DEADLINE: COPY TO BE FILED NO LATER THAN 10AM ON WEDNESDAY, 11 FEBRUARY OR WE WILL KIDNAP YOUR CHILDREN, BURN YOUR HOUSE TO THE GROUND AND TORTURE YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS IN THE MOST UNSPEAKABLE WAYS.
Boy, Campaign is really getting tough with its contributors. It's already 8.46am on Wednesday, 11 February, so I need to get a shift on.
8.47am: Make quick coffee. Brief chat with Hattie about really important stuff.
8.49am: Right, here we go. First, we have a Barclaycard (1) viral. This is essentially a homemade remake of that brilliant Barclaycard water slide commercial. I guess the idea is that we'd find the lo-fi, quirky feel of it irresistible, but I'm afraid the reverse is true. You are simply left wondering why someone went to such lengths to make a much less good version of this idea. At the end of the film, we are encouraged to create our own water slide and film it. Hmm, not convinced folk will find this particularly motivating. A quick check on YouTube tells me that this has managed less than 7,900 views in 11 days. The original ad has had more than 800,000 views in 12 weeks. The moral of the story? Everything's viral, but only if it's good enough.
9.02am: Quickly thumb through City A.M. to find the WWF (5) press ad. It turns out to be well worth a look. They've taken it upon themselves to help companies in the UK reduce their paper consumption by 20 per cent. To make this point, the visual is their logo cut out of a page in the paper. Simple, arresting - a bit like the police at Millwall on a Saturday.
9.08am: A new set of Guinness (6) film idents. I like these. They show folk who have worked on famous films pour a pint of the black stuff in their own inimitable way. The way they produce their pint is always a neat reflection of their own area of expertise. The Aardman one is particularly good and the use of real heroes of film gives the sponsorship and the brand real credibility. Besides that, Sam Sneade is a lovely man and it's always nice to see him.
9.15am: Quick "comfort break", as they say in conference circles. Second chat with Hattie about more really important stuff, then straight back to it.
9.18am: An Absolute Radio (2) TV spot featuring the dwarf (or midget?) from In Bruges. Now, he was brilliant in that movie; here, alas, he's given a lot less to work with. I think the public are unlikely to form an emotional bond with a radio station simply on the basis that it's decided to gently take the piss out of smaller people. Hopefully I'm wrong and people will tune in by the lorry load.
9.26am: The second offering from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in the form of a Walkers (4) crisps extravaganza. I'm afraid I prefer Guinness to this particular number. There's no doubt they've thrown the kitchen sink at it: there are hundreds of extras in elaborate costumes, martial arts fighting, police convoys and, of course, Mr Lineker himself. The idea behind the commercial is great - encourage the public to vote for which flavours of crisps Walkers should bring out next. The inclusion of Cajun Squirrel as one of the flavours is also a really nice touch but the ad feels so huge, overblown and artificial, it takes away the feeling that this is a real vote or that I might have any influence.
9.34am: Watch new Peugeot (3) commercial.
9.35am: Stunned silence.
9.36am: Watch new Peugeot commercial again.
9.38am: Apologies to all the people who worked very hard on this ad, but it's not good. Dated, stilted and bizarrely when the line is "drive sexy", not sexy at all.
9.43am: All done and 17 minutes ahead of schedule. Call safe house and tell Suzie and the children it's OK to head home. Much relief all round.
SUIT - Neil Christie, managing director, Wieden & Kennedy
The banks are burning, the High Street's bust, London is buried in snow and hungry wolves roam the icy tundra of adland, picking off the weak and unwary.
Times are so hard that in order to reduce manufacturing costs, Walkers (4) crisps has forsaken luxury ingredients such as crispy bacon for cheaper alternatives such as squirrels, the frozen corpses of which can simply be scraped off the nation's pavements and dusted with "cajun" spices to enhance their rodent savour.
Walkers' "give us a flavour" campaign seems to have really captured the public imagination and got people involved, with more than a million suggesting bizarre crisp flavours. I love the campaign. But I don't love this rather ho-hum TV ad, which invites people to vote for their fave flave. "Try all six," the ad says, in a bid to scupper the Government's anti-obesity initiative. The commercial is a rich mix, crammed with all the flavours, a voting mechanic and a Gary Lineker cameo, seasoned with a dash of Alice Cooper. In the end, it feels like so many ingredients have been added that the result is bland.
Barclaycard (1) is presumably facing the double whammy of sluggish consumer spending and low interest rates on lending. Last year's entertaining water slide ad told me that if the arduous business of signing a bill was curbing my expenditure, I could now simply swipe my card and run up big debts quicker. They've extended the water slide idea into a competition inspired by the trend for people to shoot their own remakes of telly ads and post them on YouTube. This online film mimics the homemade video style and invites people to make and film their own water slide. The clip that gets the most votes wins the "water slide trip of a lifetime". I liked the original TV ad, but this extension may be a slide too far. I can't see water slide fever sweeping the nation like Cajun Squirrel crisps.
The car industry is in desperate straits. Peugeot's (3) response is to make a drama out of the crisis - a lame version of Sex And The City set in a car showroom. An odd American woman drawls: "I'm looking for something kinda drive sexy." (That's the sort of thing people say to car salesmen all the time.) The salesman speaks her language. It is the language of bollocks: "Custom mats, yada, yada." What?! What on earth are the pair of you on about? What is a "drive sexy"? How and why have the mats been customised? What are you Americans doing in a Dundee car showroom, anyway? This nonsense is unlikely to make any perceptible reduction to the thousands of unwanted 308s filling fields all over England.
The Guinness (6) movie idents are OK. They show film crew members settling down to enjoy a can in front of the TV. Each does so in a manner that reflects their job - so the stuntman from Batman drops on to the sofa, for example. But the idents would have worked better if the movie reference related more closely to the film that the technician had worked on. If he's the Bat-stunt-guy, shouldn't he swing in on a Bat-rope?
The commercial from Absolute Radio (2) baffled me. Why is the dwarf telling the woman that his girlfriend goes "like the clappers"? Are we supposed to think "Eeew - gross! Dwarf sex"? What does all this have to do with radio? Absolute crap.
The WWF (5) ad is topical and unmissable. I've never seen an execution like this before; the visual is created by cutting a hole in the page in the shape of the WWF panda logo. Although I'm not completely sure that paper consumption is top of most CEOs' list of things to cut back on right now, it's a highly effective hook to get you into the broader message that "no-one knows more than WWF how business can tackle climate change". Nice one.
Most of this work is OK. I suppose it'll keep the wolf from the agency door. But even in these difficult times, shouldn't we strive for more than just survival?
Client: Hannah Deans, advertising and media manager, Barclaycard
Brief: Build on the momentum of the recent TV ad online
Writers/art directors: Emma Lawson, Rob Graves-Morris, Dipesh Mistry
Director: Kevin Chicken
Production company: Quiet Storm
2. ABSOLUTE RADIO
Project: Carrot cake
Client: Absolute Radio
Brief: Build on the awareness of the Absolute Radio brand following its
rebrand from Virgin Radio in October
Writer: Steve Heath
Art director: Nick Darken
Director: Stephen Pearson
Production company: Hungry Man
Exposure: National TV
Project: Drive sexy
Brief: Promote the new 207 and 308 Verve
Agency: Euro RSCG London
Writer/art director: Gerry Moira
Director: Peter Webber
Production company: Serious Pictures
Exposure: TV, digital
Client: Miranda Sambles, marketing manager, Walkers
Brief: Publicise the six winning flavours and encourage the nation to
vote for their favourite
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writers: Alistair Robertson, Simon Welch
Art directors: Alex Braxton, Matt Welch
Director: Paul Weiland
Production company: Weilands
Exposure: National TV
Clients: Louise Hotchkiss, business communications manager; Dax
Lovegrove, head of business and industry relations, WWF
Brief: WWF can help businesses become more sustainable
Agency: JWT London
Writer: Mike McKenna
Art director: Greg Martin
Exposure: National press
Project: Films on 4 idents
Client: Paul Cornell, Richard Barlow, marketing managers, Guinness
Brief: Align Guinness Draught in a can with the experience of watching
Channel 4 films at home
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Steve Coll
Art director: Colin Jones
Production company: Feel Films
Exposure: Channel 4