Good Ad Bad Ad

In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Adrian Kemsley, executive creative director at CDP, on commercials high and low
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Bartle Bogle Hegarty

This campaign comprises four black-and-white press ads, shot in a distinctive, unconventional style by fashion photographer Bob Carlos- Clarke.

A well-dressed, self-assured woman walks along, oblivious to the excitement she's causing. In that snapshot moment, we see something before the ensuing mayhem - people momentarily losing control as they're distracted by the clothing.

In one, there's a girl walking along a Tube station platform. The Tube train is disappearing into the tunnel, and the guard is leaning out of the train to look at the girl, his head about to smash against the edge of the tunnel. In another, a girl is walking outside a barber's shop, and the barber, about to shave a guy with a cut-throat razor, is distracted by her outfit. In another, as a girl looks out to sea, in the background you can see a car has skidded off the road and veered into the promenade railings.

I can't remember a campaign in recent times. I've always thought of it as older women's attire, but these ads really reposition it. There's a strong idea here that can be built on in other media. It really stands out from the sea of other ads for things like fashion and perfume, which all blur into the tired old scenario of relying on famous models or famous logos.

Miss Selfridge


So many things are bad about this ad that it's difficult to know where to start. Let's begin with the idea - there isn't one. There's no chance of building this up into a multi-media campaign. There's been no attempt to make up for the lack of idea by using a famous photographer or model either. The shots are flat and uninvolving, featuring instantly forgettable models. I wonder if they smiled as much when they saw themselves looking so awkward and stiff in the finished magazine spread.

It looks like a cheap fashion spread - a couple of snapshots of girls dressed in denim. And the strap line - "Feel good in fashion denim by Miss Selfridge" - adds nothing to the execution. Neither does the typography - a characterless line of capital letters along the bottom of the spread. Compare this to the ad, whose strapline neatly sums up the idea as well as having a nice little touch on the letter `i' in the word "kill" - which is made to look like something sharp and dangerous.

The ad has been crafted down to the smallest detail, while this has been slapped together without any sign of love from its creators. (It's ironic that the Miss Selfridge logo is a heart.) And in the unlikely event that someone was involved in art-directing this ad, I imagine they were at their artistic height in the early Seventies. It's got the feel of a home-shopping catalogue.