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A BIG Awards Promotion: BIGging up British TV

I got into advertising as a service to mankind.

Don't laugh. It makes sense, sort of, if you think about it like this: Advertising has been around for quite a while. It doesn't look like it's disappearing any time soon.

How many advertising messages is the average person is exposed to every day? Bloody loads, that's how many. And of those bloody loads, how many are so toe-curlingly awful we would rather take an angle grinder to our eyes than have to view them again? Exactly.

So, my logic goes, how amazing would people's lives be, how joyous, were that poop-percentage reduced to, say 99, or, dare we dream, 98 per cent? Hence my philanthropic mission: To improve people's lives.

And that is what the best TV advertising can do. The emotional hit a TV ad offers can do wondrous things. Take Blackcurrant Tango "St George". Guinness "surfer". Most of what CDP produced in the 70s. All of what John Webster produced into his sixties; go on, watch "Lubbaclub" or "Adore-a-Kia Ora" or "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" or Smash Martians. I guarantee you'll feel great. (For a while. Then, of course, you'll feel terribly sad. That the best TV writer there has ever been isn't any more.)

Of course, life-improvement-through-TV-advertising isn't just about generating a nice, warm feeling. Ads that create a nasty, chilling feeling can also improve lives; stuff for charities or issues or scary shit such as the planet boiling over. TV commercials can inform, inspire and galvanise. They can actually change the world for the better.

What made Webster truly special was the simplicity of his ideas. No matter how intricate or expensive their production, simplicity of idea is something all great TV ads share. A bunch of coloured balls bounce down a hill. A bald bloke painted orange sneaks up to someone drinking a can of fizzy pop and smacks him round the head. A guy drives around like a maniac chasing tor-bloody-nadoes.

Add to such simple ideas the touch of a brilliant director, an enlightened client, a few quid and creative people with tenacity, passion and stamina, and you can end up with a not bad piece of work.

I say can. Even with all those stars aligned, you're by no means guaranteed the kind of stuff that'll make the soul soar. No. One slip of concentration, a bad call here or there by agency or client, a dodgy steer from research. And wham. Something new to flush down CrapTube.

While the TV ad is still the weapon of choice for many clients thanks to its ability to rocket a brand to Susan Boyle-esque fame, there is no doubt that its role is changing. Once the kneejerk spine of a multi-media campaign, TV is increasingly being used to drive audiences to a web-based experience, then pump them on from there. So with millions of us spending our nights skimming merrily though Sky+, while Twittering away on our laptops, this offers up an exciting challenge.

If TV advertising is going to remain relevant (for relevant read noticeable (for noticeable read worth investing in)), it must do something new. Or rather, old. What it used to do: Grab our attention. Entertain. Engage. Give us stuff we might actively want to rewind, watch, watch again, look up on YouTube, learn more about, then forward to our mates. Stuff we can use, not just view. Stuff, dare I say it, that'll improve our lives. Even by just a few teensy per cent.

For more information and to enter the BIG awards, visit campaignbigawards.com DAMON COLLINS' FIVE FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT BRITAIN ...

Greasy spoon cafes. I love the smell of bacon in the morning. It smells like ... breakfast.

The weather. Not too hot. Not too cold. And for the three days a year when the sun's out, there's nowhere better.

Marmite. Hard to believe anyone really does hate it.

The BBC. If ever you need justification for the licence fee, just go to any country around the world and turn on the TV.

Richmond Park. An oasis. Yet to find anywhere that lifts the soul quite like it.

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