Years ago Terry Lovelock wrote some very funny commercials at Collett Dickenson Pearce for TV Licence Evasion. In one of these ads a man and his mate are walking towards the man’s flat. The man tells his friend that he’s been fined for not having a TV Licence. As they enter the flat, the man says that he ‘had to get rid of a few things’ to pay the fine. We see that the flat is totally devoid of furniture, except for a TV set. ‘Never mind, still got the box’ he says, fondly patting the top of the TV set. Alan Parker shot it.
I am recounting this story because I think it would be fun for Terry to be let loose on Ratedpeople.com. Currently, this website runs what is probably the dullest commercial on TV. And, like all dull commercials, it seems to be on all the bloody time. In case you don’t know, Ratedpeople.com is a website that recommends local tradesmen who can be trusted. The near-soporific voice-over begins with the words ‘let’s be honest, it can be hard to find a good tradesman’. I won’t bore you any more, but let’s get back to Terry.
Imagine the amusement to be had with tradesmen and the chaos they can cause if they’re useless, especially if you’re Terry Lovelock doing the writing. Talking of Terry reminds me of his anarchic antics in the seventies. When Terry wasn’t writing funny commercials, he did a mean line in unofficial all staff memos.
On one memorable occasion, the hottest day of the stifling summer of 1976, Terry asked CDP staff to assist in testing the central heating system by closing all windows and sitting beside their nearest radiator. Another time Terry exhorted CDP workers to move their desks to the eastern side of the building to counter subsidence that had been discovered by Camden council on the west side. One or two people took these memos seriously and began moving furniture, but most saw them for what they were, had a laugh, and got on with their work. One person who didn’t laugh in the slightest was Laurie Petch, CDP’s general manager, under whose name Terry wrote the memos. He suffered a complete sense of humour failure and complained about Terry to Nigel Clark, the assistant managing director. Thereafter, all-staff memos had to be signed off by a member of the agency management. This had the unfortunate effect of nipping Terry’s burgeoning career as a writer of all-staff memos in the bud.
Finally, a commercial I do like – at least, I think it’s a commercial. It’s for the Melbourne Metro system and was done by McCann Erickson in that city. It’s called Dumb Ways to Die and is charming, easy to understand, and wonderfully simple. Click on this link to see it. As ever I welcome your comments.