A mum asks her daughter if she can spell banana. ’Yes’, replies the
little girl, ’but you’ll have to tell me when to stop.’ OK, it isn’t
much of a joke but the same principle applies to ideas. Basically, once
you’ve got a good idea, make sure you stop before it gets spoilt by
being over complicated.
Take the Volkswagen Passat work, for instance. BMP DDB has created some
beautifully elegant and simple ads based on a big idea: obsession with
detail. Some lucky buggers have been given the task of extending this
campaign to fleet managers. Not the most glamorous audience, perhaps,
but the team has made a really good job of this.
The idea of spotting the obsessive nature of Volkswagen engineers at
school is a great one. The school exercise book is a thing of beauty
that has been crafted with great style, all the way through to the logo
done in biro.
But, like the little girl trying to spell banana, the scrapbook takes it
too far. It just doesn’t have the charm and finesse of the other book
and stretches the gag a little thin. Especially the way the pack shot
has been shoehorned in.
One other gripe, the letter really doesn’t flow - it feels as though the
writer has topped and tailed an existing fleet letter.
Some people feel that the really great thing about working in direct
marketing is that you get to do funny folds and the next pack has lots
The Hewlett-Packard Mopier photocopier guarantees perfect copies. It
promises perfect, stress-free copying every time. How are we going to
Well, the obvious answer is send out a screwed-up piece of paper. That
would be a really good demonstration of what a pain other copiers are
and a really fab funny fold.
But hang on, shouldn’t the HP campaign be about showing how much better
things are on its copiers, rather than how bad the competition is?
Anyway, haven’t we seen this one before? Perhaps the team stopped a
little too soon.
The first of this week’s dotcoms is called Flycast. It promises to
double your response rates on the web. Excellent stuff and a really
compelling message for our chums in the media department. However, the
team could have spent a little more time squeezing a bit more out of
Running the same gag over and over again in press, post and novelty post
gets really boring. Also, why isn’t there an online solution?
Plantlife is a worthwhile organisation that has done a great deal of
work in the past ten years to save the green bits all around us,
including some very rare plants and flowers. All this, however, is
buried in something that can only be described as unreadable. All we can
say is stop and start again.
Our final dotcom is called BeMe.com. This cover-mounted CD-Rom comes in
a sleeve with the obvious plays on the company name: bein the know;
bechallenging; beirreverent; benow and, of course, beconnected. In fact,
the only one that was in any way surprising was beyourself, next to a
picture of a nun - a thought that twanged a distant chord in Jack’s
We’d like to say more, but it’s probably time we stopped.
Graham Mills and Jack Nolan are the joint creative directors of
Wunderman Cato Johnson
Brief: Launch IPC Electric’s first internet product, aiming to be the
number one destination site for women in the UK
Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren
Copywriter: Malcolm Green
Art director: Gary Betts
Brief: Give a physical demonstration of the frustration produced by
photocopiers and explain how an HP Mopier can prevent it
Copywriter: Andy Brown
Art director: Lee Bollinger
Brief: Launch Flycast, a direct response online advertising network,
Copywriter: Abo Abramowitz
Art director: Cressida Lloyd
Brief: Remind fleet managers why the Passat is still top of its class
Agency: Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray
Copywriter: Chris Barraclough
Art director: Stephen Edwards
Brief: Emphasise the growth of Plantlife since its founding ten years
Agency: Burnett Associates
Copywriter: Cara Hickey
Art director: Lee Cradock