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
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
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
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
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.