Good Ad Bad Ad

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The Independent Online
In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week Paul Bainsfair, joint chairman, BDDP-GGT, rings to congratulate One2One on the latest in its heroes series. BT, on the other hand, appears to have got a wrong number (please try again) ...

one to one

Bartle Bogle Hegarty

I love this campaign, which takes famous people from today and gives them the chance to imagine talking to a hero of theirs from the past. And they've really hit the mark with the people they've chosen so far. We've seen Kate Moss talking to Elvis, John McCarthy talking to Yuri Gagarin, and now we've got Vic Reeves talking to Terry-Thomas. I think this choice in particular is superb: Vic is everything that's cool about Nineties Britain, and Terry-Thomas, of course, is the quintessential Fifties English cad.

The techniques are terrific. The commercial starts with Vic watching a Terry-Thomas film on television as a boy, and Vic explains that Terry- Thomas used to remind him of his dad - except the gap in his dad's front teeth wasn't so big. They then splice Vic into old black-and-white film footage of Terry-Thomas - he appears to be playing tennis with his hero at one point - and it's beautifully done. All the phrases Terry-Thomas is famous for - such as "Absolute shower!" - appear.

The whole thing is really enjoyable, and from an advertising point of view it's good because the whole idea comes out of the brand name - something the client is no doubt very pleased about. My only beef, much as I like Terry-Thomas, is that I half wish Vic had picked Eric Morecambe. But it's a top idea, excellently executed, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

BT

Abbott Meda Vickers BBDO

I feel a bit guilty about choosing a BT film as the bad ad, because BT and its agency make a lot of ads and spend a lot of money on them, but I suppose it's inevitable that one or two ropy ones will slip through. This is not a terrific attempt. We see Jeffrey Archer reading out his latest book over the phone, trying to pitch it as a film to a very cliched representation of a Hollywood producer, lounging by a pool in dark sunglasses. Jeffrey paces about his spacious London apartment as he reads; we see day turn to night through the window, but still the Hollywood producer sits there unimpressed.

The real message behind this ad is something like: "For three months, calls made over your average bill will get a 25 per cent credit." But that's not what appears to be advertised here; what this looks like to me is an ad for massive discounts on long-distance calls. There seems to be little relation between the picture that I'm seeing and what the offer itself is - which is a rather prosaic, humdrum offer once you peel away the gloss.

Also, the choice of Jeffrey Archer confused me, because I don't know anyone who is remotely interested in him. And he's not even self-deprecating here. It's more the Hollywood producer who is sent up, with his limp gag of "Have you got anything with dinosaurs in it?" At that, Jeffrey looks at the camera, as if to say: "These Americans! They don't understand what a great writer I am." I find the use of Jeffrey Archer without irony a deeply disturbing move in advertising.

Interview by Scott Hughes

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