Saturday, September 30, 2006

Location, location, location

First, an interesting post by the wise and likeable Northern Planner about his visit to London's soulless Canary Wharf financial district, which is also home to a single ad agency - Ogilvy.

Then - spookily - yesterday's Campaign reveals that Ogilvy is leaving Canary Wharf for that hotbed of creativity... Victoria. (If you've never been to Victoria, you have missed out on a big railway station. And lots of civil servants' offices).

Ogilvy just don't get it. If you want to attract creative people, you can't be in Victoria.

You have to be in Soho, NoHo or the wild East.

Or whatever the trendy/media district is in whatever city you're located. (Is this true, international readers?)

Just as individuals are influenced by their surroundings, companies must be too, mustn't they?

Geography is destiny, as Jared Diamond so brilliantly lays out in Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Are You English?

If so, you'll want to have a look at this wonderful new blog about queuing. (via in defence of the ordinary)

It reads like Alan Bennett crossed with Larry David, if that makes any sense.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New BBC one Idents

Apparently there are eight but I could only find this one. It's okay. Nothing earth-shattering.

But they have caused quite a controversy, mostly over the £1.2m cost.

I did enjoy this quote from someone called Luke Crawley of the broadcasting trade union BECTU: "They won't encourage people to watch. That can only be done through quality programmes."

Sure thing, Luke. Just like you buy a brand of running shoes purely on quality, ditto cars, and you buy beer purely on taste and airline tickets purely on price. Oh, and you don't care what clothes you wear either. And your girlfriend doesn't wear make-up and your kids don't want to go to McDonalds. Image is completely irrelevant. Sure, Luke. Sure.

Here's a fun ad from Y&R New York, via Copyranter that self-deprecatingly demolishes this archaic argument.

We add value, people! Let's be proud.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Russell Davies 1 Maurice Saatchi 0

I am sure you read Russell's blog. Yesterday he (incredibly generously) posted what he calls his schtick, which is basically the presentation he has been giving for the last couple of years. It's the most interesting post about advertising/marketing I have read in a long time. Highly illuminating, and brilliantly argued.

Having said that, I do disagree with nearly all of it.

Mostly, he's arguing against Maurice Saatchi's one-word equity or "brutal simplicity" theory, and advocating complexity.

Now, the ideal way to resolve this is to place Russell and Maurice in a sand-floored arena, stripped to the waist, armed with tridents and nets.

However, this plan is fraught with logistical difficulties. Not the least of which is Maurice's packed schedule. In fact Maurice is so busy, I'm going to do him a favour and take on Russell myself.

1. Russell uses this funny video to ridicule the idea that the consumer is just sitting there, waiting to receive our messages. His alternative model is this other funny video portraying ad messages as interruptions to something more interesting that we're doing. I think he's only half-right. He's right that we're not 'waiting to receive' a message. But he's wrong that we're doing something more interesting. Often we're not. We're ironing when a radio ad comes on. We're slumped in front of the TV after a hard day at work when a TV ad comes on. We're staring into space on the underground, when our eyes rest on a poster. And in those situations, if your ad can do something like this then that's fine.

2. Russell shows this ad:

and wonders "What would you say the 'message' of that ad is? No idea. Me neither. Because it doesn't really have one... it's not about a single, clear message." Hmmm. Surely it's just saying "Nike is cool"? " It does this by associating Nike with basketball players, fancy basketball moves and hip-hop, which are cleverly connected by the 'idea' of having the players and moves create the track. Simple.

3. Russell says that "this:


is the model of idea creation that most agencies (advertising, digital, whatever) sell their clients. A bunch of smart strategists narrow down the strategic possiblities (with their clients or without) getting to a simple, smart, sharp, focused strategic idea which forms the basis of a controlled explostion of creativity. (Not too big, not too small). This idea is then implemented across a number of media channels to the happiness of everyone . This model is, of course, complete bollocks, and it's designed chiefly, to save money by a) keeping the really expensive people (the creatives) working for the minimum amount of time and b) making the process look calm and predictable. No good idea has ever happened like this.

The reality of any good process that produces great work is more like this:


It's a mess. A good strategist involves the executers as soon and as often as possible. She allows execution to feedback into strategy and vice versa. Something that happens at the end changes something you thought of at the beginning. It's chaotic, wasteful and unpredicatble. It involves lots of people, lots of dead-ends and wastes lots of ideas. But it's the only way to produce stuff that goes beyond the everyday run of communications. Something that people actually want to engage with. Something that works."

Brilliantly argued. But completely wrong.

"No good idea has ever happened like this."


So M&C Saatchi have never had a good idea? Not their road safety work? Or poster?

There were never any good ideas in the old days, before Honda, before complexity, before the internet?

And ruthlessly simple ideas like 'Lemon', 'Snowplough', the Hamlet campaign, the Lynx/Axe campaign, and Apple '1984' are no good?

Speaking personally, the (admittedly very few) good ideas I've ever had came from a simple brief.

Creatives spend ages sitting around discussing briefs. And all the creatives I know prefer simple ones. Our number one complaint about briefs is that they are confused, unclear or complicated.

Yes, Wieden & Kennedy do produce great work. And yes, it apparently does come out of complexity and chaos. (This no doubt explains the place's nickname - Weekend & Kennedy). But they are not the only people producing great work. And theirs is not the only way to produce great work.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Is The Future Finally Here?

Two brilliantly executed and very 2.0ish items on AdRants have convinced me that maybe it is. First, NBC's hilarious Bill The Promo Guy ad on YouTube. Second, an anti-smoking website from Colorado (pictured) that is so under-the-radar it may even work. Neither of these could have been done three years ago. They're great. And they're for big, mainstream advertisers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Find Your Tribe

Fun game, maybe more relevant to the UK than other countries, which supposedly identifies which urban subculture you belong to, e.g. Goth, Indie Kid etc. In case anyone's interested, I was a Blinger.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Who Goes? You Decide

We all know that ad agencies, as currently structured, just aren't making enough money nowadays. So the question today is... which department do you axe? Account handling? Creative? Planning? TV? Traffic/Progress/Project Management? Or do you combine some of them, like Mother has done? Vote now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

'Vulcan Death Grip' Kellogg's Ad

Not a client known for outstanding commercials. Until this one.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Early Start

Went to a meeting at 8.30am this morning. It was very interesting.. but definitely felt a little early. Aside from shoots, it's the earliest I've ever got up to go to work. What's the earliest time that a meeting can legally be arranged for? Is 8.30 acceptable? Or should it be 9? 10 even?

Another Offender

The general public think that advertising is deceitful nonsense. But can they do any better? No. This London shop owner can't even get a simple open/closed sign right. He's left it on 'open'... and padlocked the door.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Endangered Species

Today, my partner and I chucked away our old 'book' (for anyone that doesn't know, this means the portfolio that creatives use to tout their work around town in). Yes, we've gone fully digital. No more bulky laminates. Time to sell those shares in Artcare plc?

And as for whoever makes those 'plans chest' things, their business model can't be looking too healthy either...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Unsubtle Advertising

You're going to die. So you better go to church and make things right. Sign next to Camber church, Camber Sands, Kent.

Office Toys

Office toys have been around forever. Recently, grown men have started placing dolls in their offices. These are often Star Wars figures, or oddball pieces like the Kubrick collection. And I am no exception. My wife bought me a Sigmund Freud action figure, and he has gone proudly on display in my new office. Account teams come in with problems, Sigmund lies there in his blister-pack, listening. He's an excellent listener.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What Should A Creative's Workspace Look Like?


Or tidy?

They're normally messy. Which means "Hey, I'm a creative, not some anal-retentive accountant-type like those account handler persons, OK?"

Mine is tidy. At my last company, a lot of people were freaked out by that. But at this company, it's OK. They like tidy.

In my view, what your workspace looks like shouldn't matter. Just the work.

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's Here!

The first Christmas brief of the year, that is. I'm not complaining though. Could be nice. A christmas ad for one of our biggest clients. Anyone else got a christmas brief yet?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wrong Side Of The Bed

I'll bet you and your significant other always sleep on the same side of the bed. Doesn't matter if you go on holiday, move house, stay over at a friend's, whatever. You each have your side.

It's the same for creative teams. Right now - because our new company installed my partner's computer on my desk and vice versa - I'm on the 'wrong' side of the bed. And it feels very weird.

Other things that feel weird:

It's Lotus Notes here not Outlook Express. Mac not PC (where's the delete key?) People putting meetings in my electronic diary instead of just popping round. Walking out of the office and being in the middle of Soho. An agency that has a feeling of buzz. Different carpet. Different people. Walls. Everything.

Amazing how institutionalised one becomes (I was at the last place for 7 years). Or perhaps no one else can relate to that, because no one stays anywhere for as long as 7 years nowadays. Or can it happen even in 1 year or 2 years?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First Day In My New Job

Here's the view from my office window. Carnaby Street. Not a bad location.

Centre Point.

The Post Office Tower.

A bottle of wine I drank the night before. Thought it would be a good omen.

More tomorrow on how weird everything is.

Friday, September 01, 2006


So the leaving-do was a lot of fun. Mostly because people were inhaling laughing gas. I kid you not. Here are some photos.

Apparently it's the latest craze. You use a canister like this, that you can buy on the internet.

The cartridges that you put in it contain nitrous oxide. They are designed for making whipped cream.

The spent cartridges 'spling' out like shotgun shells.

It's completely legal. Apparently the high lasts about a minute, but I didn't try it because I'm a pussy.