Well, on the basis that a good ad reflects the brand thoroughly, we start with a belter ...
The Take A Break (6) work feels cheap, hackneyed, not particularly funny and lacking any real craft. As a result, it should resonate nicely with the type of person who's in the market for a mag like that.
Happy New Year by the way. I've resolved to be less opinionated and condescending. It's going well so far, I think.
How do you sell high-definition television to someone watching on bog standard-def? The Sky (5) ad has a damn good crack. Nicely executed. Simple. It's not bad. And having done my time at Gillette Corner, not bad is a triumph.
Interesting aside: The adult entertainment industry is shunning HD because it's so HD it shows the gory details in far too much, er, gory detail. There's an ad in that surely? I dare you WCRS.
Skiving off before Christmas, my Deal Or No Deal viewing pleasure was rudely interrupted by two separate insurance ads in the same break. Both guaranteed to beat any other quote if you hadn't made a claim for three years. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I'm thinking free house insurance. If only I hadn't claimed on that "really bad burglary" I had last year.
Direct Line (4) isn't so foolish. These arty over-cranked images (or is it under-cranked? I never know. The one that makes the film go slow) show household objects getting wrecked. Then you're told what the company can do about it. While the ads don't set my TV ablaze, anything that doesn't feature that twatting red phone on wheels is a step in the right direction. Full marks for that.
I logged on to the HP (3) website expecting a gloopy wonderland of spicy brown stuff. In fact, it was the Hewlett Packard website. Bizarrely though, the video it streamed would have been a lot better had it been for HP Sauce. It showed a load of office workers playing their cups of tea like an orchestra. The line at the end (traditionally the line that makes sense of everything) said: "Happy is a finely tuned business." I'm stumped on this one. It's a nice enough film and all that, but, blimey, um ... Think. THINK! What would Mat, my creative partner of 20 years, say? He wouldn't say anything. He'd just screw his nose up and make his eyes go all squinty, just like he's eaten a lemon. So that's what I'm going to do ... There.
The last viral I opened involved a girl, a cup and ... well, I think you know the rest. It disturbed me so much I promised never to open another viral again. But then I was asked to do Private View and the money was far too good to turn down.
Clickety-click. It's a film for EA Games' (1) Need for Speed Pro-Street, which takes the piss out of Romanians and Lada drivers. So what is Need for Speed ProStreet? I'm none the wiser after watching this. I realise that's intentional. God, I'm getting old. There's the odd nice moment, but it does feel a little familiar. I fear it won't be toppling Shitting Girl from the summit of the viral charts any time soon.
I've stopped saving the best 'til last. I worked out that's how I got so fat. I always ate everything on my plate, and then forced the best bit down when I was already fully sated. It was the best bit, and I really wanted it.
I love Waitrose (2) and I'm a big fan of its advertising, too. These ads look fab when you see them all together. But together's not how people will see them. And on their own, they're not particularly inspiring. So, on the basis that every Waitrose brief is a gift from Annapurna herself, these don't quite cut the Dijon.
That's it. No drumming gorillas at the bottom of this bag, I'm afraid.
STRATEGIST - Russ Lidstone, chief strategy officer, Euro RSCG London
The warm afterglow of Christmas has vanished, the shop decorations are boxed away for another ten months, and with the housing slump, record levels of personal debt, a sliding pound and consumer confidence faltering, it's a great year to look forward to. And to top all that off, we're all poised to contract the brilliantly branded "Winter Vomiting Virus".
So there's no better time to do as instructed by the first ad out of the bag and Take A Break (6). Ainsley Harriot heroically steps into the "greasy spoon breach" to offer a hard-working cook the chance to catch up on the week's gossip as he cooks a full English for the builders. Another execution in the mandatory weekly magazine style of populist celebrity, this execution does exactly what is required of it - updating us on this week's content in an expected manner, but does little else besides.
Two virals to look at this week. The first is for HP (3), and the other is for the latest EA Games (1) title Need for Speed ProStreet. Similar to all good contagious ideas, a viral needs to have merit beyond the execution itself. Ideas don't intentionally become contagious just because they are important to the originator, and this is my issue with the HP film. An office employee "orchestra" play office tools such as mugs, bins etc to create a harmonious tune and underpin the HP claim that "Happy is a finely tuned business". This is a nicely made brand film on t'interweb, and it may very well feel good to the originator, but it doesn't demand further investigation, and it isn't creatively funny, epic or taboo-breaking enough for me to invest more time, and certainly won't enhance my kudos by sending it on.
On the other hand, the EA Games spoof of The Fast and the Furious using Romanian boy-racers is a simple, humorously executed tale in which the key protagonists' epic efforts to get the girl(s) make good viewing and will generate noise among its core target audience. While it is a bit Borat "me too", the film and supporting website straddle the line between reality and spoof well enough to render them compelling.
And so it's back to the realms of TV. Sky (5) announces its high-definition capabilities with a freeze-frame demo, where a chap has literally paused the lifelike action in his living room in order to visit the toilet. It's a well done "lifelike action message" - a path well trod by video game consoles, TV manufacturers and broadband suppliers - that makes its point well. I, for one, am going to upgrade. However, is it any wonder that the "Winter Vomiting Virus" is rife while people like this Sky HD owner apparently do not take the time to wash their hands after a quick pony and trap?
At this time of worry, it's only natural that the insurance companies should start knocking at my metaphorical door. Direct Line (4) comes knocking with a TV campaign that I actually like. It positions itself as more than "cheap", and supports product information with slow-motion demonstrations of almost beautiful domestic disasters. What I really like is the serious, yet calm and assured tones of these ads. They provide a strong sense that I'll be in good hands should the worst happen.
Finally, Waitrose (2) print executions relate semiotics of colour to types of fruit and veg as a link to the message that there is 50 per cent off selected fruit and vegetables. Simple in style, and definitely different for trade-driving retail communications, but sometimes an idea can get in the way of the big news.
On that note, I'm off to Romania to see my new boy-racer mates. The economic outlook is a bit brighter there, and, apparently, it's too cold for the "Winter Vomiting Virus" to survive ...
1. EA GAMES
Project: ProStreet Romania
Client: Steve Farell, senior product manager, EA Games
Brief: Create a viral for the release of Need for Speed ProStreet
Agency: Lee and Dan Special Projects
Writers: Lee and Dan
Art directors: Lee and Dan
Director: Lee and Dan
Production company: Lee and Dan Special Projects
Project: Regional campaign
Client: Graham Gordon, local marketing manager, Waitrose
Brief: Encourage people to visit their local Waitrose branch and promote
health and wellbeing throughout January
Agency: Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw
Writer: Simon Martin
Art director: Des Morgan
Exposure: Press, online banners
Project: Happy people
Client: Jane Zeal, marketing strategy and planning (UK&J), HP Personal
Brief: Encourage SMEs to think about the positive impact of HP
Writer: Kate Rontree
Art director: Lee Wisedale
Director: Ric Hawkes
Production company: Ricandjo
Exposure: Press, online
4. DIRECT LINE
Project: Beautiful destruction
Client: Michael Tildesley, marketing director, Direct Line
Brief: Reinforce Direct Line's leadership in the personal insurance
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: David Anderson
Art director: Ian Brassett
Director: John Pardue
Production company: SERIOUS
Exposure: UK national TV
Client: Robert Tansey, director of brand and sports marketing, Sky
Brief: Promote Sky's high-definition offering
Writer: Joseph Corcoran
Art director: Andrew Bloom
Director: Chris Palmer
Production company: Gorgeous Enterprises
Exposure: Sky TV
6. TAKE A BREAK
Project: Celebrity breaks
Client: Dave Goodchild, managing director, Bauer Publishing
Brief: Maintain Take A Break's position as number one in the women's
Writer/art director: John Merriman
Director: Matt Carter
Production company: Feel Films
Exposure: National TV