PRIVATE VIEW

For some, spring is trumpeted in by the Cheltenham Festival (yes I did win, thanks) while for other more dutiful souls it’s heralded by a strange urge to tart up their dwelling. No fewer than three of this week’s offerings fall into the home improvement category and since the top act in my DIY repertoire is hoovering, this would seem to be an unmissable opportunity for several hundred words of childish ridicule. Yet the three campaigns involved actually give us an unwitting snapshot of Blair’s ’divided Britain’.

For some, spring is trumpeted in by the Cheltenham Festival (yes I

did win, thanks) while for other more dutiful souls it’s heralded by a

strange urge to tart up their dwelling. No fewer than three of this

week’s offerings fall into the home improvement category and since the

top act in my DIY repertoire is hoovering, this would seem to be an

unmissable opportunity for several hundred words of childish ridicule.

Yet the three campaigns involved actually give us an unwitting snapshot

of Blair’s ’divided Britain’.



Observe the Wickes ad, a commercial for blokes. It features lumpy blokes

with grime under their fingernails, who smoke Embassy Regal and run

their thumbs down cupboard doors saying ’lovely bit of dovetailing,

that’. It’s suitably cast with some decent ’uncheekboney-types’ doing up

the house while the little woman is out and is set to a Bernard Cribbins

comic song. The ad is a bit tiresome but good natured and is the latest

example of the great working man’s song-and-dance tradition that has

previously carried Kwik-Fit, Jewson et al. Old Labour is still out there

and it’s singing.



New Labour is buying property in Amsterdam in the shape of our modern

young couple who star in the Dulux Once ad. This is the other side of

the social coin, a couple who have made enough money to buy an entire

brothel with canal views but can’t afford a decorator. So they slap on

the Dulux in a race to erase all evidence of the building’s previous

smutty life before mum and dad arrive from Wooton Bassett. It’s about as

full of holes as a plotline could be, but it’s so expertly done that it

doesn’t matter. A beautifully constructed ad with images of the prior

naughtiness peeping through as the couple paint over the past (I almost

wrote paper over the cracks, dear me).



Then there’s Heal’s, for our third, most rarefied echelon of society:

the art director. Not the noble, skilled, self-effacing kind that grace

WCRS, but the slightly poncy lot who wear peculiar shirts, strip their

elegant Georgian houses to the bone and pay two grand for a bundle of

twigs to furnish the empty sitting room. These are the chaps (they’re

almost always men) who will appreciate the effort put in to making the

headlines on these posters tricky to decipher, who admire the woman

taking her table for a walk and who delight in the image of a demure

young thing, swaddled in white, crouched behind a butcher’s block

awaiting some ritualistic abuse. It would have the Wickes boys tutting

into their cladding applicator.



The Financial Times commercial makes me feel a bit guilty. I hate to

dismiss something that has been so painstakingly and skillfully put

together but, unlike the brothel in Amsterdam, there’s nothing much

going on underneath the glossy surface, so I was left unstirred.



Which was not the case with the remaining two campaigns, a brace of

Chicken Tonights and a couple of Eurostars. Poles apart in their appeal,

you may think, but both delivered with similar brio. Let’s face it, it

takes some gall to actually exist if you’ve given the world the

teeth-tingling horror of Ian Wright as Noel Coward, but Chicken Tonight

has stuck its scrawny head above the parapet again. To bring to life its

premise that chicken is boring without its spicy help, we see young

women attempting to have a good time with a dead chicken and failing

because the chicken won’t salsa (unsurprisingly) or skank along to some

home reggae action despite the increasingly angry exhortations of the

young women. It’s barking mad but, if you prefer the Ian Wright ad, so

are you.



Equally courageous is Eurostar, for producing commercials in which the

dialogue is sung throughout in French and subtitled. It could have been

hideous but it’s done with such joie de vivre, panache, elan, esprit de

corps and other such Gallic arm-wavery that it perfectly captures the

essence of Paris in the spring. Only Cheltenham tops it, really.



ICI Paints

Project: Dulux Once

Client: Magdalena Teare, marketing director

Brief: Launch Dulux’s reformulated one-coat paint Dulux Once

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writer: Nick Worthington

Art director: Paul Brazier

Director: Paul Gay

Production company: Outsider

Exposure: National TV


Heal’s

Project: Heal’s

Client: Jocelyn Rees, marketing manager

Brief: Reaffirm that at Heal’s you will find beautifully crafted

contemporary furniture which perfectly reflects your personality

Agency: BMP DDB

Writer: Mark Reddy

Art director: Mark Reddy

Typographer: Peter Mould

Photographer: David Stewart

Exposure: 12-sheet Underground posters, press


Financial Times

Project: Financial Times International Newspaper

Client: Gordon Willoughby, sales and marketing director

Brief: Further establish the FT as the world business newspaper by

demonstrating the range of stimulating aspects of its international

business coverage

Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren

Writer: Malcolm Green

Art director: Gary Betts

Director: Stuart Douglas

Production company: FourHundred Films

Exposure: Pan-European TV


Eurostar

Project: Eurostar

Client: Joanna Howard, marketing manager

Brief: Travelling by Eurostar allows you to get the best out of your

destination

Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Writer: Mike Boles

Art director: Jerry Hollens

Director: Vaughan Arnell

Production company: Godman

Exposure: South East TV


Wickes

Project: Wickes home improvement centres

Client: Richard Bird, commercial director

Brief: Communicate the key values of the Wickes brand

Agency: D’Arcy Writer: Steve Meredith

Art director: Ray Brennan

Director: Tom Vaughn

Production company: HLA

Exposure: London/Grampian TV


Van den Bergh Foods

Project: Chicken Tonight

Client: Dave Wood, marketing manager

Brief: Launch a new paste from Chicken Tonight and maintain the

flamboyant personality of the brand

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Siggi Halling

Art director: David Mackersey

Director: Brian Badderman

Production companies: Park Village, All Films

Exposure: National TV



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