CLIENT VIEW: Private View is regarded as the sacred preserve of a select band of creative directors. It’s the column everyone loves to hate. Caroline Marshall asks two clients to rate the same crop of ads as Gerry Moira. Will they look for differe

By CAROLIN MARSHALL,, Friday, 04 April 1997 12:00AM




Regarded as one of the most imaginative marketing directors around, Tony

Hillyer oversaw Carling Black Label and the launch of Caffrey’s (at

Bass), bought the original Tango ads from HHCL and Partners (at

Britvic), the anarchic Pot Noodle ads (at Golden Wonder) and DMB&B’s

football-focused Littlewoods Pools work. He has been marketing director

for Littlewoods Leisure since July 1995.

I know it’s not easy to advertise cigarettes. You’re restricted in media

choice, and the Chief Medical Officer insists on putting the real USP at

the bottom of whatever work you do. Also one mustn’t appear to be trying

to recruit anybody to the evil habit of smoking, so it has to be

something that encourages them to switch brands.

Instead, Camel has four posters under the ’Tell them a joke and they’ll

buy the product’ strategy. Couldn’t we have it more like Reg, but with a


It’s frustrating to shoot a set of commercials and then find you can’t

use them. Having persuaded Willy Rushton and sundry white cats to

produce a fine set of Arthur’s ads, I can only speculate on the reaction

within Spillers’ marketing department to the news of Mr Rushton’s sad


In opting to remake the ads, BMP and Spillers have matched the high

standards set by this campaign. The performance of the star is

excellent, with the familiar twinkle in the eye and laconic delivery

making the comedy come alive. Less so Dudley Moore, who looks a bit

laboured to me. However, simple set, good direction, and the product

clearly being enjoyed throughout. Get these on air ASAP.

Agencies tell me charity and cause-related advertising is easy to


They say the reason for this is that there is always a clear and simple

message to be delivered.

I am sure that’s true. I can’t say that I find it a compelling argument

for the assertion that advertising brands is either different or more

difficult, but that’s another story.

Easy or not, the Cats Protection League ads are an excellent example of

effective direct response advertising. These will grab the attention and

tug the heart strings of cat lovers just enough to get them to ring the

clever phone number shown at the end.

’I hate it when things close, so watch this’ says Bob Mortimer at the

beginning of the latest First Direct ad. An unpromising start. Not

having to queue was benefit-driven, but is this analogy relevant?

Couldn’t we tell them that First Direct is a bank that never shuts? A

company whose customer service standards are brilliant? With whom it is

a pleasure to bank? Who can provide you with advice as well as current

account convenience?

’Every comma’s there for a reason, darling.’

Oh, all right then, Robin. I give in.

Let’s console ourselves with the fact that this campaign gives First

Direct a persona that is differentiated from other banks, and let the

service standards be a nice surprise.

So many things were happening in the Peugeot 406 ad that I thought it

must be for tampons. But no, it’s a hideously expensive, beautifully

shot ad for a car. Furthermore, a car that is pretty invisible

throughout the performance. Kim Basinger has more airtime, and gets a

longer name check than the 406.

I shudder to think what the quote must have looked like for this. Every

(beautiful) shot ratchets up the price, without in most cases doing

anything to communicate either the proposition or positioning. Perhaps

all we can hope to do is create mood music for our potential punters as

they hover between dissatisfaction with the one they bought last time,

and the dream of a better tomorrow. Perhaps we should let the Cats

Protection League have a look at the problem.

Two Way TV is a new business that is putting its money where a lot of

people’s mouths are: interactive TV. It will be interesting to watch

this business develop, but I’m not sure I would be happy to run this as

my first communication to consumers. The idea of a spoof game show to

explain the product is fine but it takes over from the basic

communication of what the product is. We see brief glimpses of on-screen

action, the hand set, and a telephone number at the end, but not enough

facts. What price is it? What knobs will I have to twiddle. Does it work

on all existing channels? Etc etc.

I hope the shop assistant knows.



Sholto Douglas-Home began his career as a graduate trainee at Colman

RSCG 11 years ago. After stints at Chiat Day and S. P. Lintas he joined

BT and rose within 15 months to his current position of advertising


He controls the UK’s largest advertising budget.

Years after pondering why Campaign never invited a client to write

Private View, a call comes out of the blue with exactly that


My brief is to comment on selected ads from a ’client’s perspective’,

while Gerry Moira is to comment from a ’consumer’s perspective’ (so

let’s hope Gerry doesn’t dwell too long on camera angles and lighting


Well, it’s a client’s prerogative to reinterpret the brief, so after

offering a brief critique of Private View itself, I also intend to

comment on the ads from the only perspective that clients should

consider: the consumer.

How does it survive? Creatives go to great lengths to avoid their ads

appearing under this ruthless - and sometimes spiteful - spotlight,

while most clients see the column as a vehicle for creatives to settle a

score or praise a mate. Moreover, there’s only a few columnists (Moira,

Wnek, Mellors, Cracknell, Beattie ...) who are obliging enough to

pontificate on their colleagues’ work. Yet, there’s something strangely

compelling about Private View, which explains why it thrives, despite

being in the wasteland next to the classified ads.

So, on to this week’s ads. My personal observations are written in

response to that oft-asked, rhetorical question: ’Cut the strategic

bullshit, Mr Client, do you like the ad?’

I quite like the Camel posters. They’re light-hearted one-liners about

the camel on the pack, but they may be incongruous with the brand’s

reputation as a ’gutsy smoke’. It’s a simple idea with legs, but not in

Silk Cut’s league.

I like the Arthur’s catfood campaign - particularly as petfood is an

advertising graveyard. Dudley Moore seems to crop up in as many

commercials as Joanna Lumley and Harry Enfield, but at least this

campaign has a spurious reason for using him - the movie, geddit?

Arthur (the cat, that is) plays a sleek, lithe, handsome ’cool cat’,

while dishevelled Dud looks like he needs a trip to the vet for a good

grooming and a dose of flea tablets. As a dog owner with no interest in

catfood, the ads are a little corny, but very watchable.

I also like the trilogy of ads for the Cats Protection League. ’Cause’

advertising like this often relies on shocking images to persuade people

to send money. But these ads are more subtle; they are genuinely

touching, without overplaying their hand. Even my West Highland terrier

was perturbed by the kitten’s miaowing.

I don’t really like the latest First Direct campaign, although I know

it’s developing something of a cult following. The proposition for these

ads is ’we never close’, but these ads don’t communicate that clearly

enough. As a great believer in the power of telephony to improve our

lives, I’m sure there’s a more potent way of selling the benefits of

telephone banking than this. Energetic, chaotic and original? Yes. An

IPA Effectiveness winner? I doubt it.

I’m ambivalent towards the launch ad for Two Way TV, mainly because I

find the concept itself somewhat farcical. Apparently, pounds 20 million

is being spent on promoting a service that enables viewers to

participate in game shows from the comfort of their sitting rooms. This

ad features a shop assistant-cum-game-show host introducing a family to

the service.

It kills two birds with one stone by announcing the launch as well as

demonstrating how it works. Although I’m sceptical about Two Way TV’s

prospects, at least the launch ad won’t do them any harm.

Finally, I particularly like the new Peugeot 406 ad, called ’dreams’ - a

sequel to last year’s ’thoughts’. Once again, there are esoteric,

evocative images and a powerful music track, but this time we get Kim

Basinger thrown in too. She’s great throughout this 90-second epic,

until she asks inanely: ’What’s a 406?’ I’m not sure the ad answers her

question, but it will do (as did ’thoughts’) wonders for the Peugeot

brand. One gripe: the logo device at the end is as absurd as a tow-bar

on a Ferrari

This article was first published on


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