Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ad Pit Review of the Decade - Part 1 - Music

We shall start the big load of decade end chartage with the other topic that I love along side that in which I work... Music!

(Note that these aren't necessarily the "best" songs/albums per se, but are the ones that meant most to me or impacted my view of music)

Top Ten Songs of the Decade

System of a Down - Chop Suey
Only once have I ever heard people singing drown out a huge club PA. This was the song.

Rhianna - Umbrella
Any song in which Jay-Z is the weakest part has to be good. This track is so brilliantly produced as to wholeheartedly straddle any line between pop and 'real' music you could ever draw.

Idlewild - Roseability
I often state this as my favourite song of all time. My lists of this kind always change about but this will always be in my top ten songs ever.

Asobi Seksu - Nefi and Girly
A beautiful song that makes owning a cat seem like the most natural and joyful thing in the world. Loud and noisy yet angelic. Stunning in every sense of the word.

The Blood Brothers - Ambulance vs Ambulance
Do I understand a word they say? Not really, but it's magnificent nonetheless.

Killswitch Engage - My Last Serenade
Brutally heavy yet wonderfully melodic.

Skindred - Nobody
Heard Reggae-metal before? You should. One of the best live bands in the world with a song that inspires mayhem.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch
I love their first two albums, but this song takes everything good about Ladytron and dials it up.

Atreyu - The Theft
Award for the best cheesy backup vocals goes to this one, but it is still a magnificent track.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
I think this is easily the most heartfelt song of the decade, beautiful but with a guitar hook to die for.

Top Ten Albums of the Decade

Asobi Seksu - Citrus
I saw Asobi Seksu supporting Ladytron last year and was so amazed I bought this album. It took me a while to get into it, but eventually I found a masterpiece that manages to be unbelievably beautiful yet powerfully noisy. Imagine My Bloody Valentine fronted by an angel. An album that you could (and I have) easily get lost in for days.
It may not be a choice of so called musical purists. But let's look at the facts: A major label release with that title, an aggresive and political concept album that works both as it's concept and as a collection of songs, returning a band most people thought were dead to centre stage in world music. A brave, well crafted piece of genius. Anyone who thinks it isn't punk spirited isn't looking hard enough.

System of a Down - Toxicity
If you want justification that the nu-metal wave of metal was worth it's place in history look no further than this (and the album below). Every song is loud and heavy and aggressive yet it packs melodies and hooks that pop writers would die for.

Deftones - White Pony
To my mind the best rock/metal album I have ever bought. Complex, creepy, dark and brooding. Most of my first year of university was spent with this at ear shattering volume. It's worth the deafness.

Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows
A band with punkish origins add a bit more melody and make an album that defined several years of my life. That I have a signed cd copy makes it even better. I wrote to them and waited to hear back, about 2 years later I get an envelope with marker pen scrawled on the front saying "Sorry this is so so very late, hope you still want it." I did.

M.I.A - Kala
Defining the term 'world music' in one album. Sounds like little else yet takes a huge mesh of influences and makes them work like a musical box of Celebrations. I played it again the other week and was blown away again.

My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge
Incredible live, this may have been the soundtrack to plenty of so called emo tantrums; but please don't let that spoil a wonderful album.

Late of the Pier - Fantasy Black Channel
You can hear the influences, you can hear the mixed up sound, but by god you can hear some brilliant songs.

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
Hyped for years, I finally saw them live and was thoroughly disappointed. I nearly didn't buy this. I did, and I am so glad. A journey through electronic sound. Weird and noisy but full of hooks. So good that Timberland stole from them.

Oh My Word! - The Best Album in The World Ever (apart from KLF's The White Room)
You won't have heard this, and that is sad. A silly leap through the now departed Sheffield legends' magical brand of silliness.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Top Brand Tips No1 - Learn from your Estate Agent

As much as some people like to think that we in the advertising business are subversive subliminal deviant mischief makers; we pale in comparison to the triumph of technicality that are estate agents.

Here are some handy hints for brands I have learnt from my current estate agent:

1. Customers are the most important thing in the world, until they have signed their contract.

2. Customers are an expensive waste of your time (if they have already signed). Anything you can do to get out of speaking to them is worth your while. Try these golden ideas:

- Your staff should take long holidays with no cover, especially if they are involved in customer maintenance, refunds or complaints
- Always offer to call customers back, and never do
- When a customer complains you don't call back. Promise to look into it, and never do.

3. When the customer owes you money, always call back.

4. People are mostly decent and reasonable, you can use this to ensure you never need give refunds. See also 5.

5. Use vague details when you sell something. Then look in microscopic detail at returns. You can get away with this by vastly underselling the importance of said details when signing contracts.

6. If customers need urgent assistance, take your time. They can always wait, it's their money not yours (yet). See also 7.

7. People are stupid:

- If you have no idea what is going on, pretend you do
- If something needs doing, say the person on holiday/who is ill is in charge of it
- If you get back from holiday and find you have to do something, see points 2 and 6

If things don't pick up soon I shall be naming the estate agent in question.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Ad Pit Xmas Review 2009

It's that time of year again when I get irritated by the countless clips of red and white frivolity that pass by our screens.

So let's see what's out there...

Argos - Gifts

There's nothing here we haven't seen before in a Xmas ad, but it's done in a nice way. The tone is nice and it makes a good example of how to do traditional Christmas advertising.

Specsavers - Kitty

The usual joke with a reasonable punch line. Problem is it feels cheap, unlike the good TV work this feels custom made for the web, with a 1999 web budget to match.

Apart from the fact that without the VAIO and PSP branding it as Sony, this could easily be a fallout of the Toshiba ad from earlier in the year... only less cool and with cheaper graphics.

That sounds harsh I guess. Its nice, doesn't blast jolly old seasonal cliche's and is very watchable.

Maccy D's - Xmas menu

Not quite up to the standard of the excellent poem ad, but there is something joyful in the ripping of old panto traditions... and who doesn't enjoy comedy involving cranky old ladies? Oh. Never mind.

John Lewis - Sweet child O mine

As I mentioned previously, this is just wonderful. Would you Adam and Eve it, great ads at Xmas?!

DFS - All I Want for Xmas


Monday, December 07, 2009

Northern Meetup Nominations so far

Please let me know your suggestions soon, I will put up a poll to choose a winner in a few days!
  • Northern Soul
  • Hit the North
  • Beer Evenings
  • Pie Chips and Advertising
  • Northern Lights
  • North Stars
  • North Fest
  • Northern Hootenanny
  • Sup North

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"Turn that damn thing off!!!"

I posted a irritable comment on twitter the other day, and was quickly replied to with a very intelligent observation. I thought about it some more and here is the summation of that thought. Credit to Rikesh for this thought and making me think about something I took as given.

On the way home from work some 16 year old kid was blasting shitty faux-rnb from their phone, and having had a busy day it really pissed me off. I felt like shouting 'get some headphones!'

Indeed when I got home I went on twitter and enquired why no one under the age of 17 gets what headphones are.

Rikesh responded by reminding me of something very true. Those 14-18 year olds are the generation that has grown through childhood with the ringtone and mobile speakers as part of their everyday experience.

That got me thinking. What if they subscribe to a completely different viewpoint. What if instead of just being used to speaker music, their whole perception of being rude is different.

We see headphones as polite, as a way of avoiding disturbing other passengers and passers by. A way of keeping our noise to ourselves.

What if these kids see it the other way. That headphones are rude because they exclude you, it's you shutting other people out, being self absorbed instead of sharing with others. It might be a long shot but its a possibility, if you are always with your friends why would you listen to music on your own? I wouldn't put headphones on if I was at the pub, maybe that logic applies when you are always hanging out with your mates.

Or they could just be annoying brats...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rob on Planning

[Please note: It's late and I may edit this majorly tomorrow]

A lot of advertising's ills are often placed at the foot of planning. We get accused of being against or stifling creativity, of being account men in disguise, of wanting to please the client not make better work.

Well that's not my idea of planning.

Planning to me is exactly the opposite of limiting creativity, it's about finding information and making great briefs (whether written or verbal, that's another debate) to create better work.

I know a lot of planners are frustrated creatives, and maybe that's true to some extent. But that's exactly why I wanted to be a planner. I know I am unlikely to ever make world beating creative, but I know that I can help others to make it. Or help make sure that world beating creative also creates world beating reactions or world beating sales.

I am not the sort of person who thinks they know everything, I won't sit there thinking I know better; I just try my hardest and say what I think is right. But also, I am not here to make up the numbers. I truly believe if I keep learning and keep working hard I can make a difference to our industry. It might be a small difference, but It's there for the taking.

There are truly great people in this industry that inspire me every day. Some planners, some creatives, some even (ha) account suits. Some I work with, some I just know (and hope to work with), and some I've never met (and hope to work with). It's those people who give me faith that not only can we make better work than we do now, but we can do it whilst producing better results for clients AND making ads that people enjoy and appreciate instead of hating.

Ad land is there for improving, I hope I can eventually help out.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Window on Joy

Wonderful ad for Dairy Milk by Cadburys in Australia.
This so perfectly captures the joy that was missing in the post-Gorilla work over here (latest ad excluded somewhat).

via Gemma

Friday, November 20, 2009

Loofer! Loofer! Loofer!

Wonderful bit of work here for Method by Droga5.
Makes the point in a funny and engaging way, but really makes you look at what you define as 'clean'.

Loofer! Loofer!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hit the North

After all these Northern Planning meetings, which became Sheffield/Leeds Northern Ad meetings, which then became Manchester Ad meetings; I think it's time to actually create some kind of semi-formal group to put them all together.

Not just a facebook group, but a proper mini-identity that allows us to group together properly as opposed to the informal word of mouth system that operates at the moment.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts on this, particularly Gemma, Northern, Simon, David, Andrea, Rebecca, etc who have been to a fair few; and those who were new to the last one, Adam and Dan.

Good name suggestions more than welcome too!

Ad North is a starter I like.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Never Knowingly Underproduced

After last year's wonderful Christmas ads I was surprised to see John Lewis move their agency. Yet having viewed the new ad I must agree it wasn't entirely a bad decision.

Like last year the ad creates a wonderfully festive atmosphere without resorting to filling the screen with red and white, without overused seasonal hits, and without the sappy over saturated sense of ocassion we are force fed for three months from mid October.

Where this one goes one better to me is that despite avoiding the cloying artificial taste of the event, they have produced something that is wonderfully sweet, amusing, and warrants multiple viewings without wanting to hurl a plastic santa at the screen.

Add to that a brilliant brilliant song choice. No Shaky, no slade, no Cliff, no one hit wonders. A proper year round track that captures the IDEA not the season.

Adam and Eve I could kiss you. Or at least buy you a lovely present.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't Forget...

The next Northern Ad Meet is tomorrow:

Thursday November 12th
Common Bar in Manchester
6.30pm start

We welcome planning, suits, creatives, marketing folk, pr folk, digital folk, grads, etc etc.Reply here or email me at rob ( at ) ad-pit ( dot co dot uk ) for more info or if you have any questions.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Market Warfare 2

So, we are soon to see the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, one of the most anticipated games in living memory. In honour of this several supermarkets are offering it for a bargain price of £26, less than half price.

Here is why I won't be buying.

This isn't just undercutting, this is a drastic loss leader. Selling below their purchase price in a bid to drive market share and other shopping. It's downright anti-competitive, and misleading for customers who start to expect every game to be sold at a huge loss, making real gaming shops (both big and independent alike) look like they are ripping people off.

This isn't some small retailer creating publicity to make a name for themselves, this isn't clever purchasing or out of tax cleverness; this is using market position, big bank accounts and store portfolio to get a foothold in a market in which they are usually pretty expensive (anything not brand new is rarely reduced).

Is this much different to the bus company that ran almost free buses to kill off local competition, then got rid of them and raised prices?

Happily the retailers that actually care about gamers and gaming as a pastime are too strong and have enough unique advantages to avoid being severely damaged by this ploy; but I wouldn't be surprised if it is the nail in the coffin of a few independent stores losing out on sales for the biggest game of the year.

To me it's like buying a car stereo at 75% off from some hooded 17 year old outside Halfords, you can't be that cheap and be totally trustworthy. Like paying £10 for a jacket and then complaining when it doesn't last and was made by a mistreated 3 year old in Indonesia for 12p.

Supermarkets are already killing pubs by doing this with alcohol. If we let this become the standard for games, then don't be surprised when the local stores start dying and the prices creep up.

Friday, November 06, 2009

It's NOT a Viral

Most of us know by now, but there are still some people on both sides of the client / agency fence that haven't yet understood. For those people, there is this:

Monday, November 02, 2009

I have a confession

Despite feeling like there is some interesting thought behind it, and despite being an interesting idea; I just don't feel any warmth towards the new Kingsmill campaign.

It seems like a good idea that has been lost somewhere along the way, and ended up being too long, too complex, and with quirkiness that has faded into weirdness.

It's a shame, as there is a lot of potential here to be saying something different around bread. The idea can be taken into lots of areas, they have already started doing Vox Pop versions, though a batch of B3TA style responses might affect that.

I think its just the execution here that is lacking for me.

10 Years in Advertising and Marketing

So, we are coming to the end of the first decade of the new millenium (It doesn't feel new despite us being only 1% through it).

It has been a rollercoaster for our industry, the expansion of media types changing the way we think about planning and creative work forever.

To mark the passing of the event I would like to call for nominations for the 'Ad Pit Decade Awards' (I use the word awards loosely). If I get enough interest I will do a big feature on this nearer Xmas.

The categories are as follows, campaigns must have run between 2000 and now:

  • Best TV ad

  • Best Print ad

  • Best Online content (not website)

  • Best Website

  • Best Thought in a Campaign

  • Best PR campaign

  • Best Account Person

  • Best Planner

  • Best Creatives

  • Best Ad/Mkt/PR book

  • Best Industry Spokesperson

  • Worst Ad

  • Best Agency

  • Worst Agency (please include a brief reason so I can exclude unconstructive votes)

Please reply or send your nominations to me: rob (at) ad (dash) pit (dot) co (dot) uk

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Northern Ad Meet

The next Northern Ad Meet has been arranged (at last!):

Thursday November 12th
Common Bar in Manchester
6.30pm start

We welcome planning, suits, creatives, marketing folk, pr folk, digital folk, grads, etc etc.
Reply here or email me at rob ( at ) ad-pit ( dot co dot uk ) for more info or if you have any questions.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A New Breed of Apple

Dear Apple.

So smug. So bloody smug.
I love apple products but the latest Mac vs PC ad just starts to creep into desperation, a step into the gleeful little bubble world that too many iphone owners are going to.

Are you saying you have never broken any promises apple? That everything you make has worked 100% perfectly? That every feature you ever suggested appeared on time and completely unbreakable?

Don't make assertions that even you can't live up to.



Apple - Mac vs PC - Broken Promises - (2009) :30 (USA)


Great post on HHCL and the curse of being "Campaign Agency of the Decade" by the second H.

Steve Henry on Campaign's blogs

We Wish You a Merry October

Argos have broken the Christmas hustle. Ok, so the ad isn't bad. Actually it's pretty nice for a Christmas retail ad. The problem is that it's October.

I know every brand wants to be the first in the Christmas rush, but this is getting stupid. Why can't we wait until after Guy Fawkes Night at least before we get the sleigh bells and one hit wonders out?
You don't start advertising your new year sale in November. You don't advertise Halloween in August. You don't promote your summer deals in April. Why do we think it's acceptable to shove Christmas in people's faces so damned early.

Is it any wonder people get irritated?

Now let's watch this ad again on the 6th November, when it is appropriate!
On the other hand. One ad that most certainly is not nice is the return of the spawn of musical Satan's fire laden bowels. Mariah Carey and DFS. All I want for Christmas is for them to FUCK OFF.

Friday, October 16, 2009

This is Disgusting.

A shocking and dispicable slur on gay lifestyles from the Daily Mail. How can they get away with this in 2009?

Daily Mail Homophobia


Am I alone in adland at liking both the new McDonalds ads.

They have shifted themselves slightly upmarket in their image gradually over a long period of time; and the result of this is two very different but equally pleasing ads.

The first is the breakfast ad, with people groggily starting the day. This is amusing, and whilst not too far removed from previous McD ads it has a new positivity and lacks the artificial glare of their older stuff.

The second is the frankly brilliant poem ad talking about the various types that come into the restaurant during the day. A little cheesy maybe, but it is done so well, with a visible love and attention that makes it probably the best thing they have done in a very very long time. Instilling variety and personality back into a brand that has been sterile and one dimensional (at least in image) for so long.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Sacred Is The Brief?

Here is a thought or two on a topic that I have thought about a lot since becoming a planner. Just how important is the creative brief?

Now this is more a debate than an argument, so I would love to hear people's thoughts on the subject.

The creative brief seems in some circles to be seen as this all powerful master document for the creative work that should follow. An unquestionable piece of Moses esque tabletry that defies all who doubt it. But this makes no sense, we know the point of a brief is to inspire the creatives and lead then down the right direction. Yet as is often quoted, there is rarely a right answer... simply more/less right ones.

If we do our job right then being on brief is good of course. But what if slightly off brief gives a better creative territory? What if there is an idea so good that only works with a tweaked brief. What if we discover something new part way through the process?

I had this argument in the pub with a creative who was discussing a brief where the favoured work was actually slightly off brief. My viewpoint there was (and still is) that we should always be confidence our brief work is spot on, but if creatives are to believe that we have creativity at the heart of what we do, we have to be man enough to admit when an idea (whether from creative or planning) is good enough to skip brief anality. Otherwise why should they believe us when we say the next idea is better because it's on brief.

A 8-10am analogy for this was this:

A hard punch that's 90% on target is better than a weak punch that's 100% on target.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Great video (via Charles Frith) showing how engagement can change people's behaviour.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Edit: Just seen the US version which has a couple of extra scenes that improve it a fair bit. Still don't like the faux-lib air of it though (is beating men really the height of female freedom?); it just doesn't feel as genuine as the classic DC ads.

Haven't women had enough of being treated like one dimensional zombies, cosmopolitaning (it's a word dammit...) their way through Sex and the City boxsets of life?

The new ad from Diet Coke just feels badly forced, which is surprising given the idea of playfulness at its core. The Hello You line has a lot of possibility in character and observant reality, but just isn't being used in the right way yet.

Sure it's better than the Duffy ad, but that's not saying much.

A brand and an agency that have done and can do so much better. Please do.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What a Twit

This whole debate over whether Twitter is worth $357trillionbillion is totally missing the point. Every company valuation is based upon branding, customers, profitability etc etc. Sure this one might be too high, but so are countless others even after years of results to clarify them.

If brand value is included then right now Twitter is hotter than most things; and that probably counts for one hell of a lot in an uncertain year.

Sure they haven't got the service profitable or the funding model right yet, but let's not forget Amazon and so many other Dotcom boom era launches took years to get close to profit... and now they are rolling in it. Pick a bank and tell me it's pre-crash value was realistic despite years of profits data to back it up.

All business valuations are educated guesses, we can argue about them til we fall asleep but we shouldn't put too much faith in any of them.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spice and Easy Does It

Having cringed at the complete lack of authenticity in the recent Uncle Ben's Indian sauce ads it makes me happy to see that this type of product can be advertised in a way that isn't full of stereotype and cliche.

The new Patak's ad is charming and feels genuinely like the Indian culture has been absorbed into it rather than being played back through western eyes.

I was worried the ad would feel like another FMCG brand trying to do a Hovis, but actually the whole idea feels like a natural thing for the brand to be saying.

'Why Britain Loves Curry' is also a bold and smart line, which suggests some good thinking and research behind it.

Of course the ad is selling taste and authenticity, but unlike most of its competitors it does so without falling into parody or irritation.

Question though... Chicken or Lamb?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Best Stat Ever

"Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continues... AAY!"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

At Last...

As I regularly get critical about some of the hard sell bluntness that M+C Saatchi do for DSG, I feel it is only fair to applaud them for doing something that while not perfect, is a damn good step on a new route.

The new ads for appearing on the London Underground are very nice indeed. Keeping the Saatchi bluntness, but adding some humour and a nicely brave endline which suggests some clever planning input.

The Last Place You Want to Go

Ask most retailers and they will tell you that this is what people regularly do now. They look in store and buy cheaper online. How no retailer has stepped into this territory yet is odd, but that DSG of all people have taken that bold move is surprising and brilliant; great management on their part. A bright powerful yet witty line that is perfect for a big brand online retailer.

The writing is fantastic flattering farce. The right side of insulting yet clear in its mockery.

The set of 3 aren't perfect, there isn't really a clear benefit; and it does imply you are missing out on some service elements. But I think the overall ad is too strong to be spoiled by that.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hey Dad it's One for the Show...

At last! Both the One Show and D&ad awards have announced that they will take action against scam ads that were not produced to a brief and requested by the client. Brilliantly, D&ad will make ECD's vouch for each ad submitted, and will name and shame those who break the rules.

It's great to know that only real ads will be included after the numerous debacles over the last few years. Admittedly there is still space for fractional media budgeted pieces, but 1 problem is better than 2!

I'm all in favour of showing off the best creative we can make, but recently it's been like drugged up athletes winning medals; it's an unfair advantage that should never be merited. That said, I am in favour of creating a specific award for un-sanctioned ads, a space for us to push the boundaries without cheating.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why is it?

That life's smugness scale is like this:

10. Deal or no Deal winner(slightly smug)
9. Alan Sugar
8. Simon Cowell
7. Boy racer in small Vauxhall that just overtook you on a blind bend
6. Cat that has just shit on your lawn
5. Who wants to be a millionaire winner
4. Bono
3. Bugatti Veyron driver
2. Roman Abramovich after Chelsea seal Premier League title
1. (completely smug) iPhone 3G owner

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Floor it!

I've noticed that the slightly nifty 'clean ads' on pavements have started to get a little irritating. My 10 minutes walk from bus stop to office is now met by at least four of the things, and they are starting to lose their novelty somewhat.

Of course we need to find new and interesting ways to get our brand messages out there, but we have to remember that simply shoving logos and straplines at people wherever they look is likely to do more harm than good.

If we fill every little gap we find full of ads and brand messages, can we really be surprised when people stop paying attention to what we say?

Friday, September 11, 2009


Twitter now open to advertising... this could get interesting, or boring, very very boring.

Twitter Rule Changes

Interesting Defence of the Big TV Ad

A nice thought on why big tv ads are still relevant in the age of digital and social communication from James at 77pr.

The role for the 90sec ad

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The World's Local Airline

Well the new BA ad is out, and despite not being impressed by the last one I felt quite excited at seeing how they would redeem themselves.


I see.

Well what has apparently taken place is some kind of melting pot mix with an HSBC ad. Except it doesn't quite have the local charm of most HSBC ads, and it didn't really feel like it sold me the airline at all. It made me want a Mango Lassi* sure, but that was about it.

Shame really, there is a nice message and feeling mixed up here. It needs to be less HSBC and more BA next time though.

*See HSBC ad

Wrestling with fakery

So a fake WWF ad by DDB Brazil win an award, no surprise there.

Adland awards are (it appears) so blighted by scam they need to start taking action, you cannot expect unapproved, unguided creativity to be judged on the same level as something that has gone through a client and a real process.

All unpublished ads should say so or be banned. Those which ran once on a bus stop in Luxembourg, and once on an obscured poster site in Malta should say so, and not be accepted as a "pan European campaign"

The annoying thing is, despite the unrewarding video here; the message that one incident of nature killed more than 100 9/11 disasters is pretty powerful.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Why you shouldn't mess with copywriters


To the bloke who stole my mountain bike:

Well done mate. You should be really proud of yourself. No really. The opportunity was there, and you took it. Most common criminals would have done the same in your shoes. Well, I suppose I did make it easy for you didn’t I? Silly me, I didn’t lock it up. If it were a decent bike, I’d have locked it. But it’s a shit bike.

In fact, it’s a bit of a death trap. It had a tendency to lock up as I was going at speed down XXXXX Road. Take it from me, that’s not a good thing to happen just as the number 250 is overtaking you. And when you change gears using the left throttle, the chain comes off, and it usually takes about half an hour to put it back on again. Oh, and the front and rear disk brakes constantly rub against the wheels too, which is ok, until you’re cycling up a hill. Still, it was good exercise for my calf muscles while it lasted.

But you’re not bothered about all this are you? You’ve probably sold it already. What did you get? Thirty quid? Forty five? Fair play to you if you got more than that. I only paid sixty quid for it second hand last year, and I thought I was being robbed then.

Anyway, what did you spend all that money on I wonder? Did you treat your fat mess of a girlfriend to a posh meal at Nandos in the XXXXX centre? Did you get some new trainers, and a nice t-shirt from Primark? I bet you even steal stuff from there don’t you. I’m amazed, to be honest, that you can afford to rent an apartment in this place. I bet you are too. Here you are, surrounded by lovely, hard working, normal people, some of them with nice cars (you’ve not moved on to car theft yet have you, maybe you’ll try that when you’re a little bit older). I bet you can’t believe your luck.

Because at the end of the day, you’re just a little common thief with a shitty little job, and friends you can count on one hand. You are vermin aren’t you?

I bet your own family don’t like you do they? I guess they knew what a pathetic little arse wipe you were the day you first stole money out of your mum’s purse. She worked hard for that money aswell, round the back of the garages on XXXXXXX Road. Well, mate, that’s none of my business really, and I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. Anyway, I’ve got a surprise for you. I don’t know what you look like, yet.

But guess what? My mate (who works for XXXXXXXXXXX police) is sifting through cctv footage from around this area (from Friday14th – Sunday 16th August), and when he finds you, peddling happily away on my shit bike, I’m going to come and find you.

Not because I’m that arsed about my bike being nicked. Unlike you, I can easily afford another one. No, I’m going to find you, and make you cry like a little girl. Because this country is shit enough, what with Kerry Katona and the reccession, without little piss ants like you thieving on your own doorstep. And when I find you, I’m going to do me, and all the other decent, law abiding citizens in these flats and this country a favour by teaching you right from wrong. It won’t take long, trust me. So, take care won’t you, mate.

I’ll see you soon.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trebor Mints are a minty bit weaker

If this what's blog a then Christmas is posted the new Trebor ads from Fallon yesterday, and boy are they fantastically mediocre.

I think there is an interesting idea lurking away here about an office of mint mad employees, but it's lost behind an execution that just doesn't work. The humour doesn't get through, it feels tinny and weak.

The online videos (via a YouTube channel) are a little better, but still have this nagging sense that you are only watching them because they are there; not because you want to. (The beginning of the girl's video is funny though to be fair.)

I hope these pick up. I'd like to see how these characters can develop, but I have a feeling they might not appear for much longer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Opinions Please - Next Generation Talent

Panasonic are holding their Next Generation Talent contest for young creatives for the second year, and I have been asked to help out with the judging by both giving my own thoughts and (if I liked to, and I did)asking for your esteemed comments.

The winning team get an ad spot on TV, and a placement at one of Panasonic's creative agencies (plus a load of electronic gear!); so it's a great thing for a young creative to win. Hence I'd like to help pick the right winner!

The (very loose) brief was to create an ad for the G10 Viera TV with Freesat and HD hub. It should be based around (But doesn't have to include) the strapline Everything Matters.

The final four are below, please leave your comments!

Romaine Reid

Paul Bryan

David Childs - Clarke

Stefan Harrison

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why Newspapers Will Survive and Planning Will Change

Note: This is theory in progress, it may be flawed!!

People are still decrying the death of tv, the death of magazines, the death of newspapers. That they are history in our instant worlwide 247 internet world. But for the same reasons that social media is a pain, I expect that they will survive and that my job might change a lot as we go forward.

Here's why:

Now I can chat to everyone I have ever met. Hang on a minute, you were a tosser... I don't want to speak to you. Who is that? Social media burnout anyone (Marcus got there first btw)

I don't want everyone I know contacting me.

As I discussed at a social media panel a few months ago... the key word for the internet has become and will remain Filtration. Seperating the millions of pages of guff and giving us the bits we like. It's already taking over via feeds and selective grouping.

It's what we use search engines for. But increasingly we have to do it with our viewing of the sites we then find.


Newspapers and magazines will survive because as well as liking tangible things, when there is too much data to read, we need filters. We need editing and selection. Print media can become these things.

I already do it, I read videogames blogs and news sites; but I trust Edge magazine to select the important bits and look at them critically. Just like I trust NME to do so with music.

Publications that become the critical filter instead of the news breaker might thrive.

So how does this change my job?

Well. Traditionally planning has involved lots of finding data, analysing it and interpreting it. Yet as we move onwards in web technology, we are finding more and more data from more and more sources. If this carries on then filtration of data will become a more prevalent part of our daily work. Web researching means its already easier for brands to commision research and provide more data.

Like I said, this is thought in progress. Feel free to shoot it down if you disagree.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Now That's Meerkating!

As someone who has criticised some of their work in the past (Coke Zero where are you?!) I feel it is only fair that I take the time to applaud VCCP for creating one of the best campaigns of recent memory for a hard sell product.

I've held back because I hadn't seen results, and wasn't sure how they could sustain the joke... but they have.

Insurance is a meerkat with diabolical advertising. I mean truly Ocean Finance Injury Claim terrible. The sort of ads that scream "Ignore me! I'm a badly acted no budget piece of dross!"

Yet out of this has come a truly brilliant piece of work. Sure it's a little hard sell, but it hides it delightfully behind a silly premise which lets you get the message without it being rammed down your throat like a certain celebrity Dragon might do in another ad.

I'd like to think that someone did some brilliant planning to get this work out, I don't know if that is the case but I hope so. We know what insurance comparison sites are, we know they all save you money, we know they have a wide range of the country's top insu...zzzzzzzz

Sod that, let's just make people remember which of these endless sites to go to first; and give them some entertaining content to make it stick.

Simples. Brilliant.

Not only that but they have brilliantly utilised (")Social media(") to let people communicate with Aleksandr via twitter and facebook groups etc. Creating a pop culture ad icon in an amazingly short time.

1/2 million facebook fans, 20,000 twitter followers. 80% traffic increase.

Credit also to Compare the Market for going with this idea. In these meerkats its always tough to break out of the hard sell 'RAMMED IN YOUR GODDAMN FACE' messaging. To do so in such a way and allow the agency to run with it seems from my view to be intelligent and brave marketing management.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

How to make me love your brand when things go wrong No1

If only everything was as reliable as Volkwagon advertising part 2

Funny how shortly after I made a post talking about the brilliant consistency of VW advertising, Top Gear do an episode where they try to produce an ad for the Scirocco diesel.

What I like about Jeremy's controversial winning ad, is that the line is amusing but based on product truth as they were rightly advised.

Sure it's not in the best taste, but frankly it was funny enough to get away with it in my opinion.
I can't believe VW would have let it air if they thought it was offensive.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Passion for life

I love brands that are passionate about what they do, it's why the two (relatively affordable) cars I'd like most right now (I.e.: When I pass my test..!!) are the Fiat 500 Abarth and the Alfa Romeo Brera.

So I was happy when Abarth's PR people contacted me and showed me The Scorpion Tales, a series about the story of Karl Abarth and his love of racing.

Sure the subtitles are small and the translation a bit off, but it reminds me just why it is I love their cars. The dedication, passion and unwillingness to accept second best.

There is a reason (besides his Ferrari/Fiat sponsorship!) that he owns a Fiat 500 Abarth. There is a reason why a love of Alfa's is about the only thing I agree with Jeremy Clarkson on. That reason is passion. Not just branded passion, but the stuff that truthfully goes through the whole business; the stuff that every brand should be aiming for.

Friday, July 31, 2009


If the rough definition of terrorism is:

"Using fear to manipulate people's actions."

Then there are plenty of things that we really should start counting as terror:

  • Tony Blair's lies about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction in order to gain support for invasion
  • George W Bush's use of terror and terrorism in order to change laws and create havoc throughout the world
  • "The medium of TV is dying... use our web agency!" Invest now or your company will fail! Faillll!!
  • If you don't dye your hair you will look old and that 25 year old receptionist won't take you home tonight.

Is Rob, I hear you (possibly) ask... comparing the illegal invasion of Iraq to an ad for hair dye and hyped up Web 2.0 speeches? No. Well actually yes. Yes I am. Sort of. They all use fear to manipulate people, of course this fear is on different scales; but the principle is essentially the same.

Whilst sometimes there is room for comedic/artistic licence in dealing with some silly/consumerite fears; or where good evidence backs it up: "Don't miss out on this deal", "Only this cleaner kills all bacteria" etc ... The playing of real fears in such an unsensitive way is frankly insulting. If the consumer is your wife, then she is going to be pissssed off with you for being that rude and patronising.

What I would like to say here is this: Manipulative hard sell should be dead. Stone cold dead. Cremated and thrown into the dead sea. There is no use, no excuse, and no need for it in this day and age. This internet age means people will talk about it and appearing manipulative will start to bring your brand down, no matter how big you are. I suggest a War on Ad Terror...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grey of Sunshine

Ah the terrible wonders of Just for Men advertising. Creeping out of the sludge of hard sell manipulative dirty old man land is this new gem.

Yet another interesting NPD idea killed by advertising so terrible that even Gillette wouldn't touch it. (Though they both come from the 'state the obvious and then make it more obvious then scream it til you pass out' school of hard sell that I hoped had died out 10 years ago.)

The only thing that this ad says to me about growing old is that baldness isn't as bad as you think when hair topped over 50's have to put up with this shite.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How to be a Music Fan in 2009

[Warning - severely pissed off language ahead]

If you want to be a fan of music and support it then there is only one solution. Be rich, realllly fucking rich.

There is no other way.

Touts and promoters are ripping the heart out of the live scene and turning gigs into a battle of who can afford it. Going to see any band that has a national following is now like Chelsea and Man City battling to sign an overpriced British midfielder.

Ticket prices appear to have rocketed over the last 2 years. I am pretty sure that attending a small to mid sizd gig has crept up between £6 and £15 for about 10 years. Suddenly I am paying £25 a ticket, plus £3 booking fee and £5 delivery charge, and £3 credit card fee and quite frankly gig going has been forced into the realms of theatre going and holidays where you have to plan months in advance and can only afford to go once a month.

That isn't helped by bands who decide a UK tour is London and Birmingham. Not only does it mean we have to pay for trains and hotels in order to go, it means the touts smell an opportunity, and in the UK its oh so easy to screw real fans out of money.

Lets take today. I ordered a cd from HMV in order to take part in a pre-sale for tickets.
  • 9am tickets go on sale at £40 each.

  • I load the page at 9.00, choose tickets, and it won't let me buy them.

  • I try again at 9.04 and it says four left, and it won't let me buy them.

  • 9.05 - sold out.

  • 9.50 - Listing for two tickets on ebay at £400.
Mother shit eating worse than Hitler slimy evil greedy fuckers...

Touts are now an unlawful tax on gig going. Not only do they make a fortune ripping off real fans, they take the tickets we were going to buy in the first place.

It's not just eBay. Seatwave is a 'fan to fan' ticket selling service. Well, no matter what the intentions, when a £30 ticket is going for £130; that's touting, regardless of whether it was a genuine purchase.

I propose a new law:

It should be legal to strangle touts with guitar strings until they give you tickets at list price.

I would even vote for David Wormface Cameron if he agreed to pass that one.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Deutsche Leistungsfähigkeit

I love these new print ads for VolksWagon Bluemotion, simple but amusing, informative yet absolutely in keeping with the brand.

After so many years, I love how DDB still makes these ads snappy and funny. A perfect example of how sticking with something that works can pay off. No switching to a new strategy or agency every 6 months.
The agency has got such a good handle on the style and tone of voice that almost everything it does is of great quality. Few agencies and few brands can match the consistency of the DDB/VW combination, it is one I think we should be proud of as an industry.
In a time when we are all to quick to criticise clients; kudos should go to VW for not rushing to the latest fashionable agency or succoming to 'New marketing manager who wants to change everything for no reason other than to make their mark' syndrome.

Via Cheshire cat

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Making your mind up

I really don't know what I think of this ad. The first time I saw it I was pretty confused when the brand came up, but after more consideration it starts to make a bit of sense.

For me the execution says more than the line does, the idea of breaking through boredom and gloom says far more about the station than the endline. You could take the line away and the ad says just as much, if not more by removing the need to think about the link instead of just absorbing the wonderful mood it makes.

Shame the unecessary line tarnishes something that otherwise is great.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Is this how certain agencies think staff should be treated?

I am fucking furious, and before I start let me just clarify three things:

1. This is NOT the agency I work at.

2. This is MY opinion and rage, the person in question has taken this with good grace and maturity.

3. The person/agency will remain nameless because it may be the fault of one person rather than the company as a whole. It would be unfair to label the agency as always acting in this way when I do know others whom it treats well.

A planner I know very well just got made redundant by their agency, and the manner in which they went about it is frankly disgusting, as well as a little confusing.

It appears (in nicer terms than I use) that this happened despite having a workload so big that it takes up his entire week (and more), and having just won two new accounts (one pretty big, the other bless his honesty he won't tell me because it hasn't been announced yet), both of which he worked on and one of which he was sole planner on.

So despite working at capacity for weeks on end (including a week where he worked 6 days for at least 10 hours a day; he gets called into a meeting in mid afternoon and told he is being made redundant and to leave the office. No warnings whatsoever, no time to sort things out, not even a few days to sort out his projects. Just in, gone, out.

Now I appreciate that agencies have to make people redundant when they lose accounts or their clients are spending less; but to do it in this manner is frankly disgusting. How little regard do you wish to show for your staff? How little care do you have about pissing off other members of staff?

So if you know an agency that treats their staff with respect, who need a clever person to help them win business. Please let me know, and I will pass on their details.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Beat Don't Hula

I love the new Hula Hoops ad. So simple but shows off the product in an inoffensive and funny way.

The right side of silly, and not following the current trend of ads going on far far longer than they need to.

If this were from Fallon it would probably be 80 seconds... [/inflamatory sarcastic comment]

Link from If this is Christmas then a blog is a what??

Useless Organisations

Are all city councils as hopeless as Manchester City Council?

I have never found anywhere so soul destroyingly bad to deal with. And I've used BT.

Let's look at their issues shall we?:
  1. Not sending bills, so the first notice I have of a bill is the final reminder
  2. Not sending receipts for previous payments (as agreed with them)
  3. Not sending complaint letters as asked for
  4. Operating a hopeless phone system, where you wait 4 minutes of messages and pre records only to be told "We are busy try again later" and get cut off. I don't like holds but for fucks sake.
  5. Said call system only opens 8.45 - 5pm Mon-Fri, making it impossible to call on a busy day. On quieter days all you get is the above.
  6. Operating a payment system where because the amount you pay at one time is not EXACTLY what is on the bill it doesn't get credited to your account despite it being paid.
Totally useless hopeless waste of taxpayers money inefficient badly run piece of shit. If a business was like this (excluding former monopolies) they would go bust.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Economies of Scale

I always feel rather mean criticising work for brands that generally do great work, and criticising ads that PR people have sent with genuine enthusiasm. But I just don't get the new Economist ad.

I mean, its nice enough. Far too long, but despite the nice visuals Let Your Mind Wander doesn't feel right to me as a line or idea. As a colleague here mentioned, they read it for a year and never felt like they were wandering: "no-one wanders through the economist. it's serious. much like you wouldn't wander through the stock exchange. you walk with purpose."

To me it's much more "Let your mind focus"...

So why talk about wandering? Well they clearly are going after a wider audience, people who want to understand this new crazy financial era, maybe wandering is more exciting than focus. But clarity, and understanding are far more compelling actual reasons to read the economist.

Sadly, its 'nice video, shame about the song' on this one...

Friday, June 26, 2009

.... .... .... .... .... Ding!

The new Tesco ads are currently confusing me greatly. They feel like an attempt to move the brand away from being a big corporate monolith; and back to a family friendly name for difficult times.

The problem is, it doesn't really work. It feels like its going backwards, and not in a brand heritage kind of way. They have scrapped the hugely succesful 'bing' dot brand cue, and the Every Little Helps line now suddenly seems irrelevent to the ad; leaving you with this lacking piece of cultural observation that actually feels more corporate than a sarcastic dot.

Double Value on Wine with Tesco Clubcard

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Next Internet Craze! No2

Stew had a great time in New York recently. Sadly it also included some magnificent attempts at ROB(bing).

Here is a musician at Harlem St station singing away. The best $2 Stew ever spent?

ROB No1.

Annually Retentive

(Yes I know that's the title of Rob Brydon's mock panel show)

History is a dangerous thing in advertising. We often look back at our history and revel in the great work and the people who produced it. But we have to beware of letting nostalgia and hindsight affect our judgement of ads gone by.

The example that brought this to mind was the VW 'changes' ad from the 1980's.

It's so often referenced as being completely of the moment, of fitting the landscape perfectly. Treated as some kind of marker for the way society and advertising was at that point. But of course advertising was mostly full of identikit haircare/beauty ads, hard sell bollocks and local 'slideshow' ads.

Not only that, I have never heard anyone talk about how successful it was. How much product it sold or how it changed people's perceptions of VW. All I hear is a praise of the creative and director.

This of course is the danger of D&ad awards, Cannes, Clio's etc. That we let creativity become the only factor in which we judge past ads. Now of course I am not saying that creative is unimportant in ads, just that we cannot let it be the only factor we objectively use to judge past ads.

If we look back at 2000's in 20 years time, our ad history won't include Barry Scott and Cillit Bang, but he created a strong brand, got into popular culture and sold shitloads of cleaner.

Which is why I like public ad polls. You tend to find that ads which mixed creativite brilliance with an idea that really resonated or sold product get to the top. Smash martians, Honey Monster etc. A public poll would put Barry Scott and the Gorilla together, one creative brilliance, one creative annoyance, but on impact and results, both worthy of a place in ad history.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blog of the Week - No 4 - This is Indexed

As a planner I love to see information shared in a simple yet educational way, and if that can also be funny then even better. Which is why I absolutely love This is Indexed.

Some blogs are complex and full of long ranting text (ahem), others just take a good idea and run with it. This is the latter.

Some great recent posts:
Hot Dogs


Excuse me, I feel sick

Any religion that has to advertise is not a religion.

Scientology deserves to die

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Next Internet Craze! No1.

No it's not dissing Iranian presidents, though I urge you all to support the protests going on in Tehran and across the world.

This game was invented by my colleague Stew, and frankly no one has managed to beat him yet.
It's called ROB!

The aim is simply to say or display the word ROB in as extravagent a way as possible. So far Stew has managed some masterful executions that I will cover as this topic goes on.

To start with, here is Stew hiding and jumping out with a loud ROB!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chirpy Chirpy Tweet Tweet

It took me a while to get into twitter. It felt a little strange to be part of this tech community that kept telling us where they were having lunch.

Yet about the same time I got into it everyone started talking about like it was the second coming of communications christ. This world of celebrities and communities talking shit in 140 characters, how could this be so effective?

Well, the simple answer is this: The Internet has Changed Human Relationships Forever.

Just think about this logically, for thousands of years we have kept a small close social group of family and friends. People who we didn't talk to faded out into memory.

Then we got phones, and the number we kept in touch with increased a bit.

But now what we have is totally different. We are a generation group who theoretically now can keep in touch with everybody we have ever met. Human relationships have NEVER had that, not in all of mankind's existence have we been able to speak to and hear about everyone we know for the rest of our lives.

This change isn't just about our use of technology, our increased learning and input. This is a fundamental change in the nature of what it means to be human, to be a pack species.

Twitter and facebook are the current facilitators of this change. Taking the groups and communities we had with Myspace and Friends Reunited, crossing them with the conversation of chat rooms; and creating a stream of pack data. Our lives and our families and friends and favourite people and brands and colleagues fed in a constant stream accessible anytime we want.

I like to think that next time we hype up social networking, we remember that regardless of how we see it from a technological and popularity viewpoint; the very concept is part of a sea change in the nature of our species. And that is part frightening, and part exhilarating.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blog of The Week - No3 - Spinning Around

James from 77 runs Spinning Around, one of those rare company blogs that never feels like it gets bogged down by a need to sing about the company.

Usually filled with interesting videos and ads, it also hosts the regular UK marketing blogs update based on the Adage Power 150.

Some great recent posts:

Blog of the Week No 2 - Almost Always Thinking

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Scamper Off

Sad news in the adblog land sphere type place, Scamp has decided to finish his blog.

As one of the first creatives to create a really good blog, its a shame to see him go. Though Scamp became a hive of bitchy anonymous comments in recent times, it always said interesting things and carried good debate.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mind The Iguana

Thank you Campaign for finally adding to the internet a full version of Iguana. Available only in crippled low quality form for so long that I thought it would never be shown again.

It's a masterclass in surreal advertising, and that Godley and Creme soundtrack is still funky (albeit very very 70s).