Friday, December 22, 2006

Festive Poll

Do you enjoy opening envelopes, and filling your office with rectangular bits of card from suppliers who want your business?

Or do you prefer to click on a link and spend ages waiting to watch a video of a dog licking its balls under the mistletoe?

That's the subject of today's poll, in the top right hand corner of your screen.

Now the result of last week's poll.

As you can see, the winner is Lynx Blow. If you haven't checked it out yet, you must. It's very well done.

I suspect the people at Dare gave themselves a little 'boost', but I don't mind. In fact I like that they want to win. This is a competitive business after all, folks!

Happy Christmas.

Friday Poll No.4
Friday Poll No.3
Friday Poll No.2
Friday Poll No.1

More Narcissism

Three entirely self-referential items today, I'm afraid.

Gwen Yip has sent me this beautiful T-shirt - one of her own designs - for Christmas. Thanks, Gwen! I love it.

I have been tagged by the likes of Sean Diablogue, Willougby at A Fly In My Soup and Andrew Northern Planner. So here goes...

(in case you don't know, it's a meme where you 'tag' people, and they have to reveal five things about themselves), I'm not going to go on and tag anyone else, because everyone I know has already been tagged, but here are mine:

i) I once got very drunk and made a pass at Clare Short. She was mortified.

ii) When I found out aged 6 there was no such thing as Santa Claus, I resolved never to tell my own children that lie. But now I have. It's the best behaviour management tool ever!

iii) I took the test for sexism over at that Harvard test site... and to my horror scored in the top 24% most sexist.

iv) I once came up on an E a couple of hours before starting a shift on the City pages of the Daily Telegraph. That was interesting.

v) I can't draw to save my life. I spell gud though.

Had a very interesting lunch with a few other bloggers today - Russell, Faris, Beeker and Patrick Staufenberger. In case anyone reads their blogs and is interested to know what they are like in real life, here goes.

Faris is quite small, quite hairy, very nice, and very clever.

Beeker is smart in the sense of being super-nicely dressed and smart in the sense of being super-intelligent as well.

Patrick is a great guy. He hadn't been able to have a shower, because he was bandaged up from a bicycle accident. He worried that he looked a bit scruffy. He looked fine.

Russell is of course the blogosphere's premier genius. He had his camera with him but didn't use it. Or did he? No one else knows how those pinhole cameras work. Russell says his company OIA is going well - they are breaking even, and working less. Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Interruption Model Not Dead

The great thing about the future was it was supposed to involve brands seducing people into spending time with them, rather than interrupting whatever they were doing to shove an ad down their throat.

And the internet was supposed to be a big part of that future.

But is it?

The static ad that interrupts your reading of a news story, like this one, is standard now. It's far more 'interruptive' than bad old magazine advertising.

Then there's the full-page ad that gets in between you and the website you want to visit. Thanks Northampton Town FC.

And don't get me started on pop-ups. How do they know to pop up in a position that covers the very words you were trying to read? No newspaper ad ever did that. It wouldn't be allowed!

(I wish I had the example of the most annoyingly interruptive online ad I ever saw. I was looking at a baseball website when an animated cartoon character representing some insurance company wandered on, hit a ball 'right at me' that 'shattered the glass' so I couldn't read a single word on the whole screen, until I'd found that ever-elusive 'close' button).

And it's not just me that finds all this increasingly irritating. A survey by Burst Media featured in AdRants today finds that "three quarters (77.5%) of respondents say advertisements in online video are intrusive and nearly two-thirds (62.2%) say advertisements in video content disrupts their web surfing experience."

The new model is fast becoming the old model. And that's not good.

UPDATE. To the person who accused me of "being such an above-the-line creative", of course there is loads of great stuff being done for brands on the web. And maybe the interruptive stuff is just a very small part of what's being done. But its effect is still, as the survey shows, increasingly disruptive.

Tuesday Tip - Dicketts' Finger

Dicketts' Finger sounds like a real ale, or a medical condition.

But it isn't. It's a technique I've named for long-time Saatchi creative director Simon Dicketts.

When I was at Saatchi's, if ever I showed a headline to Simon Dicketts, he would automatically get out his finger and start covering up words.

The idea is that if you don't miss a word you've covered over, then you don't need it.

Let me demonstrate using a classic ad by Dicketts himself (I've changed the layout a bit for clarity).

Fewer words is better, right? I still use this technique nearly every day.

Tip No.4
Tip No.3
Tip No.2
Tip No.1

Monday, December 18, 2006

World's Most Inspiring Workplace

There's been much debate recently about the world's coolest workplaces, notably via 10 Seriously Cool Workplaces from positivesharing and this brilliant post from Whistle Through Your Comb.

Well, I think we can officially call off the hunt now.

Zenith, the London media agency, have a huge reception area which is entirely bare... with the exception of this fascinating display of inspirational images (click on image to see nice and big)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Poll: Ad Of The Year

They say you can't compare apples with oranges. Rubbish. I have a preference, and I'm sure you do too.

So today's poll asks - What is the ad of the year, irrespective of medium?

The four options I'm putting up are:



UPDATE. Something tells me the good folks over at Dare may have performed a Robert Mugabe-style manipulation of this poll! Well, fair play to them. You got to stick up for your work in this world, and Lynx 'Blow' is excellent work.

Here's the result of last week's poll.

What's your favourite medium to work in?
votes: 39
powered by blogpoll

As you can see, Poster just shaded it, with TV coming in second. So, no surprises really. Except that someone voted for Radio.

Friday Poll No.3
Friday Poll No.2
Friday Poll No.1

Give Gwen A Job. Or At Least Read Her Blog

Gwen Yip is an art director from Hong Kong who is currently over in London.

Her blog is beautiful, and provides an amazingly fresh perspective on trying to get a job in the ad industry.

Here, Richard Flintham looks at Gwen's portfolio. She wonders why they sit right in the corner of a large meeting room.

Justin Tindall & Adam Tucker critique Gwen's work.

Gerry Moira likes Gwen's book, and he reminds her of Santa Claus.

Gwen is clearly a genius. She has a website too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Honda Ad

The new Honda campaign breaks on Friday - apparently it features the company's Asimo robot.

I've heard there are TV ads, and several viral films... but I can guarantee this isn't one of them.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday Tip No.4 - Pretend You're Two Blokes In The Pub

If you're struggling to crack a brief, a technique me and my partner use is to pretend we're two blokes sitting in a pub. One is a fan of the product or service in question, and must 'sell it' to the other, who has never heard of it. Naturally, he can't use any charts, research, or specialist knowledge. He can only use arguments that you actually use in a pub conversation. Try it. It strips away all the marketing bullshit, and can lead to something simple and honest.

Tip No.3
Tip No.2
Tip No.1

Monday, December 11, 2006

Silly Christmas

There are lots of Christmas videos going round at the moment.

This one is from up-and-coming directors/ graphic designers Type2error. Pleasingly mental.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Poll No.3 - What's Your Favourite Medium?

First, the result of last week's poll. Your choice for agency of the year - Fallon.

Fair enough result, I'd say. They did what will be the most-remembered ad of the year ("Paint"), and finished 2nd in the new business table.

Who should it be?
powered by blogpoll

For this week's poll, I'm asking "What's your favourite medium to work in?"

Friday Poll No.2
Friday Poll No.1


It's hideously self-referential, but I have to thank Russell for featuring Scamp in his Campaign column today.

Being a big cuddly teddy-bear of a planner, he was far too kind, using words like "opinionated, clever and friendly".

It felt quite weird. I can't recall getting a written personality report since school...

In general, proper appraisals seem rare in our business. They do have them where I work now, but I'm too new. So I think I've had about three in the last 12 years. And one of those was because I was getting fired.

Maybe they happen more rigorously in account handling than in creative. That's a shame really. We all know teams whose work is universally considered "too safe", "too wacky" or whatever. But does anyone ever tell them?

Tom Wnek (former copywriter, brother of Mark) once went into his creative director Paul Arden's office late at night, and sneaking a glance at the great man's A3 pad, saw it was empty apart from a single word in a box - "Wnek" followed by "?"

Tom shat bricks for 6 months but kept his job, and needless to say, never found out what was on Arden's mind. There were no appraisals at Saatchi's back then. Perhaps there are now, I don't know.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

'Ads' That Are Better Than Ads

You're probably already familiar with the wonderful PostSecret.

The site asks people to mail in their secrets, on a postcard.

Interestingly, the form they end up taking is similar to print ads - big visual, headline.

But actually they're better than ads, aren't they? They have more wit, more freshness, and more honesty than in 98% of the ads out there.

Why we highly-paid advertising professionals can't come up with work that's as engaging (and as interestingly art-directed) as members of the public can, I wouldn't like to say...

Tuesday Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes

Here's the third in my series of possibly useless tips for young creatives.

A lot of creatives - when they are just starting out - write ads that are too complicated or obscure. For example, TV scripts that you need to have seen a specific German art-house film to understand.

They do this for the right reason - they want to create something fresh and wonderful, something never seen in an ad before. And yes, good ads must be fresh and engaging. But if the audience is going to connect, they've also got to be simple and obvious.

Let's look at this brilliant Guardian ad.

The brief was "advertise our guide to gastropubs".

So, in a quest for the simple and obvious... let's play Family Fortunes.

We asked 100 people 'Name something you might find in a pub'. Top answer? A pint of beer.

We asked 100 people 'Name something you associate with good food'. Top answer? A chef.

Next comes the tricky bit. How to make quite ordinary-looking material - a pint of beer and a chef's hat - into something extraordinary. As you can see, the team found a way to do it. They created something weird and never-seen-before, but which at the same time is very clear and obvious.

And the key - for me - is to start from the simple, the ordinary, and the everyday. Take the top answer from Family Fortunes, and find a way to make it extraordinary.

Tuesday Tip No.2
Tuesday Tip No.1

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Will People Even Notice Your Ad?

I'm reading a fun novel called Babylon by Victor Pelevin - it's about a copywriter in newly post-communist Moscow.

Anyway, came across this passage last night. "None of the passers-by paid any attention to Gireiev. Just like a fire hydrant or an advertisement for Pepsi-Cola, he failed to register in their field of perception because he conveyed absolutely no new visual information."

What a great lesson.

We know from neuroscience that to prevent our brains being 'flooded' by the vast amounts of stimuli we receive, our visual cortex is programmed to only notice things that are new or different. Stuff we've seen before, like that rock, that building, we just don't notice.

So I applied that criterion to a random selection of ads from this Saturday's Guardian magazine. Rather than asking myself if it's a good ad, I asked myself 'does it convey any new visual information?'

Not an absolutely terrible ad. But I've seen pictures of food on stoves before, so by Pelevin's criterion, this won't be noticed.

No new visual information here. I've seen people sitting in aeroplanes before.

Likewise people sitting by the Christmas tree.

This is not an amazing ad, by any stretch. But I've never seen a 'butter advent calendar'. So by the Pelevin doctrine, this is the only ad of the four that might even be noticed.

A sobering thought.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Poll No.2 - Agency Of The Year

Which advertising agency deserves to be Agency Of The Year?

WCRS must be favourite. Their Sky win will put them top of the new business table. And their work is pretty good. (118 118, BMW... they even did a half decent ad for Ferrero Rocher).

Or how about DDB? Top of the Gunn Report - that means the most award-winning agency in the world, not just the UK - and top agency at the IPA Effectiveness Awards too. Campaign always gives DDB a bad write-up; you can bet your house they won't give their Agency Of The Year award to the Paddington crew. Too focused on new business performance perhaps, to the exclusion of other factors like... how good the actual ads are?

Then there's Fallon. Probably the most admired agency creatively in London at the moment. And they won the year's biggest pitch - Orange.

If you think it should be someone else, you can vote 'Other'.

The results of the first Friday Poll - on Agency Pay - were nothing short of astounding.

Which department is the most overpaid?
Account Handling77.4%
Traffic/ Progress/ Production9.7%
powered by blogpoll

Very few votes for planners, I notice. Is it mostly planners doing the voting, and one rarely thinks of oneself as overpaid?

A whopping 77% thought Account Handling is the most overpaid department. An incredible margin. Why are they considered overpaid, then? Is it because the old-fashioned 'client interface role' is unnecessary, now that clients are less formal and creatives more collaborative? Or is it because the other discliplines need people with 'rarer' skills, who ought therefore to be paid more, according to the scarcity principle? Would love to hear, if you voted for Account Handling, why you did.

And if you're an account handler... what do you think the result means?

Latest Cool Stuff

The internet's not just for porn, you know.

Heard of 10minutemail? It's a nifty site that allows you to create a temporary e-mail address - ideal for when you want to sign up for something but not give out your real address to potential spammers.

Line Rider is fun.

Alternatively, why not Create A Bug. Then squish it.

credit to Pete Rogers, digital agent.