Since arriving in this country four months ago, the most frequently asked question has been, ’what’s the difference between advertising in the US and advertising in the UK?’

Since arriving in this country four months ago, the most frequently

asked question has been, ’what’s the difference between advertising in

the US and advertising in the UK?’

So far, my answer has been, not much.

Yeah, there are quirks in the language. I’ve yet to hear the word

vindaloo in a US commercial. And I still don’t understand the freeze

frame thing at the end of films here.

Otherwise, the 80-20 rule seems to apply.

In the US, about 20 per cent of the stuff you see on air is pretty


Of that 20 per cent, a handful are terrific. And the rest pretty much


My impression is ditto for the UK.

My creative side wants to put the Carling ’football’ spot into the 20

per cent. The film looks good. The art direction is great, although I’m

probably not the best judge of what England looked like before


And I’m always a sucker for leech jokes and flashers. But then my

strategic side kicks in and says, ’football sponsorship aside, does this

have anything to do with beer?’ Is there a link to the product? Not

really. I also strongly identify with the ending. A fan in the bleachers

yells ’Offside!’ Guy next to him says, ’What’s offside?’ His reply, ’I

don’t know.’

Neither do I.

The Iceland work is stupid. Dumb sight gags, weird people doing weird

things. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And that’s exactly what I like about


They just make me laugh. But they also do something else incredibly


They’ve got me paying attention when the buy-one-get-one-free offer

comes up. I have no idea if they are working in the marketplace, but

they are working for me.

Now for the Merrill Lynch campaign. I guess I’m the one who’s


I don’t get it. I watched this campaign three times and I still don’t

get it. I showed it to someone else at the agency and he didn’t get


Coincidentally, I had just read about this work in Ad Age or Adweek or

someplace, and it sounded interesting. It’s entitled ’human


Noble words. Anytime you have a bank or brokerage or technology brand,

human is a good place to play. But I’m left clueless as to what human

achievement has to do with Merrill Lynch. Technology in the hands of

genius is wonderful, it claims. Is Merrill Lynch full of geniuses? Are

they the missing heroes? Apartheid’s abolished. The Berlin Wall has come


Does that mean more people are free to invest in stock markets? Someone

help me here. Anyone.

On to the British Heart Foundation. When you do public service

advertising, you better get it right. If you don’t touch some kind of

emotional chord with people, you’ll pretty much be dismissed as yet

another do-good organisation after a donation or something. To me, this

one gets it wrong. It’s well constructed. It’s logical. And it’s

truthful in its insight of how people think they’re too young to have a

heart attack. But I don’t feel anything when I watch it. Compare it with

the gut-wrenching NSPCC commercial that’s running now and you’ll see

what I mean.

The COI Magistrates print campaign had to be translated to me. We don’t

have magistrates in the US. Once it was explained that magistrates tend

to be retired colonels, I understood what was going on. And my reaction

is, oops, your strategy is showing. Is it enough to just say that anyone

can be a magistrate? Or should the ads find a way to make me want to be

a magistrate?

I vote for the latter.

Lastly, and almost leastly, there’s the shrink-to-fit Mercedes A-class

spot. Big Mercedes in the desert. Little girl with hose. Big Mercedes

drives into stylised car wash, comes out a smaller Mercedes. OK? I’ll

give the agency the benefit of the doubt and assume they got a lot of

help from the client on this one. The music is cool though.

So does the 80-20 rule hold up here? Seems to me like it does.

But then I’ve never been very good at math.

Bass Brewers

Project: Carling

Client: Simon Davies, director, Carling Equity

Brief: Cement Carling’s position as Britain’s best-loved beer

Agency: WCRS Writer: Andy Brittain

Art director: Yu Kung

Director: Andy Morahan

Production company: Paul Weiland Films

Exposure: National TV

Merrill Lynch

Project: Merrill Lynch

Client: Charlie V. Mangano, first vice-president senior director of


Brief: n/s

Agency: J. Walter Thompson, New York Writer: Stuart Mickle

Art director: John Morrison

Director: Andrew Douglas Production company: Satellite Films

Exposure: CNN, CBC, the Discovery Channel


Project: A-class

Client: Simon Oldfield, general manager, passenger car marketing

Brief: Reinforce the A-class’s Mercedes credentials and so firmly

establish it in the Mercedes range

Agency: Partners BDDH

Writer: John Dean

Art director: Simon Green

Director: Simon Green

Production company: Rose Hackney Barber

Exposure: National TV

COI/Lord Chancellor’s Office

Project: Lay Magistrates

Client: John Lane-Gillespy, assistant secretary of commissions

Brief: Encourage a broader range of people to apply for the magistracy

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

Writer: Ian Heartfield Art director: Mat Doman

Photographer: Adam Hinton

Exposure: National press

British Heart Foundation

Project: Corporate campaign

Client: Maxine Smith, director of communications

Brief: Encourage people to take preventive action against heart disease

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Writer: Tony Malcolm

Art director: Guy Moore

Director: Pedro Romanyi

Production company: Outsider

Exposure: National TV


Project: Iceland

Clients: Anne Buckley, advertising manager, Russell Ford, joint managing


Brief: Demonstrate the sheer thrill of Iceland’s phenomenal deals

Agency: HHCL & Partners

Project team: Mark Howard, Jo Tanner, Matt Cooney, Richard Huntington

Director: Neil Harris Production company: Arden Sutherland-Dodd

Exposure: National TV

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