Good Ad Bad Ad

In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Steve Henry, creative partner of the agency Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, on television commercials high and low

BMW

WCRS

People are normally critical of car ads - and there are a lot of bad ones, it's true - but I've been pleasantly surprised by a lot that are around at the minute. I like the Peugeot 406 commercial, the Volkswagen Passat ads with the test dummies, the Fiesta "faces" spots and the Nissan Sweeney spoof, but this BMW spot really stands out.

I don't know how the director has achieved the look, but it's incredibly striking visually, and spot-on for the BMW brand - aspirational and beautiful. It starts with a voice-over saying "Every car has a soundtrack - here's ours", and we then hear the sound of a car engine. But if anything lets this ad down, it's that; it's called "music", and yet more could have been done with the soundtrack.

But it's very brave, because car dealers have the view that to shift metal, you have to show metal. There are so many formulas and cliches about showing cars in adverts, and this breaks with them. The ad is basically a series of short vignettes, in which the images are manipulated and distorted either by using lenses or shooting into mirrors, or in post-production. These techniques have been around for a while, but here they've been used in a way that's fresh and extraordinary - especially for this market-place.

The Nissan Infinity was launched in the States about 10 years ago with a series of ads that didn't show the car at all, and that perhaps went too far too early. People felt it was an experiment that hadn't worked, but they are still talked about even now. It's become a challenge to see how well advertisers can evoke what the car is about without showing itn

Tic Tac

Ferrero Confectionery (in-house)

Lots of ads try new things that don't quite come off, but I won't criticise those, because after all it's trying new things that pushes the industry on. Instead, I'm picking a commercial which is predictable, advertising-by-the-book stuff.

This is another ad from the house of Ferrero Rocher - the people who brought you "the Ambassador's reception". It stars a woman who is unreally beautiful and, I imagine, instantly annoying to all women watching. She has a Stepford Wife, game-show-bimbo look about her, and she talks us through a number of Germanic-logical reasons to suck Tic Tacs - the calories in each one, how long your fresh breath will last ... it's all very off- putting. She says that a Tic Tac lasts two hours; following that logic it would take her about six weeks to finish the pack, which wouldn't do very much for sales.

It's as if it's from a pre-feminist time-warp - it reminded me of American ads of the Fifties. It's insulting to real people, and I imagine every word and every camera angle has been mandated. It's a shame, as Tic Tac is interesting and quirky as a brand: it's been around a long time, and BMP has done some good work for it in the past.

There are lots of ads out there which, because all the formulaic boxes have been ticked, become invisible, but this stands out. Maybe it will become a cult classic, like "the Ambassador's reception". That's its only hopen

Interview by Scott Hughes

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk