Mark Howard and Jo Tanner are the creative founding partners of independent UK agency Duke. Howard (left below) began his career at Y&R and then became head of art at HHCL and St Luke’s. He has also directed commercials and formed creative-only agency Us with Tanner. Copywriter Tanner teamed with Howard at the multi-award winning HHCL, working on Guinness, Tango, Martini and Iceland.
Desert Island Ads
Mark and I are not ones for watching ads for watching ads sake anymore, so we’ve decided to take creative work with us which would in some way be useful beyond navel gazing (of which there might be a fair amount anyway, given the shapeliness of Mr Howard’s). So what follows have been chosen to enhance our stay in some practical way.
01 Ads to scare creatures by:
Our children are animals, so ahead of our shipwrecking we tested a number of ads out on them. All of them to a man yelped at this one, defecated where they stood and then hid in the trees for three days (to be fair Jackpot Joy elicited the same results, but this one is COOL as well as scary). This is the ad we believe would ensure that the only creatures in our sandy Circle of Trust would be Mark and I.
Be up standing and run for the hills for PlayStation’s ‘Mental Wealth’. (Fabulous phrase, Chris Cunningham darkness.)
02 Ads to attract ships by (through their flare and brilliance):
We were both unanimous in our decision on this one. What other ad would light up the sky like this? It spread like Tyrion Lannister’s wildfire when it was launched and was a star to steer by for us, when navigating the choppy seas of content production a few years ago. So throw your heads back for Echo tagging Air Force One.
03 Ads to keep us warm by (by burning them):
Easy. What burns well? Mother-fucking ukuleles! We hate them with a passion so consuming we often have to leave the office early, spitting blood. They render any ad featuring them deeply patronizing and odiously transparent. The chorus goes like this:
“Show some unthreatening beardy EastEnders la la la
Erect some farcical structure together la la la
Like a whale or a giant shoe ooh ooh ooh
Add some laughter, sunshine, little kids and checked shirts sha la la
Smother with ukuleles and whistling doobeedoo
And the mindless masses will pay any call charges you like tra la la”
Here’s a good example:
04 Ads to boost our morale by:
We think there will be many low tides for our self-esteem on the island.
When that happens, we’ll be ready.
I can imagine Mark staring into a rock pool and seeing a heavily bearded art director peering back, wondering whether all the D&AD pencils were really deserved.
He can imagine me fashioning a noose from coconut whiskers, wondering where my quiver of Brit Arrows is when I need it (to catch some Sunday lunch).
At times like those, we are instructed to play the other an ad which will immediately lift our mood and inspire us to Morris dance with joy because however bad life gets, it can never get as bad as this.
So please be heart-taking for:
05 Ads to make shoes by (uncomfortable, last forever with great grip):
Tyres make good sandals and Tony Kaye’s Dunlop ads sold tyres, lots of tyres. The ads didn’t just rattle the category, they subjected it to 11 points on the Richter scale. It was like a DM in the eye at the time. (Remember: if you really want to understand Tony Kaye, first walk a mile in his shoes. Then, when you do, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes!)
Please stamp your feet for Dunlop …
06 Ads to pleasure oneself by:
Even art directors have ‘needs’ apparently and Mr Howard is needier than most. His ‘need’ to have Chance the Rapper to help him ‘relax’ on the island surprises me too. I get the fine sentiments, lovely imagery and street cool thing, but is it really that horny? Hey, if it keeps him off me, I’m good with it.
So please be unzipping for Chance and Nike..
07 Ads to cast shade by:
We’re assuming the island is a proper equatorial one and not Shetland shoddiness. If we’re correct, we’ll need ideas, which put others in the shade to protect ourselves from the sun. Here’s one, which at the time cast a long shadow of a man pissing himself laughing. Left field genius of the first order.
Please be thigh-slapping for Bruno und Mr Shady.
08 Ads to die for:
When the time comes to shiver off our mortal coils (and loin cloths) and we have dug each other’s graves with coconut shells, we’ll need an ad to die for. Sony Balls? Balls. Gorilla? Borilla more like. Levis Launderette? Leave it out. No, they’re all knocked into a cocked hat by this fruity variant.
Please polish your loafers for Blackcurrant Tango.
09 Ads to sleep through a hurricane by:
Nothing, no one, no crab, quake or coconut will come between Mr H and his zeds. So given the probable roar of the riptide and howling of monkeys, we think we might need a somnolence.
Leica’s snappy 45-minute ad of a craftsman polishing up a camera body in real time is admirably bold in its ambition and the purity of its execution. It’s entirely unwatchable of course, but that’s the point – it’s as unsuccessful as an ad could be, but I believe, was successful in the ‘crackle’TM it generated. And as crackleTM is trademarked as one of our new agency’s founding principles, the hat has been duly taken off.
Wake up and smell the paint dry for Leica.
10 Ads to build hot tubs by:
When we were asked which ads we’d like to take to a desert island I immediately remembered this one. It stuck in my mind at the time. Thank goodness it did, eh? What a godsend to have a hot tub to sooth our aches after another day talking ship.