OK. iTunes on. Let's find some appropriate music to accompany my writing of this review. Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter, anyone?
But hold on. Something's going on at Campaign. They normally send at least a couple of stinkers to be savaged. But, try as I might, I can't find anything really nasty to say about any of this selection. It also falls neatly into two distinct camps: causes and cars. I quickly select a more chilled-out playlist.
Track 1. Emiliana Torrini - Birds.
The causes. The British Heart Foundation (3) has launched an online game for kids in an attempt to teach them about healthy eating. A very topical subject, of course. As the bit for adults on the website says: "The main aim of Yoobot is to encourage children to consider the long-term consequences of their current food and activity choices - by offering them a chance to experiment with their future."
Let's hope this campaign works and that kids devour their cybergreens. My niggle is, given the clamour for ever more violent and realistic games, can one like this really compete for attention with the likes of World of Warcraft or Gears of War?
Track 2. DeVotchKa - How It Ends (spookily the theme from Gears of War).
The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (2) film shows women in advanced labour. It features some very convincing performances by the actresses. The slightly disappointing resolution in the endline tells us that: "Nothing is as painful as losing a baby."
While that's hard to argue with, it does feel a bit forced. I don't think the team went through the same pain as the actresses in giving birth to this idea.
Track 3. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (Rhythm 'N' Strings Mix).
What's going on, indeed. A girl sucks up her own vomit. Nice opening. The film plays backwards, retracing her staggering footsteps through a drunken sexual encounter with a boy she met at a party. Someone's been watching Skins. By now I've worked out that this is a teenage pregnancy (4) message, but at the end (beginning?) of the film, the line "Want respect? Use a condom" appears and I can't work out what the reverse film technique has got to do with the idea. It feels like a considerable amount of style over substance.
On to the cars. Three new pieces of work from three great long-running campaigns.
Track 4. Glasvegas - Geraldine.
There's no fewer than four versions of the same idea for the Land Rover Defender (6). There's no car shot, which is normally a good thing (except the Defender is such a cool, iconic object, I actually don't mind seeing it). An eagle, a lynx, a goat and a bear are all shot in an almost identical way, which makes me wonder why the idea has been stretched so thin. Not bad ads at all but they don't scale the peaks of previous work.
Track 5. Van Morrison - Hard Knows The Highway.
A charmingly animated chap climbs out of a box, which he reforms into a car. The music track is a bit annoyingly too on the nose, but it's the admission that Audi (1) has "unboxed" the new streamlined Q5 that worries me. Is it admitting it got the old Q5 wrong? Didn't it stick it in one of those wind tunnels and realise it was a wee bit boxy and not very streamlined? Vorsprung Dork Technik.
Of course, I've saved the best to last. So it's on with Track 6, Truth and Soul - Truth And Soul Sides (O-Dub mix), to accompany the new Volkswagen Golf (5) film. When I joined Fallon Minneapolis, I discovered that the idea of "only having yourself to beat" had been rejected as a way of launching the new BMW 3 series. I loved the idea then and tried to get it back on the table to no avail. But DDB and VW have nailed it. Great direction from Ivan Zacharias. Great music. Great work (again) from Sam and Shish. Great. Just great. Open another bottle of something expensive and red, Jeremy.
Happy New Year.
Track 7. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Chris Macdonald, chief executive, McCann Erickson
I feel like a middle-class, post-40 male under attack from this week's Private View.
All my fears in one package. First I have to deal with my biggest fear as the father of a teenage girl, pregnancy! But breathe a sigh of relief as I remind myself of the surveillance cameras I've installed and the microchip I had embedded while she slept.
Next, I'm made to confront my second-biggest anxiety that I am, in fact, a prime candidate for a heart attack, which could be brought on by the anxiety attack I'm having over three car commercials that try to question whether I am driving the right car. And then, just as I don't think it could get any worse, I'm remembering the violence of birth and realising no matter how much we may grumble as men, women are set apart from us because of what they endure to bring life into the world, which is never guaranteed to end in life.
But, having regained my composure, here goes.
Teenage pregnancy (4). I'm confused. Is this a "beware the dangers of drinking too much" ad or a teenage pregnancy commercial? I warrant drunkenness can lead to unwanted pregnancies but can't help thinking most are a result of ignorance, not inebriation. But I feel safer knowing that no daughter of mine would ever go out looking like that.
Next, a spot for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (2) that has me in emotional meltdown. Having witnessed the miracle of my wife giving birth to our three children, I am forced to confront that awful truth that some women go through the ordeal of childbirth without ever gaining the prize of new life. Heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, human brilliance.
Next, a topic close to my heart, my heart. My Yoobot, let's call him Chris Macdoughnut, is going to teach me how to live longer, according to this digital campaign for the British Heart Foundation (3). Out goes lunch at The Ivy, smoking on the new-business terrace and fried breakfasts. But it's not aimed at me, but my daughter, and then I realise in a flash of genius that if I get her to look after a Yoobot, she won't be worrying about boys and, therefore, unlikely to get pregnant. I feel even safer but wonder if the Yoobot couldn't be made to talk on many health issues, including sex, in order to combat aforementioned ignorance.
Now the beauty parade that is this week's pick of car advertising.
Volkswagen Golf (5). Teutonic cool (soundtrack) meets Teutonic uncool (designer with a combover). It leaves me with a dilemma. Is the car cool or uncool? Seriously, if I'm honest, the quandary is do I like it or do I not like it, and the answer is I don't know but have a sense of feeling unsettled by it.
Next, Land Rover Defender (6), lions, tigers and bears, oh my. Another quandary. But it's OK, I'm living in the relatively bear-free zone of South London. But hang on, what's that you say? A mountain lion up a tree, you say, on Streatham Common, you say?
And then Audi (1). Beautifully crafted and fun to watch, although if I drive the Audi Q5 that came before, am I driving in a box, a cardboard box?
I think my point is this. In these credit crunch times, I fear none of these are offering me a compelling reason to defy the naysayers and buy a brand new car.
So I walk away feeling less under attack. My daughter's wardrobe consists of a hair shirt, my wife is looking after my heart, and the car I drive is the right one because no-one is giving me any real reason to change it for a new one.
But my pocket is still under attack from a piece of grippingly human film that has moved me to want to spare as many women from the horror of infant death as is humanly possible, and that can't be a bad thing.
Project: We've unboxed the box
Clients: Peter Duffy, head of marketing; James Millet, national comms
manager, Audi UK
Brief: Q5 launch campaign
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers/art directors: Joakim Saul, Maja Fernqvist
Directors: Aaron Duffy (Passion Pictures), Russell Brooke
Production companies: Passion Pictures, 1stAveMachine
Exposure: National TV
2. FOUNDATION FOR THE STUDY OF INFANT DEATHS
Brief: Raise awareness of the dangers of infant deaths
Agency: JWT London
Writer: Laurence Quinn
Art director: Mark Norcutt
Director: Steve Hudson
Production company: Hungry Man
Exposure: TV, cinema, viral
3. BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
Project: Food for thought
Client: Betty McBride, director of policy and communications, British
Brief: Show 11- to 13-year-old children the impact that their food
choices have on their health
Agency: Grey London
Writer: Grey London
Art director: Grey London
Designers: Grey London, Bloc Media
Exposure: Online, posters, DM
4. TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Project: Want respect? Use a condom
Client: Laurence Russ, marketing team leader, Department for Children,
Schools and Families
Brief: Motivate condom use among sexually active 16- to 18-year-olds
Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Writer: Richard J Warren
Art director: Paul Hancock
Director: Steve Reeves
Production company: Another Film Company
5. VOLKSWAGEN GOLF
Project: Volkswagen Golf
Client: Morna Steel, marketing communications manager, Volkswagen
Brief: Launch the new Golf VI
Agency: DDB London
Writer: Sam Oliver
Art director: Shishir Patel
Director: Ivan Zacharias
Production company: Stink
Exposure: National TV
6. LAND ROVER DEFENDER
Client: Les Knight, national advertising manager, Land Rover
Brief: Demonstrate the Defender's superior off-road credentials
Agencies: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, Prolam Y&R Santiago
Writers: Carlos Carrasco, Fransisco Cavada
Art director: Carlos Carrasco
Retouchers: Raul Pardo, Josefina