Let's do lunch inside the world of advertising

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The Independent Online
Who should direct commercials - agency creatives, or directors inside production companies? Or, indeed, someone else altogether? The issue has been thrust once again to the fore by a public spat between two of the industry's most eminent names. It all began some weeks ago, when Steve Henry, a founding partner at Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury (the agency behind Martini, First Direct, the AA and Tango) was quoted in Campaign about the pleasures of directing commercials. Hard to believe, but this proved too much provocation for Paul Weiland, founder director at Paul Weiland Films. All of Soho spluttered into its cappuccino on reading Weiland's response in the same magazine's letters page. Talk about rude! "Having seen Steve Henry's effort at directing commercials," he wrote - referring to the Oliver and Claire ads for Mercury - "in my opinion, he'd be well advised to stick to preaching about them."

This week, Henry struck back, in a further letter to Campaign. After predicting how the director's role in advertising might change, Henry wrote: "The usual route for commercials directors who can't keep up with all this is to attempt to break into feature films. How about giving that a go again, Paul?" Did he say again? Why yes, Weiland's last stab at the movies saw him direct the dismal City Slickers II.

The RAC, which astonished the industry in February by launching a so- called "virtual agency", has already begun talking to agencies about overhauling its pounds 5m account. The marketing director behind the virtual agency idea was Jan Smith. In her previous existence, at Mazda, she invited viewers to set their videos for a commercial running in the middle of the night. Let's do lunch can hardly wait for Smith's next crazy stunt.

Taxi! Holsten is funding a cab for three months to take people anywhere within 10 miles of the centre of London for free. The cab hit the streets last week in Holsten livery with an anti-drink driving message on the back. Ad folk, beware: the driver's unlikely to be loaded up with receipts.

Alan Tilby, former vice-chairman and executive creative director of WCRS, has ended a 14-month exile from agencies to take creative command at the London HQ of Griffin Bacal. Not hitherto regarded as the funkiest of agencies, Griffin Bacal opened in London in 1987 to serve its principal client, the US toymaker Hasbro. Charged with taking the agency from 32nd in the UK to the top 20, Tilby should shake things up. But does the agency's creative chief, Kent Shively, know what he has let himself in for? One of the last people to partner Tilby, Paul Leeves, ended up marrying Tilby's ex-wife, becoming step-father to his sons.

If it's good enough for Martini, it's good enough for Bird's Eye. As Martini auditioned "beautiful people" for its latest commercials, so the company which commands 40 per cent of the UK's frozen pea market is campaigning to find a new Patsy Kensit to make popping noises. Specifically, "the noise of peas popping from the pod," explains Bird's Eye's agency, McCann- Erickson. Kensit was the cutey who delighted the nation with this popping noise 20 years ago. At last, ad folk are putting away their amphetamines to prepare for a form of popping that is actually legal.