By CAROLIN MARSHALL, campaignlive.co.uk, 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
’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
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 campaignlive.co.uk