Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Smirnoff Epic Really Delivers


I'll say that again. Wow.

The new Smirnoff ad from JWT London is nothing short of a tour de force.

It's easily my favourite ad of the year so far. And a dead cert for a pencil / Gold Lion. No question.

The idea of the sea 'rejecting' man's pollution gives the ad a political angle that adds a satisfying depth to the special-effects bonanza. But it's not heavy-handed. Did you catch the shot of the guy filling up his 4x4? The addition of the Greek statues and 'epic' soundtrack make it timeless.

And this ad will sell vodka, there is absolutely no doubt about that. What young guy doesn't love second world war aeroplanes? The sight of them rising from the depths of the ocean is simply awesome, there's no other word for it. And is that a dead pilot I see at the controls of a commercial airliner? Daring. This ad has balls and a social conscience.

Plus, the logic is impeccably tied up at the end.

I don't mean to sound like some kind of groupie, but it's ads like this I come to work for.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Neat trailer for a forthcoming monster film.

Two things struck me as particularly interesting, though.

One is the extent to which the studio is pre-marketing the thing on the internet, by setting up several fake blogs, including Slusho, Eathan haas was right and Ethan haas was wrong.

And secondly... the famous monument destroyed, frantic descent of a smoke-filled stairway... is America re-imagining the 9-11 experience as a monster movie?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Poll - INeffectiveness

A post at Adliterate urged planners to speak out if they felt the work wasn't right.

Because "account handlers get fired if the work doesn’t happen, creatives get fired if the work is no good and planners get fired (or should get fired) if the work doesn’t work."

I applaud his encouragement of 'speaking out'.

But should the planners really be the whipping-people for when a campaign doesn't perform?

Or is it those award-chasing clients? Or the creatives, with their endless insistence on 'budgets' and 'brand guidelines'?

Who do YOU think is most commonly responsible for ineffective advertising?

Vote now, in the top right hand corner of your screen.

Previous poll results:

Friday Poll No.14 - Your Personal Success Record
Friday Poll No.13 - Which Department Is The Most Insane?
Friday Poll No.12 - What Music Do You Listen To While Working?
Friday Poll No.11 - What Time Do You Get In?
Friday Poll No.10 - Who Drinks The Most?
Friday Poll No.9 - Press v Online
Friday Poll No.8 - Success Or Glory?
Friday Poll No.7 - Is Reading Blogs A Waste Of Time?
Friday Poll No.6 - Job Satisfaction
Friday Poll No.5 - Festive Greetings
Friday Poll No.4 - Ad Of The Year 2006
Friday Poll No.3 - What's Your Favourite Medium To Work In?
Friday Poll No.2 - Agency Of The Year
Friday Poll No.1 - Which Department Is The Most Overpaid?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Here Is Your Appraisal

Russell writes quite movingly in Campaign today about how wounded he was by an appraisal.

The problem seems to be that it was very detailed. So instead of general comments about 'areas to improve on', he was told specific things like that he was "an arse" (joke I'm sure). Worse still, he was able to work out who had said what.

Shortly after this appraisal, he quit.

Now, Russell would be the first to admit he is a gentle, sensitive soul.

But even in the dog-eats-other-dog-for-lunch-on-expenses world of advertising, I don't think he's alone.

An account handler of my acquaintance was in tears after her appraisal. Although it was 95% positive, she found herself focusing exclusively on those one or two negative comments. Maybe that's human nature.

But it leads me to wonder... are appraisals a good thing, or are they actually the work of the devil?

Are they ever inspiring, or are they always demotivating?

Is it better for managers to drop little comments here and there throughout the year, rather than deploy the 'shock and awe' of an annual 360?

And is it better to live in ignorance? In other words, if you are an arse, is it better to be unaware of that fact? After all, arse-itude is probably something that you can't change anyway.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

There Are Apparently Only 12 Types Of Adverts In The World

My friend Doc Rogers points me in the direction of a piece of research by Donald Gunn, he of the Gunn Report, who has determined that all ads fall into one of 12 categories - or "master formats," in his words.

This slide show presents some recent ads exemplifying each of Gunn's 12 basic categories.

Does Gunn have a point? Or are his categories meaningless? Well, even he admits they are pretty arbitrary, in as much as several of them blend into each other.

And if he does have a point, could his system be useful in any way? It feels more like a system for classifying ads after they've been written, rather than a technique that could help in coming up with them.

The very idea that there could be a "system" for creating adverts is laughable wishful thinking, isn't it?

And yet... maybe as a series of starters they could be useful, for when you're stuck for inspiration.

John Webster apparently used to pop down to WHSmiths and flick through the greetings card section, when he wanted to get his brain working. Nowadays, I suppose there's YouTube.

So I may just take one or two things from Gunn's list.

We all need 'starters' sometimes.

The Ad Blog Charts For July 2007

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

Top 25 Ad Blogs (world
1     (2)AdRants23,518
2     (3)Advertising/Design Goodness  44,404
3     (4)Adverbox61,895
4     (6)Adverblog70,418
5     (3)AdFreak71,648
6     (9)Duncan's TV Ad Land90,986
7     (7)Logic + Emotion105,680
8     (8)Coloribus113,056
9    (11)Ad Punch135,534
10   (10)Adland142,577
11  (13)AdPulp151,195
12   (14)Copyranter175,872
13   (12)Jaffe Juice202,546
14   (15)Twenty Four263,549
15   (16)How Advertising Spoiled Me290,008
16   (18)AdScam332,305
17   (21)Make The Logo Bigger392,140
18   (19)AdArena395,206
19   (re-)BrandFlakes for Breakfast399,518
20   (16)Experience Curve410,578
21   (20)Beyond Madison Avenue420,758
22   (25)American Copywriter424,300
23   (23)Hee-Haw Marketing435,440
24   (22)Welcome To Optimism465,353
25   (re-)FishNChimps469,995

Big shock this month.

The reigning No.1 - Houtlust - has ceased publishing. Not sure why. But he promises to return at some future date.

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)Welcome To Optimism  465,353
2   (2)FishNChimps469,995
3   (3)Scamp560,088
4   (4)Adliterate692,070
5  (new)Crackunit836,311
6   (6)Faris840,035
7   (7)Northern Planner1.1m
8   (5)Living Brands1.4m
9   (new)Dan Germain1.6m
10  (new)TV's Worst Adverts1.7m

A well-established blog but new to this chart is Iain Tait's Crackunit, a veritable beacon of quality content.

New in at No.9 this month is Dan Germain's blog, with the tagline "creative stuff, milky baby breath and some other rubbish". As you would expect from the man behind much of the wonderful stuff produced by Innocent Drinks, Dan's blog is warm, witty, creative, and shot-through with childlike wonder.

And new at No.10 is the blog that bites the hand that feeds us, TV's Worst Adverts.

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 insists he no longer blogs 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.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ad-Man Crawls

Me and a few other people from BBH are doing a sponsored crawl to raise money for Barnardo's, the charity that helps vulnerable children get a better start in life.

Simply click this link to make a donation.

Donations are secure and sent electronically to Barnardo's. If you are a UK taxpayer, Justgiving will automatically reclaim 28% Gift Aid on your behalf.

It's an excellent cause and I've bought kneepads and everything, so I'd really appreciate your support, dear blog-reader.

A tenner is fine.

Go on. Click the link.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scamp's Couch

Today I received this e-mail:

Yo Uncle Simon. I have a question for you: We have the worst client here ever! He won't even listen and eats up a constant conveyor belt of Account people. What should I do when I really want a client to get a fucking grip and stop being an arsehole? What I really mean I guess is, how far can one push it? Do you have any advice? You can stick this on Scamp if you want, but don't mention my name! Yours, Mr Angry/ Mr Coward.

My answer was this:

Being rude or angry to clients doesn't work - they just get defensive. The only way to get them to "get a fucking grip" by which I assume you mean "buy your work" is to explain, explain, explain. Explain your idea a thousand different ways. Get reference. Lots of reference. Make them see it. Show it in situ. Show them what their consumers are really like. That kind of thing. All the best.

Any better suggestions?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Did The Vauxhall Corsa Puppets Hire A Prostitute?

TV's Worst Adverts seems to think so.

In a post entitled C'Mon Out Of Bed he explains his interpretation of the latest Vauxhall commercial.

One of the C’Mons (the red one) has hired a prostitute for the *band* to enjoy. While he’s showering himself down after the event, the prostitute decides that the 20 quid she got for doing the dirty with a band of puppets wasn’t enough, so she steals their Corsa as a tip. This goes down particularly badly with the Red puppet who has to wake the rest of the band enjoying a post-orgy nap (in the same bed) to chase after her.

Do you agree with his view? Or is there some other explanation that fits the advert?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday Tip No. 21 - Don't Behave

Returning after a hiatus caused by running out of ideas, here is another in my long-running yet doubtfully useful series of Tips For Young Creatives.

What I want to talk about today is being well-behaved, and why you shouldn't be.

First of all, I must make clear that I'm not advocating 'bad' behaviour, like turning up late for meetings, being rude to people, not listening, being untidy or uncouth, and generally walking around thinking that you're the shit. All of that is not on.

What I am advocating when I say 'Don't Behave' is - don't do things just because that's the way they're always done, or to make things easier for other people, at the expense of the work.

Five examples to explain what I mean.

1. Behaving means spending 90% of your day on that retail radio brief you've been given, with almost no time left over on the big TV brief that's floating around the department.

2. Behaving means saying yes when the account team ask you to write an alternative 'safe' version of your script, which they promise they will only present as a fall-back.

3. Behaving means always coming back with ideas for the media specified on the brief.

4. Behaving means agreeing with your creative director even when you think he's wrong and is going to mess up the ad.

5. Behaving means doing an average job on a dull brief for a difficult client, aka "you're really helping us out here".

In short, DON'T BEHAVE.

It won't get you anywhere. And it's so much less fun.

Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

Monday, July 16, 2007

Creative Generalism Rears Its Head Once Again

There's a post today over at Serendipity Book asking "Is creative generalism the answer?"

Well, let me answer that question.

It isn't.

In fact the idea enrages me so much that every time it pops up I feel the need to reach for a hammer, like I'm playing a blogging version of whack-a-mole.

If you want to know more about this accursed theory - which is godless, anti-capitalist, and contrary to all good sense - then Rusell Davies has written about it here and here. There's even a whole website dedicated to its evil.

Here's my Top 5 reasons why Specialism is better than Generalism.

1. You go ahead and try to staff an agency with generalists. There just aren't enough of them out there. Think of it like football. How many players can defend, create goals, and score goals? Not many. Johann Cruyff maybe, but that's about it.

2. Great advertising requires different skills - creative, strategic, inter-personal. How often do you find lots of all of these in the same person? Not often. For example, who is creative and organised? Not me. I've just basically made the same point twice in a row.

3. You need different personality types too. Take the Enterprise. They had Spock, Bones, Kirk and Scotty. Ah, now that would be quite an agency line-up, wouldn't it?

4. The advantages of specialisation are well known. It's been over 200 years now since Adam Smith showed how "the main cause of prosperity... is increasing division of labor." Don't these people ever learn?

5. Let's get hypothetical. Here's my team of specialists - Johnny Hornby (CEO), Paul Feldwick (Head of Planning), Richard Flintham (ECD). Could anyone put up a team of three generalists, that would make a better agency than HFF? I doubt it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Read A Book! Read A Book!

If all public service advertising were this funny, it would be a whole lot more effective.

The swearing is good too.

Swearing is the most funniest thing. Fact. And puppets.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Who Knew That Hitler Was A Sheffield United Fan?

Every other year, we suffer a summer without football.

Maybe it's that keenly-felt lack which makes this YouTube mash-up so amusing.

Once again via the excellent Nitmesh.

p.s. I'm Jewish so please don't tell me I can't enjoy jokes involving Hitler. I can.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

W&K Still Quite Good

Wayne Rooney hits the target.

The whole 'is it real or is it fake' debate has actually become a positive now, in my opinion, as I reckon people show these things to their mates and ask them what they think.

Here's a superb tactical ad on the same theme, a poster that has just gone up in Liverpool (who recently signed Fernando Torres to be their new No.9)

Full story here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blogs Galore

Maybe I'm lazy, just posting about other people's blogs.

I'm certainly slow, because these two have been around, like, for ages.

Still... better late than never.

My friend Nitmesh points me in the direction of two truly spectacular blogs - crackunit by Iain Tait, who is the planning partner at super-funky web/ content / experience agency Poke, and rubbishcorp by Nathan Cooper, formerly of Poke, now ECD at RGA London.

Both of these blogs are much better than mine.

You should certainly add them to your 'blogs I check regularly' list.

Here's a few reasons why.

From crackunit, 'Daft Hands':

"You have to give it a minute or so before it gets going", writes Iain, "but have patience, it’s worth it. It’s just really simple and charming, but a great bit of technique and something someone’s obviously put a lot of work into."

I quite agree. Very nickable too, if you're a creative. Whoops, I didn't say that.

From rubbishcorp, this 'Second Life in the real world' film:

I do like rubbishcorp. Even his logo is cool.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Great New Agency Blog

Most agency blogs start out stupendously dull. And then quickly die. Of boredom.

But today I became aware of a cracker - Lunar BBDO.

It's not the kind of content you see on the W&K blog, like how we won the Nokia pitch, it's more left-field and eclectic, with opinion on matters ranging from Live Earth to Big Brother.

Up at the moment is this incredible Danish viral which you must watch immediately.

Friday, July 06, 2007

T-Shirt Wars

Loser Generated Content sees yesterday's T-shirt, and raises me this one.

In Need Of Some Serendipity

A bit down today, because Raining Time didn't get such a great write-up in Private View.

But this funny T-shirt cheered me up.

It's from Serendipity Book, a new (to me) blog written by Lee McEwan, who is Head of Research at Leo Burnett in London.

Lee's blog is well worth checking out because he has an excellent sense of humour.

And if we stop laughing, it means the terrorists have won. (Irony).

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Another Baby. Literally.

The guys over at Incredible Flying Car put every ad they produce up on their blog. I like their candour, it's inspired me to do the same.

Here's my latest.

I'm not saying it's the greatest ever ad in the history of the world ever. But I do quite like the misdirect (albeit brief) that Barclaycard are introducing a credit card for babies.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

God-Botherers Where Are You?

Just started The God Delusion, really enjoying it.

In fact I'm now desperate to run into a 'faith-head' so I can have a good argument with them.

Problem is, I don't know any. Maybe there aren't any in our accursed industry...

Lasers Or Cats?

The new Sony Blu-Ray ad is rather impressive. I love muscle-cars, I love riot police, and I love blue lasers. So I like the ad. Who wouldn't? via Nitmesh.

But it's a bit on the serious side. Portentous even. So I only like it, I don't love it.

I do, however, love the current crop of YouTube films featuring talking cats.

via Incredible Flying Car.

Awful, isn't it? You spend £1 million making an astounding visual extravaganza, and some bloke in his bedroom makes something much more engaging putting subtitles on a cat.

Welcome to Web 2.0...