Cilla Snowball On Advertising

We have ways of making you stick to your New Year resolution
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The Independent Online

ew year, new columnist. Well, only temporarily. Stefano is on holiday (not, as some would wish, in permanent exile), so this is my brief but long-awaited moment in the editorial sun. A tough act to follow and an even tougher week to review.

After Wnek and Hatfield, the trend is firmly established for a witty, saucy, testosterone-packed column on the week's adland tittle-tattle and creative output. Both, it has to be said, pretty light and slow in the first week back after the long break. So, no sauce or testosterone this week, but there are a few good New Year ad campaigns that are worthy of attention.

First, the week's news in brief. Crazy Frog spent a whopping £45m on advertising last year - more, even, than Marks and Spencer - but still ended up as the most irritating ad of 2005, according to Marketing magazine. Jamie Oliver is apparently the most influential figure among the middle classes, according to The Fish Can Sing consultancy. The CEO seats at two of London's best agencies, DDB and TBWA, remain tantalisingly vacant. And we await the latest on the new Frank Lowe agency start-up.

So, not a roller-coaster news week, even allowing for the bank holiday. But the advertising business is always much more interesting when you explore the output rather than the inner workings, and the first week back was no exception.

A lot of ad campaigns are focusing on the "new year, new start" theme. Motorola wants us to change our phones to the new PEBL phone. It's cool. I want one... after seeing the ad just the once.

Sainsbury's is urging us to change to healthier eating with a range of non-rabbit-food meal ideas. I've done the tuna one and it's yum.

Virgin Trains hopes to get us to change the way we travel and relive the age of the train.

AOL is raising the debate about the role of the internet - positive and negative.

Lastminute.com has produced an epic expression of carpe diem to get us to change the way we use our leisure time.

Honda is breaking all the rules by trying to make Andy Williams cool again with his track "The Impossible Dream". It won't get me buying or singing, but Michael Baulk, AMV group chairman (and crooner), is already in full voice down the corridor.

And Boots is encouraging us to change one thing to make ourselves healthier and happier (see Best in Show).

Not a bad collection of new ads to encourage us to change for the better: exercise more, eat well, reflect, relax, be cool and travel in style. But what I particularly like about some of these ads is that they recognise a fundamental human truth: resolutions are very easy to make but very hard to keep.

Most people are quite guarded about theirs, but my colleagues provided a few gems. George Bryant, managing partner and advertising guy through and through, says that he's perfect and hasn't made any. In contrast, Pascoe, our wonderful receptionist, resolves to make each day better and more worthwhile than yesterday. Christine, our head of communications, says that hers it to renovate her flat. Someone who declines to be named has resolved to be taller.

It is estimated that about 60 per cent of New Year resolutions aren't kept because they're too radical, unrealistic or ill-prepared. We all have fine intentions, especially when it comes to our health - losing weight and giving up smoking being prime examples. Many women want to lose weight, many smokers want to give up, but the hard part is actually doing it, day in, day out. And that's where advertising can play a really vital role in turning all those good intentions into action - providing the motivation, inspiration and, crucially, support in changing our everyday behaviour. Keeping it simple, making it easy and making it fun.

Because, as we all know, true and lasting behaviour change is achieved in small steps and not giant leaps. Small changes are what make the big difference.

So, this week, the general message from adland is not so much saucy as sensible. Which is probably an appropriate handover to Stefano Hatfield, who will be back here next week.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Cilla Snowball is chairman of AMV BBDO and Proximity London

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