ITV 50 Years of Fame: Private view - Andrex

First, let me declare an interest. I regard Labradors as the most wonderful creatures ever to have walked this earth.

Second, since this is a very posh special edition of Private View that some may keep and treasure for years to come, I will not cheapen it by making any mention of pooh, do-doos or whoopsies.

Right, to the matter in hand. We have Labrador puppies and we have toilet tissue (as it is known in adland and nowhere else). Quite what prompted a creative person to put these two totally unrelated items together I cannot begin to imagine.

But that's my point. Here we have an example of true creative genius.

A creative person made a completely illogical connection. And, as a result, a client made many, many millions of pounds.

The Andrex campaign is a perfect example of branding, conceived long before most of us knew what the word meant.

But it's even better than that. This campaign didn't just sell product, it brought about social change.

I kid you not.

Before the Andrex puppies started slipping, sliding, tumbling and gambolling across our screens, the Labrador was not a particularly popular dog.

Then those wet-nosed cuties strutted their stuff. The nation went collectively gooey, then went out and bought the dogs as well as the loo paper.

By the late 80s, the Labrador was Britain's most popular dog. And, save for one year when the Yorkshire Terrier snuck in, it has remained so ever since.

That, my fellow toilet tissue users, is the power of advertising.

I'd also like to pay tribute to the client for having the good sense to stick with this campaign for so long.

In adland, where things move pretty fast, clients and agencies often forget that the real world moves at a much slower pace. The public needs time to see, appreciate and develop affection for a campaign.

I've always thought an investment in a campaign is no different from an investment in, say, a factory. Just as it would be madness to build one, knock it down a year or two later and then build a new one, so it is just as daft to constantly ditch and replace campaigns.

Creatively, of course, the campaign hasn't troubled too many juries.

While it may have changed the social landscape, it has left the creative community unmoved. Like so many campaigns adored by the public, most of my creative chums view it with disdain.

In this batch of ads, the Andrex puppy runs about to show how long the roll is (2). Then, in 1989, he rolls around in some feathers to demonstrate its softness (3) and also nicks the Andrex from a little boy on the loo to show how long it is again (4). "Quack" stars a puppy in the bathroom (1), while "puppy reunion" from 2004 brings the puppies together for a Christmas special (5). The latest ad, "duvet", shows a puppy proving Andrex's strength to a couple in their bedroom (6).

True, it's never been cutting-edge stuff. And true, the idea has never really been moved on. In fact, the most recent commercials could have run in the 70s, and the ones that ran then could be aired today without anyone noticing the difference.

But so what? If you'd done it - if you'd been the person who thought up the Andrex puppies - just think how proud of you your mum would be.

NB. No puppies were harmed in the writing of this review.

1. ANDREX Title: Quack Agency: J. Walter Thompson Year: 1999 2. ANDREX Title: Puppy Agency: J. Walter Thompson Year: 1972 3. ANDREX Title: Feathers Agency: J. Walter Thompson Year: 1989 4. ANDREX Title: Boy on loo Agency: J. Walter Thompson Year: 1991 5. ANDREX Title: Puppy reunion Agency: JWT Year: 2004 6. ANDREX Title: Duvet Agency: JWT Year: 2005

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