The British Television Advertising Awards 1997: Chairman’s report

Was there a golden age of UK commercial television?

Was there a golden age of UK commercial television?

Could there be? And could it be now?

A certain generation would have it that it was when dialogue was

supreme, when its stars were the stars of the gentler BBC sitcoms and

production values were worshipped above all else.

And very good it was too. But as the jury spooled their way through the

shortlist of this year’s BTAA candidates, it’s difficult to believe that

the variety, inventiveness and imagination apparent today has ever been


Formats, time length, film language - everything is now up to question

and quite rightly so. Home-made commercials, hand-made commercials,

commercials whose only star is a fax machine, three-minute commercials

of enormous quality and entertainment made for pounds 80,000; anything

can happen.

There are, of course, still plenty of techniques looking for ideas and

there are still too many people who can’t see beyond MTV for their frame

of reference. But the energy and iconoclasm of the current crop of

creative teams who view a camera as a tool for fun and energy and not an

arcane object of worship - bad news for those rapidly obsolescent

production companies who persist in their fat habits, hiding behind

alleged production values as their excuse - is exciting and hugely


Only the packaged goods section remains obstinately rooted in the

’customer as moron’ school of advertising, interestingly probably the

most over-researched, over-planned and over-thought category of them


But those apart, the body of work set before us made the three days a

pleasure and the task simple. The organisation, as always with the BTAA,

was superb and the blackcurrant and apple crumble on the second day was


Congratulations and thanks are due to the jury, who were highly

diligent, verified by their consistency in their voting. There was

good-humoured comment and in the end little dissent because there were

few grounds for dissension.

Hopefully, you’ll agree with their view. And in considering the bulk of

this year’s winners, hopefully you’ll agree that the current creativity

in our television advertising is as high as it’s ever been.