Thursday, 25 October 2007

Blog stranded in Mexico City...

I've got a few posts up my sleeve, I'm just struggling to find an Internet cafe that has any kind of USB connection so I can upload some photos. As soon as I can get to one I'll be back posting again.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Who cares about advertising # 1

When you can drink tequila in Mexico!

To be honest I hate the stuff but as they say...When in Rome, get drunk, lose your memory and feel rough the next day

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Life through a lens

Image via

I'm left with a bit of a dilemma. I don't want to spend the next six months travelling and having to think about communications and work type stuff but I also don't want to leave this blog (and my brains) lying dormant. So I have come up with the following idea...

It's a bit like a personal photography ethnography for want of a better expression. I'm going to hone my photographic skills by asking the question: 'Who cares about big advertising budgets when there is this in the world?'......insert image

I don't know where it's going to go. But I'm hoping it will vary from the irreverence to the deep and meaningful. This should keep me on my toes.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Adios amigos!

These two fantastic Georgian buildings have been my home for the last four years, at least professionally. Trust me, if I lived here I'd be out on my Sunseeker, not writing this post.

This is my final week at work and in a weird way I'm going to miss the place. But most of all I'm going to miss the the friends I've made and the great people I've worked with.

I'm also going to miss Toby the Rabbit, who seems to have a thing for Louis Mountbatten. Although I haven't seen him for a couple of weeks. I hope he is OK whilst I'm gone.

See you guys. It's been emotional!

The Jane-O-Meter # 2

The Jane-O-Meter has been fairly quiet recently until it registered this new Bradford and Bingley ad. It would seem that there has been an error in the casting.

The Jane-O-Meter said: 'Oh my god she is annoying. I'm sorry I can't stand her irritating little face, turn it over'. I'm sure it's nothing personal, but here's a more expansive critique.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Marketing is just common sense?

This is a remark I hear quite a lot throughout the course of a year. Whilst I do believe that some people in the industry might lack common sense, to suggest that marketing is merely common sense winds me up. It is often used by people who produce mind numbing work that does the bare minimum. If this is common sense marketing then I don't want to be anywhere near it thank you very much. So in the words of George Bernard Shaw:

“He's a man of great common sense and good taste, meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage”

Planning on the margins

Image via

In my opinion one of the best traits any planner can have is the ability to understand people from all walks of life and really see, sense and feel things from their point of view. And when I say understand I don't just mean being able to describe their TGI definition. You need to have a real empathy and respect for them, irrespective of your preconceptions or what the data might tell you. It is always possible to find something endearing in any audience if you look hard and objectively enough.

Ironically our industry, despite employing interesting people, are generally from the same margin of society. And for people supposedly so open minded it's surprising how easily judgments are made. I'm blogging about this because of a free project we are working on for a local drugs working group that highlighted a really interesting transition in people's attitudes and behaviours towards an audience having spent time with them.

Under our guidance we have given this brief to all our junior members of the agency to answer. After giving them an outline brief there was the usual snap judgements about the lives and motivations of drug users and addicts. It was all very middle class and quite disappointing frankly. So in order to get them over this, open their minds and put them in a slightly uncomfortable position we set up a series of groups consisting of ex-addicts, drug workers and counsellors. It was up to the guys to ask some questions and get some real insight into the lives of drug users. After an uncomfortable start they began probing and developing some interesting relationships. I'd go as far as saying friendships. So good in fact they even went out for some drinks with them afterwards to probably ask more 'informal' questions.

By the end of the session there was a complete turnaround in how they viewed a group of people who are arguably in a completely different part of society, with vastly different life experiences. Not only did they have a real empathy for them, they developed a real enthusiasm for the cause. Well done guys, I can't wait to see the work.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Freaky Dancin had by one and all

Image via

One of the things I'm going to miss whilst I'm away is going to gigs. So with my impending departure I'm taking as many in as I can. Last night was the Happy Mondays and let me tell you, they are back to their very best.

Bez is often referred to as just Shaun Ryder's mate who merely dances around with maracas. But anyone who has seen them live will know Shaun is the creator of the atmosphere and Bez is the conductor. Bez is the king of behavioural engineering and there aren't many better in my opinion. By the end of the night he had about 1,500 people all doing their own Freaky Dancin. An absolutely brilliant night although I'm aching in some strange places.

Here's their podcast

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Brand America part two

After posting this last week about a small observation relating to 'Brand America', I've just come across this article on Business Week, in which teams from Tribal DDB and Draft/FCB entered a competition to re-brand the U.S of A. I wasn't at Ad Week but I can't help feeling disappointed by the description of the responses? Here's an extract on the winning idea.

"Tribal DDB's, which won the competition, based its pitch around using "Americans as media." Posters would feature photographs of diverse Americans emblazoned with the phrase "Fat Ugly American," or "Stupid American." Tribal would get American celebrities to wear t-shirts that said "Ignorant American," with a number to send a text message to underneath. That number would then give information about charitable cause that celebrity was supporting that helps people abroad. Other Americans, naturally, could then get involved and support the charities themselves in small ways that connected them directly with those benefiting (and get their own t-shirts too)".

Stereotypes + celebrities + charities abroad doesn't really excite me that much and it certainly doesn't do anything to address the fact that rightly or wrongly the rest of the world see the US in a similar light to North Korea and Iran. It doesn't go nearly deeper enough.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Ich bin dreizehn...

Is the only bit of German I can remember. But what excites me more is that yesterday's post has been translated and posted on to some German blog. It could be slagging me off for all I know, but I was tickled by the translation of a couple of things...

Beverly Hills Cop translates as Beverly Hügel Polizist

Crocodile Dundee translates as Krokodil Dundee

I'm easily pleased but you learn something everyday

Thursday, 4 October 2007

You'll never touch the balls but...

No doubt there is going to be a whole host of posts critiquing the new Bravia ad. I’d imagine most them will relate to it not being as good as the balls and in my opinion it probably isn’t. It’s still fantastic though and I doubt anything will ever touch the balls.

Very few things surpass its first instalment. Beverly Hills Cop, Crocodile Dundee, Indiana Jones and Police Academy being perfect examples! Arguably Godfather II is the only exception to the rule. It’s all pretty subjective really and that’s the beauty of the ads. Everyone will have their favourite but always wait in anticipation for the next one and the next spoof.

To me the Sony Bravia ads have become iconic and grown bigger than the execution. People are just as interested in the making of them and the music as they are the product it’s trying to sell. Very few ads will actually get people actively seeking out the execution and the story behind it in the way Sony and Fallon have. If that was the intention when they set out on the ‘Colour like no other’ journey then there are some seriously clever folks at Fallon.

To start with this…

Bravia balls

Which was supported by this…

Bravia balls - Behind the scenes balls

and then turned into this…

Bravia V Snoke

and this…

Tango balls

Then to follow it up with this…

Bravia paint

and this…

Bravia paint - behind the scenes

that then led someone to also create this is nothing but fantastic in my book…

Bravia paint spoof

Now the third instalment has just launched after this teaser reignited the journey all over again.

Bravia play doh teaser

I’m looking forward to where this goes

The ol' tin sandwich

Image via

As part of my 'think less do more' travel plans I've bought myself a flash new camera to hone my photography skills and a harmonica. I'm determined to use this time as an opportunity to do things I've always wanted to do. Playing music being one of them, not necessarily the harmonica. But my thinking behind the harmonica is that it fits better into my backpack than a cello.

My first task according to my book is to conquer jingle bells. Stay tuned for an update on my harmonica tour of Central and South America.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

A Soviet poster a day...

Yep just what you always wanted I know, a blog about Russian posters.

I personally love posters. They are arguably the simplest form of communications but often the most interesting creatively and in this case politically. This blog doesn't just flag up various posters from over the years it gives you the full history behind each one.

Here's my favourite...

If we don't end war, war will end us

Jumping on the social media brand wagon?

Every brand under the sun seems to be having a stab at social media and doing a good job of integrating it with above the line actvity. Which is a great sign in my opinion. However, it does feel like some are forcing it a touch. I think brands, clients and agencies are under so much pressure to be doing something different they fail to really think about what they want to achieve. It's almost like the sole objective is to simply do social media and prove we're doing integration.

The two brands I've noticed this week are Hellman's and Lambrini. Which are nicely produced sites and probably cost a fair few quid - although the guys on the Hellman's site look like failed cocktail barmen to me! Now I don't really like to slag things off if I don't know the objectives, so I do tend to keep an open mind on campaigns like these. For example, you could argue that the equity of a brand would be enhanced even if you're simply seen to be doing something innovative and involving? Perhaps it's irrelevant whether or not people are actually involved and following the communication through? If the objective is to create branded entertainment I guess it does the job.

Lee posted this about the new Stella Artois site a couple of weeks ago and I think I agree with him - there is a hell of a lot of brands out there creating web junk. Don't get me wrong I think the Stella Artois site is actually quite good if you give it a chance. But as Lee said, why bother? Do people really have the time or inclination to film themselves squeezing mayo out of a tube, or learning a Lambrini dance, filming it and uploading it to a site. I'd love to see the web stats for these kind of sites, but as I said, perhaps that's not the objective. I'm struggling to see how these campaigns are cost effective and produce any kind of results. To be honest, there is more people probably blogging about these campaigns than actually responding to the communication.