Media: Good Ad Bad Ad

In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Alfredo Marcantonio, vice-chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, on television commercials high and low


Lowe Howard-Spink

There are three ads in this campaign, and my favourite is the one that features Dennis Bergkamp, the Arsenal footballer. I have to say that I am an Arsenal supporter, so consequently this has a special significance for me. Over and above that, though, I think it's a fantastic example of how lateral thinking can produce a really outstanding solution to a pretty conventional brief.

Most sports equipment companies have a number of sports personalities to whom they pay vast amounts of money for endorsing their products. Naturally they exert considerable influence on their agencies to ensure that the money is put to good use, and the stars run, jump or kick their way through all the company's advertising.

It's really refreshing, then, to see our Dennis striding the aisles of a cheese warehouse, rather than wandering round the marble halls of Highbury. In stark contrast to the usual way of doing things, we see what might have happened to Mr Bergkamp if he hadn't bought his football boots. He would have ended up working in a cheese factory, suffering the indignity of a hairnet.

In contrast to so many of the recent sports shoe ads, this one doesn't rely on expensive production values. In fact, it's rather simply shot. It is the idea that is exceptionally good, although credit must go to the director for getting a reasonable performance out of someone who is not an actor. Bergkamp is required to deliver lines explaining how, instead of buying football boots when he was a child, he bought himself a train set.

It's a great piece of thinking, and I'm sure it's going down really well with its target audience of 15-to-30-year-old guys.


Collett Dickinson Pearce

This is another campaign of three advertisements, but there the similarity ends. The advertising doesn't only lack lateral thinking, it seems to lack about every other variety of thinking as well. It makes the Ferrero Rocher Ambassador campaign look like Oscar material.

This latest ad certainly keeps up the standard set by its predecessors. It features a wigged and gowned Bruce Forsyth striding through Courts, the discount furniture store, blathering on about special offers and price cuts.

There is such a contrast between the inventiveness of the advertisement and the obvious nature of the material the viewing public is confronted with here. I can see the creative team now, sitting with a pad, a pen and the problem, saying: "Courts, Courts - ah, court! Yes, that's it! Judge, barrister, Bruce Forsyth!"

It can't have taken long, and writing the scripts couldn't have been too much of a test, either, as the jokes are cringe-making.

Using Bruce Forsyth straight like this is a wasted opportunity. If you are going to use someone with his kind of image, a gentle jibe is called for. A good example was the way Des O'Connor was used in a cigar ad a few years ago: Russ Abbot plays one of Mr O'Connor's ditties on a river bank and all the fish jump out of the water to avoid hearing him sing.

Retail advertising doesn't have to be like this - look at the work my colleagues here have created for WH Smith.

Interview by Scott Hughes

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