Monday, July 31, 2006

Impressions of the U.S.

Couldn't blog much from the U.S. because United sent my luggage to Tokyo so I couldn't use my laptop.

But now that I'm back, here's a few thoughts on differences between the US and UK ad scenes. Feel free to add your own.

1. Interactive advertising is huge over there. It grew 38% year on year. Seems to be second only to TV in importance to agencies now. We are way behind in the UK but it can only go the same way.

2. They don't have separate interactive creatives. Makes sense. I mean, we don't have separate creatives doing posters, for example.

3. All the creatives over there use a Mac for their print layouts. There are no 'scamps'. Not a layout pad to be found. This surely is a mistake. It means creatives are spending time on making something look good, time which they could use to have better ideas. And secondly, when something is presented to the client already 'finished...' it leaves less room for the photographer or illustrator to add their input.

4. The Top 20 UK agencies are all in London. So if you move agencies, you don't have to move house. But of the top 20 US agencies, quite a few are in New York, but others are spread around in LA, San Fancisco, Miami, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland etc. So getting a new job most likely means uprooting yourself (and your family if you have one). Despite this, people in the U.S. move jobs a lot more often!!

5. A lot of creatives work on just one account. The reason is obvious - accounts over there are huge. But is it a good thing? On the plus side, you'll get to know that business well. But on the downside, I worry it could get dull...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lots Of TV Ads Here

Well, that's my first and totally unoriginal observation about US TV advertising. There's rather a lot of it. And it cuts straight into the programmes. No little pause or flash-frame ident. Straight in. Each ad follows straight into the next one too. Again, no pause. It's an all-out assault of Saving Private Ryan proportions. But I suppose you get used to it.

And the quality? Generally very low. If you think about it, the UK and the US tend to do roughly equally well at award shows around the world. But the US produces about eight times as much advertising. So that means the average quality is...

A lot of the low quality I think is a product of the advertiser trying to say too much. Each ad is trying to put across a brand message and several product messages at the same time, and then finish with a 'deal' or special offer at the end.

Simple stuff like the Mac ads (latest one above) stand out a mile.

Friday, July 21, 2006

England Is Siberia

Love this Lynx/Axe ad with Ben Affleck. Saw it again on TV here in LA last night.

Except it didn't have Ben Affleck in it.

That's right. A different guy. They obviously filmed the whole thing twice, shot-for-shot, with a different actor.

I can just imagine the conversation between Ben and his agent.

AGENT: "Ben, they want you to do a commercial for Axe. It's two million dollars."

BEN: "Nah, I don't want to do commercials."

AGENT: "It's international only. So it won't be seen by anyone who matters. It will only air in places like, you know, England."

BEN: "Oh, okay. Fine."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Scamp Is Off To California Tomorrow

It's partly a family holiday, but I'm also having a couple of interviews - one in L.A. and one in San Francisco.

If anyone has worked in both the U.S. and the U.K., I'd love to know how agency life compares.

Monday, July 17, 2006

What makes a good CD?

Hi everyone. Today I'm turning my blog over to "Guest Suit." This person is an Account Handler of my acquaintance, who is going to give us a POV from behind enemy lines, every now and then.

Please feel free to post any abuse or questions.

GUEST SUIT WRITES: So, Steve Henry started at TBWA last week, as the new executive creative director. The hiring has been universally praised. The sentiment is that he may well be capable of filling the shoes of ad land’s most high-profile creative, Trevor Beattie. But why? What is it that makes a great creative director?

Before I begin, I want to tell a story about how one of the top consultants (consultants: AAR and the like), once told me that, when it comes to new business, really the CD is the star of the show. That wherever clients go, they’ll meet charming and charismatic account men, and clever planners, but it’s the CD that sets the distinct impression of an agency. They’re the ‘X-Factor’.

So, what divides the good from the great, I think, is this:

1. They should be high profile – both to attract attention, and so that their POV holds weight;
2. They should have a strong and (ideally) profound point of view;
3. They should have stage-presence – an ability to command the attention of a roomful of people with their conviction and confidence.
4. They should have the respect of both creatives and account teams.
5. They should know when the brief’s wrong but an idea’s right.

So that’s what makes a good CD according to an Account Man. And why’s an account man’s opinion important? Well, let’s not forget who actually hires these CD’s...


Friday, July 14, 2006

OTS Is A Lie

Rob over at The Ad-Pit mentions how annoyed he is by the Vauxhall adverts. You know, the ones with the kids behaving like adults.

As he says, the ads are actually quite good. But they have been aired so much, they are now irritating.

I totally agree. Those ads are irritating.

Surely this OTS (Opportunities To See) statistic that media people talk about is wack?

They normally tell you that the OTS for an ad is 3.4 or something. Yet although I don't watch much TV, I seem to see every single ad about 100 times...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

You're Fired!

J****, an account director at our agency, was in a meeting last week when the client nipped out and called our agency's chairman to say: "I want this guy off my business. Today."

The chairman sent his PA into that meeting and pulled the account director out, and then fired him.

Within 10 minutes of the client's call, J**** had left the building.

To think I joined this business 'cos I heard it was fun...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Blogclash

I've promised Russell Davies that me and my creative buddies are going to whip the world's planners into shape.

The topic is simple: "Six Things Planners Need To Know About Creatives".

(If you're a planner, then by all means contribute to "Six Things Creatives Need To Know About Planners" over on Russell's blog.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Breakfast With Blogmeister

Had breakfast this morning with blog guru, genius planner and (as it turns out) extremely down-to-earth nice guy Rusell Davies.

As many of you will know, Russell has a keen interest in egg, bacon, chips and beans. I hope he liked the fare at Raffles.

The idea was to plan a 'Blogclash', a mooted joint-hosting in which planners and creatives would joust across the blogosphere.

But Russell has enough ideas to fill 100 hours (or indeed 100 posts), so we got pleasantly distracted and didn't get around to cracking the format for this blogclash. I suspect this is partly also because I am bursting with a Larry David-esque exasperation about planning, and Russell is just a lot more laidback and doesn't feel at all vitriolic towards creatives.

His theory is that creatives suffer so much rejection on a daily basis, they need to take it out on someone and that someone tends to be planners! Very neat. Give me a few days, I will think of a snappy come-back.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cool Ad, Cool Placement

I love this spoof teleshopping ad, by Mother for Amnesty International, which supposedly advertises AK-47's.

And where did I see it? Sitting at home, before Lord Of War on DVD.

(Trivia: Lord Of War director Andrew Niccol, who also wrote The Truman Show and Gattaca, is a former creative at BBDO London).

Monday, July 03, 2006

So It's All Over

Well, England's participation is. And yet the advertising goes on. I've never quite managed to make my mind up about the Budweiser World Cup idents.

The EDF ones are clearly shit, but some of the Bud ones are okay, despite the central flaw in their "You do the football, we'll do the beer premise." After all, if they're not into football, why are they sponsoring it?

(Incidentally, the ad above is a spoof... here are the real ones.)