PERSPECTIVE: Gap widens between BTAA and the ads the public likes to watch

I’m an old fart. It’s official. Year after year, awards ceremony after awards ceremony, the miserable seen-it-all and done-it-alls that blight the London advertising scene moan: ’It’s not what it was, luv.’ Normally, I rail against it, but after the British Television Advertising Awards this week, I’m afraid I have to concur.

I’m an old fart. It’s official. Year after year, awards ceremony

after awards ceremony, the miserable seen-it-all and done-it-alls that

blight the London advertising scene moan: ’It’s not what it was, luv.’

Normally, I rail against it, but after the British Television

Advertising Awards this week, I’m afraid I have to concur.



Oh, there’s some pretty stuff in there, clever little gags and beautiful

pieces of film. But, by and large, it’s not a hall of fame. Nor, more

crucially, is it the stuff that consumers are talking about on sofas and

in supermarkets up and down the land.



TBWA’s Sony PlayStation commercial may be an exception to that rule: it

will have been talked about in the playground. And it is one of the two

special commercials of the past year that actually stop you in your

tracks when you’re watching television. So, as such, it deserved its

success.



But the outstanding commercial of the year - the Volkswagen Polo

’self-defence’ spot - got no more than a silver after what the jury

chairman, Patrick Collister, described enigmatically as exciting ’some

radically different views’. What happened? BMP fatigue?



Guinness is a beautiful film but not a great ad.



The same can be said for the Independent commercial, if for vastly

differing reasons. The former is over-complicated and the latter is too

much at odds with the reality of the brand.



It was good to see Sony ’stamina’ rewarded, the Lego work too, but

neither is in the all-time-great lists or is talked about. So what is

talked about?



Of the winners, I’d put forward One2One, McDonald’s, Yellow Pages

(because in an unsexy way the ads touch on our everyday lives) and -

arguably - the Army, VW and Impulse.



Otherwise, it’s still Walkers because of Gary Lineker’s exploits or

Muhammad Ali’s appearance in the Equitable Life spot. Perhaps it’s the

ongoing adventures of the Andrex puppies. It used to be the Gold Blend

couple and Papa and Nicole. Currently, it’s as likely to be the young

married couple getting steamy to Andy Williams for Peugeot. Or, for more

negative reasons, Claudia Schiffer’s dreadful striptease for

Citroen.



Two very recent contenders are the new Nike film in which the guy comes

back from his marathon run to find his wife has a new family, and the

poignant Sunday Times commercial starring Ian Dury.



This year’s winners are mostly tasteful and beautifully shot - so much

so that it’s almost as if HHCL and the ’rough-and-ready’ style never

happened. Stylistically - with the possible exception of Sony

PlayStation - they could have won their awards 25 years ago. The big

difference is that we still remember the ads that won those 70s awards

ceremonies.



I’m not saying we should reward ads that feature celebs, soap

opera-style plots and furry animals just because the public likes them,

but the gulf between what plays in living rooms and what plays in the

Grosvenor House has seldom seemed so wide.



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