Good Ad Bad Ad

In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Chris Herring, creative director at Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy, on commercials high and low
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The Independent Online
Woolworth

Bates Dorland

That's the wonder of Woolies. For years, their advertising somehow stubbornly refuses to come to life and then, when you least expect it, the vital signs monitor suddenly lights up like a Christmas tree.

It's often the way with small-budget films. Everyone's pulling their hair out about the big-budget corporate job when, down the corridor, an unconsidered trifle - in this case a price ad - is being put together with quiet diligence and no little skill, unnoticed by the top brass.

The scenario is less than promising. A little girl of six or seven is pictured in her suburban back garden among her pets, toys and various bits of garden furniture. In the wrong hands, this would be a recipe for stomach-churning schmaltz - but not here.

For a start, it's pouring with rain throughout. The girl gets wet, the dog gets wet, the cuddly toy gets wet and the picnic gets wet - a scene no doubt repeated all over the UK during our waterlogged June.

The music - "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall" - is, of course, spot- on. And the whole thing is inventively shot on Super-8, as if it's a home movie. "Don't worry," it says at the end, "Summer is coming at 's." When you pull it off, as they have here, tactical price advertising can do more for a company's image than any amount of big-budget corporate flanneln

Guinness

Ogilvy & Mather

What is the current Guinness campaign all about? In case you need reminding, it consists of a series of statistics of varying degrees of plausibility (and, to this viewer, zero interest) followed by the pack shot and the line "Not everything in black and white makes sense".

It's not so much the film I object to as the thinking behind it. The current execution is, as they say, "beautifully shot" and with the money at Guinness's disposal it damn well ought to be. But for me, it's a classic case of trying to hide the poverty of an idea by throwing money at it.

We are told, among other things, that men think about sex every six seconds. You may think that sounds far too infrequent. Or you may not. But are we supposed to believe it? Not believe it? Give a toss? And what's it got to do with draught stout?

Is the statistic "The average cow passes enough wind in a week to inflate a hot-air balloon" not supposed to make sense, meaning that Guinness doesn't make sense either? Or is it supposed to make sense, meaning that Guinness does too? And who can be bothered to figure it all out? I suppose what we have here is an embarrassing attempt at the cerebral without the mental resources to pull it off.

I was in an Irish bar off Soho Square recently and the sign on the loo door said "Pure Gents". Now that makes sensen

Interview by Scott Hughes

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