Good Ad Bad Ad

In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Paul Simons, chief executive officer of the agency TBWA Simons Palmer, on television commercials high and low
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The Independent Online
First Direct


There are two executions in this campaign, each featuring Bob Mortimer: one where he's saying he hates queues, and another where he says he hates it when everything's closed.

In the past has been quite precious in the way it talks to the public: the big criticisms that have been made historically about the advertising is that it's been a bit "up its bum" and very much for the chattering classes. This has probably held them back, but it's a great brand, and this new work from Wight Collins moves away from all that and gives it a more universal feel.

The great thing is that it tells you very clearly about the two basic benefits of banking with : that because it's done over the phone, there is no queuing and the service never closes. It's done with an enormous amount of wit, and it gives the viewer a compelling, persuasive argument for calling - it makes you say to yourself: "Yes, I do hate queuing, and I do hate missing the bank because it's closed."

I like the way Bob Mortimer is used to dramatise the points - pushing in at the front of queues, telling diners the restaurant they're in is closing in a few minutes - and you don't get offended that it's putting other ways of banking down in trying to sell itself. It's well-observed, succinctly done, and is made by people who treat consumers as intelligent peoplen

Direct Line

The Media Business Direct

Direct Line's ad is trying to do exactly the same thing as the commercial - get you to pick up the phone - but the differences between them are vast.

Whereas the ad is stylish and witty, the Direct Line work is hamfisted: it attempts to tell you lots of different things and by the end of it you haven't got a clue what you're supposed to take from it. Then that red telephone comes out of nowhere, and you're left feeling like it was put together by a group of chimpanzees. Also, while the ad is filmed beautifully, this is shot on video and looks very amateurish.

Like , they want to tell you a very basic thing: if you have a crash, talk to us and we'll sort it out. But, unlike , which tells it simply, this confuses the issue with about 10 other thoughts. There's a woman wittering on in the top left-hand corner of the screen, and at the same time the man who's had the crash is discussing it all with his wife. It's a jumble of disjointed thoughts.

You certainly aren't made to feel good about the company. I think this is a great example of the wrong people trying to do TV - people just trying to put a sales pitch on to television - and what it ends up saying is: "Here's a list of reasons why they should use this service - and if you don't like those, we'll throw in a free gift"

Interview by Scott Hughes