Magazine article Marketing

Keep It Maclean

Magazine article Marketing

Keep It Maclean

Article excerpt

Uisdean Maclean was brought up in the Outer Hebrides and did not see a television set until he was 12. Now television forms the core of his working life - or at least the bits between the programmes.

He heads the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC), where he and 14 staff spend their time watching TV ads, reading scripts and deciding which make it on to the box.

They will view more than 20,000 commercials this year. Many of them won't make it to broadcast. Many ideas are killed off at the script stage.

"No nonsense", "straight talking", and "tough" are words that crop up a lot when you ask advertising people about Maclean. He seems a little nervous of giving interviews, but clearly sees it as necessary that the industry understands the job the BACC has to do.

The problem Maclean identifies is that too many people believe his job is about preventing good advertising with a cutting edge from making it to the screen.

They also believe that Maclean is a dour, terse, tough little Scotsman who just wants to play it safe.

The problem for Maclean is that he believes the BACC's role is quite the opposite: helping good advertising clear the hurdles where it can. And he may be a short Scotsman, but those who know him say he is really quite a softie.

He certainly seems genuinely upset that people in advertising still don't understand what the BACC is about.

"I am not impervious to those comments, but you get used to it," he says, with more than a note of hurt in his voice. "What is frustrating is that it comes from the creative directors, who rarely get to see me. That's up to the suits. It's annoying because they are having a go at me when they don't get to see me."

The truth is Maclean and his team just can't win. Too cautious and conservative and they raise the hackles of the agencies. Get it wrong and let ads slip through and you end up with the kind of furore which followed Rover's 'Hostage release' ad.

The Independent Television Commission upheld complaints by 134 viewers about the ad, which had been pulled in the face of a barrage of public and press criticism.

That same week, the ITC also upheld complaints about a Citroen Saxo ad in which actor Bryan Brown's face transformed into the devil's. The ITC said it was too scary. and had been allowed to go out too early. The BACC had cleared both ads and failed to impose a curfew on the car commercial. …

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