I have just been involved in a big bike smash on the Marylebone Road.
I'm lying on the road, bike in bits, legs all over the place and there's an ambulance man looking down at me.
Suddenly everything flashes to white and when I come round, instead of being in hospital, I find myself in Soho Square, having just had a long, boozy lunch at Kettner's with Shabby, Skip and Sir Derek. The sun is shining, I'm wearing a Farah trouser, a casual loafer and there are pretty girls everywhere.
Rupert Howell is eating a prawn sandwich from M&S on the grass, listening to Dire Straits on his Sony Walkman. Gerry Moira is in tight shorts and a vest doing push-ups in front of some impressed secretaries. Andrew Cracknell is hiding in some bushes.
Shit! I'm in a coma. In some sort of Life On Mars parallel advertising universe dumped back into the 90s, where the internet hasn't been invented and television ads are big-budget, sketchtastic.Wooohooooh! I need to stop pissing around in Soho Square looking at girls and get back and write Private View. Pronto.
Five (3). Let's start with this big-budget TV number putting all of the stars of Five's top drama shows in one monster ad with the line: "The drama continues." Not here it doesn't. It's nicely shot, but the execution is about as dramatic as a wet Monday night in Olympia. These shows are engaging and very exciting but, sadly, I'm left a bit underwhelmed.
Mars (1). Another TV ad, it's a nicely shot and observed short-form doc-type ad with ex-England footballers, male and female, talking about what it means to play for your country. The problem with doing ads around the World Cup is there is a danger that if you don't get the balance right, your brand suffers from lack of impact. This piece, as interesting as it is, has little - in fact, nothing - to do with Mars, and as a result could have been for any brand.
The Observer (6). More TV. Yay! This one is a beautifully written brand ad with all the pace of a Two Ronnies sketch. It uses the budget really well with clever direction and editing. My only issue with it is that it plays that 90s ad model of 95 per cent entertainment, and 5 per cent product right at the end. It feels like the creatives wanted to be creative first and sell the paper second; as a result, the hook of the endline gets lost and it doesn't sell me the paper hard enough.
Cadbury's Dairy Milk (2). TV again. This is an odd one. It's a complicated brief, so stick with me. It's a Glass and a Half Full Production for Fairtrade Fortnight. There's a Big Swap album of covers performed by The Big Ghana Band, where you get a chance to download the tracks by swapping products for Fairtrade ones, and Paolo Nutini too. Wow. Too much to say and too many brands. It's complicated, is what I'm trying to say. The simple, charming tone of previous Cadbury advertising has been lost with this hard-sell retail message.
Department of Health (4). More TV, yawn. Animation with Bulla telling us about how to lose his spare tyre. It does the job all right but it's really prescriptive and a bit dull. Could have, and should have, been more interesting. Animating the brief isn't enough.
Confused.com (5). I'm in a coma right now, so I'm confused anyway, and after seeing this TV ad, I am even more confused.
In fact, I'm so confused, it almost makes sense. It's an unbelievably tortured thought about people being haunted by the things they could have bought if they had saved money by getting car insurance at Confused.com but didn't get because they got insurance ... somewhere ... else ... and ... oh, Christ! ... turn off the life support machine. Please.
EDITOR - Sam Delaney, Heat editor and author of Get Smashed - The Story Of The Men Who Made The Ads That Changed Our Lives (Sceptre)
Of course, there's always been a strong link between top-flight international footballers and Mars (1) bars. Except, hang on, no there hasn't. Here, a bunch of internationals recollect the pride and passion inspired by pulling on the white jersey of England. It's stirring stuff. And by "stirring", I mean "cliched and trite". They've not exactly drawn from the A list of England superstars either: instead, there's Viv Anderson, Terry Butcher and even a member of the ladies' (!!) team. Still, with the state of top-flight football these days, it must have been hard to find any stars who wouldn't have demanded an eight-figure fee, then arrived on set 12 hours late, spangled off their nuts on goof balls behind the wheel of a speeding baby Bentley, crashing it into the catering van before stumbling out of the mangled wreckage to make aggressive sexual advances at an 18-year-old runner. Say what you like about Viv Anderson, but that's just not the way he rolls.
Remember when Channel Five first started and it had that show where Keith Chegwin got his knob out? It was actually quite good - but not nearly as good as the sort of moody cop shows that Five (3) has got nowadays. This moodily delivered ad makes it all seem so classy, so sophisticated, so HBO. I'm a sucker for that sort of stuff. It's not all Live From Studio Five, you know.
Cadbury's Dairy Milk (2). Why are the records coming alive? What's that irritating music? Why is that twat with the silly accent shouting at me? It's something to do with Fairtrade products, chocolate and Paolo Nutini. Far too many propositions for my tiny brain to contend with all at once. I thought ads were supposed to make consumer choices simpler.
What's the point of a broadsheet Sunday newspaper these days? I mean, if it's not some tarty chef noncing on about what to do with your leftover guinea fowl, it's Marianna Posh Knickers advising you what to do about your kid's allergy to organic bed-sheets. Load of rubbish, really, isn't it? Or is it? This ad for The Observer (6) neatly encapsulates the terrifying avalanche of baffling news stories that confront us throughout the week: a comically earnest reporter machine-gunning us with stupid news-speak. Just as it's becoming unbearable, a dead soothing female voiceover cuts through the madness, advising us to "pause, review and reflect". A copy of the swishy-looking new Observer fans out across the screen. I want to wrap myself in it and tell myself that everything's gonna be OK.
Confused.com (5). This big fat bloke's looking at a pair of jeans, which have taken on a life of their own and are prancing round in his bedroom in the dead of night. "They're the jeans I would've bought with the money I could've saved on the car insurance if I'd gone to Confused.com," murmurs his wife, who's trying to sleep beside him. "Spend 15 minutes and save up to £150 on Confused.com," the voiceover promises. You can't say fairer that that, can you? A nicely explicit selling point expressed through a tidy little creative idea. If only more ads were like that.
Unfortunately, some ads are patronising and stupid, like this one for the Department of Health (4). A cheeky cockney Morph-like figure swaggers down the street, harping on about weight loss in a way that the DoH supposes might be palatable to an overweight member of the great unhosed. "Ere'ya, you soppy mongrel! I've gawn and mugged me guts off by walking dahn the juicer 'stead of getting a sherbert! Anyway, be lacky!" he chirps. At least I think that's what he chirps. The general sentiment is clear: "Attention, poor people! Stop eating chips, you ghastly little oiks!" Yeah, well screw you, Department of Health. You don't deserve people to be thinner!
Project: How it feels to wear the shirt
Client: Caroline Jary, senior UK brand manager, Mars
Brief: Celebrate Mars' new official partnership with the FA and the
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Prabhu Wignarajah
Art director: Jeremy Tribe
Director: John Dower
Production company: 2AM
Exposure: National TV
Project: Big Swap songs
Client: Lucy Evans, senior brand manager, Cadbury Dairy Milk
Brief: Show Cadbury's Dairy Milk's support for Fairtrade during
Writer/art directors: Chris Bovill, John Allison
Director: Corin Hardy
Production company: Academy Films
Exposure: UK and Ireland TV
Project: The drama continues
Brief: Raise awareness that Five is undeniably the channel for the best
Agency: Power Animal
Writer: Power Animal
Art director: Power Animal
Directors: Richard Hart, Keith Gray
Production company: Power Animal
Exposure: TV, online
4. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Project: Change4Life adult audience
Client: Julia Mason, senior campaign manager, Change4Life Adults, DoH
Brief: Get 45- to 64-year-olds to realise how a spare tyre on their
outside is affecting their insides
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: James Lowther
Art director: Bill Gallacher
Director: Stephen Harding-Hill
Production company: Aardman Animations
Exposure: National TV, regional outdoor
Project: Jeans, guitar, tennis
Client: Tom Bennett, marketing director, Confused.com
Brief: Dramatise the regret felt by someone who could have saved money
with Confused.com, but didn't
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Writer: Ian Heartfield
Art director: Matt Doman
Director: Harold Einstein
Production company: Station Films
Exposure: National TV, press, outdoor, online
6. THE OBSERVER
Clients: Richard Furness, Anna Hayman, Katy Stevens, The Observer
Brief: Relaunch The Observer
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy London
Writers/art directors: Rob Burleigh, David Stevens
Director: David C Kerr
Production company: Moon
Exposure: National TV
This article was first published on Campaign