Stefano Hatfield On Advertising

It's frothy man! Cresta bear meets a Smashing guy's honey monster

This column is being written at a ridiculously late hour because I got completely distracted at my screen. No, it wasn't the usual suspects: Google Maps,, or Emmanuelle Béart fan sites and Alan Partridge re-runs on telly. Instead I was watching ads: the reel of brilliant commercials that we were all given as we left the late, great John Webster's classy and moving memorial lunch at Lord's Cricket Ground.

I promise to stop banging on about the man and his genius after this, but anyone who can attract an A-list crowd like he did - united in admiration and affection - is special. So is any adman who can have 84 wonderful spots on a reel spanning 37 years.

Here's a tiny sample of the list of luminaries present at Lord's - Sir Alan Parker, Sir Frank Lowe, Martin Boase, Chris Powell, Tim Delaney, Jeremy Bullmore, Adrian Holmes, Dave Trott, Frank Budgen, Leslie Butterfield - and so many more, clients, colleagues and rivals alike. I can guarantee you that all of them will have happily inserted the DVD into their player at home, and sat and enjoyed it as I did.

As much as an equivalent compilation of television programmes or movies, and - arguably - even more so than books - Webster's work formed the backdrop to all our lives, during the 1970s and Eighties in particular. As he himself would never brag, one of the many attributes that made his oeuvre special - probably more than in anyone else's body of work - was the ability to bring to brands physical properties that took them beyond the confines of the film frame.

By now you will be familiar with what I mean: the Cresta and Hofmeister bears, the Smash Martians, Sugar Puffs' honey monster, the St Ivel "prize guys", Benny Hill's Ernie the milkman for Unigate, John Smith's Arkwright and his dog, and later the dancing penguins, Kia Ora's berries, Walker's evil Gary Lineker. The property didn't even have to physically exist - as in the case of Unigate Milk's Humphreys, particularly as delivered by Muhammad Ali.

Just as impactful to me were the songs, whether specially written - for Courage Best, Colt 45, Dulux, Kia Ora, Texas "Tom", John Smith's; or simply bought in, like the wonderful Miller Lite ad's "He's My Brother" or Walker's "Welcome Home".

John Webster mastered engagement with the consumer decades before we knew it existed. He was a writer who could make poetry of advertising. An entire room of big cheeses was to be seen mouthing the opening lines to 1973's Courage BB, set on a village cricket green: "An evening in September, summer's main force is spent...". But poetry could be visual too. Look at the 1997 Beef film starring an old couple having a laugh on the beach and a dance at home, or the Lineker-Ulrika Swedish Walker's commercial, that same brand's "Romario" ad, or most of all The Guardian's 1987 "Points of View" ad. I can't imagine anyone not being able to sit and enjoy Webster's reel. I actually think DDB London could charge people for it. Now there's an idea to fund a bursary in his name.

John Webster was also the author of the most elegant self-obituary I have ever heard, and the only adman whose body of work could impress a taxi driver. "He did all that? I loves all them especially that Smash one," said mine. Didn't we all, mate.

IN THE following paragraph I was planning to analyse the proposed merger between InterPublic Group's FCB and Draft networks, which I guess has replaced the previous IPG big idea that was to merge Lowe with Draft. I write "was", because I have decided against doing so on the grounds that no one outside the two agencies involved really gives a.... This doesn't preclude me from giving a friendly shout-out to one of my favourite advertising big cheeses on the other side of the Atlantic: FCB's worldwide chairman, Brendan Ryan, a real adman - and that is meant as a compliment!

SOMETIMES YOU wonder how much some of the trade press really understands the business about which it writes. Last week a headline screamed, "Beleaguered agency United London loses managing director McGrath". It concerned the departure of the barely known (albeit very nice) Sid McGrath, who had only just been promoted from planning director of the agency in March last year. Further down the story the piece reminds us that earlier this year WPP brought in Jim Kelly and Robert Campbell to revitalise an agency that never really did anything as HHCL/Red Cell while owned by Chime Communications.

It is a shadow of its former self, trading off its long-distant glorious past as the once-radical Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, and overly dependent on its Sky account. Of course, radical surgery is needed to lick it into shape. In this context anyone surprised by McGrath's exit really is naïve. The surprise is he stayed this long. Expect more surgery soon. Why else would you hire heavyweight talents like Kelly and Campbell? Come on everyone, keep up at the back.

IS IT just me or is the quality of celebrity endorser getting better? Hot on the heels of all the headlines based on AdWeek's story that Catherine Zeta Jones (T-Mobile) was the best-paid celebrity advertising endorser, came news that Keira Knightley, the hottest female babe in Hollywood, is to be the new face of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Keira follows the likes of Kate Moss and Nicole Kidman.

Meanwhile, Gorgeous George Clooney, the biggest heart-throb on the A-list, is back in his second film for Martini (this time, he prefers to part with his girlfriend, not his drink). Then there's Brad Pitt for Heineken in the US and Eva Longoria for L'Oreal. The list is long. It includes the sublime and the ridiculous: you've just gotta love the way in which at the beginning of the latest Kellogg's All-Bran ad, the man in the street exclaims "William Shatner!" thereby ensuring that the Kellogg's client has not wasted his money on a celebrity no-one recognises. They even shelled out on a "WS" for the former Star Trek (and now Boston Legal) star's tracksuit, just to make sure no-one could have any doubt.

E-mail with the script for an ad in which I turn to Emmanuelle Beart and ask, "Do you speak l'Aimant?"


There's been talk of a rival lottery scheme focusing more on charitable causes. This probably had little bearing on the timing of a new masterbrand campaign for Camelot, but the coincidence highlights Camelot's current approach. I guess you could sum it up in one word: greed. The strategists at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO would likely prefer "aspiration" to describe what lies behind a creative execution that sees bricks flying en masse, like birds migrating towards sunnier climes. These bricks represent an elderly lottery winner being able to abandon his ordinary home for a house on a foreign hill overlooking the sea. Either way, it is a more selfish lottery than the one mooted in the press last week. Still, this is an intriguing execution from director Danny Kleinman, who this week launched his new production company with Ringan Ledwidge. Good luck to them.

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam