MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE; Mercury press ad illustrates value of media strategists

Tee hee. Are Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury and its media strategists, Michaelides and Bednash, taking the piss out of themselves? And is Oliver, the male lead in its new Mercury ads, really Steve Henry in disguise? If he is, who’s the big fat boss with the cigar and the colourful ties? I ask because, having read the initial burst of Mercury press ads, the one I liked best was the one featuring the virtual office where, natch, nobody was doing anything. It rather summed up my feelings on all the hot air that is spouted about virtual agencies, much of it by you know who.

Tee hee. Are Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury and its media strategists,

Michaelides and Bednash, taking the piss out of themselves? And is

Oliver, the male lead in its new Mercury ads, really Steve Henry in

disguise? If he is, who’s the big fat boss with the cigar and the

colourful ties? I ask because, having read the initial burst of Mercury

press ads, the one I liked best was the one featuring the virtual office

where, natch, nobody was doing anything. It rather summed up my feelings

on all the hot air that is spouted about virtual agencies, much of it by

you know who.



No matter. Here I am talking about the ads, just as M&B had intended.

But, to be serious for a moment, this campaign is a perfect

demonstration of what M&B is all about: media plans that are indivisible

from the creative execution, where the whole (ie the media plus the

creative) is greater than the sum of the parts.



Mind you, that is not to say that none of the big media buying shops

could have come up with something equally innovative. Just about any of

the bigger players - from Zenith to (Ogilvy and Mather’s) the Network

could and have concocted something just as smart. But it requires a

philosophy that doesn’t measure everything on price and such a way of

operating, perhaps, is more likely to emerge from an operation that

focuses solely on thinking rather than one that combines the two. If

there is a lesson here for those media buyers that wish to claim the

higher intellectual ground (wherein lie better margins), then it is that

spinning off a ‘brains trust’ a la M&B may be the way to go rather than

having the thinkers and the buyers working side by side. Much as I like

Initiative’s idea of setting up a creative unit, I wonder if it won’t

work better as an entirely separate organisation.



Not that I am an entirely in favour of everything M&B and Howell Henry

do. For example, they seem to be hooked to the point of obsession on

this idea of making their ads ‘interactive’, so that it’s now become

rather passe. Take, for example, the latest posters for Mazda which

invite us to phone in to say whether a Mazda 323 is a better looking car

than a Volkswagen Golf. I suppose this might have been a cutting-edge

idea once, but what kind of sad car freak is really going to do that?



In fact, you can see that Howell Henry and M&B’s obsession with this

sort of ‘quasi-interactivity’ was behind that original TV ad for Mazda

where we were invited to record the ad (when Vauxhall does the same you

know it’s time to move on), and now encompasses Martini and McCain

Pizzas where our enjoyment of some very nice ads is ruined by the fact

that we have to participate in a phone competition.



You see chaps, that’s the thing about being cutting edge. You’ve got to

keep moving the game on before everybody else catches up or you get

found out.



Ask Picasso or David Bowie.



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