Friday, April 28, 2006

In Memoriam John Webster

Yesterday I went to Lord's cricket ground to attend the memorial service for John Webster (creator of 11 of the UK's Top 100 ads, including the Hofmeister Bear, Guardian 'Points Of View', Courage Best 'Gertcha'... read his Guardian obituary here).

The place was packed with advertising greats from the past, present and no doubt future.

Director Alan Parker was there, looking quite tubby.

London creative directors present included Leon Jaume (WCRS), Jeremy Craigen (DDB), Richard Flintham & Andy McLeod (Fallon), Andrew Fraser (FCB), Ewan Paterson (CHI).

Three great speeches, from Martin Boase, a very funny account man whose name I didn't catch, and comedian Hugh Dennis reading John's own retirement speech which John had never got around to giving.

One gag related to John's Fosters ad starring Burt Lancaster. Apparently when Burt turned up for the shoot, he looked quite a bit older than expected. Turned out his agent had sent a 10 year-old publicity still. And Burt was required to play a smooth Gordon Gecko type - not an oldie. His hair especially was a bit wispy and old-mannish.

So, John asked if it could be trimmed. Which caused him to be summoned to Burt's trailer. "Are you the guy who has a problem with the hair?"

"Er, not a problem. Just wondered if it could maybe be a bit shorter..."

"Buddy, you hired Burt Lancaster. And this is Burt Lancaster's fucking hair. Now get the fuck out of here and let me do my job."

Apparently after John left, Burt turned to the hair and make-up person and said: "OK. Trim the hair."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pushing Tin

The new VW ads from Crispin Porter are of course brilliant.

What bugs me is a piece in Adweek quotes DDB New York creative director Lee Garfinkel saying: "I kind of applaud anybody who does something that goes against the norm... now let's wait and see if it translates into sales."

For Christ's sake, Lee. Sales are affected by all kinds of things other than advertising. Do you really have to check the sales figures before you can decide whether it's a good ad or not?

Mind you, the quote from Kathy Delaney, chief creative officer and president of Deutsch New York, is totally moronic. "They don't give any reason why a VW Jetta is safer," she says. Well, first of all, there is a super on the endframe that says 'Number 1 performer in side impact crash tests' or something. So she's blind. And second of all, who needs a reason for everything? Was there a reason for Whassup? Was there a reason for PlayStation 'Mountain'? Call Procter & Gamble, Kathy. Maybe they're hiring.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Zoom-Zoom Please Die

I wasn't going to write about the new Mazda MX5 ad. My mother told me never to mock the afflicted.

But it is a new low. A man sees the car. He loves it. He drives it - a lot. He even drives it round a winding coast road. And that's it! No twist. No reward for the consumer. Nothing. Just a moving brochure.

Go to the Mazda website and you can watch the corporate video. And here's the kicker - they're the same! Hey, why do we need to make an ad? Let's just run the corporate video.

What on earth do the Mazda marketing people think they're doing? In a saner country, they would surely be beheaded on live TV.

I, For One, Am Still Lovin' It

A pretty decent ad for McDonalds in the Guardian a couple of days ago.

It coincided with the Guardian giving away a free DVD of Supersize Me, and running extracts from Eric Schlosser's new book Chew On This.

Schlosser is a knob. He castigates McDonald's for advertising to children. Well guess what? That's their target market. You might as well criticise advertising itself!!! Let's not forget we live in a capitalist society, which is predicated on selling stuff to people that they don't really need. At least McDonald's is food. You need food. You don't need a car, or beer, or Armani. Or books. Chew on that, Eric...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Carlsberg 1, Nike 0

The Carlsberg world cup ad

is approximately 1 million times better than

the Nike world cup ad.

Carlsberg's pub team of retired England players is a brilliant idea: funny, well-shot... every second is a pure joy for the football fan.

Nike's hiring of Eric Cantona to urge us to 'play beautiful' is earnest, wooden, and looks like it was shot by a corporate video director's 55 year old uncle. Who is also blind.

The idea is moronic. Who WOULD be in favour of cheating? No one. So it's trite. And has no soul. Did a girl write it?

The only snag about the Carlsberg ad is that people might start saying Saatchi's are good again. That would be an error.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Leftfield. They're Still Cool... Aren't They?

Jim Morrison famously flipped his lid when he saw a version of "Come On Baby Light My Fire" used on an ad. And to this day, The Doors do not allow their music to be used in commercials. I know this, because I asked and they told me to piss off, even when I argued that Jim "surely won't mind now."

But fortunately, some cool bands have a more enlightened attitude.

Leftfield did a BT ad a few years ago. It looked great. The music sounded good. Then came a VW Lupo spot, also very credible.

And now the work of these seminal Electronica pioneers can be appreciated on the latest advert for Cheezstrings, or however the fuck you spell it.

I guess that means we shouldn't be expecting a new album anytime soon then...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Account Handlers - Things They Say And What They Really Mean

The meeting is at 2

Real meaning:

The meeting is at 3

Hey "Mr Social Skills" - I'm onto you, so don't bother!

You've given me this particular haircut so many times, I now just automatically factor in an extra hour to have the work ready.

Actually, do bother, because if one time you actually forgot to lie, I guess the work wouldn't be ready...

p.s. I mentioned this post to an account handler source and they reminded me to add that "The meeting is on Tuesday" means "The meeting is on Wednesday"

Thursday, April 13, 2006

John Webster

Yesterday I was messing around on Wikipedia. A lot of agencies aren't there. BBH isn't. Not a sniff of Abbott Mead, or Mother. DDB is in, under former name BMP, but amazingly there was no mention of John Webster. He was BMP's creative director for many years, and the advertising genius behind campaigns like the Smash Martians, the Hofmeister Bear and John Smith's 'Arkwright'. A Channel 4 poll of the '100 Greatest Ads', voted for by the public, included 16 from BMP... of which 11 were created by John.

I amended the entry.

Here's John Webster's obituary from The Guardian.

The Campaign Bus

A source tells me that Campaign is too tight to pay for taxis to transport its staffers to lunch with agency suck-ups.

So they take a bus to The Ivy.