Backbite

Searching through the brand index of BRAD is always an interesting experience. Unfolding before you is a wealth of products that have been household names in the past but whose existence is a mystery to a whole generation of consumers who have grown up since the product stopped doing famous advertising.

Searching through the brand index of BRAD is always an interesting

experience. Unfolding before you is a wealth of products that have been

household names in the past but whose existence is a mystery to a whole

generation of consumers who have grown up since the product stopped

doing famous advertising.



One such brand is Duckhams Oils. Once the undisputed ’engine’s choice’

it has been so quiet in the advertising sense for a few years that, in

the unlikely event of anyone asking me to guess what had happened to it,

I would have surmised that it had gone out of business years ago. (Once

R. W. Whites Lemonade, Homepride and Martini would have been in the same

category, but thanks to Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury they are back up

there.)



On the evidence of last week, with Summerfield Wilmot Keene appointed to

handle Duckhams’ return to advertising, the client has had a dramatic

change of heart and is determined to return to its glory days of

high-profile advertising. As the agency told Campaign: ’Duckhams is a

famous brand although it’s difficult to recall any of its most recent

advertising.’



Difficult? Impossible rather. And I’m not so sure that the appointment

of SWK will help. Not because good advertising has never been devised by

an agency whose name is unfamiliar or whose creative reputation is, at

best, unproven. Rather because the majority of advertising produced from

such sources and in the circumstances Duckhams finds itself in (its

parent, BP, is busy setting up a joint venture with Mobil), is just

plain dire.



I suspect that SWK will find that Duckhams no longer has any faith in

advertising, even though it is said to have several million pounds to

spend on the brand. Will a ’famous’ Duckhams ad have emerged by this

time next year? Not on your nelly.



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