Friday, December 28, 2007

Review of the Year - Part 2

Still to come are my picks for worst ads of the year, along with some other ads worthy of mention.

Most Improved Advertising

Two picks here. The first was just totaly unexpected, and really went a long way to removing the horrible memories of their past ads from my mind.

The second was BGR Bloomers radio ads (forklift, executive driver) for making injury solicitors ads that aren't patronising, were decently written, and not a misplaced ladder or kitchen slip in sight.

Best Agency

Difficult. Most people would say Fallon for their numerous successful ads, and it would be hard to disagree with that. Though I think that BMB have had a great year, and if W+K can be treated as gods after 2 Honda ads then BMB can tie this category after two brilliant Carling ads and some other good work.

Best Blogs

I can hardly pick a top 10, let alone a single winner. So in no order, here are my 5 favourite blogs of this year.

Charles Frith - Punk Planning - Intelligent, not afraid to think differently or say things people won't like. Now providing us with a fascinating look at Beijing.

Rob Campbell - Musings of an Opinionated Sod
- That he is. But this is the only blog where you can take part in fascinating ad debates, controvertial and bold marketing theory, and yet still debate the merits of sausages vs bacon.

Northern Planner - Brilliant posts on getting into planning, plus great recipes and tea tips. If advertising was astrology he would be the North Star.

The Kaiser - Marcus is back, and despite moving frequently, he always omes up with the goods. Excellent posts on agencies and the internet, plus the genius of Charles Stab.

Scamp - He isn't campaign's number one ad blog for nothing.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


The BBC News review of the advertising year is up, and features comments from moi!

It's also good to see the comments and find out how people who aren't obsessed by advertising see things. :D

Ads of the year - BBC News

Review of the Year! - Part One

If I have time I still hope to organise the blogosphere ad awards for 2007 once people are back online, but in the meantime here is my personal review of the year in adland and marketing.

Best ads of the year:

3. Irn Bru - Snowman. Alright, technically it was from last year, but I never saw it; and it is a perfect pastiche in every respect. It commands your attention, and the moment when you hear the music and get the joke is just wonderful.

2. Cadbury's - Gorilla. Ok, I like it more now than I did initially. Having thought about the message hidden away it's cleverer than it appeared. But the real magic is in the CGI, timing, choice of music, and the direction. Admirably subtle, jumping on the 'big ad' wagon whilst keeping a sense of compactness and personality (unlike Guiness Domino for one).

1. Carling - Space / Igloo. This might be controvertial in some circles. But I stand by my comments in campaign. This ad singlehandedly expands the Carling brand without alienating it's core users. It's almost perfectly produced, the atmosphere, the timing, the writing, the way it understands male friendship without being patronising or stereotypical (*cough* Carlsberg). I finally see the distinction between BMB and TBWA under Trevor Beattie, this has the humour and disruption of old, but with a subtlety and message that is significantly better.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Let's Facebook It.

Watching the Money Programme talking about Facebook and the huge amounts of data they are collecting and able to use for marketing purposes; I was rather puzzled how they seem to completely miss the point of how to make these things work.

People go to Facebook because it doesn't shove ads in your face all the time. Yet all their plans (from what I've read) seem to involve doing just that. The pressure of those sky high valuations appears to be clouding their judgement.

Have they not seen what has happened to Myspace? The decline of Myspace as 'the place to be' is almost directly proportional to the increasing amount of overt advertising and Fox promotional links that have appeared since Rupert Murdoch took it over.

Have they not worked out that THE reason for Google making so much money so quickly was that it found a way to display high-income ads without disrupting the user experience.

The only advertisers that have really worked on Myspace and Facebook are those that embrace the community instead of standing there with Golf Sale signs in front of their way. We can do that in the outside world, but these are places people come to get away from that...

Thoughts anyone?

Also: Though the different gadgets and tools you can get on Facebook massively enhance it, they are also quickly increasing the thing that is now choking myspace. Namely "Forward this or you crush will hate you", "Pass this to twenty friends and something cool will happen", "This picture says I am your friend please pass it on". Argh! People who come up with these things deserve to be rounded up and chucked off a bridge...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sofa, so good

I know I know... bad headline ;)

I was shocked at DFS' new cinema ad yesterday, it features no product shots, as far as I recall no mention of the word sofa, no prices, three penguins, humour, and did 'i say no product shots?!

It's not the greatest ad in the world, but it is a: a bold step for furnishing ads, and b: a bold step for DFS. Normally ads for furnishings (especially sofa's and soft furnishings) leave you with a cold clinical taste, or poor celebrity endorsements, or sale overload, etc. This ad leaves you with a chuckle and a positive memory, especially (on second viewing) the penguins.

DFS have started to get it right in 2007, firstly with their idea of the importance of a sofa in the house, then with the (initially shaky) introduction of humour and self-reference (Another sale!), and now with relative subtlety.

I hope this continues into 2008.

Stop Look Listen

It's not very often that a podcast is a must listen event. But the meeting of the Kaiser and George Parker (of AdScam fame) is something of which advertising legends are potentially made.

Both pull no punches, so might make uneasy listening for people who don't like swearing or who enjoy making bland ads!

I haven't heard it yet (no speakers right now) but if it's half as good as it could be it is absolutely essential.

Kaiser and George Parker on Werbeblogger

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Dan from Innocent posted recently about a piece of direct mail he received from a company selling marketing services. It is bad for so many reasons, perhaps chiefly for being completely contrasting to how you would expect to have to be if you were trying to sell to Innocent...

Bad Direct Marketing

Awards Time

I am looking into running a blosophere ad awards for over the coming couple of weeks.
The idea being that each award is 'sponsored' by another blog, which then promotes the voting page in return.

Just an idea I am working on, but if anyone is interested please let me know.

Clear to See

After criticising their recent TV ad, I am glad to say that the current radio ads for Specsavers are much better. Nothing specifically amazing, but they are funny and well written.

They talk about competitor sales, how they exclude pretty much everything. A choice quote "I'll have these." 'Sorry, those aren't in the sale' "What about these?" 'Sorry' "These?" 'No.' "These?!" 'No..'

Much better.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Was Ist Das?

Been enjoying a debate with my favourite AngloDeutsche head of state over his interesting ideas on the future of content and how traditional ad agencies might not be able to cope.

I think its well worth joining in on:

The Kaiser

Monday, December 10, 2007

What in the World??

After discussing the brilliance of M+C Saatchis latter BA ads (see bottom video) on Facebook, I was reminded of how any brand can have good ads if the agency and company tries hard enough. How any agency can make good ads.

It saddens me then, that these awful PC World ads are still appearing. Ads that not only are horrible and cringeworthy to watch, but fail to get across a positive message about the brand other than "good value" (which they aren't, usually).

I wonder, what could be done with the brand if the agency or company (or both) were to realize there is so much more they could say and do. (Hell, even a better ad with the same strategy would be alright..) We know from the BA ads that M+C can do better; so why is it they aren't?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Knock it Off Nigel

Piracy funds drug dealers and Al Qaeda!

That's been the typical anti-piracy ad in the UK over the last 20 years. So it make a change to see something else that while not perfect certainly seems to be part of a better strategy.

Knock off Nigel.

See, the problem with telling everyone piracy funds criminals is that most people get them off their mate Terry at the market. They don't see Terry as having any connection whatsoever to organised crime.

The "pirate dvd's have rubbish picture quality" ads in cinema's are useful as they remind you what you could be missing out on.

However, despite some flaws (It could be funnier, wittier, and make more out of the song) the idea of Knock off Nigel is by far the best anti piracy ad I can remember.

Making people who buy copied DVD's out to be cheap scroungers is a bold step really considering how many people do it. But its done just well enough to get people talking; that if your mate buys copied DVD's you might just be tempted to call him a Knock off Nigel for a laugh. It slowly gets the message out there and could actually make some difference in an area that is extremely hard to crack.

This is also a chance to show the excellent parody of the old style piracy ads from The IT Crowd:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Its a good week...

For people I know in the blogosphere.

Just found that not only am I in Campaign's best of the blogs again this week for my comments on the new Carling ad, but Chimp and Scamp are in there too.

While one of the best ads Rob C has ever been involved in (see below) is listed in Campaign's top ten bravest ads of all time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You Say Potato I Say Fries.

In addition to my interview tomorrow I am now meeting the planning director of a (mostly) digital agency as well about a possible job. I love those kinds of emails, out of the blue when you are waiting agonisingly for graduate responses!!

In investigating their site I found out they are behind this perky piece of potato presentation. A great example of how simple ideas can get people talking. It also nicely matches the brand's image. And no, I am not going to use the V word...

Potato Parade

Monday, December 03, 2007


Another interview :)

Still waiting on several though, it's a remarkably frustrating process sometimes... but it will be worth it in the end!

Wish me luck! (You don't actually have to post every time I get an interview! I know you wish me well!)

Friday, November 30, 2007

I always wanted you to go into Space man...

Sometimes ads find that executional sweet spot that hits humour, emotion, friendship, and combines it all with a brand warmth.

Sometimes ad strategies take out of date, faltering ideas and spruce them up into a piece of brilliance.

It won't change the world, but for my money the new Carling space ad is better than the Cadburys Gorilla, Sony Rabbit, Orange Rainbow and Guinness Domino combined.

It's not perfect but it absolutely hits the executional bullseye. From the setting, to the writing, to the actors (that mix between the old Carling 'everylad' and the new Carling 'bestmates', which, whilst being similar to the entourage that appears in every Carlsberg ad; actually offer something far more appealing from both strategic and executional viewpoints).

Carling ads used to be good pieces of work for a brand that felt like it was being taken downmarket. This on the other hand is an entirely different keg of beer. The Belong idea takes all that was good about the old ads, their universal appeal, the community spirit; and makes it that little bit more classy without going too far as to limit the brand.


More important than any ad, people are dying in Bangladesh after the cyclone.
If you are able to please donate some money or pass the message on.

DEC Bangladesh Cyclone appeal

If you don't know who DEC are, they are the Disasters Emergency Commitee, one of the most important organisations in helping out after the Tsunami in Asia a few years ago.

Sheer Loonacy

Some products deserve to be successful purely because of the genius of their name.
This is one.

A service in central London that you can text and using GPS it will tell you where the nearest public toilet is.

It's known as: Sat Lav.

Image from

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Strange Things...

There are so many ads that everyone remembers. I wanted to update my "inspiration" section; but realised that I would probably just post 5 ads by John Webster and a couple by HHCL, so instead I thought about ads that you wouldn't expect to have had an impact on me but did.

As pretty much the head of the school magazine (aged about 11/12), the motley crew of 4/5 decided that as part of our stream of consciousness randomness we would write an entire article/sketch based upon the character from this ad.

The second verse of this ad is possibly the greatest piece of alliteration ever seen on a tv ad.

This ad alone made me buy a Minidisc, and Chinese Burn by Curve was the first CD I ever copied to it. *sigh* I still love my MD.

For pure brilliance in getting the point across without complication.

And finally (for now). Watch Out They Taste Curly...brilliant.

Actually, I do recall when I went on a uni trip to DDB in London; they told us how the previous agency had lost the account after the creatives or producers (I forget which) put themselves in a completely self indulgent piece of rubbish after previously making reasonable ads! Sadly I can't find it anywhere...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Favourite Limerick

"What?" You may ask, "..on earth does that have to do with advertising?"
Well, read the last line and then look at a few print ads; see how many do it :)

There once was a man from Sudan
Who limericks never did scan
When asked why this was
He said "it's because"
"I always like to fit as many words into the last line of the limerick as I possibly can."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Request for Campaign Readers

I know, I really need to subscribe as it's impossible to find here... but apparently I was in the best of the blogs section again last week.

If anybody saw it can you please do me a favour and let me know what post it was?

Thank you!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Is it true?

Wish me Luck!

Interview tomorrow...

Thought for the day

" 'Tried and Trusted' without adaptation is simply 'Out of Date' "

Seasons' Bleatings.

So, it's that time of year again. Christmas is creeping up on us like a stalker with Hush Puppies; shopping centres have already decorated themselves to the point of destroying the planet with lights and plastic decor, and the tv and radio are full of Christmas deals and offers. Yes. It's mid November.

The big question for me is this:

When is the 'right' time to start promoting Christmas? I mean, late November and you risk missing the boat. Late October (like DFS this year) and you risk being the brand that everyone screams "It's not bloody Christmas yet!!!" at.

Perhaps we need to see brands embrace progressive Christmasisation (now theres a word); in other words, start in early November with only a small hint of the season. Then gradually add tinsel, santa images and jingly music over the course of 4/5 weeks. That way you get in early whilst respecting those who aren't obsessed with all things red.

..what do you think?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wrap Music

I love this ad from Oxfam for their unwrapped gifts service.
It's half parody, half serious message, with a completely engaging and un-gratuitous use of celebrity.

Who ate all the pies?

For all the talk of brand relationships and the places that brands hold in our hearts and minds; I had completely forgotten about one of my longest running and strongest brand relationships.

Pukka Pies.

The pie equivalent of Yorkshire Tea.

If I went into a chip shop that served non-Pukka Pies, I would almost certainly have fish or a sausage. My association of quality is that strong that I would usually change my eating plans just because my favoured brand isnt there.

I wouldnt do that for Coke/Pepsi, nor many other 'FMCG' type brands, yet I would for Pukka.

I think their slogan in the image above is a large part of that. You always feel the products are cared about, designed and made with care and passion. That comes through in the product itself, especially in the packaging for their supermarket sold pies for the home.

Whats unusual is how I didn't even think of how strong my associations were at any other time until I ate one today. It was like I didn't even realise how strong my feelings for the brand were.
All this thinking is making me hungry... ;)

Image from Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Green With Envy...

For some interesting thoughts on Green issues for marketers, try John Grant's new book:

The Green Marketing Manifesto

I hope to read it soon!

Fried Katamari

Someone at Saatchi and Saatchi has been playing Katamari Damacy; and no bad thing either.

I can't find a video for the T-Mobile ad I am referring to.. so here's the site with a picture on instead, followed by a video of Katamari Damacy.

T-Mobile Myfaves

Monday, November 12, 2007

O2 No!

After the most excruciatingly PR managed hype in recent years the iPhone launched to huge critical acclaim and well... reasonable sales.

I like Apple. I like their attitude and products, and their focus on customer first. But with iPhone they just haven't got it right. Yes its usable, yes its brilliantly functional, but it has no 3G, apparently can't send picture messages, and is only available on the 'hopeless outside of a major city'* O2 network.

Seriously, its a good move for O2 to have it first, but I know plenty of people for whom the ONLY reason they aren't getting an iPhone is because they don't want to be stuck on O2.

A big question for me though, is just how much was the PR directly influenced by Apple/O2? All the hyperbole being written in every publication around was SO positive and SO uncritical that it felt totally fake. Rather like when the Playstation 3 launched to a reception of "Its like the 360 only with an High definition DVD player no one wants yet at nearly double the cost?" after a period of stupidly inaccurate hype that suggested a new apocalypse for all before it.

Did any of you feel the hype was too stage managed? Or did it match what you thought of the product?

Source: The Register

Image from infoworld

*This is from the experience of my family and friends.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Adtional Security...

Watching part of Britz last night made me think about how the way you treat people can affect what they become. The drama implied strongly that if you treat minorities like terrorists you will actually force them away and give them more encouragement to do so.

I started to wonder whether that is the same in adland. One of the things that most irritates me about ads is how many of them appear to treat the public as if they are stupid; as if they need everything spelling out and repeated s-l-o-w-l-y to be able to understand it. I wonder if this attitude actually causes the public to see ads as dumb, and not to read them with any sense of intelligence.

Does dumbed down advertising damage advertising that treats people with respect?

Thats Interesting...

I dont believe I've posted it before, here is my presentation from Interesting 2007.
I had a strict time limit of 3 minutes, hence the quick talking.

Oh, and the Powerbook didnt seem to like working properly at the start... I think I coped fairly well ;)

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Joy of Parody

Peter Serafinowicz... patchy show, but ocassionally brilliant.
None more so than the Personal Injury Claim ad spoof, a parody of the most unintentionally comical ad of recent times, can you tell which is the real one of the top two? Additional sketch below that also, the music is typical cheap 80s ad stuff.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Something that puzzles me

Why it that so many companies seem to believe their product or service is the most important thing in the world to their 'consumers'? I keep noticing it in ads at the moment, and it's quite an irritating trend.

For example: Specsavers. Yes, we know that glasses are expensive and people want to pay a fair price for them. But acting (as their latest ad does) as if buying expensive glasses can cause a nervous breakdown is overstating their importance just a little it seems.

Ok, so it's played for comic effect; but it feels like they mean it.

I hope one day soon brands are going to realise that no matter how aspirational they are, they are still selling products and services. Maybe by better understanding that they are not important they can fit more appropriately into peoples' lives and actually increase their importance by understating it.

What do you think?

Image from

Where Have You Been?

I'm always slightly disappointed in the blogosphere that not many people seem to comment on the blog of one of the cleverest people I know. So I am making it my blog of the week!

Almost Always Thinking

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

You take one down, hand it to an orchestral artist...

Brilliant brilliant stuff from VB beer in Australia:

Bottle Sounds

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

[adopt Cilla voice] Suuuurprise Surpriiiiiise

Well, sometimes it takes bad days to learn things about yourself.

After what would frankly be deemed a horrible day by anyone's standards I am actually in quite a good mood. This is for two reasons:

1. Apparently black clouds do have silver linings.

2. (and more importantly) I came out of a bad situation with the knowledge that when I put my trust in someone I really respected (even if I disagreed with them often) they didn't let me down. For that reason I'm pretty happy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Beware Cameron Change

The UK is preparing for possibly its biggest threat in 30 years, a threat that could decimate the country in an unstoppable wave of destruction. That threat is David Cameron.

After he supposedly (according to what Ive read today) announces support for devolution of Scotland to win votes it clear that here is someone who will do and say anything to win votes. A man so devoid of ideas and belief that it seems nothing is beyond doing if it win him power. Even bringing back hunting for fucks sake.

After all, as an Eton boy with his rich pals it doesnt matter to them if he screws up the country. At least Thatcher had major issues to fight against. Cameron has very few major problems to fight against, and most of those he has are hangovers from Blair.

Problem is, like people who welcome climate change because its a little chilly... there are those who really think he is an answer. Not to any question I ever heard...

I am under no doubt, Cameron wins the next election; we are screwed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good Things Come to Nancy Drew

No i'm not talking about the awful looking film... but about a new "internet based investigative ad" hunt that's just starting.

Normally I don't bother with these, but this one looks interesting for two reasons:

1. Its for a brand that generally has good ads.
2. There appears to be a lot of work gone into the story and production.

Here is the opening video, and I love some of the more subtle touches like the domino colours.
I look forward to where this is going, and I hope the end ad/result is worth it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dont Forget

A conversation a minute ago with a work colleague helped me discover their opinion of the homeless is that they are all lazy druggies who should get a job.


Which reminds me. Dont forget about helping them.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Shiny Happy People

On the radio recently i've been repeatedly forced to hear the same 5 ads over and over again. Its teeth grinding stuff. As much as I think blood donation is a brilliantly worthwhile cause, hearing Gabby Logans story 20 times a day for two weeks is really irritating.

Also, there is constant repetition of an ad fresh from the bad old days of advertising.

Regaine Hair ...stuff.

As a future member of the bowling ball head planner club (hi NP!!), this ad is incredible. Its literally saying that being bald makes you feel worthless and useless. Which is funny, as thats never been a thought i've had on the subject.

I find the ad offensive, patronising and downright ignorant. I would rather become shiny gracefully than ever give a company with ads like that a penny of my money.


Being a fan of any sport is a nightmare for anyone in Britain (or Ireland). Ours teams and sportspeople promise so much but just never quite get there.

Since Wednesday:

England football team defeat put them probably out of Euro 08
Scotland football team defeat makes it hard for them to reach Euro 08
Wales defeat
Ireland embarrassing draw
Northern Ireland defeat
England rugby team bravely lose Rugby World Cup final
Lewis Hamilton makes first real mistake of year and then suffers engine cutout to lose the title despite leading the championship most of the year.

Honestly. What IS it with our country???

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Different Angles

Whilst thinking about looking at things from different angles and peoples perspectives; I remembered these pieces of genius. What a great way to remember how your perspective may look right, but it may just be wrong.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What Nonsense...

Rob of agency Nonsense London sent me their pre-website website link the other day, and I liked it so much I thought you might want to see it.

You can help them to pick one of three brilliant site ideas (go Grannies go!). If their creative output is as good as their web concepts then we may hear more of them in the future**.

Its High Time Nonsense had a Website.

[**and then hopefully they will need more planners... ;) ]

The Giant Bunnies Will Kill Us All!!!

Not really made my mind up about the new Sony Bravia ad (you know, the one with the bunnies that everyone is trying to clainm was nicked from 27 other sources)... I've only seen it once.

But, theres a pretty decent set of behind the scenes footage and interviews here:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Branding Race

If you asked any racing fan to tell you the most amazing driver of this year, they would without question point to Lewis Hamilton. A guy who at just 22 (i think) has taken the Formula One world by storm, leading the current world champion Fernando Alonso into the last race of the championship. Not only is he the sports first ever black driver, he is possibly about to be its youngest champion AND the first ever rookie champion.

Now. There is also a HUGE lesson in branding going on before our eyes.

In one season Hamilton has gone from a promising young newcomer to being seen as the epitome of poise and reliability. With a sense of openess but also with a huge sense of confidence and appreciation , always thanking those who work with him.

In one season Alonso has gone from being the fan favourite to public enemy number one. His relucance to be equally treated with a rookie, his threats to the team, AND the way he has made more mistakes than a newcomer.

When looking at the rise and fall of brands, how new brands need to position themselves, and how old brands should react to newcomers...there are a million and one possible lessons here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vote Brooker for PM

Thanks to Scamp again for reminding me...

Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, THE best show on TV is back.
This episode featured some of his traditionally accurate looks at ads...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Zoom Bloody Zoom

Im sure anyone who sees car ads on tv will remember just how irritating it was when you first saw Mazda's Zoom Zoom ads.

Well, if that affected you look away now, because things are about to get worse.

The new Mazda 2 ad is possibly the most soul destroying, brand sapping, cliche'd, youth pandering, contrived piece of shit I have ever seen.

Its the 2007 equivalent of Pans People dancing badly in leotards around a Vauxhall Nova. Its 2 parts rubbish dancing, 1 part gymnastics, 5 parts terrible writing, 6 part terrible planning, and 25 parts bad production.

Oh and don't forget possibly the worst tagline of the 21st century. "It's Fit".


Did I just hear that right?

Yep. Its Fit apparently.

Ok, so its clearly aiming at the 17 year old fresh driver market, but please please Mazda/JWT , credit them with a modicum of brain ability. Just because you say "It's Fit" in retro faux ironic fashion doesn't mean they will suddenly upend everything to get one. We are back to ads saying "This is way cool dudes."

And that sadly ruins an entire brand from being in my consideration list when I buy a car.

Oh dear.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Got to Run, For Your Life, Do or Die

I am so impressed by the number of ethical and responsible clothing ranges springing up. My best man Steve had trainers made entirely from recycled old clothing; they were ridiculously impressive, and if I find out who made them I'll let you know.

But I REALLY want some Jinga's. They are ethically made, with no animal products, low produced trainers from Brazil, with a percentage of the profits going to social projects in Rio.

I really want the Purple and Gold ones that match my music colours, and thanks to them being an entirely reasonable £35. I may just buy two.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

And from there,,,

Having mentioned TV's worst ads in my last post, I'd like to post about an ad I saw on there that I somehow missed on TV in my post-wedding haze of busyness; and also one I saw last night.

Everybody knows a bloke like Mickey. No. No I don't. Oddly enough, contrived characters of stereotypical vain anality hardly exist in the real world. I thought it would be hard for Head and Shoulders ads to get any worse. But good grief this is poor.

Secondly, a new Ocean Finance ad (you know where this is heading... thats right, financial metaphors!) which shows financial services as lanes in a swimming pool. It looks low budget, its badly shot, its badly written, badly voiced over, as patronising as David Cameron claiming to understand a gun crime teenager in Hackney, and FAR too long. I mean fuck, it just drones on and on and on and on and on and on and on... and then it cuts to an Ocean. HAHAH! I see what they did there, genius.

No. Just yet another bloody awful financial ad on UK tv.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Blog of the Week!

Here is my favourite blog for this week. I am surprised I don't see it mentioned more often, considering there are plenty of ads to go in it.

I am referring to "TV's Worst Adverts", a great site where we can truly see the worst of what UK advertising has to offer.

Go now, vote and revel in the awfulness!

TV's Worst Adverts

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How Rob Ended up in D+AD 2007

Im getting everywhere at the moment, apart from an actual planning job (*curses under breath*)... recently i've been in Campaign and Creative Review.

Now, thanks to Ben, i'm in the new D+AD annual.

At the Future Marketing Summit in March, we took some photos using the D+AD flag for a competition (winning entries to be used in the annual). One of them featured me getting onto the stage and posing with the flag. Now that has a full page in the D+AD annual 2007.

So well done Ben. Thanks D+AD. Where next for Famous Rob!!

Marcus and NP

Quick note that I have made a post especially for you two on my music blog!

FireFlower Music Blog

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mega Cool. What a Groovy Thing to Do Lads.

Middle aged boardrooms trying to be cool are so bloody annoying. Their constant desire to be hip, to be with it, to get down with the kids.

Its so embarrassing.

Now the respected name of Virgin Megastores is to leave the highstreet after being bought out. You'd think they would find a good solid name to try and help maintain the company after rebranding wouldnt you. But no.

They have picked the most ridiculous example of 50 year old boardroom mid life crisis dictionary burning ever.

The new name for Virgin Megastores is: Zavvi

*bangs head on wall*

Its a name I can see in many places... "Zavvi in financial trouble", "Zavvi sales down", "Zavvi undertake rebranding", "Zavvi undertakes another rebrand", "Zavvi goes bust", "Zavvi is bought out", "Zavvi to return to Virgin name".

Argh. Poor Richard Branson, all that hard work...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oh Dear said Mr Brown

I love the new marmite ad with Paddington Bear. Such an iconic character reproduced with absolute faithfulness to the style and personality of the original.

And what I love even more is the fans funny reaction, claiming that Paddington would never give up Marmalade... to which the creator responds by saying:

He said he wanted to quell "an ill-founded rumour doing the rounds that I was responsible for the script of a television commercial featuring Paddington Bear testing a Marmite sandwich, adding that one of the reasons may have been that Marmite paid me a truly vast sum of money".

"I should be so lucky – particularly since I didn't write it", he said in a letter to The Times, adding: "I have to report that although Paddington found the sandwich interesting, bears are creatures of habit. It would require a good deal more than the combined current withdrawals from Northern Rock to wean him off marmalade, if then."

Maybe he should write ads with such witty charm as that.

Source: The Independent

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wiki'd. I Can't Believe I Typed That...

I'm making a stand that every planner has to wikichain at least once a week.

You know, that time killing device whereby you go to Wikipedia to look at Virgin Atlantic and somehow 3 hours later find yourself reading about Erasure. [ Something like, you followed a link of "aircraft", then from there you clicked "flying picket", then the band "flying pickets, then "only you", then Yazoo, then "Vince Clarke", then "Erasure".]

The big thing for me is, that not only is a great teacher of how things tie together, but it serves a more fundamental purpose being able to see objects and events as a whole; which makes it easier to see how objects have a meaning for people, how they are relevant in their lives, and sometimes how companies completely miss the point.

Everyone do something for me. Go to Wikipedia. Start on the article "advertising", then click on a link within that article. 10 articles later tell me where you end up. Thanks :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Northern Rock n Roll

Now then, surely there are infinite lessons to be learnt here about all manner of business dealings. But I'd like to focus on a couple of important lessons for marketing and advertising.

PANIC! - Surely the complete lack of understanding in the public shows a total lack of PR and a failure to get across the real message of Northern Rock's situation. (They arent going to collapse, they were just struggling to get new funding to give out new loans and mortgages..only now after people withdrew 1.2 billion pounds in three days are they at risk of collapse)

You Can't Hide - If Northern Rock had been more open about the problem they might have allowed their customers to understand the situation instead of waking up to hear their family say "Our bank and mortgage provider is in trouble...shit". Ring any bells...Cadbury's?

Its unusual how individual desire to save your own money goes at expense of causing people to lose theirs. If no one took out their money the bank would be fine, but no one wants that. They all want their money, sod everyone else. And they say advertisers are unethical.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dont Panic! Dont Panic!

I am Married!
Back from our honeymoon and it's work tomorrow... ah well.

Stay tuned this week for all this thrilling content:

  • Silly Wedding Photos
  • Sillier Wedding Photos
  • How Famous Rob got into the D+AD Annual 2007
  • And just possibly some ad critique or planning ranting.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Closed for Holidays!

Just to let you all know that I get married tomorrow, and will be away until 17th September.

Please dont forget about me!! ;)

In the meantime please leave your nominations here for the August Post of the Month voting. Any post on advertising, marketing, or design can be included.

See you all soon. Oh and, best of luck to Beeker who is also getting married tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mr Agency and the Extravagent Comparison

Apparently this following question is the closest to "A Campaign headline" i've got in a while. After reading a post from Rob Campbell about the lethargy of so many agencies, and the often apparant void between the creativity they claim and produce. So here goes:

Are Big Agencies the New British Leyland?

Lets look at that comparison is a logical way... this is a generic overview of some big agencies, rather than a critique of one.

1. Mix and Matched Brands

Made up of numerous brands with differing strategies, positioning, qualities, and purpose.
Leyland had Rover, Austin, Morris. What about HHCL/United being part of a group with Grey?
This meant that all the high class targeted Rover products got trapped in the same bracket as the Austin Princess or Allegro.

2. Always looking back not forwards.

Rover started to feel totally dated in the 70s. They were always looking back at the chrome and wood trimmed glory days, despite that market being long gone. Even under BMW ownership, they made the 75 totally historical, even though the brand no longer had any appeal for that shrinking market.

Even when they looked forward (E.g.: The SD1), they completely failed on quality.

Is that reminicent of the attitudes of some agencies towards their founding styles and messages? Relying on what worked when street medicine salesmen were still widely in business??

As for the SD1. How many millions of agencies claim to be creatively led? Yet if that were true why are 90% of ads awful and appear to have no creative thought at all?

Which meant that with the...

3. Market Under Threat

From the Japanese (aka the internet, mobile phones etc); they were completely outclassed and too slow to respond. Even when they did it was panic with no real planning or foresight.

4. Bad Management

Strikes. Not to mention the other faults above. How they could have been fixed without poor management and a company ethos that failed to ever address the issues. A company with huge potential died a slow death through a lack of strategy and a failure to provide what customers wanted.

Ring any bells?

Image from

Friday, August 24, 2007

Question for Ad Pit Readers

Would you be interested in asking questions about mobile advertising and mobile ad opportunities (etc) to the CEO of 'one of the fastest growing online and mobile chatting/flirting/dating networks' ? (I will mention their name if the consensus is you would like to hear their answers)

If so please post your questions here and I will get back to them with what you would like to know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Post of the Month Winner

By a country mile, the winner of the first Ad Pit post of the month competition was Rob Campbell and his Charity Begins at Home post.

The results were:

Charity Begins at Home - Rob Campbell - 91.9% (34)
In defence of Brand Monologues - Adliterate - 5.4% (2)
Who Dunnit - Raymond - 2.7% (1)
Agency ecosystems - Logic and Emotion 0% (0)

Normally id be pretty angry to see Richard Huntingdon get such a low vote; but this month that was more down to the thoughtfulness and drive to help of the winning post.

Well done everyone who was nominated, and thanks to everyone who voted.

I get married in less than two weeks, so the nominations for August will start (hopefully) just before 1st Sept! After which the voting will start to settle into a regular date pattern!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rational Irrationality

This may turn out rather rambled as im writing as I think (in hurry at end of lunch break!):

Brands are rational. Even the idea of desire is rationalised.
People are not rational.

Is this not a fundamental problem with how many ads are planned. Ok, maybe you buy your insurance based on a rational basis "which is cheapest with xxx cover"; but what about your drinks, your clothes, your car? Almost certainly not.

Only the most battle scarred parent chooses their car based on what is most rational for their needs. Most people have a half rational "I need to fit five people in and have a budget of £13k", half irrational choice "I liked this one when I tested it...why? I just did."

Its one of the reasons I am always sceptical about relying on research, because research is almost totally rational... but that moment when the customer goes to purchase the product they scored 5/5 for "I would like to buy" is likely to feature at least bout of irrational thought.

Maybe irrational is the wrong word. But I hope you get my point. When I walk into a shop and choose a drink, half the time I couldnt really tell you why I picked brand a/b/c. So you really shouldnt put too much faith into the reply I give when your brand survey asks me why I just bought it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

So Very Totally True

"What you stand for in the 21st Century will be every bit as important as what you sell."

Simon Woodroffe (Yo Sushi / Dragons Den)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I am aware...

That the result / award of the Post of The Month vote is a little late; my apologies, I have hardly had any time over the past week to do anything, let alone create an award image!

It will be here very shortly I promise!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It starts here...

Although the last Sony Bravia ad didnt live up to the hype, it was good enough for me to await the next ad with keen interest... and so here is the first batch of information, and some pictures of the build up:

The next ad is built around the idea of play-doh! Which to me opens quite a few interesting possibilities.

Apparently it's being directed by Frank Budgen, who previously directed 'Gorgeous'; and shot in New York.

I have been sent a couple of pictures if people are interested:

Just please be better than the last one... oh, and I am keeping my fingers crossed for a cameo by Morph.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Break a Leg

Well, surprise of surprises... I just heard an injury solicitors ad that I like!

For BGR Bloomers, instead of being patronising its humourous (not laugh out loud funny, but smile funny).

It starts with a person likely to cause an accident:

"I can drive this forklift faster than anyone here, even backwards without spilling my tea. In other words, im an accident waiting to happen."

Focusing on the people who cause problems rather than showing people tripping over a paving slab with chewing gum on it makes it all the better; and puts the company way out in front in my view of this industry.

Its not mind blowing, but compared to other injury claims ads this is very good stuff.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Still they get worse

Ive not watched much tv recently (thank Guitar Hero 2 and Paper Mario!), but I do hear the radio at work.

And oh dear.

Debt management/iva ads havent got much better have they.

A new low is W3 Debt Solutions, who compare putting a plaster on a cut to getting debt help. Except in that patronising, nagging, know it all tone that seems to swamp these ads.

Are there no debt companies that understand how to make a decent ad? Just because you are talking to people with money problems doesnt make them stupid or ignorant.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Just to let you know, I have finally started a music blog like i've been threatening to.
If you think I get angry at ads, you should see me with music...

I hope at least a few of you will want to join in the debate! (It will feature the "A band a week" topic I meant to keep doing for NP).


FireFlower music blog.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

There May be Trouble Ahead...

But for now, lets be thankful that so far Gordon Brown has done very little wrong.

He handled the car bomb threat well; he has shown George Bush he wont be a Tony Blairalike lapdop; he has pushed to FINALLY get some proper action taken in Dafur, he has taken a few sensible policy decision as well.

I know like all politicians it will turn bad, but lets look on the bright side; if he keeps this up we wont ever have to put up with that smug two faced wanker David Cameron.

More ad related thoughts soon!

Monday, July 30, 2007


I don't like everything about it, but I love the idea of the exploding cars in the new Nissan note ad.

It shows people struggling to fit their holiday stuff into their cars, and the car door and roof flying off and all the stuff falling out. Its a wonderful way of showing a real truth of holiday driving, and puts across the idea of space in a realistic yet exagerratedly fun way.

Edit... apparently it came out in Janurary! I never saw it though, so please humour me!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Super Simplicity

Simplicity is a virtue that is too often ignored in advertising.

It is however, no coincidence that many of the great campaigns we treasure are those which are simple at heart. They may have big budgets and expensive filmography; but the concept is easy to understand.

Sony's Bravia ads. Big budget, elaborate visuals; but a clear as day message: Colour like no other.

Its so much easier for people to remember, and act upon simple ideas. Which is why I love the work of Julian Burton. A guy who goes into big companies and helps the workforce understand the strategy and direction of the company through painting.

Its wonderful stuff.

Maybe that should be an ad test. If you can't paint the idea, it shouldnt be made.

(thanks to the wonderful 33 Thoughts by BDO Stoy Hayward)

Dont forget to vote in post of the month - below!

Slightly Famous Rob!

If you haven't seen it, my review of Interesting 2007 was published in this months Creative Review :)

Hurrah! Now, if only my copy had arrived yet...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Important Product Lesson No 1: Sky Plus

I love Sky+. It's an essential part of my tv viewing, like an RGB lead or remote control.
But every so often it absolutely makes me want to throw it out of the window.

When events overrun, why is there NO system to extend the recording time?

Todays formula one race was the most amazing and exciting one I have seen in over 15 years of watching the sport... except I missed the last 8 crucial laps because it was delayed by a restart.

WHY?! For god sake Sky sort it out.

Video recorders could do it, Videoplus codes gave an extended recording time. So why not Sky Plus that already knows when the start and end of a programme is?

Its a remarkable flaw in a fantastic product, but it ALWAYS does this. I don't trust it to record sporting events anymore, I would NEVER recommend it to someone to record sport.

I cannot believe they havent fixed this, its not a new product. They have had years to do something about it. I frankly am not happy. I am furious.

So Sky, what do you plan to do for someone who has not only used and recommended Sky for 14 years; but who also signed up hundreds of people when I worked in a store?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Post of The Month! : Updated

As the original post of the month appears to have fizzled out somewhere in the blogosphere, I thought i'd start it up again.

Please post your nominations here, they can be any posts on advertising, branding, marketing, design or similar topics. Originally posted or majorly updated from 1st June to 15th July.

Once the nominations are in, voting will commence!
I shall try to dig out a small prize for the winner, as well as the honour (ahem) of being Ad Pit Post of the Month! ... and no voting for yourself!!

I really hope this will work, as I think its important to bring people together to see the best of what's going on in the land of blogging :)

Image from

Nominations so far:

Charity Begins With Home - Rob Campbell

Who Dunnit - Raymond

Agency Ecosystems - Logic + Emotion

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Romeo Romeo...Slow Down!

In that odd 'planner' style of thinking, finally getting to see my favourite car of the moment in real life (even if it was in Sainsbury's car park) made me think a lot about the way I see things.

The Alfa Romeo Brera... its bloody gorgeous. £32k of Italian style. Even in black it was distractingly wonderful.

Yet they (Alfa) are known for being unreliable, for having build issues...yet if you wrote me a cheque for £32k I wouldnt even look at any of its competitors. There is something in that passion that so clearly wraps itself around the car that makes it far more than the sum of its parts.

Which oddly is very much how I think. I can accept failure, and learn from it. I can accept flaws, even compromise. But the one thing I cannot and will not accept is a lack of passion. Maybe thats why I love Nintendo not Playstation, why I love Innocent and not PJ, why I love Ben and Jerry's more than Haagen Daaz.

When I pass my test I plan to get a Volkwagon Polo (ideal first car you see), and in a sense I admire the passion of VW in perfecting the quality and reliability of their cars in the same way Alfa perfect the looks and style. You wont see me driving anything without passion in its craft, and I sincerely hope you will never see me involved in anything else without passion running right the way through it.

Picture from

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tesc-oh no you dont...

Tesco have made a bold move recently by actually admitting in their ads that Asda are cheaper than them on a number of products; as they fight a well publicised supermarket price war.

"945 products are cheaper at Asda, but 1213 products are cheaper at Tesco" sort of thing.

Its quite interesting to see how this might play out, because (for example) Asda might come back and say that 'The products Tesco are cheaper on are those you don't buy often' or even 'That's mostly their economy brand stuff which is worse than our economy brand stuff". Etc.

I understand the idea, and in principle I think its a good one. But it's not without risk, and if Asda fight back things could get messy...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Post of the Week

I havent seen the Post of the week feature that used to be on Russell's blog for a while... so I may start one up on here. If people would be interested please let me know. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Does Branding make you Branded?

One thing I've noticed (what with my fiancee's family being from Hong Kong) is that a huge number of products in/from Asia literally try to specify that they are a brand.

"Happy Boy Brand" "Lucky Star Brand"

Yet you wouldnt really get away with that here. You wouldnt see "Norwich Union Brand" or "Pepsi Brand Cola".

So I wonder what difference there is in the perception of brands that makes this the case, or whether it is in fact just a language thing.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Be Green to be Seen

Live Earth. An impressive showcase of acts highlighting a great cause. [Metallica. woooo!]
Two things I believe are worth saying about this: (>me. angry)

1. Shut. The. Hell. Up.

"Oh, but the lighting used a lot of electricity" "I bet they all flew there on private jets" "I dont want to change my lifestyle"

Stupid idiots. Its ok to be sceptical, but for goodness sake... surely you all see the BIGGER picture?

When your kids grow up in a world full of floods, extreme temperatures, and a lack of fuel; your self pitying laziness wont seem quite so impressive to your buddies.

Even if we have nothing to do with global warming (even the most sceptical of scientists would say that we have had some effect), its not like its costs you money to use energy saving lightbulbs. It saves you money. Oh pity you and the 10 seconds of effort it takes to switch of your tv instead of putting it on standby.

2. Brands have to be there first.

They rightly said that if people demand environmentally friendly goods businesses will provide them. Its true. But c'mon brands... you can see where the trends are going. You must see that being there early can only help your company in the long term.

Alright, you dont want to be seen as jumping on a bandwagon... but the only real bandwagon jumpers are the late movers. The quicker you act the more positive it can be for you.

Agencies should play their part too. You know that you can plant seeds in the brains of the brands you work with. You are helping them talk to the customer, and as soon as the customer is ready you must tell them.

"But my consumers arent asking for us to be environmentally active yet." Maybe. But do you close down your research and development departments just because no one has asked for your top secret new product yet? Of course not.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Its Grin up North...

The umpeenth My Brain Hurts/Northern Planning Summit happened yesterday; and despite several major absenses it was good fun as usual!

Myself, Simon and Jonathon from Love, and Lauren turned up for a couple of drinks in a proper pub, then on for a slightly disappointing chinese meal.

As well as advertising the topics covered included:

Why Yorkshire Tea is the best tea in the entire world

The move back from digital worlds to real tangible items

Giving up smoking

Having kids

Road signs and traffic systems of the world

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Almost Famous Rob!

Apparently the Ad-Pit has been featured in Campaign's 'Best of The Blogs' feature this week!
So thank you Campaign, and thanks to Doug for pointing it out to me :)

Now if only Campaign was available anywhere in Sheffield i'd go read it...!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Clean Design...

I've always loved design. Though i'm not a brilliant designer, its something i've always enjoyed looking at and studying. Having just bought one I feel obliged to write about my favourite piece of product design in quite a while:

The Indesit Moon Washing Machine
(image from Dixons)

What I love about it is that not only does it look unusual and modern; but that most of the more radical design features are based upon improving thefunctionality of the product. The door is solid as it houses the detergent dispenser, removing the need for a drawer (which is such a rubbish device I cant believe its been used for so long).

The controls are so simple, and light up so you can clearly see both what setting you are on and how long is left (it counts down like an old schools tv clock).

It looks fantastic, and has so many great little touches. If only more white goods had this design care lavished upon them...