A few months ago, I had a row with someone on a creative awards jury. She wanted to give a gong to a campaign because whenever she’d seen the idea before, ’it hadn’t been executed with quite the same style’.

A few months ago, I had a row with someone on a creative awards

jury. She wanted to give a gong to a campaign because whenever she’d

seen the idea before, ’it hadn’t been executed with quite the same


Oh dear. Creative in direct marketing has improved ever since people

accepted that, as well as using tried and tested techniques, it might be

useful to have an idea in there too. But heaven forbid that creative

directors think they can apply ideas in the same way as techniques -

picking the ones that have worked and trotting them out again and


One agency that has done more than any other to raise standards is


When I judged some awards a couple of days ago, its Aids Awareness Day

and Siemens work shone like yellow peppers amid the spuds, sprouts and

swedes submitted by the other shops. The latest Siemens work is not

quite as fresh but it has the great virtue of clarity. (Believe me, a

few months as a civilian doesn’t half hammer home how succinct an ad

should be, and how wilfully complex too many of them are.) Sure enough,

there are big, bold benefits and competitive claims here in the press

ads, direct marketing, point-of-purchase, sales promotion and TV

commercials. Every element wants you to know why the Siemens S10 mobile

phone is better than a Nokia, Motorola or Ericsson.

Why you should want to buy a packet of Twiglets is another matter. The

brief was to reposition and aim the snack at young adults, and perhaps

the thinking went like this: young adults equals sex; young adults and

sex, in media terms, equals Loaded/Cosmopolitan; young adults and sex

and Loaded/Cosmopolitan and Twiglets equals massive increase in sales of

the latter. I can’t help thinking that coming up with the right idea is

a bit more difficult than this. But maybe this time it’s me who’s

wilfully complicating things.

And finally, that Lazarus of ideas - the aforementioned one I fell out

over - has risen in the form of the new Shell Select campaign. You know

it, you’ve done it, we all have: mysterious letters under plain brown

covers, messages like blackmail notes cut from newsprint and, yes, ’your

mission should you choose to accept it’. It all spins off some

light-hearted TV commercials featuring a couple of bungling private eyes

on duty outside their local Shell Select store.

We may all grow to like them, just as we’ve warmed to the old idea that

informs the mailpacks. Will the TV work? I dunno. The mail will do

reasonably well - that idea usually does.

I just hope no-one is daft enough to think it worthy of an award in a

few months.

Steve Harrison is a lapsed copywriter

Jacob’s Bakery

Client: Mike Butters, marketing manager

Brief: Communicate the taste, shape and texture of Twiglets, and put the

brand on the agenda of a new, young adult audience

Agency: Willox Homes & Law

Copywriter: Nick Coombs

Art directors: Chris Sindon and Janek Janikowski

Shell Select

Client: Lurene Joseph, brand and communications manager

Brief: Position Select at Shell as the best convenience retailer in the


Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Copywriter: Andrew Singleton

Art director: Jono Wardle


Client: David Ball, UK general manager

Brief: Launch the S10 as the latest technological innovation from


Agency: FCA!

Copywriter: Shaun McIlrath

Art director: Ian Harding


Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a member

What is Campaign AI?

Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content