Stephen Armstrong talks to the managing director of Pretty Polly, Brian
Every couple of years there comes a groundbreaking campaign that
staggers both the public and the industry, boosts sales by the
truckload, garners more awards than you can shake a stick at and spawns
more imitators than Elvis Presley.
Everyone wants to cause a stir ‘like Tango’ or make an ad that’ll ‘have
the same impact as Levi’s’. Now there’s a client who plans to ‘do a
Wonderbra’ - Brian Duffy, the managing director of the tights giant,
It’s just the same old story of nicking good ideas, you think. Except,
of course, he’s allowed to. Duffy actually bought Wonderbra the first
time around and he has appointed TBWA to help him do it all over again
(Campaign, last week).
Duffy joined Pretty Polly from its Sarah Lee stablemate, Playtex, at the
end of February and split with the incumbent, Ammirati Puris Lintas, in
March. TBWA is now working on something ‘that reminds people how sexy
legs are and will achieve what Wonderbra did, but in spades,’ says
Duffy. The work launches in the autumn and he confidently expects it to
have the same effect as Eva did with ‘hello boys’.
‘The problem with Pretty Polly’s previous advertising was that it was
spending a lot of money on TV and had a lot of product launches. This
produced high awareness, but that wasn’t reflected in actual sales,’ he
says. ‘It wasn’t getting a return on its investment, so I was called in
to shake things up.’
Duffy joined Playtex 11 years ago from KPMG, where he was a chartered
accountant with the soul of a marketer. He rose to become the UK finance
director after four years, then spent three years in Paris as a European
finance director and four years in the US as a global finance director.
The globetrotter has kept true to his Scottish roots, however, and is
still compared to Billy Connolly.
Like the Big Yin, is his heart filled with the dour melancholy of the
Celtic race? ‘Well, my job seems to be a mixture of fashion shows and
advertising awards nights, where I’m representing a product that’s all
about seduction and fun,’ he sighs. ‘It hasn’t been easy.’