Vic Reeves propels Churchill to the top after his drink-drive sacking

LONDON - Comedian Vic Reeves' drink-drive charge and subsequent guilty plea have made Churchill Car Insurance's advertising the most-written about last month, in the Ads that Make News survey.

Reeves had provided the voice that spoke to the famous Churchill dog for five years, but was formally dropped from the campaign last week after pleading guilty to drink-drive charges -- a story that was written about more than any other advertising campaign in the national press in March.

According to the report, produced by media industry PR firm Propeller Communications and Durrants Media Monitoring, Marmite's "blob" ad, created by DDB London and banned from being screened before the watershed, was the second most-written-about ad last month.

Parents complained that the spot, which showed some people running in fear from a blob of Marmite rolling down the street, had left their children so terrified that they could not sleep.

Halifax continues to get mileage from its decision to have bank-worker-turned-ad-star Howard Brown immortalised in wax at Madame Tussaud's, making the list for the second month running, this time at number three.

The usual run of celebrity-led advertising secured large amounts of coverage for advertisers. Peter Kay quitting the much-loved John Smith's campaign, created by TBWA\London, was made it to the number four slot.

News that soul sensation Joss Stone might be appearing in a new Gap ad was at number five, while Mike Leigh directing a Breast Cancer Care campaign starring Cherie Blair was at number seven.

DDB London's decision to rework Gene Kelly's classic scene in 'Singin' in the Rain' for Volkswagen Golf made the number six position.

The controversy surrounding Jamie Oliver promoting Sainsbury's salmon was at number 10, as calls were made of the TV chef and supermarket group to apologise for a "bogus" ad praising a Scottish salmon farm that, according to a protest group, should be shut down for failing to meet environmental standards.

There was more controversy for Pot Noodle's "got the horn" campaign, which has on cue drawn a large number of complaints, making it the ninth most-written-about campaign.

The spat between Marks & Spencer and the Daily Mail, which saw the troubled retailer withdraw its advertising because of negative editorial coverage, was at number eight.

However, after two months at the top of the chart, political advertising disappeared from the top 10 entirely.

Martin Loat, director of Propeller Communications, said: "It's hard to see how Churchill would welcome the publicity surrounding Vic Reeves' drink drive charge and guilty plea. Never mind the inconvenience of having to drop him.

"Widespread media coverage would push up awareness, but these events did nothing for the advertiser, other than to show it could act quickly in a crisis."

Top 10 Ads That Make News for March 2005
1 Churchill - Reeves' drink-drive charge (EBP)
2 Marmite - scary "blob" ad (DDB London)
3 Halifax - Howard waxes lyrical (Delaney Lund Knox Warren)
4 John Smith's - Peter Kay to quit (TBWA\London)
5 Gap - Joss Stone to appear in new ad (Laird & Partners)
6 VW Golf - 'Singing in the Rain' updated (DDB London)
7 Breast Cancer Care- Mike Leigh directs ads (M&C Saatchi)
8 M&S - ad pulled from Daily Mail (Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R)
9 Pot Noodle - "got the horn" ad complaints (HHCL/Red Cell)
10 Sainsbury's - Jamie Oliver promotes salmon (AMV BBDO)

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