PRIVATE VIEW: Andrew Cracknell, Bates Europe

You know how when we say of a new ad "I don't get it" we usually mean "I get it only too well, it's brilliant, it's going to win all sorts of awards - I hate it"? Well, I've got two problems with the new Skoda campaign, and one is I really don't get it.

I saw the one with the bloke with his tie caught in the check-out belt and a friend had to explain that anyone who buys a Skoda is so bright that everyone will assume that Skoda drivers have a monopoly on all intelligence and knowledge and can thus solve all problems. He added that having to be bright to understand the campaign makes it even cleverer because you then feel eligible to buy a Skoda. This is clear and palpable bollocks.

My bigger problem is that the previous Skoda campaign is near perfect.

(The fact that uniquely, exquisitely, it had built-in obsolescence is a point for the academics. Based on the observation that people think Skodas are a joke, if it worked we'd no longer think they were a joke so it would have to come off the air. But if it didn't work, it would have to come off the air because it didn't work. Neat.)

It was perfect partly because it was based on two recognisable truths - that we think Skodas are a joke, which is true, and that the new range of Skodas look fabulous and should be taken more seriously, which from their appearance in the commercials was also true. The very best ads usually have some connection with our experience or view, not something manufactured and imposed by an advertiser. This was Advertising by Conviction.

The new campaign is Advertising by Assertion and is very obliquely trying to tell us something we know not to be true, without the charm and persuasion to carry the point.

Carling, featuring as it does loveable rascally lager drinkers, could have been made at any time in the 80s.

Thorpe Park is at least to be congratulated for having a go on what is probably a low budget but as Katy, my 16-year-old daughter, said: "I'd rather have seen the ride."

Virgin Cars in an appropriately Virgin way is offering a hurt-free service to car buyers featuring people about to put themselves in the way of pain.

And Fridays at Heaven with laudable simplicity are advertising something called School Disco where apparently young women dress up as schoolgirls and go dancing. Does that actually need advertising? Somewhere to calm a truculent client.

Finally, tracing within in it subconscious bits of Spinal Tap, the outer edges of the Tango campaign, even early Fry and Laurie sketches, Orange is simply brilliant. As the campaign unfolds over the next two months, you're in for a real treat. The boy Dylan is superb - there's one wonderful moment when he eats a SIM card made out of a biscuit and aniseed, destroying nine months' careful work - and as a hard working proposition that Orange is now an organisation with a huge sense of fun, re-gearing itself to help its customers, I can't see how it'll fail.

By the time you read this, the good people of Bates UK, 141, 141 International and all Cordiant companies may, or may not, know their fate. The situation has been as wretched as any we could experience in any agency and the only thing you can say with any certainty is they simply don't deserve what they've been through.

So if you know any, put an arm round them.


Project: Virgin Cars launch

Client: Jo Alexander, marketing and communications manager

Brief: Launch the new Manchester showroom as an enjoyable way to buy a


Agency: RPM3 Writer: Steve McCabe

Art director: Keith Otter

Typographer: Steve Kettle

Photographer: Mooney Photography

Exposure: Regional press


Project: Nemesis Inferno

Client: Aly Cameron, marketing manager

Brief: Launch Nemesis Inferno and in doing so help to reposition Thorpe

Park as youth credible

Agency: CheethambellJWT

Writer: Gill Glendinning

Art director: Roger Leebody

Director: Markus Walters

Production company: Harry Nash

Exposure: Regional and satellite TV and cinema


Project: Orange Learn

Client: Jeremy Dale, marketing director

Brief: Reinvigorate Orange

Agency: Mother

Writer: Mother

Art director: Mother

Director: Stacy Wall

Production company: 2am Films

Exposure: National TV


Project: Heaven launch

Client: Tahera Bailey, communications director

Brief: Raise awareness of new Friday night at Heaven in a way that

evokes shared schoolyard nostalgia

Agency: St Luke's

Writer: Tim Collins

Art director: Mike Hughes

Typographer: Mike Pain

Photographer: David Sykes

Exposure: London Underground posters, 48-sheet London only


Project: Skoda brande

Client: Mary Newcombe, head of marketing

Brief: Shift focus from the product to the brand

Agency: Fallon

Writer: Mike Sutherland

Art director: Antony Nelson

Director: Ivan Zacharias

Production company: Stink

Exposure: National TV


Project: "Chilling"

Client: Des Johnson, brand director

Brief: Dramatise the desire for a cold Carling

Agency: Leith London

Writer: Simon Bere

Art director: John Messum

Director: Vaughan Arnell

Production company: Pagan

Exposure: National TV