This is Chris O’Shea in Time Out (6 March): ‘People are getting fed up with ads because they don’t understand them. I’m in the business and even I don’t know who they’re for half the time.’

This is Chris O’Shea in Time Out (6 March): ‘People are getting fed up

with ads because they don’t understand them. I’m in the business and

even I don’t know who they’re for half the time.’

OK, he was talking about cigarette ads in particular, but the

incomprehensibility of much recent advertising is a theme my mother, as

a sort of Victoria Meldrew, enjoys exploring every time I see her. ‘How

a disgustingly fat man painted silver is supposed to sell me tyres, I

just don’t know’ (Dunlop); ‘Tell me what hordes of Chinese on bicycles

have got to do with a mobile phone?’ (Orange).

I don’t know what she’d make of ‘Unleash a Grolsch’ then. That endline

is the only explanation you get for the hopping weasel, the swimming

polar bear, the lightning strike, the car entering a tunnel, etc, etc.

To my mind, Grolsch is a quirky and individualistic brand, yet this

quick-cut montage of Survival Special highlights does little to give it

any personality. There’s so much good stuff pouring out of Tim Ashton’s

department at the moment I can only imagine this film turned up in

Private View by accident rather than design. Bad luck.

By contrast, Jay Pond-Jones probably did want the Capital Radio spot

reviewed, because it’s pretty good, maybe even Bookable. We see a

tableau of Londoners frozen in mid-action because without Capital,

‘London’s static.’ Geddit? My mother won’t, that’s for sure.

No-one could have any difficulty understanding what Philadelphia’s all

about or who it’s for. It’s a curiously relentless campaign. It seems to

have been running for years without ever becoming quite as funny and as

charming as one suspects it could be.

If you can gauge a campaign’s success by the number of executions it

accrues, then Hula Hoops is going gangbusters. There are four new

offerings from Publicis, of which the Naomi Campbell film begins to move

the ideas forward. ‘If she was to want to change the shape of a Hula

Hoop, I’d say Oi! Naomi! Yes!’ Funny how this rip-off from Harry

Enfield’s show won’t win awards when the rip-off from Paul Whitehouse’s

Fast Show (for milk) will. This is no more than a wry observation that

not bad work can sometimes be regarded as better than it really is if it

comes from a very good agency.

In the Burger King commercial, gorgeous girl stops in Chevy pick-up to

give hunk a ride. He shakes his head. No, a burger’s what he’d prefer.

She drives off petulantly, he eats. Easy to follow as a piece of

narrative. What I don’t understand, though, is how this particular

advertiser has spent so much money without appearing to have built any

real brand equity. All the ingredients are there - American-ness,

beefiness, youthfulness - but they don’t seem to have gelled.

Last up, a couple of press ads for Sanatogen. Not too difficult to grasp

what these are about. Bright, cheery and ‘they’ll make you feel better

just looking at them’, the account man must have said as he sold them.

If I’ve been less than kind about a couple of these ads, I don’t wish

to demean the teams responsible. Philadelphia has been nicely directed;

Capital Radio is technically intriguing; Burger King has production

values in spades. If people like my Mum and even Chris O’Shea are

sometimes baffled by our work, it’s because we’re simply trying too

hard. But, in my view, there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

Patrick Collister is executive creative director of Ogilvy and Mather

KP Foods

Project: Hula Hoops

Client: Jude Bridge, marketing controller (snacks)

Brief: Continue the ‘Oi! No!’ campaign

Agency: Publicis

Writer: Andy Wakefield

Art director: Andy Wakefield

Director: Sid Roberson

Production company: Mendoza Productions

Exposure: National TV

Kraft Jacobs Suchard

Project: Philadelphia

Client: Paul Watmore, marketing manager

Brief: Philadelphia is a little everyday indulgence

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Sandra Leamon

Art director: Carol Cass

Director: Mel Smith

Production company: Smith Jones Brown and Cassie

Exposure: National TV

Capital Radio

Project: Capital Radio

Client: Lizzie Palmer, head of marketing and events

Brief: Keep Capital at the forefront of people’s minds

Agency: GGT

Writer: Johan Kramer

Art director: Erik Kessels

Director: Frank Budgen

Production company: Paul Weiland Film Company

Exposure: Regional TV

Roche Consumer Health

Project: Sanatogen

Client: Peter Smith, marketing manager

Brief: Continue to build awareness of Sanatogen-tailored products

Agency: WCRS

Writer: Ruth Jackson

Art director: Emma Reddish

Illustrator: Alan Dempsey

Typographer: Barry Brand

Exposure: Women’s monthly magazines

Bass Brewers

Project: Grolsch

Client: Chris Brown, brand manager

Brief: Promote Grolsch as the beer that delivers a bigger drinking


Agency: Bates Dorland

Writer: Tim Hearn

Art director: Kate Stanners

Director: Simon Taylor

Production company: Helen Langridge Associates

Exposure: National cinema and regional TV

Burger King

Project: Burger King Whopper

Client: Sarah O’Sullivan, marketing manager

Brief: Differentiate Burger King and its better-tasting burgers from the

competition in a way that is relevant to 16- to 24-year-olds

Agency: D’Arcy Masius Benton and Bowles

Writer: Don Bowen

Art director: Geoff Allum

Director: Jason Smith

Production company: Produktion

Exposure: National TV