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Have TV ads lost some of their shine?

Last month’s British Television Advertising Awards causes me some problems. Following normal conventions, the BTAA shindig is an annual cause for celebration: a great big glitzy back-slap for the most emotive advertising medium there is. Heck, television is a £5 billion advertising industry and if ever there was a time to talk our business up, to relax our critical muscles and focus on the positive, well this is it.

But. But. Despite the best efforts of the BTAA committee and despite the generally supportive audience on the night, let’s be honest: if the 2010 BTAA is a showcase of the best of British commercials creation and production it was a disappointment.

Of course, there were some fine ads on parade. For the record Saatchi & Saatchi won the top gong, with its Dance ad for T-Mobile named Best Television Commercial of the Year. It’s a great film, enjoyed real amplification on YouTube and proved that agencies can turn around quality work in a matter of hours.

Mind you, there were plenty who privately thought the brilliant, Cannes Grand Prix-winning Carousel for Philips by DDB Amsterdam should have taken top honours. But is it an ad? And it’s not by a British agency, so maybe it didn’t quite qualify.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty was the Agency of the Year after picking up seven gold awards for ads including Barnardo’s Turn Around and the Johnnie Walker film The Man Who Walked Around the World. No quibbles with that, except that last year was not a vintage year by BBH standards, so it says something that it still manages to trounce the rest of adland.

As for Production Company of the Year, well it’s getting a bit predictable this one. Yes, you guessed it, the extremely fine Rattling Stick scored a hat trick, picking up the gong for the third year in a row.

But it was the Chairman’s award for outstanding contribution to the advertising industry that offered the most eloquent comment on how lacklustre the last twelve months really have been for TV advertising.

The award went to Steve Henry and Axel Chaldecott, the genius creatives behind the iconic ads produced by Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury at the tail end of the 20th Century (think Blackcurrant Tango, the AA, First Direct). Contemporary TV advertising was shamed by the comparison.

Claire Beale is editor of Campaign

Posted 19 April 2010 by Claire Beale
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