Giles Keeble (BMP, AMV, WCRS and Leo Burnett) picks his Desert Island Ads

Giles Keeble started as a rep (account man) at JWT before moving to BMP. There Stanley Pollitt told him that JWT’s Stephen King (the co-founder of account planning with Pollitt) had wanted him to become a planner. John Webster encouraged him to become a writer but after a number of years Giles moved to French Gold Abbott and, for a while, did become a planner of sorts.

Returning to writing he went to David Abbott’s new agency AMV followed by WCRS and was then ECD of Leo Burnett for six years. He then returned to AMV before moving to Publicis and then Lowe in Hong Kong at the inception of the ‘World’s Local Bank’ campaign for HSBC. He now works as a writer and strategist as well as running advertising courses for senior clients.

1/Union Carbide Super Insulation. Great demonstration, great writing. You don’t see demos like this any more and not just because of the time length. This is one of a number of ads from the US, like ones for VW and Alka Seltzer, which showed me what was possible. (Nearly chose the American Tourister suitcase gorilla ad because of Union Carbide’s subsequent disgraceful behaviour over Bhopal).

2/John Webster was a genius. This Tic Tac ad was perhaps not his very best commercial, but I was involved with Ferrero in a previous incarnation as an account man. It turned out that Signor F hated animation, so despite the great success of this short campaign, Tic Tac was soon being promoted by a German jingle. Flicking heil.

3/A Sainsbury’s DPS ad. AMV in the early 80s produced wonderful campaigns for Volvo, Sainsbury’s and The Economist. I think I was nearly the first writer other than David Abbott to write a Sainsbury’s ad. It was for J Cosmetics and my line –‘The rumour that Sainsbury’s is launching a range of cosmetics is not without foundation’- was bought. At the last minute, David had a better idea- ‘Pick up your peaches and cream complexion where you pick up your peaches and cream’. Damn- but that’s how you learn. Here’s another one.

4/At WCRS, I did a campaign with John Knight for Qantas. John was a brilliant art director who was not given the credit he deserved. (Dave Dye gave him a mini retrospective in his blog a year or so ago). I think it was one of Nadav Kandar’s first jobs. The use of the panoramic camera conveyed distance, and the distressed copy, jet lag. Sadly, you won’t see this work in any book as the creative director removed it from the awards submissions without our knowledge, so we had no chance to enter it ourselves.

5/McDonald’s ‘Day in the Life’. This commercial was directed by Tony Kaye and was not without its challenges. When Tony did not turn up for an editing session to sort out some major client issues, I went round to his Soho hotel to find him. He was not there. I left a message with the desk. “Please tell Tony that I am walking round Soho looking for him and when I find him I am going to beat the shit out of him.” Needless to say, Tony thought this was hilarious. The pre-production meeting on this lasted about five minutes and the client did not come to the shoot, perhaps anticipating some of the fun we were going to have. Nevertheless, many years later when McDonald’s was Client of the Year, they cited this ad as the turning point.

7/Gordon’s Gin, Green campaign. One other memorable campaign at Burnett’s was for Gordon’s Gin, created by Richard Russell and Mark Tutssel. At the pitch, I remember Jeff Fergus saying that they had asked us to leap but they might think we had leapt too far.

8/Honda. Richard Russell (whose book on golf ‘My baby’s Got the Yips’ I highly recommend) went on to write Honda’s ‘Hate something, change something’, one of those ads that simply makes you stop everything when you first see it. Another team, Ben Walker and Matt Gooden, went on to make ‘Cog’ and ‘Choir’ for Honda. There must have been something in the water.

9/10/Sony ‘Balls’, Cadbury’s ‘Gorilla’. Finally a brace, which is cheating, but I include them because I showed them to clients on various courses I have run and there was a clear split: those that instinctively got it and those that said “where’s the TV/chocolate?” Where do you start?

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