Private View

I forget who it was that said ‘a small truth is more powerful than a big lie’. Maybe it was my accountant. Anyway, it’s a maxim I’ve always felt applied particularly well to ads. It is obvious, really. If an ad is convincing and also contains a truth - either about the brand or about you, the consumer - you buy. If not, it’s a weasel.

I forget who it was that said ‘a small truth is more powerful than a big

lie’. Maybe it was my accountant. Anyway, it’s a maxim I’ve always felt

applied particularly well to ads. It is obvious, really. If an ad is

convincing and also contains a truth - either about the brand or about

you, the consumer - you buy. If not, it’s a weasel.

Most mobile phone ads fall into the small, vicious furry-creature

category. Mostly because, for all their ‘low price promises’, they’ll

sink their teeth into you in the small print. Orange, however, has

always given me the impression, via a lot of clever advertising, that it

has designed a service for my needs, not just for Orange’s. Its latest

commercials show me a lovely, bright orange asterisk while below it

various small print disclaimers appear. However, these ones say things

like ‘offer only applies to all customers’ and ‘not subject to

availability’. This demonstrates admirably that telling the truth is

more persuasive than trying to conceal it.

Lemsip also tries very hard to slip under my guard, using an old trick:

a big observation about the world, which is then attached to a truth

about the brand. So we are promised a history of the 20th century in 30

seconds, because, ‘the pursuit of speed is the story of the 20th

century’. Before I have time to argue that there are some other stories

worth including (such as war, famine, Spurs’ failure to make a

significant signing this season), I am told that ‘not even the ’flu will

slow us down’, and Lemsip’s new speedier formula is given equal billing

with the development of Concorde. And why not, I say? It’s handier sized

and a lot more useful when your nose starts running. And, unlike

Concorde, Lemsip is available at your chemist.

British Gas follows a well-worn path by hiring a TV personality to try

to liven up a potentially uninspiring message. In this case, Mrs Merton

is made to impart information about getting your central heating

serviced for nothing. Towards the end Malcolm, her ‘son’, utters the

line: ‘Oh mum, you’re not still going on about British Gas, are you?’ To

which I couldn’t help replying: ‘As long as they keep paying her loads

of money, chuck, yes, she is.’

In contrast, Paxo’s chosen advertising spokesperson is much more

convincing. Charlie Chicken spends eight hours a day with his hand up a

chicken (of the glove puppet variety) so he wants to do something

different when he gets home. He is, therefore, the perfect person to

tell us about cooking Paxo separately, that is, not up a chicken’s rear

end. This thereby solves the Paxo marketing problem: how to get more

share of oven without losing share of sphincter.

Glenfiddich’s ad is an ambitious epic about a son and his father re-

bonding in a Las Vegas hotel over a wee dram or 20. It looks beautiful

but the subtlety of the story is difficult to grasp after one, or even

two, viewings. This is a pity because there is real emotional power in

their reconciliation. It also links well to a truth about the brand -

the fact that it allows the drinker time to reflect as well as time to

enjoy another’s company.

I guessed that the Co-operative Bank ad was made for a cinema rather

than a TV audience, when the voiceover referred to ‘those sitting in

rows A to G’ which could only refer to Michael Jackson’s living room.

The ad’s message is actually very serious and an unusual one for a bank.

The film shows a land mine with a trip-wire while the voiceover tells us

of the effects of the explosion on the cinema audience if the mine is

triggered. It also tells us that these mines cost just pounds 30 each

and that many British banks lend millions of pounds to regimes that use

the money to buy such weapons. But one bank doesn’t: the Co-operative

Bank. It is, of course, just one view of the world. No doubt those

regimes, and other banks, would have a different view. But I believe the

ad. I think the Co-operative bank is telling the truth.

William Grant and Sons

Project: Glenfiddich

Client: Tony Hunt, international marketing director

Brief: Show that Glenfiddich transcends generations

Agency: McCann-Erickson

Writer: John Lewis

Art director: Roger Ackerman

Directors: The Douglas Brothers

Production company: D Films

Exposure: Granada and Central TV regions

Business Performance League

Bisto Foods

Project: Paxo

Client: Not supplied

Brief: Reposition Paxo from being used as stuffing to being used as a

separate food

Agency: The HHCL Brasserie

Creators/directors: Elizabeth Whiston, David Shelton

Production company: The HHCL Brasserie

Exposure: National TV

25 November 1996


Project: Orange Christmas campaign

Client: Sean Gardner, head of marketing services

Brief: With Orange everything is inclusive

Agency: WCRS

Writer: Sean Toal

Art director: Andy Dibb

Director: Dylan Kendle

Production company: Pink Films

Exposure: National TV

The Co-operative Bank

Project: The Co-operative Bank

Client: Jim Sinclair, group marketing manager

Brief: The Co-operative Bank is the only bank that cares about the same

things you do

Agency: BDDH

Writer: Owen Lee

Art director: Gary Robinson

Directors: Gary Robinson, Owen Lee

Production company: Hungry Eye

Exposure: National cinema

Reckitt and Colman

Project: Lemsip PowerPlus

Client: Justin Lord, marketing director

Brief: Single-mindedly exploit the hot-drink format of Lemsip PowerPlus

by focusing on the speed of action it delivers

Agency: BST-BDDP

Writer: Tom Hudson

Art director: Paul Leeves

Directors: Graham Wood, Jason Kedgley

Production company: Helen Langridge Associates

Exposure: National TV

British Gas Home Energy

Project: Celsia Three Star Service Cover

Client: Susan Brooks, advertising manager

Brief: Inform customers of the added value services offered above and

beyond basic supply of fuel

Agency: BMP DDB

Writer: Paul Burke

Art director: Stuart Buckley

Director: John Lloyd

Production company: Limelight

Exposure: National TV


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