For the fourth consecutive year, B&Q tops the annual Adwatch superleague - and the 2003 table reveals a huge gap between Britain's favourite DIY retailer and its Adwatch competitors.
With a comparatively modest budget, B&Q is a case study in sticking with a successful formula: a heavy and consistent TV spend and a theme that seems to have been running forever.
But 2003 saw one big change. In the face of financial crisis at B&Q's agency Bates UK, marketing director David Roth moved the business into J Walter Thompson, with its first campaign launching in September.
The TV work - about 100 films in 2003 - continues to be split into three categories: shorter, price-led commercials using the 'price reverse' theme; product work for B&Q's own-brand ranges; and longer ads for JWT's new 'affordable style' campaign.
'Affordable style' capitalises on the current demand for stylish, but reasonably-priced products. The ads run in tandem with the product advertising, which has successfully built B&Q's power-tools range into the biggest in the UK in just two years.
Roth intends to develop this own-brand business, with the help of JWT's strategic skills.
It has been a confusing year for McDonald's and its agency Leo Burnett.
Initial reports that the UK Happy Meal business would move out of Burnetts proved unfounded, but the agency subsequently lost out in the pitch for a big global idea.
German agency Heye & Partners was responsible for the much-derided 'I'm Lovin' It' idea and the Justin Timberlake link-up, although the big launch commercial was the only Heye work to run in Britain.
Since the 'I'm Lovin' It' launch, local McDonald's agencies have had to incorporate the theme into their own campaigns. In the UK, Burnetts has created 12 ads aimed at each of McDonald's markets - families, adults and children.
During 2003, Burnetts shot 46 McDonald's ads. Some of the most memorable advertising of the year featured in the new Happy Meals campaign. Aimed at adults, it showed children in the playground talking about how frequently they change their friends.
Significantly, this is the first time in many years that not one McDonald's commercial featured in the table for recall in a single week, and the brand has also slipped in the overall table.
Although its work now has to focus on 'I'm Lovin' It', Burnetts is determined to retain the British quirkiness that has made its McDonald's work some of the best-recalled UK advertising of the past decade.
After a slightly off-the-boil 2002, Britain's longest-running celebrity campaign now seems firmly back on track.
It was a year of innovation for Walkers in 2003. Product launches resulted in some of the most interesting work done by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO on the Gary Lineker 'No More Mr Nice Guy' theme.
Walkers' highest Adwatch score of the year came in March with the 'Whoopee Cushion' spot in aid of Comic Relief. The ad, featuring Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Frank Skinner and Kate Winslet, implied the stars had been overdosing on beans rather than crisps.
In the summer, the launch of three flavours - chicken tikka masala, Chinese spare ribs and sweet & sour - saw Lineker give an impressive performance in a Bollywood pastiche with Kumars star Meera Syal.
But the most significant advertising move was the emergence of a new Walkers personality. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was recruited in the spring to star with Lineker in the 'posh crisps' work for Walkers Sensations.
The 'openings' ad, with Tara as the party-hopping celeb and Lineker as her chauffeur, was followed by the 'bath' film that launched Sensations Crackers.
Palmer-Tomkinson is already telling the media about what she sees as an enduring relationship, although the company itself remains tight-lipped on the prospect of hiring a celebrity at the opposite end of the risk scale to the ever-reliable Lineker.
118 118 (THE NUMBER)
Topping the table for the highest recall in a single week, the year's best investment was surely the £2m that The Number paid for 118 118 to the unknown start-up that got lucky in Oftel's directory enquiries lottery.
The year's best marketing decision was The Number's choice of agency to launch its blitz on the deregulated market. WCRS's 70s middle-distance runners were the advertising hit of 2003, giving 118 118 more than 80% awareness by the time 192 was withdrawn in August.
118 118's Adwatch achievement was amazing. It is the first brand to have hit 90% in the past six years and the first to go straight to number one, since the National Lottery in the mid-90s.
The strategy was to demonstrate that The Number would devote more energy to go further than its competitors. In an attempt to establish 118 118 long before deregulation, the runners first hit the airwaves in the spring.
Supported by an effective PR campaign, WCRS ran 13 commercials with different messages. By the time 192 was consigned to the old-folks' home, the runners were celebrities, their profile raised by runner David Bedford's lawsuit claiming the campaign traded on his 70s persona.
The best-recalled ad was the 60-second spoof on the training scene from 70s movie, Rocky, with the heroes followed by dozens of children dressed as 118 runners. This advertising epic consolidated 118 118 as leader in the £300m market, the brand that unseated the incumbent and left its competitors as also-rans.
11 88 88 (CONDUIT)
Strange, but true. The two most memorable commercials of 2003 were in a category that had never crossed most people's minds until the past five months.
Despite the nerve-jangling song and dance numbers, one has to feel slightly sorry for 11 88 88, which set out to be the best-value competitor in the marketplace.
Irish firm Conduit, which bought the 11 88 88 number from Cable & Wireless, found itself up against a more memorable number. While the work lacked the charm of the moustached runners, it was an Adwatch winner.
The TV onslaught, created by Partners BDDH - now Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper Partners - began in the spring with a campaign reinforcing Conduit's 20p-a-minute price message.
Three cartoon superheroes rushed around saving people from paying too much for directory enquiries, accompanied by an intrusive jingle.
But the really good stuff came in August, just before 192's demise, when the cartoon superheroes turned into live-action music-hall figures. Three 20-second and four 10-second commercials showed the characters performing their jingle using a bizarre range of instruments.
Euro RSCG says it was designed to be intrusive, irritating and memorable during its three-week run. It succeeded, giving 118 118 an uncomfortably close run for its money in Adwatch, if not in the marketplace.
Delaney Lund Knox Warren's campaign, starring the ubiquitous Howard and colleagues, has been the financial advertising success story of the decade. But extending the campaign was always going to be tricky.
This year, DLKW developed a series of distinctive animations featuring a cartoon version of Howard. The first broke on Boxing Day, showing Howard in bed promoting the Halifax current account. Three further ads followed - for personal loans, savings and Halifax Extra - using hard-hitting rate comparisons to drive home the benefits of Halifax products.
DLKW made one live-action spot this year - the 60-second Bollywood extravaganza at the end of April and earned an 83% Adwatch score. Shot by Tarsem in Hyderabad, it was lavish and colourful, everything we have come to expect from Halifax.
Although the agency declares itself pleased with the animation experiment, 2004 is expected to see a return to more live-action activity.
HIGHEST RECALL ACROSS THE YEAR
Brand Agency/TV buyer Mentions Points Budget*
1 B&Q Bates UK, J Walter Thompson/ 35 676 37.13
2 Halifax Delaney Lund Knox Warren/ 19 374 37.20
3 Argos Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper Partners/ 22 371 24.48
4 McDonald's Leo Burnett, Heye & Partners/ 22 364 38.72
5 Homebase Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/PHD 21 358 25.37
6 Sainsburys Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/PHD 16 286 55.60
7 Walkers Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/OMD UK 13 233 18.93
8 BT** St Luke's, AMV BBDO, CHI/ 17 223 105.20
The Allmond Partnership
9 Asda Publicis/Carat 12 219 30.66
10 Woolworths+ Bates UK/ZenithOptimedia 13 211 28.14
* Nielsen Media Research data for the period Nov 2002-Oct 2003
** Includes all BT-branded work: Openworld, Together, Broadband,
Business Plan, Yahoo!
+ Bartle Bogle Hegarty's work did not break during this Adwatch year.
This year's table has been created in a slightly different way from
previous years, with a brand's total number of mentions across the year
(column 5) ranked by a value-added point score. Every number-one Adwatch
position during the year scored 20 points, a number-two position scored
19, a number-three 18, down to a score of one point for a number-20
mention. Each brand's points have been totalled and recorded in column
HIGHEST RECALL IN ANY SINGLE WEEK
02 Brand Agency/TV buyer Score Issue Budget*
1 - 118 118 WCRS/OMD UK 90 16.10.03 15.24
- 11 88 88 Euro RSCG Partners/ 89 18.09.03 13.12
Media Planning Group
3= 1 Lotto WCRS/OMD UK 83 07.11.02 21.53
3= 3= Halifax DLKW/Vizeum UK 83 12.06.03 37.20
5 5= Walkers Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 80 27.03.03 18.93
6 2 B&Q Bates UK/ZenithOptimedia 79 01.05.03 37.13
7 10= Asda Publicis/Carat 78 06.02.03 30.66
8 - Homebase Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 77 22.05.03 25.37
9 5= Argos Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper 76 19.12.02 24.48
10 9 Woolworths Bates UK/ZenithOptimedia 75 09.01.03 28.14
*Nielsen Media Research data for the period Nov 2002-Oct 2003.
Source: These tables have been compiled by Marketing from weekly Adwatch
research carried out by NOP Research Group, with ads selected by Xtreme
Information and Mediaedge:cia.
THE CREATIVE CHOICE
GERRY MOIRA, chairman, Publicis UK - Clarks
In a world of WKD humour and bladdered ladettes, of cynicism and schadenfreude and sex, sex, sex, one little gem stands out.
I refer to the utterly beguiling spot for Clarks Shoes, featuring the little girl who just can't stop dancing in her new boots.
Filmed in home-movie scope to add veracity to its wedding party setting, this commercial is that rare thing: an emotional ad, shot with restraint.
Despite its obvious remit to charm the viewer, we get no winsome close-ups, no cloying music and no schmaltzy ending. Best of all, the spot captures that 'new shoes feeling' perfectly.
CHARLES INGE creative partner, Clemmow Hornby Inge - 118 118
This was the year of directory enquiries deregulation. The proposition - make everyone remember your number - has to go down as one of the most mind-numbingly awful tasks of the past 12 months.
It has all the intellectual challenge of yelling your head off. But in the game of 'who can shout the loudest', 118 118 came through deafeningly clear. It's not clever, it's not pretty, but it's brilliant.
From the Rocky TV ad to posters, press and Honda Cog spoof viral, from T-shirt sales, live TV stunts and PR, this campaign (literally) ran and ran the length and breadth of Britain. WCRS ended up looking as fresh as Mother.
118 118 is here to stay.
LEON JAUME executive creative director, WCRS - Archers
Who likes Archers? It's obvious: women do. What else do women like? Obvious: sexy men and having a laugh.
So would it be too obvious to cram ads with sexy men, do it with a twinkle in your eye and sign it off, 'Something for the ladies'? No, it would be brilliant and hugely successful.
It would also be one of my campaigns of the year and reaffirm the advertising golden rule: never, ever overlook the obvious.
TIM DELANEY chairman, Leagas Delaney - Honda
Honda was an easy choice - but not for the obvious reasons. Of course, the concept was excellent and the direction perfectly restrained.
But I liked it because it took a generic proposition, appropriated it and then took time to tell the story, using the required time-lengths as a weapon rather than a liability.
The whole operation, from idea and direction, to media buy and resulting PR, was executed with great panache and conviction. I only saw it twice and it changed how I think about Honda.
Not bad in 90 seconds.
JONATHAN BURLEY creative director, HHCL/Red Cell - Department of Health, tobacco control programme
I love cigarettes. Morning, noon and night. Me and cigarettes, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. But an ad has come between us.
There is no dialogue in this ad, no transparent attempts to win awards. Just 40 unbearable seconds of listening to a dying smoker struggling to breathe. It is stark, horrifying and remarkable, and I have never been as personally affected by a commercial as I am by this one.
I can't help but still love my cigarettes. But whenever this particular spot comes on, I find it almost impossible to look them in the eye.
This article was first published on Marketing