Good Ad Bad Ad

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In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week Giles Keeble, creative director at McBains, enjoys noodles on a window pane but kung fu antics in a perfume store leave him reeling...

Batchelors super noodles


I've always liked advertising based on observation of how people behave, how they feel about and use a brand. The danger with that approach is that real life can be bloody boring, of course. But, when everybody else is shouting, and shouting rubbish, the odd piece of amusing, human work makes a refreshing change. That's why my good ad is the "window race" spot in the campaign for Super Noodles. The others in the series are more obviously Men Behaving Badly-type ads - one features two guys in a kitchen licking their plates clean - but are still a glimmer of sunshine in a depressing landscape. In this one two black guys are staring at a window, and to start with you think they might be looking at raindrops and guessing which one is going to run down the glass first. But they're actually watching and commenting on a race between two noodles that they've stuck to the window. They've obviously got a bet on and as the two noodles slide down the window, one guy's falls off, leaving the other to claim victory.

It's quirky, and it takes you in: you really believe these men are brothers or best friends having a bit of fun - and fun with the product. The only weaknesses are the last shot, in which the two men are asleep on one another - I don't know what that's got to do with anything - and the end-line ("Batchelors. Ordinary noodles? Oh no, my friend"). But otherwise I think these ads are the funniest and freshest around now.

Virgin vie

Quiet Storm

Stories abound of new optimism and confidence in advertising, but there are still so many ads that are just unintelligible, or, even when there's an idea there, it is made unintelligible.

Virgin Vie is a fresh opportunity, and the ad is by good people, but it is a disappointment. I think it's for a new kind of perfume shop - I'm not entirely sure - where you aren't hassled by aggressive older women wearing too much make-up and attacking you with spray. In the ad, set in a stylised department store, the Plain Jane heroine escapes the attentions of such women by adopting the acrobatic moves seen in kung fu movies - doing 15ft somersaults and so forth.

But, although I'm always aware in Harvey Nichols or Harrods that I'm suddenly in a magic world where the lighting is brighter and everyone's got loads of make-up on, I don't remember much attacking going on. And this "problem" takes 60 convoluted seconds out of an 80-second film: that's how long it takes for the girl to escape the clutches of these weird people trying to spray her with perfume and get her to put lipstick on. There are some nice shots, but the acting is awful, particularly the unconvincing screams of anger. And even if it's supposed to be stylised, it ends up somewhere between a bad action movie and David Bailey's anti-fur film. It finishes with the line "It really is time for something different". To which I'd say "Amen".

Interview by Scott Hughes