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     Probably the best advice anyone ever gave me about writing advertising copy came in a job interview when I was first starting out in New York. It went something like this:
     When you begin your copy, don't write to the great, unwashed masses. Write every ad as though it were a letter to a close friend, and you had to tell them about something great you'd just discovered.
     With the Web being the most intimate medium we've ever had, that advice gains even more relevance. The ability to write one-to-one copy that talks with rather than to people has become crucial. And I, for one, am delighted.
     Below are links to some 15 newspaper, magazine and outdoor ads from my portfolio, arranged alphabetically by client so as not to put anyone's nose out of joint. Clicking on either the thumbnail of each ad or the client's name will produce a larger, somewhat more legible version of same. When you want to close the window, clicking on the ad itself in most cases is much handier than the red X.

Malcolm Douglas

Art director: Warwick Majcher; Clemenger Sydney
When the client told us Australian Geographic wanted an ad, Malcolm Douglas, because of his long association with Ampol and his identification with this country's geography, was a natural. Much as we would have loved to go on location to shoot this, the limited budget demanded that we use a stock shot and have the Toyota retouched in.


Apple Computer
Art director: Dean Mortensen; Clemenger Sydney
With Windows getting closer to where Macintosh had been way back in 1984, Apple asked us to take advantage of some new research. The client loved this ad so much they tried to get Apple in the States to adopt it. No go. (This was before the return of Steve Jobs.) Ironically, 'the sperm ad' went on to win a few prestigious US awards.

April 1

Australian Automobile Association/Petrol Tax
Art director: Dickie Dearing; Clemenger Sydney
It's a pity that only the RACQ had the balls (or sense of humour) to go with this bit of whimsy, for which much of the credit should go to Dickie. It ran, oddly enough, on April 1 in selected Queensland papers. Despite the levity of this one, the other hundred-plus ads I wrote in the two years before the 1990 Federal election didn't pull any punches. And they worked.

Six Fingers

Avis Car Rental
Art director: Chris Burgess; Y&R Sydney
We had six examples, and it was just a question of finding a novel way to make the point. The parenthetical apology at the end of the copy was meant only for my boss, the creative director. But he said to leave it in. This was one of Chris's last jobs as an art director before he metamorphosed into a copywriter. Roche did the digital enhandcement. (I still can't help myself.)

Go Blind

Art directors: me, Kevin Tierney; Clemenger Sydney
CityRail workers had an unfortunate habit of misplacing detonators and schoolkids an inevitable habit of stumbling across them. With some pretty horrific results. The client wanted a poster for schools that the students would actually pay attention to. After an initial enthusiastic approval, they decided to go with another, safer version. See alternative.


Fairfax/National Times
Art director: Lou Principato; Y&R Sydney
Once a month The National Times came with both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. To woo more Melbourne readers, editor Max Suich started featuring stories aimed at the Victorian market. Dennis Hearfield supplied the illustration after a couple drawn by Herald cartoonist Larry Pickering were judged just a tad too grotesque.

Fantasia Cruise

Fantasia Information Services
Art director: Mark Simpson; Clemenger Sydney
Since the product was basically technology, I decided that Fantasia should 'own' the future. Imagining what tourist flights, cruises and destinations might be like after a few more giant leaps, Mark and I created a series of ads which, appropriately enough, relied on technological manipulation.

Hill Samuel

Hill Samuel
Art director: Bruce Thomas; Magnus Nankervis & Curl
Brief: Make us unlike any other company in the financial business. 'Nuff said. This little ad caused a helluva lot of talk in money circles: just what the client was after. And, no doubt, helped them evolve into Macquarie Bank, the name they currently trade under.

ICI Mercury

ICI Botany
Typographer: Tony Langmead, Clemenger Sydney
Long story. I was on the set shooting my third rice-sculpture commercial when I got a phone call. Help! One of the Melbourne clients is in urgent trouble and it's a holiday in Victoria. The client was ICI and the problem was too much mercury in Sydney's drinking water. The papers had been pointing fingers for days, so I pointed out that I was busy. But the suit insisted it was all a media beat-up and, besides, there was no one else who could do it. That afternoon he and I were in Botany being briefed by the plant manager, various engineers and the PR lady. I wrote the headline and copy on the spot and they immediately faxed it to Melbourne for legal approval. The ad ran in the weekend newspapers...and the story went away in a hurry.

Kids' Design

New Children's Hospital
Art director: Dennis Hearfield, Clemenger Sydney
The new Children's Hospital at West Mead was nearing completion so Dennis and I went out to take a look. We were blown away by just how much inspired thinking had gone into the new facilities. When I asked about the knee-high sink in one of the rooms, our guide explained that their patients had been consulted throughout the design stages. The visual for the ad was instantly obvious; the headline took a bit longer.

Design Your Own Car

NSW Datsun Dealers
Art director: Adele Murphy; Thompson White & Partners
Datsun wanted to promote their four-cylinder cars. But since they made so many, an ad that talked to one audience would unlikely connect with another. At the same time readers are designing their own cars, they're also creating an ad aimed specifically at themselves. Copies were also printed up in gummed pads for busy salespeople to give out to anyone waiting. (Think of it as an interactive ad.)


Art director: Greg McAlpine; Coudrey Dailey
One of the best accounts I've ever worked on, mainly because one could presuppose a certain amount of wit and intelligence on the part of the target audience. Thus, I saw no need to ever mention the word 'cuckoo.' This ad and three others appeared in the usual financial/business press aimed at high fliers.

Tommy Burns

Tooheys Flag Ale
Art directors: Lou Principato, Warwick Majcher; Y&R Sydney
At the time a few sceptics ever-so-knowingly advised me that beer drinkers didn't read long copy. So I reminded them that they read the sports pages where, coincidentally, this Flag Ale campaign would run. I visited Tommy Burns (Geoffrey Murphy) in this Northern Beaches unit, and he kindly provided the actual gloves, trunks and shoes he wore that night.

Knee Bone

Xerox copiers
Art director: Peter Tiisler; Needham, Harper & Steers, New York
We weren't getting anywhere with this brief, so I asked Pete whether there was any visual subject he'd always wanted to do but hadn't yet managed. And he replied: car crash dummies. So I wrote the headline and we won a few awards with it. Just another facet of the creative process.

Cape Cod House

Xerox computers
Art director: Bill Weinert; Needham, Harper & Steers, New York
For the headline to work, the house had to look 'quiet.' So photographer Joel Baldwin brought along a smoke machine. Just as well, the day turned out brilliantly sunny. I'm afraid the copy was amended by an inexperienced client who fancied himself a writer. It wouldn't happen again.

If you'd also like to listen to my radio work, just click Radio. To see to my TV commercials, click TV. And to check out previous Print Ads, click Archives.

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