LET'S DO LUNCH

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The Independent Online
At the last general election, the Liberal Democrats' campaign was masterminded - if that isn't too grand a term - by the then TBWA Holmes Knight Ritchie. Cruel critics observed that the agency's chairman, Scottish toff Alasdair Ritchie, might not have entirely fitted the party mould, despite strenuous efforts to join in (and keep the client sweet). Alas, to no avail. Knight Leach Delaney has now been appointed to run the show. Wisely, as managing director, Stuart Leach is an ardent Lib Dem. Friends wish the agency a jolly time bringing the party home third - again.

Ad men go funny when they hit middle age. Why, at last week's British Television Advertising Awards one senior figure, from one of the industry's best-known families, put his recent 50th birthday celebrations behind him, shaved his head and danced like a wild thing with a glamourpuss half his age. Another old charmer, John Hegarty of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, likewise threw caution to the wind and abandoned his familiar clean and well-cut suits in favour of bright colours and a highly dubious pair of bright blue slip-on shoes.

Still on ageing: who is behind all these back-to-the-womb ads? The latest Rover commercial, by Ammirati Puris Lintas, shows baby in his mother's womb, lulled to sleep by the car's smooth progress. The voiceover proclaims: "The new Rover 400 saloon. The second most comfortable place you'll ever be." In case you don't get that, here's agency chairman Andrew Cracknell, 49, to explain: "You are never more at home than when you're in the womb." Really? For Daewoo, Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters (run by managing director and family man Mick Finn) considered that the new car commercial would be incomplete unless it featured that audience favourite, the foetal scan. Still, the dodgiest of the lot has to be British Airways' new posters. Devised by M&C Saatchi, where the fiftysomething Saatchi brothers are in charge, the posters depict a baby being rocked against his mother's chest. No problem with that - except the baby has a middle-aged man's head, and its eyes are closed in ecstasy.

Oh boys, boys, boys! If it's any help, there are places in the suburbs that cater for your needs: cuddles on the hour, dummies the size of light-bulbs, and nappies with a 40-inch waist. Why, they'll even burp you after yet another five-course lunch.

And finally, more from the rose-tinted world of Bernard Barnett, the finest PR in NW1. Last week, we brought you Barnett's grand hommage to his boss at Young and Rubicam. Now brace yourselves for his thoughts on David Abbott, chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO: "If [Abbott] is known at AMV - even by his partners - as "God", it is only partly out of reverence for his work. He appears to be supreme at everything he touches. His taste is impeccable: his wears his reputation as the best copywriter in the world with genuine modesty; even his youthful good looks have failed to desert him."

Surely Bernard can't be angling for a job on the Marylebone Road?

ALEX SOMERSET

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