Jeremy Lee: Can Stephen Fry and the whiners leave us to enjoy the Games?

By Jeremy Lee,, Thursday, 02 August 2012 07:30AM

Weary of the attendant glee with which the Daily Mail reports on every minor foul-up that inevitably comes with hosting the Olympics, I was going to write this column on an initiative that demonstrates why these two weeks are not only among the greatest in our lifetimes, but will be economically beneficial for the creative industries and for the country as a whole.

Jeremy Lee: Can Stephen Fry and the whiners leave us to enjoy the Games?

Aside from the obvious whinges about further stress on London's creaking infrastructure, what was particularly irksome was the craven apology to the foul and repressive North Korean regime, and media demands for an act of public expiation for a mistake about a flag.

While the opening ceremony was rightly acknowledged as a triumph, it has been a peculiarly British thing to bitch and moan about pretty much every aspect of the Games - a fact that social media has allowed to become amplified. Mid-Games, I hope the bleating will stop.

And while the Olympic ads themselves, constrained by regulations, might not have been as breathtaking as one had wished, the creative community will hopefully benefit from an initiative held at Lancaster House earlier this week.

The sometime Olympic torch-bearer Sir Martin Sorrell joined speakers including Moray MacLennan and Sir John Hegarty to promote and showcase the UK ad industry to visiting global business leaders.

The Government hopes that the series of Global Business Summits will generate upwards of £11 billion for the UK economy. Surely, even for those most die-hard puritanical anti-Olympians who find nothing to celebrate in London hosting the Games or the benefits that it has brought to a run-down area of the capital or the sense of community and nationhood that it has engendered, there might be something worthwhile in that?

I was going to write about this brilliant initiative and ignore something that has irritated me - that only dodged a brush with the Campaign Turkey-baster due to its other production values - until I read this week's Private View, which confirmed that there are two words that are so overused in British advertising that they couldn't go without mention. I refer, of course, to "Stephen Fry". Currently appearing in a Bartle Bogle Hegarty ad for Virgin Media, Fry has also featured in commercials for Alliance & Leicester, Heineken, Trebor, Royal Mail, UK Online, Coca-Cola, Kenco, Orange, Tesco, Walkers, Arla Foods and Twinings. Oh, and Direct Line, WHSmith, Calor Gas and VisitEngland.

While no doubt great for his bank balance, Fry as advertising shorthand for intelligent and trustworthy is getting a bit lazy, so please let it stop. It makes a mockery of all the other great things the industry has to celebrate.

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