Allen Thomas peruses some of the latest TV ads from Europe and concludes that creative work from the Continent has come a long way in a short time

Allen Thomas peruses some of the latest TV ads from Europe and concludes

that creative work from the Continent has come a long way in a short


We may well have opened our borders in Europe but we have yet to open

our minds; there is still a popular misconception in this country that

good advertising ideas, not unlike the M2, run out at the white cliffs

of Dover.

This view persists despite ample evidence to the contrary, perhaps most

notably from Holland. No doubt the Portillos (pronounced ‘Porteeyo’ in

its native Spanish) of our industry put this down to the fact that the

Dutch, after all, are only just on the other side of the North Sea; that

most of them speak English; and that they even look like real English

people, albeit those that have been out in a strong wind.

Unfortunately, this collection of recent commercials from around Europe

will not be enough to dispel these views. It contains, however, two or

three gems.

The first, from Hungary, is for a toilet tissue called Crepto (1) - a

brand name a type away from immortality. A roll is hurled from the roof

of an apartment block. The tenants on each floor come on to their

balconies to see the paper hanging from the top of the building,

stretching down into the street. Each takes enough Crepto to suit their

own purposes. The commercial is cut to music from La Traviata and is a

charming demonstration of the length of the product.

The Dutch commercial has an idea in it too; a small boy sits at the head

of an empty table, singing Happy Birthday to me. He’s invited nobody to

his party so that he can eat all the Fruitvriendjes (6) ice-cream

himself. Unfortunately, the boy and the ad don’t have quite the

requisite charm to carry off this gluttonous plot.

The Italian job was for Findus Instant Grilled Vegetables (2). An ironic

mvo tells us that Italy is the land that time forgot and is the country

where women are born to cook. We see a young woman who looks as if

cooking is the last thing she’s interested in. In fact, it’s all very

interesting until that difficult - but not unimportant - moment when the

product has to come in, at which point it becomes somewhat less


The Spanish commercial avoided this arduous problem by not showing any

product at all; a man calls a sex line and tells the anonymous female

lips that he’s called Juan. She asks him what he’s wearing. His panting

voice tells her he’s sporting a polyester shirt, a baggy pullover, etc.

Her end of the line goes dead. A voice tells us that ‘when first

impressions count, you should choose clothes from Bulevard Rosa’ (5). A

witty film with an unexpected ending.

The Swedish film is a corporate commercial for Pharmacia (4); like many

corporate ads, you can’t help feeling that, beautiful though it is, its

greatest effect will be on the advertiser, rather than its audience.

The UK Sony (3) commercial is a genuinely exhilarating experience. A man

plummets to earth in an armchair, in order to demonstrate the vivid

reality of Sony’s new Trinitron widescreen TVs. This superbly crafted

commercial was the pick of the bunch for me, followed by the commercials

from Hungary and Spain.

It’s worth remembering that commercial TV has existed in this country

since 1955. Hungary has had it only since 1991. There may still be fog

in the Channel but could it be that the Continent is no longer cut off?

Allen Thomas is the worldwide creative director of J. Walter Thompson

1 Piszkei Papir Rt

Project: Crepto toilet paper

Brief: Generate more sales

Agency: Young and Rubicam, Hungary

Writer: Gyorgy Balogh

Art director: Tamas Nemeth

Director: Ivan Mark

Production company: Production International

Exposure: TV

2 Sagit

Project: Contorno Mediterraneo Findus

Brief: Illustrate the authentic Italian taste of Findus meals

Agency: Lintas Milano

Writer: Mauro Biagini

Art director: Alessio Ferlizza

Director: Cinzia Del Ragno

Production company: Recta Film

Exposure: TV

3 Sony

Project: Sony Trinitron widescreen TV

Brief: Show the benefits of the Sony Trinitron

Agency: BMP DDB Needham

Writer: Mike Boles

Art director: Jerry Hollens

Director: Daniel Barber

Production company: Rose Hackney Barber

Exposure: TV, most of Europe

4 Pharmacia

Project: Pharmacia

Brief: Raise the company’s corporate profile across Europe

Agency: Welinder Reklambyra/Bozell Worldwide

Writer: Scott Goodson

Art director: Jan Ragnartz

Director: Martha Fiennes

Production company: Smith Jones Brown and Cassie

Exposure: TV, pan-European

5 Bulevard Rosa

Project: Bulevard Rosa centre

Brief: Encourage customers to shop at Bulevard Rosa

Agency: Delvico Bates Barcelona

Writer: Julio Wallovits

Art director: David Caballero

Director: Richard Albinana Jr

Production company: Albinana Films

Exposure: TV

6 Nestle

Project: Nestle Fruitvriendjes

Brief: Launch new ice-cream

Agency: Lowe Kuiper and Schouten

Writer: Pim Kok

Art director: Richard Kuiper

Director: Hans van Rijs

Production company: Ocean View

Exposure: Dutch TV

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