People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. So I freely admit that over the past 20 years I’ve authored several turkeys. One of the worst press ads of all time was mine. It would have triumphed at BADA.

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. So I freely admit

that over the past 20 years I’ve authored several turkeys. One of the

worst press ads of all time was mine. It would have triumphed at


I couldn’t escape the bloody thing.

Every time I opened up a newspaper or a magazine, there it was. No, I’m

not going to tell you what it was in case you remember it.

I also did something for CrazyMilk that John Webster described as the

second worst commercial ever to come out of BMP. It took me five years

to ask him what the worst was. (Something Gabe Massimi had done.


Most of us have a dog or two to our names. Perhaps David Abbott is the

only writer never to have written a wrong ’un. Mind you, remember the

Boden commercials?

It’s just that to do a great work you need a great brief, a great idea,

a great team to sell it and shoot it, and a great client to buy it, more

or less in that order. In other words, a lot of luck.

Luck was in short supply for the poor bastards who got stiffed by the

Smirnoff job. After all the consistently brilliant work Lowe

Howard-Spink did before being dumped outrageously by UDV, the teams at

JWT must have been fighting to get out of the building when Jaspar came

wandering along with the brief.

Ye olde plotte of the commercial is this: Old Nick comes down off a

rooftop in Cracow. Starts fires. Gets tattoo - 666, the mark of the

beast - removed from cranium, becomes monk in order to take cherry of

nun in Swiss meadow.

Endline: ’No impurities.’

Well wicked? ’Fraid not.

Now, Childline. Hmmmm. The creatives have taken Tried-and-Tested Idea

Number 3, the old role reversal trick - get people to do the opposite of

what they’re meant to. So we watch moody-looking adults as their voices

say, I want more child prostitution, I want to see more kids off their

heads on drugs, I want more abuse. The reveal is these are all

counsellors who want more telephone lines so they can take more calls

from more children who need help.

I get the message; but I also get uneasy. It feels too slick. Too


Still, I’ve been wrong plenty of times in the past. I hope I’m utterly

wrong this time too and the film raises a lot of money for an important


Tried-and-Tested Number 3 is also behind the Energy Savings


Show people not wanting to save energy. How silly they look. Actually, I

did like the commercial with the girl taking the long way across the B&Q

megastore to get to the lightbulbs. So, not bad. Not great either.

Sainsbury’s, the same. Show a woman who spends a fortune on dairy

products (milk and cream for her one hundred cats) and then show what

she can buy with the extra reward points she now qualifies for.


It’s OK. It’d win a ’best use of kittens’ award. But why does the MVO

seem to be sneering? Maybe he thought the commercial was pants, I don’t


The Environment Agency’s Floodline I don’t really understand. Maybe you

have to see them in situ by a river bank or a shoreline for them to make

sense. From the ninth floor of our Canary Wharf block, my response to

the message - floods don’t just happen to other people - is oh yes they


Starbucks I do understand. How to persuade busy traders to slip away

from their VDUs for a cappuccino. A list of excuses for the boss. None

of the excuses in the free booklets is as good as the one David Jones

gave once when he arrived late for a pitch. ’Sorry, my parrot got stuck

in the fridge.’

In short, then, everything here is massively OK. Every team will have

done worse but then every team will have done better too. Here’s hoping

everything goes right for you next time.


Project: Flood awareness

Client: Liz Cook, national flood campaign manager

Brief: Educate the four million households in England and Wales who are

at risk from flooding

Agency: Circus

Writer: David Prideaux

Art director: Tim Ashton

Typographer: Kim Le Liboux

Photographer: James Stuart

Exposure: Flood plains throughout the UK


Project: Pick your own points reward card promotion

Client: Helen Touchais, marketing manager

Brief: Launch a reward card promotion that enables customers to select

the category on which they can earn extra points

Agency: M&C Saatchi

Writer: Richard Dean

Art director: Richard Dean

Director: Kevin Thomas

Production company: Blink

Exposure: National TV


Project: Smirnoff Red

Client: Philip Almond, marketing controller

Brief: Position Smirnoff as the purest vodka

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Bruce Menzie

Art director: Simon Brotherson

Director: Jonas Akerlund

Production company: Jane Fuller Associates

Exposure: Cinemas nationwide


Project: Energy efficiency

Client: Diane Monkom, head of marketing

Brief: Present the argument

for energy efficiency as the decision you can’t afford to ignore

Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Writer: Mike Boles

Art director: Jerry Hollens

Director: Mark Denton

Production company: Blink

Exposure: National TV


Project: Thoughts

Client: Valerie Howarth, chief executive

Brief: Generate funds for additional and much needed telephone lines

Agency: Delaney Fletcher Bozell

Writer: Jon Elsom

Art director: Ken Sara

Director: James Haworth

Production company: Mustard

Exposure: Cinemas nationwide


Project: Starbucks coffee shops

Client: Helen Benedict, marketing director

Brief: Encourage people to spend more time at Starbucks

Agency: Fallon McElligott

Writer: Matt Gibbins

Art director: Richard Walker

Photographer: Peter Drinkell

Exposure: National posters

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