Friday, April 30, 2010

Truth, lies, advertising, politics and newspapers

After two years in adland I still don't understand the divide between how we are seen and how other institutions are seen. The worst excesses of hard sell advertising pale into nothing compared to the amount of manipulative bullshit we are fed every day by so called respectable industries.

Particularly shocking is the current election coverage. Here are two examples to demonstrate:

1. Paper publishes online survey suggesting David Cameron won debate number 2. However it was revealed that the poll was opened when he started his opening speech, and closed when he finished it, before the debate even happened!

2. The Sun's own online survey (which requires registration) showed a 40% victory for Nick Clegg in last nights debate. Their headline is: Scrambled Clegg and Toast - but Cameron is full of beans. Ignoring their own polls when it contradicts what they want you to think.

How is it even legal for some papers to talk about the election? The Sun, Telegraph and The Times are Tory propaganda machines. The Mail is a slightly racist Tory propaganda machine. This is the kind of bias that would be slammed in an FMCG product ad, yet millions are allowed to be exposed to what is at best heavy bias, and at worst outright lies.

Lets look at The Daily Star who during the ash cloud fuss published a front page with a 747 jet with engines burning and "TERROR AS JET HITS ASH CLOUD". It turned out that this was a picture from a 20 year old film about what could happen.

From now on every page of The Sun should have a large disclaimer explaining how they are owned by Rupert Murdoch and nothing they say should be taken as fair. There is no parity, no fairness, no justification for government to say that advertising shouldn't be allowed to mislead people when it so blatantly happens every day in our newspapers.

The future of branding isn't advertising. It's buying newspapers and being allowed to print what the hell you like regardless of the truth or motives.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Always a Woman

If you would like an example of how to make great traditional advertising, look no further than the latest John Lewis ad from Adam and Eve.

You have a well defined and well realised target audience. A nicely thought out idea. Well written creative. A client who understands advertising. A good production budget and good direction.

Spot on.

John Lewis - Never Knowingly Undersold


Vote for Advertising

In what is almost certainly the closest and most battling election in over a hundred years, things have been getting very interesting with twitter and facebook ablaze with comment following the leaders debates.

It's a very good sign that people are engaging with politics in a way that we have only really seen in the last US elections. The twitter buzz has been an important part of building the momentum that is happening around Nick Clegg.

The disappointing thing for me though is that adland hasn't helped make any knockout blows for any of the parties.

Lib Dems have had a good go with their Labservatives idea; which reasonably gets across the similarities between the two old parties.

Labour's work has been alright, but didn't really get the online reponse they might have hoped for. (as far as I have seen at least)

The Tories on the other hand have completely bombed, and ended up with work that has been spoofed and mocked in all quarters. So much so that in my view it's fundamentally damaged the way that people look at political advertising.

The problem is they all look and sound like political ads, sharing that holier than thou tone and smug humour (if you can call it that) which reads terribly to anyone outside the party circles.

No one has delivered anything revolutionary, there will be no Great Schlep here, no amazing nation defining work that changes the way we see a politician or party.

Perhaps the only smile for adland is that the real revolution has been through good old fashioned tv... with a shedload of tweets.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Burn It. For goodness sake Burn it.

If you haven't seen the Leo Burnett "We are so excited about your pitch" video, then you are well advised to stay clear of it unless you wish to have your pride in adland lowered by a tier or two.

Now it's perfectly understandable that people want to make silly internal videos for comic reference and enjoyment. That is fine.

It's perfectly understandable that sometimes these videos leak out.

It's perfectly understandable that as an agency you are very excited about the prospect of a new client, and might want to show them your enthusiasm in an unusual way.

However. To make what is effectively an internal video of you cocking about and then have the idea to send it straight to the new or potentially even not yet won client... madness.

It's not about being serious, god knows some client love having a creative agency that is a little bit madcap and exciting; but is making a sub-Amarillo bit of amateur film the way to show your creative nous? Surely any creative director would see that film and tell it to get the hell away from the client before they delete every copy ever made.

All agency videos with staff dancing to pop songs. Just say no kids.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Glass and a Half Empty

Sometimes there are ads that are just plain bad. Work that makes you want to tear your hair out (or whats left of it if you are a planner...) like Go Compare, DFS, etc. That's just life in advertising.

What's more disappointing for me is when a good campaign loses its way, and sadly that feels like the case with the new Cadbury's Dairy Milk ad from Fallon.

While 'Charmer' keeps the trademark decent soundtrack, this ad feels like it shouldn't be judged against Gorilla and Eyebrows. Where they were about branded content, conveying a mood and a feeling; this is a product ad plain and simple. You can almost hear a client shouting "more product" like Father Jack at a wet t-shirt contest... "That's it, more chocolate, more milk, more chocolate, muah ha ha ha!"

The poster campaign for UK advertising as branded content has gone back to the old ways. A shame, but I hope they will return to the new (so the speak).

That said, judged as a product ad it does the job. 60 seconds is too long for an idea that can be more than explained in 30, but it's a nice enough way of getting the point across; and it does make the product look good.

I guess the view on this ad depends how you base it: A decent product ad vs a rubbish follow up to those that went before it.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Boom Closet - Sample Scene

We open on the Marcus Brown Senior School hallway. Sam and Will are dressed in their janitors clothes and sweeping the floor.

Sam "It's pretty quiet in here today. Did we accidently come in on Bank Holiday Monday?"
Will "Not that I know of, though I've lost track of time zones recently"
Sam "It wasn't me who accepted the job in Honolulu"
Will "Yes, because you complained so viciously. (mocking voice) I don't wanna go to Hawaii. I wanna stay in the cold. I love Brighton. Excetera."
Sam "Because we spent so much time basking in the sun didn't we. Chase the stupid henchman, hide the gold jewellery, rescue Doug from the clutches of evil. What a waste of my flouncy shirt investment."
Will "Oh please"

Suddenly a gust of wind blows past, knocking Will over and covering the floor in paper.

Will "Oh bloody hell. Now look."
Sam "Wait, what's that note?"

Sam goes over to a piece of paper folded neatly by the door. He opens it.

Sam reads "I have captured Doug. He is being held captive in Breiten University campus in Dusseldorf. Turn up alone by 1900 hours or he will be eliminated. Love and kisses, the Kaiser. ... PS. That's 1900 german time, not filthy GMT time."
Will "Holy jerk sauce Sam. We better get over there."
Sam sighs loudly "I suppose so"
Will picks up his broomstick and clambers on
Sam "Very Harry Potter Will, where did you get that?!"
Will "It was advertised in the latest edition of Super Hero Janitor monthly. Did you not see it?"
Sam "Will, that's a Toys R Us catalogue."
Will "Oh. I wondered why I was still here."
Sam sighs
Sam "Come on..."
Sam drags Will out of the door.