THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 12 Best letters in Campaign

campaignlive.co.uk, Tuesday, 16 December 2003 12:00AM

1. Jamie Priestley

If it's legal to sell, it's legal to advertise, but, let's be honest, many in the advertising business agreed with Jamie Priestley's sentiments.

Thank God the fat lady has sung. How fitting that at Silk Cut's finale last week the big soprano played Puccini's heroine, who dies of coughing. Aren't we amazing at irony?

We've all fretted about applying our talents to morally ambiguous products but, for 40 years, tobacco advertising was in a special league of ambiguity before the ban was forced on us. The constraints may have inspired some ingenious work, but wouldn't we feel better if we regulated ourselves the next time the evidence is as overwhelming? Charming but naive idea, I know ...

Jamie Priestley, Managing director, Claydon Heeley Jones Mason, London SW11

2. Tim Harris, Simon Wood

Robin Wight's chairmanship of the 30th Campaign Press Awards inspired him to write a Campaign Essay. Our postbag was groaning afterwards. Two letters, however, stood out.

I read Robin Wight's article (Campaign, 28 March) on the death of long copy with great interest.

Until I got bored halfway through and stopped.

Tim Harris, Creative director, Eardrum, London W1

Robin Wight is right. The fire has gone out. Copy lacks snap. The language is in the hands of corporations, but they are our clients, and we must not say so.

Simon Wood, Copywriter, Camp Chipperfield Hill Murray, London SW1

3. Anonymous

OK, it was anonymous, and we don't usually publish letters sans bylines, but this one surely struck a nerve with many.

I am writing to warn those currently in a position to make others redundant.

Redundancy can cause major depression, illness, sleep deprivation and helplessness, which can lead to frustration, anger and worse.

I will not bore you with my story, but I have experienced redundancies from three top London agencies, the last one in 1998, and I am still living with the repercussions: debt, social alienation and helplessness. You have heard it all before, but the main symptom of being out of work is the feeling of being out of control.

Even applying for jobs on the internet can leave you feeling helpless.

There is little or no conversation with recruitment agencies or employers.

After the job is found and a CV requested and sent, it is then a silent wait for a response. I have sent hundreds of letters, having been told I am too old at 43. Surely this is wrong and a waste of 23 years' experience in London agencies.

The three redundancies I went through were with companies and directors that merged or sold up and made millions overnight.

It is time to bring in contracts that protect employees with payments until employed again or a share of the profits made through merger. Instead of two partners being set up for life, why not all the employees who ran and made the business?

To all those contemplating redundancies, please be aware of the lifelong consequences.

Name and address withheld

4. Lord Tim Bell

His Lordship got himself steamed up that we dared question the alliance between HHCL and Red Cell.

I refer to your comment on HHCL & Partners and Red Cell (Campaign, 17 January).

Gallaher Smail went to DDB. BMP went to Omnicom. Saatchi & Saatchi went global and, subsequently, to Havas. Bartle Bogle Hegarty sold 49 per cent to Leo Burnett. Abbott Mead Vickers went to BBDO. HHCL has sold 49 per cent to Red Cell/WPP. Only CDP remained independent and has now disappeared.

Life moves on. That's another way of looking at it. You should be heralding the first global hotshop, not bemoaning a loss.

Lord Tim Bell, Chairman, Chime Communications, London W1

5. Russell Ramsey

Ramsey, still struggling out from under the pile of gold Bartle Bogle Hegarty paid him not to go to WCRS, made a damn fine point about Beattie's hiring policy. Silburn can have any title he wants so long as he keeps churning out brilliant John Smith's ads, surely?

Trevor Beattie suggested the hiring of 25-year-old creative directors in Campaign (Live Issue, 10 January). Is this the same Trevor Beattie who has just promoted the 40-year-old and accomplished copywriter Paul Silburn to the role of deputy creative director? If so, is there anyone he's got in mind?

Russell Ramsey, Creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London W1

6. Rory McCaskill and Dan Watts

From meat balls to fried cheese croquettes. Dank U and well done to these young creatives who told the world all about it on the Letters page. We are students on placement. With regards to the photo of Neil Henderson and Phil Teer (Campaign, 14 March) - we noticed a sign that read "Meat Balls With pasta £3.50". We were just wondering, where is this place?

Rory McCaskill and Dan Watts, Surrey RH1

We were looking for our first jobs in London, eating spaghetti and meatballs for only £3.50 (Campaign, 14/28 March). Now we've got jobs at 180 Amsterdam and we're eating deep-fried cheese croquettes for only two euros.

Dank U Campaign. Eet smakelijk.

Rory McCaskill and Dan Watts, Creatives, 180, Amsterdam

7. Trevor Beattie

The 2003 award for getting the word twonk into the Bible goes to Trevor Beattie.

I couldn't help but notice that the gormless twonk rehashing the very old gag about my mispelling of Fcuk (Campaign, 14 March) works at a place called Khemistry. Bless.

Trevor Beattie, Via e-mail

8. Clive Barnett

Instead of the time-honoured tradition of the initials-over-the-door naming policy, Andy Law just had to be different. Not everyone liked it, though.

Having followed with interest the rise and fall of St Luke's and all the shenanigans that eventually led to Andy Law's ousting, I have been eagerly awaiting Law's next move.

For a man who has made a point of portraying himself as the modern radical business thinker, I find his choice of name for his new venture Boymeetsgirl very narrow-minded. I assume the concept of its offering is all about connectivity of some sort, which is perfectly valid.

I am a client who would be very interested in what it has to offer. I am also a gay client and my business deals with a predominantly gay market.

In Law's words, Boymeetsboy and Girlmeetsgirl, but not Boymeetsgirl. Oh dear.

I assume then that Boymeetsgirl is only interested in working with heterosexuals.

Clive Barnett, London NW1

9. Charity Charity

Go girl! The woman with the best name in advertising lectured the Solus Club about testicles.

Interesting to read that the Solus Club membership is split by a battle for reform, albeit retaining "some of the most traditional trappings of the old gentlemen's club system". I hope the Solus members realise that truly traditional gentlemen's clubs - such as, say, Whites or Boodles - never embraced media or advertising types in the first place.

Such clubs are hardly open to people "in trade", even those with testicles.

Charity Charity, J. Walter Thompson, London SW1

10. Gerry Farrell

A miserable Scottish bloke took his Lowtherness and indeed the whole of Soho to task. Gerry, we know you're just jealous.

In James Lowther's Private View (Campaign, 5 September), the phrases "Sweet ... quite sweet ... sweet ... quite sweet ..." came up.

Will you lot down in Soho please give it a rest? You sound like a coachload of old ladies going round a curtain shop. It's ad campaigns you're talking about, the beating bloody heart of our business! Let's get back to "great", "not bad" and "crap". Thank you.

Gerry Farrell, Creative director, Leith, Via e-mail

11. Graham Pugh

Who would have thought that anyone would take an ad seriously?

Trevor Beattie's latest irresponsible stunt surpasses even his anagrams of swear words. I refer, of course, to the new ad for McCain, your latest Pick of the Week.

Following Beattie's advice, I attempted to eat chips with my "chin up".

The result? A scalded chin, a crick in the neck and a dry cleaning bill for £6.50.

Graham Pugh, Copywriter, Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB, London W1

12. Alan Page

The Page of Harari Page stepped back into the limelight to insult a few people.

As someone publicly associated with a possible Cordiant bid well before WPP stepped into the ring, I feel impelled to express my complete and utter despair at the reaction to WPP completing its deal to acquire Cordiant against the wishes of Active Value, a large shareholder in the business.

Along with Active Value, I believe that WPP has been allowed to take over Cordiant at a ridiculously low price. I also believe that this has happened largely because of the ad industry's lack of commercial "nous" and fear of the City.

There is no doubt that if nurtured properly (and one has to question whether or not either of the most recent management teams were ever capable of this), the business of Cordiant could have survived and indeed prospered over the next few years.

The industry's most respected financial analyst, Lorna Tilbian of Numis, was quoted only a few months ago in the Evening Standard as saying that Cordiant represented a unique opportunity to acquire an independent global advertising network for nothing (after selling off non-core businesses to repay debt).

The loss of just one of its many accounts and a relatively minor element of its total gross income (Allied Domecq) did not change this situation. Sir Martin Sorrell has now acquired yet another global network (probably to bolt on to Red Cell) for a paltry sum which will almost certainly be recouped in non-core sales over the next 18 months.

What is appalling is the UK industry's pathetic lack of spirit and entrepreneurialism.

For all its MBAs, the industry just can't seem to cope when it has to think beyond an ad campaign, and quickly resigns itself to the "greater" commercial ability of Sorrell.

Look at the sad demise of HHCL and the gradual corporate "digestion" of almost every other important independent London agency bar Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

It is my belief that ultimately WPP is little more than an advertising version of Hanson (remember the Lowe campaign ... "the company that's big over here is now big over there", starring Glenda Jackson). At the time, Hanson seemed invulnerable to anything. Now it is little more than a successful sand and ballast company!

A floated account department (which is, in effect, what WPP is) will never ultimately outlive people with a real belief in their product rather than a dependence on their bottom line.

Within five years I predict that WPP will be forced to sell off/demerge networks to be able to deliver shareholder value.

I hope by then that the industry itself will have begun to learn the value of its own talents over those of a clever accountant.

Alan Page, Executive chairman, NWD Group plc, London SW1.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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