Private View

Last week I sat down with the past 25 years’ chairmen of the British Television Advertising Awards to pick our favourite commercials from the previous quarter of a century.

Last week I sat down with the past 25 years’ chairmen of the

British Television Advertising Awards to pick our favourite commercials

from the previous quarter of a century.

Let’s face it, the occupants of that table probably had more arrows

under their beds than Maid Marion. And yet, quite often, the ’great

ones’ (GOs) disagreed quite passionately about the best ads of the past

25 years.

What chance then does a solitary private viewer have of reaching a

generally agreed conclusion on the best ads of the past seven days? Ah

well, to the guillotine.

First out of this week’s bag was a series of posters for The Times

featuring heads with oaks and acorns and padlocks and globes inside,

illustrating, they say, that The Times feeds the mind.

If so, I’d say these posters represented a rather slender meal, albeit

presented in a pretty sauce. They left me with a nostalgic hunger for

the ’X-ray’ posters. Those were brain food.

Back in the days of old, when even many GOs were still at their mother’s

breasts, the Milk Tray man bestrode the universe, bringing choccies and

hot flushes to all of the female gender. Now he’s back. Or rather, he

isn’t, but his son is. And a different kettle of fish is our sonny


He wants to get to the starlet at the premiere. No paragliding into

Leicester Square from a passing Afghan airliner for him though. No, he

barely gets his pulse into the training zone. Instead, he uses his brain

(he’s a ’new man’, see) and convinces the bouncers into thinking he is a

star by wearing a shirt that says: ’Scream if you love Tom Jones.’ Dead

cool but, dammit, if you’re going to score you at least ought to break

into a sweat.

So much for what the lady loves. What the lady loathes, according to the

new Bodyform String ad, are panty liners that don’t fit. This ad shows a

lady saying a rather grumpy farewell to her boyfriend, then walking off

with a funny wriggle as a title asks: ’Panty liners that don’t fit?’

Now, the last time I had anything in my pants was a short length of hose

placed optimistically in my tights when I played the third gentleman in

a university production of As You Like It. So, feeling a bit out of my

depth, I summoned a female jury to help me. We agreed that the end was

the best bit and the moody preamble weakened the story.

Milk Tray dad would have been well at home with the new Audi Quattro

ads. Here in a typically stylish piece of film we see the said Quattro

ploughing across the sea, pulling a wakeboarder. In the press ads, this

is justified by copy which talks about the Quattro’s superior grip. Nice

idea. Surprisingly, this fact is not mentioned in the TV ad, which

rather strips it of its meaning.

Some years ago, I liked the Guinness ’dancer’ spot. Now they’ve got

their dancing shoes out again to persuade clubbers to dance with bottled


The result is a ’docu-ad’ of a Guinness audition, with loads of people

dancing. Quite funny, but I found the whole thing more Ministry of Silly

Dances than Ministry of Sound. I think better things come to those who

wait for the ’surfer’ spot to be shown.

Fortunately, I did not have to wait any longer for a real corker to come

along in the shape of the delightfully politically incorrect Ikea


Here a manager surveys his dreary office and demoralised staff,

announces that he doesn’t want to work in a place like this and leads

his delighted minions off to sample the minimalist Scandinavian goodies

at Ikea. Next we see him back in his immaculately redecorated office, as

he announces that, above all, he doesn’t want to see unhappy faces any

more. So saying, he slams down the blind between him and his woebegone

workforce, whose offices still have not received so much as a soupcon of

stripped pine.

Definitely the ad of the week. Almost certainly one of the best ads of

the year. One of the best ads of the next 25 years? Only history will

tell. If the historians can agree.

Audi AG

Project: Audi Quattro

Client: Hans-Christian Schwingen, head of marketing communications

Brief: Add dynamism to the Audi brand via the Quattro

Agency: BBH Unlimited Writer: Nick O’Bryan-Tear

Art director: Al Welsh

Director: Danny Kleinman Production company: Spectre

Typographer: Andy Bird

Photographer: Darran Rees

Exposure: Pan-European TV and press


Project: Draught Guinness

in a bottle

Client: Stephanie Frame, advertising manager

Brief: Launch draught Guinness in a bottle as the beer for people who

want to take life by the neck

Agency: HHCL & Partners

Project Team: Rob Clayman, Stuart Farquhar, Roger McKerr, Veronica Alkon

Director: Ashley King Production company: Harry Nash

Exposure: National TV

News International

Project: The Times Client: Patrick Sherriff, marketing director

Brief: Relaunch The Times as a knowledge provider and increase loyalty

Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R Writer: Pip Bishop Art

director: Chris Hodgkiss

Illustrator: Russell Cobb Exposure: 96-sheet posters in London and


Cadbury Schweppes

Project: Milk Tray

Client: Pablo Heyman, product manager

Brief: Milk Tray man for

the 21st century

Writer: Willis Malkovich

Art director: Bernie Thornton

Director: Dan Nathan

Production company: Serious Pictures

Exposure: National TV

SCA Hygiene Products

Project: Bodyform String

Client: Martin Hodson, group manager

Brief: Launch Bodyform String, the first panty liner designed

specifically for thong underwear

Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors Writers: Oscar Asklof, Hedvig Hagwall


Art directors: Johan Eghammer, Lotta Agerup

Director: Jhoan Camitz Production company: Modfilm (Stockholm, Sweden)

Exposure: UK cinema


Project: Ikea business

Client: Frances Evans, advertising manager

Brief: Raise awareness of Ikea’s range of business furniture

Agency: St Luke’s

Writer: Chris Wright

Art director: Jules Chalkely

Director: Steve Reeves Production company: Stark Films

Exposure: National TV

James Lowther is the joint creative director of M&C Saatchi.

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