Damn! I know one of the creatives on these ads. What's more, he's very nice. Unfortunately, his ad isn't. What to do? What to do?
(a) The classic IAAFFPFHT (I've Asked A Fresh-Faced Placement For His Take) or (b) the more popular IAAAMOTP (I've Asked An Actual Member Of The Public)?
Sod it, it's not like marking a maths book, it's an opinion.
Car brands used to have incredibly distinctive personalities. Cover the logos now, and you'll struggle to figure out who's who.
Audi's (1) consistently disciplined approach is starting to build a very recognisable look. Clean, simple and very confident. These particular executions are reminiscent of the old Volkswagen work. They're good, if a little "addy".
An old comedienne asks, from what looks like the inside of (I'm guessing here) Stringfellows: "Are you FULLOVIT!?" She tells us that: "Seventy-five per cent of the salt your body needs is already in everyday food." She then lobs most people's idea of everyday food, such as sandwiches, pasta and pizzas, on to the dancefloor in disgust. "Salt. Is your food FULLOVIT?"
Do they mean shit? Usually, "he's full of it" means "he's full of shit". Obviously, excess salt is bad for you, but shit? Tell us something we don't know. What do you call "FULLOVIT"? 5g? 50g? 500g? What are the benefits of not being "FULLOVIT"?
To be fair, the Food Standards Agency (2) may be linked to COI, which has an agency roster review on the cards, so I feel it's only right to say - well done to everyone involved. Nice one.
Idents are tough to do well. You've barely got the amount of words in this sentence at your disposal. That's why they generally divide into two camps - the 15-second script squeezed into ten seconds, or the two-second poster stretched out to a ten-second ident.
Consequently, most people just try to get the brand name remembered by doing some crazy shit - or salt, whatever the phrase is.
Well, these Change4Life (6) idents for The Simpsons manage to reference the show, feature the brand characters, show healthy living suggestions and give the gentlest of gentle slaps on the wrist to the doughnut-munching, Duff-swilling, couch potato-esque and Homer Simpson lifestyle-copyists: "Change4Life. Supporting The Simpsons, sometimes." No mean feat in ten seconds.
We see a couple sleeping in their bed, but we notice something's not quite right: the woman's hair sways around gently, a child's toy floats by. They are underwater: "Don't drown in toxic smoke. Test your fire alarm weekly."
I'm a bit torn by this ad for CLG Fire Safety (4). There's obviously a problem in showing a smoke-filled room - we wouldn't be able to see anything. Just a black or dark grey screen if we're lucky. Hence the analogy with drowning. And it works well, creating a spooky atmosphere. But the danger with analogies is that they are one point removed from the point you're trying to make.
The subject matter here is so inherently chilling that I wonder whether the cold, hard facts may lose a bit of power being put through an analogy.
Fallon, Juan and Sony (5). Producers of those big, joyful visual feasts. Most would be delighted with "soundville". It looks great, it's a big, interesting stunt and it's intelligent. Admirable.
But, in the end, it falls between two stools - it's not information-based and it's not entertainment-based. That's the problem with setting your own bar.
Xbox 360 (3). Cut back and forth between swarthy man and slomo-music situations - a gig, a beach party full of jiggling babes and, finally, a house party where he plays guitar. Early on, a big drink falls into the screen causing the scene to ripple. I therefore assumed it was a Bacardi ad until the endframe: "Love music. Love Xbox 360."
Don't know what more to say. Just as well as I'm nearly up to my 650th word. There.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Gerry Boyle, UK group chief executive, ZenithOptimedia
I'm reliably informed that a decade ago, when Iceland enjoyed its brief Britpop-sponsored moment as the capital of European cool, a movie called 101 Reykjavik made it on to the indie film scene.
With a score by Damon Albarn and suitably barren cinematography, it captured the island's bleak isolation perfectly. Lots of nothingness. Iceland may be beautiful, but its beauty lies in its emptiness - a counterpoint to the frenzy of its big, noisy neighbours.
And, for long tracts of time, that's where the movie spends its existence - doing nothing. When its protagonist is asked what he does for a living, he replies "nothing". When pushed with a "what kind of nothing?", he responds with "a nothing kind of nothing". Which brings us to the new Sony (5) work from Juan Cabral.
Juan has created exactly that - a nothing kind of nothing. For Sony's new "soundville" campaign, he's found a small Icelandic town and stacked a wodge of speakers in aesthetically inspiring clumps around it. A soundscape is pumped, Waco-style, through them, much to the merriment of the town's inhabitants. Except the merriment never really happens. In fact, nothing happens. As a short film, it's both beautiful and dull. As an ad, who knows?
Maybe it would become a kind of Iceland for the British ad break - a welcomingly bleak counterpoint to the frenzy of its noisy neighbours. Viewing in online isolation - as Sony wants - leaves me cold.
One problem with TV sponsorship is when the programme has previously enjoyed a long, successful partnership with another brand. And few beat can Domino's association with The Simpsons - a masterclass in effective TV sponsorship.
This is why I love the Change4Life (6) work. What an absolutely brilliant thought. They've taken the full force of that long-standing association and used it to their own end. So, instead of the Simpson family on their sofa, eating pizza and watching telly, the Change4Life characters are propelled from the sofa into the pool or on to a bike.
This is nicely crafted with a wonderful media thought behind it. Most importantly, it evidences the true power of properly joined-up media and creative thinking. Who said we can't all work together anymore? Definitely my pick of the week.
Another warning against doing nothing comes from the CLG Fire Safety (4) people. In this case, if you don't check your fire alarm regularly: "YOU WILL DIE IN SECONDS ... NOT MINUTES, SECONDS." Slightly less of a soft-sell than the Change4Life work. Still, it's beautifully done. It has taken a public misconception, that you're likely to wake up if your house catches fire (you won't: you'll probably fall fast into toxic unconsciousness), and delivered it subtly and powerfully. I hope this works.
The third of the ads "for a better life" is about cutting down on salt in processed foods. Again, the Food Standards Agency (2) initiative is a hugely worthy one and goes for another soft-of-centre approach - this time with a comedienne and a jingle. Over-salted food is a big issue and this boils it down to a simple "read the label" message, but it feels light in instruction to convey such a tough topic.
You can do everything on your Xbox 360 (3) these days. Thankfully, it's refused to lump "everything" into one confusing epic. Instead, it's made great dramatisations of two features - music and TV. They're certainly sharp and I'd sooner be at one of their parties than in Iceland, but the tone feels much more naturally suited to the "music" treatment than the "TV" one.
You can do just one more thing in your Audi (1) coupe nowadays - that's get out of a back door. Should coupes have four doors? It doesn't feel right. As good a reason as any for Bartle Bogle Hegarty's planners to fashion a creative brief with "ah, but we knew you'd say that ..." as its title. As demonstrations of the four-door problem/opportunity, they're good. And about as much as you can do with a four-door sportscar.
Which is much, much better than doing nothing.
Project: A5 Sportback
Client: James Millett, national communications manager, Audi
Brief: Create a buzz around the Audi A5 Sportback and encourage people
to seek further information online or at their local dealer
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers/art directors: Bill Hartley, Giles Hepworth
Exposure: Print, outdoor, radio, online
2. FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY
Project: Full of it
Client: Kate Frankum, acting head of marketing, Food Standards Agency
Brief: Reduce salt consumption and raise awareness of salt content in
Writer: Martyn Smith
Art directors: Jo Webb, Mark Hurst
Director: Jeff Stark
Production company: Another Film Company
Exposure: TV, outdoor, press, radio, online
3. XBOX 360
Project: Xbox 360
Client: Michael Flatt, head of advertising, Xbox EMEA
Brief: Show that the Xbox has something for everyone
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writer: Jonny Skinner
Art director: Ben Brazier
Director: Steve Cope
Production company: Rattling Stick
4. CLG FIRE SAFETY
Client: David Watson, head of campaigns and marketing, CLG Fire Safety
Brief: Encourage the public to test their smoke alarms regularly
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Mike Boles
Art director: Jerry Hollens
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production company: Blink
Client: Ed Donald, general manager, Sony
Brief: Remind people of the importance of sound quality in the
entertainment experience and Sony's superior understanding of it
Writer/art director: n/s
Director: Juan Cabral
Production company: The Moving Picture Company
Project: Sponsorship idents for
The Simpsons on Channel 4
Client: Sarah Haynes, head of Change4Life
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: James Lowther
Art director: Bill Gallacher
Director: Luis Cook
Production company: Aardman Animations
Exposure: TV idents