I’d only just got over the shock of realising that we asked the
creative director who cast the repulsive comedian Jim Davidson in the
current 49s betting campaign to sit in judgment on other people’s work
(Private View, last week) when up pops HHCL & Partners with a charming
little surprise of its own.
’No more rubbish Tango ads’ is the endline in HHCL’s latest spot for the
drink. ’The clowns ad wasn’t good enough,’ barks the presenter in her
best camp commandant style. It’s hard to know how to react when faced
with such disarming honesty from an advertising agency, but there is
some innocent fun to be had in applying the sentiment to the entire body
of HHCL’s work over the past couple of years.
For even though the agency has struck a deal that will guarantee it a
prosperous future, there is a feeling it has lost some of the essential
hunger that gave birth to classic big advertising ideas such as Maxell’s
’me ears are alright’ and Danepak’s ’Andersens’.
This latest Tango commercial, based on nothing to do with a practical
appraisal of the Tango market, seems to be an acknowledgment that there
is a need and a will to reassert HHCL’s creative reputation.
Before Rupert Howell jumps on his ’never mind the billings (or the
awards for that matter) feel the income’ bandwagon - a performance
measure which we are happy to recognise, if only other agencies would
cough up their income figures too - I think he’d agree that the truly
great agencies of the past few years have been distinguished by the
consistency of their work.
Plenty of agencies are capable of good work, but the key to excellence
in advertising (as in sport, journalism and just about everything else
in life) is consistency. What makes Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, BMP DDB
and Lowe Howard-Spink and some of the smaller agencies such as St Luke’s
stand out is their phenomenal strike-rate. If that isn’t motivation to
keep doing great work, I don’t know what is.
The subject of agencies profiting by coming clean about their failings
reminds me of the story of a famous contact report; I think it came from
J. Walter Thompson a few years ago. ’Agency and client discussed at
length the results of the relaunch campaign,’ read the report. ’It was
agreed that a number of detailed improvements could have been made
Essentially, the whole thing was a complete fuck-up.’
The last sentence was actually an aside to an account manager who
happened to be in the room as the account director was dictating the
call report to his secretary. Two days later, a letter arrived from the
newly enthusiastic client. It said: ’Thank you very much. That is the
only completely honest call report I have ever received.’