A Happy New Year to all ... Feeling a few pounds heavier? Is your liver screaming "enough, enough"? Don't worry, 12 months of hard work will sort you out!
So I wonder who of you out there will conjure up the creative brilliance that will set the standard for 2008. Lets face it, it's always those elusive few ads that define a year, and we all want our names on them. Don't we? If you don't, may I suggest you're in the wrong business.
So go on, put great creative work on your New Year's resolution list, you know it makes sense.
First up this year are some BBC2 (5) idents for Heroes. Now I'm a big fan of some of the BBC work, the wonderful Radio 2 Elvis spot from last year, for example. These three, however, seem to wash over me a bit. In each spot we see a character from the show peer through a peephole in the shape of the BBC2 logo to reveal a dream-like environment. One is a bit like Hitchcock's Spellbound, with hundreds of eyes staring out from the walls. Not bad, but not exactly a Hitchcock moment.
Museum of Childhood (2) posters and DM are next. This campaign has a freshness about it which I liked. The "vintage Barbie dolls" execution was the one that stood out for me. A clever line and well art directed. It comes across as a museum with attitude. Well, it is in Bethnal Green.
Moving on, we have the new Sony PlayStation 3 (4) TV campaign. Odd one, this. In the launch spot, we have a character who looks as though he's straight out of the film Cabaret, telling us about the benefits of the PS3's Blu-Ray with technology that updates itself.
There's also a cowboy in the mix, firing bullets at a bloke with a large moustache and no shirt. He dodges the bullets with ease, demonstrating that the PS3's faster processing keeps you one step ahead. I think ... It's brave and it's different; however, I'm not sure it stands up to repeat viewing. It just lacks some magic for me.
Something else from Sony Walkman (1) now - walkmanproject.com. This is a really interesting idea. It's all about online musical collaboration. You go to the site, record your own version of the Walkman Project song and upload it. You can then mix your track with any of the other tracks online. What's also good is that you can film yourself playing your track, then when you mix two or three together, you not only hear the mix but see yourself and others performing together. It's a simple, but clever, idea. Feels about right for Sony.
A TV spot for Thorntons (3) is next. A nice little film this one. We see a boy of about nine, sitting outside a Thorntons chocolate shop with a pencil and paper deep in thought. We then cut to various locations to find the world in a state of suspended animation, while the boy thinks of what to write. All of a sudden he has a eureka moment, writes something down and runs into the shop. We are left with a message that reads: "Personalise your gift in-store." More thought goes into Thorntons.
Just one other thing: the little boy looks as though he's just walked out of a 60s French New Wave film, with a bright yellow jumper and big greased-back hair. I don't know why, it just works.
Last, but not least, is a DVD from Texaco (6) to promote road safety by an animated character called Hector. The animation is good, and the stories are an imaginative way of tackling road safety for kids. A lot of work has gone into this. So if you get a copy next time you're filling up, play it to your kids. I think they will like it.
Not a bad start to the year overall.
DIGITAL CREATIVE - Jeremy Garner, creative director, LBi
Disembodied eyeballs, broken dolls and a flock of evil-looking birds. It sounds like Leicester city centre on New Year's Eve, but actually it's a series of idents for BBC2 (5).
Using three characters from Heroes, the clips act as a window into their psyches - exposing the aforementioned squirms of mind. They're moodily shot, grab the attention and finish nicely with the BBC2 logo in reverse, which says a lot about the series. CGI-fests they may be, but that's nay problem. It's a slave to the idea here. Besides, if they persuaded Hayden Panettiere, who plays the spontaneously regenerating Claire Bennet, to explode in real life, they'd have all sorts of contractual problems.
I love the Sony PlayStation 3 (4) ad. Inhabiting the Jeff Koons-esque world of celebrating the colourful, synthetic and kitsch, it tempers nicely against the previous "this is living" spots. The voice-over that - unusually for PlayStation - sets out the product features forms a nice contrast to the outlandish, supremely beautiful visuals. Apart from the looks, it has the heart. In the few seconds it takes our friend Dr Beautiful to mosey across the screen and put Lassie into the Blu-Ray machine, the attitude is firmly established. Daring, unapologetic in its glorious weirdness and very, very knowing. Meet the entertainers indeed.
The cartoons for Texaco (6) to promote road safety must have been a challenge. A tricky audience, this: kids. Yeah, kids. That mythical target audience with the attention spans of wasps. Luckily, I watched these cartoons on the PC at home, so it wasn't long before my seven- year-old daughter popped over. She'd been watching Spongebob on the telly, so would these Hector cartoons hold her attention? Actually, yes. She watched all five of them. She knew the messages each were trying to convey. She even watched a couple of them twice. As I hovered around in the background playing copywriter dad, I did have a couple of gripes: far too many over-egged exclamations that kids would never say ("Flaming soap suds" and "Fizzing fish fingers"), and some extremely unsubtle, overly-prominent visuals of Texaco petrol stations during the street scenes, which must have been pumped-up by some over-zealous brand police. But that didn't really worry my daughter. She was too busy watching the cartoons.
The Thorntons (3) ad caught me off guard. It's just what I didn't expect from a chocolate commercial. That's a good thing. There's a reticent-looking boy sitting outside a shopping centre on a deserted street, thinking what to write on a piece of paper (we later discover it's for his personalised message on the chocolate). There's a kind of hyper, dreamlike quality about everything, and it clearly isn't real life. But isn't chocolate all about escapism? It makes you think, which I'm pretty sure is the desired effect.
The posters and DM for the V&A Museum have a yesteryear feel about them. That's the point. Getting adults to visit the Museum of Childhood (2) to relive it is the notion. It's nice to see some good, old-fashioned headlines. It must have been tempting to use photos of the exhibits, but I reckon these illustrations work harder because they encourage the reader to conjure up images of those long-lost, much-loved decapitated Barbie dolls and knackered toy robots in their minds. My only worry is that the 50s colour palette makes them look a little washed out. But maybe that's why they'll stand out.
The online element to the Sony Walkman (1) project is anchored in a bold concept: allow musicians to upload films that can be mixed together to create single tracks. Admirable in theory, and credit must go to the agency for having the balls to do it. But I'm not sold on the reality. Apart from being a bit complicated to use, it's almost as if the technology opportunity has smothered the great thing about musicians playing together: intuition and chemistry. When mixed, these tracks are like a lunchtime music workshop at school, only without the Keith Moon impressions. Bugger.
Project: Sony Walkman Project
Client: Patrick Butler, head of online, Sony Audio Marketing Europe
Brief: Force a reappraisal of the Walkman brand, and specifically to
drive awareness of Walkman as a digital brand
Writer: Andy Amadeo
Art director: Yasmin Quemard
Designer: Caco Vaccaro
2. MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD
Project: Museum of Childhood
Client: Joanna Bolitho, marketing manager, the Museum of Childhood at
Brief: Make residents of Tower Hamlets aware of the Museum of Childhood
and its collection
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Mike Nicholson
Art director: Paul Pateman
Exposure: Posters across London
Client: Peter Wright, marketing director, Thorntons
Brief: Dust off the brand and make people excited about Thorntons again
Writer: Dave Sullivan
Art director: Tom Ewart
Director: Harmony Korine
Production company: 2AM Films
Exposure: National TV and the Republic of Ireland
4. SONY PLAYSTATION 3
Project: Meet the entertainers
Client: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Brief: Illustrate that PlayStation 3 is an entertainment supercomputer
Writer/art director: Julia Taylor
Director: Noam Murro
Production companies: Biscuit/Independent
Exposure: TV, online
Project: BBC2 Heroes two dimensions
Client: Lindsay Nuttall, head of marketing, BBC2
Brief: Show BBC2 as a portal to exciting new dimensions
Agency: Red Bee Media
Writer: Tony Pipes
Art director: n/s
Director: Matt Rhodes
Production company: Prime Focus London
Exposure: BBC2, BBC1, BBC3 and BBC4
Project: Hector's peculiar adventures
Brief: Make Texaco known for children's road safety
Writer: Natalie Herbert
Art director: Tristan Poulter
Illustrator: Tom Percival
Director: Arthur Cox
Production company: Aardman
Exposure: Film, print, PR, DM, digital www.hectorsroom.com