Breast-beating and tantrums as Bra Wars break out in ad land

Click to follow
The Independent Online
In the trendy bars and restaurants of Soho where advertising people hang out, a long-running feud about the 90s' most famous ad has become known as "Bra Wars" or the "Storm in a D-cup".

As if it hadn't already occupied more than enough acres of newsprint, the Wonderbra advertisements starring model Eva Herzigova have provoked letters to the industry's trade magazine Campaign, temper tantrums at award ceremonies and much tossing of pony-tails across the West End.

The success of the Wonderbra advertising - credited with lifting an entire generation of women's breasts to just under their chins - means there are plenty of people claiming to have been the originator of the idea.

The saga, which has been running for some time, flared up recently when the agency that made the advertisements, TBWA, merged with another agency, and its creative director, Trevor Beattie, found himself without a job.

As the only advertising man with his own personal public relations adviser, Mr Beattie - now at agency GGT - made sure he was never out of the limelight while he looked for a new job.

Much of this publicity led to references to Mr Beattie as the man "behind" the Wonderbra ads.

This has hacked off one Nigel Rose, an art director at the cryptically named agency Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, who actually wrote the "Hello Boys" line that helped make the campaign a hit.

At the advertising industry Oscars, the D&AD awards, last month, Mr Beattie attempted to talk to Mr Rose who blanked him and provoked a stand-up row in front of the industry's glitterati.

Then last week Campaign received a letter establishing a counter-claim to the idea. Sam Hurford, an art director at Young & Rubicam, claimed that he and copywriter Murray Partridge devised the advertisements with the help of two women who came up with the lines of copy that preceded "Hello Boys" - "Say Goodbye to Your Feet" and "Who said Diamonds are a girl's best friend?" Mr Hurford's letter said: "Sales and tits went up. And awards were won. And 'lo coincidence' Trevor Beattie wasn't in the room. Strange. In fact he wasn't even in the country. And Nigel Rose was working for CDP [another agency].

"The dispute goes to the heart of what we all do," said Murray Partridge yesterday. "You live and die in advertising by your credits. They are worth money in the bank to you and you can go from earning pounds 15,000 a year to pounds 100,000 a year off the back of one good ad."

"It is hankie-stamping in luvvie-land," said Mr Beattie yesterday. "Nigel wrote the 'Hello Boys' line and I wrote the other lines, but it gets known as the 'Hello Boys' campaign and about half a dozen of us have at various times been called 'Mr Wonderbra' in the press."