In praise of Amy

“My name is Amy I like slugs and snails”

I first read those words 27 years ago on a bus shelter in Brixton.  I remember it so clearly because Amy is part of the reason why I work in the communications industry today.

On this, my first blog post for Campaign, it seems fitting to go back to where it all started for me…

Amy CampaignIt was 1984, the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher was firmly in power, the Olympics were being held in Los Angeles, and a new craze called ‘Hip-Hop’ was sweeping the inner cities.

I remember seeing the image of Amy on the side of a bus shelter in Brixton on my way to school. I don’t remember consciously thinking much about it, but I must have been curious.

A long time passed by. I can’t say exactly how long, but to my mind it felt like months before I saw the image again. When Amy reappeared, the message read: “My name is Amy. Remember me?” Underneath was a simple declaration that Adshel ads work.

I was awestruck by the simple brilliance of the idea and gained a new respect for the power of advertising.

The Amy campaign – known rather harshly in the industry as a ‘spoof’ – apparently featured the daughter of an Adshel Sales Director and was designed to highlight the effectiveness of the medium. Almost 30 years later, I can attest to the fact that it worked.

Critics point to the fact that ‘spoof’ campaigns work because they have the freedom to do things that wouldn’t get past the average Marketing Director, but I don’t buy that argument.

In today’s media saturated, socially networked, hyper connected environment where campaigns are circulated on YouTube and Twitter on one day and are old news the next, Amy reminds us that a simple idea and a long-term vision can produce dramatic results.

1984 was also the year of Ridley Scott’s famous advert for Apple computers. As sacrilegious as it may sound, that simple bus shelter campaign had more impact on me than Apple’s Super Bowl extravaganza.

Thanks Amy.

NB: Credit is also due to Clear Channel (now owners of Adshel) who sourced the image of the original Amy campaign in response to my request.

Update: In response to some of the comments I’ve received on Twitter, I thought I’d ask: What was the first ad that really made an impact on you?

  • Arabella Lambe

    Hello, I am Amy!  I was googling “My Name is Amy” to see if anyone actually still remembered the campaign or indeed talked about it and it picked up your editorial. Very funny, and pleased that I/my father (who came up with the campaign years ago) was one of the reasons you joined the advertising world!! Sadly I am no longer in the advertising, but did a 10 year stint before moving to Hong Kong and having kids….so maybe Amy influenced me too!

    • Jonathan Akwue

      Hi there!

      I’m so pleased that you saw this post and responded. Your father’s idea was inspired. It is a story that I’ve retold to anyone willing to listen over the years, so it’s great to hear from ‘Amy’ herself! 

      It’s also interesting to see that you did a stint in adland too. Just shows that great campaigns can affect people in ways that few of us expect. 

      Thanks again for your note.

  • http://twitter.com/stephen_bell Steve Bell

    In an idle moment at work, I just searched Google images for “My name is Amy I like slugs and snails” because I, too, remember this and wanted to show it to a few colleagues – to make much the same point you do in your post, Jonathan.

    I remember at the time, there was quite a bit of discussion (some of it even in the press) about who Amy might be; the most popular theory being it was teaser advertising for a new film or TV programme.

    How great to see a response from Amy herself!  Yes, Amy, I suspect there
    are more people who still remember you than you might imagine!  :-)

    • Jonathan Akwue

      Thanks Steve,

      Glad I’m not the only person old enough to remember the campaign!

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