Who would win in a fight, David Ogilvy or Richard "Pretty Boy" Flintham? Trevor "Boom-Boom" Beattie or Sugar Ray Rubicam? Young creatives are always asking me: "Who is the greatest of all time?" And perhaps the bout they most want to see is between Dave "The Bishop" Abbott and "There's only" Juan Cabral. It's an interesting contrast of styles, with the Prince of the Pampas throwing those big visual metaphors in an attempt to finish it early before the wily wordsmith starts working the body copy. I know from painful experience that the guv'nor of AMV would prove an implacable opponent.
I recall one night many years ago, lining up alongside Abbott in the gents of the Grosvenor House. One of The Bishop's Yellow Pages ads had failed to secure gold and I offered my commiserations. The great silver helmet turned slowly in my direction. "You takin' the piss, pal?" it threatened. I replied wittily that, given my immediate location, that was precisely my intention. There followed a shoeing of such clinical precision that, had I not been the victim, I would have stood and clapped. As Abbott methodically polished his Grenson Gravelmasters on the soft parts of my Moss Bros rental, I remember wishing that the great man had let me finish my business at the latrine.
Soaked in my own piss and blood, I crawled to the top of the Great Room stairs only to spot my assailant standing unnaturally tall among a group of admirers. Panning down his lightweight suit (Austin Reed, 250 guineas), I noticed that he was standing on the face of a middleweight suit (50k + car). I limped away into the chill of Park Lane a wounded but wiser man.
I think young creatives need heroes because, deep down, they worry that we no longer inhabit a Golden Age of Creativity. They pine for the time, probably mythical, when consumers said they preferred the ads to the programmes. Will this week's ads be climbing into the ring with your gorillas and J R Hartleys? I wonder.
The Royal Marines (4) are in familiar territory, up to their necks in muck and bullets. It's your basic cowboys and Indians, but due, I suppose, to political correctness, the baddie's true ethnicity is masked by heavy make-up. If we are ever attacked by the supporting cast of Lord of the Rings, we should be in pretty good shape.
You'll need night-vision goggles to spot Philips' (2) tentative foray into the sex toys market. I've always thought of Philips as being pretty leading-edge, technologically, so if it has indeed built a better minge-tingler, why be so coy about it?
Evenings are drawing in and copper-coloured cliches are tumbling from the trees. It must be Waitrose (6), and us fans wouldn't have it any other way. Have you been to the Brunswick branch? I think I want my ashes scattered there.
Crimestoppers (5) wants us to shop shank carriers and has planted said shank in a clever place at the back of the newspaper so it looks as if you're holding it. It's ANNAs gold, luv. But what, honestly, are the police going to do with this information? Another case of "ads instead of action", I fear.
Ladbrokes (3) has got big balls with kooky models in them in a jolly attempt to make bingo a bit more glam.
Audi (1) is the best of the bunch with its cool and clever explanation of independent four-wheel drive. I am the wiser but, strangely, not the warmer to this brand.
The one true fact I do know about Abbott is that he was unfailingly polite to job applicants. During his career, us mortal creative directors were continually confronted by deluded teams who would zip up their rejected portfolios with a hissy: "Well, David Abbott said it's the best book he's seen this year." Bastard.
CHAIRMAN - Richard Eyre, chairman, Internet Advertising Bureau
Watch a great actor at work. It's what he doesn't say that sets him apart. So with great advertising, leaving some of the story on the table for the viewer/reader/listener to pick up is respectful, and so builds relationships. But it's hard to do well; either to convince the client that you really do care about his impressive list of selling points, or to execute with grace, leaving the audience sure it knows what you're on about.
This week's crop provides good discussion of the art.
Respect to whoever it was who convinced the high-ups at Philips (2) that it was time to broaden the product line from tellies and blenders into sex toys.
It's obviously terrified that buyers of its ice-cream-makers will be aghast, hence a press ad which is, well, very subtle indeed. It's surely too coy. Like an embarrassed parent, it sends us off to talk to the website where we find videos with soft-porn music but just as bashful a presentation. Difficult brief, but subtle for the wrong reasons. "Philips. Lighting you up for 100 years. This time it's personal." Better.
Now. The McDonald's current commercial - families, fields, retro loveliness? I was reliving someone else's farmyard childhood till the logo came up and everyone shouted: "What?"
Not so, Waitrose (6), where cinematography and brand values are in perfect chorus. More beautiful children, bonfires, thick socks, Yorkshire puddings and soundtrack by Keats. Hmm, not sure about him. I mean, you can't fault the writing - "close bosom-friend of the maturing sun" - and if any supermarket can target graduates, Waitrose can. But for those not fluent in poetry, it makes that evocative cosiness into a scene to observe rather than snuggle into.
No great artifice from Ladbrokes (3), as we would hope. Just a nicely executed, engaging film of bootiful people rolling around the city inside giant inflatable lottery balls. What fun as they squish their way over parked cars and down the steps of the town hall. What terror as one of the balls bounces unchecked towards the edge of a tall building before the director cheekily cuts away. Nothing ingenious, but hard-working stuff that sends us online to find out how to get 20 quid for free.
There's a real idea in this Crimestoppers (5) back page. Brave, because to work best it's not a press ad but a poster, as long as readers are smart enough to hold the paper just right. Arguably too big an ask. I was going to say this campaign should get a media award except I saw it in City AM, which is obviously rubbish targeting for lawless villains.
I'm a big fan of COI advertising. Public information films with armloads of awards for the unpredictable, the subtle and the perfectly judged story. But it took me a few goes to get the Royal Marines (4) recruitment ad.
It leaves too many questions on the table. Why is our man alone? Why doesn't the weirdo with porridge on his face just pop him while he has a clear shot? And why did his buddies expose him to this death risk for the sake of a theatrical end-shot? But this is self-selection stuff. If you don't like the idea of wading alone down a jungle river, go flip burgers. And if you don't understand the story, you're way too thick anyway. So ... er, right.
And finally, the latest verse of a song sung in the same key for the past 25 years. Remember those laconic Geoffrey Palmer ads for Audi (1) in the 80s? Now, as then, the tone is unflashy, unhurried, confident; its cleverness genial and accessible.
It tells its story with the help of a frog, a budgie and various props, staking a claim that cannot be exclusive to Audi, but as I suspect a proper adman would say: "They now own grip." Plenty left unspoken; nothing left unsaid. Sublime. My pick of the week.
Project: Quattro hands
Brief: Promote Audi's Quattro brand
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Adi Birkinshaw
Art director: Paul Yull
Directors: Dom and Nic
Production company: Outsider
Exposure: TV, posters, national press
Project: Intimate Massagers
Clients: Gary Rauchers, head of integrated marketing communications;
Lian Vergeer-Langens, director, integrated marketing communications,
Brief: Launch the Philips Intimate Massagers
Writers: Matt Lee, Peter Heyes
Art director: Grant Parker
Photographer: Giles Revell
Exposure: Print, outdoor
Project: Go bingo
Client: Andy Harris, managing director games and new channels, Ladbrokes
Brief: Discover your bingo place
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writers: Dan McCormack, Luke Boggins
Art directors: Luke Boggins, Dan McCormack
Director: Ben Quinn
Production company: The Moving Picture Company
Exposure: UK TV
4. ROYAL MARINES
Project: Royal Marines recruitment
Client: Liz Ridgway, head of marketing, Royal Marines
Brief: Make physically fit young men want to join the Royal Marines
Writer: Billy Faithfull
Art director: Ross Neil
Director: Martin Krejci
Production company: Stink
Exposure: TV, cinema
Project: Knife crime
Client: Hannah Daws, head of communications, Crimestoppers
Brief: In the week of the anti-knife crime march, communicate that
members of the public can call Crimestoppers anonymously and report
people for carrying knives
Agency: JWT London
Writers/art directors: Bruno Xavier, Ronnie Vlcek
Exposure: Regional press
Brief: Invite people to make the most of the season with delicious
quality food from Waitrose
Agency: Manning Gottlieb OMD
Writer: Jeremy Carr
Art director: Ken Hoggins
Director: Daniel Barber
Production companies: The Moving Picture Company, Finish
Exposure: National TV