Let’s talk about ads - it’s been too long since I really upset anyone.
What on earth was going on behind the scenes in the new Bhs commercial?
An obvious contender for Turkey of the Year, it is discussed in detail
by Caroline Marshall this week (p51). It follows some very disappointing
Visa Delta work featuring Mel Smith. Did Saatchi and Saatchi’s creative
department take its eye off the ball during its recent upheaval?
Equally strange is the new RAF recruitment work, which is either merely
in the depressing style of the Samaritans, or a parody. It’s hard to
justify either possibility. Still, at least it wasn’t in the fast-cut,
portentous voiceover style of so many recent ads, from Grolsch to Minx
to DNA. But was it aimed at the industry rather than the public? It’s a
feeling one has more and more, playing spot the technique in ads ranging
from Nestle desserts to AT&T and Inmarsat (or should it be count the
techniques in the latter?). What about the Guinness posters? Do you feel
uneasy whenever ads discuss advertising?
I’d exempt the new Rory McGrath BT scripts. The issue of who will
succeed Bob Hoskins has become tabloid fodder and the ads recognise
this. Is he the man for the job? Won’t many viewers be asking ‘Rory
who?’ Perhaps BT wants this. I still remember the meeting I attended in
which BT explained that Maureen Lipman was being dropped from Simons
Palmer Clemmow Johnson’s work because she was overshadowing the brand.
The need to move on from Bob becomes more urgent the more money BT
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO will be wrestling with this issue over the use
of Nicholas Lyndhurst for W. H. Smith. What a contrast this is to the
MTV stuff. W. H. Smith could have gone that route too - there’s a
strategy about youth lurking behind the brand. But does every ad have to
take the youth tack? The industry will hate the ads. The device of
having Lyndhurst in all four family roles did dominate the first
executions, but we’ll get used to that, once the ponderous direction
livens up. It’s advertising aimed at consumers.
Pausing only to praise Lowe Howard-Spink’s new Stella Artois ‘red shoes’
ad because we often tend to overlook consistent excellence, my favourite
current campaign is Simons Palmer’s Goldfish launch. I know it is
classic British emotional, humorous stuff, relying on celebrity
performance and sparkling direction from John Lloyd, but amid the happy-
zappy deluge it’s fresh. It’s the appropriate use of a celebrity: former
wild ‘Big Yin’ is now a family man, but still cool, so you can use a
credit card which gives you money off gas bills without feeling like an
old fart. An interesting mass-market launch with a campaign that
explains what the product is, and speaks to its target consumers in a
tone they will enjoy. There’s a thing. I want one.