Private View

By TIM ASHTON, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 19 December 1997 12:00AM

The brief for the agency Christmas card is one of many things I haven’t missed by being jobless this winter. You know, working with hackneyed old images trying to create something original and fresh while retaining many of the cosy, familiar values of a perfect traditional Christmas ...

The brief for the agency Christmas card is one of many things I

haven’t missed by being jobless this winter. You know, working with

hackneyed old images trying to create something original and fresh while

retaining many of the cosy, familiar values of a perfect traditional

Christmas ...



Christmas is a time for merriment, goodwill and unoriginality. So let’s

see who’s going to be the perfume and hankie set and who’s going to be

the automatic solar-operated tie selector this year.



Ferrero Rocher. I’ve wanted to get my teeth into this advertising for

some time (sadly, more than you can say for the product, nasty little

things that they are). FR is a cult. It’s from the ’it’s so bad that

it’s good’ school of ads pioneered by Messrs Shake’n’Vac in the 70s. If

it had Chas and Jim and HHCL’s name behind it, people would think it

genius.



Creating a cult ad revered for its brilliant awfulness is an ambitious,

if not foolhardy, task.



The credits reveal for the first time the authors of this genius, the

post-modern ironic visionaries who have come up with a brilliantly

branded, hugely effective, consistent, much talked about cult of a TV

ad. Either that, or they’re really crap at this business and just got

lucky by being even more crap than usual one particular day.



Sainsbury’s won my heart and total admiration some time back with their

recipes/celebrities campaign. Beautifully shot, wonderfully simple and

totally appropriate. The fine folk at AMV could do with reminding

themselves of this by running the old ads back to back with this latest

offering.



Where we once had beautiful photography, a relaxed pace and understated

charm, we now have a charmless commercial garble offset by visual

clutter in a headlong race to fit in six Christmassy offers where there

was once one.



Boots advertising has been undergoing a welcome resurgence recently and,

boy, did it need to. A series of soft-focused, slow-motion images play

to music in this largely inconsequential bit of film that is part of a

larger Christmas campaign. A bit too much cheese for my liking.



These days, I find myself moving ever further away from advillage juries

and their cartel-like views about what constitutes great

advertising.



So, as if to part company officially with my past, I am going to sing

the praises of a hitherto un-awarded campaign - the Gap.



Everywhere you touch this brand there is a cool purity about what they

do. Their TV advertising, like their bus-sides, resonates a consistent

quality that is rare. The BabyGap and GapKids experience is right up

there with the world’s best brands. I feel it’s sad and significant that

no agency was found to deliver this work. It was created in-house and is

the better for it. This is easily the most refreshing Christmas ad of

this bunch.



For me, Nicholas Lyndhurst is one of our greatest comic talents. Rodney

was his tour de force and he will always be remembered for that

role.



He has wisely been reluctant to cash in on the advertising gravy

train.



W. H. Smith were the final victors in the persuasion game due to size of

cheque book and, one hopes, quality of scripts.



The campaign got off to a good start by being voted the nation’s

favourite by TV Times readers or such like.



The Christmas campaign consisting of six 30-second spots makes me squirm

with embarrassment. The weakness of the jokes is matched only by the

grotesque visuals of Lyndhurst in mini-skirt and spotty leggings or

Spice Girl regalia. He deserves better.



The key to this campaign is seeing Lyndhurst playing six different roles

interacting with each other.



Finally, the last present under the tree is VHS-shaped and bearing the

label, to Tim from Milk Tray. Now new improved - without, would you

believe, Mr roll-neck sweater himself. It’s the Milk Tray man aka M.

Wnek. The words baby and bath water spring to mine. It’s a bit like the

product without a hazelnut whirl. Unthinkable. Merry Christmas.



W. H. Smith

Project: W. H. Smith Christmas campaign

Client: Muriel Stirling, marketing controller

Brief: Demonstrate that W. H. Smith has the best selection of music,

books, videos and multimedia products

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writer: Malcolm Duffy

Art director: Paul Briginshaw

Director: Sid Roberson

Production company: Roberson Films

Exposure: National TV, satellite and cable

Sainsbury’s Project: Sainsbury’s Christmas

Client: Andrew Ground, head of brand advertising

Brief: Convince housewives that Sainsbury’s can help make Christmas

special

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writer: David Newton

Art director: Andy Arghyrou

Director: Barry Joll

Production company: Barry Joll Associates

Exposure: National TV

Boots

Project: Boots the Chemist Christmas campaign

Client: Richard Holmes, marketing director

Brief: Put Boots at the top of the mind when it comes to Christmas

shopping

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Mike Wilkins

Art director: Mike Murphy

Directors: Mike Murphy/

Mark Wilkins

Production company: Purple Pictures

Exposure: National TV

Cadbury’s

Project: Cadbury’s Milk Tray

Client: Peter Creighton, marketing controller

Brief: Make Milk Tray more desirable to a new generation of chocolate

lovers

Agency: Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper

Writer: James Rose

Art director: Kiki Kendrick

Director: Rod Waskett

Production company: BFCS

Exposure: National TV

Gap Project: GapKids

Client: Michael McCadden, senior vice-president, marketing

Brief: Convey that Gap provides things children love - cool clothes

Agency: in-house

Writer: in-house

Art director: in-house

Director: Chris Appelbaum

Production company: not supplied

Exposure: Satellite TV

Ferrero

Project: Ferrero Rocher

Client: Michele Ferrero, founder and president

Brief: not supplied

Agency: Canard

Writer: not supplied

Art director: not supplied

Director: Peter Lavelle

Production company: Beechhurst Films

Exposure: National TV



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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