PERSPECTIVE: Poster advertising proves traditional media is still sexy

First up, an apology to Stephen Carter for the arrogant, erroneous headline atop this column last week. Of course, not all of JWT’s problems are of his making; the column was merely an attempt to say that he must bear some responsibility for the agency’s woes, such as they are. And no, he hasn’t phoned to whinge.

First up, an apology to Stephen Carter for the arrogant, erroneous

headline atop this column last week. Of course, not all of JWT’s

problems are of his making; the column was merely an attempt to say that

he must bear some responsibility for the agency’s woes, such as they

are. And no, he hasn’t phoned to whinge.



Grovel over. On to the Campaign Poster awards and, if you were present

last night, you will already have your own views about the quality of

this year’s winners. My own, shared by several of the judges, is that

the medium is in a purple patch, not just in terms of creative

excellence, but in influence. It’s becoming the medium for our time:

universally accessible, immediately arresting, instantly gratifying and,

demonstrably, value for money. There’s now as much debate about poster

campaigns as there is about TV commercials, and it’s not just Mr

Beattie’s ouevre.



Pretty Polly is an idea so simple, other agencies will kick themselves

for not thinking of it first, then going through the bother of planning

permission and local councils etc to make it happen. Seldom can there

have been so little disagreement on a jury as jam-packed with

opinionated judges as we were lucky enough to have.



The execution was entirely germane to the product, as was our other big

winner, the Levi’s poster campaign, with its shrink-to-fit headline and

superb photography. If Pretty Polly is an example of what would once

have been dismissed as a stunt becoming part of the mainstream (with a

commensurate budget behind it) Levi’s is more traditional advertising

that achieves the still more difficult task of finding a fresh way of

taking on an excellent campaign, and then some. The craft skills that

went into the work were immaculate, but enhanced rather than obscured

the message.



Levi’s passed the ’did we notice it around Hammersmith roundabout?’

test, as did the poster that was my favourite of the year (although

neither the jury chairman, John Hegarty, nor I were able to vote), the

Volkswagen Sharan jelly-mould execution, the winner of our inaugural

Campaign readers’ poll.



It conveyed all the heritage of the old VW Camper in an instant -

although some on the jury thought this was not necessarily a positive

message.



It was arresting, interesting, fresh and relevant, but I couldn’t say

anything.



Such is the way with all awards. Perhaps you will have preferred the

Nike illustrated campaign or the Kew Gardens ’Amazon’ work, both

exceptional in different ways. And, as more new advertisers are

attracted by this mass medium’s demonstrable value-for-money successes,

and contractors and specialists continue to try hard to accommodate new

thinking, the creative standards will continue to rise. One question:

where are the copywriters in posters’ bright new future?