CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE; Fly-on-the-wall TV series will confirm image of ad world

As an excitable Stuart Kendall, then creative director of Lintas i, presents his script for the Rover 200 launch, Les Knight, Rover’s marketing communications manager, starts grinning nervously. As Stuart unveils his ‘stunning’ script (that’s its title, not my description) - bungee-jumper plunging through the open sun-roof to admire the 200’s dashboard and trim - the grin gets broader. Was he sweating? He was moments later, when Kendall invited him to picture the new Rover through the eyes of an animated family of moles.

As an excitable Stuart Kendall, then creative director of Lintas i,

presents his script for the Rover 200 launch, Les Knight, Rover’s

marketing communications manager, starts grinning nervously. As Stuart

unveils his ‘stunning’ script (that’s its title, not my description) -

bungee-jumper plunging through the open sun-roof to admire the 200’s

dashboard and trim - the grin gets broader. Was he sweating? He was

moments later, when Kendall invited him to picture the new Rover through

the eyes of an animated family of moles.



Reader, beware letting TV cameras into your place of work. When Rover

met BMW is a fascinating BBC documentary series about the recent

takeover. Episode two next Tuesday is about advertising. It is quite

simply the most revealing fly-on-the-wall programme about the business

ever. A voiceover tells us what we already knew: ‘Rover is worried about

‘stunning’. Without telling Stuart, it has been briefing another

creative team at the same agency to come up with an alternative.’ Cut to

Nick Welch and Billy Mawhinney prodding and poking a Rover, before Welch

presents Rod Ramsey, Rover’s marketing director, with the script that

became ‘an Englishman in New York’. We all like the idea largely because

we have just heard a very clear brief to ‘demonstrate Rover’s

Englishness’. What was Kendall’s brief? ‘Perhaps, be a bit different’.



Small wonder he’s bitter, having then lost his job in the Lintas

takeover. He shows us his ‘good luck’ leaving cards from senior Rover

personnel with startling sarcasm, and then goes on to criticise his

‘strategists’. We’d feel sorry for him if we hadn’t all just seen shots

of his huge pile in the Northamptonshire countryside.



Could you ever feel sorry for ‘millionaire’ Robin Wight? First seen in

his lovely mews home putting on his bow tie and lime-green corduroy

suit, Robin, Rover’s new ad consultant, jumps into a fat BMW to go off

and tell the then Rover chief executive, John Towers, about Rover’s

‘brand schizophrenia’. Rover ads, Robin says, should be more consistent,

like...well, like BMW ads (of course). And, by the way, the Rover name

should be changed. Towers looks shell-shocked. There is delicious

interplay between shots of Robin in full, magnificent flow and an

engineer in overalls on Rover’s board. No comment required.



The episode ends with the shoot in New York. This is where behind-the-

scenes crucifies the ad world. Why, the viewer asks, are there 500

people on the shoot? Why do they use those plastic actors? And why do

they need 40 shirts and 60 ties for one man? Why indeed.



Nick and Billy emerge as well as can be expected. Viewers will think

Robin’s a rich wally - but he talks some good sense - but we will all

remember a bitter Stuart Kendall. The lesson is simple: where’s the

brief?



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