Thursday, January 31, 2008

Our New Levi's Campaign











Copywriter: Scamp, Art Director: Scowling A.D. (contrary to what it says in Campaign).
Click to make images bigger


Very excited about these, which launch today. Scowling A.D. went to L.A. to shoot them, with a very good photographer called Joseph Rodriguez, who did a book called 'Gangs of East L.A.' that we had long admired.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Ad Blog Charts For January 2008

Here are the world's most popular ad blogs, as measured by traffic rankings from Alexa.

Top 25 Ad Blogs (world
   ranking)
1     (1)AdRants31,260
2     (2)Advertising/Design Goodness      52,627
3     (3)Duncan's TV Ad Land63,630
4     (6)Bannerblog69,745
5     (8)Adland79,875
6     (4)AdFreak80,612
7     (4)Adverblog82,263
8     (8)Adverbox93,417
9     (11)Coloribus122,744
10   (9)Copyranter129,377
11   (new)10ad    131,761
12   (10)Logic + Emotion136,131
13   (12)AdPulp190,096
14   (13)Jaffe Juice275,443
15   (14)Ad Punch310,215
16   (15)Experience Curve341,196
17   (20)AdScam359,453
18   (17)Agency Spy374,408
19   (23)BrandFlakes for Breakfast440,806
20   (18)Adliterate441,659
21   (16)Twenty Four445,174
22   (22)Crackunit454,556
23   (24)Scamp466,129
24   (21)How Advertising Spoiled Me470,943
25   (19)Behind The Buzz473,036

An ↑ means a blog's traffic has gone up by 15% or more in the past month, and a ↓ means it's gone down 15%.


Top 10 UK Ad Blogs (world
  ranking)
1   (1)Adliterate441,659
2   (2)Crackunit454,556
3   (3)Scamp466,129
4   (5)Faris482,956
5   (4)Welcome To Optimism        622,371
6   (6)Only Dead Fish1.1m
7   (7)Fish N Chimps1.1m
8   (8)TV's Worst Adverts1.1m
9   (re-)Serendipity Book1.9m
10  (new)Lunar.BBDO1.9m


A first appearance on the chart for my friends over at Lunar.BBDO. Okay, so their agency is not as famous as W&K, but their blog is much more interesting. Have a look.

UK means UK-based. Ad blog means ad blogs not marketing blogs, so that excludes Gapingvoid. Although Paul Colman is now a planner at W&K (how’s it going, Paul? Your blog seems to be locked at the moment) he doesn't class Life In The Middle as an ad blog and Russell Davies no longer blogs about advertising, although his Campaign column continues to be utterly brilliant. I'm only counting English language blogs.

If I've missed anyone out, please tell me and I'll put them in next time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.38 - Playing To Lose


What should you do when you are given a shit brief that you don't want to work on?

This is a very important question, as your answer to it will define your whole career.

If you are the dutiful type, you will produce the best solution that you can, given the limitations of the brief. This will help your agency, and help the client's business. But it won't help you. All that will happen is that you will soon be given another shit brief. Do a good job on a shit brief for a second or third time, and your career is basically over.

Sure, you may be safe for a while, because you are doing a valuable job. But your book won't move forward. And when the next round of redundancies comes, the fact that you have been doing a valuable job will be completely forgotten. All anyone will notice is that you haven't done a good ad in a long time.

So it's absolutely vital to develop an ability to avoid shit briefs. And you have to do it cleverly. For the good of your reputation, you can't do it in a way that makes you look difficult, arrogant, or primadonnish.

In truth, a desire to avoid shit briefs doesn't mean you are those things. No one wants to work on shit briefs. And the best way to avoid them is what I call Playing To Lose.

Let me illustrate with an example.

Years ago, when I worked at Saatchis, some friends of mine (who were a very good team) got briefed on Oil of Olay.

They came back with a script about a woman who is dead. However, because her friends regularly apply Oil of Olay to her face, no one realises. (The idea was based on the movie "Weekend At Bernie's").

A fun and lateral way to demonstrate what the product does for your skin, but of course, not something that Procter & Gamble could ever buy.

K**** & C***** were never given a P&G brief again.

And yet, no one could say they hadn't tried, or hadn't done a good job.

And that, my friends, is Playing To Lose.

Tip No.37 - How To Write Headlines
Tip No.36 - How To Do Direct
Tip No.35 - How To Do Radio
Tip No.34 - How To Do Press
Tip No.33 - How To Do TV
Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Name's Bond. Emo Bond.

"Your new watch, 007, has an emergency blade in it, should you want to cut yourself a bit during your mission"


So the new Bond film is to be called Quantum Of Solace.

Sounds like a track by My Chemical Romance, reckons Happy Thought.

Talking of Bond film titles, I once knew a creative director who had the nickname Dr. No...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Poll No.19 : Do You Actually Want To Do Digital, Or Would You Rather Not?

Most above-the-line creatives claim that most digital creative work is poor, and they will be able to do it much better, when they're asked to. However, my question to above-the-line people is... do you actually want to?

Did you come into this business to sell, by any channel necessary?

Or did you come into it to make 'films', and quite frankly you'd rather someone else took care of the banners, just like they take care of the DM?

Vote now, in the top right hand corner of your screen.

Result Of Friday Poll No.18


Well shock horror. Image IS important in advertising. Who would have thought it?

Okay, a few counter-examples were raised. People like John Webster and Lee Garfinkel didn't/ don't look creative. They just dressed like a normal bloke.

Yes. But I'd say, consciously or unconsciously, they still had an image. When John Webster wrote a script for a lager ad about a pool-playing bear, and presented it dressed as a normal bloke, he was subliminally communicating to his audience: "Look, I know a pool-playing bear sounds a bit wacky, but it will appeal to regular blokes, and you can trust me on that, because I am one."

Previous poll results:
Friday Poll No.17 - Ad Of The Year 2007
Friday Poll No.16 - Do Difficult People Do The Best Work?
Friday Poll No.15 - Who Is Responsible For Ineffectiveness?
Friday Poll No.14 - Your Personal Success Record
Friday Poll No.13 - Which Department Is The Most Insane?
Friday Poll No.12 - What Music Do You Listen To While Working?
Friday Poll No.11 - What Time Do You Get In?
Friday Poll No.10 - Who Drinks The Most?
Friday Poll No.9 - Press v Online
Friday Poll No.8 - Success Or Glory?
Friday Poll No.7 - Is Reading Blogs A Waste Of Time?
Friday Poll No.6 - Job Satisfaction
Friday Poll No.5 - Festive Greetings
Friday Poll No.4 - Ad Of The Year 2006
Friday Poll No.3 - What's Your Favourite Medium To Work In?
Friday Poll No.2 - Agency Of The Year
Friday Poll No.1 - Which Department Is The Most Overpaid?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why Aren't We As Funny As This?


We spend quite a lot of our working lives trying to be funny.

And yet nothing we come up with is as funny as Porn For Girls By Girls.

Maybe no advert has ever been as funny.

Why is that? Does the product always get in the way? Or is there some other reason?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Two Hearts Beating With Just One Facebook Account


Fred & Farid once did a fascinating interview with Campaign in which they claimed they lived in the same flat, saw the same films, and ate the same food, at the same time... which they considered essential to function as a true team.

I thought it was a load of old bollocks. And yet, a clever piece of image-building.

Now I wonder if it might be true after all.

Look at this - they have the same facebook page.


Is it useful for a creative team to be this close? Or is there such a thing as too close?

Read more Fred & Farid antics here

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another Example Of My Least Favourite Endline


This was scanned from an art magazine, but that doesn't make it excusable. Maybe it makes it worse.

"Hmm, the ad's going in an art magazine..."
"I know, how about 'The Art Of...' something?"
"By Jupiter, Carruthers - you've cracked it!"

Feel free to post endlines that you despise, in the comments. I find it helps.


Previous 'Art Of's:

The Art Of Refrigeration

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who Is The World's Weirdest-Looking Creative Director?


I don't think it's Jon Williams (new CD of Grey), although one can only agree with commenters who have compared him to Charles II or a historic battle re-enactor.

But you know what?

I like CD's that look weird.

All hail Trevor Beattie.

All hail to US adman Donny Deutsch.

All hail Mr Pringle lookalike Piyush Pandy of Ogilvy India (illustration by Gwen).

And beware the normal-looking CD.

We're Creatives after all, and the essence of creativity is difference.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday Tip No. 37 - How To Write Headlines

I've already said that I much prefer print ads without headlines.

Nevertheless, it's worth getting good at writing them. Why? Because often you will fail to crack the brief visually. Happens to me a lot.

Or sometimes, due to lack of time, lack of money, yada yada, you may 'have' to use a stock-shot or product shot with a line.

So let's start with the basics.


How long should a headline be?

I’m not trying to lay down ironclad rules, and I certainly haven’t got any neuro-scientific evidence to back it up, but it does seem to me that there’s a certain length of sentence that’s appropriate for the kind of thoughts we typically try to get across in an advertisement. A length that can be inhaled in one breath by the reader. And that length is roughly 8 to 14 words.

If a thought needs a lot more than 14 words to communicate, it’s too complicated for an advertisement. And if it can be said in less than 8 words, it normally isn’t saying enough.

(Of course, words like ‘disintermediation’ or ‘supercollider’ might falsify the count, as maybe would lots of teeny words)

Here’s a great old campaign for Porsche by Fallon McElligott.

Nine words. [Sorry about the appalling quality of these scans]

Fourteen.

Eleven. I think of 11 as the magic number. I’m not sure why, but there just seems to be something particularly pleasing about 11-word headlines.


The best headlines don’t look like headlines

There’s a sure-fire way to get your headline ignored - make it look the headline of an advert.

No one actually wants to read adverts. So, it probably won’t get read. And it will be boring, and probably not win any awards either.

Making a headline look like something other than a headline is a very good arrow to have in your quiver.

In fact, many of the world’s best headline-writers are quite open about their secret weapon – a great art director.

With a really well art-directed headline, the idea and the execution are seamless. I like ideas where the headline is written in a place where type naturally occurs. Which means that your headline can be a photographed object - a visual element in its own right, which just happens to have type on it - rather than a boring old typeset headline.

So, think what your headline could be written on, that you could photograph as an object.


Or if there's no object you can put your type on, is there some object you can make your type out of, to make it more visually interesting? If it’s an ad for baked beans, why not make your headline out of beans?


Puns

Some Creatives will tell you that puns are bad and you should never use them.

I don’t agree with that, though I understand why they say it.

They say it because there is a finite pool of words that have a dual meaning. Hence, most are well-known and have been used in adverts before. And just as any joke becomes less funny the more times you hear it, so do puns.*

However, if you can come up with a play on words that feels totally original, I see no reason why it can’t make a good advert.

Here’s a great example for Timberland, by Leagas Delaney.


It was written by Tim Delaney himself. And if puns are acceptable to Tim Delaney, there’s no reason for you to turn your nose up.

Indeed, year after year, you will find ads in the awards books that are based on wordplay.

*Just as you could make an exception for jokes that are “so bad they’re good”, you might say the same of some puns. Like the old headline for the airport Hilton that read “Out of the flying plane, into the foyer.”


Punchline comes at the end

The construction of a headline causes some Creatives endless heart-ache. It needn’t. The principle is very simple: you put the punchline at the end.

Here’s an example:


Would this witty headline (and it’s a pun, incidentally – so take note, anti-pun people) have been as effective if it read: “My bitches and I love Irn-Bru”?

Not quite.

‘Bitches’ is the punchline so it goes at the end… just like the punchline of any joke.

For serious headlines, exactly the same principle applies. The key word or phrase goes at the end.

Tip No.36 - How To Do Direct
Tip No.35 - How To Do Radio
Tip No.34 - How To Do Press
Tip No.33 - How To Do TV
Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

Monday, January 14, 2008

Who Needs Words?

Berocca, by JWT (click to enlarge image)



Harvey Nichols, by DDB London (click to enlarge)


Two new bits of print that gave me a tingle. What they have in common is they're both really clean. Cleanliness turns me on. Always has done.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's No Longer Safe In The Water


This is Jon Williams, formerly a digital creative director... who just got hired to be executive creative director of one of Britain's biggest above-the-line agencies. Full story here.

Okay, so it's only Grey.

Nevertheless, one has to ask, does this news not represent a massive threat to all above-the-line creatives, or perhaps more accurately, to all above-the-line creatives without digital expertise and experience?

Let's just say I believe it's no coincidence that this fellow shares his name with a certain composer called Jon Williams...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Stop Surfing The Internet You Sad Sack Of Shit And Go Out And Pull A Woman

That's the message of Lynx's new website, which is full of tips and tools to help you do just that.

Here's one of the films they've got on there:



The work is by BBH so it wouldn't be very objective of me to big it up.

I will say though that it's definitely worth checking out.

The most interesting bit is maybe what they've done with Mobile. We all know that phones are a huge part of our lives now - especially for the young people - but no one's fully cracked how brands can exploit them.

But a downloadable application that turns your mobile into a 'Babe Detector'... it's probably a step backwards for civilisation, but may just be a step forward for Marketing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tuesday Tip No. 36 - How To Do Direct

Delighted to have Shaun McIlrath writing this one. Shaun is a creative director at Hurrell and Dawson, London, and the former founder of Heresy and ImpactFCA! He is one of Britain’s most highly-regarded integrated creatives.


Dear Valued Blog Reader,

How does that introduction make you feel? Like a piece of shit, would be my guess. And yet, there are thousands of well-paid Direct Marketing professionals starting pieces of communication like this every day.

So, the first thing you need to know about Direct is that any advice you might get from a Direct ‘expert’ should be treated as deeply suspect.

This is how companies speak:

Dear Valued Customer.

As part of our ongoing improvement initiative we are centralising data, in order to provide a more streamlined service. We are also taking this opportunity to realign customer sales and are, therefore, in the process of updating our information. Enclosed you will find a Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire. Complete the FREEPOST form and send it back before June and you could WIN A HOLIDAY FOR TWO.


That is a real letter. From a company. It says only one thing: companies don’t give a fuck about you, they want your money and, at the end of the day, you are nothing more than a name on a list in a huge numbers game.

People, on the other hand…this is how people speak:

Dear Bob,

Since I was promoted to MD, I’ve noticed that no one tells me bad news any more. Now, I may just be paranoid, but I’m harbouring the suspicion that parts of our service aren’t as good as they could be. So, who better to ask than someone who uses it every day? Are we as good as we could be, or are there areas where we’re dodgy? Go on, give it to us right between the eyes – because, ultimately, my job depends on you being happy.


Notice the difference? It’s human, I feel valued and I might even be prepared to reply without the bribe.

If I had to distil everything I’ve learned into one sentence it would be this: it is your job to help your clients be uncorporate – to be human. You can do it through comms, or by working within the company to help make it more accessible and helpful to the customer – but do it, because it will make their behaviour more distinctive and their comms more engaging.

And why shouldn’t they be engaging? Why shouldn’t people look forward to the next piece of Direct from a company, the way Heineken drinkers used to look forward to the new TV spot?

Which leads me to my next point – most people think that Direct Marketing means Direct Mail.

Not the case. Sure, the DM industry mows down countless rainforests each year to clog up your letterbox with commercial effluent. But that’s only because it’s an industry entirely devoid of vision.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The new digital age should be the Direct industry’s birthright, because the digital space is all about relationships and good Direct practitioners understand those better than anyone else. But most DM companies are still folding paper or, at best, doing banner ads.

With the new ability to migrate relationships online comes a huge opportunity to create seriously great, bespoke communication. Stuff that could genuinely add value to consumers’ lives.

But have you seen or experienced any of this? No. Well, if you want to retire rich, here’s your chance.

Direct agencies should be producing more engaging pieces of work than any ad agency – all in a gloriously unregulated space.

A space where consumers are the marketing directors, with access to millions of people. What they say in a blog can be a million times more influential than any £10m TV campaign. Here they are both “dear” and “valued” customers.

So, we should think of Direct, not as a sales dialogue between company and consumer, but as a multilogue. Consumer-generated – real, human communications - not even remotely corporate, but facilitated by a corporation.

And Direct agencies? Imagine a hybrid between today’s digital agency and a TV company at the dawn of commercial television, making great new pieces of content designed to foster a responsive, ongoing relationship. Experimentation and novelty are the keys to success. Concepts are tested live. If they work they are developed, if they don’t they’re canned - that day.

Do you work in a company like that? Nope? Not many people do. But that’s what Direct Marketing could be.


Thanks Shaun

Tip No.35 - How To Do Radio
Tip No.34 - How To Do Press
Tip No.33 - How To Do TV
Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

Monday, January 07, 2008

Deliberately Unoriginal Ad



This is the best ad of 2008 so far.

The Euro RSCG effort for energy firm EDF uses 100% 'recycled footage' - including shots of JFK, the Wombles and Thunderbirds - for an ad trumpeting its eco-friendly credentials.

I think it works rather well.

The idea is solid and yet lateral, and the execution is excellent. Cutting together such diverse bits of film to tell a coherent story... not as easy as they make it look.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I feel a bit uneasy that one of the country's biggest polluters is advertising how green it is. In the same way that Walkers talk about how healthy their crisps are, and in '1984' the interrogation centre was called the Ministry of Love...

But maybe that's just me.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hot In Here

I forgot to put up one of my favourite ITV ideas.

This ad is appearing in newspapers:


Turn over, and on the other side of the page you see:



I didn't expect to get so much heat for our ITV work - I thought it was quite good. But there you go. That's life.

Too many criticisms to answer them all individually, but I will say this - ITV's advertising is going to kick C4 butt this year! For real.

Meanwhile, the funniest anecdote I have read in a while appears in Lunar's obituary of Phil Dusenberry.

Maybe that will make you all less snarly...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Our First Work For ITV

Copywriter: Nick Kidney, Art director: Kevin Stark. (Click image if you need to enlarge)


Copywriter: Scamp, Art director: Scowling A.D.


Copywriter: Jane Atkinson, Art director: Matt Hazell


This is the first work I've creative directed, and I'm delighted with it.

It's been great fun, and I've learned a hell of a lot.

Mainly that Creatives are strange and wonderful creatures. Creative directing is a bit like lion taming - exhilarating stuff, but you must never back down, never show fear.