CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR: VW ’AFFORDABILITY’ - It didn’t need a double take to put BMP DDB in the top spot - but a little longer to plump for its Volkswagen ’affordability’campaign over Passat’s ’obsessi

It’s rare that advertising is loved in equal measure by the public, the sales director of the client company and a creative community riddled with inverted snobbery. However, two campaigns from our Advertiser of the Year, Volkswagen, achieved all this in 1997. In fact, they stood head and shoulders above all others and not to have awarded one of them would only have punished VW and BMP DDB for their own excellence.

It’s rare that advertising is loved in equal measure by the public,

the sales director of the client company and a creative community

riddled with inverted snobbery. However, two campaigns from our

Advertiser of the Year, Volkswagen, achieved all this in 1997. In fact,

they stood head and shoulders above all others and not to have awarded

one of them would only have punished VW and BMP DDB for their own

excellence.



However, once we’d agreed that the winner would come from either the

Passat ’obsession’ launch or the ’affordability’ campaign, it was very

difficult to decide between them.



The Passat work, in which Volkswagen boffins are shown behind the scenes

developing what will become the new car, was consistently excellent

across all its television executions.



The ’deteilmeisters and design kapitans’ obsessing about the clunking

sound of doors and spectacle cases, studying the shape of bald heads and

avocados and ignoring their lingerie-clad partners to talk about the

car’s body were among the images of the year. It was fresh, funny and

memorable - and, there is now a long waiting list for Passats.



But the ’affordability’ campaign is our favourite of the year. This is

advertising that demands a second look - appropriately the theme of some

of the ads themselves. It just edges the Passat campaign because of the

degree of difficulty involved and the work’s excellence across different

media.



Affordability and price are regarded by many creative teams as the

briefs from hell, but BMP has made a virtue of them - remember the

dealer ads from a couple of years back with the toy cars? It helps that

VW has a value heritage, but that heritage, in turn, makes it harder to

get ads noticed.



The VW ’affordability’ campaign achieved this in spades, by being

quieter, more believable and more understated than anything else -

particularly on the box. Consumers stupefied by the dazzling filmic

techniques of ad after ad destined for a young director’s showreel and

instant oblivion were jolted out of their torpor in the belief they

might have missed something.



’Dentist’, ’hiccup’, ’chair’ (where the woman comes over queasy in the

street) and ’guard’ all demand that rare thing of television commercial

viewers: concentration. We want to know what we may have missed; what’s

going on. Once the campaign was established, ads like ’tennis’ and

’lamp-post’ play on our recognition of the joke.



It was impeccable stuff in all media. The cross-track posters were the

best of the year in that underexploited medium: ’For your safety: please

stand back from the edge of the platform. Polo L pounds 7990.’



The press ad, with a tiny message amid reams of white space, was equally

good: ’We are witholding a Volkswagen ’surprisingly ordinary prices’ ad

until we receive confirmation that a Volkswagen Polo L does indeed cost

pounds 7990.’



There was too much quality work to list here. And, yes, the sales

director is just as happy as the marketing department. VW’s share over

the past three years has increased 41 per cent, with volume sales up 61

per cent in the same period. Forecasts are even better.



In fact, the biggest problem is an increasingly bleak supply story -

which the company will have to do something about if campaigns like the

Passat’s, built on obsession with detail, are not to backfire.



Volkswagen’s advertising so dominated our thinking this year that the

runners-up were a long way back. In fact, on reflection, perhaps the

Frank Lowe view, that genuine lasting campaigns are thin on the ground

right now, is correct. The question is does it matter? Are a series of

one-off ads a preferable alternative in the late 90s?



Of those we also thought excellent, Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s One-2-One

campaign really came through. Vic Reeves and Terry-Thomas, Derek and

Tanya, and Ian Wright and Martin Luther King, built on the success of

Kate and Elvis, John McCarthy and Yuri Gagarin, and banished memories of

those old Robert Lindsay and Beatrice Dalle turkeys.



It’s become a very competitive sector, where Orange (WCRS) also deserves

credit for consistent excellence. It’s interesting to note that the

growth of these two brands has forced the market leaders, Vodafone and

Cellnet, to rethink their work more than once.



First Direct with Bob Mortimer (did WCRS get a volume discount on Vic

and Bob?) also cut through the otherwise abysmal standard of its

category.



It looks like the beginning of a very promising long-running

campaign.



Add BMW, and WCRS is clearly capable of producing among the very best

work.



We know what BBH can do, of course. This year Levi’s was mixed. We loved

’mermaids’ and the ’shrink to fit’ poster campaign, but not everything

else. The fascinating work was Lynx which, together with the Addiction

output, forms a body of work we’d never thought possible of Elida

Faberge.



The Jennifer Aniston ad was memorable, as was the commercial in which

the girl who wears her boyfriend’s Lynx is furious at the attention it

brings her. The new naughty Lynx print campaign is outstanding too. It’s

confident stuff born of strong thinking.



Ikea (St Luke’s) was another campaign which featured highly, as did

Batchelors Super Noodles (Mother). Virgin Atlantic (Rainey Kelly) was

outstanding in its category. Pork and beef for the Meat and Livestock

Commission (BMP) shone - despite the Government’s worst efforts.

Coca-Cola’s football work continues to be outstanding. But the year

belonged to Volkswagen.



Recent winners: Conservative Party (1996); Miller Pilsner (1995);

Wonderbra (1994); Boddingtons (1993); Tango (1992).



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £45 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off Campaign's relaunch than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).