Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Bruuum bruuum

My dear sainted mother has never understood what I do for a living. When passing round the afternoon scones and Chianti with her sisters she has for many years now simply fudged the question with a vague “he’s in advertising” and passed onto the more recognisable achievements of my siblings. I can’t say I blame her, some days I hardly know what I do myself. But I do know I love it. Mostly.
People from Bill Cosby to Jerry Della Femina have claimed the quote “Advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” Which is all very well but they obviously weren’t involved in Adland in 80’s London where you didn’t have to bring clothes to have fun, not even of the Emperor’s kind.

It’s a terrible cliché but if you’re doing it right then it’s all about the “F” word. It’s fun, and that’s fun with a capital “F”. After all, how many of our parents had this kind of job, where you hear about someone called Cameron Diaz who not only is an outboard engine fitter, but also a bloke, and then you get to meet him and put him in an ad. The brilliant self-effacing way the stars of the Maxibon chocolate ice-cream commercials talk about living with famous names is perfectly balanced by the films themselves. With a flick of her Bic lighter and a billowing cloud of Dunhill Menthol, my art director, a girl who’s often funny even when she’s not trying to be, was gasping for breath when she watched the Michael Jackson spot. Stalk them down at:

Writing funny ads is a special feeling, knowing you’ll get an instant reaction when it’s on down the Brazen Head makes it all worth while. Humour in car ads is unusual in these days of transmogrifying metallic monsters but I did catch my funny-bone on this Mercedes ad.
“An attractive dark-haired young thing is seen allowing herself to be man-handled by someone other than her husband. “Will your husband be home?” he asks.
“Not in this weather,” the hussy replies. Outside we see a blizzard is blizzarding and the husband is driving fearlessly through it.
Again, she cries, “Not in this weather.” The husband ploughs on, snow and sleet pulverising his car, he slides to a stop outside of the house behind another car.
He glances in through the house window, then opens the front door and steps in. A buxom young blonde steps out of the firelight dressed in next to nothing, “Won’t your wife be expecting you?” she asks, “Not in this weather he replies.” Super up line: “The Mercedes E Class 4Matic, At least there’s something you can rely on.” Navigate your way to: it’s a well-produced smile.

Of course, those of us lucky enough to do this and get paid know how gut-churning, real terror provoking the job can be. A new client, a brief that everyone pretends to understand and the big white page. And no one else can help you, there’s no “dog eating homework” or “let’s pass it on to young Kate and Stevo” here. But when you get it right and get an ad out there, no matter how long you’ve been doing this job, it’s heart-thumpingly exhilarating.

Of course, if you’re really stuck you can swipe an idea from someone else. The Hallmark, “Brother of the Bride” commercial borrows liberally from Four Weddings & A Funeral but does include a nice twist of its own at the end. And the casting is very cool. Get attached to it at:

Great humour like great ads often comes from real life observations. For those of us who have ever woken up not only on the wrong side of bed, but the wrong side of town the AMP commercial “Walk of no shame,” will not only resonate nicely but may having you raise a can of the stuff in admiration:

Of course I could be totally wrong about the whole Adland thing, after all the great George Orwell himself once said, “Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.” But then again he thought pigs could talk.

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