Ross Newton and Richard Worrow are creative directors of Partners Andrews Aldridge.
Desert Island Ads
Like many creative briefs, the task here is very straightforward. The challenge is how to execute it in a way that hasn’t been done before.
So here goes.
We’ve decided to split our choices using the disciplines of copywriting and art direction. And even though all these ads have an element of both, our choices are clearly led by one or the other of these core craft skills.
Ross Newton – copywriter
So here are my Desert Island Ads under the banner of copywriting. I’m not suggesting these are the finest examples of copywriting to ever come out of adland. They’ve just all stuck in my mind (I resisted the urge to dust off the annuals or hit Google) as great reminders of how powerful copy can be.
I distinctly remember studying this public service poster during our first copywriting workshop at Bucks College. Charles Saatchi’s Health Education Council copy was so good there was no need for an arresting visual of fly vomit. In fact, they didn’t need to show a fly at all. The words did all the work and made the whole class do a collective ‘eww.’
I was only six years old when AMV first launched their campaign for The Economist. So it wasn’t until I was poring over old D&AD annuals in the library that I fully appreciated its brilliance. The one above was the very first poster execution and it’s still my favourite. Even though the art direction is simple, clean and striking, it was the copy that brought the wit and charm that defined their tone of voice for decades to come.
I’d just landed my first job as a junior copywriter when this radio spot won the top prize at that year’s Aerial Awards. I’d loved the possibilities radio offered, ever since a really inspiring workshop with Mandy Wheeler. But this Road Safety ad totally blew my mind. And it was for such an important brief too. The print executions were great, but this idea was made for radio.
This poster campaign for Depaul UK’s Nightstop programme popped up during Creative Circle judging last year. Writing compelling copy that will change opinions and gain support is difficult at the best of times. But writing copy that highlights prejudices on one hand, and then delivers benefits on the other – all at the same time – is truly awe-inspiring. And there isn’t just one execution either, the copywriter crafted a whole series of them.
I loved the D&AD Festival of Creativity earlier this year. The talks were first-rate and being able to view all the work was a rare treat. This press ad for Guy Cotten Lifejackets really stood out in the Press section. It was the only long copy ad in a sea of full-bleed images. I started reading the copy and couldn’t stop. Great writing should always make you feel something, but this was on another level. Oh, and I didn’t manage to get to the end on one breath either. Can you?
Richard Worrow – art director
How can you sell a product with nothing but a picture? Simplicity at its very best. Just a logo in the corner and it all makes sense. Rewarding the reader and reminding us in adland just what clever people we really are. More seriously, it’s just so satisfying to actually nail it and nail it well. Here are five examples of ads I’ve seen over the years that have made me think, smile and then get massively jealous I didn’t do them.
I was only old enough to smoke those candy sticks with the red painted ends when this Silk Cut ad by Paul Arden first appeared in the Sunday supplements. It was the start of one of the most memorable print campaigns of all times. I remember stopping to look at this ad and working it out. It was one of those ads that made me think about advertising. Who were the people behind this? Luckily for me I found out and even met the man in later years when I got my first job in London.
This ad from 1989 made me realise I had to get out of Norfolk. It’s one of the first that I can remember that didn’t have a voiceover telling us of the powerful properties painkillers had. By using nothing more than an arresting visual it perfectly showed how popping a Nurofen or two could reduce a banging headache to that of pain-free bliss. It took on the big boys of the paracetamol world and really helped increase sales – no doubt giving the competition a headache of their own.
I’ll start by saying how I remember seeing this Nike ad opposite me on the Victoria line going home exhausted as a young creative. Despite its utter brilliance it was somehow compromised. Oh yes, that little bit of type in the bottom right. Did it need it? No way, it was so powerful, Sampras a rising tennis star, soon to dominate world tennis. Cover up those two words and it’s even more powerful. I’d like to think it was the client who made them do it.
Any seasoned pro couldn’t help but be impressed by this ad from RKCR/Y&R. In such a simple and compelling way it completely got over the need to use a headline. It was one of those real ‘ah, yes!’ moments when I first saw it. Really smart, really clever and said everything that the much loved Land Rover Defender stood for. An account that has had consistently good advertising, for me this is the best (4×4) by far.
Now we’re in the digital age and as print becomes rarer and rarer, the irony is that I still see these ads posted on social media. Why, we ask? Well everyone who used to play with Lego as a kid can relate to it. A time when life was simple and innocent. When our imaginations were vivid and unstoppable. It perfectly sums up what Lego stands for and why it’s still so popular today. And not a headline in sight. Brilliant stuff.