talking puppet would have seen everything) because I don't really get what this has to do with my savings account - and believe me, I've had to get one since those lovely people at PG Tips started shovelling cash through the letterbox.
And the madness doesn't stop there. In the next one, three young women get in a lift, they all drink Diet Coke (6), then some thin bloke with a grin comes down from the roof. I seem to remember a bunch of women drinking Diet Coke and watching a builder getting his kit off, but that was years ago. I suppose this means they don't change, do they, the people who make Diet Coke ads? And anyway, women like fat and funny, I hope.
I'll keep going, there must be something in here that makes sense. Here's an ad for the Royal Navy (3): these two minicab drivers are having a drink ... only they're not two minicab drivers, they're two Royal Navy helicopter pilots. (Getting a headache now.) What kind of a tip would you have to give a helicopter driver? And will they let you smoke if you open the window? Still, looks more exciting than being a minicab driver.
Ooh ... I'm on the internet for the next one for HP (5). This bloke makes a cup of tea, then jumps around an office a lot without spilling a drop. I'm not sure I understand this eith ... hang on, is that Kiki Kendrick?
The next lot of ads for Stannah (4) are going to worry the chimp. He was away when poor old Dame Thora took her final trip up the stairs and I haven't found the strength to tell him - he loved her. The ads must work though, I got one for me mum and she lives in a bungalow.
I've saved the best for last. Carlsberg (2) wallcharts featuring types of sea fish, birds and country animals. Only they're not sea fish, birds and country animals, they're pictures of pies, fried fish and sausages. Spot on: or to put it another way, an excellent re-appropriation of recent broadsheet giveaways exemplifying the ingenuity of a through-the-line, integrated, benefit-centric, category-disrupting, future-proofed, subliminal viral communication maximised through 360-degree paradigm realigning, holistic, one-to-one, discreet-channel interruption-neutrality oft favoured by the socio-demographically, physco-attitudinal-segmented media-savvy, brand communication companies. This work is bound to penetrate people's selective perception and engage its audience immediately. Essential in our post-interruptive, one OTS world.
Funny thing happened to me the other day. I'm in The Ivy having lunch with some industry friends, when over walks old Marty Sorrell. "I hear you're doing Private View next week," says he. "Go easy on any WPP work or you and the rest of those muppets in Shoreditch are toast."
I'd had a couple of glasses so I stood before him and bent to whisper in his ear. "Listen Sorrell, do you think I'd be stupid enough to slag off anyone's work? I've had one sponsor go tits up on me, if anything happens to 'da Tips', I'm going to need these people."
So, here I am, kissing the hand that feeds.
Who's first? A commercial for the Royal Navy (3) in which two gents, a comedy duo if you will, provoke the question "Why do a boring job when you could be a helicopter pilot?" Indeed. Where do I sign up? (Funny thing about comedy duos - if the smart one's so smart, what's he doing with the stupid one? Err, forget that.)
Diet Coke (6) next, and a commercial where three sexy women share a Diet Coke and a fantasy that a workman will drop through the ceiling of a lift just in time for them to get out. Congratulations to all concerned. (Dear, dear client.) No, wait ... they've done away with the tortoise. Crisis. I hope this isn't the start of a trend.
(Rustling sound FX while my little woolly hands unfold a series of wall charts for Carlsberg (2).) It was always going to happen ... the fake wallchart gag. I've a feeling the Fat One is going to go for these, big time. Can't blame him: wonderful, wonderful stuff.
HSBC (1) is back with another interesting factoid about other people in other parts of the world. It's a chance to listen, watch and learn. What a shame they didn't use this as an opportunity to sell us a bank. Still, animals in advertising and all that ... marvellous, marvellous.
Had to get the laptop out for the HP (5) "communication". Bingo, it's all about making a cup of tea. Doesn't say which kind of tea ... probably a flavoursome, thiamine-packed PG Tips. It's the pyramid teabag ... Anyhow, one of those Parisian building-jumping types goes to great lengths to make a cuppa while avoiding a cartoon office vamp. The thinking viewer puts two and two together and extracts the portability offered by an HP laptop. There's no way Al is going to get this, but then there's little chance of him getting a laptop. Top marks HP.
And so to Stannah (4) stairlifts. The brand that launched darling Dame Thora Hird and took her ... well, to the top. You knew where you were with Thora in the big seat, but now someone's seen fit to give the lifts a boost. Out goes gorgeous, lovely, cuddly Thora because "stairlifts aren't what they used to be", they've been Turbo- charged for the 21st century. Now, they're sleek, sexy, ilifts.
Look, forget the rotten lifts, I've spotted a worrying trend for anyone making their living fronting an ad campaign. If Stannah can just dump the Dame and Coca-Cola can have a tortoise whacked, what chance is there for the rest of us? My God, you people are ruthless.
Didn't really mean that. Love you, love your work.
(By the way, if you ever see me chatting with Martin Sorrell in The Ivy, stop drinking.)
Project: Family member
Client: Andrea Newman, head of brand communications, HSBC
Brief: Inspired by the yourpointofview.com websites, HSBC explores
different points of view from around the world on pets
Writer: Lawrence Quinn
Art director: Mark Norcutt
Production company: Partizan
Exposure: Global, terrestrial and in-flight TV
Client: Chris Lewis, marketing controller, Carlsberg UK
Brief: Show beer drinkers what "the world according to Carlsberg" would
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Writer: Dave Henderson
Art director: Richard Denney
Illustrator: Steve Sara
Typographer: Scott Silvey
Exposure: Inserts in The Spectator
3. ROYAL NAVY
Project: Royal Navy recruitment campaign
Client: Directorate of Naval Recruiting
Brief: Show the breadth and opportunity within the Royal Navy
Writers: Yan Elliott, Billy Faithfull, Joseph Corcoran
Art directors: Luke Williamson, Ross Neil, Rodrigo Saavedra
Director: Kevin McDonald
Production company: Rogue Films
Exposure: National TV
Client: Shelly Cole, marketing manager, Stannah
Brief: Directly address the stigma and misconceptions surrounding
Agency: Leagas Delaney
Writer: Ben Stilitz
Art director: Colin Booth
Photographer: Kelvin Murray
Exposure: National poster sites, magazines
Project: Tea running
Client: Hani Dabbagh, strategy and planning director, HP PSG Europe, the
Middle East and Africa
Brief: Highlight the versatility of HP's nx6326 laptop
Agency: Modem Media
Writer: James Thorley
Art directors: Ian Owen, Belle Briggs
Director: Ronnie West
Production company: RSA Films
Exposure: Online video sites
6. DIET COKE
Project: Create your own Diet Coke break
Client: Cathryn Sleight, marketing director, Coca-Cola GB
Brief: Reinvent the Diet Coke hunk
Writers/art directors: Mark Orbine, Kim Gill, Mareka Carter
Director: Joe Roman
Production company: Knucklehead
Exposure: National TV, cinema, outdoor, online and print