Private View

As the American comic, Steve Wright, says: ’There’s a thin line between fishing and standing by the side of a river doing nothing.’

As the American comic, Steve Wright, says: ’There’s a thin line

between fishing and standing by the side of a river doing nothing.’

Iceland, for example. No, not the main animated campaign which I like

very much, but a series of price ads extolling the virtues of buying one

and getting one free. Which has always struck me as a dubious offer

anyway - I throw enough stuff out of my fridge as it is. Some are about

the lengths people go to to get their hands on the deals - shimmying in

the aisles - some involve men dressed as penguins, some are just people

being odd.

You know the sort of thing, all very post-modern and ironic. For my

money, the whole thing’s a bit overcooked. Trying too hard to be mad and


I felt like I was watching someone acting out a Monty Python sketch in

the kitchen at a party.

Fiat Punto misses the mark for me too. This is the pair of commercials

where a man has one perspective on the car’s new features, a woman


Satellite navigation, for example. Him: ’Because finding your way out of

a garage is a bit of a challenge.’ Her: ’You can’t even find your way

round a woman’s body.’ I presume the media’s been bought so that you see

the spots one after the other. But still, I don’t like either of the

people and, as my old daddy used to say: ’Two wrongs don’t make a


The Terrence Higgins Trust is another commercial that seems more

concerned with the cleverness of its advertising conceit than it is with

communicating honestly with people. A man stares moodily at the camera:

’Homosexuality has always been an issue in my life.’ You’re meant to

think he’s gay, but the reason he ends up losing his job is because: ’I

hate faggots.’ The way it’s shot doesn’t help. Full of suspense and

security camera footage. And then you think of the gay-hater patiently

explaining his position as he tends his garden in the old Ministry of

Sound commercial. Now that really was powerful.

Just when you thought Griff Rhys Jones was overexposed, Vauxhall came up

with a neat idea. Disguise him. You can’t have missed this campaign on

the TV recently. He plays a kind of absent-minded professor, and it

covers lots of different models of cars, not to mention buying cars on

the internet and all sorts of other stuff. Inoffensive, maybe, but also

mildly confusing. Who is this man, and why is he trying to complicate


McDonald’s, I understand. It has a new range of Chinese meals, so it’s

done the commercial like a badly lip-synched kung fu movie. I like all

the filmic details - the demonic laugh, the foot wiggle, the moustache

flattening, but it ends up as just OK rather than great. Probably

because we’ve all seen this kind of parody before, and you feel like the

ad should try to say something more. So they have a new range of Chinese

meals. And ...?

John West is a bit of an ’And ...?’ too. Clever visual, half a logo, all

very neat and tidy, but what does it all mean?

That there are no additives? That it specialises in fish? That there are

no baked beans in there? And then I remember that line from the dim and

distant past: ’It’s the fish John West rejects that makes it the best.’

At least it stood for something.

So there you are. It’s a thin line. Sometimes you don’t realise which

side you are on until it’s too late.


Project: Chinese promotion

Client: John Hawkes, senior vice-president, chief marketing officer

Brief: n/s

Agency: Leo Burnett

Writer: Laurence Quinn

Art director: Mark Norcutt

Production company: Academy

Exposure: National TV


Project: Feel the Deal 2000

Client: Alan Shepherd, marketing director

Brief: Create excitement about Iceland’s year-round deals

Agency: HHCL & Partners

Project team: Jim Bolton, Chas Bayfield, Peter Muggleston, Gill Linton

Directors: Ronnie West, Jim Bolton, Chas Bayfield

Production company: RSA

Exposure: National TV


Project: John West Tuna

Client: Jeremy Coles, marketing manager

Brief: Make people aware that in a world of genetically modified food,

John West Tuna remains pure and free of articifial additives

Agency: Leo Burnett

Writer: Julie Adams

Art director: Richard Connor

Exposure: National press



Client: Andy Jones, marketing operations manager

Brief: Launch Vauxhall’s online car purchasing service and establish

consumer trust

Agency: Lowe Lintas Writer: Gordon Graham Art director: Neil Sullivan

Director: Kirk Jones

Production company: Tomboy Films

Exposure: National TV


Project: ’It’s prejudice that’s queer’

Client: Terrence Higgins Trust

Brief: Raise awareness of society’s homophobia

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Writer: Richard Selbourne

Art director: Adrian Belsham

Director: David Anderson Production company: Experience

Exposure: National TV, cinema


Project: Fiat Punto

Client: Mike Biscoe,

product manager

Brief: Promote the new Punto with same spirito

Agency: D’Arcy

Writer: Mark Waldron

Art director: Dave Godfree

Director: Colin Gregg

Production company: Eclipse Productions

Exposure: National TV

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