Mark Wnek on Advertising

Car advertising is simple: show the motor looking gorgeous

What is it with the endless stream of Ford Focus commercials "starring" a fictional world-famous designer that are currently flopping on to our TV screens with all the appeal of lint? All self-respecting ad-watchers have pilloried the campaign from day one (in fact, remarkably, I think I've been the least unpleasant about it). And yet still it goes on, wasting millions of pounds of air-time.

What is it with the endless stream of Ford Focus commercials "starring" a fictional world-famous designer that are currently flopping on to our TV screens with all the appeal of lint? All self-respecting ad-watchers have pilloried the campaign from day one (in fact, remarkably, I think I've been the least unpleasant about it). And yet still it goes on, wasting millions of pounds of air-time.

Unlike the majority of ivory-tower ad critics who have 1) never been anywhere near the business end of ad creation, and 2) have never been custodians of a car brand, this work really bugs me. I love Ford cars. While helping Peugeot eat into Ford's massive market share for much of my career, I was always knocked out by the firm's products and services, even if I rarely admired its advertising.

Ad agency Ogilvy's Ford of Europe creative director James Sinclair left shortly before Christmas. Now the search is on for the best car creative in the business but, sadly, I'm not available. I will, however, pass on some free tips about car advertising:

* In a lifetime, the only thing people spend more money on than cars are their homes, if you exclude divorces.

* Ford is the brand leader and should never act otherwise. So unless you've written the greatest, most original car commercial in the history of advertising, show plenty of car at its most gorgeous.

* If you're going to have a starring role, fill it with a star with brand-leading status (see Y&R's Puma work with Steve McQueen for details).

* Don't be shy about checking out what other countries are doing for Ford, such as JWT's stirring new Mustang launch in the US.

* Unless you've written the funniest, most rib-tickling jokes in the history of commercials, don't ever do jokes. Show plenty of car at its most gorgeous.

* Never forget that those who put Ford where it is today in this country are ordinary people who simply need confirmation that they are with the right brand.

* Go totally Big Brother on any notion of your creatives winning/entering/talking about advertising awards: moving metal is for grown-ups, not a career stepping-stone for art students.

* And finally, show plenty of car at its most gorgeous.

Mr Make-You-Look-Gorgeous is the ex-BMW creative director and current 0 2 creative supremo Rooney Carruthers of the red-hot ad agency VCCP. Of course, you'd have to buy the agency...

Craig Davis, the new worldwide creative director of JWT, has published a book of creative vows for his forthcoming tenure, intriguingly entitled: "Hold my skateboard while I kiss your girlfriend".

The rules are not necessarily that radical, for which the Aussie has taken a lot of stick over here. On being informed of this, I'm sure Davis will have borrowed one of my favourite catchphrases: "Call me around midnight and remind me to lose sleep over what the parochial numpties in UK adland think." The fact is, JWT had a stodgy history rooted in steady client service and work with mature brands, and any initiatives aimed at loosening this up are to be applauded.

My enthusiasm for Aussies in ad-agency management is well known: they're strong, can-do individuals who make the business fun. "Hold my skateboard" is a light-hearted, optimistic bit of work, reflecting Davis's leadership. Indeed, JWT now has a frightening array of talent: world-wide CEO Bob Jeffrey, Rosemary Ryan and Ty Montague in New York, and Nick Bell in London, to name but a few. Behind the snide barbs I detect a lot of fear from rival networks.

Delaney Lund Knox Warren selling their agency for £38.3m? What is the advertising business coming to? DLKW are known for stuff like the Halifax and Vauxhall Corsa work - and also for being in the final of/winning just about every pitch worth being in recently. All with barely an advertising award in sight and most major players over 40. (Like me, DLKW creative directors Gary Betts and Malcolm Green once had the misfortune of "working with" Ben Langdon - I'm not sure they even lasted the three or four months that I did.)

So what does DLKW's triumph mean? That grown-up, professional, business-oriented people are preparing to reclaim the ad industry from the wet-behind-the-ears chancers who have been threatening to bring it to its knees.

Why I'm happy to be called Glenda

Lunch with the lovely Dominic Mills at The Ivy. Mills is editorial director at Haymarket Publishing, the lot behind Marketing, Management Today and Campaign magazines. I say lovely, but he accused me of being a modern-day Glenda Slagg, the former fictional Private Eye "columnist" who hilariously changed her mind about people between one paragraph of her column and the next. Apparently, this is what I do, though only from week to week.

He is, of course, absolutely right: this is one of the joys of not being a proper journalist and being let loose in a national newspaper. I'm perfectly happy to be proved wrong and admit it, particularly when I'm horrid about people: I'd much rather live in a world where everyone turns out to be nice - yeah, alright, not exactly Pulitzer Prize pedigree.

Take the kerfuffle about TBWA's so-called anti-Semitic Labour posters. While I winced at errors of judgement last week, this week I feel moved to stand up for the TBWA boys and girls, many of whom, like Trev, Baino and The Nugget I klr (know, love and respect), and not one of whom has an anti-Semitic, or indeed any kind of racist fibre, in their being. Errors and values are chalk and cheese. Voters are not only smart enough to recognise the difference, but also - as the Tories would do well to remember - the disingenuousness of those who try to lump the two together.

WNEK'S BEST IN SHOW: C4

I've been less than complimentary about Channel 4's advertising in the past, particularly since they started doing it in-house. The indisputable brilliance of their new idents (and the nice poster campaigns they've been doing recently) shows that the in-house creative department is more than getting it together. The idents depict those moments where one's eye momentarily creates something discernible from random objects: rather as we looked at moving clouds as children and saw faces or continents, etc. In the case of the Channel 4 idents, as we move along a street random buildings and objects momentarily come together to form the number four. Simple yet strangely moving and evocative, it's by far the best thing between Britain's TV programmes.

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