Santander’s 123 campaign subsides under a scrum of celebrity ‘brand ambassadors’

Here’s the good news: we’re making a big TV campaign! And the bad – we’ve got to use the client’s ‘brand ambassadors.’

And such was clearly the fate of Havas Worldwide in the UK (formerly the agency known as Euro RSCG) with its new campaign for Santander’s 123 cash-back account.

There’s not one brand ambassador but three: golfer Rory McIlroy (above), racing driver Jenson Button and Olympian Jessica Ennis (the only good news for the agency would have been that Button’s McLaren colleague Lewis Hamilton – Santander sponsors McLaren – has departed for Mercedes).

So we’ve got McIlroy (currently in the worst form of his life) looking a right prat in his golfing kit (as they all do), not helped by a Nor’n Irish account; cyberman Button and Ennis (who can’t help but be rather winning) popping up all over the place to tell us about Santander.

Actually, given all that, it could have been much worse. Director David C Kerr deserves some kind of medal.

The same gruesome fate awaited BBH (which has also grappled with Button and Hamilton in the past, for Vodafone) when it took over the Virgin Media account from DDB.

But with Virgin, of course, it’s de rigueur to feature boss Sir Richard Branson, despite a mountain of evidence accumulated over the years that he can’t come even close to acting, even when he doesn’t need to say anything. Here he is with David Tennant.

Would BBH have put Branson in the script if they’d had a choice? Pull the other one.

Way back when they (CDP especially) used to do this kind of thing much better, as my friend Mark Andrews pointed out in his Desert Island Ads collection.

But in those days you could take the piss out of celebs if you were a genius agency armed with a load of chutzpah.

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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.

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