George Lois said, “Don’t show me your drawerful of great roughs.
If it don’t run it ain’t advertising.”
Anyone can write a great ad that never runs.
What really cuts through is when you see an ad running and you can’t believe they got away with it.
I used to feel that when I saw Saatchi’s ads.
I was jealous.
They were running ads that we couldn’t get away with.
So I tried to work out what we were doing wrong at BMP.
The problem was we lost a lot of good ads because the ITCA kept turning the scripts down.
The ITCA (now the BACC) were the TV censorship authority.
So what could we do about it?
Well, at that time, the TV department was in charge of getting scripts cleared through the ITCA.
So the TV producer would send the script over to the ITCA and relay their decision back to the creative department.
That was it, no discussion.
We lost a lot of good work this way.
The problem wasn’t writing good ads, the problem was getting them to run.
So when we opened GGT, I thought we’d do it differently.
TV producers couldn’t argue about the ITCA’s decisions, that wasn’t their job.
So we’d use people whose job it was to argue.
We’d use account men.
Immediately our rate of good ads on air went up.
Account men sold scripts for a living, to clients.
The only difference was now they were also selling them to the ITCA.
If there was a problem, they’d argue it, they’d try to find a way around it, They’d even advise us on a rewrite.
We began to get ads on air that other agencies couldn’t.
Of course, sometimes even the account men couldn’t do it.
That’s when you have to decide how badly you want to ad to run.
Do you want it badly enough to get off your arse?
If you do, you may have to use some creativity to get it to run.
We had to do it several times.
Once with a commercial we wrote for Knirps (pronounced K-nirps) umbrellas.
The problem was branding.
We had to convince people to care what brand of umbrella they bought.
Most umbrellas break when they turn inside-out.
Check out the waste-baskets up and down Oxford Street after a rain storm.
But Knirps were stronger, so you just popped it back again.
We thought a good way to demonstrate this was to have a guy standing in a carwash using the umbrella.
Then at the end say, “YOU CAN BREAK A BROLLEY BUT YOU CAN’T K-NACKER A K-NIRPS.”
But when we sent it to the ITCA and of course they turned the script down.
They had two grounds for objection.
One: they said they didn’t believe an umbrella would survive in a carwash.
Two: ‘knacker’ was a swear word.
So, first off we agreed to demonstrate the umbrella’s strength in a car wash.
We made an appointment for them to see it for real.
We got there early so the actor could practice holding the umbrella in such a way that it wouldn’t break.
Eventually we got it right.
So when the ITCA turned up, we were able to ’prove’ to them it worked.
Then I went to a bookshop and looked at dictionaries.
I found two dictionaries that said “knackers’ was a swear word meaning testicles.
And I found two dictionaries that said “knacker’s yard” was a place where old horses were taken to be killed, so ‘knackered’ meant broken or useless.
Obviously, I only took the second two dictionaries and went along to the ITCA.
I showed them the two dictionaries that had the definition in I wanted.
And so I was able to ‘prove’ to them that ‘knacker’ wasn’t a swear word.
And we got a terrific ad made.
Instead of just a script that never ran.