Private View: Gerry Farrell, the creative director of The Leith Agency

By sheer chance, I find myself watching the videos Campaign sent me straight after tuning into a Channel 4 re-run of the 100 Greatest TV Ads. It's like eating cod roe after caviar.

Take the Bell's ads. (No, please, take them.) They've doctored the sound so that conversational dullards suddenly start spouting second-hand, third-rate gags. You just know it's another classic from The School of Sponsored Entertainment when the product appears fleetingly in the end frame and a voiceover proclaims: "Bell's. A more interesting mouthful."

The next ad's like eating magic mushrooms.

Terry Christian tries to snog June Whitfield, Frankie Dettori leads a greyhound in circles, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson clambers over a gate opened by a whiskery farmer, one of the 118 runners chases a number 118 bus and David Soul with a bag of doughnuts tries to get into a car next to Flat Eric who punches him in the face. Are you with me so far? I'm about to check in to The Priory when up pops a picture of Auto Trader magazine and a voiceover tells me that with all the cars in there, I'm bound to "find my perfect partner".

Slice off the hallucinogenic opening 20 seconds and, like the Bell's whisky ads, you're left with a perfectly serviceable ten-second slide-and-voiceover job for a fraction of the cost. "Say something constructive," Campaign told me. Er ... Lego?

So who's developing the next big brand property now that Andrex, Oxo, Flake, fcuk, Kit Kat, Heineken and Hamlet have split the scene? Not Nescafe, that's for sure. It's 60s Rome. It's monochrome. And it features girls and boys with creamy cappuccino moustaches. The same moustaches we remember from milk ads and porn movies. A sexy Italian girl tells us it's Nescafe's frothiest cappuccino. It's froth alright.

I press on with two press campaigns.

In the first, a brave copywriter takes up uncool cudgels on behalf of McDonald's, which is shitting itself about the movie Super Size Me! This long copy brings out the capitalist in me, turning me against pinhead lardasses who sue McDonald's for making them fat. It's time somebody told them what my mammy told me: "Never eat more than you can lift, son."

Next, three spoof ads suffering from chronic artdirectoritis. The logos and web addresses are so tiny that it requires a 30-word note from Campaign to explain the idea and lead me to the dreary website of the Newspaper Marketing Agency. Here, I click open an interminable online PowerPoint presentation which offers killer insights such as "Ninety two per cent of women agree strongly that newspapers keep them informed about things that interest them", and "putting an ad next to appropriate editorial increases its chances of being read". Duh-uh. If you must run spoof ads to promote the power of the press ad, do it like Neil French. His ads for the non-existent XO Beer created so much demand that a local brewer started making the stuff.

Finally, praise de lawd, redemption arrives in the shape of two Adult Basic Skills ads where people's anxieties about their lack of education are personified as taunting gremlins who end up squelched underfoot. This is the second series in the campaign and they're on to something. They've got a big idea with legs - little green stumpy ones. They've got a style that's all their own. And to borrow from Beattie in the 37th greatest TV ad, they've got an ology.


Project: Women's campaign

Client: Maureen Duffy, chief executive

Brief: Demonstrate that newspaper advertising can build brands

Agency: TBWA\London

Writer: Roderick Fenske

Art director: Michael Barker

Photographers: Stuart Weston ("tattoo"), Jo Sax ("sad dog"), Tim

Brent-Day ("killer heels")

Exposure: Heavyweight national press


Project: "Perfect partners"

Client: Matt Thompson, group marketing director

Brief: Broaden the appeal of Auto Trader

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: John Donnelly

Art director: Billy Mawhinney

Director: Luke Forsythe

Production company: Small Family Business

Exposure: National TV


Project: Brand TV

Client: Deborah Wakeham, marketing manager

Brief: Position Bell's as the whisky with the fuller flavour

Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy

Writer: Jeremy Carr

Art director: Jeremy Carr

Director: Armando Ianucci

Production company: Moon

Exposure: National TV


Project: Super Size Me response

Client: John Hawkes, chief marketing officer

Brief: Encourage people to consider all of the issues surrounding the

"balanced eating" debate and communicate the extent of the changes

McDonald's put into effect long before the film was conceived

Agency: Leo Burnett

Writer: Alistair Wood

Art director: Alistair Wood

Exposure: National press and film review sections


Project: Adult Basic Skills

Client: Clare Chandler, campaign manager, Department for Education and


Brief: Promote the basic numeracy and literacy courses to adults with

poor basic skills

Agency: St Luke's

Writer: Brian Cooper

Art director: Jason Stewart

Director: Michael Patrick Jann

Production company: Independent

Exposure: National TV


Project: "Mustachio"

Client: Sally Perry, brand manager, Nescafe Speciality

Brief: Convince consumers that the emotional and product experience of

Nescafe cappuccino is as good as the one they get in a coffee shop

Agency: McCann Erickson

Writer: Rick Chant

Art director: Barney Hobson

Director: Albert Kodagolian

Production company: RSA Films

Exposure: National TV

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