Tee hee. Are Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury and its media strategists,
Michaelides and Bednash, taking the piss out of themselves? And is
Oliver, the male lead in its new Mercury ads, really Steve Henry in
disguise? If he is, who’s the big fat boss with the cigar and the
colourful ties? I ask because, having read the initial burst of Mercury
press ads, the one I liked best was the one featuring the virtual office
where, natch, nobody was doing anything. It rather summed up my feelings
on all the hot air that is spouted about virtual agencies, much of it by
you know who.
No matter. Here I am talking about the ads, just as M&B had intended.
But, to be serious for a moment, this campaign is a perfect
demonstration of what M&B is all about: media plans that are indivisible
from the creative execution, where the whole (ie the media plus the
creative) is greater than the sum of the parts.
Mind you, that is not to say that none of the big media buying shops
could have come up with something equally innovative. Just about any of
the bigger players - from Zenith to (Ogilvy and Mather’s) the Network
could and have concocted something just as smart. But it requires a
philosophy that doesn’t measure everything on price and such a way of
operating, perhaps, is more likely to emerge from an operation that
focuses solely on thinking rather than one that combines the two. If
there is a lesson here for those media buyers that wish to claim the
higher intellectual ground (wherein lie better margins), then it is that
spinning off a ‘brains trust’ a la M&B may be the way to go rather than
having the thinkers and the buyers working side by side. Much as I like
Initiative’s idea of setting up a creative unit, I wonder if it won’t
work better as an entirely separate organisation.
Not that I am an entirely in favour of everything M&B and Howell Henry
do. For example, they seem to be hooked to the point of obsession on
this idea of making their ads ‘interactive’, so that it’s now become
rather passe. Take, for example, the latest posters for Mazda which
invite us to phone in to say whether a Mazda 323 is a better looking car
than a Volkswagen Golf. I suppose this might have been a cutting-edge
idea once, but what kind of sad car freak is really going to do that?
In fact, you can see that Howell Henry and M&B’s obsession with this
sort of ‘quasi-interactivity’ was behind that original TV ad for Mazda
where we were invited to record the ad (when Vauxhall does the same you
know it’s time to move on), and now encompasses Martini and McCain
Pizzas where our enjoyment of some very nice ads is ruined by the fact
that we have to participate in a phone competition.
You see chaps, that’s the thing about being cutting edge. You’ve got to
keep moving the game on before everybody else catches up or you get
Ask Picasso or David Bowie.