BACKBITE

Poor Ruud. Poor Pizza Hut. Poor Abbott Mead Vickers. Everybody knows celebrity advertising is risky.

Poor Ruud. Poor Pizza Hut. Poor Abbott Mead Vickers. Everybody

knows celebrity advertising is risky.



Famous people are prone to disaster just like the rest of us: sexual

hi-jinks, divorce, the sack. The only safe celebrity is a dead one (see

Steve McQueen in Puma). Pepsi dropped Michael Jackson at the first whiff

of something nasty.



Well, what do we make of the pizza chain and the football manager - a

celeb from a lesser league altogether?



In fact, as of this week, Gullit’s not in any league at all. AMV bravely

stands by him - but for how much longer, if the dreadlocked one fails to

land another decent job? Already, the idea of Ruud scouting for a ’tasty

Sicilian’ seems rather, well, early-February.



But that’s not the point. The ad was terrible even before Ruud lost his

job. Having devised a flimsy joke about ’taking corners’ off a square

pizza, AMV wheeled in a football star to prop up the gag.



These days, even the finest agencies seem willing to use a famous face

instead of inspiration. No good ideas? Never mind, bung in a celeb. Last

month, Harry Enfield accused agencies of ripping off his characters and

gags. Boy, was he right. How Publicis, Lowes, HHCL, WCRS and others must

have blushed.



Enfield’s characters aren’t the only faces to pop up repeatedly. Ulrika

Jonsson, the Spice Girls, countless sports stars are all there for lazy

creatives to plunder.



Celebrity ads are always second-rate. Yes, they may ’work’ (whatever

that means) and perhaps generate tacky PR, but how much better could the

advertising have been? Consider the finest advertising of recent years -

Levi’s and Tango. Where would these brands be if they’d made a habit of

celebrity advertising?



The next time you walk past a creative’s room, stick an ear to the

door.



You’ll know when they get an idea: not ’Eureka!’, these days, but

’Ulrika!’.



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