The One Show. 6 May 1999, Lincoln Center, New York City.
Many years ago, when I was just starting out, I remember something David
Abbott said at one of those D&AD lectures that always stuck with me:
’When someone is sitting at home watching television, your ad is a rude
intrusion into their life. The least you can do is be nice’ ... or
something like that.
With that in mind, I wonder what Mr Abbott was thinking as he graced us
with his presence at this year’s One Show awards ceremony. Defenceless
gerbils being shot out of grenade launchers, innocent children being
savaged by wild dogs (outpost.com/Cliff Freeman & Partners), frail old
age pensioners being used as slaves (Fox Sports/Cliff Freeman),
teenagers accidentally killing their parents (Rear seatbelts/Abbott Mead
Vickers BBDO), and phone sex hookers offering to ’suck your hot, wet,
throbbing cock, big boy’ (Condom/Saatchi & Saatchi, Cape Town).
Pretty raucous stuff, compared to your typical well-argued,
intelligently written, tastefully crafted double-page spread in the
This is the One Show we’re at, right? The pre-eminent industry award
show in America. The gold standard for all that’s great in
La creme de la creme. The biggy. Did I perchance wander into the wrong
part of the hallowed hallways of New York City’s Lincoln Center? More
significantly, has the phrase, ’Let me suck your hot, wet, throbbing
cock, big boy’, ever been uttered on the stage of the Lincoln
OK, OK ... I exaggerate. It wasn’t all like that. There were very polite
campaigns for VW, the ’surprisingly ordinary prices’ stuff (BMP DDB
London), lots of tastefully art directed ads selling Swiss Army Knives
(Mullen), gently inspiring posters for the Tate Gallery (TBWA GGT Simons
Palmer), even one of those classic Economist ads (AMV) that make you
feel semi-intelligent because you get the joke (’preciate it Dave).
There was also an intriguing TV campaign touting Nike, featuring an
array of bizarre fitness training techniques (snow boarders jumping off
of skyscrapers, footballers being chased by blood-thirsty dogs etc) and
a slightly droll but hilarious campaign for Miller Beer that glamorises
beer guts and takes the piss out of the French all at the same time
(both Wieden & Kennedy, Portland).
But even with all this relatively ’nice’ work, why did I fall asleep
that night with the image of terrified toddlers, in tears because
outpost.com had forcefully tattooed its logo on their foreheads? Is this
a good thing?
Should we be worried? Should Cliff Freeman be immediately closed down,
and the principals publicly flogged?
I dunno. I did find it all pretty funny. A bit of a hoot. I also think
this mutant flavour of work is understandable. With so many new
companies emerging, fuelled largely by the e-commerce gold rush, it
seems that the rule of thumb right now, at least here in America, is
’whatever it takes, generate awareness and buzz’. It all makes for a
very vibrant advertising scene.
Come on London. You’re getting a little bland in your old age.
Nick Cohen is co-chairman and executive creative director at Mad Dogs &
Englishmen, New York. He started his career ’properly’ at Mavity Gilmore
Jaume in London in 1983 where his best-known work was the Mauritius
He moved to New York in 1987 and worked briefly at Ogilvy & Mather
before joining Chiat Day. He founded Mad Dogs in 1991. The agency has
won awards for various clients including The Village Voice, The
Economist, Nickelodeon, Wired, Out Magazine, Shelter Clothing, Friends
of Animals and MTV Networks.
As these spots unfold we are led to believe that we are watching public
service announcements for people suffering from tragic illness or major
disabilities ... but no, in fact, the man courageously using his feet to
change a baby’s diaper is actually in perfect health. He just needs his
hands to scan the latest news on Fox Sport’s website. Very sick. Very
funny. Voted Best of Show.
Client: Fox Sports
Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York
Titles: feet, kids, old man
VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA
Ahhhh ... a sentimental ode to Uncle Bill Bernbach. Say no more. What
strikes me as odd about this ad is that the unabashed honesty seems so
undramatically normal these days. I guess the whole world is a lot more
savvy to marketing techniques.
Client: Volkswagen of America
Agency: Arnold Communications, Boston Title 0-60
MILLER BREWING COMPANY
Very unglamorous lighting. Close up and slightly raw photography.
We see an overweight, middle-aged man digging a knife into a big sloppy
jar of mayonnaise ... A laid-back, authoritative voiceover comments,
’It’s hard to respect the French when you had to bail ’em out of two big
ones ... but you’ve got to hand it to them ... for the mayonnaise ...
Thanks, Pierre.’ Miller cleverly succeeded in making eating unhealthy
food, guzzling beer and being a big, fat slob highly aspirational.
Client: Miller Brewing Co
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy, Portland
PARTNERSHIP FOR A DRUG-FREE AMERICA
A spoof of one of those home shopping cable channels. We see a kitsch
ceramic monkey on a surf board as the current item for sale. A young
caller is on the phone line, giggling and coughing ... he sounds very
stoned. He’s just ordered 15 of these ceramic monkeys and wants to get
some more. A title card comes up pronouncing that pot can be an
expensive habit. (I hate to say this, but I would quite like to own at
least one of them surfin’ monkeys ... maybe they should have chosen a
Client: Partnership for a Drug-free America
Agency: Team One Advertising
Title: surfing monkey
’What are you getting ready for?’ is supered at the culmination of each
of these spots, dramatising far-fetched training methods. Brilliantly
filmed and edited, this mammoth campaign was the work of ten different
writers and art directors, which made each commercial very unique and
Agency Wieden & Kennedy, Portland
Titles: jumper, kordell, rejection, meat, bulls, marathon man
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES
Art directed to mirror billboards for Marlboro Cigarettes.
Client: California Department of Health Services
Agency: Asher & Partners, Los Angeles
Title: I miss my lung, Bob
The copy at the end of each ad reads: ’Please send all complaints to
outpost.com.’ The intention of this campaign is to generate mass
awareness of the outpost.com name by creating shocking, despicable
Live gerbils being fired from grenade launchers ... a kids soccer team
being torn apart by ferocious dogs ... toddlers in a day care centre
being permanently tattooed with outpost.com logos. (I almost forgot to
mention that outpost.com sells computer hardware and software online.)
Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York
Titles: cannon, band, forehead
t was really funny watching the One Show audience react to this
Wonderbra ad. There was a three-second delay before the ball
Then massive laughter and applause. Magic!
Agency: TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Johannesburg