Friday 23 February 2018

AdLib: Dialogue key to having smash hit

Chemistry’s work for Lidl, like its Trolleycam ad, has been well received
Chemistry’s work for Lidl, like its Trolleycam ad, has been well received

Michael Cullen

British adman Paul Feldwick was in Dublin recently to speak at an industry gathering hosted by job recruitment group Indeed. Feldwick helped pioneer planning during his days at London agency Boase Massimi Pollitt (BMP) - which became BMP DDB, then DDB Worldwide. In a poll in 2000 of Britain's favourite 100 TV ads, 16 were made by BMP DDB.

Of the 16 ads, 11 were the work of legendary creative director John Webster, including the Cadbury's Smash instant potato ad with tin Martians laughing uncontrollably at the notion earthlings once peeled potatoes.

Wearing his planner's hat, Feldwick insists that when it comes to client briefs there should be more dialogue. Success is likely to be achieved through wider agency-client collaboration. By making it more of a two-way process, the power of advertising is teased out to deliver business-minded solutions.

Feldwick recounted how adland changed from the days of salesmen using one-dimensional print ads to a far more subtle seduction to win over consumers. WH Lever turned a bar of soap made from fat and ashes to a mass-manufactured brand called Sunlight using glycerine and palm oils. Lever believed advertising should create an aura around the brand. He pointed to how Byron Sharp, author of 'How Brands Grow - What Marketers Don't Know', insists that ads need to drum up what he calls "mental and physical availability".

Advertising has to ensure a brand is 'top of mind' - that it's famous. Feldwick pointed to 19th century US politician PT Barnum as someone who cherished fame. With his Barnum & Bailey circus, he pedalled hoaxes and embraced the word "humbug". It prompted Feldwick to title his book 'The Anatomy of Humbug', which John Fanning described as "essential reading" for Irish marketers wishing to see advertising differently.

Feldwick says PR can be "high-quality communications". In 1926, Ed Bernays - the father of PR - was commissioned by the tobacco industry to persuade women to smoke. He hired some swanky debutantes and got them to light up. "We're lighting our torches of freedom," they cried, as if marching for Women's Lib. Bernay's scam opened the door for women to appear in cigarette ads. "We're hearing more about content now, which is really entertainment," Feldwick said. Market research today makes him feel depressed. He says agencies have distanced themselves from studies, resulting in an over-reliance on a standardised approach to research and a dearth of insight. Feldwick believes the jury is still out as to how much the internet helps build brands.


Lidl, which asks suppliers to re-pitch annually, is briefing agencies as part of a review of its creative advertising account currently with Chemistry, which has pitched five times in its six-year relationship. Boss Ray Sheerin told AdLib they will decide on whether or not they will re-pitch once they see the brief. Lidl's head of marketing Sian Gray confirmed that media buying isn't part of the review. Chemistry's work for Lidl's Ladies' Gaelic football sponsorship, its 'Homecoming' Christmas ad and its Trolleycam series has been widely praised. It should be interesting to see which agencies pitch. DDFH&B handles Musgrave's SuperValu and Centra, Tesco is at Rothco, Publicis has Spar, while Ogilvy works for BWG's Mace. Irish International is pitching for BWG's Londis. TBWA and Bonfire created campaigns for Dunnes, while Boys and Girls has worked with Aldi.


The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) received 17 submissions for expressions of interest in possible new radio licences. The BAI will consider 13 entries for new FM services, while there were four for "observations on the process". Among the stations making submissions are Dublin's Radio Nova, Country FM and 8Radio Vision, run by Phantom co-founder Simon Maher.

Communicorp's Lucy Gaffney reacted strongly to the BAI licence move. She said the radio sector was struggling badly and more competition is the last thing that's needed. Gaffney said the Government should abolish the BAI broadcasting levy and redistribute the RTE licence fee. Meanwhile, News Corp's Wireless has made Margaret Nelson station director at FM104, and Q102 boss Scott Williams the new network content director.


Unilever's Sure deodorant and its media agency Mindshare created an Irish TV first by launching live GAA match statistics at half-time ad breaks on RTÉ. Once the half-time whistle blows, a 10-second ad provides stats from 12 games in this season's All-Ireland senior football and hurling championships. GAA media rights manager Noel Quinn said like other sports followers, GAA fans are looking for data around live televised games.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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