Friday, October 29, 2010

A little help!

Hi folks,

If you get a moment, I would be very grateful if you could help me win a Hotmail competition by clicking the link below and voting for my idea (by clicking Like).

Hotmail Comp - The Sortinator



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Sugar Dilemma

We all watch the Apprentice and see this mocked up Alan Sugar in a big tower (studio) with clever (stupid) business people (idiots) trying to win an important (ish) job with the mogul.

But I was thinking the other day, just how big and powerful is Alan Sugar?

He has a reputation for being the kind of no nonsense, no emotion salesperson that most agencies would hate to work with. He comes across as someone who puts features, name and price at the centre of the communications universe and has no time for anything even vaguely intangible or creative.

Which got me thinking. How many really successful Amstrad or Sugar backed products can you think of? (Amstrad computers was huge, but based on buying out and renaming Sinclair just as they started to decline) How many lasting brands has he built?
Amstrad computers sold ok, he sold them by mail order only and no-one really cared. His internet phones sold ok. Everything he does is adequate and makes profit; but nothing is ever truly successful.
It says it all that (as our Head of Planning Steve said) his biggest cultural impact on the country is as the 'boss' on a TV show. No product or brand he has produced has ever had a real impact. With some better agency thinking and creative, he could have been so much more.

You can say that he is successful, and yes he is. But he is just a wheeler dealer, a Del Boy made good. I can't help thinking that had he a better understanding of branding and how to sell using communication, he could have been a Branson.
Note: My aunt's shop is on tonights show. I shall cringe but also be kind of proud!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Arriba Arriba! ...........................

Disclosure: My brother worked on this ad, but that is in no way any reason for the below post.

I love the old Warner Brothers cartoons, they are briliant examples of when cartoons were treated with respect instead of being mass farmed out to Asia while all aspects of creativity are slowly chisled out.

That said, they were also good at creating characters; and the new Virgin Media ad is a great example of how to take an existing character and make it relevant to a brand strategy (as opposed to just shoehorning in a famous character for creative). If you want to suggest fast broadband, then who better than the fastest mouse in all of Mexico?

I also love the use of the anti-ad; the acknowledgement that Speedy is whoring himself out for the advertising industry. The writing is mainly setting up the story but leaves room for a couple of good sight gags and a magnificent cheese pun.

Speedy is on Facebook too, bringing an already vibrant character to life even more. If they get the writing right of course... but they have so far.

My only real criticisms are really more about the cartooning industry in general than this ad, so I'll leave that for another post.

This is great work by DDB. The campaign and strategy have the potential to run and run until they make Speedy Gonzales look like Regular Gonzales (as my brother would say).

Friday, October 22, 2010

E4 Says What We Are All Thinking...

Flashmobs are officially done it seems. In one swoop E4 just ripped the living daylights out of the kind of overly rehearsed model filled pose-a-thon flash mob that no one really likes anymore.

This video is just brilliant. The cheesy track from Black Eyed Peas, the pouting posing models doing dance moves that only a professional dancer would ever do. The second piece of music is spot on. The craziness that ensues feels spontanious and is funny. The balloon pop is the funniest thing I've watched all year.

Best of all, from a strategy point of view it feels perfectly like E4. Slightly edgy, slightly cooler than the mass market, but not likely to offend anyone in its reach.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Open Letter to Argos and Their Media Agency

Dear Argos/Agency/Media Agency,

I should point out straight away that I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of Argos' communications over the past year or so. This year's campaign is no different, and interesting piece of creative positioned well so that it is very visible and prominent.

I have one complaint however. It is not Christmas, it is the middle of sodding October.

While I appreciate the need to produce advertising and run it in the build up to Christmas (working as I do on retail clients), I worry that you are wasting money on simply annoying people when you could instead be saving that budget for an appropriate time when the work would raise a smile.

Now to be fair, you may have such a large media budget that it doesn't matter if you start your Christmas 2011 advertising on pancake day; but that doesn't mean you should.

Likewise, you may be facing competitors pushing their Christmas advertising further forward each year until you have to start promoting in summer. But why not at the very least create some work that references the fact it is early, and make that a point of humour; making your competitors look silly for getting in so ridiculously early.

I'm by no means a Scrooge, by no means a killjoy. I love the fun and happy atmosphere created by Christmas and the spirit of the season. My issue is that this IS NOT the season, this is early autumn, this is early even to have Halloween parties.

In the meeting where the media schedule is discussed, when it was said "And our Christmas campaign this year will start in the second week of October", a full 10 weeks before Christmas, and well over 70 days... how did no one say "Isn't that a bit early?". If in a media review it was suggested that we start promoting a summer sale in the middle of March, that might be considered a bit weird. Or perhaps we should start the early promotion of Christmas 2013 next August.

Two years in a row the first Christmas advertising I have seen has been for Argos, and contrary to what some people might think that is not a good thing. It just makes me want to avoid your stores and ignore your advertising for the next month, precisely the time I actually start looking for Christmas bargains and start deciding where to shop.

What I'm trying to say is: Please stop spoiling your interesting creative work by running it at a completely innapropriate time. I'd like to be able to react to your work based on it's merits, not the fact that I am aghast at seeing Christmas work already.

I hope next year we can meet properly at a reasonable time, try say a few days after Bonfire night at the very very earliest.

Regards and Merry Xmas

Rob "Cringle" Mortimer

Friday, October 15, 2010

Let there be music!

Just a note to say that I have finally started my old music blog again. I'll be posting tracks every day or two that I think are interesting, new, or forgotten. If you wish to comment that would be awesome.

FireFlower Music Blog

Why Agencies Need to Be Able to Act Quickly

All that needs saying here is Oakley shades and Chilean miners. For the cost of 35 pairs of shades, Oakley got worldwide press coverage and 35 sets of product placement on the biggest story in the world over the past week.

If that doesn't tell you the ability to let your agencies act fast is important, nothing will. Whoever signed off those shades deserves a promotion.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Gap Logo < New Coke < New Twitter

Unusually I have found two different events that led me to directly reference the New Coke debacle in this past week.

The first is the New Gap Logo mania. They introduced a shitty new logo, causing untold amount of comment and complaining on the web. They then asked for user suggestions, creating even more comment. Now they have agreed to go back to the old logo...

Yet it feels rather like something Coca Cola were accused of with New Coke, that they did the whole thing deliberately to draw attention to their existing design and product. New Coke caused huge spikes in Coca Cola sales once the original product* was back on shelves. Most people I know say it was all a stunt, and the speed of new logo withdrawl seems to bear out it was pre-planned!

Second is New Twitter. Which is completely hopeless on IE7, utterly hopeless. Even when it works on Firefox, it seems slow, weirdly designed from a user interface point of view, and much weaker than both the old site and Twitter Gadget.

*Except it wasn't the original product. It used cheaper and now suspect health-wise HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) instead of the old Cane Sugar. One widely believed rumour is that the New Coke was just an excuse to hide the change.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Certain Ratio

Reading a great presentation by Griffin Farley yesterday, there was a little line that talked about the importance of Production values in the digital age. It strikes me as amazing that I haven't seen more written about this, and thought it was worth adding my comments to:

Production VS. Media (Draft 1!!)

Traditionally advertising weight has always been largely about media spend. A simple equation usually worked, the more people see your ad the more likely they are to remember the product and buy it/respond.

More spend = more exposure.

Except now, the power of sharing means production values are infinitely more important than ever before. Not necessarily that bigger means better, but the production has to fit in with the idea. Where there isn't budget, production should look unique or be stylised to create maximum effect, just like old cartoons used angles and styles to get round the lack of money for drawing and animating.

E.g.: Old Spice's Online Responses were low budget individually compared to the ads, but were right for the idea; whereas the actual ads were bigger budget to suit the ideas.

The production quality and relevance now plays a HUGE part in whether something gets shared or not... to the extent where the priority between media and production budget should really be shifting; where production and creative quality actually change the media schedule.

Think about it. If you spent £50k to make an ad cheaply in 1999, and ran it on a media budget of £500k; you got £500k of media. If you spent £50k to make an ad cheaply now, and £500k on media, you might get £500k of media plus a couple of £100k of online sharing media value. But if you made that ad with a £150k budget, great director and soundtrack, you still get your £400k media exposure, but are far more likely to get thousands or even millions of pounds of media value through online sharing and conversation.

Look at W+K with Honda, they made big budget ads but reduced media spend; end result was huge online viewing, sharing and publicity.

It won't work for everyone, online can be notoriously fickle. But in principle it seems to make sense to me.

I think this problem has been one of the main issues for some clients and agencies in adapting to the online world, often described as being a change from broadcast to interactive funnelling or any one of twenty different models; if you have always worked in an industry where spend + creative were key, and production was just part of getting the creative across...

Something like this:

Media Size Squared + Creative Quality + Production Quality = Resonance*
*Cultural impact, how much it is remembered, talked about, etc

(Huge Spend + Crap Ad + No Budget = Bludgeoned to submission ::: E.g.: Allied Carpet Sale!)

(Low Spend + Great Ad + Great Budget = Known only to D+AD Judges ::: E.g.: Lego Kipper)

... Then it's no wonder you have trouble adapting to the newer ways of doing things. People always talk about how sharing and creative has changed, but less so about media, and very rarely about production values. What we have now is I think closer to this:

Creative Quality + Production Quality = Initial Resonance

Initial resonance x Sharing + Paid Media Size = Total Media Size / Total Resonance

I may try and simplify those, but at the moment it's what I have!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject...

Blunt Contentious Statement No1

The internet has been around for more than a decade, it is not New Media* anymore.

*This is not a critique of New Media Age! That refers to a time period...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Fly High baby!

It's always nice to be able to look at the work you do as an agency and be happy about the idea of sharing it with other people.

This week we launched a new Facebook game for bmibaby, called Give Us a Break. People create a plane with up to 5 friends and then answer questions each day to try and get the best score.

I think it's a great little game, and it seems to be doing well so far. Let me know what you think if you have a look!