How a student ad saved the day…

17 Aug


Over the years, I’ve lost count of how many student portfolios I have seen, but it must be in the high hundreds. Books have moved on from black A1 folders filled with hand-drawn layouts coloured in with magic markers to carbonmade websites filled with campaigns accompanied by slick films as if the plan is to enter them direct to the Cannes Lions. Of these portfolios, the vast majority have been instantly forgettable, although many improved dramatically after a few sessions [step forward Joe de Souza and Matt Fox] and quite a few ended up with the teams finding employment at good agencies.

Of the individual campaigns in these portfolios, only a handful remain front of mind. Remco Graham came in to HHCL with an ad for toothpaste to which he had attached a plastic specimen bag filled with dead bees. When we asked him what the bees were for, he told us he didn’t have any toothpaste. Tom Geens had a genius campaign for a comfy backpack, with a man waiting at an empty airport carousel for a bag that he’d forgotten he was already wearing. Alex Wilson-Smith and Sergei Ivanov had a campaign for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk which was so delirious that it remains one of my favourite ads, speculative or otherwise. However, the list of great student ads that I remember is a short one, but last week, one of them made all those hours of page turning and mouse clicking worthwhile.

As you can see from the picture, yours truly managed to get a motorhome wedged under a metal McDonalds awning. It’s easily done, especially when you normally drive a much lower vehicle and don’t read warning signs. The McDonalds staff were panicking that, should I moved the van forwards or backwards, I would rip their roof off.

It was at this point that I remembered an ad by a team whose names, to my shame, I can no longer recall. It was for the AA (I think) and involved a tall truck similarly wedged under a low bridge. In the ad, the AA man knows to let the air out of the truck’s tyres, thus freeing it. What in 1995 was an interesting piece of spec work became suddenly very useful in 2015. To the admiration of most of the customers and staff at the drive-thru, I let the air out of my tyres and was able to limp away.

So, creative team whose names I have forgotten, I salute you. If you read this and you’re in town, I owe you a beer. And if you’re a creative team in need of a crit, get in touch. It may end up helping both of us.

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