I'm writing this on a Saturday. We've got at least ten teams in work or working at home. We've got two big campaigns to write for next year, the Christmas ad for Britain's fastest-growing supermarket to finesse and a pitch next Friday.
I'm not complaining. God, I'd rather we were stacked. But it's hard out there, everyone's scrapping and you can't afford to relax for a second.
So, to those whose work doesn't come up to scratch this week, apologies for being nasty but, in mitigation and to mangle Winston Churchill, I haven't got time to be nice.
Freeview (1) offers the promise of all the best telly delivered straight to your door, free of charge. To dramatise this, they show a load of stars from some average-to-poor television programmes turning up at some bloke's door. They've even got folk arriving from the ads they show as well. Postman Pat turns up on a big shoehorn fresh from the Specsavers ad. And Alan Whicker dribbles in from an old Travelocity campaign. In the old days, this used to get called a concrete metaphor. Nowadays, it just gets called lazy.
The social care work, for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (3), is better. It's got some really nice performances in it. They're trying to dramatise the solution, show people being given a new voice, but the use of celebs being given other people's voices is confusing. I think the idea would have worked better with normal people, maybe even in silence.
John Lewis (6). I'm in awe of this work. Not because it's that great, although it's not bad, but because of what it represents. How fantastic must it be to win a pitch without having to do anything new, at all, to the brand's advertising? Rehash the retail stuff and, now, rehash the foodhall stuff minus the cleverness of the lines in the award- winning work written by the last agency. I love the look of these ads, but then I would. They were art directed two years ago at Lowe by Simon Morris, legend of the visual universe and now sitting in an office two doors down from me, as the head of art at DLKW. Maybe the step change for John Lewis will come this Christmas.
Drinkaware (2). Some good truths here. If you don't want to get drunk, pace yourself, drink water and eat before you go out. A bit strange, though, to dress these truths up in various layers of linguistic and visual trickery rather than dramatise them more memorably. Especially on posters.
Two ads for Nike (4). One boring, familiar one starring Theo Walcott. And then, one that, at half the length, packs three times the punch using Wayne Rooney. The Walcott one is like every other football ad we've seen. The Rooney one is like something we've only see once before, on a brilliant poster. It's a lovely, fresh take on the game and the man. I really like it.
The Home Office (5) knife crime is a good and interesting idea. An online MCing competition where all the lyrics have to be anti-knife, "Drop the lyrics. Drop the knife". It's relevant and apparently popular with more than 10,000 people following it. It took me a while to get around it but I laid down my knife a long time ago.
So back to work.
In the words of the MCs from the last idea, big up to those that did the Rooney ad and the Home Office microsite.
To everyone else, better luck next time.
PLANNER - RICHARD HUNTINGTON, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY, SAATCHI & SAATCHI
Advertising is at its best when it's trying to get stuff done, when it's in the thick of the action solving problems for brands, businesses or society at large. After all, that's why we joined the business, because we understand and relish the power that creativity has in solving tricky problems.
Solving problems, mind, not simply cranking out "someadvertising" in order to pass the time of day and work through the client's budget with very little idea of what the task is and how to solve it with communications. And so how delightful that, by and large, this week's selection shows us at our collective best getting stuff done, whether for business or for Britain.
I say by and large because, first up, is the new Nike (4) football campaign. Given this is a brand with such a proud communications legacy, it has disappointingly plumped for the "someadvertising" option. Nice ads, but I struggle to see the task they are addressing and I am left thinking nothing new and feeling no different about the Nike brand.
Rather more purposeful is the work for John Lewis (6). OK, announcing that there is a new foodhall at the Bluewater store is hardly the noblest job of work. But it's a proper brief to solve a proper problem and this print acquits itself with precision, elegance and a dose of good old-fashioned visual wit.
Similarly, Freeview (1) feels like it's also trying to get something done out there. Although I am not entirely sure whether they are encouraging digital switchover among Britain's analogue rump or attempting to dent the onwards march of Sky by getting subscribers to trade down. Whatever the case, I worry that the logical answer to the question "Why pay to view when you can Freeview?" is best answered by: "Because I have no interest in watching the tired parade of never was, wannabe, has-beens of broadcasting on show in this ad."
Having lent our talents to business, we move on to the clutch of public-service briefs in the bag this week.
And they don't come much more challenging than sorting out teenage binge-drinking. At last, we have stopped trying to point out how embarrassed young people will be by their drunken behaviour when losing control is precisely why kids escape into alcohol. Advertising cannot stop kids binge-drinking but it can help reduce the harm that comes to them if and when they do, which is precisely what the Drinkaware (2) campaign is up to. I only wish the executions were rather more pokey and I worry how much traction this campaign will gain in the market.
No less tricky is persuading kids not to carry blades, whether for self-defence or for self-respect. Clearly, the Home Office (5) online MCing competition is not going to make a massive difference, but this work is authentic, engaging and depth-charged with insight about knives that is straight from the lives and mouths of kids who are affected by the issue. In its own small way, I think this is really rather powerful.
Finally, our business has an admirable history of supporting recruitment to the social services with insightful and creatively powerful work. And the latest Department for Children, Schools and Families (3) campaign is no different, offering a profession with rock-bottom self-esteem and even less public respect a real role to play in society and a rallying cry from which to build back its reputation and open up the flow of quality candidates once more.
All in all, a selection that makes you feel proud of what we do for both brands and society. And while that's what people expect us to do for commercial clients, it's sad we are not more vocal about our contribution to the public sphere and, in particular, it is extraordinary that the industry and its representatives are so silent about the increasing criticism of the government advertising spend we use so wisely.
Client: Tim Hunt, head of marketing and communications, Freeview
Brief: Show everyone that the great value of Freeview is not just in its
pricing but also in the range of quality programming
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Writer/art director: Simon Bere
Director: Steve Reeves
Production company: Another Film Company
Exposure: TV, DM, POS, online
Project: Campaign for Smarter Drinking
Client: Campaign for Smarter Drinking
Brief: Encourage 18- to 24-year-olds to evaluate their drinking habits
and, in the long term, change the social acceptability of drunkenness
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Paul Knott
Art director: Tim Vance
3. DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES
Project: Give them a voice
Clients: Karen Smalley, head of marketing; Nikki Waid, deputy head of
Brief: Raise the profile of social work as a profession and encourage
Writers/art directors: Gregor Findlay, Kevin Colquhoun
Director: Ben Quinn
Production company: COI
Exposure: Online, social media, TV, PR
Project: Make the difference
Brief: A player that makes the difference wins football matches
Agencies: W&K London, W&K Amsterdam
Writers/art directors: Stuart Harkness, Shay Reading, Pierre Janneau,
Directors: Ben & Jo Dempsey, Malcolm Venville
Production companies: Knucklehead, Independent London
Exposure: TV, online
5. HOME OFFICE
Project: Freestyle king
Client: Home Office
Brief: Anti-knife crime
Agency: Saint@Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer/art director: David Martin
6. JOHN LEWIS
Project: Bluewater foodhall
Client: Jeremy Stevens, manager branch communications, John Lewis
Brief: Launch the new John Lewis foodhall in Bluewater
Agency: Adam & Eve
Writer: John Long
Art director: Matt Gay
Exposure: Press, outdoor
This article was first published on Campaign