Where are we as we go into the first weekend of 2013? Sorrell (as usual), fiscal cliffs, good old VW

In Europe, at least, the week following New Year is a touch half-hearted; many people taking an extended holiday and, even if they’re not, disinclined to ruminate too much on the challenges ahead.

But we can usually rely on WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell (left) to come up with some goods or other and he didn’t disappoint, riling listeners to BBC’s Today programme with some startling observations on companies and tax.

This was largely a voluntary affair he opined, but we needn’t worry because big corporates wanted to do the right thing. This is one of the biggest non sequiturs of recent times and landed SMS in the mire.

The behaviour of Amazon, Apple, eBay, Google, Starbucks and even, perhaps, WPP itself belies such cosy notions. SMS has been strangely quiet since.


America may have averted its ‘fiscal cliff,’ automatic tax rises and spending cuts – for a short time anyway. But much of Europe, including the UK, is still facing a ‘challenging’ 2013 (code for fucking awful economic prospects).

The UK is set to slide back into recession for the third time since the Coalition government took power in 2010; the economy is still smaller than it was in 2008. Some of this testifies to the genius of chancellor George Osborne (pictured), other bits to PM David Cameron’s craven refusal to move Osborne and co (a company which also includes hapless chief secretary Danny Alexander, a Liberal Democrat) to somewhere where they can do less damage.

Continental Europe, even the Eurozone countries, may well recover quicker than the benighted UK. All of which will impact on advertisers, agencies and the media in the region. The New Year is certain to see a big round of redundancies.


So let’s have an ad then. Volkswagen is arguably the world’s best advertiser, producing good work through thick and thin through agencies Deutsch in the US and DDB in most other parts of the world. It does the same with its soaraway Audi luxury brand, through Venables Bell in the US and BBH in the UK (and, no doubt, other agencies elsewhere).

Toyota recently reclaimed its position as world number one manufacturer by volume ahead of VW and GM but VW will surely get there once again. Here’s the latest from Deutsch LA.

Why’s it so good? Because it strongly associates VW with real people, in this case a dad making a prat of himself trying to teach his son how to pitch. Most of us would sooner drive something like that.


Here’s Gabrielle Aplin’s full-length version of The Power of Love, the old Frankie Goes to Hollywood gay anthem which John Lewis and Adam & Eve/DDB used to power its ‘The Journey’ Christmas commercial.

All it needs is a snowman and snowgirl to make it fly. Same sex snowperson relationships are still a bit outre, even for John Lewis.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.