PRIVATE VIEW

By ANDREW CRACKNELL, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 18 December 1998 12:00AM

This is the Christmas edition so I’ll get the rough stuff out of the way quickly by saying there are very few certainties in the increasingly bewildering world of the creative director. One is that every junior team will eventually present you with a jungle script featuring a ’David Attenborough type’ whispering silly made-up tribal names into a microphone. And, as evidenced by the Remington commercial, one of the few certainties of your job is that you must turn it down.

This is the Christmas edition so I’ll get the rough stuff out of

the way quickly by saying there are very few certainties in the

increasingly bewildering world of the creative director. One is that

every junior team will eventually present you with a jungle script

featuring a ’David Attenborough type’ whispering silly made-up tribal

names into a microphone. And, as evidenced by the Remington commercial,

one of the few certainties of your job is that you must turn it

down.



The only possible explanation for this script was to make a fool out of

the director. The only possible explanation for this direction was to

make a fool out of the scriptwriter. Congratulations to everyone

involved.



The boy Howell is delighted, kicking his legs in the air and rolling

around on the sofa. I’ve just complained about ’’Tis the season to be

Tangoed’ - strung in orange lights across Regent Street. ’Well, if you

don’t like that, wait until you see the Tango press ads - they’re even

more offensive,’ Rupert chortles.



But they’re not. Not to me, anyway. Yes, the line ’And let the poor

children have Tango too’ in this context is gratuitously offensive. But

because this campaign is illustrated in the saccharine Rockwell style,

presumably as a piece of postmodern irony to make the contrast between

the dear little children and the hard-bastard attitude more impactful,

it actually ends up quite sweet. Cynical - but sweet.



My objection to the Tango Regent Street lights is not so much about the

offensive exploitation of Christmas - it’s a little late in my career to

get touchy about that - but more the way it is done. ’’Tis the season to

be tangoed’ has zero wit to it and hangs exposed above us as naked,

artless slipstreaming of Christmas.



If you want to be accepted on any bandwagon, the trick is to bring

something with you when you clamber on board. Any topical ad needs to

add to, or even trump, the event it’s exploiting - and what gives so

much Christmas advertising a bad name is its obviousness.



Royal Mail, not surprisingly, uses a Christmas theme, but uses it well

in a cheery and disciplined 20-second spot showing a bloke receiving

novelty Xmas Specs. I’ve got a lot of time for this campaign, with its

daft music and its eccentric little stories of little eccentricities. It

makes 20 seconds feel like 30 seconds and I’m also prepared to believe

that it has the capacity to stimulate impulse behaviour. And I like the

specs.



Bell’s, mercifully, has avoided the traditional whiskery Christmas but

there are, they say, only five ideas - and pleasant though this

commercial is, it’s very obviously one of them. It’s the ’aw shucks,

ain’t life big and wonderful’ school of execution from the ’my, haven’t

you been living all the time we’ve been maturing/developing our

product/in business’ plot.



Male cosmetics used to be a really fruitful cruising ground for naff

Christmas advertising but Virgin Vie is neither Christmassy nor obvious.

I think this ad is something to do with female teenage girls often

wearing face packs. All I’d say is that Virgin should be careful how it

uses, extends or abuses the resonances of its excellent name. It tried

to build a whole division on a jokey name opportunity - Virgin Brides -

and look what happened to that.



That’s it for ’98, and that’s it for me. Happy Christmas and a great New

Year to all the huge number of people I know, like and respect in this

curious business - particularly to my friends at Ammirati Puris Lintas

whom I leave in one week’s time. I’m going off the radar for a bit now

and whether, when and where my blip will reappear is entirely

uncertain.



But by late January, I’ll be needing a spot of lunch.



Andrew Cracknell is available for weddings, funerals, bar-mitzvahs,

etc.



Have your say on channel six of CampaignLive at www.campaignlive.

com





BRITVIC SOFT DRINKS

Project: Tango

Client: Adam Harris, senior brand manager

Brief: Use irreverence and heavy irony to suggest that at the heart of

every British child’s idyllic Christmas lies Tango

Agency: HHCL & Partners

Project team: Aoibhinn Finlay, Richard Huntington, Chas Bayfield, Jim

Bolton

Photography: Good Housekeeping magazine

Exposure: National posters

VIRGIN

Project: Virgin Vie

Client: Ros Simmons, marketing director

Brief: Dramatise a quality brand that is dynamic, challenging, energetic

and fun

Agency: Mellors Reay

Writer: Mark Rudd

Art director: Paul Surety

Photographer: Loranzo Agiou

Typographer: Andy Dymock at Typeworks

Exposure: National posters and bus-backs

REMINGTON

Project: Remington Microscreen Intercept

Client: Simon Blurring, marketing director

Brief: Dramatise the Microscreen Intercept as offering the ultimate

shaving experience

Agency: Grey

Writers: Kay Truelove, Michael Keane

Art directors: Kay Truelove, Michael Keane

Director: Kirk Jones

Production company: Tomboy Films

Exposure: National TV

UDV UK

Project: Bell’s

Client: Tim O’Donnell, marketing controller

Brief: Dramatise Bell’s eight-year-old credentials

Agency: Court Burkitt

Writer: Jon Leney

Art director: Richard Donovan

Director: Matt Winn

Production company: Freedom Films

Exposure: National TV

ROYAL MAIL NATIONAL

Project: Royal Mail

Client: Linda Morris, head of consumer marketing

Brief: Persuade people to post cards rather than hand-deliver them

Agency: Bates Dorland

Writer: Ruth Jackson

Art director: Nick Simons

Director: Mark Denton

Production company: Godman

Exposure: National TV



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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