More guff from Microsoft, Crabbie’s Grand National, Janet Hull’s gong and a wish or two for 2014

***Has the ad world gone mad? We’ve already had Coke’s ‘Reasons To Believe’ and now Microsoft, that cuddly-wuddly corporation, has produced this opus for its failing search engine Bing hailing the ‘heroic women of 2013.’

Well some of them no doubt are; not least young Pakistani Malali Yousafzai who got shot shot by the Taliban for having the effrontery to go to school. But then we cut to Margaret Thatcher – come on guys, make a connection (other than female, obviously).

And so it goes….

It’s enough to make you yearn for Rosser Reeves.

***We should applaud Crabbie’s Ginger Wine, not usually to be found in my modest drinks collection, for stepping in to sponsor the Grand National, the famous and controversial British steeplechase held at Liverpool’s Aintree racecourse. Controversial because quite a lot of horses die or are injured in the testing four-mile race.

I’m a bit of a horse fan myself but I can’t say that I’d ever enter a horse I owned in such a race. But it’s a great tradition in the north west of England and Crabbie’s seems to have put some money into building safer fences. The trouble is that the horses these days are much better than they used to be – so they just go too bloody fast.

Anyway, Crabbie’s has appointed Lancashire agency Loaf Creative to launch a TV campaign for the three-day meeting, breaking on Monday.

Best of luck to both. You suspect the Grand National is in the last chance saloon.

Unknown-15-192x200***My friend Janet Hull (left), the UK IPA agency trade body’s director of marketing, has been awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for her ‘services to the creative industries.’ And very well-deserved it is too.

Janet does all sorts of stuff including the IPA/Metro Creative Pioneers Challenge to provide apprenticeships, Creative Skillset and Tech City. She also advises the Government, surely the most philistine in living memory, of the importance of these things.

I’m not really a fan of the honours list – regarding it as on a par with the Royal Family, Pippa Middleton and Union Jack knickers – but, if anyone deserves it/them for their unstinting efforts it’s Janet.

I see that Aviva CMO Amanda Mackenzie got an OBE too. Amanda’s the client to die for. By the way Amanda, you still owe me a Desert Island Ads.

***You may have noticed that we haven’t, so far, given our prognostications for the coming year. I’m not sure we have that many, to be honest. My friend George Parker thinks that WPP will take over Interpublic, as do many people at Interpublic. But I think WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell would sooner buy Channel 5.

What do we hope for? The really good indie agencies like Wieden+Kennedy and Droga5 to produce some really outstanding work (we expect good) and big clients to give big accounts to agencies outside the US and UK: Santo have shown they can do it in Latin America and there seem to be loads of good agencies in France, the Netherlands, Spain and Scandinavia.

And British agencies to desist from playing back the brief to the client. I can’t remember a time when there there was so little real creativity coming from British agencies. Digital bells and whistles sure; but big ideas, perfectly executed? Natch.

Anyway, it’s back to the grindstone next week so here’s a tune to be going on with – most of us could do with a bit more of this.

Update 7/1/14

Here’s the Crabbie’s Grand National ad from Loaf Creative.

A pretty decent effort: no horses thundering around at life-threatening speed, which is sensible. The starter with the flag looks a bit jazzy but I guess he’s there to show the Victorian heritage of the race.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.