Monday, July 27, 2015

Does This End The Logo Size Debate Forever?


It's just possible you may have seen this campaign for the iPhone.

It has apparently run in 70 cities and 24 countries, in magazines, newspapers, billboards, transit posters and more. 

I attended some research groups the other day. The first question was "have you noticed any ads recently?" and the answer came back "Apple, Apple, Apple, Apple." Always Apple.

As well as its huge media spend and undoubtedly high impact and recall, it can't be considered too shabby from a creative point of view, since it won the Cannes Grand Prix for Outdoor this year.

But amidst all the hype, one aspect of the campaign has been overlooked.

The teeny weeny size of the logo.

Running a rough ruler over it, I calculate that the logo occupies only 0.12% of the total area of the ad you see above. And yet the branding is super-clear.

Partly this is because there isn't any extraneous communication here, so there's not too much for the eye to wade through before it reaches the logo. 

But mostly it's because the whole ad is an Apple ad, not just the part where the logo appears.

As I've argued before, branding should be in an ad's DNA, not slapped onto it like the branding on a cow.

That means each ad needs to be part of a consistent brand world. This is essential for proper attribution, and so that each ad contributes cumulatively to brand image, building a coherent picture in people's minds.

Apple have used a consistently clean and minimalist style for years - they have a brand world, for sure.

But assuming your brand has that - and it isn't a cheap & cheerful one where a big logo and starbursting price are appropriate - try to stand firm the next time someone asks you to "up the branding".

You could perhaps mention that the only brand in the world which has people camping out in the street to buy its latest product, uses a logo that's just 0.12% of the ad. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Our Industry Is A Little Unwell. Will This Guy Put A Bullet In It?


Steve Jobs killed the compact disc. Henry Ford killed the horse & buggy.

Now ex-Havas CEO David Jones may be about to do the same to the ad agency.

He has raised the enormous sum of $350 million to set up a global "brand tech" company that will build brands using technology. His plans are a little vague at the moment, but he is adamant that "Everything that the traditional model does, we will do the opposite." 

I've written before about the need for a new agency model - let's face it, this is an urgent problem - so props to Jones. He's going for it.

And I applaud his focus on technology. No one knows exactly what the evolution of the agency model will look like, but we have to assume that technology will play a big role.

However, like anyone touting a new model, Jones is obliged to say that the old model is shit.

Therefore, he lays a out a damning series of accusations against the agency business.

Are they justified?

Let's take a look.

"I’d rather give 100,000 film-makers $10,000 and the opportunity to create content than give one overpaid, under-talented creative director $1 million," he says.

Hmm. Maths may not be his strong suit. If you give $10,000 to 100,000 film-makers, you've actually spent $1 BILLION, not $1 million. (I'll be charitable and assume it's the journalist's mistake, not Jones's).

But the idea that there is an under-talented creative director out there earning $1 million is just laughable. You simply can't get to that figure in our industry, or even a third of that figure, without being insanely talented.

Here's his next criticism of ad agencies: "You could only create if you were one of the 10 per cent of the agency that were in the creative department," Jones says. "In fact, if anybody outside of that 10 per cent had an idea, it was automatically the dumbest idea on the planet."

So, so, so, much wrong with this. So much. First of all, why the hell was he running an agency in which only 10 per cent of the staff were creatives? No wonder he wasn't impressed with them. They were probably run ragged...

But the bit about how you could 'only' create if you were in the creative department? So annoying.

I'm a CD and my whole job is to deliver good ideas to my clients. I'm always on the hunt for ideas. I'm desperate for more ideas, better ideas, different ideas. And there is nothing stopping the suits and planners from coming up with ideas. In fact, in my experience, they do continually make suggestions. Not usually fully-formed ideas, but 'ways in', thought-starters, and 'angles' - which is as it should be. 

The suggestion that any ideas from outside the creative department are considered automatically dumb... I've heard this one so many times, it's really starting to tweak my wiener. I definitely don't care where ideas come from. Why would I? Gold is gold, and whoever puts it on the table, I will take it straight to the bank, believe me.

I think what happened to David Jones is that he suggested an idea, it got rejected, and he assumed it was rejected because he was an account man. Easier to think that, perhaps, than to accept that the idea wasn't very good.

The typical creative team might have to put up ten, twenty, thirty or fifty ideas to get one the CD thinks is good enough to show the client. It ain't easy.

And despite his good intentions, I worry that David Jones thinks it is.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Advertising Haiku


For anyone who doesn't know, a haiku is a three-line poem of 5 syllables/ 7 syllables/ 5 syllables.

The acknowledged master of the form was Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), whose most famous haiku (titled 'Old Pond') goes like this:
old pond . . .
a frog leaps in
water's sound
Not terrible. But imagine if he'd been writing haikus about a subject as exciting as advertising?

My old friend McDermott (a suit) once wrote one called 'The Account Executive':

Remember to smile.
Give 'em the ol' shuck and jive.
You have people skills.

My effort:
I got a new brief;
It said: "Wanted. Big idea."
Thank God for YouTube.
(It's always nicer to be self-deprecating than to slag other people off, I feel).

And yes, I do acknowledge that mine is pretty shit.

So let's hear yours. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

Why What Won, Won



Juries no doubt think they are objectively choosing the best work they see.

But the fact that every year certain styles of work are more heavily awarded than others has to mean that juries aren't just choosing the smartest, most emotive, or most insightful ideas... but also what is somehow on-trend.

Hate the word 'trends'. It implies a flash-in-the-pan - buzzwords like 'big data' and 'storytelling' which flare up one year and disappear the next.

But in terms of trends that have been around for a while and look set to be with us for a while longer, you'd have to pick out two - cause-related marketing, and technology ideas.

Cause-related marketing used to be something that was done separately, by a company's 'CSR' department. Now it's at the heart of many brands' communications.

Dove was one of the first, and they're still doing it - this is a brand that sells itself not on its moisturising qualities, but on its concern for female self-empowerment. P&G's Always doesn't talk about 'no leaks', it encourages respect for women by asking us what it means to do something #LikeAGirl. And Honey Maid is sticking up for tolerance and diversity in society, with its re-definition of what is wholesome.

Trend 2. New technologies have revolutionised our entire world, and that includes advertising. From the dawn of subservient chicken, to today, when a Cannes Grand Prix is awarded to Crispin Porter for a piece of utility that enables consumers to order Domino's by tweeting a pizza emoji.

If 'cause-related marketing' and 'technology' are the two mega-trends, then it stands to reason that work which sits at the intersection of the two, will be the most on-trend.

And so it proved.

The biggest winner of the year was probably Volvo Life Paint, by Grey London, which took out two Grand Prix - in Design, and also in Promo & Activation.

This is a brand addressing a social problem, using the technological innovation of invisible reflective paint. Cause, and tech, in one. 


Across all the categories, the Golds, Silvers and Bronzes, you will see multiple examples of juries' love for the place where ‘cause’ intersects with ‘tech’. 

A stationery store in the UK tries to reduce the environmental consequences of discarded ink cartridges - Ryman ‘The Eco Alphabet Project’. 

Samsung. They sell phones. They sell TV’s. What can Samsung have to do with road safety? Samsung Road Safety Truck by Leo Burnett Buenos Aires. 

Now, it’s highly possible that some of these projects were made more for awards juries than the public.

This has certainly been the accusation in a lot of commentary during and after Cannes.

But set against that, you’d have to acknowledge that Volvo’s Life Paint idea got great PR for Volvo all over the world.

These ideas are spreading, and spreading organically via social media. They’re associating the brands involved with good causes – in a way that’s relevant, and likely to make them more preferable to consumers. 

They work.

But it's because they’re on-trend - and not necessarily because they're the cleverest or most insightful ideas - that they're winning the biggest awards.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Hidden Gems Of Cannes 2015


While the Grand Prix and Golds get most of the attention, I like to pick through the Silver and Bronze pile, to find the hidden gems.

These are the ads that won't change the world, and didn't get huge coverage (if any) in the trade press, but are nevertheless excellent. In my opinion, obvs.

In amongst the usual big-budget promotions for batteries and Sharpies, there was actually some rather nice print work.


Sweet. Simple. Silver in Outdoor and Press.
Simple and funny. All you want in a beer ad. Bronze in Outdoor. (Click to embiggen).
 


Why don't more people make ads using the company's logo? The result is inevitably both strong and well-branded... Bronze in Outdoor. (In case you can't read the line, it says "Bi-Xenon Headlamps").




Maybe I'm biased, as this work is from our sister agency A&E DDB London. Or maybe I'm biased because I'm a cat fan. (If you're one too, you'll want to check out the awesome making-of video). But I absolutely love this campaign for Mars Temptations, which won Silver in Outdoor and Press.



S7 Airlines must be from Russia, although they hired W+K to make their ad. Wise choice, because it's brilliant. Starts out like a cliché, then twists hard, so stick with it.



Melanoma Likes Me. Wow, just wow. Best use of Instagram so far? Almost certainly. So simple, and yet so sinister, really. Silver in Promo & Activations, Bronze in Creative Data. (Is that a category now? I guess it is).



Taco Bell Blackout. Ballsy, counterintuitive thinking... that sounds like it really paid off. Bronze in Cyber. 


Honourable mentions to the Dead Island trailer (Bronze in Film), Saving Aslan (also Bronze in Film) and Nazis Against Nazis (Bronze in Cyber).

Something caught your eye in the silver and bronze pile? Share it in the comments. Or just general opinions about this year's work. Why not.

Monday, June 22, 2015

'Twas The Night Before Cannes



I reckon this year's Cannes will showcase the best work our industry has ever produced.

Buoys that detect sharks, children's books that are also eye tests, radio stations for dogs... the sheer creativity is staggering.

But so is the irrelevance.

This article by Havas strategy dude Tom Goodwin, published in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago, gained wide attention. Its title: 'What if Cannes Lions celebrates the worst, not the best of advertising?'

Goodwin's argument is that much of the work at Cannes isn't solving real business problems, and isn't being seen.

It's a tough, tough bind. Last week I was searching for an old commercial, and found it as part of an ad break that someone had recorded from about 1997. The production values were miles ahead of what we have today. And while the work was arguably nothing more than a succession of high-quality pub gags, it was entertaining stuff.

But the point is that this work was being widely seen. (TV audiences were huge). And it was solving real business problems. (Admittedly, business was a lot simpler then. A category disruption meant someone adding alcohol to lemonade, not developing an app that eliminated an entire industry).

I'm not too worried about Cannes. The festival is well organised, it's a lot of fun, and is doing a great job of its core mission - to celebrate and inspire creativity. (Although it's not a good sign that people are taking the piss out of it - witness this Grand Prix Generator thing).

But I am worried about our industry.

We need to ensure our creativity is as relevant and as widely-seen as our clients need it to be, or I fear we may one day look back on Cannes as little more than a highly public suicide note.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

This Is My All-Time Favourite Asterisk


There has never, in the history of the world, been a competition that had no terms and conditions.

I don't even know if such a competition could exist.

Okay, let's try to imagine it. A competition without terms would have no entry mechanic. It would have no cut-off date. And it would have no means of deciding a winner. So it would basically be a competition open to anyone in the world, forever, that they could enter any way they wanted, and there would be no way of knowing who won.

That is the grim future that a heroic lawyer at the Mazda corporation is protecting us from, in the ad above.

Unfortunately, this lawyer remains anonymous. We will never know his or her name. Their achievement will go unrecognised, unrewarded.

And I, for one, don't think that's fair.

I have therefore taken the liberty of composing a short poem in honour of this fine lawyer.

As you will shortly realise, I am not experienced - or indeed skilled - in the art of writing poetry.

But I hope that my sincerity and genuine appreciation for this unsung hero (or heroine), will nevertheless shine through.


Ode To A Lawyer

Lawyer, lawyer, burning bright
In your office, late at night
Knees are weak, arms are heavy,
Just finished the last of mum's spaghetti,
Such a long day, your brain feels floppy
But before you go home,
Got to check this Mazda ad copy

It's a one-word headline
Should be simple enough
No dubious claims
Or marketing fluff

But o horror of horrors -
Most unfortunate day
You can't pass this ad
Not like that
Oh no way.

People might think that everyone can win
And that is no state for society to be in

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone
Ignore the agency when they continually moan
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are totes losing their shit
Then you're doing your job well
So you don't falter, not one bit

You won't be deflected, you won't be deterred
You act out of love, you're protecting the herd
With shift 8 on your keyboard - the asterisk key
You keep the world safe, you keep our world free*



*'Free' in this context refers to free as in 'freedom', not free as in 'no cost'. Charges for living in our world may apply. E.g. for food and whatnot.