Giles Keeble: advertising and selling, money or principle and where’s that great US work?

Last time I mentioned the importance of understanding ‘the role of advertising’: I should have written the role of THE advertising – the ad or campaign in question. The role of advertising is to sell: a product, a service, an idea. The role of an ad or campaign can be a number of different things- from communicating a new ingredient, a new model, a new price, or changing perceptions (for example, the great ‘It’s a Skoda. Honest’ or the original Lucozade repositioning).

Selling is the objective; the advertising strategy – and from that the creative strategy and execution – are how to get there. So you need to understand what the business issues are and how advertising can help, if it can, and in what way.


The Bell Pottinger disaster made me reflect how many agencies have taken the shilling over the years. Was it Bernbach who said a principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money? With a business to run and people to pay, it can be difficult. I worked for some agencies who would not work on fags and toys for example. Do any agencies draw a line these days, and if so where?


I’m in the US at the moment and have yet to see a good ad. There must be good stuff as it’s where great work originally came from. But there’s so much advertising it may simply be hard to find.

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About Giles Keeble

Giles Keeble started as a rep (account man) at JWT before moving to BMP. There Stanley Pollitt told him that JWT’s Stephen King had wanted him to become a planner. John Webster encouraged him to become a writer but after a number of years Giles moved to French Gold Abbott and, for a while, did become a planner of sorts. Returning to writing he went to David Abbott’s new agency AMV followed by WCRS and was then ECD of Leo Burnett for six years. He then returned to AMV before moving to Publicis and then Lowe in Hong Kong at the inception of the ‘World’s Local Bank’ campaign for HSBC. He now works as a writer and strategist as well as running advertising courses for senior clients.