David Prideaux is ECD of Publicis Chemistry, the integrated agency within Publicis Groupe. He began his career as a copywriter at Bates Dorland, moving on to become a creative partner at Circus, creative director of Rapier and ECD of Publicis Dialog and Publicis Modem.
1. Silk Cut – Zulu
I remember an entire cinema in stitches watching this ad. It seems outrageously racist now, at least one member of the cast is blacked up. But I think it was written by Paul Weiland and directed by Alan Parker and boy does it show. When I left university all I had was a rather iffy English degree and a vague notion I wanted to be a writer. Then someone told me that advertising agencies employed people called copywriters and they wrote the scripts. It sounded a lot easier than writing a novel. And if you were this good, you could make the whole country laugh.
2. Nationwide Anglia – Go into the red
This was the campaign that proved you could still build a brand in press and showed the entire industry a different way to write. Its originality wasn’t the bravura use of long copy, which even at the time people questioned. It was the anger and aggression in the headlines. When I told my father I wanted to be a copywriter he thought it was the daftest idea he’d ever heard. Maybe I should have shown him this.
3. Carling – Dambusters
The climax to one of the most entertaining campaigns ever written. The script is genius, Roger Woodburn’s direction is pitch perfect and The Oblivion Brothers turn in another top-notch performance. Special effects and comedy combined – the tote double. We pitched for the business shortly after they’d made this and trying to better it produced complete paralysis in the whole department.
4. Lynx – Getting Dressed
Plenty of ads have a laugh about being sexy, this ad is sexy. It’s a deceptively simple idea to tell the story backwards, but the real joy is in the telling. The music makes it romantic not raunchy, the girl isn’t too out of reach and the directorial touches have just the right amount of wit. You want to watch it again and again.
5. Nike – Run London
Bob Gill said: “If you want an interesting solution, give me an interesting problem.” Here was a brand that instead of advertising its shoes had decided to organise a race. It turned event marketing into brand advertising with rough-edged, shouty, scrawly work that captured the zeitgeist of the new millennium. I was working for a start-up at the time and suddenly everyone was into running.
6. The Tap Project
This was the moment when the game changed. When integrated and earned categories became more interesting than TV. An idea you could – and would – tell someone about in a sentence. Proposition and response all wrapped up in one. I’d stepped out of the mainstream to work in agencies that were trying to do it differently. Seeing this, I felt I was doing the right thing.
7. Refuge – Don’t cover it up
A YouTube make-up artist catches her audience off guard by showing how to cover up signs of abuse. Traditional disruptive thinking applied in the new world. TV ads got the whole world laughing. This got the whole world talking – but in a way that could be measured, analysed and responded to. If it had an element of personalisation I’d say it was the best piece of direct marketing in years.
8. Adidas – Jump Store
The pop-up store you can’t ignore – you only get the shoes if you can jump high enough to reach them. It was created by an ad agency but it’s
sales promotion, done right. Just reading about it makes you smile. Yes they had Derrick Rose turning up to give it some oomph, but it’s a big leap (sorry) from the usual use of celebrity.
9. BA – #look up
This raises the bar for posters to about 37,000 feet – it’s so clever the technology even knows when the plane overhead is obscured by cloud. And it was created by a DM agency. The most exciting thing about the industry right now is that the best opportunity really is the one in front of you – wherever you’re working.
10. VW – Funeral
This doesn’t fit into my narrative, because it ran in America in the early 1960s, but I have to include it. In fact, if I could only take one of these ads with me, this would be it. Advertising is a complicated place these days. Every now and then it’s good to look back to a simpler time, take down the sacred texts of advertising from the shelf and re-read the gospel according to St. Bill. Then pick up cudgels and hurl yourself back into the maelstrom.