Private View: Damon Collins, the creative director at Lowe (07802 773338)

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 23 July 2004 12:00AM

"Do we really need the horses?" Words allegedly uttered by a senior account man, when the script for Guinness "surfer" began running into budgetary problems. The creative team (can't remember their names) replied: "Well, yes, we were really rather hoping to include the horses, you know, if it were at all possible." Or words to that effect. The account man then picked up his missing teeth and went back to the client. They found the money, shot the horses and ended up with the best commercial of all time, at least according to Channel 4's voting viewers. Oh, and a couple of D&AD golds.

How often does this sort of conversation take place? How many horses get sent to the knackers yard by those unaware of their value? The line between seminal magic and crap is terrifyingly thin. And it's the agencies with the biggest balls, or the strongest client relationships, that overcome time or money issues to end up with the former on their reels.

For some, last year's galloping horses were actually a pair of jogging porn stars. This year, the 118 118 runners are back and with gold jumpsuits. They still communicate their message brilliantly but, inevitably, without the same "what-in-the-name-of-Christ-was-that" factor.

The Crunchy Nut Cornflakes campaign has never done much for me. It's another iteration of the "product above all else" strategy. But these press ads are lovely. Elegant and beautifully produced, the agency has spent time on these and it shows. Ads this simple only run with a confident client at the reins.

Evian, rather randomly, implores us to "be happy naked". And stops us turning the page immediately by kindly throwing in a starkers girl in a rowing boat. But whoa there. What's that at the end of the copy? A great fact: water makes your skin look younger. Looks like they've compromised on the strategy here. Mad idea, maybe, but as the brand leader, could it not grow the water market by going against the cosmetic companies? "Younger looking skin at a 50th of the price"? No horses here. But the distinct tang of manure.

Next, a campaign from the same stable (sorry) as my introductory equine success story. This time, instead of reinventing the wheel, the agency replaces a tyre. They've taken ads from the Guinness back catalogue and remade them with a chilly slant to sell the Guinness Extra Cold variant.

Though rather self-referential, it's a neat idea that tells me everything I need to know with no trace of compromise.

While these slightly cooler versions of classics work well, the same can't be said for Mars Delight. The ad is selling "a delicate version" of the classic Mars bar. Stock footage of John McEnroe berating an umpire is over-dubbed with an argument about shoes or something, while the product sneaks in an appearance at the end. You could call it a sponsored gag, if it were funny. Or borrowed interest, if it were interesting. The logic flaw, though, is the most worrying aspect. McEnroe is not behaving delicately.

He's shouting as brutally as ever, but about something unexpected. This, sadly, is another Horse-Free Zone.

There are no horses, either, in the ad for Tizer. Instead, they're trying reptiles. We see a chameleon not changing colour as its background does.

Then we're told only that Tizer has some "great new flavours", but isn't changing colour. Advertising should sell and, hopefully, entertain in the process. This gives the audience so little it does neither. Less, in this case, is less.

So, back to that question again. Do we really need the horses?

Well, yes. Now, more than ever, I think we do.

KELLOGG

Project: "Obviously another"

Client: Michael Allen, marketing director

Brief: Build on the success of the "obviously another Crunchy Nut"

campaign

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Wayne Robinson

Art director: Matt Collier

Photographer: Jenny Van Sommers

Typographer: Aaron Moss

Exposure: Press

EVIAN

Project: Be happy naked

Clients: Christine Renier, marketing director; Nicholas Brock, brand

manager

Brief: Celebrate the beneficial effect that drinking an extra litre of

Evian daily can have on your skin

Agency: Euro RSCG London

Writer: Seyoan Vela

Art director: Colin Lamberton

Photographer: Candace Meyer

Typographer: Mark Osbourne

Exposure: National press and magazines

BARR SOFT DRINKS

Project: Chamelon

Client: Nigel Dougdale, group marketing manager

Brief: Grab the attention of Tizer's core audience of 13- to 15-year-old

boys and inform them that Tizer is launching three new flavours

Agency: BDH\TBWA

Writers: Chris Lear, Doug Laird, Danny Brooke-Tayor

Art directors: Chris Lear, Doug Laird, Danny Brooke-Tayor

Director: Dan O'Rouke

Production company: Nexus

Exposure: Terrestrial, cable and satellite TV

118 118

Project: Chardes/song

Client: Alex Lewis, marketing director

Brief: Communicate 118 118's approach to products and services beyond

basic directory enquiries

Agency: WCRS

Writer: Gary Knight

Art director: Tim Robertson

Director: JJ Keith

Production company: Exposure

Exposure: National TV

MARS

Project: Mars Delight

Client: Natasha Bell

Brief: Introduce Mars Delight - a surprisingly delicate way to enjoy the

great taste of Mars

Agency: Grey London

Writers: Sam Hibbard, Jim Dive

Art directors: Sam Hibbard, Jim Dive

Director: n/s

Production company: n/s

Exposure: National TV

GUINNESS

Project: Guinness Extra Cold

Client: Nick Robinson, marketing director

Brief: Remind people of Guinness Extra Cold during the summer

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writer: Mark Fairbanks

Art director: Mark Fairbanks

Director: JJ Keith

Production company: Exposure

Exposure: National TV

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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