Good Ad Bad Ad

In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Mike Court, creative director at the agency Court Burkitt & Co, on television commercials high and low
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The Independent Online
McDonald's

Leo Burnett

A young father turns up late at his in-laws for a family dinner, and is told off by his wife, who says that the meal is almost ruined. He goes upstairs to see his baby son in his cot, and says to him that it's ruined anyway, because Granny's cooked it - but adds that "clever Daddy" had a Big Mac and fries on the way over.

He makes his entrance downstairs to find his grim-faced relatives sitting in silence at the dinner table, and then hears the baby crying on the baby alarm in the dining room. He realises that they've all heard what he's just said to the baby upstairs, and it ends with his mother-in-law rather sniffily asking him if he wants soup.

It's an impeccably cast and acted ad, beautifully directed, and talks to both parents and kids. has a tradition of doing warm, human commercials like this - it did one a few years ago with a divorced dad taking his son to a restaurant, where they run into the child's mother. The agency has been very clever, managing to turn a chain in the very utilitarian business of selling burgers into a pillar of our society.

It's an excellent, memorable piece of corporate advertising. And the best thing about it is that you don't even see the product; it was brave of the client to say they didn't want a shot of someone eating a burger anywhere in the adn

Ace Bleach

Grey Advertising

This is old-fashioned, pedantic advertising. There is such a difference in attitude between and the client here, which is Proctor and Gamble. Basically, this is a classic USP demonstration, cornily cast and acted.

It starts with a girl trying on different outfits for a job interview, hamming it up and over-reacting when she find there's a stain on the piece of clothing she wants to wear. Then, suddenly, her auntie appears. The Auntie is a new advertising icon: it always used to be mothers that appeared in these ads, but now it's aunties - there's one in that Flash ad with Karl Howman, too.

"Don't worry," Auntie says, as she produces a bottle of Ace Bleach, the way you do. The stain is on a delicate, red garment, and the girl overacts her horror as Auntie pours some on to the mark. But Auntie says the bleach is quite safe on delicates, and that the garment can now simply be put straight into the washing machine. It's a lovely slice-of-life conversation, and, of course, the product is fantastic.

P&G have rules that must be observed in their advertising, and seeing as this ad is screened every third break, must think that if you tell someone something often enough, they'll believe it, no matter how bad it is. The ad is on far less often, but is far more effective because it's a well-made ad. The only reason P&G get away with this kind of thing is because they make such good productsn

Interview by Scott Hughes

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