Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is There Anything You Wouldn't Work On?

A Fly In My Soup reports that he has been asked to work on a cigarette account. (Last I heard, he accepted).

Would you?

His argument - and incidentally he is a non-smoker - was that if cigarettes are legal, then it should be legal to advertise them.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Are You Responsible?

I was speaking to an old college friend yesterday who is one of the creative directors at WCRS and commiserated with him about the 3 review.

He told me it wasn't true!

He said the client is perfectly happy.

And to think I read it on the front page of Marketing magazine. I suppose journalists make things up all the time.

And why not? There's no come-back. The worst that's going to happen is they have to print a letter denying the story.

This set me thinking... how much responsibility do we ad-folk have to take for our cock-ups?

Traffic / Project Management: responsibility score out of ten - 10
If an ad doesn't get delivered on time, or is printed upside down, or all-yellow, there's no one else to hide behind. The project manager has screwed up, and is probably going to get shouted at. They're aware of this, which is why they all drink at lunchtime.

Account Handlers: responsibility score out of ten - 8
If an account walks out the door, it's the account handlers' fault. If a script doesn't get sold, it's their fault. Stuff not delivered on time? Their fault. Agency not making money? Their fault. Client not happy? Their fault. Actually, this score would be a lot higher, but they do have one get-out of jail card they can use. "Well, the work wasn't right."

Creatives: 3
Not much seems to be our fault, luckily. The only time the finger gets pointed is when we come out with a real turkey. Even then, you can normally blame bad clients, bad briefs, bad weather...

Planers: 1
Let's face it, if something goes wrong, you ain't going to see the planner for dust.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Would We All Rather Be Making Movies?


Most ad directors go on to make movies if they can - Ridley Scott and Alan Parker being the pick of them.

Paul Weiland's record up to now is not so hot - City Slickers II and Roseanna's Grave.

But this week he has a chance to redeem himself, with the release of Sixty Six.

Apparently autobiographical, Sixty Six tells the story of how no one comes to a young boy's Bar Mitzvah, because it clashes with the 1966 World Cup Final.

Brand Republic maliciously claims that Weiland was stood up yet again, at the premiere, when the film's star Helena Bonham Carter failed to attend.

Though another news source points out that this was due to her 2 year old son breaking his arm.

Hopefully I'm being unfair to Brand Republic and they go on to mention this further down the article, in the part that's accessible only to subscribers.

Despite their cruelty to Weiland, Brand Republic is actually not a bad site. They are currently featuring the very interesting brain shop ad from Mother.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

No Justice In The World

Marketing magazine reports that mobile network 3 is conducting "a major review of its brand strategy" which could lead to it putting its £39m account - currently held by WCRS - up for pitch.

Is this fair?

I'll answer that. No.

WCRS totally rescued that brand. And their advertising for it has been consistently brilliant (see latest example below)

So why the "if it ain't broke, fix it" approach?

The only conclusion one can draw is that the creative work - the actual ads - is just a small part of what matters to clients. We creatives are (sadly) very small cogs in one big big wheel. Or onion. Or pyramid. Or something.

P.S. surprise surprise the review is being led by "director of brand and marketing communications Gary Pepler, who joined the company in June".

That's right.

The first rule of advertising: new client=new agency.

Despite the fact that most great campaigns are the result of long-term agency/client collaborations, that survive many changes at each end (e.g. Economist, Volkswagen, Nike etc).

Blogosphere Welcomes Director

First it was digital types.

Then planners.

Finally, a few creatives began to blog.

But now I'm very happy to be able to announce the first blog (that I know of) by a commercials director.

It's called A Fly In My Soup and not only is it very amusing, it also provides essential insight into the mind of a top director.

(He's pretty good - here's one of his films.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Flintham & McLeod Split

One of Flintham & McLeod's greatest hits

Campaign reports that Andy McLeod is leaving Fallon, to become a commercials director.

Scamp wishes him all the best.

McLeod and his long-time partner Richard Flintham were arguably the best creative team in the UK over the last 15 years (other contenders... Paul Belford & Nigel Roberts... Tom Carty & Walter Campbell?) and they were superb creative directors too.

Yes, there had been rumours for a long time that they weren't getting along. (These were always denied).

Perhaps they were getting along, and the Campaign story is true, and Andy just wanted a new challenge.

Who knows what really goes on inside a team...

I quite often get comments or e-mails asking 'what is the secret of a great creative partnership?'

The conventional view is it's:

1. Two people who get on well
2. Two people who have the same view of advertising
3. Two people who share the same goals

On the other hand, you could argue that the two members of a team should be very different. After all, if they think the same, why have two of them?

The cynical view is that a creative team consists of:

Two people, of whom only one can draw
or One thinker and one talker
or One writer and one pacer
or Two people called Matt & Phil, Matt & Steve, Matt & Pete, Pete & Steve, or Phil & Steve

The analogy I always make is that a creative partnership is like a marriage, and just as there are many different types of successful marriages, there are many different types of successful creative partnership.

In the end, all one can say is that the proof of a good partnership is in the ideas that come out of it.

And Flintham & McLeod produced some of the greats.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Who Needs Media Spend?

As you probably know, Russell Davies won the APG Battle Of Big Thinking contest.

One of his points (as summarised in Campaign yesterday) was: "the genius of the original brief Wieden & Kennedy got from Honda was 'We want to pass Volkswagen in sales and reduce media spend every year'... the corollary of this is that you eventually get to a media spend of zero."


It immediately took me back to last week, when the Nike/Rooney poster won Gold at Campaign Poster.

The poster only ran once.

But it got millions of pounds worth of free media, making the sports pages of every British newspaper, even the front pages of some - one or two even printed it as a pull-out poster for their readers.

So maybe Russell is right.

If he is, then let's face it, this is the best news of the year for us creatives.

If media spend is going to go right down, clients will need more creativity, so their brands can capture people's attention using less money, instead of ramming a dull message repeatedly down our throats.

P.S. at the end of his talk, Russell apparently played We Are The Champions and said something along the lines of how it is planners not creative directors who are the future of creativity. Okay. Let's lock Russell and his big-domed buddies in in a room with a few layout pads and magic markers and see if they come out with the next Wayne Rooney poster or Honda 'Grrr', shall we? Hmmm? Shall we?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sign Awakens Grammar Fascism

So go ahead and apologise then.

(spotted in Soho, London)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Faulty Product

I saw Flightplan on DVD last night. (Wait! This will become relevant, I promise).

In case you don't know the plot of the film, IMDB sums it up thus: "A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet the child vanishes and nobody admits she was ever on that plane."

The premise sounds intriguing, and that's what hooked me in to renting it. But the execution is very poor.

One reviewer (again on IMDB) comments that: "the plot ultimately makes no internal sense... you find yourself sitting in the theater snorting at the improbability of what's happening. The big twist that's supposed to shock doesn't make sense."

Another says: "the fantastical, convoluted storyline cannot be realistically reconciled. I left the theater feeling somewhat cheated... the more you think back, the more you become frustrated with how inconceivable the whole charade was"

A third reviewer, listing the plot holes, reckons "we may have some sort of record."

So my question is... could any brand get away with being so bad? Could any product (other than perhaps a book) be released that was so unfit for purpose?

How come we tolerate movies that are poorly made - basically defective - and fail to entertain us, whereas we are quick to complain about a glue that doesn't stick or a battery that won't power a torch?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Here They Are

Yesterday I asked "where are the creatives who blog?"

Well, you already know about Copyranter and American Copywriter.

Here are four 'new' ones.

1. onewomanrunning has started fake it until you make it. Today, she ponders the etiquette of eating lunch at your desk in an open plan office, wondering "are crisps allowed?" She worries about "being extra noisy". onewomanrunning is an aspirant creative, so we wish her the best of luck in breaking into our wonderful feet-up-on-the-desk world.

2. Lazbash, another aspirant, is a self-confessed art director, and newcomer to the UK. He provides this wonderfully odd clip, on his blog whatamidoing?

3. Joao and James, yet another start-up team, have created AdBook, which even (cleverly) links to their very promising portfolio.

4. Finally, do have a look at diablogue, whose co-writer is a regular and valued commenter here called Sean. Sean is digital creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney. His blog is stuffed full of gems. Here is just one - an advert for a design book.


Fred & Farid Quit Marcel

Fred & Farid have resigned from Marcel, to do a start-up.

It will be called Fred-Farid-Lambert, since their partner is an account guy called - like the Highlander - Christophe Lambert.

Here's the report in Le Figaro*

The move has stunned the French advertising world, because the enfants terribles only set up Marcel 18 months ago, on their return from Goodby Silverstein.

Still, the news provides me with the excuse to trot out my five favourite Fred & Farid stories. (N.B. these may not all be true... those guys have a way of accumulating hype & myth...)

1. They once shat in someone's bin

2. They once stuffed an account man into a bin (not the one they had shat in, I'm hoping)

3. They once walked into a creative's office, shut the door, told him: "Your work, it is shit" and walked out again.

4. They once pushed everyone's desks back against the walls one lunchtime, to clear a space so they could practice their kickboxing - right in the middle of the creative department.

5. They once halted a commercial shoot so they could be interviewed by Shots

*N.B. article is in French. I learned that in France the creative department is called the "creation" department. And a rebranding exercise they call "le rebranding". Like "le big mac", I suppose...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My 100th Post

Seems a suitable occasion to look back. So here's 10 things I've learned since I started blogging:

1. Russell Davies is a lot smarter than the rest of us.

2. Writing a blog 'proves' you are up-to-speed on the modern world. When I went for a job interview at an agency in San Francisco, they were as interested in this blog as they were in my reel.

3. Don't publish photos of people doing things that are illegal or semi-legal. They don't seem to like it...

4. For some reason, creatives don't blog (the only others I know of are the excellent Copyranter and American Copywriter. (If you are a creative who blogs, let me know).

5. Just as it is on e-mail, irony is very hard to express in a blog. Steve Hall of AdRants pulls it off. Copyranter pulls it off. And that's it.

6. Writing a blog takes up quite a bit of time.

7. Learning some HTML hasn't killed me. Though it did take quite a bit of time...

8. Ideas have become truly global. This makes a creative's job much harder, since now you've got to come up with things that have never been done before anywhere in the world, not just your own country.

9. A cameraphone is a blogger's best friend (belated new friend, in my case)

10. The lag between a funny clip appearing on YouTube and the idea being released as an ad is now down to just a few days. (See the latest H3 work below.) Sigh.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Rosenbauer Panther

The mighty Rosenbauer Panther - an airport fire engine - features in this year's D&AD annual (product design section, p.343).

My question is - why didn't it win a gold pencil? Surely it is the coolest thing of the year, if not ever?

It even has electric swing-forward doors.

Press Advertising Today

The new D&AD annual arrived this morning. So I was a bit depressed. Nothing of mine in there. Everyone is better than me. Should try another screenplay. Our industry's finished anyway.

But at lunchtime, I was reading The Independent, and I noticed... quite a few good ads.

This was probably the best one. Great use of irony to make the case.

Then there was this one.

Nice little insight. Strong argument for going wireless. It's an excellent campaign, this, for AOL.

Then this.

I really like the 'Valuable thinking time' thought. A great benefit of taking the train. And this is a witty execution. Hard-working too. It's offering fine food, space to think, and an intelligent funny tone - all in one ad.

Beautiful illustration on this new Orange ad. Seems Mother aren't going to be shifted off the account in a hurry.

Another nice insight. This time for Norwich Union insurance. We all have a cautious side, don't we? It made me read the copy, anyway.

A funny visual. Raised a chuckle. Caught my attention. Not bad for an ad from the government that's literally telling me to sit up straight.

George Bush has just been shot. You can't not look at this image. And one-eighth of a second later, you have taken in the message that there's a programme about this delicious fantasy on the telly tonight.

Of course, there were a few bad ads too. Like these.

OK, it's retail.

V. patronising

Oh well, pays the bills I suppose.

See me beat my chest!

This can't be good, can it?

Huh? It no make no sense.

But all in all, I was pretty encouraged by the day's crop. Who says newspapers are dead?

There was even one further item to cheer me up - a Q&A with one of the legends of our own industry.

He would have enjoyed one or two of the offerings placed around him today I'm sure, being in his day a noted exponent of the print advertising medium. Shit at TV, mind.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

What Makes A Good Suit?

Interesting article in Campaign about suits.

Here are some of the qualities that various industry figures say are required of a good account handler:

Patience, diplomacy, negotiation skils, ability to get bills paid on time, breadth of experience, eclectic, ability to do strategy and channel planning, helping stimulate good creative work, make things happen, drive change, clever, fun, to be around, sociable, likeable, rigorous, relentless, fearless, immune to pressure, unfazed by complexity, clear vision, truth-telling, respect confidences, sense of humour, keep things in perspective, don't try to take credit, no whinging, create, lead, manage, make it happen, be on top of everything, be ruthless, respect authority, know when you can flout convention, recognise the primacy of the idea, have a view on advertising, know everything possible about the client's brand.

Phew. Is it any wonder we slag them off, when we expect them to have all these qualities? Nobody has all these qualities.

Let's make today "cut a suit some slack" day.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Science Of Signs

Hey, no need to thank me.

But I wonder why it's locked during lunch time. Is this cafe so popular that it risks dangerous overcrowding if it allows entry between 12 and 2? Or is it to stop people leaving...?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Discovered the super-cool blog of American photographer Merkley. Here's 3 reasons to visit:

1) Pictures like this one
2) His tagline is "I may not be God, but at least I'm real"
3) He has just posted the entire first episode of hilarious new American comedy show "It's always sunny in Philadelphia."

See you there.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Do Brands Need To Become More Like Politicians?


The question always used to be phrased the other way around. But now I'm not so sure. The latest web effort of Conservative party leader David Cameron is fresh, candid and engaging... really rather good. I decided to compare it with the website of a random brand. The first brand that popped into my head was Wheat Crunchies. As you can see, their website is piss-poor. Not very scientific, but there you go. The politicians won it.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that David Cameron's closest adviser is said to be Steve Hilton. I worked with Steve at Saatchi's once, and he was a pretty decent account man. Who knows? Maybe if Cameron is elected then Steve will get a safe seat, become a minister, and eventually P.M. himself. Advertising's first prime minister. Why not? Electing lawyers hasn't done much for us so far.

Gondry Video Homage On The Simpsons

The original was for The White Stripes 'Hardest Button To Button'