Thursday, December 22, 2011

Son of a Pitch

As we roll into 2012, it's that time when everybody starts to think about the future, about the things that need to change. I think we can all agree that our industry has major issues at the moment, and here is one bit of thought on what we do going forward..:

For decades now advertising has worked on the pitch system, where the vast majority of projects are won by doing the majority of strategic and creative work upfront.

I'm starting to think that this system is (in this economic climate) completely broken, and that it is not only damaging agencies but clients too.

In the crazy old days, agencies were making gigantic profits, and a pitch system that ensured you had great ideas before being thrown piles of money was completely logical. Why risk paying huge sums of money on unproven creative risk takers?

Except now there are very few creative risk takers, the industry has been made more business-like, more efficient and more money focused than ever before. There are very few reasonable or bigger sized agencies that will give you rubbish unless you brief them badly.

Perhaps more importantly, agency profit margins have dropped (especially outside London) massively from those days. I would take a large bet that almost every agency in the UK has at least one account that runs at a loss. Yet we are being forced to keep spending on pitches that have no compensation whatsoever. Not only that but pitches have no guarantee of any actual work; you could spend £30k on winning a £25m account only for them to pull the plug with no warning and no compensation, and you have no comeback whatsoever.

You also have the problem of clients using pitches as a cost-cutting tool, holding a pitch each year to drive agency margins down. How can you expect work that cuts through and drives sales if you don't give us the time or money to develop it fully?

Agencies used to have it too easy, but the weight has shifted too far the other way.

Instead of agencies working with time to think and properly plan out the right way forward; they are being asked to generate an entire strategy and campaign in an increasingly short space of time. Even though you develop the campaign, the cornerstone is being set way too early. This means agencies don't get to produce their best work, and clients don't get the most for their money.

We all want to make great work that makes the client a shedload of money, but in many cases the current system holds us all back.

Maybe in 2012 it's time for the IPA to consider if there is a better way, and if not how can we at least make the pitch system fairer for all agencies and clients; in order that we can produce the clever, effective work we all want to.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ad Pit Review of the Year

Best Ad of 2011

Runners up:
Yeo Valley  - Boyband - Nicely shot, well placed ads that have made people take notice of the brand.

Canal+ - Bear director - Great work from a campaign that keeps on delivering.

John Lewis Xmas - A xmas ad is the best ad of the year, remarkable. This ad takes everything the brand is good ad, a huge chunk of audience understanding and combines it with some excellent production and creative work. Truly brilliant.

Worst Ad of 2011

Runners Up: - Dear god this is bad on every level.

Colmans - Moo - I can see how it might have sounded like a funny idea. In execution though it is just cringeworthy.

Go Compare - What else would you expect? Another year of advertising that makes the lowest common denominator look like it's ten miles upwards. The only bright spot was the 'silent movie' ad which showed by being the most recalled ad in the series that the song is its' weakest point.

Most Improved Brand

Dreams - A sweet ad that made this DFSesque retailer seem a little bit John Lewis for a while. The hard sell returned, but the whole campaign was a good step forward.

Biggest Use of Budget to Hide Apparent Lack of Idea:

Muller - This ad gets away with much by being likable and engaging to its target audience, but there is still no escaping the fact that the whole ad appears to be a gigantic process of chucking budget at a script without there being much thought behind it. It's not pure entertainment, and it's not really an ad... If there is a good idea somewhere in there, Muller really need to focus on it next time instead of producing the advertising equivalent of the Expendables.

Best New Idea to Tackle Old Problem:

NZ Drink Driving - Legend - A smart turnaround of the old drink driving issue. A witty ad that actually manages to talk to young adults without patronising or lecturing them. Great work.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Something Smells Funny

Being Christmas time, I look out for all the new ads of festivity and jolility (it's a word dammit)... but this year I noticed more then ever what I actually got wasa sea of perfume and aftershave ads. Some better than others, but mostly hideous... Here is a roundup according to my tastes at least...

Ralph Lauren Fragrance Collection - I think probably hits the target audience right, but personally I see this and think 'I would never in my life want to be associated with those people'.

Prada - An ad so annoying that I ended up shouting at the screen to just show me the bottle and end this madness. It's so obviously a perfume ad. It has only minor style, no class, no edge (it's attempts at edge look comically bad), and just cheapens the brand.

CK One Shock - Now this is better. It's still random enough to feel like a perfume ad, but it at least has a sense of style and personality that matches the product. Contemporary and edgy compared to most of the others.

DKNY Be Delicious - Looks nice, fantastic product design... but is anyone really going to stay interested in the overly exagerrated fawning til the end?

David Beckham - What do you need to know. It shows Beckham in a vaguely stylish way then says 'a perfume by David Beckham - winner of 'Chemical engineer of the year 2004.'

Lancome - This looks great and at least tries to DO something with the big budget star (Emma Watson). Must have cost a fortune to make, and will it sell a lot more perfume?

I just don't get it. This is a category with often gigantic production values, the kind that most brands would kill for. Seriously, a brand manager is on his round with a machete as I type this. Yet the end result is typically tacky, crass, and somehow doesn't seem to either look good or add any desirability to the product whatsoever.

Surely if you are selling premium fragrances with brands linked to style and in some cases very high end fashion, you should be producing work that doesn't feel exactly like the competitors.

I know it's hard to put an idea in a perfume ad, so you end up with ridiculous statements about masculinity or femininity; but the people making these clearly have talent, so why not use it?

The winner here is clearly CK Shock. An ad that stands out, doesn't feel as much like a perfume ad, and has a bit of an idea that fits with the product.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Holding Back the Ideas

One thing that I find very frustrating about working in adland is how ideas are routinely ignored or discounted, and yet crop up later on; or how agencies are burdened with restrictions that lower the standard of their work (despite vigorous argument against), when follow up agencies are given free reign.
I've seen this recently. [Obviously I am not going to say who for.]

A client for whom I recall discussion stating that we 'have to do X' and 'Cannot do Y', no matter how much we gave convincing arguments and details they said there was nothing they can do.

Suddenly their new agency work comes out... no sign of X, lots of Y.

Well hang on just a minute...

It's less about the individual frustration of one piece of work, more that it makes it look as if we weren't even trying. "Why didn't we think of that?" ... Well we did. We argued and created and debated, we had even better work but it was never allowed to see the light of day. I feel bad for the creatives, planners and account people who worked damn hard to come up with great ideas, even harder to create something from within the stifling restrictions... only then to see an agency given a much better creative opportunity.

Now either they had incredible account handlers (that they would better than these particular ones I doubt though)... or the client changed their mind. Either way it’s disappointing to see your hard work go to waste.
This has emphasised a point I always strive to remember, work isn't always bad because the agency is bad. New work isn't always better because the new agency is better. Creative work is NOT made from a level playing field, even sometimes with the same client.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's all alien to me

So what to make of the new Argos Xmas ad.

What starts as a nice idea is spoiled by a seeming desire to describe in full detail the booking and ordering process. The 1m version does so in such an obvious way that it switched me off from the whole ad. I wish CHI had focused on the entertaining part of the idea, and made the whole piece absorbing rather than trying to stick a couple of jokes in to make up it.

I don't think it's a strectch to say this ad is very much based on the Smash Martians. Aliens observe the human way of doing things and comment on it... the difference was that John Webster made the Smash Martians lovable and silly, the benefits and message were wrapped up in a way which made them feel part of the idea. They were ramshackle and cheap, but that made them engaging. The writing was natural and you couldn't help but follow along. Nothing wrong with being inspired by one of the best ads ever made, but don't forget to be influenced by what made it so good too.

The Argos aliens look too polished, too human; and instead of feeling like characters you can laugh along with or relate to, you feel like every word they say is being targeted at you as a customer, not as a person watching TV. It's as if a client wrote the copy, and that's rarely a good thing.

It's a shame really, the idea is there; and being from CHI the talent is clearly there, but this ad just doesn't achieve what it could. I hope that they can take the idea and do something better with it, it has the potential.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beyond the Hype - John Lewis Xmas Ad

When the first couple of ads in a series are received extraordinarily well, it gets harder and harder to live up to the hype. Just ask W+K with Honda, or Fallong with Cadbury's.

I get the feeling from some of the comments that the latest John Lewis ad is suffering from this. After the fantastic 'Always a Woman' ad, and some other good pieces, this year's Christmas ad has a lot to live up to.

Lucky then, that the ad is absolutely brilliant. It shows beautifully the impatience of a child at Christmas, how their perspective on time changes. It's funny (the bit where it cuts to the nativity dress made me laugh out loud) and surely would make anyone smile and feel positive about the brand.

The nice little twist at the end is brilliant, and several people I know with kids said it made them cry. Those who know the unconditional love that kids have for their parents seem to get hit like a bullet at that moment; that the kid shares the joy of giving. But you don't need kids to be moved by this ad, you just have to be able to remember what it was like being a kid.

Despite some criticism I think the song is spot on. The cover fits the style used previously by John Lewis, and the words are totally apt. Who cares if it's a Smiths song? Clearly they were happy to let it be used so why should you care?

An ad that blazes a red hot trail right throught the traditional bright red stodgy promotional Christmas fare, and truly captures the spirit of the season for families everywhere. No artificial cheerful bollocks here, this is full on brand understanding of its audience and the people they are buying for.

Somewhere a brand manager asked 'Please please please let me get what I want'. Santa delivered.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not Again...

If you haven't learnt by now that musical agency promo videos should stay internal only...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rob in Berlin - Part 1

I've just returned from a mad week and a bit in Berlin. I have to say, what a city. I absolutely loved it. Over the next few days I am going to post a little about my experiences there...

The Hotel

Oh. My. God.
I have never seen nor heard of a hotel like the nhow Berlin. It's bright and bold and stylish and colourful. I saw it online and knew I had to stay there... as a huge music/architecture fan it looked like a great place.

My first impressions were good, the reception is amazing. Then they said as I was staying a long time I had been given a free upgrade! I walked into a decent sized room, decorated in a way I can safely say matches no other hotel in the world. Mental, but bright, bold and comfortable.

Then I realised that I had four big windows with a view of the river Spree in three directions!

The TV set is built into a reflective unit that also holds the desk, attached to the wall with no feet... you can plug in your ipod or any device with headphones... which I did.
The bar was even better than the rooms. This place looked incredible. I spent hours sat in the bar looking at all the different designs and styles of the furniture and layout.

Sure the bright colours will annoy some people, but if it was done so everyone liked it it wouldn't be half as good.
Even better, the service was brilliant throughout. With nice staff who spoke English very well (despite my best attempts at German, I am by no means a good speaker), and were always happy to help in any way they could.

I have to mention Nadine and Caroline who worked at the bar. They were cheerful, nice to talk to and always happy to help. They even avoided laughing when I left a full glass of beer when the evening's drinking caught up with me quickly and I nipped off to bed before I fell off the stool!

When I turned up to the bar with my luggage for an apple juice they both pulled sad faces, which is exactly the kind of friendly service I like, not the straight, upper lip service most hotels aim for.

In fact this hotel should be a lesson to every major hotel chain that uniformly aiming at bland smartness and 'expensive slickness' is not the only way. You can create places with individual charm, character and genuinely good people. The hotel was perfect for this part of Berlin, and I have to say I enjoyed staying there more than any hotel I have ever been to.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Howdy folks.
I've had a lot going the past few weeks so apologies for the lack of posts!

I'm off on holiday for a week or so, normal service shall resume when I return; in the meantime there may be some comments from Berlin, if I stop partying long enough ;)

Friday, October 28, 2011


This anti drink driving ad from New Zealand is brilliant.

Unlike most ads that tackle drink driving, it feels like there is a true understanding of how the problem actually works in real life; that they see the difficulty involved in telling someone who has had a few not to do it. They don't patronise, they don't come at you from a higher moral ground or use shock value to create impact. Instead, they created something surprising. An ad for drink driving that might actually have an effect.

To rework it so that the core message is about the positive outcome of not drink driving, but still referencing what could happen in a different and entertaining way is brilliant. Telling a sober person not to drive when they get drunk is never going to be easy to do, but turning you into a hero (even in your own head) for doing the right thing is a great way to try and reframe the problem in a way that might actually change the overall behaviour, even if it doesnt stop someone wanting to drive drunk initially. This ad fully deserves the praise it is getting.

Good government advertisers... legends.

Monday, October 10, 2011

If We Churn Churn ... Churn Churn Churn

The new Yeo Valley ad is just brilliant. Who would have thought they could top comedy farmers rapping? Well they have.

Everyone knows the boyband cliche's, but they are done superbly here; mocking in a loving way the poses and styles (even harmonies) of these kind of groups.

The idea of singing farmers is strong, and the branding is nicely either underplayed or part of the humour so it doesn't feel like you are being shouted at.

When we talk about better engagement, being bold and building emotional connections, this is the kind of thing we mean.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Do Different

(Aka - Why Steve Jobs would have made a brilliant planner)

I am well known as someone who stays away from the hype around apple products. I have never owned an iPhone, Mac nor iPad. Yet it is impossible even still not to be saddened by the death of Steve Jobs at just 56.

When google and Microsoft link to a competitor's homepage, when people are genuinely sad at the passing of someone they never met, when millions of people learnt about it on devices he created; you realise this was someone of the like we will probably never see again.

Whatever your personal view on their products, it is hard to get away from the simple fact that Steve Jobs changed the world. His personal desire and intelligence brought the world products that simply stood out a mile from the competition. His confidence in his beliefs meant he never backed into launching products for market gaps, he acted like a great planner and took insight and used it to see the gaps no one else could see.

Not only that, he allowed the creative people around him to use their creativity. He respected their work, and as long as it met with the vision he trusted them to do their job. You only have to look at the work Pixar do to see the effect. He may have been tough to work for, but how many geniuses were easy bosses?

The use of intuition and his innate understanding of how people work were characteristics that any planner would be proud of; it's great to have the data, great to have the facts and figures, but the ability to take a leap from there is what seperates the great from the good.

We need more brave planners, more leap planning. To show the world (and especially our creative departments) that what we do isn't all about charts and numbers, it's about insight and pushing the industry forward. What better role model? Instantly any creative will understand what that means and how you want to work; that you want to help creatives and make people respond better to your campaigns and ideas.

It's easy to be the same, to do what everyone else does. Being different takes bravery, strength and belief. It's not just about thinking different, it's about doing different. Just like Bernbach, just like Webster.

So let's be insightful, intuitive, bold and determined. Let's progress our industry, and in a small way take inspiration from the man who took the computer from a scientific machine to what we use every day in our homes and our pockets; and who gave us the best film studio of the last 50 years.

Let's plan like Steve Jobs.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Art of Subtlety

According to a page on their website, create all their ads in house.
One line made me laugh though: "But if you thought the commercials were the product of some trendy Soho ad agency you’d be wrong."

Oh dear. No folks, not for one second did I think that the latest monstrosity was conceived by an agency. If it was they were either juniors on a total off day, or terrible.

I am rapidly getting to the stage where i prefer GoCompare's ads to these. At least GoCompare has an idea, this feels like a brief given a visual and sonic treatment. You can practically see the brief in the script:







Oh and!




ARGH! All this does is make remember that I never want to visit a site that is producing this kind of ad.

Seriously, the people making these need to study the work of Dave Trott. The guy is an expert at creating memorable and enjoyable ads that made you remember the brand, but in a positive way. Ariston, Toshiba, Access, all strongly brand name focused but with creativity, a strategy, and an actual idea.

If there is a better demonstration of why we need planners and creative directors I am yet to see it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ad Round Up

This new ad from Audi is excellent. It feels like a Honda ad, and there is not much higher praise than that.

Of all the Old Spice style ads appearing, I think one of the best is the TheExpert from Loreal. Funny and devoid of the product fawning the ladies' make up ads have.

Colour Me Badd

Just seen a lovely idea from Dulux and Unicef (via Ben Terrett).
You can pick a colour and name it by making a donation to Unicef.

It gets across the brand values of Dulux, but in an interesting and positive way that people are bound to want to share.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

T-hat's More Like It

After jumping the shark with their last work, T-mobile have gone away and come back with something much much better.

They have kept the idea of sharing, kept the nice strategy of moments that you wish to share, but moved on the creative to produce something new.

It's a little Trigger happy esque, but that is no bad thing. Instead of being all out cheesey it builds and twists, creating a genuine moment of warmth and a real feeling of something you would share.

Some brave and comical actors crossed with a sketch from Beadle's About, and you have something that is funny, charming, and makes T-Mobile feel like a brand that understands Britain and the people within it.

A perfect way to take a campaign that was starting to date quickly and bringing it back onside.

Boom. Welcome to Campaign Pick of the Week*

*I expect, I don't pick it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's a Funny Old Agency Life

The latest post from the Ad Contrarian about success and reacting to post-success dips got me thinking about much like football management working with bad clients can be.

Take Roman Abramovich. He has hired and fired 5 managers in about 7 years trying to achieve his aim of winning the Champions League. Yet I have no doubt whatsoever that had he kept manager number 2 (Jose Mourinho) he would have won it at least once by now.

Does that sound familiar? An agency doing good work and heading in the right direction, only to be fired or chucked into a re-pitch for no good reason? A new marketing director taking over and wanting to stamp their authority? Either way the work gets changed, the ideas diverted, the strategy altered and instead of building up a long term result they get stuck with short term spikes and no loyalty.

Mind you. At least there is a reason for those sackings. You could be like poor Chris Hughton, doing an excellent job in difficult circumstances and let go on a whim by the shambling management team that you just dug out of a Championship sized hole. As thanks for the good work you get treated like an inconvenience and kicked out halfway through a campaign where you were doing well.

Of course it would be bad if like poor Everton fans, you had to put up with all your best players being sold, and then no money being spent on new ones. Imagine having your budget cut in half and then being expected to get the same results. How bad must it be to be trying your best to make communications work, but there is never enough budget to actually achieve anything. I wonder who will be the one to get fired?

Still, it could be worse. Abramovich is reported to constantly meddle in the team affairs, undermining the manager and making decisions for him. Wouldn't it be terrible if bad clients did that to ag...oh. Next time you get given a gigantic chunk of bad copy or a list of features, or are given some bad art direction you can't refuse, that's what we call a Torres.

Thank goodness very few clients are like this though. When you think about who you could be working for, it makes you better appreciate those you already are.

Disclaimer: I am West Ham fan who lives near Old Trafford.

P.S.: I also have sympathy for the poor client that hired what they thought was a good agency and ended up with Steve McLaren (Sorry Rob C)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Sharing the Wealth

As you may be aware, a number of blogs I read (plus this one) are ocassionally printed in Campaign Magazine's 'best of the blogs' section. A few people have asked me the the question over usage and payment, so I though it was worth discussing here.

"Don't you think you should be paid for them using your work?" I am asked. Well, if you look at it on a basic level I can see the similarity between a magazine printing my writing and them printing a column by 'another planner' (E.g.: One whom I would never claim to be anywhere near as smart as!).

However, I wouldn't be writing this content if I didn't want to do so anyway, this content is here because it is something i want to express an opinion on. I didn't start my blog to get paid, I started it to get my voice out there, which appearing in magazines helps to do. The blog served its' key purpose of helping me get into planning, and it helps me to keep thinking and to talk with other intelligent people in adland.

The other works are columns purposely constructed and paid for, they have to hit deadlines and need to meet much better editorial standards than my rantings. If I was writing to those timeframes and contraints I would want paying, but the point of a blog is the freedom not to be limited.

So the answer is: not really no. I don't mind not being paid when my blog writing appears in magazines, it's always credited to me and treated with editorial respect so I don't see the problem.

The other good thing is the amount of exposure this kind of thing provides for planners outside the London circle. I have seen planners in Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and other places included recently; for an industry that too often silo's itself into small areas I think this is very healthy. A small step towards breaking the out of date perception that (even in a digital world) not being based in London somehow makes you an inferior agency or talent.

No one in America claims CPB are rubbish because they are in Boulder, Colorado; no one dismisses W+K because they are in Portland not New York; the sooner we all start to respect each other the sooner we can start fixing the problems of our industry and regaining real creative trust from our clients. The prevelance of northern planners being published is a good start.

Monday, September 05, 2011

When The Little Guy Gets It Right

You've surely seen those annoying Pepsi Max ads, the one that implies pretending there is an impending Apocalypse is an acceptable excuse for sex crimes, and the slightly better one about tricking your boss into not staying late.

Funny thing is though, WKD have gone and shown on a fraction of the budget and creative spend that they can do this type of ad better.

The ad isn't exactly stepping into new ground, but it's actually funny instead of just cringeworthy; and it actually comes at you with a sense of warmth and fun rather than corporate sponsored mischief.

Yes, I know I was criticising the 'three guys in a bar' setup, but at least this ad gives the idea the space and time to work instead of filling it up with taste and pouring shots. We are actually allowed to see the idea develop and get a proper gag or two in there.

It just feels like WKD know their audience, know their brand and its' tone of voice, and have used it properly; whereas the Pepsi work just feels like it's trying too hard to be mischievous, too hard to be attractive and cool, and it just falls down.

The strength of Pepsi was always that they didn't care about looking cool, which is why they always seemed cooler than Coke. Recently though Pepsi ads tend to just feel like Coke ads with a little more edge (if you can call it that).

So Pepsi marketing team, try watching this and remember what used to make your communications good.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Please Press My Button

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

The 'This Site is a Piece of shit' Button

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

Any more?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The TV Fan and The Football Fan

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fox vs The Internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bad Design is... Bad

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

1. Flora Buttery

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

2. Nestle Ice cream mini tubs

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

3. Muller

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

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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Problem of Underclass

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Violent

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

Friday, August 05, 2011

Bad or Rad?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Good Ad Club

I had an idea last night.

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

The idea is The Good Ad Club

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

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

So this month for example:

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

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

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Stop Trying to be Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Virgin Difference

I've used my fair share of awful train services, so I felt that it was worth mentioning the little differences that make Virgin Trains the least frustrating and least murderous rage inducing train company I've travelled with.

Most train companies cram their trains full, giving you no warning and no solution. I used to travel every day to work with East Midlands Trains. The train was supposed to be a 4 carriage train, but 90% of the time would turn up with two; leaving people standing for 50 minutes, becoming unbearably crowded as it got closer to Manchester.

Did East Midlands Trains ever apologise for this? As far I heard, not once in 10 months did they even say sorry.

Virgin on the other hand. Have a sign at Euston station which warns passengers of huge demand for the 19.00 train to Manchester, and recommends they book a seat in advance.

Even better, they provide an extra train 20 minutes later (and a relief train on Fridays to deal with the crowds). At least understanding that a train that is always busy can be planned around, rather than leaving customer to stand for 2 hours.

Better yet. They announced on the 19.00 that any customers still standing could go to the 19.20 train and get first choice of seats.

So simple, but a mile better than the abysmal service most other train companies provide.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Simple but Brilliant

How do you launch a new brand in a crowded market when the product has no hugely different features?

How do you get people to remember your brand in a category which can easily be generic?

Change the words.

The new campaign for Stella Artois Cidre is clever. Instead of just trying to repeat the brand name, it tries to change the whole category name around the product; but as it uses a foreign word rather than a new brand name it works.

It reminds me of how Starbucks used new size names to make coffee seem new and exciting, to break people out of their existing coffee routine.

It's not Cider, it's Cidre. Brilliant. No sunny orchards, no '3 guys in a pub'. They take the European values of the master brand and create something simple and humorous that jams the product name in your head without feeling overly sold to.

After a few years of being a little lost, the Stella campaigns are really starting to find their feet, surviving the post "Reassuringly Expensive" hangover. It's lovely to see.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Never Forget About The Happy Times

It amazes me how many brands seem to totally forget about the customer experience, and how even those that do make an effort sometimes don't realise just how important it can be.

Waitrose recently opened a store near our workplace, I've shopped at a Waitrose store maybe twice in my whole life. Yet, within a couple of months I am now a pretty loyal customer.


Well, because they have the most cheerful and engaging staff of any shop I have ever been to. They talk to you, smile and actually feel like they want to work there as opposed to being stuck there while they look for something else to do. (Many Tesco staff!)

I realised today that every time I leave that store I do so smiling. That has a huge effect.

It's not even a subtle thing, I've even discussed it with one of them in the store because it so vastly difference from the normal shop experience.

Whatever you are doing or paying them Waitrose, keep doing it. It is bloody fantastic.

Since this store opened I have become a regular customer in that store, and have ordered Waitrose goods online for the first time. Happiness sells.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

All We Hear Is Radio Bla Bla

At Cannes we heard news that UK agencies appear to have no interest left whatsoever in radio. That everybody is focused on TV and online.

Creatives don't want to work on radio because they think it is boring, that it has little creative opportunity, that they cannot get a raise or become known by making great radio work. This means radio work often gets farmed out to juniors or neglected, not given the care it deserves.

Radio isn't a big impactful medium, it won't do anything for your brand... so let's focus on the TV and online stuff shall we?

The problem with that view is that it is totally wrong.

If you think radio is useless then you are not doing it right. Use it like any other medium and make the most of the opportunity. Treat it with respect, understand how to make it work, and then make bloody good stuff.

Has everyone forgotten the Budweiser Men of genius work? Radio spots so good that they turned it into a TV campaign, which wasn't as good as the radio. Have we forgotten that radio is really good at reaching people while they are near a computer? A nice way to promote your new digital work no?

Agencies complaining about low budgets, why not consider if that dirt cheap, badly shot on a shoestring 20 second TV ad you just made, which will air 3 times on an obscure satellite channel (UK Gymnastic 2 +1); might be better as a national 40 second radio campaign on the same budget. Giving you time to actually be creative instead of having 5 seconds to shoehorn in a cheap gag.

I've seen cases of miniscule budgets turned into double figure ROI using radio. You would think people might notice this...

We have some brilliant writers in this country, let's remind them why campaigns are about the bigger picture, not just the fashionable bits.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cannes the Cannes

The problem with advertising awards is that they judge creativity.

Well, they judge creativity without a benchmark of where the ad came from. No idea of how tough the birth of this idea was. It also tends to be based around a fixed set of creative principles.

To me, judging agency awards based purely on their creativity is rather like judging the quality of a school based only on the final grades of its pupils. Is the 10 A's averaging school in a rich area better than the 3 A's school in a poor area where English isn't always a first language? Surely understanding how hard it has been to get to the results, and the starting point going in are more than relevant to the success?

If you don't understand the initial problems and the process involved in an ad, is it not a little unfair to then reward only the outcome.

To me, an agency that gets a half decent idea out of a really difficult client is just as, if not more deserving of reward than the agency that makes a great ad for a great client.

It's why I keep hoping for good ads from DFS... when they get a good ad through we will know it deserves praise because of how hard it has been to sell in good work (so it seems at least!).

I am also a hater of the term 'regional' agency. A term that seems to brand agencies outside the M25 with a semi-rural status that is sometimes used in quite a demeaning way. I'm not criticising 'regional' awards, but it seems wrong to me that supposedly national/international awards ceremonies often fail to truly be so. We may have smaller clients who need more direct work in much less development time up here, but that does not mean we are less creative.

Judge based on the full story.

I'd like to see awards that balance out the skew towards those with great clients and challenger requirements:

  • Best ad to get through a difficult client

  • Best squeezing of ad copy past BACC

  • Most creative incorporation of mandatory product features

  • Best price / product ad (Aldi - Tea!)

  • Most warmth created for monolithic soulless mega-corporation

  • Least soul-destroying daytime TV direct ad

  • Most improved advertising

Friday, June 17, 2011

Culture under the cardboard box

I'm sure this must have been done in some capacity already, but it feels like something I would like to start or develop in some form...

I was randomly humming an old metal track, and discussing it with a colleague; when I thought about the idea of trying to covertly get the song into the heads of other people in the agency. A kind of unknowing cultural experiment where people could end up humming a song they had never heard before in a genre they probably don't listen to.

How can we create Covert Culture?

That got me thinking about the other possibilities of inserting culture into places it doesn't naturally fit. Music is an easy form of this, nudging a song into people's memories. Yet you could also do this with art, or poetry, design or even philosophy. A way of encouraging the absorbtion and trial of wider cultures and ideas.

The closest fit I can think of is graffiti putting personal comment into random locations, but I'd like to see something with more of a cultural agenda than a political or personal one.

Maybe it's putting art postcards in copies of Twilight. Putting a USB stick of classical music on the bar at a rock gig. Putting a book on the seat of a bus.

There must be hundreds of ways to spread culture in a covert manner. I'd love to think of a way to bring this to life...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cut Price Thrills

I love it when brands do things you don't expect. When they do silly or amusing things that show genuine warmth or humour.

The new Aldi ad features one of those rare things, a piece of copy so good as to change the way I feel about an entire brand that I already know a lot about.

I don't want to oversell it, but this ad made everyone in the room erupt in belly laughs the first time they saw it. The previous ad in the series was ok, and now I have no idea how they can top this one.

No going for bland 'let's not offend anyone' half-humour here. No Tesco family observation, no Morrisons cute quip, no Sainsbury's Jamie joking. The writers went for a genuine gag in a price/product ad and hit it right on the head. A price/product ad!! This is the equivalent of putting real humour into a DFS script.

I have to give a lot of respect to the client here, I can imagine a lot of clients looking at a script like this and asking the agency to tone make it safer. (Warning - Amusing but bad sounding reference coming up) This isn't Hitler raping Ghandi's corpse but it's still risky enough to make you chuckle.

So not only have I smiled and felt better about a brand, I've remembered an ad that focuses on product and price. For a brand like Aldi surely there can be nothing better. I for one love it, and wish more brands would take these risks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Three Guys Walk Into a Bar

Three guys with a perfectly acceptable race-balance and blend of machismo with friendliness walk into a bar...

Three guys working hard feel a little bit thirsty...

Three guys chilling out feel like a beer...

Some negative comments about the new Heineken ad made me think about the whole genre of beer advertising, and in particular just how outdated some of the 'three men and a little lager' ads feel. Though thankfully there aren't too many of them left.

Carlsberg has kept things interesting by having a great tagline, but they recently confused the hell out of it by introducing a second tagline that doesn't seem to fit.

Strongbow's latest ads however, raise a smile but they couldn't feel more like they are trying to be identifiable if the voiceover screamed "Look hard working cockney geezer, this 'ere hard working chap is just like you, maybe you should drink Strongbow too". Were it not a pastiche idea the shot where they look over at the pub would have made me cringe.

There have been so many 'three guys in a pub' ads. Some are funny, or silly, but most just feel like the same template. The beer ads we remember now are the ones that are more expansive, those with wider ideas and themes.

Although maybe, just maybe the criticism of the over-elaborate styling and content of these new beer ads opens up an opportunity for some good ads in the old way. After all, John Webster made the 'three guys in a pub' extremely interesting back in the seventies and early eighties. If we do it though, let's at least do it well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Great Planning Words

From Northern's latest post:

So don't stick doggedly to the words on your creative brief when someone suggests something better, or work off brief isn't just great, it's a better strategy. Don't dig you heals in if someone who doesn't have 'planner' in their job title, or from another agency or, a client, has a suggestion that's better than yours.

The job of the planner isn't to DO all the best thinking, it's to make sure the best thinking emerges. A crucial difference that is lost on too many. So leave your ego at home and remember that changing your mind isn't a sign of weakness, it's a source of strength.

Viral Research

I've noticed in the last week, two ads that have spent months online in the US have crept onto our TV screens. The VW Force and particularly the Skittles Touch ad have been in heavy rotation on UK tv.

At first I wondered why Skittles would air a US ad that is a couple of years old, and then I thought about it a bit more. The popularity of the ad online has acted like post-production research, gathering feedback and word of mouth spread.

Instead of risking budget on a new ad campaign, why not take something we know people in the UK like; but has never been shown on their TV screens?

Maybe this is the next level of using online video as campaign research; producing an ad, placing it online then using the success or failure to determine whether it is suitable for paid media spend. In theory this would allow brands to take more risks and produce more interesting work; because if it bombs it will never have any money other than production put behind it.

You might ask how this is different to now, and the answer is simple. Most agencies currently either:

Make a TV ad - run it on TV and place it online.


Make an online video - spread it online

What I am talking about is making TV ads, but taking them online first; surely a much more reliable test than showing it to 8 people in a room?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

To Save You The Hassle

Here is The complete guide to 'The Apprentice 2011', saving you the bother of watching it yourself.

The Key Contestants:

1. Jack Cocksure - An over confident dipshit who speaks in nothing but managing consultancy speak. Likely to say such phrases as: "There's no place for weakness in business."

2. Samantha Bitchslap - A spiteful talentless bitch who thinks she can be in Alan Sugar's job within 6 months despite having no leadership or people skills whatsoever. Most likely to say "That's not my fault."

3. Ian Wankington - An arrogant arse-wipe of a sub-species of human being with all the vision of a mole with sunglasses on digging a particularly deep hole. Slept his way to the lower-middle. Most likely to say "The difference between us is that I get things done."

4. Helena Myopic - An obsessive worker who suffers from total tunnel vision. Unable to see the bigger picture in anything, she stumbles from one crisis to the next. Most likely to say "But I sold more than her!"

5. Mark 'Marky' Markson-Martins - Posh snob who thinks that running daddy's company without burning down the building makes him the next Richard Branson. Has total contempt for anyone not earning over £100k a year, and near-total contempt for anyone earning under £500k a year... despite the fact he earns £50k at daddy's business. Most likely to say "Hi daddy, do you know Alan?"

6. Wai Dontue Shatup - A private school grad who talks, and talks, and talks, and talks. Appears to only be able to listen if the other person is talking about her, or offering her something. No business acumen whatsoever, but happy to flirt with anyone powerful. Most likely to say "Hi Ian, I like your tshirt."

7. Michael Norton - Smart guy, works hard but diligently. Makes good decisions and gets on well with everyone. Most likely to say "Well done guys."

The Teams

Blue Sky Doing - This team will argue about everything, fail to make any key decisions and flail their way violently through the weeks.

Team Touch Base - This team will be totally useless apart from the efforts of Michael to organise and single handedly run everything.

The Results

Week 1 - Blue Sky Doing cause a small part of South London to explode while baking cupcakes. Suralan fires Harrington Smyth III of Touch Base for parking in his space in the car park.

Week 2 - Blue Sky Doing forget to do the task after Wai and Ian start flirting during breakfast. Suralan fires Harrington Smyth III of Touch Base for failing to remove his car from his space.

Week 3 - Blue Sky Doing inadvertently cause the Large Hadron Collider to create a small black hole after trying to sell baby clothes to the women at CERN. Suralan doesn't fire anyone after Henry 'Jesus' Poncington disappears to the other side of the universe.

Week 4 - Blue Sky Doing cause a plague of locusts to hit Scotland after trying to setup a stall selling Haggis. Suralan fires Dick Dickson of Touch Base for having not bought an Amstrad Computer back in 1992.

Week 5 - Blue Sky Doing accidentally cause Elvis to come back from the dead whilst trying to sell shovels. Suralan fires Sally Critch of Touch Base after she put too much sugar in Karen Brady's tea.

Week 6 - Touch Base win a £10m contract with Google after Michael's hard work and vision. Suralan fires Michael for being the kind of bloke no one ever notices.

Week 7 - Blue Sky Doing manage to move Harrington Smyth II's car, and win this week's challenge. Suralan decides to fire Mark, but later on changes his mind after a mysterious phone call, and fires Helena once he manages to get a word in edgeways.

Week 8 - Blue Sky Doing are murdered violently after several members of the advertising community see their attempt at selling their new line of vodka.

Week 9 - Everyone stops caring which of these irritating bastards will get their TV job. Suralan fires all of them except Jack Cocksure who wins by default because of his "confident attitude in the sales process".

The Moral

If everyone in business was like the stupid motherfuckers on this TV show then there would be no need for marketing or advertising because nothing good would ever get made again. I'll probably still watch it though...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hit the Button

Some ads make great use of celebrity endorsements, some are a little cliche'd, some are just celebrities with logo's on. It takes a very special kind of celebrity ad to make you want to rip your own face off.

The new Head and Shoulders ad featuring Jenson Button is worse than that.

Funny thing is, I like Button. As an avid follower of Formula 1 (at least until Murdoch gets his mitts on it), I have a huge respect for his skills and abilities, as well as his loyalty in sticking with the Honda team even though it was slower than a royal wedding procession (topical!) hitching a lift on a tortoise (internet topical!).

However this ad is just awful. A strange idea that doesn't seem to ever gel into anything coherent. From the half arsed ryhming that gives up midway through the ad, to the cheese factor that stinks out any of the moment that might be considered comedy.

There is plenty of creative potential to the thought of other things being on his mind, but it comes across as a safe, riskless, joyless, passionless piece of work that not only embarrasses Jenson but embarrasses the brand. Maybe it works better in other languages (I believe it's not a UK ad), maybe their sense of humour fits this better...

This is a perfect example of where agencies and clients need to watch the ad like a real person. Stop thinking in your roles and imagine this came on while you were watching TV, would you go and buy it?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You've Been Drenched

Let's start by saying I quite like the new Drench ad. However it does appear that the script idea is quite familiar...

Tango Drench Script

We want to recreate the effect of being Tango'd Rehydrated.

We take a documentary voiceover guy doing deadpan.

We show people in an ordinary environment.

The family is hit with fruit water

No, I mean really hit with fruit water. In a big way.

But it's not as good a tango rehydration effect as Tango Drench

You know when you've been Tango'd That's Juicy Drench

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jumping the Shark

It's official, T-Mobile's flashmob series has today jumped the shark.

In it's defence, I can see how they might have thought it was funny to pastiche the royal wedding (and done well it would have been); plus i like the idea behind Life's for Sharing.

However, the execution just is not funny. It fails to be entertaining, taking off a recentish net video, but with none of the self-awareness or light-heartedness that made the original so touching. It looks and feels like actors mugging, there is no sense that any of the expressions or actions are natural. Moves planned and set out wholesale.

It robs the video of likeability, and stops it being anywhere near as engaging as it could be.

Worst of all, I said before that T-Mobile had done a good job to avoid making the overused flashmob idea look old. Now it does.

Shark. Jumped.

Where next T-Mobile? We know you can do much better, I hope next time we get to see it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Internet vs Fluffy Jumpers

There is so much talk at the moment about 'the cloud', using online storage and utilising it for our benefit.

This got me thinking... The internet has become this all purpose location where all various aspects of your life are stored.

A place where your friends, activities, thoughts, actions and interests intertwine and tangle up on a daily basis.

It feels like the'internet' is such an old style name for a modern thing. Like looking at the millions of things your desktop can do, and still calling it a 'computer'. A name that even predates the warehouse sized leviathons of the 1940s.

'The internet' (or 'Teh Interwebz') implies linked networks and computers in a way that no longer happens.

I want to start a campaign to change the name to something more appropriate. A name that describes the intertwined nature of our online prescence.

The Beard

Or, more specifically.

Noel Edmunds' Beard

Think about it: "I'm browsing the Edmunds" "Surfing the NEB"... what's not to like?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Planning Commandments

As inspired by Charles' blog post yesterday. My thoughts on 10 planning commandments.

1. If thou does not question the morality of advertising now and again, you shouldn't be in planning

2. If there is no client that you would rather resign than work on, you shouldn't be in planning

3. If you feel happier about a small pay rise than producing world class work, you shouldn't be in planning

4. Always be nice

5. Always be honest

6. Treat people as people, not consumers

7. Never stop learning

8. No matter how good or clever it is, a strategy that only produces bad (or ineffective) work is bad strategy

9. Learn to both love and be wary of research, treat it with respect but never without scrutiny

10. Don't hold onto thoughts and ideas for yourself. Sharing promotes caring.

Crappy Customer Service Part XXVI

I hate ranting about bad customer service but I have experience so much of it recently that it needs doing.

I find it staggering how many online retailers forget that the whole point of online is doing things quickly; sites for whom 24 hours is an appropriate time for an email response.

Today's pain in the fucking backside is - A download gaming site owned by the media company IGN.

Anyone who uses Steam will know that outside of sales, buying download games costs a fortune compared to instore or boxed prices; but D2D had a couple of brilliant offers on Dirt 2 and Split/Second.

I ordered the games and went to pay for them, but mistakenly used a credit card that had been cancelled. They don't accept cdebit cards so my wife retried using her credit card. It came up that I needed to contact them, so (with no telephone number around) I emailed them.


The next day an email arrived saying they were looking into it... Several hours later an email said I should retry the purchase. So I went to do so, except that the offer had finished and the games were now 4 times the price, and they hadn't saved the basket at all.

I emailed back explaining this, and (16hours later) got an (admittedly very polite) email saying: "I regret the sale you are inquiring about has ended. We have many exciting sale prices for games on a regular basis, with many top titles to choose from, so please check back often!"

Yeah... you can fuck right off, I'm going to Steam.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lovely and refreshing

Lovely Mexican ad for Coca cola showing how the bad outweighs the good in the world.

You know us so well...

I do find it irritating when ads claim to know exactly what we want (I might be in advertising but I am still a customer and viewer), even more so when they do so despite the claim being blatantly untrue.

Sure, there are plenty of people who would like their air freshener to be shaped like a plastic version of a stone; but enough to make a key line out of the phrase "If you could design your air freshener..."

What did they do, carry out a quant survey of 300 housewives and say If you designed your air freshener, how would it look? To which 151 people said "Like a cheap plastic copy of a stone... even though my living room has no real stones."

By all means tell us it's the nicest looking air freshener around, that it fits neatly into your room, it doesn't look like an air freshener. All those things are valid. But really, to imply that a piece of grey plastic is what we would create is just damn annoying... unless you have some good evidence to back it up!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thumbdercats are loose

Being on holiday I didn't see this ad until late last week, but it was worth the wait. As a loyal user of Cravendale I was quite sad to see the Cow, cyclist and pirate go; they gave the brand a lovely playfulness.

While the latest ad is a little more traditional in its' make up (reminding a bit of the old 'so good the cows want it back' ads), it absolutely works in giving the brand a leading yet silly tone of voice.

At first glance it felt like using cats was a concession that 'this thing will be online, so what do people watch online?' Yet the humour, detail and execution lets the campaign avoid any notions of being contrived.

Any cat fan knows that their cat would clearly like to take over the world. There is no exaggeration at all, but Bertrum Thumbcat is being used in a witty way that reminds me a little of the excellent Pinky and the Brain. Cats are fascinating creatures, and I hope the campaign continues to explore this (as they are doing online) and avoids falling into the trap of repeating itself.

You just cannot argue with advertising like this. (Especially now the cats are read up on military strategy)