Leading industry figure and chairman of judges at this year’s Roses Advertising Awards, Gerry Moira, has told The Drum that he yearns for the return of ‘The Big Idea’.
The chairman and director of creativity at Euro RSCG London, famed for his ‘Gripping Stuff’ campaign for Pirelli while at Publicis in the eighties, believes the industry is guilty of placing too much emphasis on execution, rather than concept.
“I’m always looking and thinking, what is the big idea behind this?” Moira said. “When I judge at The Roses, it won’t be any different; I’ve always been more interested in the conceptual side of the business rather than the craft,” he added.
Moira said that while he’s looking forward to assessing the strength of the regions at the 1 May event, he fears that some of the smaller agencies can be creatively handicapped by their pressing need to pay the bills.
He said: “The accounts that pay the rent aren’t always the most fertile for creativity. The wins that are most celebrated are often the ones that sap away most of the originality.
“It’s the smaller brands that take the risks because they are the ones who just say, ‘fuck it, we’ve nothing to lose’. Just look at the originality of Innocent Drinks, compared with steady, rarely-changing, Coca Cola.”
The countless media developments – such as the progression of TV, online and mobile – since starting out as a copywriter at London’s Ogilvy and Mather in 1977 are what continues to spur Moira on. Despite this, he feels the industry has lost something along the way.
“There was a time when everyone was looking at the bigger picture. I remember the AA’s ‘fourth emergency service’ concept, yet all the accolades for that went to the rather dull executions of grease monkeys leaning over bonnets, not the brilliant idea.” Moira said.
He added: “We need to see a restoration to the primacy of The Big Idea, in order to keep the industry fresh and invigorating.”
Moira conceded though that increasingly-squashed marketing budgets allow less freedom for agencies to be too innovative.
“The life-span for most companies’ marketing director is very short, on average around 11 months. To stay in their job they’ve got to get results and show instant dividends, which means, wrongly, they are less enchanted to take risks in their marketing.”
There’s now less time and less room for foresight, he continued, “Advertising has to be immediate and that makes it harder to see out big ideas.
“Now that clients are inclined to opt for specialists there’s less potential for holistic ideas.”
Moira is looking forward to reacquainting himself with the regions and said that he has always been impressed with the quality of work when he’s ventured North in the past. He promised that he won’t bring with him the patronising attitude that sometimes emanates from the capital.
“Standards are standards, wherever in the country you are,” he said. “I’ll be looking for good work, the sort of freshness and occasional close regional connection that you don’t get nationally.”
Moira rose through the ranks at Ogilvy and Mather to join the agency board as creative director at 28. In 1982, he joined Publicis, where as well as creating the iconic Pirelli campaign, he also masterminded the memorable ‘What’s Yours Called’ advertising for Renault 5.
Moira left in 1987 to co-find his own agency, WMGO. After selling up eight years on, Moira re-joined Publicis as executive creative director. Under his tenure, the agency grew from 13th to third largest in the UK, while he also conceived the ‘Va-Va-Voom’ campaign for Renault Clio.
Moira joined RSCG London in 2005 and ranks his greatest career moment as kissing Kate Moss. “It wasn’t a snog,” he clarified, “but I didn’t wash for a week.” Surely few of the Hilton’s tables at this year’s Roses will sport anecdotes which inspire such jealousy.
The deadline for entering the Roses Advertising Awards 2008 is Friday 25 January. For more information, contact Katy Thomson on 0141 559 6062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.