Where the prime minister got his latest sound bite.

by Mike Everett
Posted on: March 30th, 2015
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Source of David Cameron's latest sound bite

Terry Lovelock, the advertising copywriter who wrote ‘Heineken refreshes the parts that other beers cannot reach’ has much to answer for. Journalists, writers and celebrities have purloined his tagline for the Dutch lager on many occasions. Perhaps the most regal example is HRH Prince Charles, who wrote and asked Terry if he might paraphrase it in the introduction to a book of watercolours he was about to publish. The Prince’s version of the line was ‘painting refreshes the parts of the soul that other activities cannot reach’. On the strength of this Terry contacted Charles to ask if he might be awarded a royal warrant as ‘purveyor of aphorisms to HRH Prince Charles’. The Prince took Terry’s request in good part, and replied sending what Terry describes as a “rather nice letter”. But Terry’s career as a royal warrant holder never blossomed. Apparently, to hold a royal warrant you are required to perform the service for three years before you can even be considered. Terry didn’t fancy that.

Now it would appear that Prince Charles isn’t the only member of the establishment to make use of an advertising line. David Cameron, no less has got in on the act. The other day, in what’s been generally described as ‘an unguarded moment’, David Cameron likened being prime minister to eating Shredded Wheat. ‘Terms are like Shredded Wheat – two are wonderful but three might just be too many’.

The origin of this thought, ‘Bet you can’t eat three’, can be traced back to the same advertising agency, Collett, Dickenson and Pearce (CDP), where Terry Lovelock worked a few doors away from another copywriter, Tony Brignull. Let Tony take up the story.

“I read in research that the average serving was something like 2.4 servings. This sparked a thought in my mind that three Shredded Wheat would be too much to eat”. Tony wrote three commercials with his art director, Neil Godfrey that exploited this thought. One featured the actor, Richard Kiel, playing his ‘Jaws’ character from the James Bond film; another, the actor, Stewart Grainger. Both these commercials, plus the third, were produced by one of my Anatomised partners, Mark Andrews, who at the time was Head of Television at CDP. The famous ‘Bet you can’t eat three’ line didn’t emanate from the pen of Tony Brignull, however. Tony says he did consider it for the end of his commercials but dismissed it. “I thought it was too close to a campaign for peanuts in America, ‘bet you can’t eat just one’”.



A year later, another copywriter, Lynda McDonnell, coincidentally wrote exactly the same ‘Bet you can’t eat three’ line for a Shredded Wheat poster. Tony, who was Lynda’s boss at the time, approved it, despite his previous reservations. “I said yes because Nigel Rose (Lynda’s art director) made the poster so stunning without use of pack or brand name”.

So there you have it. The complete provenance from where the prime minister got his ‘unguarded moment’. Unlike Terry, I don’t think Tony Brignull will be in any rush to offer his services to David Cameron as ‘purveyor of sound bites’. Nor, the way things seem to be going for the PM, will anybody else, either.

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