Stefano Hatfield on Advertising

Is this the final chapter in the tale of the loveable PG Tips chimps?
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The Independent Online

Unless you're not yet of tea-drinking age age, mention the brand PG Tips and the chances are you will think of a gang of facetious chimpanzees shifting pianos, enjoying parties and generally fooling around, but generally with a cup of PG Tips in their hands.

If it's tough to come up with an ad campaign that sells product, is loved by the public and the industry alike, and even passes into the wider culture, then it is almost unheard of to be able to follow such a campaign when it has run its course.

The late John Webster managed it not once nor twice, but three times for John Smith's at what was BMP and then BMP DDB, but this was the exception.

There was nothing particularly wrong with the animated T-Birds campaign with which DDB London replaced the decades-old chimps in 2002. It's just that with the era of the mass television viewing experience waning, it is that much harder to establish a campaign that is neither exceptional, nor so bad that it is good.

It was good, endearing advertising, but not enduring. You also couldn't help but feel that you had seen it all before - not least for London Electricity in the Nineties. And all the while the shadow of the previous campaign's fame hung over agency and client alike.

This past week, Unilever ended the 76-year association between the brand and the various incarnations of what is today DDB London. Unilever has moved the £10m account to Mother after a head-to-head pitch. Mother's first work will emerge after the last DDB campaign in and around the World Cup.

There is always something sad about a brand moving on after so long a period filled with outstanding work and unquestionable business success - think about British Airways and Tesco recently - but at the risk of sounding clichéd: time stands still for no agency-client relationship, especially when the nature of ownership has changed so much on both sides.

Indeed, the victorious Mother was on the receiving end of just such a recent account move that appeared to have very little to do with quality of work: Orange's recent £50m switch to Fallon as part of a pan-European realignment instigated by the brand's parent France Telecom.

It left Mother feeling rather as WCRS must have felt when it, in turn, previously lost Orange after creating and running the phenomenally successful and memorable "the future's bright" campaign. It was the worst thing that had ever happened to Mother, but when it happened I wrote that the agency was far too good not to bounce back.

Now, PG Tips joins those other iconic Unilever brands, Pot Noodles and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter on Mother's client list. Whatever the work Mother comes up with, it is safe to predict that the combination of brand and agency will not be dull. But it's a triple shame for DDB London: the emotional loss of a brand with which it has been so closely associated for so long; the financial loss; and the loss of yet another famous national brand of the sort that helped the agency first achieve fame as Boase Massimi Pollitt.

* TALKING OF British Airways, someone has to say it: the first significant campaign from the excellent Bartle Bogle Hegarty since it won the talismanic account from M&C Saatchi last year is a disappointment. I am sure that at some stage or another John Denver's "I'm leaving on a jet plane" has been proposed by many an agency with an airline account to its client, with or, in this case, without the original vocals.

That's not to mean it's terrible, more of a shrug-of-the-shoulders indifferent - especially when put to animated dolphins diving through clouds against a blue sky. This all feels a little odd. It's almost as if an ad that was created to do something else, like a masterbrand campaign, has had all sorts of hands tugging at it in different directions only for it to emerge from the sausage machine as a watered-down promotional film supporting BA's new low-fare initiative.

I am sure there are all sorts of explanations as to why it's come out this way, but in the end it's only what we see on our tellys that counts. There is also, notably, no real endline beyond the prosaic "book at ba.com". Still no sign of "upgrade to BA" then, the strategy with which BBH was supposed to have won the pitch, nor of "cutting process not corners" or "The service you would expect. Prices you wouldn't." rumoured to be coming soon.

See PG Tips above for the truth about how hard it is to replace a great campaign. BBH will be desperate to crack this brief more than any other in its illustrious history.

* AS I have said ad nauseam in this column, the key to Brits - or anyone else for that matter - really wanting to understand the US ad industry is scale. Everything is bigger: Madison Avenue sandwiches and salaries, production budgets, McMansions in Connecticut and, of course, those media budgets.

So while it was a big blow for Lowe London when it lost Britain's largest retailer Tesco's £50m ad account, it pales into insignificance in comparison with the threat to the Omnicom-owned GSD & M and independent Bernstein Rein posed by the news that Wal-Mart is to review its $578m (£310m) ad account. Yes, $578m! Even our own ad-happy government only spends about a quarter as much.

The review was inevitable for a predictable reason: two new lead clients in the shape of chief marketing officer John Fleming from the Target retail chain and the highly regarded Julie Roehm, who arrived from Daimler-Chrysler. The shuttle planes into Bentonville, Arkansas's Wal-Mart HQ, will be burning up the ozone layer for many months to come ferrying in teams from a host of pitching agencies. The key to the final result lies in a desire to create a cross-media campaign with a reduced reliance on price promotions. This is one to watch because of its unquestionable influence.

* WAYNE ROONEY'S accident has shattered more World Cup ad campaigns than bones in his foot. Electronic Arts, Coca-Cola and Asda had all planned to feature prominently Rooney's £3m deal with Asda, and this attracted many headlines just a few short months ago.

But it's Nike, Rooney's boot manufacturer, that appears to have the largest marketing headache on its hands: how to kick start momentum behind its new Total 90 Supremacy boot in the face of all the negative headlines? Nike, like the rest of us, will be praying for a medical miracle. What it is more likely to get is a host of spoof internet virals.

Email stefanohat1@aol.com and tell us if Mother should bring back those facetious PG Tips chimps

Hatfield's Best In Show: Carlsberg

OK, I know I am a bit late to this party, and this Saatchi & Saatchi commercial has been on air a few weeks now but, every time I see it, it grows on me. I particularly like the long version which shows Jack Charlton driving the minibus to the game, kidding Chris Waddle when he wants to jump aboard, and teasing Peter Beardsley, who is pedalling his way there on his bike. Peter Shilton, Alan Ball, Jack Charlton, Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson, Peter Reid and co all perform brightly under manager Sir Bobby Robson's expert guidance. And if some of the midriffs have expanded alarmingly, and some of the older male stars have cleavage, some things stay the same: Jack Charlton with shorts pulled up beneath his armpits, crunching into a tackle. For once, the "If Carlsberg did..." idea resonates. It's probably the best World Cup ad on air to date.

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