Let's do lunch

inside the world of advertising
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The Independent Online
A whodunnit for adfolk: who killed Spots, and what was the motive? No, this story isn't about the death of some pet hound, but the liquidation of one of Soho's oldest and most-respected production companies. In fact, the first part of the mystery is easily solved. The man who turned off the lights last week - after 25 years making ads - was Spots' own founding director, Barry Myers. His motive is harder to pinpoint. Was he just fed up watching top directors and producers walking out? Some of the leading names to have left recently include the Delaney brothers, Theo and Dominic, and the directing duo known as Big TV. The managing director Robert Campbell quit in February. And, as we reported some weeks ago, the director behind some of Levi's hippest commercials, Tarsem, has marched off to join an outfit with a name pretentious enough to match his own - @radical.media. But Myers has more reason than that to feel fed up. His former partner, Tim White, who left Spots abruptly two years ago, has spent much of the time since then pursuing legal claims against Myers and the company (in which White retained a 40 per cent stake). Until Spots was liquidated, a tribunal was due at the end of July. Soho awaits the next showdown with baited breath

Waiters at even the most popular West End eateries were kicking their heels last week. Half of adland had cleared off to the International Advertising Festival in Cannes. Few can have been so well prepared for this tacky event as the friends of Bates Worldwide, who were issued with a survival kit, dubbed the "Cannes Can". Inside it were condoms, rizlas, useful phone numbers (should you need a solicitor, say, or a gym), and handy French phrases, such as "My bedroom's got a lovely view of the sunrise."

The festival included some seriously ropey advertising. One health-awareness film from Australia showed a man in his car, smoking a cigarette for three full minutes. The worthy endline, "Isn't smoking boring", was lost on an audience which had already reached deep sleep. Two bizarre spots from Canada, designed to publicise the Toronto Short Film Festival, played on the word short. One revisited the infamous orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally, with the principal roles played by midgets. Meanwhile, China mobbed the festival with 170 representatives to cheer on 69 entries. The manoeuvre didn't entirely pay off, however, as China still only managed to pick up one award.

They might not be our idea of fun, but there is no denying that a clutch of Cabinet ministers can lend tone to parties - particularly when they include the Prime Minister and his deputy. Last week, M&C Saatchi attracted just such a bunch to its first-birthday bash, at Charles Saatchi's north London art gallery. Other notable guests to show included (in no particular order) Auberon Waugh, Joan Bakewell, Jonathan Dimbleby, Lord Hanson, Simon Callow, Alan Yentob and Evelyn de Rothschild. Outside, hired coaches waited to escort merry partygoers to the Iceni club, but few had sufficient oomph. Only one Cabinet minister showed the real party spirit, truly wowing M&C employees. Hats off, believe it or not, to Peter Lilley.

ALEX SOMERSET

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