In pole position this week is an ad for Shell (4) V-Power fuel. The company is celebrating its long-running Ferrari association with a Gran Turismo of the world, while showing off a collection of shiny red beasts from down the years.
It's beautifully shot, lit and edited. The Ferraris are erection- inducingly sexy. But ultimately, it's so close to an ad we've all seen recently and, without touches like the bloke with the porno moustache, Garrison Keillor's voiceover or Andy Williams' singing, it feels just a wee bit sterile and pompous by comparison. I wonder if this ad was already in production when "impossible dream" came out?
Aaah, bingo! My mum's favourite sport. Two fat ladies, 88. Unlucky for some, 13. Clickety duck, 62.
I'm holding a direct mail envelope with a big lipstick kiss and the line: "From guess who?" There's also a picture of Sharon Osbourne on it, so I guess it's from her. So much for intrigue and surprise. Inside, there's a letter and a booklet on how to play Gala Bingo (1), all supposedly from Sharon herself. It's riddled with Post-it notes, upon which "Sharon" has scribbled girly messages. Stuff such as "I (heart) girls' nights out, scratchcards with beefy men, champers and shoes!" and "Did you know Gala pay out up to £1.75 million a week!! How many diamonds is that??" It pains me to say it, but if the recipients of this have got any intelligence to be insulted, this should do the trick.
The new Audi A5 (6) is apparently "a rhythm of lines", and the ad features animated rhythmic lines, which form the shape of the car, set to a gentle piano track. Umm. Err. Oooh. Look over there everyone! It's the brilliant new Mail on Sunday ad from Bartle Bogle Hegarty and it's directed by Traktor! The sexes battle it out with footballs, handbags, remote-controlled cars and yappy toy dogs. Hilarious. Top stuff. Genius. In my opinion, it's easily the best thing from both the agency and the directors for ages.
Now, where were we? Oh yes. Next up is a Department of Education and Skills (2) campaign for London's schools. I believe this is written and designed by the students themselves, all of whom have won a competition to have their achievements featured in the ads.
Looking at the layouts, I can't detect any Mini BabyBelfords among them, but, overall, it's probably a better effort than the contestants on The Apprentice managed when they went to CHI recently - and it's a great idea to celebrate our state schools.
The www.GetTheMessage.net website from the Royal Navy (5) is interactive and allows the user to send important messages to friends via the Navy's various personnel (such as jet pilots, helicopter pilots, Marine commandos, etc).
Try it yourselves and, like me, you'll probably have some fun sending messages such as "I thought you might like to see some sailors" to a gay friend or, better still, I e-mailed 10 Downing Street with the message: "Tony, please get our boys out of Iraq."
But when I grew tired of buggering about, I started to wonder what the whole point of this site was. What am I supposed to think, or do, as result of this interaction? Surely it's not enough to engage. The link between that engagement and actually recruiting personnel seems to be missing.
Finally, the new Orange (3) ad is about being able to talk for hours. This is my mum's second favourite sport. A girl tells us about all the things she likes to talk about, while they simultaneously appear from above and unfold before us. It's another one of the gentle folksy music and whimsically stylistic ads that seem to proliferate in the mobile communications category these days (albeit at the better end of that genre scale). Sitting proudly at the top of that scale is probably the predecessor to this ad. I think it's called "belonging" and I could talk about it and watch it for hours.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Neil Jones, chief executive, Carat
It's funny, but I have always secretly wanted to do Private View, so it was with vigour that I ripped open the package when it arrived to see what was inside: three TV commercials, a digital viral, a DM piece and, finally, a series of press advertisements.
Having viewed it all, my first observation is that TV production values remain amazingly high in the UK. All three TV commercials are impeccably crafted and beautifully shot. Second observation: you can make digital media incredibly personal and powerful for a relatively low production cost. Finally, how difficult it is to get cut-through with DM in today's increasingly cluttered media landscape.
On with the work. First up is an Orange (3) TV commercial. Quirky, original and visually stimulating - but a bit weird. It certainly is memorable, but what did I take out of the communication? That Orange is an innovative brand, yes, but that it is offering unlimited calls or texts, not really. Maybe this will come through once you have seen the commercial a few times and have got your mind round all the visual storytelling stuff.
Second up is a DM piece for Gala Bingo (1). It starts out with a "personal" letter from Sharon Osbourne (who features in the TV advertising) and a booklet explaining different ways that you can play bingo with Gala. It's easy to follow and has a few Post-it notes to create added cut-through, which is a nice touch. I had a quick look at the website as well, which is well laid out and easy to follow - but Sharon isn't featured anywhere ... a missed opportunity?
Next up is a beautifully crafted TV commercial for the new Audi A5 (6). A great choice of music and, because the car didn't appear anywhere in the work, a brave creative decision in what is a very competitive category. It took a bold client to sign that off. But hold on a minute there; I was watching TV at the weekend and the A5 ad pops up on TV, and the end of the commercial features a picture of the car itself. Strange.
So, to my favourite ad: the digital viral for the Royal Navy (5). We really have only just started scratching the surface of how creative and innovative you can be in the digital space. Basically, you go to a website - www.GetTheMessage.net - and then have a choice of six different ways in which you can " transport" a personalised message from you to a chosen recipient through e-mail or mobile. Using clever production techniques, a personal message is delivered through the internet. More importantly, it taps into the user- generated content phenomenon with a different twist, what I call AGC - advertiser-generated content - which you then tailor to your specific requirements. Great work.
Another TV commercial, this time for Shell (4), which lasts a full two minutes. A rarity today. Being a bit of a petrol-head, I immediately saw that it must have been inspired by C'etait un rendez-vous, a film shot in Paris in 1978, where a camera was mounted to the bumper of a Ferrari that was then driven through the streets by a Formula One driver. This creative takes the idea a stage further, with different F1 Ferraris through the ages being driven through various cities around the world. It's beautifully shot and edited, but I was left feeling a little bit let down at the end when the car pulls into a Shell petrol station and fills up with V-Power petrol. I loved the ad, but would it make me search out a petrol station to fill up my car with V-Power? Umm ...
Finally, we have a series of press advertisements for, erm ... ah yes, it's the Department of Education and Skills (2) and London's schools. I have to say that I was left a bit cold by this work, which I found confusing and lacking in clarity from a visual perspective. The creative concept is strong, but the delivery missed the mark.
1. GALA BINGO
Project: Gala TV welcome pack
Client: Phil Windas, bingo marketing manager, Gala Coral
Brief: Create a pack to welcome new customers to both Galabingo.co.uk
and Gala TV, and make them feel as though they're part of a
Writer: Susan Young
Art director: Paul Beier
Designers: Ryan Morgan, Gruff Morgan
Exposure: Direct mail
2. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND SKILLS
Project: Promoting London's state schools
Client: Karen Smalley, deputy director of marketing and channelling
division, Department of Education and Skills
Brief: Challenge negative perceptions of London state schools
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writers: Rick Brim, Dan Fisher
Art directors: Rick Brim, Dan Fisher, David Hiscock
Exposure: Flagship golden square sites, London poster sites
Project: Life as you like it
Client: Noel Cottle, advertising manager, Orange
Brief: Demonstrate Orange's belief that people should be able to enjoy
the things in life they value most
Writers/art directors: Lawrence Seftel, Dave Day
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production company: Rattling Stick
Exposure: National TV
Client: Sarah Alspach, global retail brand marketing and communications
Brief: Celebrate the longevity of Shell's partnership with Ferrari
Agency: JWT London
Writer: Matt Collier
Art director: Wayne Robinson
Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Production company: Partizan
5. ROYAL NAVY
Client: Daniel Stephenson, digital media manager, COI
Brief: Portray jobs in the Royal Navy as dramatically as possible, and
showcase the real people in the roles
Agency: Glue London
Writers/art directors: James Leigh, Darren Giles
Designers: Leon Ostle, Simon Cam
Director: Marky, Superglue
6. AUDI A5
Project: Rhythm of lines
Client: Chris Hawken, brand communication manager, Audi UK
Brief: Launch the new Audi A5
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Alex Grieve
Art director: Adrian Rossi
Director: Lynn Fox
Production company: Blink