I’ve been too upset to write about it until now, but I’m gutted
about the prospect of Brucie getting the bullet in the Courts review.
You guys clearly disagree - the vote on the ’People’s Jury’ part of our
Website last week ran 59 per cent in favour of dropping the
septuagenarian from the campaign.
Forget all this stuff about the ads being so bad they were good. They
were just good. Ikea aside, what other furniture or carpet retailer ads
can you recall? Courts has just turned in sparkling results. The ads
always contain a simple proposition (usually a price offer) with Brucie
dressed up as a judge as a helpful mnemonic device. The client deserves
credit for consistent spending, too. ’See you all in Courts’ is the kind
of cringe-making pun that was lauded as genius when the same agency,
CDP, trotted them out week in, week out in the 70s and early-80s.
I know I’ll be pilloried for endorsing the work, and that the industry’s
old lags will shake their heads about where Campaign is going, but
consider a few facts. In the past month, Courts announced a 13.9 per
cent like-for-like sales increase in British stores over the previous
year for the last quarter 1997 and then a 28.6 per cent rise. This came
as its three main rivals - MFI, DFS and Carpetright - announced profit
warnings. The Times was not alone in suggesting Courts benefited from
its ’awful’ ads starring Brucie.
So, Courts’ advertising achieves stand-out, high awareness and clearly
contributes both to footfall and sales - so much so that it won the
furniture industry’s ad effectiveness award. But the industry hates it
because it is unashamedly naff. If Courts were a Channel 4/ BBC 2
gameshow, the ad industry would be racing to rip it off - putting a
post-modern spin on it, of course.
Instead, our industry worships the enigmatic and the heavily art
The new ads for Carling, Crown Paint and the Ford Ka epitomise the
What are they on about? Carling with its TV sets falling from the sky
and allusions to football; Crown Paint with its coloured raindrops
falling from the sky in slow-mo, and the Ford Ka with its ’if only Ka
made football boots’.
You can watch these ads again and again like a two-year-old transfixed
by Teletubbies, but you’ll be none the wiser. Those coloured drops will
fall and you will just have to believe that you ’don’t just paint it,
Crown it’. Those tellies will drop and if beer lovers just drink the
advertising you could be drinking anything from a snowball to a
snakebite - who can tell? And as for the Ka ... answers on a postcard
Courts may not be great advertising, but what’s wrong with making ads
consumers can understand?