Good Ad Bad Ad

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In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week Paul Walter, creative director, Bates Dorland, on television commercials high and low. Interview by Scott Hughes

M&C Saatchi

The Independent

We all know that single minded propositions make better advertising, but that thought often gets forgotten in trying to satisfy clients' demands. It makes perfect sense that you are more likely to communicate a single thought in 30 seconds than half a dozen.

The Independent had just one thing to communicate - that it's not what it used to be - and this commercial is designed to provoke consideration. It shows two well-known personalities sitting in a bar, both in their roles as classic stereotypes: Martin Clunes, as the definitive lager lout, and Julian Clary, as, well, Julian Clary. Only, in this film, they swap roles.

Clunes asks for a snowball, a dash of lime and a low-calorie lemonade. Clary, on the other hand, orders a pint of bitter.

Clunes struggles to get the cap off his low-cal, and Clary steps in to assist by removing the cap with his teeth, and spitting it across the bar. And, while Clary spends his time eyeing up the buxom barmaid, Clunes seems more interested in the tight pair of buttocks on a passing male customer.

This was obviously a wonderful brief to work on. The line "It's changed, have you?" is so to the point that it was probably the proposition. And the team who made this avoided the temptation to use the box of video tricks; instead they kept it simple, meaningful and even made it funny. You can't ask for more than that.

St Luke's


I'm reliably informed by somebody who keeps a bottom drawer full of ideas just waiting to be plundered for the right brief that this idea - of covering one eye to achieve left brain and right brain responses - comes from a trailer for an Australian horror B-movie called Braindead. You can't get much more esoteric than that.

Choosing a bad ad is always difficult: there are so many really cringe- making ads out there. Eurostar, I hasten to add, is not one of these, but it does go round the houses to make its point and in so doing loses its way. And yet the argument for Eurostar vs the plane is pretty simple: it's a more relaxing way to travel city centre to city centre.

The split screen is a tried and tested device to show "us" vs "the competition". In this execution, the screen is divided to show "logic" vs "gut feeling". Gut feeling, on the right, is a tranquil, leisurely sense of being transported hassle-free and arriving relaxed, while on the left we're taken through the unarguable logic of taking the Eurostar over the plane by a list of benefits. This includes the little-known fact that 66 per cent of human contact is non-verbal, so it's ironic that Eurostar configured its seating so that you sit facing a stranger who the chances are you won't even talk to.

This information is all delivered by an irritatingly robotic voice, and would have probably been best left to the print ad. I actually had to see this spot three or four times to listen very carefully before I got all the points.