Anna Carpen: why BMP’s John Webster is my ad hero

18 Feet & Rising ECD Anna Carpen chooses the master of British TV advertising as her Ad Hero.

John Webster (below) is arguably the person who had the longest reign as undisputed champion of the best work. He certainly wrote more of the most applauded TV ads than anybody else.

John’s work is so well crafted. Every element, from the cinematography, to the music, to some of the best end lines and copy ever written. The range and different kinds of work are also breath-taking. From sunny and funny Kia-Ora spots, to Guardian Points of View, a gritty, hard hitting black and white film that’s still used in prisons to this day to help educate about prejudices we all hold. (Documentary with work below.)

When you think about John Webster, you think about more than just the work. John cared deeply for the audience he was talking to. Respectful that he was interrupting their time and attention to sell them something, he wanted to make sure they would always be rewarded. He listened deeply to audience feedback, enabling an entire agency – BMP – to become world famous for its ability to reconcile creative distinctiveness and work that touched its audience.

Privately he was a humble man, who would have a pint and a game of darts rather than get up to the antics that were rife in the industry at the time. It was John’s love of the everyday lives of the public that helped make him a true crusader of the craft. Taken from us too soon, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to meet him. I will do all I can to deliver work the way he did.

Anna Carpen is ECD of 18 Feet & Rising.

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