John Meszaros, the client who helped make Audi’s ’Vorsprung durch
Technik’ part of the language, received advertising’s ultimate accolade
two years before he left the car maker in 1992: the blessing of John
Hegarty. ’John has the most creative flair of any of our clients,’
Hegarty said. ’He doesn’t just make a commercial judgment, but looks at
the ad from a creative point of view. It’s a double-edged thing, as we
have disagreements, but I have great respect for him.’
As it was Meszaros’s flair that so patently paid dividends for
Volkswagen and Audi, Campaign was delighted when he agreed to write this
week’s feature (see p26) comparing the car market and its current
advertising with that of ten years ago - the time when Meszaros and the
then DDB Needham were busy positioning the Golf as vital yuppie
accessory with ’changes’ and other exemplary ads.
As Meszaros notes, his thesis will not please many car clients and their
agencies. He explains how most recent car advertising has been more
memorable for its weight of spend, its ’noise’, than for its intrinsic
interest or its strong idea. This, of course, has been exacerbated by
the high level of launch activity.
In the car market more than any other, clients have to throw money at
ads in order to get any kind of share of voice. A manufacturer might
spend pounds 20 million a year on ads, an impressive budget for any
other product category, but it is still small in comparison with the
pounds 500 million-odd total spend in the sector.
Meszaros suggests one way of producing more effective work. ’When I was
a client,’ he writes, ’we treated agencies as partners and business
advisers.’ How many times have we heard the argument that agencies can’t
do their best work from a kneeling position?