Thursday, August 25, 2011

Please Press My Button

I think it is about time that the internet got an equivalent of the -1/dislike button.
A button for those with an interest in functionality and user design that says a site is bad.
I call it:

The 'This Site is a Piece of shit' Button

Offenders I have seen this week:
  • Facebook apps that force you to like them and then don't work.
  • Web pages that link you to someone elses link, which takes you to someone elses link, which might (if you are lucky) take you to the place you actually want to go.
  • Pop unders? In 2011??
  • Brand sites that make you register before you can engage with them
  • "I just spent 5 minutes getting my QR reader to work for this?!"
  • Mobile sites that are big enough to strain a home Wi-Fi connection
  • This video is not available in your country (even though the content is)
  • The Ben Terrett Award for bad typography
  • (From Nick) "Let me just resize your browser window for you, as our site is so awesome it has to take up your whole screen!"
  • (From Nick) "How about some fancy music? No? Well, I'll play it anyway, and hide the 'mute' button in the top right hand corner for you."
  • (From Miss Heather) An intro page. Still? Really?! Do you not see why this is such a bad thing?

Any more?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The TV Fan and The Football Fan

Gordon's Gin clearly know how to make an ad that appeals to me. Take an actor from probably the best show on British TV in the last decade, add some funny lines, and sprinkle with some words from a legend of football.

The idea is nice too, and apart from feeling a little overdone they come across well.

I haven't had gin in about 12 years though, going to be a fair job to sell it to me...

Annoyingly though, Campaign are now paywalled, Visit4info won't let you embed, and YouTube don't have it... so here it is.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fox vs The Internet

I have never understood why broadcasters like Fox are so reluctant to put their videos on sites like You Tube.

Surely the whole aim of these programmes is to make them part of popular culture, to get people talking and sharing so that viewing figures and ad spend goes up?

So why are they so obsessed with the antiquated idea that having it online will cost them money, if anything it is the other way around. I understand not putting full episodes up, but little clips and gags are surely the best trailers you can get? It was seeing Family Guy clips that got me watching the show again after a while of not bothering.

I've been waiting a decade for Warner to release Animaniacs on UK DVD. Watching clips online is the only way I can see and talk to people about these shows. Hellllooooo Nurse. Still, at least i can still find clips from the underrated The Critic, until they take them down.

So the only way i can now get clips of the Simpsons and Family guy is to rip them or download them (both technically illegal). Or I end up with crappy bad quality shorts that do nothing to sell the show.

Get off your crippled high horse Fox and join the 21st century... ohh riiiight.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bad Design is... Bad

I have been frustrated recently by a number of pieces of bad design and packaging I have come across. Something which partly seems to be related to the Sainsbury's bag problem. Whereby to save waste they make the bags thinner, but that means they split open so much that you haveto put less in each one, and often double wrap stuff leading to you using far more bags than before.

1. Flora Buttery

Nice product, terrible packaging. The lid doesn't fit well onto the tub. It feels half on, but if you press it down it rips and then doesn't stay on at all. Useless, to the point where i don't want to buy it.

2. Nestle Ice cream mini tubs

I bought one of these the other day. I pressed the lid down and it didnt go, until the whole tub scrunched up into a mess. Useless.

3. Muller

My wife went to buy a load of muller yoghurts yesterday. Normally they are colourful and you can pick them out easily. Except someone at Muller decided it would be good to rebrand all of them blue, making it ten times harder to work out the flavour you are looking at.

In addition, they were all stored in those cardboard containers, which were all the same blue with a Muller logo. What used to be an easy to navigate range became a total wall of blue. After looking around for 30 seconds my wife gave up and didn't buy any. I bet she isn't the only one, horrible case of design that doesn't check for usage.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Problem of Underclass

Watching Manchester fall victim to looters and vandals was horrible. Seeing people trash their own city and boasting about it in barely comprehensible language was a nasty sight to behold. It's perfectly acceptable to be full of rage at these people. I can understand calling them scum and other names; I did it myself on seeing the shit they were pulling on the place where I live.

After such an event it is inevitable that many people will swing their social views to the right and demand tougher punishment, less benefits and tougher police. But the question we have to ask here, is why are there so many people who feel so out of touch with society, so absent of trust or hope in our society that they think it is acceptable to do this? How have we allowed people to become this way, if they are scum, they are scum of our own making. We cannot start taking heavy handed action on the symptoms if we continue to do nothing about the real causes.

This isn't just about bad parents and social media, this is about 32 years of government in which groups of people have been so left behind and ignored by society that we can refer to them as the 'underclass' without irony or insult. How else do we get a system that manages to take the worst of the left and worst of the right and combine them? No future, no jobs, no support, no propects combined with a dependence on social benefits; is it any wonder people are addicted to benefits? If money from the government was all you could expect to get for your whole life, is it any wonder you are both reliant on, addicted to, and angry at, the system?

It's no coincidence the trouble appears in poorer areas, places left behind. Always the first to get cuts in a tory government. If you leave food out in the open, it will go mouldy; whose fault is it if it then makes you ill?

In the words of Megadeth, 'Peace sells, but who's buying?' I read one report that 2000 black people protested peacefully in London a few weeks ago with not an inch of coverage in the press, one burning building and the world is at the door. I'm not saying these people were doing anything with a political point, but the fact they do it in the first place is a bigger political point.

No government wants to tackle it. This is our modern equivalent of dragging families out of the slums and into council houses. We won't get there by focusing on the symptoms. If it was us, how would we approach this problem?

The Violent

The destruction and looting in Manchester and London has been horrific.
Long rant to follow shortly...

Friday, August 05, 2011

Bad or Rad?

Some ads stick with you even though they may not be great. This for example, an early 90's ad for milk featuring a bastardisation of a great Squeeze track.

Is this a good ad? Is it a product of the time?
Either way it's been lodged in my head for 18 years.

Is this a borderline racist display of outdated black stereotypes, or is it a cool piece of animation that makes a random beverage seem a million times more attractive than a dull Robinson's fruit drink?

I for one never saw any offense in it, it seemed very very cool; and if it did use stereotypes, it did so in what seemed a mostly complimentary way.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Good Ad Club

I had an idea last night.

A thought on how we can gently make a statement about good advertising, trying to inspire better work to be allowed through.

The idea is The Good Ad Club

Essentially it's a club in which we decide which adverts are the best in their market, and then members use that decision to influemce their buying decisions.

In other words, if you were being strict, then no other factor would affect your brand decisions other than whether the advertising was good or not.

So this month for example:

Weetabix for breakfast with Cravendale milk
Insurance from Compare the Market
Alcoholic drinks allowed: Stella Cidre, Fosters
Charity donations to Cancer Research

An odd idea I know. but it would be an interesting one to do!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Stop Trying to be Right

I am a firm believer that advertising is never black or white, that it is made up of infinite shades of grey from which it is impossible to ever get a completely correct campaign. Such a thing does not exist, and even if it did, that does not mean it would work or be taken to heart by the public.

From a planning point of view we can say 'has this worked?' or 'has this changed behaviour?', but we have to remember that advertising is both a creative industry and a sales industry.

What do they have in common? Neither have an answer that is perfect for everyone. No salesperson will have a patter that everyone responds to, not even the best in the world. Just as no creative will ever work for every single person. It's just impossible, we don't work that way as human beings.

There are great ads that have done extremely badly, just as there are good ads that have done unbelievably well. Sure media spend plays a part (Go sodding Compare), but there is never a guarantee that good creative means success.

In a perfect (hah) world Weetabix would be flying off the shelf right now and people would be buying car insurance from Compare the Market; while DFS and Gillette would be going bust.

Our job is to get as close to the theoretical sun as we can, both creatively and effectively. We should never try to be perfect as it cannot happen.

This is another reason why I believe in flexible thinking. If a creative has an idea that isn't on brief but is potentially better in ther ways, we shouldn't throw it away. Sometimes this even justifies post-rationalisation; if you have a random idea that is very good, should you spend another 3 weeks trying (and maybe failing) to get something a little bit better, or do you spend the 3 weeks making the current idea work brilliantly, and fitting it into a sound strategy?

Of course, having seen some clients holding full creative pitches at 48hours notice; maybe we all would get closer to perfect if we had more time... but we need to know when to stop searching and start developing.