Private View

I was watching Barry Norman the other day and was struck once again by his utterly uncompromising mean-spiritedness. It also struck me how redolent his manner is of so many in our business as they discuss (their competitors’) advertising.

I was watching Barry Norman the other day and was struck once again

by his utterly uncompromising mean-spiritedness. It also struck me how

redolent his manner is of so many in our business as they discuss (their

competitors’) advertising.

Being pilloried in public pierces even the thickest of skins (try being

slagged off for something you didn’t even do, as was the case for us in

a recent Independent ’Good Ad, Bad Ad’ slot, for sheer white-knuckle


All of which waffle reminds me of an acquaintance who’s spent most of

his life shotgunning birds and is finding the cumulative carnage of the

years an increasingly heavy load to carry.

Despite being one of the most benign regular contributors to this column

- picture, if you will, a kindly village curate with a Morris Traveller

and a Bedlington terrier called Muffin - I am finding it an increasingly

wearing responsibility.

So when I say that I find the Benylin work uninspiring and unlikely to

stand out against editorial about whooping cough in Silesia or 12 new

ways to fumigate gardening gloves, please know that I’m not being


Or when I say that I’ve looked at the Virgin Vie ad ten times and still

don’t understand what it’s for, be apprised that this may well say more

about my intellectual deficiencies than about the advertising skills of

the makers. In this sumptuously-made ad, an athletic young lady avoids

the assaults of those shopgirls who always want to spray you with scent

and powder you with puffs whether you like it or not. She avoids them in

a Jane Bond-like fashion, emerging triumphant into a place with nice

people milling about. This place is called Virgin Vie, whatever that


Fortunately, the remaining work allows me to give unfettered vent to my

true kindly self.

The Shell Select commercials make a creditable attempt to position these

increasingly capacious service station shops against supermarkets.

This is done through the engaging device of two (nicely acted) coppers

on stake-out next to a Shell Select garage. The set-up ad is a bit

plonky, with the two cops missing their stake-out subject flying the

coop because they’re too busy squabbling over recently acquired wares

from Shell Select. A Pulp Fiction dialogue spoof is better. In total,

the campaign will give Shell service stations a personality. Some


More posters from the Economist. An astonishing campaign, this,

retaining the power to amuse year after year with an unprecedentedly low

number of duffers, such as ’avoid tunnel vision’, and high number of

crackers, including ’answer machine, pounds 2.10’, ’Economist readers

welcome - Sperm bank’ and ’nothing to declare’.

There’s also a dramatic Economist European campaign in which armed

guards carry a box full of something apparently nasty to a furnace. This

’something’ has been banned in various countries, a voiceover tells us,

adding rather too early for true intrigue that it is some kind of

uncompromising publication.

Here, the Economist is putting itself on a par with the BBC World

Service, namely as a purveyor of hard information in a world of

censorship and disinformation.

Finally, gems from the Teacher Training Agency. One after another, a

bunch of people each say a different name to camera. The potential

irritation factor of not knowing the names spoken is offset by the

increasingly famous personalities mouthing them, including the Prime


The punchline is that you never forget a good teacher, which says it all

really. The biggest compliment I can pay this is that it has shades of

by far the best commercial of the year - the BBC’s ’Perfect Day’ -

without perhaps quite the equivalent goosepimple factor.

The second ad talks about a single inspirational teacher whose most

famous charge turns out to be Sir David Attenborough, a man whose

infectious enjoyment of scholarship is as good an advert for good

teaching as you can get.

The Economist Project: The Economist UK campaign

Client: Andrew McGregor, director of marketing

Brief: If you don’t read the Economist, you will get caught out

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writers: Mike Nicholson (’answer machine’), Tony Strong (’nothing to

declare’), Mike Harris (’sperm bank’)

Art directors: Mike Durban (’answer machine’), Daryl Corps (’nothing to

declare’), Gideon Todes (’sperm bank’)

Exposure: National press and posters

Shell UK

Project: Shell Select

Client: Lurene Joseph, UK brand and communications manager

Brief: Demonstrate the Select brand’s relevance to customers’ changing

lifestyles Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Andrew Singleton

Art director: Jono Wardle

Director: Simon Cheek

Production company: Spirit Films

Exposure: National TV

Warner Lambert

Project: Benylin Children’s Cough range

Client: David O’Sullivan, managing director

Brief: Relaunch Benylin’s Children’s Cough and build on its reputation

for efficacy, power and trust

Agency: Bates Dorland

Writer: Dan Bryant

Art director: Lynda Kennedy

Illustrator: Lynda Kennedy

Typographer: Nigel Dawson

Exposure: National press

The Economist

Project: European campaign

Client: John Coghill, brand marketing manager

Brief: The Economist covers more than business and news and comment

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writer: Alfredo Marcantonio

Art director: Peter Gausis

Director: Johan Brisinger

Production company:

Brian Byfield Films

Exposure: Global TV

Teacher Training Agency

Project: Teacher recruitment

Client: not supplied

Brief: Elevate the status of teaching as a profession

Agency: Delaney Fletcher Bozell

Writer: Richard Warren

Art director: Tim Peckitt

Director: Mike Stephenson

Production company: The Paul Weiland Film Company Exposure: National


Virgin Vie

Project: Virgin Vie cosmetics

Client: Axia Gaitskell, communications director

Brief: Convey the different environment of Virgin Vie

Agency: Quiet Storm

Creative team: Trevor Robinson, Dylan Ingham

Director: Trevor Robinson

Production co: Quiet Storm Exposure: National cinema


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