REGIONAL MEDIA: THE CREATIVE LANDSCAPE - The divide between ads that stimulate the brain and those that send it to sleep has little to do with geographic location

I hate advertising. Hold on, better re-phrase that. I hate


I read the papers today, saw the posters on the way home and caught a

bit of telly tonight. There's still some right rubbish out there. Stuff

that treats us all like halfwits. Has the bare-faced cheek to come into

our lives and bore us like some tiresome neighbours with their holiday


Then, there's the good stuff. I mean the really good stuff. The ads that

make you feel something. Make you feel you want a bit of that. Make you

hope they come around to your house again tomorrow.

So who's turning out the tripe and who's still making it all


Well, I reckon we all are.

Assume you are just as likely to come up with a belting idea on the

toilet as you are sat at your desk. Bear with me. Then you're just as

likely to come up with a corker in London as you are in Manchester,

Leeds, Birmingham or Bristol. You get the idea.

I went to see the Stone Roses play the Ally Pally in 1990 wearing a daft

hat and even dafter flares. Ian Brown monkeyed on to the stage and

grabbed the mike. "It's not where you're from, it's where you're at."

Okay, so it's a bit Rock 'n' Roll, but he's right.

To prove my point I've included a few examples of work that I believe

would be geographically distinguishable only by the agency's STD


First, the Gravestone for the Newcastle and North Tyneside Health


It's done by Different in Newcastle. For years health authorities, the

Government, er - my mum, have been telling us smoking kills. Everyone

knows that, so apply a little disruptive thinking and tell them

something new. Tell them they're going to enjoy another 16 years on this

wonderful big, blue planet of ours.

Next up, the Brummies. It's a well-crafted charity piece for the Basic

Skills Agency. Ring up McCann Central and ask them for a copy. It's a

lovely bit of writing and I bet you fall for it like I did.

Back up to the Geordies again. Robson Brown created this ambient work

for Firetrap. I actually saw this as a punter, not a poncey adman, and


It's the simplicity that appeals. "Cob out your dodgy clobber. In this

bin. Now. And get a bit of Firetrap down ya."

Now three ads from the Mancs. I would get done if I included a bit of

our work so I've chosen an ad by the freshly merged Cheetham Bell JWT

for Man Utd Soccer Skills School. Once again, it's simple.

It appeals to kids and dads alike 'coz we've all done the dodgy toe-poke

on to next door's garage roof.

Based on a truth, sound.

Then the Slumberland ad by the late Cahoots agency. It's a tale of role

reversal as a young girl shouts to her parents to get out of bed because

its nearly school time. They don't budge because the bed is so comfy,

not because they're crap parents or anything. It's elegantly crafted and

avoids resorting to fascinating cross-sections of mattress springs.

Any decent creative isn't arsed about awards as long as they're

improving their clients' business. That is until they see this ad for a

naff office supplies company offering yellow pencils for pounds 55 a

pop. Just as you're considering banging up a set of shelves to

accommodate your new ruck of gongs you spot the Tucker Clarke-Williams

Creative logo. A cunning house ad that manages to temper arrogance with

real wit. So would this work feature in the best ads in the world, ever!

Volume 2?

No they wouldn't, nor are they the best ads in the regions, ever. They

are, however, an indication that there are regional agencies using their

strategic heads, keeping it clear and treating the consumer as


I suppose the obvious criticism is that some of this work I've included

is for 'easy targets' like charities and causes. Well the fact is that

the big-brand business doesn't stop off at the provinces that often, so

agencies are doing the best they can with the opportunities


Imagine what some of these people could do for a really big client.

You see I reckon we're all, London agencies included, capable of


Just as we're all prone to compromise, complacency and excuses. Less of

the sitting in meetings sucking glacier mints and fiddling with

ludicrously sharp pencils.

Our clients pay for really good work, we get a thrill from creating it

and the people of this country actually appreciate it.

And I mean the whole country.