Media: Good Ad Bad Ad - J Walter Thompson RAF, M&C Saatchi Foster's Ice

In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Patrick Collister, creative director at the agency Ogilvy and Mather, on television commercials high and low

J WALTER THOMPSON

RAF

I saw this in the centre break of Equinox on Channel 4 on 22 September, which was a documentary all about American fighter pilots coping with G-forces of over 7G. So youngsters with a yen for altitude would have been watching and would have seen more exciting footage in the ad break than in the documentary - a great bit of media buying to boot.

The ad opens with scenes of people panicking, trying to escape some impending terror in a distant, ravaged region - we see a woman with her shopping breaking into a run, and a parent trying to comfort a small child. This is intercut with footage of RAF pilots manning planes at an airfield and getting ready for take-off. Back in the war zone, a ground battle gets under way, and we see people attempting to flee the gunfire and explosions. Then, intercut with these scenes, we see the planes take off and wing their way through the skies towards the troubled area.

The commercial is very rapidly cut, and uses a pacy dance soundtrack, giving the impression that there's about to be a dogfight. But there's a twist at the end. Rather than dealing out death to the enemy, the modern RAF is about helping people stay alive: the action we witness is revealed to be a parachute drop of vital food and medical supplies to a community in Bosnia. A voice cries out "There is hope", and the endline reads "Their country needs you."

It's well-written, well-shot, and, I should imagine, successful. It won't win awards, but it shows the quality of thinking and the not inconsiderable craft skills big agencies bring to bear even on small accounts like this one.

M&C SAATCHI

Foster's Ice

Here, we are shown a young African in ancient T-shirt and shorts, walking through an arid landscape. He talks to the camera in his native tongue, and a voice-over translates. "Sometimes the droughts here are very bad," he says. "The search for water is never-ending." Then we get to see his wizened dad digging out of a dried-up river-bed a toad the size of a dinner plate. "My father looks for toads," our man tells us, "so he can squeeze them and drink up the liquid."

With that, the ad cuts to our African propping up the Savannah Bar with a bottle of Foster's Ice. Tastier than toad juice any day.

Call me humourless, and many will, but I find this ad ugly and patronising. Taking the piss out of anything faintly PC is usually fine by me, and the previous Foster's Ice commercial did it brilliantly. "Concerned about global warming?" Foster's asked. "Then, (a) make a donation, (b) write to your MP, or (c) say bollocks to it and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts with a glass of cool Foster's Ice."

This new ad tries to spoof those earnest documentaries about the Third World, but fails to pull it off. Poverty and drought do not seem to me to be the sort of subjects advertising has permission to take the mick out of. Maybe it's because I was born and raised in East Africa, and so know that in large chunks of the world, drought isn't just a matter of holding your hose off the hollyhocks.

Tony Barry, the writer of the last commercial, is one of the most talented copywriters around at the moment, and I think M&C Saatchi would have done better to give him the brief for this second ad in the campaign.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Davidson performs his comedy show at Edinburgh Festival 2014
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor