It’s about this time of year that the heavy brains of Campaign sit down
to compile the annual review of the year, the most taxing bit of which
is to decide which ads classify as ‘gems’ and which as ‘turkeys’.
Our thorniest problem this year is Ferrero Rocher’s notorious
‘ambassador’s party’ ad. Does it make the turkeys’ list - for the fourth
year running (a record, I think) - or has it now acquired sufficient
cult status to become a gem? Our difficulties are compounded by the fact
that we have heard rumours that Ferrero may be thinking of shooting a
new ad to replace the ambassador. If true, this is momentous news
indeed, not to mention very sad for all true lovers of bad advertising
everywhere. For that reason alone, I am tempted to slot it into the gems
category. It’s a small gesture but, who knows, it may even persuade
Ferrero to think again.
Nevertheless, I am consoling myself with the thought that, as Christmas
nears, we will see it at least ten or 15 times between now and Christmas
Eve. At the very least I have resolved to buy all my relations choccies
this year and I urge you to do the same. This will make Ferrero think
the ad is really working and change its mind. If that doesn’t do the
trick, I will nominate it for next year’s Turner Prize at the Tate. In
my book, it’s as pithy a statement of the human condition as anything
Damien Hirst or Mark Wallinger have done.
Mind you, I wish I could feel the same about the new Rennies work. For
those of you who are not familiar with it, this starts off with 60s
black-and-white footage of a couple in bed (he’s moaning - no, not for
the reasons you think). Cut to now and the actor and actress discuss
their ‘performances’ in the old ad with the daughter. Confused? Don’t
worry, I was too. In fact, I saw it for the first time last Sunday in
the first episode of the Beatles Anthology and - for a brief moment
only, you understand - thought it was deliberately placed there to play
the 60s nostalgia card.
Now, the question is this: will we ever come to love this ad in the way
we do the ‘ambassador’s party’? It’s appalling, but is it, as the
ambassador ad obviously is, appealingly appalling? Or have we just come
to love the ambassador because we’re so familiar with it? In other
words, would familiarity breed contentment?
Viewed this way, how would people feel if BT brought back Buzby? I have
no knowledge of its intentions, but given the way people feel about Bob,
and given the current vogue for 70s nostalgia, there are worse ideas.
In fact, as Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury and Martini have realised,
there is a rich seam to be mined here. Forget morphing, forget moving,
swirly type, if there’s going to be a creative theme for 1996, it’s
But move fast. Soon, people will start saying: ‘This nostalgia’s all
right, but it’s not what it was.’