HHCL (formally Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury and Partners) was an advertising agency based in London. The agency devised campaigns for Tango, including the Orange Man commercial in 1991, and St George, for Blackcurrant Tango, in 1997. In 1994, it created the Does exactly what it says on the tin campaign for Ronseal.
The firm had innovative working practices[clarification needed], and was voted 'Agency of the Decade' by Campaign magazine in 2000. After mergers and a name change to United London, the agency was closed in the beginning of 2007.
Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury & Partners was founded by Rupert Howell, Steve Henry, Axel Chaldecott, Adam Lury and Robin Price and launched on October 17, 1987.
In 1994, the agency became the first to offer both above and below the line advertising[clarification needed] as well as PR, an initiative labelled 3D Marketing. HHCL was bought by Chime PLC in October 1997, and merged into the Red Cell Network in January 2002. The HHCL initials were dropped and the agency become United London in January 2006, before being closed down by its owner WPP Group in the beginning of 2007.
HHCL believed that the quality of a company’s communications could lead to a real competitive advantage and produced a book written by Adam Lury: Marketing at a Point of Change which expounded this view. HHCL regarded themselves as professional radicals—a positioning later applied to the agency as a whole.
During a ten year period HHCL helped launch three new companies in First Direct, Egg and Go. Their sister company, Heresy, launched Ocado. During this period, HHCL also worked with The Automobile Association, Tango, Pot Noodle, Martini and Iceland.
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The company organised itself around project teams, making teams of account director, strategic planner and creatives collectively responsible for creating work. Early on in the process, clients were invited to tissue meetings during which a range of early ideas were discussed.
The multiple route approach carried on through to creative development research. These were research groups carried out by the project team’s strategic planner and which were used to develop the work further. Working this way, very few projects had to go back to the drawing board and resulted in the agency having sector beating margins of over 25% over a number of years.
The agency embraced the idea of hot desking so that employees of various disciplines sat with each other. The offices were designed to be open and vibrant, intended to be more like a newsroom than an ad agency and new work and new policies were showcased in the agency's own in house television show, The Howell Henry Show.
In 1989, HHCL launched the banking service, First Direct. Its initial launch advert was an Audi advert being interrupted by an alleged broadcast across time from 2010, celebrating the 21st anniversary of the company (the interruption was agreed with Audi beforehand). This was later followed by two commercials that aired simultaneously on ITV and Channel 4, one offering an optimistic view of First Direct and the other a pessimistic view. The agency then created a number of short, surreal spots in which the visual had little or nothing to do with the message. It was these adverts that gave HHCL its reputation for being avant-garde.
In a campaign for Fuji, using the line 'with the right camera and the right film, you can change the way people see the world', the ads showed a man with Down syndrome smiling at the checkout girl in a supermarket and an old couple kissing.
HHCL devised a commercial for Tango in 1991, in which a young man drinks some Tango, and a large orange man then runs up to him and slaps him on the face, while two astounded commentators report on the action. The commercial was voted the third best commercial of all time by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. After children began copying the orange man's slap, the commercial was banned and reshot with the orange man planting a kiss on the Tango drinker.
In 1994, the agency rebranded the vehicle breakdown service The Automobile Association as The Fourth Emergency Service, and was responsible for the line 'It does exactly what it says on the tin' for Ronseal. In October 1996, HHCL created the commercial St George for Blackcurrant Tango. The commercial was voted one of the 100 best commercials of all time.
In 1997, HHCL and the brand consultancy, Wolff Olins jointly launched the airline, Go. In August 2000, Time UK handed its advertising account to HHCL, which saw the end of the adverts featuring Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek.
A campaign for Pot Noodle in July 2002 saw the brand call itself "the slag of all snacks", which prompted 310 complaints and resulted in the advert being banned. May 2005 saw the first advert in another Pot Noodle campaign banned for being overtly sexual.
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- "Marketing at point of change" (PDF). Garethkay.typepad.com.
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- "Maxell Israelites advert". YouTube. 22 June 2006.
- "Programmes - Most Popular - All 4". Channel4.com.
- "Ronseal Advert". YouTube. 16 February 2008.
- Bernice Kanner, 100 Best TV Commercials: And Why They Worked(Times Books, 1999)
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