One day, probably four years ago, I noticed this symbol made out of black lettering and red triangles with HSBC written under it. It was a Wednesday and by Friday I had seen about 15 more. It was about two years later that I realised that HSBC stood for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

One day, probably four years ago, I noticed this symbol made out of

black lettering and red triangles with HSBC written under it. It was a

Wednesday and by Friday I had seen about 15 more. It was about two years

later that I realised that HSBC stood for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking


The whole thing unsettled and disturbed me in a Kafkaesque sort of way.

Maybe I missed the announcement, perhaps it didn’t give one, but when my

local Midland Bank in Matlock suddenly re-orientated itself to an

oriental outpost, I found it a touch too Big Brother like.

It was an echo of this discomfort that tingled when I heard Nick Moran

of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame say in Barclays Bank’s new

ad that ’if someone’s going to be watching us, you can be sure it won’t

be Little Brother’.

It would be easy to cluck on about how much Barclays must have paid

these glittering spokesmen but I won’t. The plain fact is that plenty of

other financial institutions have backed lorryloads of bucks into their

ads and produced spots that make the Ronseal ads look gripping.

These three ads are wonderfully stylish, always staunchly true to their

brand strategy of bigness and, in the case of the Anthony Hopkins

commercial, written and acted with consummate skill. But how could the

line ’A big world needs a big bank’ not fail to rankle when, as I write,

the newspapers are filled with vitriol at the big banks’ indifference

and hauteur over customer charges.

From a canvas as broad as a Velasquez to a dotcom doodle the size of a

postage stamp for Here the strategy fits the execution

like a plug into a plug hole, unfortunately with similar excitement.

’What’s your fondest holiday memory? We want to take you there’, is a

proposition as fascinating and compelling as the people you choose to

tell it to. So the bloke reminiscing engagingly about dolphins suddenly

appearing under the night sky certainly gets you there. But the two

children sniggering about putting a hermit crab in their mum’s shoe -

The Royale Family it ain’t. Hermit crabs my arse!

If the Teletext dialogue is the sort you might overhear in the back of a

bus, Ronseal’s is the sort you might overhear in the back of a


All right, I know it’s all very post-modern to undersell by overselling

and in fairness I’m certain these ads sell like a fairground barker on

whizz. But they sent me eight, yes eight, of these little buggers and,

believe me, after hearing him read the tin that many times you don’t

want to paint with Ronseal’s Diamond hard floor varnish, you want to

drink it and be done with it.

I like the spot for Harmonie Organic Foods. Its pleasing animated style

falls somewhere between the Magic Roundabout and the Polski Institut da

Filmski Animatico (or some such arty farty sounding Eastern European

film maker). The message is equally simple: organic grass equals organic

dairy produce. I’d buy that.

I quite like the posters for, I just wonder about the

distressed typeface and grey muted background. A bit charity, a bit

politico; in fact, they look a bit like the work of Polski Institut da

Doku mentski (or some such arty farty Eastern European design


And finally, NHS Nurses. Saatchi & Saatchi has created a powerful and

much garlanded campaign. This spot shows that you don’t have to act

tough to follow a tough act. Gone is the macho realism, the unflinching

detail; instead integrity replaces intensity.

Via a crackling intercom we trace a young lad from his hospital

admission after a traffic accident all the way back home. The brilliant

insight here is to simply reel off a role call of all the trained

professionals it requires to put one small boy back on his feet.

Unfortunately, I fear this ad won’t be winning as many creative awards

but I guarantee it will win a lot of interest from prospective nurses

and will end up pinning a nursing medal on many a chest.


Project: holidays

Client: Simon Curry, head of marketing

Brief: Launch the Teletext online holiday service

Agency: St Luke’s

Writer: Andy Drugan

Art director: Simon Friedberg

Photographer: Stock shots

Exposure: National 48-sheet posters


Project: Harmonie Organic Foods

Client: Laurent Ponty, project manager

Brief: Be the first organic dairy brand to be relevant to the mainstream


Agency: BMP DDB

Writer: Justine Walker

Art director: Annie Jaques

Director: Phil Dale

Production company: Passion Pictures

Exposure: National TV


Project: Ronseal

Client: Ged Shields, marketing director

Brief: Continue to demystify the DIY market by building on the success

of the ’Does exactly what it says on the tin’ campaign

Agency: advertising brasserie

Creative team: Dave Shelton, Liz Waldron, James McCarthy

Director: Dave Shelton

Production company: advertising brasserie

Exposure: National TV


Project: NHS careers/nursing recruitment

Client: Wyn Roberts, deputy communications director

Brief: Communicate the benefits of a nursing career in the NHS and

encourage potential nurses to call NHS Careers

Agency: D’Arcy

Writer: Simon Impey

Art director: Jon Daniel

Director: Adrian Moat

Production company: RSA

Exposure: National TV


Project: Corporate branding campaign for Barclays Bank

Client: Caitlin Thomas, brand management team

Brief: Reposition Barclays as a global financial powerhouse

Agency: Leagas Delaney

Creative team: Rob Burleigh, Tom Hudson, Dave Beverley

Director: Tony Scott

Production company: Ridley Scott Associates

Exposure: National TV


Client: Andy McQueen, marketing director

Brief: Launch

Agency: Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy

Writer: Kevin Baldwin

Art director: Mick Brigdale

Typographer: Tim Lewis

Photographer: Jan Chlebik

Exposure: Posters, press, Underground


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