Media: Good Ad Bad Ad

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Indy Lifestyle Online
In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. Alfredo Marcantonio, vice-chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, selects old-fashioned story- telling over a flashy campaign for a smart new chip

opel astra

McCann-Erickson Rome

This is a refreshing change from so many busy, technical car ads. And that's why it works: it doesn't rattle on endlessly about the car and what it's got. Instead, it gives it a bit of a personality. Also interesting is that it's a European ad: we're seeing more and more terrible European ads - ads that don't belong in any country - but I think this one belongs in every country.

I love the little story it tells. It concerns the father of an Italian family - the ad is in Italian, with English subtitles - who goes to meet his daughter off a bus in the town square. The bus doesn't arrive, but an Astra does, and his daughter is in it. She emerges with her boyfriend, and the father sees that she is pregnant. The father narrows his eyes at the driver of the car, and they approach each other, exchanging steely gazes, until the father asks the all-important question: "Is that the 16-valve version?" The boyfriend then smiles his assent, and the daughter kisses her father hello.

It harks back to the advertising CDP used to do for Fiat in the Seventies and Eighties - it's shot rather like them and has the same sort of feel - and is generally very nice to look at. And it's not all that quick-cut, or flashy, or effects-driven; it just tells a story really nicely.

intel pentium

processor

Dahlin Smith White

This is an incomprehensible mish-mash of music and images. The tragedy is that the commercial is advertising an outstanding product - the be-all and end-all of chips in computers - but the ad makes no reference to that. I just have no idea what it's trying to say, or to whom.

We start in what is supposed to be some kind of computer factory, where a number of people in shiny, coloured outfits have built an odd-looking bus, which they then jump into and drive off in - to a Seventies music track. All we have by way of explanation from the voice-over is: "We wanted the Pentium Processor to do amazing things in your computer - so it seemed only fitting to find an equally amazing way to bring it to the world. So get on board - fasten your seatbelts." That's about all I can say.

Even if you are going to do something along these lines, you've got to do better than this. The outfits look pre-Star Wars, never mind post-Fifth Element; they're like beekeepers' costumes made out of Bacofoil. And the music is hardly cutting-edge; it sounds as if it's from about 1975. Everything about it is sad. But it's on TV a lot, so somebody's spending a lot of money on this.

Sometimes in advertising, you get a good idea poorly executed, and sometimes you get a poor idea well executed; but this is a poor idea dismally executed. It really is unbelievably bad.

Interview by Scott Hughes

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