Imagine you’re a particle physicist, perhaps, and your daughter wants to
be an art director. You’ve no idea what they do, so you pick up her
Campaign and browse.
An item joyfully announces a campaign ‘that uses shoes as characters in
the story of the birth of Jesus’. The accompanying text cheerfully adds
that it follows last year’s ‘shoeicide’ campaign. Another caption
chortles: ‘A man in a yellow latex suit is chased through a landscape of
giant puddings.’ What can you do but hope she finds something normal?
The Moonies, for example.
Is this the merry bent that endless years in the business have put on
our objectivity, so that now we advertising people are so happy
frolicking in a paranormal dimension of our own surreal invention that
we see nothing odd about a man being abused by puddings or Mary Magdalen
being played by a red stiletto? I do hope so. It’s my sort of world, and
I like it.
Now I’ve seen the pudding commercial for Bird’s Custard and found,
gleefully, that not only does it make sense but it seems perfectly
normal. With a soundtrack featuring globbing noises, it sums up custard
precisely and it is, perversely, eccentrically charming. Deep joy. We’re
obviously completely barking.
Emirates, however, appears normal, which makes it weird now given all
the things you’re forced to do for emergent national airlines in
international campaigns: testimonials from people you’ve never heard of,
treacly voiceovers and over-cranked close-ups of doe-eyed hostesses.
Dreams are at the heart of the new Peugeot 406 commercial. It’s a high-
octave and addictive film, but I do think that its genuinely different
and fascinating idea of visualising the myriad of thoughts that go
through the average person’s mind has been sadly betrayed.
‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,’ Thoreau said, and
he’s bloody right. But, according to this film, our daily thoughts are
filled not with trivial checklists and petty fears and squabbles but
heroics and excitement and, contrary to mine and Freud’s experience,
very little sex. So the dramatisation of what we really think has been
turned into a fiction - a merely better than average commercial claiming
Peugeots are cars fit only for heroes. A curious niche market.
But it’s a depressing fact that the most recalled car commercial of the
past ten years is the materially expensive but creatively cheap ‘Takes
your breath away’ Peugeot 405 ad. These launches are designed simply to
make a noise. Hence the life-embracing theme, long time length and high
drama, and, ultimately, I’ll bet that Peugeot dealers will be far too
busy shifting metal to agonise over my limp-wristed sibilances.
Kellogg’s commercials have always featured bright, bland mornings and
even brighter, blander people. They’ve moved on, commendably, and Hot
Krumbly is the sort of well-executed, knock-about costume drama you’d
normally associate with Collett Dickenson Pearce/Lowe Howard-Spink.
Unfortunately, the Scottish accents are so broad that there were bits of
dialogue I couldn’t understand, so I missed the point.
The second most interesting thing about the Stena posters is the ferry
itself. What makes it so smooth? The most interesting thing is the
unashamed rip-off in the ‘Belfastest’ execution of an idea we’ve seen at
least twice already, most famously for British Airways.
Oxfam has decided it should treat its outlets like any other retailer
and come up with a series of posters which, given their style, the
product and Oxfam’s prices, simply cannot fail. A fine execution of a
good piece of thinking.
Finally, returning to how others view us, Allen Ginsberg summed up
advertising as ‘the nitro-glycerine shrieks of the fairies of Madison
Avenue’. Nice writing - but it won’t get him on the D&AD jury.
Kellogg Company of Great Britain
Project: Hot Krumbly
Client: Mark Baynes, senior marketing manager
Brief: Launch Hot Krumbly
Agency: J. Walter Thompson
Writer: Andrew Singleton
Art director: Jono Wardle
Director: Paul Arden
Production company: Arden Sutherland-Dodd
Exposure: National and Sky TV
Project: Stena Line
Client: John Govett, sales and marketing director
Brief: Relaunch the brand under its new name, Stena Line
Agency: J. Walter Thompson
Writer: Bruce Menzie
Art director: Simon Brotherson
Photographer: Robert Dowling
Typographer: Andrew Ross
Exposure: National 48-sheet posters
Client: Geraldine Lowe, group advertising manager
Brief: Announce an award-winning airline to an international audience
Agency: Butterfield Day Devito Hockney
Writer: Derek Day
Art director: Mick Devito
Production company: Tomboy Films
Exposure: Global TV
Project: Peugeot 406
Client: Tod Evans, commercial director
Brief: Launch the Peugeot 406
Agency: Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper
Writer: Mark Wnek
Art director: Nigel Rose
Director: Peter Smillie
Production company: Smillie Films/Marina Usher Associates
Exposure: National TV
Kraft Jacobs Suchard
Project: Bird’s Custard
Client: Malcolm Kerr, marketing director
Brief: Persuade light users of Bird’s Custard to eat it more often
Agency: Ogilvy and Mather
Writer: Adam Denton
Art director: Andy Fairless
Director: Chris Palmer
Production company: Gorgeous Productions
Exposure: Regional TV
Client: Paul Clifford, marketing manager
Brief: Raise money through Oxfam shops
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writer: Ben Walker
Art director: Mat Gooden
Photographers: Pamela Hanson (hats), Michael Roberts (overcoat), Platon
Typographer: Trevor Slabber
Exposure: Style and fashion press