I don’t suppose Nietzsche commands much of a following these days, so let’s give him a quick airing. Life, he said, is lived forwards but understood backwards.

I don’t suppose Nietzsche commands much of a following these days, so

let’s give him a quick airing. Life, he said, is lived forwards but

understood backwards.

And advertising, he very nearly added, is a similar beast: you hope things

will turn out well, but you only really know what you’ve got when it’s too

late to do much about it. A few gifted sorts have the prescience to see

exactly what effect their ad will have on the public (well, John Webster

does), but the rest of us just grope our way towards the airdate with

hope, crossed fingers and advertising’s Mystic Meg, research. Alas (I

can’t put it off any longer), it isn’t always the triumph we wanted.

It would be unfair to heap too much blame on Galaxy. Their slice of young

elopement in the cotton fields delivers what you’d expect, right down to

Summertime on the soundtrack. Boy gets girl, girl gets chocolate and dad

gets annoyed. It’s a sort of Levi’s ’drugstore’ for Cliff Richard


Save the Children’s ad tells us the chilling news that two million child

soldiers have been killed around the world and that 300,000 more are still

fighting, so we’re hardly going to quibble about the detail. Given the

topical brutality of the Balkans, though, it did seem strangely muted.

In unfortunate juxtaposition, causing suffering is seen as the way forward

for HP Sauce. To prise info from a bound, dangling victim, a bacon

sandwich is rustled up under his nose and smeared with HP by quaint

gangsters who pre-date The Long Good Friday let alone Lock, Stock etc. But

maybe, given the personality of the product, that’s the idea.

I’m not letting HSBC Midland Bank off the meathook so easily. In fact, I’d

like to chainsaw great chunks out of it for producing that deadliest of

ads - the one that wants to be your best mate. ’Let’s be honest,’ it

wheedles, ’how many of us have no idea where our money goes?’ And to pile

ignominy on to insult, it features Us (every age, class and hue) standing

like gamma-rayed zombies solemnly raising our hands to acknowledge searing

insights like, ’How many of us feel guilty that all we seem to do is

spend?’ Assumptive, smug and patronising, it makes the Nanny State look

like Evel Knievel on a drunken spree.

But it shines beside the Madame Tussauds campaign. Advertising that sad

little outpost of the wax empire called Rock Circus, are three of the

feeblest puns you’ll ever have the misfortune to choke on. ’Ever seen the

Stones?’ the first one limply asks under a quartet of ex-popsters’ graves.

’Not All Saints’, chortles the second, featuring a bunch of troublesome

has-beens, and there’s the hilarious, ’See George Michael at our

convenience.’ Not toilet humour, just toilet.

So, in desperation, we turn to our faithful friend Volkswagen for


I have to say, we very nearly don’t get it. For the Bora we get that tired

old strategy of: ’It’s such fun to drive you’ll go to ridiculous lengths

to do so.’

The first ad shows us an architect crossing borders to retrieve the

chewed-up old biro he left behind at a meeting. ’Ah , an architect,’ said

the wise men of the department, Jude and Dave. ’It’s always an architect -

respectability and creativity, you see.’ And, blow me, they’re right. It

is always an architect. You can’t sit through a break without these

smoothies popping up to flog you something when they should be out there

pursing their lips at the Trocadero. Anyway, things pick up a bit in the

second ad, featuring a couple getting ready for a party and arguing about

who should drink and who should drive. That they both want to drive is

hardly a Hitchcockian twist, but it’s nicely written and performed.

Faint praise, maybe, but when you set the bar as high as VW has, even they

will knock it off occasionally. Let’s just hope, as Wittgenstein once

said, that it falls with a resounding thump on Madame Tussauds.

Save the Children

Project: Save the children from violence

Client: Paulette Cohen, head of communications

Brief: Raise awareness of the use of child soldiers

Agency: M&C Saatchi

Writer: Paul Hodgkinson

Art director: Malcolm Poynton

Director: Mike Stephenson

Production company: The Paul Weiland Film Company

Exposure: National TV and cinema

HSBC Midland Bank

Project: ISAs

Client: Alan Hughes, marketing director

Brief: Get the nation saving with an ISA

Agency: St Luke’s

Writer: Chris Wright

Art director: Jules Chalkley

Director: Rupert Sanders

Production company: Outsider

Exposure: National TV


Project: Galaxy Block

Client: David Wilson, brand manager, Galaxy

Brief: Establish Galaxy as the smoother, more involving chocolate


Agency: Grey

Writer: Dave Rimmel

Art director: Paul Pickersgill

Director: Erick Ifergan

Production company: The End

Exposure: National TV

HP Foods

Project: HP Sauce

Client: Stephane Dalyac, senior product manager

Brief: Encourage the use of HP Sauce on the ever-popular bacon sandwich

Agency: Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy

Writer: John Merriman

Art director: John Merriman

Director: Andy Lambert

Production company: Spectre

Exposure: National terrestrial and satellite TV


Project: Rock Circus

Client: Paul Moreton, marketing manager

Brief: Announce the launch of the revamped Rock Circus

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Trevor de Silva

Art director: Paul White

Photographer: Anthony Mark Briggs

Exposure: London Underground six-sheets and escalator panels


Project: VW Bora

Client: Nigel Brotherton, national communications manager

Brief: Bora is the saloon car that lets you really feel the road

Agency: BMP DDB

Writers: Andrew Fraser (’party’), John Webster, Michael Kaplan, Tim

Charlesworth (’pen’)

Art director: Andrew Fraser

Directors: Peter Cattaneo (’party’), Paul Gay (’pen’)

Production companies: Academy (’party’), Outsider (’pen’)

Exposure: National TV

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