It's bonkers out there, isn't it? Financial Armageddon and yet we've never been so busy. I've finally found the time to do this, 3,000 miles over Cornwall heading West, sitting frugally at the back of the bus. It's a long way from Mad Men. Anyway, on my stick this time I've got Pick of the Week, Turkey of the Week and everything in between.
Duffy's transport selection seems to have been influenced by the financial climate as well. No limos for her, as she takes a break from singing to enjoy a Diet Coke (3) break while bicycling round the supermarket. Like you do. But look closely! Is it Duffy? Has she got a "bike double"? For me, the double is the one who drinks the Diet Coke. Duffy looks like she's still on the gold top.
The Department of Health (1) anti-smoking thing is a tricky one. There are so many emotional "off ramps" for people who smoke that the diminishing hard core must be so difficult to motivate. You've got to try to keep finding new ways in.
This time they use all the worries of the world from a kid's perspective. Everything from how many Facebook friends he has to the onset of puberty, poised like the Sword of Damocles. And, of course, not wanting his dad to die from cancer is clearly right up there. Thing is, 20 odd years ago, my old man did just that. And to try to contextualise an event of such magnitude with social networks and barking dogs is frankly bollocks.
Think about it, the people who write those mouth-watering restaurant menus are perhaps the best of all of us at advertising food, aren't they? They can make the stuff sound soooo damn appetising. Even this sumptuous airline spread I see before me. But when we do it on the telly we go all rational. We talk about what it can do for us and how functional it is. We ignore the emotional. We go for the science bit. The Cravendale (4) cows, and their mates, canter headlong into motional, splintering it before them. I love these. A rabid plastic cow demanding "more!" in a milk bar, only to be purified and pacified by the unique process. It's the dark side of that farmyard playset you had as a kid. Some of the freshest work out there.
Amnesty International's (5) latest print campaign brings a horrific facet of modern warfare into stark relief. It's a chilling line, telegraphing the fact that rape is used either to reshape the ethnic balance, or to destabilise and demoralise the community. I hope it works. I really do. I must say though, on the face of it, I'm not sure what texting "amnesty" to 84118 will actually do. You try it.
PG Tips (2) has a new slant on the classic 2CK. And the banter between the two C in their K is great. Very comedic. Brings a smile to your face in a downturn. Will it make me switch brands? I'm not sure, but I'll raise my cup of English Breakfast to it.
Hmmm, Sony (6). Finally, after much hyperbole, a ten-tonne zoetrope "event" in a piazza near Turin starts turning to a thumping beat, to reveal Kaka in all his fluid glory. All to dramatise the new "motionflow" smoothest ever Bravia.
Now I have to declare an interest; I'm from the blue half of Manchester so the name Kaka is synonymous with "jerk", not "smooth". That aside, every bit of work that comes out on this account is inevitably compared to the iconic : "balls". Undoubtedly a great predicament to be in, but for me, "balls" was majestic. In comparison, this is Kaka. EDITOR - Matthew d'Ancona, editor, The Spectator
As an Olympic-class consumer of Diet Coke (3), I take more than an impartial observer's interest in how it is marketed. Sadly, the new ad starring Duffy will give me little ammunition in my personal crusade to prove Martin Amis wrong when he says that Diet Coke is "the least cool of drinks".
Having the Welsh singer do a version of Sammy Davis Jnr's classic I Gotta Be Me isn't a bad start as the basis for the idea that Diet Coke somehow makes you more wild and crazy and individualistic. This is obviously a ridiculous idea: Diet Coke is about as wild and crazy and individualistic as Guildford or John Major. But - hey - that's marketing.
The ad goes horribly wrong once Duffy shows us what it is to be wild and crazy and individualistic: which is to nip out of the venue where she is doing her gig, and ride on a bike around a supermarket. Admired by boys at the checkout, a mum who is shopping (but still dreams, etc) and girls in the car-park preparing for a big night out, she smiles knowingly before heading back to the gig with a can of Diet Coke. It is beyond silly and Duffy should know better. Stick to Warwick Avenue, pet.
Meanwhile, the new PG Tips (2) ad with Monkey and Johnny Vegas shows how effective something that is reliably, even predictably funny can be at getting across a message. The content of the ad - that pyramid teabags are best - is all but eclipsed by the gags, particularly Vegas' line that Monkey once lied to him about the "angry owl in the biscuit cupboard". But that is its strength. Nobody really cares about the shape of teabags, and tea is an intrinsically boring product. But the Monkey-Vegas ads - because they are invariably 30 seconds well spent - have successfully implanted the idea that PG Tips is a brand with which the proudly puerile can associate themselves. No mean achievement.
The Sony (6) Bravia ad is successful for precisely the opposite reason. Far from distracting you from the product, it steers you towards the supposedly magical qualities of this television through a smartly realised conceit: a crowd gathers round a huge zoetrope watching images of AC Milan's Kaka displaying his wizardry. Thus do three concepts fuse into one strong message: the wizardry of the football player, the kinetic energy of the technology and the notion of a spectacle so huge and vivid that it offers not a quiet night in, in front of the telly, but a theatrical event.
I won't waste your time on the Cravendale (4) ad except to say that I had to watch it three times before I had a clue what the hell was going on; and that Aardman has a lot to answer for.
The Department of Health (1) ad is undoubtedly thought-provoking: a boy who isn't worried that "she hasn't texted me back", by the size of his wedding tackle or by any of the other traditional causes of teenage angst. But: "I am worried about Dad smoking. I'm worried that my Dad will die."
I don't smoke but I do have two small sons, so the ad unsettled and saddened me. Even so - I bet the guilt it inspires in smoking parents is exceeded by irritation. This Government likes to use children in its public information strategies to "nudge" parents towards good behaviour. Tread with care on this front, is my instinct. It's not quite Orwell's "Junior Spies" in 1984, but there is always a risk inherent in intruding, however virtuously, into the complex emotional strands that make up a family.
The Amnesty International (5) ad, in contrast, is a horrifically successful way to convey a moral message. The line "Rape is cheaper than bullets" is simple, ghastly and forces you to pause and absorb a terrible truth. The bullet is suggestively, appallingly phallic. This is Amnesty at its magnificent best.
1. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Project: Tobacco control
Client: David Prince, senior campaigns manager, DoH
Brief: Your smoking habit worries your loved ones
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Writer: Jeremy Carr
Art director: Ken Hoggins
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Production company: Academy
2. PG TIPS
Project: PG Tips proof
Clients: Emma Reynolds, Neil Gledhill
Brief: Promote the benefits of PG Tips pyramid teabags
Writer: Stuart Outhwaite
Art director: Ben Middleton
Director: Garth Jennings
Production company: Hammer and Tongs
Exposure: National TV
3. DIET COKE
Project: Diet Coke "Duffy"
Writer: Ana Balarin
Art director: Hermeti Balarin
Director: Mat Kirby
Production company: RSA Films
Exposure: TV, cinema, digital
Client: Louise Barton, senior brand manager, Arla Foods
Brief: Make the nation passionate about milk
Writers: Sophie Lewis, Sam Heath
Art directors: Nicholla Longley, Frank Ginger
Director: Pic Pic Andre
Production company: Nexus Productions
Exposure: National TV
5. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Client: Amnesty International
Agency: Different Kettle
Writer: Oliver Lee
Art director: Dave Sturdy
Production company: n/s
Client: Giles Morrison, general manager, marketing communications, Sony
Brief: Launch of Bravia 200Hz motionflow technology
Writer: Phil Cockrell
Art director: Graham Storey
Director: Vernie Yeung (RSA)
Production companies: RSA, Eponymous
Exposure: Global TV