I'm fine and I will get through this. It was just a shock.
You see, someone found out I was reviewing their ad, so they e-mailed me. They wanted to know if there was any additional info I wanted on their ad. They even offered to chat.
All pretty harmless, you might say, but they ended the e-mail: "I hope you like it."
Now I feel trapped in a Larry David moment. Reviewer and reviewee made contact. It changes everything.
I wanted to come to this with ruthless impartiality. But I can't anymore. He/she hopes I "like it". And maybe I do. But what if I don't?
Well, here goes. First up, Xbox (5) has made an online widget that lets you animate big red lips on one of your Facebook pictures. Then you put music to it and send on to a friend ...
like a pop video. Oh my God, it read my mind - that's just what I wanted.
Boots (2) is next. Here come the girls on the way to their Christmas lunch, which, luckily for them, wasn't cancelled due to this year's budget cutbacks. Presumably they work for a bank.
The role of Boots seemed stronger last year when all the girls were getting ready for the party - hair, make-up and perfume etc. That's what Boots does best and what we love it for. In this ad, it's 100 per cent unadulterated present-giving. But it's still great fun, especially when the old man learns "the running man". It'll sell by the recycled bagful.
Phones 4u (1). I admire the strategy here. It's for people who have lots of friends - not for people who don't. Crystal clear. On first viewing, I thought the ad was a coolish homage to Be Kind Rewind - great warrior outfits made of cardboard, all looking pretty interesting. This must be an execution for the "with friends" side of the campaign, I thought. But, no, I was wrong. The cardboard dudes have no friends apparently. Now I feel silly. And that maybe it isn't so crystal clear after all.
Mattel (4) ran an ad during the postal strike. It's one of those ads that says look how clever we are, us advertisers ...
we are as smart as paint. There are "no letters" on the playing pieces. Get it? No letters. Because there are no letters.
Guinness (6) is playing God in the next spot. Forget all other theories. God created ... oh no, he didn't. Darwin. He was a fraud. The whole world, according to Guinness anyway, was invented by four Irish blokes.
It's beautifully put together. The craft I can't fault. But didn't it make another spot about evolution ("noitulove") a couple of years ago? Isn't it becoming a bit obsessed with creation theory? Some of my friends drink Guinness religiously, but Guinness is not a religion. It's a stout - of Irish origin. It should try enjoying itself a bit more.
The tissue-maker Kleenex (3) must have made some cash from the recent swine flu epidemic. It's gone to town here. Rankin's behind the camera. In front of it are Emma Bunton, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Bob Geldof and a tough-guy Brit actor I've never heard of, Tom Hardy.
So what do I think of it. It's a tough one this. There is ambition there - I applaud that. It has tried to get out of the "nasal tissue" sector and push things into a new space. And it has so nearly done it. If it can get the "let it out" thought right, it could be great.
So that was my Private View. I think my thoughts were pure. But who knows?
I just hope you liked it.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Moray MacLennan, worldwide chief executive, M&C Saatchi
Wake up early, almost beside myself with excitement. Rush downstairs to open my presents. It's Private View day, the day when the e-mail arrives and you get the chance to make life-long enemies.
Will it be what I've always wanted ...
A sharp stab of disappointment, how could it do this to me?
I hate you Campaign.
Five old-fashioned ads and only one example of our brave new world. I had dreamt of banners.
I'll open the biggest one first. You can fit the product into a pint, but not the weight of expectation. Guinness (6).
"It's time to bring this place to life," the voiceover starts, as we see a rocket fired into the sky over a bleak landscape, and then - where there was death, there is life; what was barren, is fertile.
It's beautifully shot, some stunning images (I like the trees best) lovingly edited, but there's a problem. "Good things come to those who wait" - Guinness - I get it. "Bring it to life" - Guinness - not really. Well I do, but it's not as good.
I'm going to open the smallest one next. Mattel (4) and Scrabble.
A topical press ad, which rests on a pun, nothing wrong with that.
Meanwhile, a Scrabble board with pieces on it but they are blank. It ran when the Royal Mail strike was on - no letters. Good, if you're in the mood for a puzzle.
On to the next wrapper, which is the oddest-looking gift. Phones 4u (1). Two men in cardboard robot suits have a fight. The idea is that they are sad and have no friends, but if you do have more than 50 friends on your phone, you get money off. I don't like gratuitously daft, YouTube-like ads, unless they're really funny. The agency and client won't care because they'll say I'm not the target audience. Can't argue with that, I'll rewrap it and give it to my daughter, probably more her cup of tea.
Let's get the boring present out of the way. Kleenex (3). How interesting can that be - a box of tissues? But, actually, this turns out to be a surprise package.
OK, Emma Bunton is not good and Bob Geldof is just OK. Tom Hardy is good though, and Sven puts in a better performance than he did as England manager. But the idea is the best thing of all - "let it out". In the commercial we see a series of celebrities (sort of) letting out unexpected emotions and mopping them up with Kleenex. Great big idea for a little tissue.
OK, I can't wait any longer, time to interact. Xbox (5) "Lips" is a microsite on the Xbox website for a jukebox game. The idea is that you choose a track, download Facebook pictures of you and your mates and then a pair of lips are superimposed on to yours and sing a song. Then, of course, you send it to your mates, who do the same and it becomes a phenomenon. The trouble with earned media is it's bloody difficult to earn and the question is: Does this work hard enough? Just about.
To the last gift. Boots (2). It cheers me up every time I hear this commercial and I think of Boots in a good way. The plot's as simple as simple can be - a bunch of girls go out for the office Christmas lunch and give each other presents.
It's not easy doing a Christmas retail commercial, there are a lot of boxes to tick, this not only ticks them all, we're also left with a very good end product. More telling, the girls in the office threatened me with intimate, painful and physical retribution if I even hinted at anything negative about it.
Thanks for the presents. I admit to being a poor receiver of gifts. Better to give than to receive they say, but not if you're giving to me.
1. PHONES 4u
Project: Cardboard warriors
Clients: Russell Braterman, director of marketing; Caspar Nelson, head
of brand communication, Phones 4u
Brief: Continue the great deals for popular people campaign
Agency: Adam & Eve
Writer: Harry Budgen
Art director: Sid Rogers
Director: Ben Wheatley
Production company: Blink
Project: The lunch
Client: Elizabeth Fagan, marketing director, Boots
Brief: Communicate the broad range of gifts available at Boots this
Art director: Mother
Director: Steve Reeves
Production company: Another Film Company
Project: Kleenex masterbrand campaign
Client: Christof Baer, marketing manager, Kleenex Europe
Brief: Reinforce Kleenex's emotional credentials
Agency: JWT London
Art director: n/s
Directors: Rankin and Chris
Production company: HSI
Project: Postal strike = no letters
Client: Erica Zubriski, marketing director, Mattel UK
Brief: Proactive and tactical creative, born from the topical debate
surrounding the postal strikes. Engage with readers using Scrabble's
trademark intelligent humour
Agency: Ogilvy Advertising
Writer: Andy Dibb
Art director: Andy Bird
Project: Lips: Number One Hits
Clients: Nigel Roy, head of Xbox.com EMEA; Michael Flatt, head of
advertising, Xbox EMEA
Brief: Increase awareness of the new karaoke game from Xbox called Lips:
Number One Hits
Creative team: Matt Longstaff, Per Neilson, Miles Unwin
Project: Bring it to life
Client: Paul Cornell, marketing manager, Guinness
Brief: Convince light drinkers that Guinness is a product that is full
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Art director: n/s
Director: Johnny Green
Production company: Knucklehead