Campaign Supplement on BMP DDB 1968-1998: My Favourite Print Ads by Larry Barker

Say BMP and the word TV isn’t far behind. And I suppose that in itself is testament both to the power of the medium and BMP’s mastery of it . But press and posters have had their moments, too.

Say BMP and the word TV isn’t far behind. And I suppose that in

itself is testament both to the power of the medium and BMP’s mastery of

it . But press and posters have had their moments, too.

My first experience of BMP was back in the early 80s under the tutorship

of Paul Leeves and Al Tilby. Now, there was a press team! TV was safely

locked up in Webster’s toy cupboard, so if you wanted to play, you

played with print. And we had hard taskmasters in Paul and Al. A brief

wasn’t considered cracked until a small rain forest had been sacrificed.

And in the days when a Mac was something that hung on the back of a

door, you didn’t feel you’d done the thing justice unless you’d worked

all night at a studio with type mark-ups, airbrushes and cow gum. (If

these words are unfamiliar, you’re too young and I hate you.) And as

you’re about to see, it produced some crackers.

But the BMP ’bit’ is only half the story. At the end of the 80s they

were joined by the three most important letters in the history of press

advertising: two Ds and a B. Game, set and match, really.

Victory-V ’No head’ Derek Hass/Dave Trott 1978

Only the cut of the jacket dates this. So simple, but you know exactly

what it means. Yes, it’s a visual pun, but who cares? Certainly not


In some ways it’s like a frame from a classic BMP ad of the time. You

can almost hear the jingle.

NALGO ’Bang’ Sean Toal/Mitch Levy 1983

The beginning of one of the agency’s purple patches, this still goes

down as one of the most powerful ads. Ever. Sobering to think that this

was once an issue that people needed to be convinced about. A cracking

line of copy, good enough to be an ad in itself, reads: ’For a country

that isn’t supposed to have any money, don’t you think it’s amazing what

we’re spending it on.’ Wish I’d said that.

GLC ’Ken’ Alan Tilby/Paul Leeves 1984

A very clever ad by anyone’s standards. And an equally astute


How easy would it have been to insist on a more ’positive’ angle. But

no, sanity, for once, ruled. How galling must it have been to Thatcher

to have Red Ken standing on a platform that every Tory held dear.

Fisher Price ’Roller skates’ Bill Gallagher/Frank Budgen 1985

This still makes me laugh. And again a wise client in evidence. No

product and a line that demands a modicum of intelligence from the

consumer (which they do have, by the way). I wonder where all the great

clients are hiding.

True, we have more than our fair share of good ’uns, but I am getting a

little weary of the spineless, self-serving variety that seem to be

popping up all over the place.

John Smith’s ’Mixed up’ Tim Riley/Pete Gausis 1987

The original ’mixed up’ poster campaign. These are just very funny. I

still don’t know how they got away with ’the old place will look

completely different after just four cans of Yorkshire’s finest’. New

Laddism expressed brilliantly before Loaded, Men Behaving Badly and,

well, New Laddism was even heard of.

War On Want ’Feeding’ Bill Gallagher/Tony Davidson/Frank Budgen/Colin

Jones/Kim Papworth 1990

More serious stuff. Charity ads are hard, especially in the face of the

compassion fatigue that eventually hits us all. You have to find new

ways to express the same basic outrage. I think these are awesome. They

make you angry. And they fit neatly into a tradition of satirical

cartoons that goes way, way back. These worked then, and would work


VW ’Nixon’ Dave Denton/Mike Orr 1991

I could have chosen the more familiar ’psychiatrist’s couch’ ad or the

fabulous ’extra mild’, but they’ve received a lot of plaudits


So I chose this one. Dave Denton, the copywriter, is famous for having

the same old typewriter that he hurled at some hapless account man back

in the Dark Ages. He also has a frighteningly good press book. Here we

see some of the first fruits of the BMP DDB marriage. Another bit of

copy that lesser mortals would have used as a headline: ’A Volkswagen

dealer offers a guarantee no other dealer can get close to. A

Volkswagen ...’ Read the copy. Never have three layers of paint sounded

so good.

Aids ’Turn over’ Pete Gatley/Frank Budgen 1989

Remember when you thought you could never get Aids? Remember when you

saw this ad? This two-parter was the best of a brilliant bunch. The

campaign changed the way we behaved. Forever. It educated you. And it

scared you in a way that icebergs never could. The best ad for Durex

ever written.

Use Your Vote ’Niggers’ Richard Flintham/Andy McLeod 1997

The breathtaking press arm of the equally breathtaking cinema


How long have the ’oldsters’ been trying to get the ’kids’ to vote? This

is one of those ideas that, once you’ve seen it, it’s impossible to

think the same way about the subject matter again. It credits the punter

with, yes, you’ve guessed it, intelligence and it took a couple of the

industry’s brightest sparks to write it. Brilliant.

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