Private View: John Townshend and Andrew Melsom


John Townshend

Creative partner, Now

As a junior copywriter, I heard a talk by Dave Trott. Nowadays, he has guru status, is our Blogmaster General and, let’s face it, he’s done it.

Back then, though, he was the hardman of advertising. So when he walked in, a frisson went through the room and the atmosphere was as crisp as it was when De Niro circled the table with a baseball bat in his hand.

Then, in a quiet voice, he said: "If your ad doesn’t get noticed, you’ve wasted all your client’s money before you’ve even started." One of the most blindingly simple but incisive things I’ve heard.

In a world of research groups and endless meetings, where we pore fretfully over every idea, we’d do well to remember that we are in the "getting noticed" business.

Of course, getting noticed is just the start. As Bernbach said: "Don’t stand a man on his head just to get attention. Have him on his head to show how your product keeps things from falling out of his pockets." Point is, I’m actively looking at this work, and most people aren’t.

3’s ad. I saw this on telly, and it made me stop and stare. It’s a moonwalking Shetland, for those who haven’t seen it. It’s very well done and will win tons of awards, despite its fairly generic message.

It’s pretty brave to go up against the Harlem Shake or Dumb Ways To Die. As I write, it has had more than 7.5 million views. In the great democracy of YouTube, the votes have been cast.

Then Oxo. Oh, there’s a cricket ball being cut up like an onion, and a doorknob like a mushroom, and a skipping-rope handle chopped up to become wooden buttons, and then I thought: I really must go easy on the acid.

The premise is that "wooden" food becomes real with the addition of "the magic cube". It’s fine, but too quiet.

Off to Harvey Nichols, which has been an expert at getting noticed since Mary Portas did the windows. The idea is "the new breed", which is about hardcore handbags. This has that combination of balls and panache you’d expect, if not quite as pant-wetting as the last work.

Galaxy has used CGI to resurrect Audrey Hepburn. The ad has already got a lot of PR, which is becoming the game these days. I saw it cold and it certainly stands out. It’s a lush film. Audrey is picked up in Positano by a cheesy Italian, who’s cheesed off when she jumps in the back of his car to eat chocolate.

The CGI means there are moments of not-quite-rightness, and her eyelashes are so big, they look like they’d blow off in that convertible. Quibbles. It’s a good ad.

Finally, KFC. It starts a bit like one of those Waitrose ads about lovely not-at-all-poor farmers. Well-shot, if familiar. The food is then driven to a quaint back street and handed to a pretty girl who takes it in and then, lo and behold, we are in a KFC.

The ad relies on that twist, and I wonder if it’s too gentle to create impact. The subject – farm-fresh chicken – is very timely. I have to say, though, I find it hard to equate the ad with my local KFC, where I can see a demoralised bloke in the back, standing by a fat-fryer, under neon lights that cleverly reveal those fascinating murky parts under the kitchen furniture.

Overall, a pretty good week for the "getting noticed" business.


Andrew Melsom

Senior partner, Agency Insight

The dancing pony for the mobile network 3 taps into the neat insight that the internet was actually created for the banal transmissions of social intercourse.

Nothing remotely useful or sensible is sent by most of us, and a lot of it is just plain silly. Why not brighten up what has become a drab sector that used to be so colourful – like when Vodafone made great Coke-like ads with catchy music.

Now, which was the agency that did those? This is not the first time something random has been created with loose links to its sponsor, but punters are increasingly capable of completing the message for themselves without having RTBs and KBBs rammed home.

You can even customise your own pony with eight different tracks on YouTube. When many telecoms brands are now defined more as corporations, or by mega mergers or by their share price, this pulls you up by the fetlocks.

You may forget who it’s by, initially, but no matter. Just as the gorilla succeeded for Cadbury, so will this pony for 3.

Oxo is a magnificent brand that has to regenerate itself to meet the changing face of family. Multiscreening means that we don’t eat together, so here is a faceless woman who chops abstract children’s play objects such as skipping ropes (carrots) and cricket balls (onions), and they are transformed by Oxo in a frying pan.

There’s the familiar thumb-and-finger crumble of the cube, but something’s missing, I fear. A few readers may remember the line "These is darned fine beans, lady" from long, long ago, and I can’t help thinking food is to be enhanced, yes, but also enjoyed.

What Katie did, she has been unable to do next. The Oxo family is now represented by wooden blocks, and is not featured, and is therefore not real? It’s beautifully made, though.

Audrey Hepburn was beautifully made and has risen again for Galaxy in a partial reconstruction of Roman Holiday, only this time she is in Amalfi, and Gregory Peck is absent. It’s a simply gorgeous-looking film and intriguing to watch. I kept looking at her face, partly to see how it was all done, and this became the preoccupation.

Strangely, it reminded me of an episode of Dad’s Army when Private Frazer applied funeral make-up to himself. Her face did look a bit stuck on, somehow. There is a lot of borrowed interest in this ad, so much so that it may have drifted away from its intended message.

People will stop and watch and scrutinise the film star and will be fortunate to remember the brand, or the switch back to the line: "Why have cotton when you can have silk?" It may also be saying that chocolate does not give you spots.

Harvey Nichols has a new campaign. No pant-wetting or lesbian kisses, just pooches in stylish bags, with great colours and flawlessly photographed. It’s an absolutely fabulous twist on Legally Blonde-type decorative dogs and makes you smile.

On-brand, I would say. I can see what they’re trying to do, but the earnest endeavour by KFC, in a world of horse scandal and concerns about imported products, gives me that cognitive dissonant feeling. Is this a case of "the lady doth protest too much, methinks"?

Dawn fresh drivers, ever so sincere, collect home-grown grain and deliver it to KFC outlets everywhere. Look at the tractor marque; see, it’s… there! Isn’t the thing about KFC that it’s fried, it’s fast and it’s just over there? If it has to be said, though, this is probably the way to do it.