Thursday, May 31, 2007

That Richard Burton Fella Can Act A Bit

Lovely new Golf ad, from my former muckers at DDB London.

Great insight about the pleasure of driving at night, beautifully shot, and most of all, it's cool, which is exactly what the Golf brand needs.

But what really stands out for me is that voiceover.

It's just mesmeric, isn't it?

New Nike Ad

This latest blockbuster is well-directed, with a lot of nice narrative touches - even a half-decent performance from Ronaldinho - but... I just feel like I've seen it before.

In fact it leads me to ask a question that until recently was unthinkable.

Is Nike still cool?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Three Truths About Editing

1. As soon as you go to the toilet, someone will take your favourite shot out.

2. The person with the most power in an edit suite... is the person physically sitting nearest the editor.

3. The more different restaurants the group decides to order from, the longer the food takes to come. You all need to agree on one restaurant, and order from there. How hard can it be?

Friday, May 25, 2007


Six men. One room in Soho.

Yes, it gets smelly.

But at least they bring you cups of tea. And sushi.

And it's quite good fun really. We're all being friendly, and collaborating.

And the ad is looking better and better.

I will post some more interesting thoughts about editing when my brain starts to recover...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Ad Blog Charts For May 2007

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

Top 25 Ad Blogs (world
1     (1)AdRants16,074
2     (2)Advertising/Design Goodness  36,267
3     (3)AdFreak44,620
4     (4)Adverblog63,593
5     (5)Adverbox71,754
6     (6)Logic + Emotion89,238
7     (7)Adland106,962
8     (8)Coloribus108,639
9     (new)Ad Punch149,038
10   (9)Jaffe Juice155,737
11   (10)AdPulp174,787
12   (11)Twenty Four202,869
13   (13)Copyranter210,381
14   (12)Experience Curve220,807
15   (14)Beyond Madison Avenue266,374
16   (15)How Advertising Spoiled Me278,297
17   (16)Hee-Haw Marketing368,560
18   (18)AdScam369,664
19   (21)Make The Logo Bigger377,108
20   (17)Advertising For Peanuts407,265
21   (19)Welcome To Optimism428,001
22   (22)American Copywriter488,016
23   (24)Scamp518,520
24   (20)Hidden Persuader535,251
25   (25)BrandFlakes for Breakfast562,043

The Top 8 are unchanged. There's a new entry at 9, the slick 'see the latest good work' site Ad Punch. (N.B. it's not a new site, but it was new to me).
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
1   (1)AdScam369,664
2   (2)Welcome To Optimism  428,001
3   (3)Scamp518,520
4   (4)FishNChimps556,598
5   (5)Adliterate823,330
6   (6)Living Brands908,210
7   (7)Beeker1.27m
8   (9)Faris1.30m
9   (10)Northern Planner1.82m
10  (8)What If...2.19m

The entire UK Top 7 is unchanged. FishNChimps is up more than 15% this month, after going down more than 20% last month. He's all over the place, like a mad woman's piss! Nice blog though.

UK means UK-based. Ad blog means ad blogs not marketing blogs, so that excludes Gapingvoid. Paul Colman doesn't class Life In The Middle as an ad blog and Russell Davies has announced he will no longer blog about advertising. Also, I'm only counting English language blogs.

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

Doc Rogers - The Blog

My friend Doc Rogers has an amazing ability to find the coolest stuff on the web, including the amusing 'random ransom note generator' you see above. Visit his site for more.

Monday, May 21, 2007

And How Not To Do It

Above is a commercial for the new Alfa Romeo 159.

This bejewelled turd consists of a series of generic driving shots voiceovered with a list of utterly banal product benefits (self-ventilating disc brakes? wowzer!) held together with a flimsy, cliched, smug and meaningless premise. (The reason you bought this new Alfa? Because it's an Alfa).

I only mention it because I couldn't help noticing that the brief for this sucker must have been exactly the same as the brief for the totally brilliant Skoda commercial I featured yesterday.

So to me, it's an excellent demonstration of what makes a good TV ad versus what makes a bad TV ad.

Good - emotional sell; Bad - rational sell

Bad - laundry list of product features; Good - say one thing and say it well

Good - highly creative visual treatment; Bad - highly familiar visual treatment

More contributions welcome.

Interestingly, although I now know every feature of the new Alfa 159, I don't have any interest in it. And whereas the Skoda doesn't tell me any of its features at all, merely making a whimsical claim to be "full of lovely stuff" - I'm far more interested to find out what those features actually might be.

My guess is I'm totally preaching to the converted here - nothing wrong with letting-off steam, helps keep me sane - but if there was one individual out there, maybe the Alfa client or someone from the agency, who would step forward and take me on, argue that this ad is better than the Skoda ad, I would love it, just love it...

Friday, May 18, 2007

New Skoda Ad - The Baking Of

Really nice ad, this, which shows a team of bakers whipping up a Skoda Fabia from dough, berries, golden syrup and the like. Lovely tone to it.

My favourite shot is of the chap struggling to fit the rear stop-light... which is made out of jelly (see above).


What Does Everyone Do?

Well, I'm back.

A seven-day shoot.

Completely knackered. Watching a film crew lift heavy pieces of equipment can really tire a man out.

As I haven't really written that much on my blog about the actual shooting of adverts, maybe now is an appropriate time to start.

And where better to begin than with the Director?

Creatives obsess about directors. I think that's because we know it's the director who has the biggest influence on the final ad. And whereas we can't choose our account team, client, or creative director... we do get to choose our director.

It's partly fear too. A script - like architects' plans and mathematical formulae - is perfect, in the way that no finished artefact can be. When you hand your script to a director, you are handing it to the man who turns your perfect Euclidean construct into rough-and-tumble reality. Of course, sometimes they'll make it better than the blueprint. But the fear that they'll cock it up is always there.

Over the years I've noticed that it doesn't really matter if you and the director have wildly divergent personalities. As long as you have the same vision for the ad, you'll probably get on well.

If you do fight a lot then A) you probably picked the wrong director and B) you probably won't end up with a good ad.

It's a strange relationship though. The director has ultimate power on the set. 50 or so people jump to their commands. And yet if the creative says "can we try it this other way...?" then they kind of have to listen. But you feel guilty. It's like giving orders to an emperor.

There's a lot of mystique around directors. Who's on the way up, who's on the way down. Who flies a runner from Iceland down to Soho to bring back a certain coffee bean for him. Who's shagging who, who's earning how much, who's moving production companies, who can't get work any more, who's getting 50 scripts a week.

Most of it's hearsay. I once thought of setting up a website - - where creatives could log in to give anonymous feedback on the man behind the camera.

Until then, I'm happy to give this feedback in public:

Simon Ratigan of HLA has done a great job for us so far.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On a shoot

The New Honda Ad

Only one possible blog topic - the new Honda ad, which broke yesterday.

And only one question to ask - is it as good as Cog, Grrr, and Impossible Dream?

In short - no, it isn't.

Having said that, it is a very, very good ad.

It's brilliantly directed (by promo king Mark Romanek), with a really unique look, great atmosphere, and a couple of awesome shots - I absolutely love the scientist vaulting the barrel, which I take to be a sly reference to Donkey Kong.

However, when all is said and done, we've seen engineers in ads before. And the notion that "having ideas is hard" is not a new one (especially to us creatives, right guys 'n gals?); it's certainly not as original as "hate something, change something".

I hope I'm not being too critical here, but you know what? It's Wieden & Kennedy's own fault, for setting the bar so high with their previous ads...

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Dilemma

Your creative director asks you to recommend him a team. Do you suggest someone really good... who'll be a competitive threat when they come? Or do you suggest someone not so good - it will call your judgement into question when they don't do very well. Or do you just ring your mates?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Inside Her Pretty Little Head

I've been reading an interesting new book about marketing to women.

I used to work with the authors, who as well as being super-smart, are super-hot chicks.

Oh dear, I probably shouldn't have said that last bit...

Anyway, despite the complete lack of pictures (come on, girls, let's sex it up a bit for the second edition!) there's some great stuff in here.

Their answer to why creative departments are full of men? Because creatives have to fight uncompromisingly for their work, and "Boys always think what they have done is brilliant".

They also have a great bit on women putting down men in advertising:

There are a number of commercials in which some hapless bloke... is the butt of the joke for his partner and her bitchy mate. We think this is an attempt to make the women in the audience feel that the brand is on-side with them... the truth is that... observing a woman humiliating a man in front of other people in an aggressive way does not feel good to the female audience.

It's embarrassing, seems cruel and is not empathetic. We're not saying that women don't sometimes complain about men or their partners, but they usually feel guilty afterwards, and they certainly don't want it played out to the rest of the population in the middle of a prime-time TV show.

And a final point to ponder:

A masculine bias is evidenced not just in the worst work that the industry produces but in the best work too. When you look at awards lists, it is inevitably male brands that are picking up the accolates for the best work.

In fact, analysing the Cannes Gold Lion winners for the last seven years, they find it splits out like this: Male Categories: 82 Lions, Neutral: 43, Female: a paltry 9.

Time to steal that shampoo brief?

isobel Needs A Team

London-based ad agency isobel, creators of the print ad you see above, need a new creative team, and have asked me to put the word out, which I am very happy to do.

In their words, they are looking for "a quality middleweight team. Not the kind of middleweight team who’s always been a middleweight team, but the kind that go from junior to senior and barely even set foot in middleweight."

You can email or with CV’s, or drop your book into isobel, 4th Floor, 91 New Cavendish Street, London W1.

Dave and Rob are stand-up guys.

If you fit the bill, give it a go.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Awards Shows And Silos - A Comparison

The One Show finalists are out.

Not too much UK stuff is in. The Harvey Nichols and Marmite campaigns are. Plus the brilliant Billions from my own agency. (Bias? Hmm, probably. But it was done before I arrived, honest).

However, my point today is this.

Why oh why, in these days of 360 degree media, is there no award for best idea? Everything is siloed into press, poster, TV etc.

I guess Campaign organise their awards by medium so they can get the Poster awards (for example) sponsored by the poster contractors etc, but what excuse do D&AD and The One Show have?

Cannes used to award their Titanium Lion to the best integrated campaign, but last year they changed the rules and gave it to what they considered 'the best idea in any medium', which turned out to be designs for customised barcodes.

So therefore every awards show in the world is now rewarding 'best idea in this medium' and 'best idea in that medium' and no one is awarding 'best idea across multiple media'.

Can that be right?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

David Mamet To Direct Ford Ads

Fascinating story a few days ago about the genius behind Glengary Glen Ross, House Of Games, and The Spanish Prisoner directing ads for Ford.

Can't wait to see how they turn out.

One other feature of the story I found interesting was just how much more intelligently they seem to write about advertising in North America.

Within a few short lines, there's a lucid description of the merits and demerits of comparative advertising, and an explanation of the exact division of responsibilities between Mamet and the agency copywriters.

I don't want to turn this into a let's-slag-off-Campaign post, but... would you get that in Campaign?


I found one of the ads on YouTube.

It's not that great.

Funny, that. Most ads by great directors aren't.