An AMV BBDO advertising supplement: Private View by Adrian Holmes

My preparations were simple yet thorough. A locked room. An empty table top. A carefully adjusted Anglepoise lamp. A small woven hassock on which to genuflect.

My preparations were simple yet thorough. A locked room. An empty

table top. A carefully adjusted Anglepoise lamp. A small woven hassock

on which to genuflect.

Slowly, reverentially, I prised open the end of the cardboard tube. With

trembling fingers, I extracted its precious cargo. There they were:

seven in number, as had been foretold, each tightly furled inside the

other as though unwilling to give up their ancient secrets. These, then,

were the Abbott Mead scrolls.

Well, if I’m honest, it did feel a bit like that. And needless to say, I

found myself looking at a very fine set of advertisements indeed.

(Campaign didn’t have to send me the proofs. Page references from the

1988-1990 D&AD Annuals would have done just as well.)

There’s something about this work that immediately strikes you: the fact

that the written word is king (and what a refreshing experience that is

nowadays, but we’ll let it pass).

Words never reigned more supreme than in the Economist posters. This was

the great grand-daddy of them all, the one that sired an entire dynasty

blessed with the same good looks and sharp intelligence. A small gripe:

how I wish some of the zip and sparkle of the advertising would rub off

on the magazine itself, which I find rather ponderous both in look and

content. There, I’ve said it. ’I never read the Economist.’ Advertising

chairman, aged 44.

Ah yes, the Queen Anne period of art direction. And what finer example

than this ad for Cow & Gate babyfood? Note the classical proportions of

the overall structure. Observe how the individual elements are laid out

with consummate clarity and balance. This is advertising architecture of

the highest order, and someone should slap a preservation order on it. A

headline you can actually read, copy that actively invites further

perusal, typography that promises to be digestible (which is just as

well, as young mums would have devoured this lot).

Everyone recalls the marvellous Apple Computer ad with the sorely

misguided tortoise - not least a team at Lowe Howard-Spink who paid it

the ultimate compliment of a Heineken parody. The original ad fairly

leapt off the page thanks to an uproarious visual. What the photo sadly

doesn’t show is the five years of patient courtship that it took old

torty to get this far.

Eee, when I were a lad, a Volvo was sold on safety, not on the fact that

it does 0-60 in three seconds and comes in canary yellow. Here’s a

poster from the sensible period, and jolly nice it is too. Nowadays

they’d probably be throwing this young man out of the back of an

aircraft into the path of a tornado.

I remember judging the Waterstone’s campaign at the time and pressing

the ten button as hard as I could. Beautiful photography to draw you

into the ad, a well-chosen extract to draw you into the book and a

nicely crafted clincher to draw you into your nearest branch of

Waterstone’s. Absolutely right for the target market, not to mention for

T. Waterstone Esq, who by all accounts is now plotting a takeover of W.

H. Smith.

Think Abbott Mead and you might think nice and cuddly. But they can be

vicious bastards when the mood takes them. Just look at this cruel

sideswipe at Ken Clarke in the BMA poster. If that’s not stepping all

over the poor chap’s suede shoes, I’d like to know what is.

However, that’s a mere snapping chihuahua compared to the full-on

pit-bull terrier of the RSPCA dead dogs ad. What an extraordinarily

powerful piece of work this was, and still is. Yet despite the snarling

violence of the headline and the visual, the argument in favour of dog

registration is elegantly and lucidly put forward in the copy. It’s a

pity that you won’t be able to read the words here, because they’re

undoubtedly best of breed. From the supreme champion himself, if I’m not

very much mistaken.


Project: Dog registration campaign

Brief: Stir up public support for a dog registration scheme

Writer: David Abbott

Art director: Ron Brown

Typographer: Joe Hoza

Photographer: Derek Seagram

Exposure: National press


Project: Brand campaign

Brief: Reinforce Volvo’s

safety advantage

Writer: David Abbott

Art director: Ron Brown

Typographer: Joe Hoza

Photographer: Bob Miller

Exposure: National posters and press

Apple Computer

Project: New product launch

Brief: Convey Apple’s new compatibility advantage

Writer: Malcolm Duffy

Art director: Paul Briginshaw

Typographer: Joe Hoza

Exposure: National press and magazines


Project: Waterstone’s

book stores

Brief: Associate Waterstone’s with a love of books

Writer: Peter Russell

Art director: Rob Oliver

Typographer: Joe Hoza

Photographer: Graham Cornthwaite

Exposure: National press and magazines

The Economist Group

Project: The Economist

Brief: If you want to get

ahead in business, read the Economist

Writer: David Abbott

Art director: Ron Brown

Typographer: Joe Hoza

Exposure: National posters

British Medical Association

Project: Public awareness campaign

Brief: Draw attention to the BMA’s view on National Health issues

Writer: David Abbott

Art director: Ron Brown

Typographer: Joe Hoza

Exposure: National posters

Cow & Gate

Project: Babyfood campaign

Brief: Establish the benefits

of the product’s natural ingredients

Writer: Lynda Richardson

Art director: Andy Arghyrou

Typographer: Joe Hoza

Photographer: Steve Cavalier

Exposure: National magazines


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