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
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
The next time you walk past a creative’s room, stick an ear to the
You’ll know when they get an idea: not ’Eureka!’, these days, but