My Great (Unpublished) Marmalade Campaign
The legendary art director George Lois once said that copywriters should never talk about their great ideas for ads that never got produced. He didn’t want to hear copywriters whining and pouting about brilliant concepts that never made it past the account executive or client.
I’ve always agreed with Lois’s philosophy, but I’m going to request that you grant me a one-time waiver right now. You see, I want to tell you about a neat ad campaign that I came up with, but never showed to a soul.
Here’s the story. Many years ago, on vacation in England, I was on the train heading up to London when I came upon an ad in the Times of London Sunday supplement that struck me as extremely dull and unimpressive. It was for Elsenham Marmalade.
The ad showed a jar of the stuff and the copy celebrated its many virtues. This ad was really dead on arrival. It struck me that Elsenham was selling a profoundly English product loaded with meaning and rich associations, and yet all they could come up with was a boring product shot.
I started thinking about how I would handle the advertising if the Elsenham account were mine, and as the train rumbled along towards Charing Cross station, I came up with the following campaign:
We’d run three, full-page color ads in weekly rotation. Each one would feature an instantaneously identifiable, absolutely quintessential Englishman or woman. Two that came to mind immediately at the time were Robert Morley, the great English comic actor, and Henry Cooper, the old British boxing legend.
In each of the ads, the famous person is sitting at a beautiful breakfast table with a classic, bountiful English breakfast spread out before them. There’s bacon, bangers, fried eggs, fried tomato, kippers, baked beans, toast; in other words (and to mix cultures), the whole enchilada.