CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE - Too rigid attitudes can stifle the best advertising ideas

By CAROLINE MARSHALL, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 26 November 1999 12:00AM

The most fascinating thing about a new book on great ads that never saw the light of day - Best Rejected Advertising from Berlin Press - is the reason given in each case for the rejection. Some of them offer absorbing insights into the vagaries of clients. For instance, the Protestant Church in Germany, with its nimble client decision-making committee of 40 people, turned down Ogilvy & Mather’s screamingly funny variation on a piece of Biblical text from St Matthew’s gospel (’I am the God of vandals, skinheads, tramps, punks, junkies, whores and terrorists’) for fear that the Church would be portrayed in ’too positive a light’.

The most fascinating thing about a new book on great ads that never

saw the light of day - Best Rejected Advertising from Berlin Press - is

the reason given in each case for the rejection. Some of them offer

absorbing insights into the vagaries of clients. For instance, the

Protestant Church in Germany, with its nimble client decision-making

committee of 40 people, turned down Ogilvy & Mather’s screamingly funny

variation on a piece of Biblical text from St Matthew’s gospel (’I am

the God of vandals, skinheads, tramps, punks, junkies, whores and

terrorists’) for fear that the Church would be portrayed in ’too

positive a light’.



Similarly, a German online law firm turned down Jung von Matt’s ads

(photos of wealthy men deep-sea fishing, playing polo, polishing classic

cars, and the line: ’Do not distract your lawyer from his hobby with

things you can get more simply and less expensively from us’) because it

risked being ’too conspicuous and too successful’.



Other rejections were more excusable. The German cigarette maker,

Ronson, turned down a humourless attempt at an international poster

campaign (a drawing of fish bones with the text, ’Fish have bones’; a

drawing of a peeing dog, ’Even dogs have to pee’).



There is plenty of innocent fun to be had from reading between the lines

of the official explanations given for the rejections, for even though

careful draughtsmanship has gone into their composition, you can still

picture the creatives’ tears of rage and frustration dripping onto the

page. A few examples: ’The client approached another agency and work was

produced to a similar theme’; ’Co-operation partner and Kellogg could

not agree on funds for a common advertising project’; ’The launch of the

brand was delayed by two years’.



And boo to the Belgian vodka client, Kremlyovskaya, - right, who’s ever

heard of them? - who turned down a series of press ads showing young

trendies with, variously, a black eye, split eyebrow and bloodied nose.

The idea?



One gulp, glass thrown over the shoulder, oops. And the line was:

’Always stand next to friends of Kremlyovskaya. Never behind them.’ The

client said: ’To be honest, we liked the campaign, but we didn’t have

the courage to use it. No pre-test in the world would convince us that

it would work.’ Surely those ads deserved to change even the most

conservative of minds?



Reading this book reminds you once again of an ancient truism. With many

of the great advertising success stories the client never bothered

testing the work. Meanwhile, the work that has us falling off our chairs

in amazement at its ineptitude has, invariably, been tested to within an

inch of its life.





caroline.marshall@haynet.com



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

X

You must log in to use Clip & Save

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Additional Information

Campaign Jobs