D&AD: FOUR DECADES OF EXCELLENCE

In the second feature celebrating D&AD's 40th year, four industry reviewers look at some of the best TV and print advertising from over the last four decades, which is now on display in the Rewind exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

1960s

Rewind does scant justice to the 60s. Although the book of the show is more comprehensive, at the Victoria & Albert exhibition you'll find only six print ads from the entire decade, one commercial, no posters and no radio - although radio commercials were already being broadcast into the UK by then.

Nor are most of the press ads on show the real pick of the 60s crop. Yardley's "A woman's ammunition", created by Robert Brownjohn while he was at Colman Prentice & Varley (then one of the hottest shops in town), is a brilliant fusion of a stunning visual and echoing headline. The Salvation Army's ads from Kinsley Manton & Palmer - another hotshop - include the ground-breaking shocker "Now will you care?". They were perhaps the first from a charity to use bleak images, in large spaces, and build rapid awareness by whipping up chatter among the chattering classes.

But where were CDP's award-winning Benson & Hedges Pure Gold ads, Malcolm Gluck and Martyn Walsh's shattering campaign for Christian Aid, or the long-running and consistently brilliant Wates campaign, which transformed the image of a spec builder into a property developer with attitude?

And why are there no 60s posters? Rewind's copy claims: "The power of the giant 48-sheet poster first emerged in the 70s." Whoever wrote that codswallop ought to flick their database into their bin, pronto. Quite apart from the fact that Guinness ran John Gilroy's amazing zoo animals on 48-sheets way back in the 30s, the 60s brought us "Beanz meanz Heinz" and John Donegan's "The only one with colour", which he created in-house for The Sunday Times. Both these knockout 48-sheets were a match for many of their successors shown at the V&A.

At least two of the 60s press ads on show were manifestly chosen because they are the early work of creatives who went on to greater things, rather than for any intrinsic merit of their own. Neither National Provincial's "Have a new year" (John Webster) nor "Yes. It has been known to rain in Israel' (John Hegarty) are absolutely top-class. Good, yes, but hardly worthy to be featured among the era's outstanding ads. It's a poor show.

One other thing. On the contentious question of whether winning creative awards is the key to agency success, it is worth noting that five of the six shops whose work is exhibited went bust, and the sixth (CDP) long ago passed the pinnacle of its fame and fortune. Reach your own gloomy conclusions.

- Winston Fletcher is chairman of Asbof and a non-executive director of Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners

1970s

Ah, the 70s. What a time to be a young writer or art director. If you were after inspiration, you didn't have to look far. Great work was constantly in your face. It seemed that every time you stepped out into the street, there was a brilliant new poster (Volkswagen, Fiat, Benson & Hedges, Victory V's headless man and the infamous "Labour isn't working").

Every time you opened a newspaper, something would leap off the page (The Health Education Council's anti-smoking campaign. Elegantly written recruitment ads for Army Officer and the Metropolitan Police). Every Sunday, the colour supplements would be a treasure trove of creativity. (The wit of the Parker Pen campaign and clever visual branding for White Horse whisky.) And the middle break of News at Ten was the showcase for outstanding new TV work.

The 70s was an incredibly prolific decade, creatively, so choosing a handful of favourites is difficult.One particular favourite was the Health Education Council's stomach-churning ad for food hygiene "This is what happens when a fly lands on your food". The art direction was immensely powerful, with its big white type. Was it a long headline? Or just huge body copy? Either way, its uncompromising message confronted you as soon as you opened the page and forced you to read.

Another high spot was the Benson & Hedges gold box "surreal" campaign.

At a time when copy was king, this was pure visual craziness, totally unlike anything else. It took people a while to get their heads around it. I was working at CDP at the time and saw the first rough layouts in Alan Waldie's office. I remember thinking: "He's either mad or a genius." (Actually, we all know he's both.)

CDP was regularly breaking new ground in the 70s. Heineken is a classic example. While most beer campaigns then were of the "four lads propping up the bar" variety, Heineken brought us the "policemen's feet". How refreshing.

It was Terry Lovelock's finest hour, and it didn't exactly harm the careers of a few dozen other creatives, myself included (I got D&AD silver - thank you, Terry).

Finally, we can't leave the 70s without mentioning that aliens had landed, in the form of the Cadbury's Smash Martians. What genius for a convenience food campaign- a bunch of tin-head Martians laughing at the way we make mashed potato. Ah, the 70s. When you think what a mission it is to produce ads these days, it seemed a more free age. I'd love to go back. As long as I didn't have to wear the clothes.

- John Kelley is Ogilvy & Mather's executive creative director, Ford of Europe

1980s

This was the era when the people who wrote the rules went head to head with those who broke them. The Battle of the Two Davids. In the sensible corner, Mr Abbott and the faultlessly crafted monument to good taste that is a piece of Sainsbury's copy (I don't know if the public read them, but I know we all did). In the somewhat affected, "wacky and zany" corner, Trotty and all that Tosh.

It was also a time when the industry embraced plagiarism, disguising the hard sell behind imagery and language more easily digestible by the consumer - ie. nicking bits from films.

And, with the emergence of the pop video, a whole new breed of directors willing to replicate their work for the idea-starved adman.

Slap bang in the middle of the decade, Apple created something that is now commonplace. A Media Event. It only played its "1984" spot once, yet we've all seen it. I remember the dodgy VHS copy flying round the office (no e-mail attachments in those days) and everyone staring, slack-jawed at this extraordinary epic. Suddenly we were in the movie business, and we all started calling ads "films".

In contrast, the Holsten Pils campaign just made you laugh. A direct lift from Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, these black and white classics have actually stood the test of time better than the Steve Martin original.

As has Volkswagen's "changes", still getting spontaneous awareness scores most of us would kill for. It is the very essence of 80s Britain, big hair and all.

We saw the birth of the auteur ad director. Tony Kaye took your script and did what he liked with it. If you were lucky you got an Intercity "relax". If you weren't, you ended up with a big bill from Kodak.

Thanks to Tony, we have some brilliant films. Sadly, we also have a whole generation that has grown up believing that it is the director's job to have ideas, not theirs.

Press, it seems, doesn't age as well. A lot of it looks as if it's come straight out of 50s Madison Avenue. The startling logic and brave art direction of GLC's "If you want me out" stands out a mile, though. As does the timeless Silk Cut campaign. There are even hints of the, now de rigueur, spoofing and scratching of media in the ahead-of-its-time John Smiths "mixed-up" poster campaign.

But, overall, it was a decade when advertising began to stretch its legs, go up another gear, discover fresh territory and become part of the culture.

Become something you might, 20 years later, find in the V&A, for instance.

- Larry Barker is the former creative director of BMP DDB

1990s

If you have ever written a Private View, this would be a dream. Select some ads from the 90s from D&AD's Rewind. Ads deemed the best of the decade, with umpteen awards to prove it. This should make me quite popular and my diary has been cleared so I can fit in all those invitations to lunch.

For starters, I'll plump for "Perfect Day" for the BBC. You marvel at how they got all those stars to do it. Served hot from the Leagas Delaney kitchen.

Second course, for some hard to swallow, the Club 18-30 posters. When I first saw these I was approaching the age when I could go on a Saga holiday. With headlines such as "One swallow doesn't make a summer" and "Gobble gobble", was I jealous? You ordered the blowjob, sir? No, mine was the soup.

Third course, the Bhopal ad, a lot harder to swallow. Written by Indra Sinha in an age when some in our industry were espousing the notion that nobody reads copy anymore. If you present a strong enough argument, powerfully written, you not only read it once but over and over again.

Fourth course, the Nike posters. If you want to know how to rustle up a poster, pinch the ingredients from the cookbook of the art director Andy McKay and the copywriter Giles Montgomery. Fifth course, Wonderbra's "hello boys". A bird in a bra, a two word headline and a logo. Sometimes the least said the better.

Sixth course, a drink. Tango. A fat orange bald guy slaps a gobsmacked chap around the chops. Anarchic and irreverent, it spawned many more in the series and was much copied. HHCL & Partners didn't deserve to lose it.

As there's no wine on the menu, I'll settle for a couple of Guinness ads. The last of the "pure genius" campaign. Originally created by my boss, Mark Wnek, this was the start of a new Guinness campaign from AMV.

Next on the menu, ads for Dunlop and Volvo. All three of these ads have three people in common; the blending of the highly spiced director Tony Kaye (at the time), the fusion of the creative team Tom Carty and Walter Campbell. The films are a tour de force. More than any director, Tony Kaye defined the 90s.

Eighth course, British Airways. Directed by Hugh Hudson, this gathered 3,000 people in the Utah desert. The result was an epic ad showing all that was modern yet still British about the airline.

Finally, dessert. Ice-cream's on the menu. It seemed from the Haagen-Dazs ads by BBH that the last thing you did was eat it. It became a sexy, luxurious item, justifying its premium price. Sadly, the only thing that gets stuck into a tub of Haagen-Dazs in my home is a spoon.

- Nigel Rose is a board director at Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper.