Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Religious Yakult

I'm not usually one to post about Wieden and Kennedy ads (as everybody knows I love pretty much all of the work they have done recently)... but listening to their series of radio ads for Yakult made me want to write something.

Personality. W+K have given Yakult personality, in a market full of "health benefits" advertising. It stands out a mile, and gives the product so much more voice against the typical Benecol/Activia types.

People are sick of being told "you need to eat well" "you need to excerise" etc. So to have a healthy product that doesnt try to bombard you with health messages is so so refreshing.

Its similar to Innocent (who have probably the best (and most reliably executed) brand personality in existence) in many ways, but not in the rip off vain that many brands are going for now.

As someone who drinks Yakult most mornings, its nice to feel that odd sense of attachment to the values and attitude of a brand. "What on earth is that tiny bottle?" I get asked, and it's quite unusual to smile and reply to that kind of question... "Yakult!"


Why are the UK bottles smaller, more expensive and not quiiiite as nice as in Hong Kong?!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Celeb Ads

This is for Northern Planner, got to love the brilliant use of celebrity on this classic ad:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Close Shave

Shaving is such a pain (metaphorically and literally).
I ran out of blades on my Quattro, and decided to use a Mach3 I had lying around.

I was surprised to find that the Mach3 is hugely better than the Quattro. Its less irritating, it shaves closer, and it seems to last for longer per disposable blade.

("The point?", you may be forgiven for asking...)

Well. What about the numbers?
We put so much faith in numbers, we presume that four blades must be better than three without ever finding out. Because a number is a fact, we assume that it carries more weight than a belief or claim like "closer shaving blades". Even though one makes a lot of difference and one could mean very little, we still presume the number to be all important.

It used to happen with computers, because a processor was 64bit, everyone automatically assumes it is better. But that number doesnt tell you what speed it runs at, it doesnt tell you what supporting processors are there, or the efficiency of the computer. There is no proof that 64 means better than 32, but we just take it to be so. Everyone does it at some point, even cynical and suspicious consumers will at some point take a number and give it too much weight.

It starts to explain why the razor companies are putting so much effort into adding new numbers of blades, it won me over when I could have four instead of two or three. It adds a perceived advantage in the eyes of the consumer, even without there being any actual difference.

Though it also shows the importance for these companies of getting their product into homes; the only reason I tried the Mach3 was because I was sent a free test one in the post! But by spending money and disproving the numbers game, they've got a new customer... shame they both have crap ads though!

I've definitely been won over to the Mach3 side now, but in doing so; I think I may just have to start questioning numbers a bit more.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Saving The Planet

This is a few ideas and thoughts based on questions asked by Asi Sharabi.

(I may revise/add to this over the coming few days)

The Problem:

The environment is one of the biggest challenges facing the earth and it's entire population. Many people speak of the need to act, but very few do. How can we persuade them to act using digital communication.


Lifestyle Balance

I think there is a strong question of balancing benefits and effect of lifestyle. People would like to give, but they cannot afford to keep giving away til they lose their disposable income. The environment is one worthy cause alongside charities for people, animals, education, food, etc; the environment suffers as a cause because there is very little direct impact. Its hard to quantify "You helped save the earth from 2 cubic foot of Carbon Dioxide pollution" etc.

There is a strong need to communicate what difference is made by a contribution. I think the way to go about this is to relate in bulk numbers. "If just 1000 people donated we could ..." This helps quantify a very asbstract result.


The lack of urgency many people have about environment issues is surprising considering just how vital it is to act now. People assume because they can't see anything that everything is ok. The effects of not acting need to be made clearly visible, and in a way that relates to people. This could be a type of shock tactic "There is a 50% chance your grandchildren will die of cancer caused by failure to help the environment now." or the positive spin "If we act now, then we could help save the lives of over 100 people a day" etc.

By having a quantifiable result and direct message of urgency we should be able to increase the response.


I think this is probably the single most important aspect of this campaign in terms of bringing results.

If we want people to donate, give them a text number. Make it quick, simple and minimize the disruption it will cause to their lives. If we want people to act, tell them easy and quick ways to act that (again) minimize the disruption to their lifestyle.

The traditional "We need to change everything we do to save the world" approach will create impact but is unlikely to create results. Ten simple tips, ten one minute actions for a better world, how you can act without spending any extra money; this will create interest and spark moments of persuation and inspiration to act.


The human race is guilty of inflicting pollution on every species in existence (or not as the case may now be). However, people hate feeling guilty (as you'd expect). We don't need to make peope feel bad anymore, we need to inspire them to act. Constructive, positively looking guilt or none at all: "This is happening but we can make it better".

Inpiration doesn't come from punishment, it comes from ideas, from sparks, from tiny things that start a chain reaction.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sony Bravia Ad - Balls Music

I mentioned to a couple of people that the track in the bouncing balls ad (Jose Gonzales - Heartbeats), is actually a cover of a 2004 track by The Knife. They had no idea, and they especially had no idea just how different the two versions are.

In case you havent heard it, here it is thanks to the wonders of you tube:

I like this version a lot, but at the same time the cover seems even better now I know where it came from.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stuff thats Nike to See

Nike have launched a campaign backed with press and tv ads to promote and raise money for the education and welfare of the nine million refugees around the world.

Whilst there are many critics of the company from an ethical viewpoint, there can be no denying that this is a very worthy cause. Lets hope this is the way of Nike's future, as it would certainly convince a lot of people to start buying their goods again; as well as raise money for good causes. (Agency: W+K Portland)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bluetruth - Or a Story of Why Disruptive and Original Ways of Advertising are Still Risky

(phew, what a title...)

Just got back from a couple of days in London, during which I made a quick stop in Westminster on the Tube.

On the way out of the station, one of the boxed/framed posters had a mostly grey background, with a small picture and a note that switching the bluetooth on your phone on would reveal "a secret".

Most people would probably never bother, myself on the other hand... I switched on my bluetooth, connected to the 'secret', and it came up with "enter password". Well that's a rubbish start.

I entered the usual default code of 0000 - - - - - - wrong password.

Tried again, but used the other default of 1234 - - - right password (it appears) - - - - - - failed.

And again - - - - - - failed.

So. What was an intriguing idea, which got me to stand there like a loon in a tube walkway; has ended with complete disaster. No ad received, no message, and it wasted several minutes of my time; not a way to make me buy something or feel positive about a brand.

I mean look, I was setting out intentionally to discover what the company and message was, and I cannot tell you either. I imagine it must work for some people, but any execution that can miss a large chunk of potential viewers just simply for not guessing the right password or having the right phone model... risky.

So the moral: The idea is great, but if the execution cannot match it, then it's simply a big waste.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Samsung HD TV

Oh dear, where do we start with this one.
The idea is "You get world cup tickets, can't decide who to take so you watch it on your amazing tv". A simple idea, but it has scope for a good ad.

Except this isnt a good ad.

Things start off badly with them calling the tickets "Cup final", which loses any sense of passion gained by the tickets supposed value.

It then proceeds with an AWFUL voiceover. Its tacky, badly written, detracts hugely from the idea and worst of all, sounds so astonishly patronising that it doesnt just make you want to ignore the message, or ignore the ad, its downright insulting. This isnt advertising for 5 year old kids who can't understand an basic concept of storytelling, its for adults with jobs, brains, disposable income; what the hell were they thinking?!

Why do so many ads (Microsoft) feel the need to use a voiceover to describe what is going on. Its not like people cant figure it out for themselves if it was better produced and directed. And if you MUST use a rubbish voiceover, at least edit and trim the copy so that it doesnt sound like a 17 year old salesperson reading a bad script. Treat the consumer as intelligent and they will appreciate it... I forget who said it, but its very true.

People aren't stupid. When will some agencies learn? Hasnt W+K taught you ANYTHING yet?!

AOL - Thoughts...

I mentioned ages ago the (then) new AOL ads. The ones enouraging debate on the good and bad of the internet.

I saw one again today, and I was thinking about why so many people were leaving AOL over the past few years, and that made me realize one reason why these ads were so good..:

AOL has always been the "Ill hold your hand while you learn to connect" type of provider. It was unflexible, flawed and expensive; but in the infancy of the net it was just what people needed.

Now the net is much more accessible and less technogeek in nature, people no longer need the mummy provider, they want price, speed and flexibility; which completely went against AOL's image.

Now what these adverts did, as well as just provoke debate and comment; is to actively start changing AOLs image from being a push (Providing safety, child protection, easy to use for beginners), to being an up to date pulling image (what do YOU think, what do you want to do, etc). Its quite subtle if you have the old AOL Connie image of the brand, but to new PC owners and the like its a BIG difference. In one single ad, AOL went from looking old fashioned and conservative, to looking progessive and enlightened... thats quite a change, and worthy of credit.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I take it back...

Despite the usual weak tv ads, ASDA have surprised me with an inventive little recall ad in the paper today.

Never mind a basic recall message, this one has an honest voice, is witty; and almost makes you forget you've bought an (unintentionally) lethal weapon waiting to happen.

Proof that the concept of gaining loyal customers by adequately dealing with complaints and problems is very much alive.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Planning to record new planners (and future planners) planning

Had an interesting discussion on planning, the use of market research, the changing brand representation in video games, and biker tatoos with James of the Technogoggles blog.

Was one of those conversations that should have been recorded and released as a podcast, maybe next time...

I suggest you check his blog out. And while you are at it: Adliterate , The legend, Russell Davies

Friday, June 09, 2006

World Cup of Advertising

Yes, everyone has it!
Its that wonderful time of year where we get to make up another excuse for not winning...

It must be said though, that the number and quality of football / footballer related ads is shocking.
Heres a brief summary:

England Album (various) - Who on earth buys this rubbish, must be the same folk who buy an updated Christmas cd each year. Terrible ads, terrible product.

Asda - Michael Owen doing his best pocket tapping. Not bad for an Adsa ad, but thats like saying that a broken metatarsal is a not bad injury.

Domino's Pizza - Michael Owen again... not a particularly well written or performed ad, but the idea is pretty good.

Pepsi - Various - The Xbox 360 tie in is alright, nice to see the less used older stars in with the usual suspects. The radio ad is much better.

Pringles - Various - Typical football ad crossed with typical pringles ad. Not bad, but not good either.

Gillette - Beckham - Just the usual ad with a "World cup sponsor" bit added. Still rubbish.

BenQ / Siemens - Ronaldo - Interesting idea of doing skills on a small podium. Gets the idea across without appearing like a 'cash in' ad (although it is).

Mars - Believe - Not awful, but not exactly good. The whole "believe" idea is a bit lame, a half hearted attempt to be a 'proud British' company; although at least this one has an idea... I preferred the more subtle "Russian Linesmen" ad from Euro 2004

Carling - Same old kickabout ad, but I like the added "post match interview" section. Usual Carling stuff

Budweiser - Lots of good ads recently, and the Mexican wave picture idea is great and refreshingly (...!) simple. Possibly the best football ad this year: Note that it does NOT contain, star cameos, stars reading terrible lines badly, bad football stereotypes, out of place football jokes, or any of the crap that goes with the usual. Its just a good idea, done well. Simple and effective.

Adidas - At last a company with an actual connection to football! Nothing amazing, but the light hearted use of Franz Beckenbaur (I know thats a wrong spelling, I just dont know the right spelling!) is really good.

Apart from a few notable examples, world cup ads are generally a time for the cash in creative not the creative creative. This world cup appears to be exactly the same, save a last minute batch of genius.