Good Ad Bad Ad

In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Mark Reddy, head of art the agency BMP-DDB, on television commercials high and low
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The Independent Online
Ford Puma

Young and Rubicam

The cars I've owned have been very sedate, invisible cars - I'm a man who's had four Volkswagen Passats in a row - and so to be drawn to a car advert in the first place, especially one that features a big boy-racer sort of car, is significant.

The ad is constructed out of a sequence from the film Bullitt, and it made me want to see Steve McQueen brought back to life. He's a great fit with the car and I think there are many men who wish deep down they were a Steve McQueen-type character. If you're casting the net around for a cool personality to use, you always end up coming back to that group of actors around from the late Fifties to the early Seventies - the likes of McQueen, Marlon Brando and Paul Newman.

However if someone had brought this script to me, I don't know I would have liked it. It's that old formula of using a personality, and taking a clip of old film and then intercutting it with shots of the product. But here it's done so well: I've seen the ad six or seven times now, and know exactly how it's constructed, but I still can't see the joins. It's obviously had a lot of money spent on it to make it work, but I think it's a delightful film, and I could watch it over and over.

The only other thing I'd have liked from this ad is to have seen the car behave a bit more like the cars did in Bullitt. But, of course, the ITC has rules in place to stop ad agencies doing silly things with carsn

Citroen Xantia

Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper

Over the past 20 or 30 years, Citroen has prided itself on being idiosyncratic in both its car-making and its advertising, but I don't think there has been any really thrilling Citroen advertising since the late Seventies, when the 2CV was around. This ad is a garbled mess.

Like the Puma ad, this uses one of the oldest advertising devices in the book - getting in a personality - but whereas the Puma ad does so with wit and skill, this one, well, doesn't. It features the Australian actor Bryan Brown, whom Citroen have been using for quite some time. He's a very good actor but I don't understand why an Australian is being used to advertise French cars in the British marketplace.

The ad is constructed around a meeting of scientific Pentagon types, watching slides of possible extra-terrestrial activity. There's a shot of circles in a cornfield, and then, lo and behold, there's the Citroen Xantia - an exquisite extra-terrestrial vehicle beamed down to Earth for our benefit. At the end, a shot of Bryan Brown flicks up - just to get his endorsement in - and the Pentagon people think he is an extra-terrestrial attempt at reproducing a human.

It's all very laboured and tired. In the past six months, there have been so many sub-X-Files ads, and you can imagine someone sitting in a room saying "I know, let's base it on the X-Files!" It obviously wasn't a terribly enlightened day.n

Interview by Scott Hughes

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