Let's do lunch inside the world of advertising

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The Independent Online
Last month, Robert Ayling, British Airways chief executive, picked up the advertiser of the year award at Cannes. Anyone who witnessed that will perhaps imagine that Ayling spends his entire life drooling over a TV, hopping from one commercial channel to another in order catch the latest work by agencies. But no. Ayling told Campaign last week: "To be quite honest, I don't see a lot of advertising. I almost never watch TV." Nevertheless, he will probably have asked someone to tape his own extraordinary TV performance some weeks ago. Ayling turned up to tell Newsnight all about BA's huge American merger plans, but the programme also secured his arch-rival, Richard Branson, to put an alternative gloss on developments. Flatly refusing to speak to Branson, Ayling brilliantly carried off the role of Mr Petty Person. Perhaps he thinks none of the punters actually watch BBC 2.

More bad news for Penguins. Only weeks ago, Publicis eliminated the birds from ads for Penguin biscuits. Now John Smith's bitter abandons them too. But its new agency, GGT, remains cautious. All too often when an agency picks up new work it succumbs to the temptation to throw out everything the previous agency had done, and shake up the advertising as much as possible. After that, usually, the new agency will swiftly lose the account to a third agency, which reinstates the old characters and endline to "restore the brand's heritage". And John Smith's has a fantastic heritage, having spawned some of the most famous advertising. Most recently, its droll commercials have featured the miserable comic Jack Dee, and some dancing penguins. Naturally, the client was keen to keep its ads funny, and expressed its desire to retain Dee. Still, every agency wishes to make its mark. Hence GGT's heartless decision to banish the penguins.

Senior figures at DMB&B may feel a little naked this week following the agency's assault on "gratuitous" and "meaningless" job titles. Handles such as "deputy chairman" or "vice-chairman" have been banned, while the creative director, Jeremy Pemberton, and the planning director, Sally Ford-Hutchinson, have had the word "executive" lopped from their job titles. Just so long as it stops there, we needn't worry. Heaven help the industry if anyone launches an attack on meaningless or gratuitous ads ...

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