CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE; If we see bad ads often enough they tend to grow on us

It’s about this time of year that the heavy brains of Campaign sit down to compile the annual review of the year, the most taxing bit of which is to decide which ads classify as ‘gems’ and which as ‘turkeys’.

It’s about this time of year that the heavy brains of Campaign sit down

to compile the annual review of the year, the most taxing bit of which

is to decide which ads classify as ‘gems’ and which as ‘turkeys’.

Our thorniest problem this year is Ferrero Rocher’s notorious

‘ambassador’s party’ ad. Does it make the turkeys’ list - for the fourth

year running (a record, I think) - or has it now acquired sufficient

cult status to become a gem? Our difficulties are compounded by the fact

that we have heard rumours that Ferrero may be thinking of shooting a

new ad to replace the ambassador. If true, this is momentous news

indeed, not to mention very sad for all true lovers of bad advertising

everywhere. For that reason alone, I am tempted to slot it into the gems

category. It’s a small gesture but, who knows, it may even persuade

Ferrero to think again.

Nevertheless, I am consoling myself with the thought that, as Christmas

nears, we will see it at least ten or 15 times between now and Christmas

Eve. At the very least I have resolved to buy all my relations choccies

this year and I urge you to do the same. This will make Ferrero think

the ad is really working and change its mind. If that doesn’t do the

trick, I will nominate it for next year’s Turner Prize at the Tate. In

my book, it’s as pithy a statement of the human condition as anything

Damien Hirst or Mark Wallinger have done.

Mind you, I wish I could feel the same about the new Rennies work. For

those of you who are not familiar with it, this starts off with 60s

black-and-white footage of a couple in bed (he’s moaning - no, not for

the reasons you think). Cut to now and the actor and actress discuss

their ‘performances’ in the old ad with the daughter. Confused? Don’t

worry, I was too. In fact, I saw it for the first time last Sunday in

the first episode of the Beatles Anthology and - for a brief moment

only, you understand - thought it was deliberately placed there to play

the 60s nostalgia card.

Now, the question is this: will we ever come to love this ad in the way

we do the ‘ambassador’s party’? It’s appalling, but is it, as the

ambassador ad obviously is, appealingly appalling? Or have we just come

to love the ambassador because we’re so familiar with it? In other

words, would familiarity breed contentment?

Viewed this way, how would people feel if BT brought back Buzby? I have

no knowledge of its intentions, but given the way people feel about Bob,

and given the current vogue for 70s nostalgia, there are worse ideas.

In fact, as Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury and Martini have realised,

there is a rich seam to be mined here. Forget morphing, forget moving,

swirly type, if there’s going to be a creative theme for 1996, it’s


But move fast. Soon, people will start saying: ‘This nostalgia’s all

right, but it’s not what it was.’

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