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The Independent Online
Dummy ... In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around.

Adrian Kemsley, executive creative director, CDP, casts a mild green eye eye over two of the latest soft-soapers. Interview by Scott Hughes.

fairy liquid Grey

This ad was aired over the Christmas period, but it's still around and I think it's so relevant to the brand. It's also a very simple and charming execution.

It begins with a little girl singing "The 12 Days Of Christmas" while opening an advent calendar. We then see her dad doing the washing up, and she asks him whether the bottle of Fairy Liquid that he's using is empty. It's not, and we proceed to see a succession of shots of her asking the same question over a number of days. And a voice-over tells us that Fairy lasts loads longer than other washing-up liquids.

Finally, it's Christmas Day and at last the bottle is finished. We then see that the little girl has made a fairy doll out of the Fairy bottle, which Dad puts on top of the tree.

All in all, it's a sweet little ad, well observed and nicely cast. And the use of the advent calendar is a clever device to demonstrate how long the product lasts.

The ad also taps into that tradition of kids making things from Fairy Liquid bottles; I've seen another execution in this campaign that has a lad using his washing-up liquid bottle to make a space rocket. It's good to see work like this from advertisers like Proctor and Gamble; the ads have a real brand leader confidence.

abbey national

Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper

This ad ends with the line: "Because life's complicated enough", which is a good summation of this 60-second execution.

Alan Davies goes into a pub filled with bikers, who proceed to tell him that they have no pent-up aggression because Abbey National makes life easy for them. They in turn reel off a load of things that Abbey National offer as part of their service.

There's also a sub-plot about a cat that Davies brings into the pub with him, which concludes with a biker dabbing his lips; a sign behind him reads "Cat of the Day". Then, a cloth is removed from the sign to reveal that what it actually says is "Catch of the Day", and a biker leans back to reveal the cat.

The whole thing is far too complicated, but I do remember a line from one of the bikers: "They don't take their lunchtimes when I do."

I thought this could be the beginning of a much simpler idea, that could have been executed in half the time and for half the budget. I remember an old American ad for a bank that showed a lone figure seated in a diner, eating his lunch at 11.15 in the morning. The ad concluded with the line: "A great place to bank - a rotten place to work."

I'm sure that the American agency managed to get a long-running, humorous campaign from that line. Abbey National's agency will have to do more than bolt Alan Davies onto their client if they have any hope of achieving a memorable and long-running campaign.