Here we go again, judging advertising, trying to sort the wheat

from the chaff. Why bother? Why write this column knowing you run the

risk of upsetting the writers of the work you're reviewing? Why spend

two days on a D&AD jury watching more than 740 commercials to award just

a handful? And why devote long days in the office to pushing for

excellent when you know mediocre is easier to sell? Could it have

anything to do with the lunatic notion that it is great, not ordinary,

work that substantially affects clients' fortunes?

Ruddles. This is a brand in decline, a situation not helped, I imagine,

by the current trend for paying over the odds for designer label bottled

beers. Greene King's strategy, understandably, is to set Ruddles apart

by drawing on its rural heritage and positioning it as 'A beer from the

real world'. The problem is that the strategy shows through the

advertising, which renders it too defensive, too worthy and, I suspect,

unlikely to revive the brand's fortunes.

WKD is just the sort of designer beer that's causing offence to


In each of five amusing executions, a bunch of lads stitch up one of

their mates. As a sign off, we're asked: 'Have you got a WKD side?' This

well-branded campaign made me smile. My bet is, it'll also make the lads

smile, and, in turn, WKD's marketing director.

Polo Smoothies are prettily designed, strawberry and cream flavoured

sweets. Positioning them as a fashion accessory, the agency has sought

to send up fashion advertising. It feels a little lame, I'm afraid, and

was done more memorably both by VW ('Discover the fragrance of Umwelt by

Volkswagen') for its cleaner diesel engine, and in Saatchi & Saatchi's

wonderful John Cleese spoof of the 'Obsession' ads for Schweppes.

The Marketplace is a scheme through which Bradford & Bingley's own

advisors will offer you impartial advice on the best mortgage,

investment or insurance, even if it isn't theirs. The commercial that

launches it likens the alternative to shopping in a men's outfitters

where every suit is exactly the same.

The analogy is simple and the message clear. But will the viewer find

the proposition credible? And will the look and tone of the film do

anything to modernise Bradford & Bingley's rather dated image?

The Time magazine campaign is a missed opportunity. It tells me

precisely nothing, which is a shame when you consider how much there

must be to tell about this magazine. The strapline for the excellent

campaign Fallon McElligott created for Time in the US in 1996 was 'The

world's most interesting magazine'. Try writing uninteresting

advertising to that.

Like Bisto mums, I've saved the best for last. In truth, this isn't the

best Volkswagen commercial I've ever seen but the suggestion that

whereas people all over the world derive strength from the lucky charms

they hang from their rear-view mirrors, for some a VW keyring is

security and reassurance enough, is typical of the intelligence with

which this advertiser has been successfully communicating since long

before I was a twinkle in my first creative director's eye.

So what is the truth? What is the point in pursuing the great, the

award-winning? Well, 'here,' as Jennifer Aniston would say, 'is the

science bit.' Our own Donald Gunn, through his comprehensive study Do

award-winning commercials sell?, found that of the 400 most awarded

commercials in the world over a four-year period in the mid-90s, 86.5

per cent were directly associated with marketplace success, defined

either in terms of hard data sales volume or share or attitudinal and

awareness goals.

So here's to 'the lonely man' as Leo Burnett called him. The man or

woman who goes the extra mile, who burns the midnight oil or, as another

distinguished though more recent member of the Leo Burnett creative

department might have put it, 'endures the worst ...'


Project: WKD brand launch

Client: Karen Slater, marketing manager

Brief: Make WKD Vodka-Iron Brew credible to people with a sense of


Agency: Big Communications

Writers: Mark Firth and Dylan Bogg

Art directors: Mark Firth and Dylan Bogg

Director: Adam Johnson

Production company: Tangent

Exposure: National TV


Project: Polo Smoothies

Client: Paul Sigsworth, category manager

Brief: Holely pleasurable

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Matthew Lloyd

Art director: David Woodall

Director: Fatima

Production company: Tomboy Films

Exposure: National TV


Project: VW Polo 'whatever'

Client: Catherine Woolfe, small cars communications manager

Brief: Polo equals strength

Agency: BMP DDB

Writer: Tim Charlesworth

Art director: Mike Kaplan

Director: Nike Lewin

Production company: Cowboy Films

Exposure: National TV


Project: Ruddles Country Bitter

Client: Sarah Whyte, marketing manager

Brief: Make Ruddles County provenance relevant to today's session bitter


Agency: McCann-Erickson London

Writer: James Vigar

Art director: Ian Edwards

Typographer: Rob Wallis

Photographer: Stuart Hall

Exposure: National press and posters


Project: Time brand campaign

Client: Time magazine

Brief: Create an image campaign to promote special subjects covered by


Agency: Wink Media

Writer: Saul Taylor

Art directors: Sy-Jenq Cheng and Sara Hemming

Photographer: Jonathan de Villier

Exposure: pan-European


Project: The Marketplace

Client: Mark Howe, marketing director

Brief: Launch the Marketplace at Bradford & Bingley - a new way of

providing financial services on the high street

Agency: M&C Saatchi

Writer: Simon Dicketts

Art director: Peter Gatley

Director: Trevor Melvin

Production company: Blink

Exposure: National TV

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