Does anyone recall what they were doing just before Christmas?
You see, while you were having a good time, I figure some teams were toiling away, crafting what were soon to be some of the first ads for 2008.
Or were they? How do we know they didn't just knock something out, cursing their client for the inconvenience, before dashing across Soho to yet another Xmas bash?
Well, let's have a look at the evidence and see what it reveals.
McCann Erickson has had its fair share of column inches since walking away with the top gong at last year's Campaign Poster Awards. And here we have more work for Heinz (4), this time its Baked Beanz Snap Pots. Four people simultaneously give us a lesson on how to use a microwave - you pop the Snap Pots in, shut the door and ding! A minute later, they're cooked. The evidence points to the script being knocked out just as quick. Not a spot I can imagine anyone remembering for longer than its 30 seconds. I trust the party the team legged it for was slightly more memorable.
Foxy Bingo (3). There's a 60, a 30 and a 15. Erm, I think this one must have been written in the dying hours of one of Soho's wilder Christmas parties, circa 3.30am. I mean, not even Ashley Cole is guilty of such poor judgment at that time of the night.
Speaking of football, Arsenal I know very little about, other than they were recently trounced 5-1 by some mid-ranking team or other. This film suggests their sponsor, O2 (5), knows bugger all about them, too, since it's trying to become pals with the fans, asking them what it takes to be a Gunner. This one suggests a pub lunch meandered its way to a nostalgic conversation about Christmas gifts from a bygone era - Subbuteo. The title says O2 "viral", the film tells me the title is wishful thinking. But then, not being a Gunner, who am I to say what they find exciting?
Cadbury's Creme Egg (1) hopes people find gooey endings exciting. "Here today, goo tomorrow" has its very own microsite dedicated to good, clean fun, I'm afraid. Alas, the agency missed the more raucous parties - as a result, the "niceness" of its Christmas drinks seems to have got in the way of this being half the animal that Peperami once was.
Marie Curie Cancer Care (2) demands sensitivity, so let's just say it deserves a little more attention than it got.
Finally, Persil's (6) Small & Mighty. We all know Bartle Bogle Hegarty wouldn't be letting any teams celebrate Christmas until it had at least done better than a Wooly and Worth spot. And, indeed, it has. This film presents Persil's supposed environmental conscience in a really charming and well-crafted way. My real concern is that the planning department were the ones off celebrating Christmas early - how else could BBH's planning rigour have let a client dive into "green washing"?
The spot's narrated by a young child who tells us that concentrates mean half the water, half the lorries on the road and half the packaging, too. (Fantastic, that would be the net effect of concentrates over dilutes, just like it's always been.) But what exactly is Persil doing to change its manufacturing process, distribution methods and packaging? With the child's closing line - "Every child has the right to a nicer world" - clearly they'd like us to think Persil is somehow "greener" than others. Sorry, nice disguise, but the message I get is that Persil has got precisely nothing to speak of towards making for a nicer world.
In all, the evidence suggests that adland had a good time celebrating Christmas, with the exception of the frightfully professional BBH creatives. No real surprises there then.
CREATIVE - Paul Tullo, founding partner and board creative director, Tullo Marshall Warren
It's gloomy at this time of year. The stock markets are crashing, the ice caps are melting and, to make matters worse, I've just been caught speeding. Something really needs to cheer me up this week.
The first film is for Persil's (6) Small & Mighty and uses a pop-up book to tell the story of how a concentrated washing-up liquid can save the planet. A cutesy kid's voice tells us that "every child has the right to a nicer world". I'm tempted to say it's a load of greenwash, because it's nice wordplay, but that would be unfair. This is not the most original idea I've ever seen, but it's beautifully understated, well executed and brings a glow of schmaltzy warmth.
I'm mildly amused by Heinz (4) Snap Pots. This film splits the screen into four, showing different families going through the motions of warming baked beans, choreographed to music. It sounds terribly dull, but, in reality, it's quite entertaining. What cheers me up most is the soundtrack - Anita Ward's You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell. A classic 80s disco track that stays with you a bit like a dodgy kebab ... You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell ... see what I mean? You'll be humming it for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the formula for this ad is also quite 80s. I don't dislike it, but I don't think it talks today's language.
Last TV film for today is for Foxy Bingo (3). At first viewing it's a jolly romp, with a happy chappy fox "Pied Piper-ing" ladies into his den (a modern suburban house where the "bingo party" is taking place). There's enough psychology here to keep Freud in cigars for years. Foxy sings along to Sister Sledge's We are fam-i-lee, I've got all my sisters with me. Yes, another catchy 80s tune (there's a theme unravelling here). However, I'm slightly perturbed when I view it again. Some of the words have been changed: We are fam-i-lee, try out Foxy video for free. I only hope the Sister Sledge estate is getting a few million out of this. Aside from offending my 80s sensibilities, it's enjoyable and I like the way the call to action works, as well as the direct link between the execution and the brand promise.
Here's one for a gloomy winter morning. A couple of posters for Marie Curie Cancer Care (2) that helps victims of cancer "live their last days with dignity". This is the hardest brief: bringing an issue to life without sounding too cold or stiff (there, I said it. Now I can go to writers' hell and be damned to eternal punning!).
To give the writer credit, he's found some thought-provoking insights into the issue of dying. My only advice would be to make the call to action a little more memorable than www.mariecuriedaffodil.org.uk. Or was it www ...?
Back to film again, but this time it's a viral, for Arsenal, to promote O2's (5) connection with the club. A good viral needs a cocktail of magic, humour, sex, laddishness and uniqueness that makes it compelling enough to pass it on. This has what it takes. Here we hear voices of real Arsenal fans spoken by Subbuteo characters, in the style of Creature Comforts. It's nicely executed, insightful, even charming.
Chocolate is close to my heart, so this last piece should cheer me up. Cadbury's Creme Egg's (1) microsite is a spoof "research centre" promoting "a more gooey tomorrow". But why? It's not really funny, or entertaining, and feels like it's been posted to support the TV ads in that "we-need-a-microsite-for-this-one" moment of campaign planning. Maybe they should follow the lead of some of the films above and add a good 80s soundtrack. Something from Hot Chocolate perhaps?
1. CADBURY'S CREME EGG
Project: Cadbury's Creme Egg
Client: Jodie Bates, Creme Egg brand manager, Cadbury Trebor Basset
Brief: Get 16- to 24-year-olds eager to discover more about the Eggs'
compulsion to splurge, splat and ooze their gooey content all over the
Agency: CMW Interactive
Writer: Chris King
Art director: Will Miles
Designer: Elliot Wright
2. MARIE CURIE CANCER CARE
Project: Great daffodil appeal
Clients: Chris Dainty, head of PR and marketing; Mark Chandler, head of
marketing strategy, Marie Curie Cancer Care
Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Writer: Steve Boswell
Art director: Steve Drysdale
3. FOXY BINGO
Project: Foxy disco
Client: Patrick Southon, managing director, Cashcade
Brief: Redesign Foxy character and promote key aspects of Foxy Bingo -
fun, entertainment and a community spirit
Writer/art director: Biscuit
Director: Matt Carter
Production company: Biscuit
Exposure: National TV
Project: Baked Beanz Snap Pots
Client: Nathan Ansell, senior brand manager for beanz and pasta meals,
HJ Heinz Co
Brief: Snap Pots are the same beans we all love, but now even easier
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writer: Jerry Gallaher
Art director: Clive Yaxley
Director: Mark Denton
Production company: Therapy Films
Exposure: TV in UK and Ireland
Project: Arsenal Opus
Client: Nuala Donnelly, head of music sponsorship, O2
Brief: Encourage entry into an O2-funded competition to win a
limited-edition Arsenal Opus
Writer: Ian Edwards
Art director: Steve McCallum
Director: The Kellehers
Project: Pop-up book
Client: James Frost, European brand director, Unilever
Brief: Spell out the positive benefits of Small & Mighty in a way that
consumers can understand and empathise with
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers/art directors: Justin Moore, Mick Mahoney
Director: Simon Willows
Production company: Blink