Preliminaries

Hello.

I’m going to treat this initial blog as a soft launch. Because I’ve been told that all the publicity  – the massive war-engine of publicity which Campaign has at its disposal – is to be deployed next week.

So this week, we’re not expecting anyone to log on at all.

So, please look at this as a kind of preliminary taster.

A kind of “pre-come” column, if you will.

A preliminary and preparatory outpouring – but not the actual,  honest-to-goodness, genuine thing.

So, anyway – I was at the Creative Circle Awards bash last week. Although I was only there because my old mate and former boss Dave Trott was being given a lifetime’s achievement award, and I wanted to honour the bloke.

It’s always good to see Dave and he was on great form as ever.

Just not quite as feisty as I’d have liked. Because Dave taught me all I ever knew about being feisty.

The person who WAS feisty was Alan Carr, the paid-for entertainment.

It’s interesting seeing famous people try to host these awards dos – because they usually think the whole thing is about as important as an Under-12s 5-a-side rounders tournament, where your kid isn’t playing.

And they rip the piss out of it, and then wonder why the people they’re taking the piss out of, don’t find it hugely funny.

I’ve seen really good comedians looking shell-shocked and dazed as they joke away at the industry’s expense and get a less than rapturous response.

Which is hilarious, if you’re in the right mood.

Although I was once on the wrong end of it myself. A female comedian who’d been paid to host a Radio Awards night introduced me as the Chairman of the Judges. As I walked on stage, she said “Doesn’t he walk funny – it looks like he’s shat his pants”.

I kid you not.

To be honest, it wasn’t the happiest hour of my life doling out the awards after that. Me and the female comedian smiling into the camera as the plucky winners picked up their gongs – I think my grin might have looked a bit forced.

You know when you start thinking – oh god, maybe I HAVE shat my pants ?

There’s no subtle way to check really.

But it reminds me of a story about Dave Droga. Nothing to do with his pants, obviously, because Dave’s hygiene is second to none. But he once told me he was chairing some awards do in Perth – and he was insulted for an hour and a half by a glove puppet.

So, these things happen.

But, having spent a bit of time away from the ad industry, I must say that I enjoyed Alan’s cynical take on the whole thing enormously.

So – when a nicely provocative ad for HSBC won a well-deserved award,  Alan said something about how they’d “only lost £2billion that day – it must be working”.

He moaned about how bloody depressing charity ads were, reducing the audience to hoots of laughter as a Barnardo’s ad played out its emotional angst on the screen.

And most astonishingly of all, when he came to hand out the Platinum Award, and the spreads for the Harvey Nichols Bristol store came up on screen, he looked aghast and said “That’s not it, is it ?”

You don’t get that happening at the Oscars, do you ?

“And the winner of Best Picture is – No, that’s a mistake isn’t it ?”

But this extremely casual attitude, I would argue, pretty much sums up the general public’s view of advertising.

I’m gonna talk more about this – if this blog carries on. Because when you spend some time out of the industry, you realise that only really, really outstanding marketing cuts through.

That old Lord Leverhulme quote about 50% of his ad budget being wasted, and him not knowing which half it was – that’s bollocks really.

95% of marketing budgets are wasted.

And if Lord Leverhulme was around today, I’d tell him that to his face.

I’d say “Lord Leverhulme, me old mucker, you’re out by 45%. Go back and work it out again.”

We’ll talk more about this – and about whether there’s still a role for conventional advertising – in later blogs.

For now, I’ll leave you with a story I heard about a Creative Director leaving the Grosvenor one night, with an armful of awards. The taxi driver who picked him up asked him what had been happening that evening, and the CD said “It’s an awards do for the advertising industry”.

“Blimey”, replied the cabbie, “whatever will they think of next ?”

Anyway, that’s enough for the pre-come column.

Hardly seminal, maybe.

But I do hope it’s going to be sticky.

  • Red Brown

    So these awards things baffle me too. If you win an Oscar the sales of your film increase dramatically. If you pick up the Booker your work of fiction will be read by an audience most novelists could only dream of. And, if you win the Mercury music prize your music will be played on ipods everywhere. Even if you get short listed for any of these awards your sales prospects go through the roof. Yet, if you win an advertising award…

  • Chris Arnold

    ..you get paid more and more job offers.

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