I've got a cough, a sore throat and a streaming cold. Will this week's offerings make me feel better or make me feel worse?
The Morrisons (1) ad is set somewhere I used to live. A bag lady pushes a shopping trolley across Tunbridge Wells common. Oh, sorry, it's Lulu. The first thing that strikes me is why is she taking her own trolley to the store? Doesn't Morrisons have any? So on she trudges, complete with trolley, down a street where a family is enjoying their Christmas dinner, and on to the snow-covered Pantiles. Here, Nick Hancock throws snowballs at children (check out his girlie action), Denise Van Outen waves from a balcony (that'll be a few grand for that piece of "acting", please), and that gardener who ladies of a certain age fancy walks by.
It's the usual supermarket "Christmas fayre", only differentiated by the size of the budget (Tesco gets the Spice Girls and Morrisons has Lulu and Hancock). So, Lulu and trolley plough on, finally making it to Morrisons (well, the nearest store is 7.96 miles away in Crowborough). Alan Hansen is stocking up on Quality Street here. "Cheese," Lulu says at one point. And she's right.
I feel worse. Not expecting much relief, I reach for Beechams (4). A fellow sufferer, Brian, takes on battalions of symptoms. Maybe because I'm part of the target audience, I respond quite positively to this. Someone's had a go at moving the category on, and, although there's some way to go in the "Battle To Make Medicine Ads Better", at least those responsible have had a small victory. I feel chirpier.
"Choose ten O2 (3) numbers you love and get 1,000 minutes or texts for just £5 pounds a month," the voiceover says, finally making some sense of what went before it.
Oh, the irony. The creative director of O2's agency (VCCP) once did a Private View of a press ad that I'd done (with Kerry Gooden and Stuart Harkness) for Adidas and the London Marathon, where the image was a runner made out of more than 8,000 painstakingly written words (a marathon ad, geddit?!). He rubbished it by saying it was an overused visual, and a "wasted opportunity". Ouch. Now I get to review an ad his agency has done, where the images are people made out of numbers. Hmm. I wonder if the similarity ends there, or will this "wasted opportunity" also go on to make an impression with D&AD juries, too? That's cheered me up a bit. I've got something off my chest.
The Helen Bamber Foundation (5) helps victims of human trafficking. This strongly worded film highlights the plight of many girls in this country. It makes me feel hot and uncomfortable, but not because it makes its point brilliantly, but because it's way too long; I'm not sure if the misunderstanding of the language is meant to be funny or not, and the idea seems incredibly contrived. Despite all of this, there are still some good performances by a cast who struggle manfully with the script.
The Terrence Higgins Trust (2) is another worthy cause, but it has a somewhat disappointing press ad that does nothing to raise my spirits. OK, it gets its point(s) across, but it's rather bland and the visual just confuses me. Maybe I'm delirious?
Probably the most interesting - and certainly the most informative - of this week's offerings is nonstopfernando.com, which is a website for Emirates (6), where the aforementioned Brazilian jabbers on non-stop about his home country for the duration of his flight.
It's an attempt to provide a detailed insight into Brazil and its food, music and culture. Fernando's a bit tedious after a while, and I can't imagine spending 14 hours and 40 minutes in his company without taking a large slug of Night Nurse and drifting off to sleep. In fact, I can already feel my head aching at the prospect, so I'm off for a lie down. Oh, one final thought. If I can fly non-stop from London to Sao Paulo, why would I fly via Dubai?
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Philippa Brown, chief executive, Omnicom Media Group
Celebrity appearances, glamorous dresses, snowball fights in movie-like locations! No, it's not the latest offering from Marks & Spencer, but its the Morrisons (1) Christmas promo, which seems to suggest that all Lulu wants for Christmas is lots and lots of food, and possibly Alan Hansen. 'Tis the season, after all.
In contrast, O2 (3) seems to have moved away from celebrity - the lovely gravelly voice of Sean Bean is pushed all the way to the last five seconds in favour of animated number-people. Some of which are good, some of which are bad, and some of which just looks like weirdly shaped confetti has been stuck to an actor's face. It is impactful and may stick in the memory, but with all the pretty animation, does the message get lost?
Brian has a cold in Beechams' (4) "Battle of Brian", and while having a cold is never good, this did make me smile. Primary coloured historical re-enactors running around in a park? Not an idea you would generally associate with a head cold, but Beechams did seem remarkably effective against those skirmishers ... not that I generally require my cold medicine to have a war record.
Nonstopfernando.com, for Emirates (6), is hoping to be entered into the Guinness World Records book as the longest ad ever, and if you have the time to watch it, that's 14 hours and 40 minutes of your life that you're not getting back ... although you may learn some interesting facts about Brazil. It's all in honour of the fact that Emirates now flies non-stop from Dubai to Sao Paulo, both of which can be so visually impressive that it's a shame all we see is the inside of Fernando's house while he drones on.
As the festive season approaches, the Terrence Higgins Trust (2) wants to remind us all of the awful difficulties, and possibly lonely Christmases, faced by sufferers of HIV and Aids. As such, the Trust is raising awareness of its counselling service, which is good, although, unfortunately, this poster isn't very effective. It takes a long time to read the small text, and unless you're standing very close and you have time on your hands, the message may be lost.
And that brings us neatly to the last of the batch ... the Helen Bamber Foundation (5). It's quite long, and really quite harrowing, and I hope it gets a lot of airtime.
The central character is a pretty girl from Eastern Europe whose lack of language skills starts out being played for laughs, until you realise why it is she's using the words she is. It's very effective. The ad reminds us "trafficking is torture" without actually having to show anything other than the psychological effects of not being able to ask for help. Every person she approaches recoils from her because the only language she knows is the one that the sex traffickers have taught her, so she cannot escape. Despite showing no violence or sex of any kind, this left a vivid impression of the depression and desperation of these situations - far more effective than several recent documentaries on the subject. Not a nice note to end on in the run-up to Christmas, but something that should be said and heard.
Project: Lulu's Christmas feast
Client: Michael Bates, marketing services director, Morrisons
Brief: Promote the availability of freshly prepared Christmas food at
Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Writer: Malcolm Green
Art director: Gary Betts
Director: Jorn Threlfall
Production company: Outsider
Exposure: National TV
2. TERRENCE HIGGINS TRUST
Client: Jo Houghton, senior corporate fundraiser, Terrence Higgins Trust
Brief: Raise funds and awareness; mark the Terrence Higgins Trust's 25th
Agency: Euro RSCG
Writer: Kyla Elliot
Art director: Ben Beazley
Project: Your O2 numbers
Client: Richard Murfitt, head of campaigns, O2
Brief: Support the new network pre-pay tariff of 1,000 minutes or texts
to ten people on O2 for £5 per month
Writer: Nathaniel White
Art director: Ben Daly
Director: Adam Levite
Production company: Prologue Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Battle of Brian
Client: Anna Hale, category director, Beechams
Brief: Promote Beechams' All-In-One as the most effective way to fight a
cold, and more effective than taking paracetamol alone
Agency: Grey London
Writers: Alex Frasier, Geoff Smith
Art directors: Steve McKenzie, Simon Butler
Director: Henrik Sundgren
Production company: Acne Film
Exposure: National TV, outdoor
5. HELEN BAMBER FOUNDATION
Project: Lost in f**king translation
Client: Emma Thompson, chair, Helen Bamber Foundation
Brief: Raise awareness of women who are illegally trafficked into the UK
and forced to work as sex slaves
Agency: Quiet Storm
Writer/art director: Neal Colyer
Director: Kevin Chicken
Production company: Quiet Storm Films
Exposure: Cinema, viral
Client: Clare Vaughan-Davis, manager, internet communications, Emirates
Brief: Promote the new non-stop flight from Dubai to Sao Paulo
Agency: Lean Mean Fighting Machine
Writers: Alex Mavor, Ed Kaye, Dave Bedwood, Sam Ball
Art directors: Dave Bedwood, Sam Ball
Director: Kit Lynch-Robinson
Production company: Annex Films