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
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
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.