Campaign Diary: Pope’s man gets down and dirty in IAA clash with adland’s Howell

It’s the big fight day at the International Advertising Association’s London 2000 Congress (6-9 June this year) and the audience awaits the main bout of the afternoon - the ethics debate.

It’s the big fight day at the International Advertising

Association’s London 2000 Congress (6-9 June this year) and the audience

awaits the main bout of the afternoon - the ethics debate.



In the red corner sits Archbishop John Foley, the Pope’s official

spokesman.



In the blue is Rupert Howell, the ebullient president of the Institute

of Practitioners in Advertising, who makes even Prince Naseem seem

lacking in self-esteem.



Saint Rupe vaults up to the podium and raises his hands for silence.



’Just to let you know we’ll be keeping this as informal as possible,’ he

says. ’So there will be no genuflecting and kissing the ring. Chris

Satterthwaite and Robin Azis have worn out enough trouser knees

already.’



A chime of bells - a neat touch from the prez - signals round one. He

opens with a swift jab. ’Ethics. There’s no hotter topic in the

business. And I should know because I’m always telling you. As I was

only saying in my Guardian column last week ...’



The Archbishop’s eyes already begin glazing over as he parries and

counter-punches. ’False pride is a serious sin, my son. When was your

last confession?’



Howell goes groggy for a moment but swiftly recovers. ’Confession?

Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who had nothing to confess but his genius. And,

talking of genius, did I tell you HHCL & Partners is agency of the

decade?’



’Yes, you did,’ the Archbishop responds gloomily. ’In fact, I doubt

whether there can be anybody left on the planet apart from a couple of

missionaries travelling the upper reaches of the Limpopo that you

haven’t told.’



He opts for a change of tactics, figuring that to take on Howell you

have to get in close. ’I was only discussing the question of ethics with

my chairman - sorry, the Holy Father - last week,’ he declares. ’But he

seems very distracted. The latest focus group reports are so depressing,

not to mention the brand tracking studies.’



’Sounds like you need a good agency,’ Howell says. ’You’re right,’

replies the Archbishop. ’I’ll take any suggestions - as long as it isn’t

that awful outfit that created ’Tis the season to be Tangoed!’’



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