Opinion: It’s back to the 70s, but TV spots know no rules

The awards season is in full swing and it seems appropriate to ask whether last week’s British Television Advertising Awards signal, as some have optimistically suggested, that we are experiencing a resurgence in British television advertising akin to the marvellous times of the 70s when Collett Dickenson Pearce ruled the roost. (To readers’ accusations of wallowing in nostalgia ... guilty as charged.)

The awards season is in full swing and it seems appropriate to ask

whether last week’s British Television Advertising Awards signal, as

some have optimistically suggested, that we are experiencing a

resurgence in British television advertising akin to the marvellous

times of the 70s when Collett Dickenson Pearce ruled the roost. (To

readers’ accusations of wallowing in nostalgia ... guilty as

charged.)



First, however, a word of praise for the BTAA awards. The jury chairman,

Andrew Cracknell, has already paid tribute to the smooth organisation of

the judging process. More significantly, it produced no peculiarities,

no winners that would never have got within a million miles of any other

awards. There were no victories on the night that caused the members of

the audience to look at each other in perplexity.



It would have been welcome, however, to see the bronze category winners

screened during the ceremony; without them the audience was robbed of

the chance to view excellent work for Pizza Hut, Miller Pilsner,

Superdrug, First Direct and other gems. Everyone had to



concentrate instead on the bizarre presentation which started while the

audience was settling down, and on Clive Anderson’s razor-sharp

compering.



The TV commercials scene is now as strong as it’s ever been. What is

different today is that anything goes - small budgets, massive budgets,

commercials shot on film, ’home-made’ ads, commercials shot on digital

beta. Agencies can put apparent opposites together - such as the music

of Ladysmith Black Mambazo with the latest Heinz TV ads - to great

effect and rules are apparently there to be broken.



The sole cause for regret at the passing of the 70s is perhaps that it

is harder to sell a great ad to the average marketing director. Because

such clients are more pressured into delivering results than ever, they

are less likely to trust their agency’s instinct without first putting

an idea to the sword through research.



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