The Churchill story began 10 years ago when Leo Burnett copywriter Julian Borra created the animatronic dog with the distinctive vocal talents of Bob Mortimer, which struck an immediate chord with the insurance-buying public.
The brand made slow progress until last year when new owner Royal Bank of Scotland added radio and posters to the mix. Advertising, now handled by Borra's consultancy EBP, moved on to TV for home insurance and loans, and press for travel, life, pet and breakdown cover. The year has seen an unprecedented number of new executions, most notably 'Goal Alien' and 'Pie Wugga'.
An increased spend and sharper media planning pushed brand and DRTV commercials further into prime time, while technology that could represent Churchill's 'flocked' fur allowed the move from animatronics to computer-generated imagery.
Its advertising success has brought EBP a new task for 2005: it is now working on a new identity.
The electricals retailer's 'Always Cutting Prices' campaign, featuring Linda Barker and her oversized scissors, earned 36 Adwatch mentions this year, putting it in the Adwatch of the Year top five.
The success of the advertising is reflected in half-year results showing a 9% like-for-like sales growth, and an increase in footfall of between 5% and 10% since the campaign began in August.
M&C Saatchi signed Barker following her appearance in ITV show I'm a Celebrity, convinced she had the credibility to soften the hard price message Currys wanted to revive. The 120-plus executions have shown her interacting with an actress playing staffer 'Emma'. The 10- and 30-second ads run three weeks in every four, calculated by Walker Media to maximise awareness while minimising investment.
Barker has certainly earned her cheque. After a brief experiment of a few Barker-free ads, Currys is determined to retain her as its public face.
An epic year has seen Camelot's 10th birthday, new games, extended internet play and, despite a muddled schedule of old and new campaigns, its best Adwatch performance for years.
WCRS's 'Project Red' work, linking games with good causes, ran from December to August, supported from February by AMV BBDO's 'Robinson Crusoe' ads for the EuroMillions game.
The year's highest Adwatch score was for AMV's Scrabble Scratchcards campaign in August, which pushed sales to their highest levels for five years. But the highlight was the September launch of the 'Lady Luck' campaign starring Fay Ripley and her Graham Norton-voiced pet unicorn Barry.
'Lady Luck' is the most inspired Lottery advertising for years. According to Camelot, it has raised awareness of specific games, boosted sales and helped improve the Lottery's reputation.
The challenge will be in staying fresh through dozens of executions. Yet in just 10 weeks, the campaign has established a level of cut-through that heralds even greater Adwatch success in 2005.
The most memorable single commercial of the year was Mortimer Whittaker O'Sullivan's 'Charlie's Angels' film - one of the 'Superheroes' series that brought Direct Line huge Adwatch success in 2004.
But the triumph is bittersweet for MWO, which lost the business to Clemmow Hornby Inge last month. In its eight-year tenure, MWO contributed to a hugely successful period for Direct Line as it became a broad-based financial services organisation.
MWO's swansong was designed to resuscitate the brand's original entrepreneurial spirit and inject energy at a highly competitive time. With the familiar red phone at centre stage, the 30-second ad featured a Direct Line adviser becoming three different superheroes to fix and clean the damaged vehicle.
'Superheroes' was the most researched work Direct Line had ever aired, so its success was no great surprise to client or agency. CHI has a lot to live up to next year.
After last year's record-breaking Adwatch performance, 118 118's 2004 achievement is more modest. However, it remains the year's best-value advertising, with WCRS's summer 'Charades' execution proving one of the 10 most memorable ads of the year on a drastically reduced budget of £7.4m.
The infamous 'runners' are now consigned to history, but the 118 duo are celebrities in their own right. The new work set out to show that 118 118 provides more than just numbers. Like its sister ad, 'Song', where the 118s sang a version of Sister Sledge's We Are Family, 'Charades' was designed to capture a feelgood summer mood. The duo, aided by a canine sidekick, showed an uncanny ability to act and interpret charades that illustrate the services 118 offers, such as film times and business numbers.
By showing the 118s as slick and professional, but retaining a humorous edge, the campaign reached a new level of maturity and confidence.
HIGHEST RECALL ACROSS THE YEAR
04 03 Brand Agency/TV buyer Mentions Points Budget
1 (1) B&Q J Walter Thompson/ 43 800 42.0
2 (-) Churchill EBP/MediaCom 34 611 19.5
3 (4) McDonald's Leo Burnett, Heye & Partners/ 36 567 43.2
Starcom Motive, OMD UK
4 (9) Asda Publicis/Carat 30 557 38.7
5 (-) Currys M&C Saatchi/Walker Media 36 452 37.2
6 (5) Homebase Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 29 411 32.5
7 (-) Direct Line Mortimer Whittaker O'Sullivan/ 23 404 31.0
8 (2) Halifax Delaney Lund Knox Warren/ 19 339 34.5
9 (3) Argos Euro RSCG London/MindShare 19 281 32.2
10 (-) National WCRS, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 17 240 26.2
Lottery OMD UK
This table scores a brand's total number of mentions across the year
ranked by a value-added point score. Every number one Adwatch position
during the year scored 20 points, a number two position scored 19 and a
number three 18, down to a score of one point for a number 20 mention.
Source: Compiled by Marketing based on NOP's weekly Adwatch research Nov
2003-Oct 2004/*Nielsen Media Research data for Nov 2003-Oct 2004
HIGHEST RECALL IN ANY SINGLE WEEK
04 03 Brand Agency/TV buyer Score Issue Budget
1 (-) Direct Line Mortimer Whittaker 83 25 Mar 31.0
2= (-) Churchill EPB/MediaCom 82 11 Mar 19.5
2= (6) B&Q J Walter Thompson/ 82 5 May 42.0
4 (7) Asda Publicis/Carat 81 11 Dec 03 38.7
5 (3=) Halifax Delaney Lund Knox Warren/ 80 8 Apr 34.5
6= (3=) National Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 79 22 Sep 26.2
Lottery OMD UK
6= (-) AA Rapier/Manning Gottlieb OMD 79 25 Aug 18.8
6= (9) Argos Euro RSCG London/MindShare 79 18 Dec 03 32.2
9= (1) 118 118 WCRS/OMD UK 78 15 Sep 7.4
9= (-) McDonald's Leo Burnett/OMD UK 78 25 Aug 43.2
9= (-) Specsavers In-house/Mediaedge:cia 78 29 Jan 26.1
Source: NOP/*Nielsen Media Research data for the period Nov 2003-Oct