Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear Client, We Work Hard For Your Money

Ogilvy Athens unaccountably removed their beautiful song from YouTube, despite the worldwide acclaim it received (still available here though).

And McCann's Manchester took their wonderful video down less than 8 hours after I posted about it.

So now I wonder... how long will this sumptuous re-working of Donna Summer by Mindshare remain live for...?

The Barry & Troy Show

Today I've added a link on my blogroll to digital creative team Barry & Troy.

They've done this drawing of Wolverine on the shitter, which I like.

And Superman reading a book.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are You Wasting 10,000 Hours Of Your Life?

Malcolm Gladwell, displaying his awesome 'science hair'

There's been much coverage recently of Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers, due out in a couple of weeks, which outlines his theory that the secret of success in any discipline is simply to put 10,000 hours into practicing it.

Russell posted something on this a year ago.

Namely, that Gladwell's 10,000 hours principle is wonderfully reassuring for violinists or chess players - their job is the same today as it was 10 years ago, and they'll be doing the exact same thing in 10 years' time.

But what about us?

Our business is changing fast. Are you spending 10,000 hours becoming an expert in something that won't even exist in 10 years' time?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Soho, Lunchtime Today. The Recession Has Officially Begun.

For those of you tuning in from outside the UK, Greggs is a notoriously inexpensive sandwich retailer.

But you know what? I think the midday moneysavers in this picture are over-reacting, because I don't believe downturns actually affect individuals that much.

Sure, they affect companies. Agencies will have less business, and so are forced to fire people. But assuming you don't lose your job, that means you have roughly the same amount of work as before, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The First Christmas Ad Of The Year Has Arrived (And It's Actually Good)

I've reported before on the alarming news that CHI have begun to make good adverts, like Drench and 'Tide'.

But now they've only gone and made a good advert for Argos. (Not on YouTube yet. Click here to see it.)

That, my friends, ain't easy. Especially considering it's the fucking Christmas ad, for God's sake.

Maybe I'm a sucker for the Hammer. But that isn't the only reason I like it. I'm also a sucker for solid product benefits ("we're a straightforward place to shop") delivered with solid entertainment.

It's no Gorilla or Snowplough.

But lest we forget, this is what the Argos christmas ad used to be like...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday Poll - Life In The Ad Mines

Last week's poll reveals that the majority of us are having lunch outside the office just once a week or less. A staggering 29% are little more than drones, eating lunch 'al desko' (thanks anon) every single goddamn day.

So it seems appropriate that, as suggested by "J", this week's poll should be about stress.

How stressed are you in general at work? Vote now, in the right hand corner of this blog.

And let's discuss it too. Are we all pansies, considering the worst that can happen to us is maybe we get a paper-cut, or sore eyes from watching YouTube all day?

Or are deadlines-of-death, Planners who put three separate adjectives in the 'what is the single most important thing we want to say' box, and people who should have been butchers not marketeers, all a legitimate cause of frustration?

Write your view in the comments.

Previous Polls

Friday, October 24, 2008

Campaign 'Big' Awards

I wasn't there last night - tummy bug. What was the ceremony like? Any thoughts on the winners?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"This Is The Way To Integration" - Come On, Sing It With Me

Wedding dad dancing. Mild sexual harassment. Behold a self-promotional video from McCann's Manchester (thank you, anonymous contributor) that gives Ogilvy Athens a run for its money...

A Ballad For David

Oh. My. God.

The folks at Bold Ogilvy Athens have made a tribute to David Ogilvy.

It's beyond parody, I won't even attempt to say anything funny about it... I merely draw your attention to the opening title: "Caution. The following video clip is an amateur effort."

Thanks to anonanon

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Digital Ghost Towns

I heard of an interesting concept today (from Alistair at AKQA) - digital ghost towns.

These are corporate websites built at great expense, no doubt expecting a large number of visitors, but which don't get any.

I suppose the most notorious is Bud TV - just the 940,843rd most popular website in the world (according to Alexa).

Another example might be Texaco, which is only the world's 1,844,509th most popular website, despite its super-useful Texaco garage locator. (For when you need petrol, but only Texaco will do).

By some measures, Second Life is another, having 15.5 million registered users, but only 70,000 in any 24-hour period.

Arguably, the internet itself is one giant ghost town. Millions of sites, the vast majority being almost totally empty.

I guess the lesson is the same one it always is. People aren't interested in corporations, they're only interested in what corporations can do for them. So an insurance company has to offer security, a deodorant must give you confidence and a brand of football boots a winning mentality.

And a company website must offer something useful - something that people want - or it will become a digital ghost town.

'Fess up - have you built one?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lunch Poll

Last week's poll says that the overwhelming majority of you care about advertising. The percentage who are 'faking it' was a little worrying, however, at almost 1 in 5. Don't you realise your souls must look like batteries when they've been left in the radio too long? Just kidding.

In this week's poll, we assess whether your conscientiousness extends to the lunch hour.

Are we still able to pop out for a pie & a pint from time to time?

Or has the credit crunch forced us into an almost permanent state of sandwich-at-the-desk?

Vote now, in the right hand column of this blog.

And in the comments, tell us your view on lunch. Is it a vital break from the ad-face? Or is it strictly for the dinosaurs, and it just pisses you off when people come back from the pub chewing a Polo to signify they haven't had anything to drink at all, honest?

Previous Polls

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

iPint Lawsuit

Trevor Beattie is God, in my opinion. But he's having an interesting week.

First was the announcement that TBWA is not going to take over his BMB outfit after all. (Which incidentally means the position of ECD at TBWA London is up for grabs again.)

And now Creativity reports that the Silver Lion-winning iPint application for Carling by BMB - which has been downloaded 6 million times - is the subject of a $12.5 million lawsuit by the developer of the iBeer application.

There have been several cases (notably when director Mehdi Norowzian sued the agency that created the Guinness Dancing Man ad) that touch on the question of copyright infringement in a piece of film.

What the law will decide when it comes to an iPhone app, we shall soon find out...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.65 - What Would Howell Henry Do?

It's impossible to reduce the output of HHCL - Britain's 'Agency of the 90s' to a single technique.

Certainly some of their work, like Fuji and First Direct, was avant-garde... but they also employed many time-honoured advertising methods such as adapting a pop promo (the commercials for Maxell cassettes using misheard lyrics were based on the video for Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan).

And straightforward (but brilliant) metaphor ads like the fat slapping orange Tango man.

But there's one particular technique that they executed with great panache, which I think is an arrow definitely worth having in your quiver.

First example is one of their earliest ads, for Danepak Lean & Low bacon. This 30 second ad features fully 21 seconds of voiceover that is little more than a list of product benefits:

"We love... good food, like this Lean & Low bacon. And what's great about Lean & Low, this new product from Danepak, is that it's lower in fat, and salt. So it's better for our figures. Plus it doesn't spit so much fat everywhere. Danepak Lean & Low - the natural choice."

Of course, the fact that the Andersen family are naturists, their modesty preserved only by conveniently placed tablewear, makes the whole thing very amusing.

Next up, their famous ad for AA insurance. At the time, it was notorious for being the first ad to feature an Asian couple in a role that wasn't predicated on their ethnicity, and possibly the first ad to own up to the fact that couples argue.

The interest generated by these two factors enabled HHCL to smuggle in scads of product points about the AA's car insurance 'internet site.'

Finally, one of my favourite ads - Blackcurrant Tango.

Ray Gardner, with his flabby belly and disdain for French exchange students, must be one of the most memorable brand spokespeople of all time. In fact, he was so entertaining, we didn't mind that he fed us quite a few sales points about Britvic's new carbonate - that it's "a charge for the tastebuds" and even that Tango have been "working on it for three years."

Perhaps unfairly, I summarise this technique as 'wacky person reads brief.' But used well, it's highly effective all-round. Awards juries are happy - it's a clever conceit. The client is happy - they get to hear all the reasons why their product is so great. And the consumer is happy - they get to watch naturists or whatever.

As a further bonus, the heavy product content makes this type of ad more-than-usually easy to sell.

Previous Tips

Monday, October 13, 2008

New W&K Nike Ad

Not everything out there can be low-key and credit-crunchy. There has to be room for a bit of chest-beating sometimes, no?

And I'm still just a sucker for those big Nike ads. This one's directed by David Fincher, and has a nice respect-for-one's-opponent spin on the machosity.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday Poll

The most popular answer to the question "What would you do if you weren't doing advertising?" was 'Other'.

I guess this includes some of the answers we had in the comments, which ranged from 'chef' to 'midwife' to 'Han Solo'.

I'm pretty sure the Copywriters among you were the ones picking Journalist as an alternative career, with the Art Directors leaning towards Illustration or Photography.

But who would have guessed that 'The Armed Forces' would be the 5th most popular choice? My explanation is there's a lot of frustration in our job, so the idea of being allowed to legally kill someone can seem quite attractive.

This week's poll is about how much you care. It's often said that advertising doesn't 'matter' - so maybe it's foolish to actually care about it. Then again, maybe the foolish person is the one who spends 50 hours a week doing something they don't care about. Vote now, in the right hand column of this blog, and I'd love to know your views, in the comments.

Previous Polls

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Life After Advertising

Our New Business Director is leaving to become an acupuncturist.

He's a young guy, very highly-regarded... I guess he just wants to do something else.

It's always been a bit of a mystery to me what people do 'after' advertising.

I know a few former adfolk stop by here from time to time... would love to hear from you - I want to get the perspectives of some people who have left advertising to include in the final chapter of my book.

What are you doing now? Do you miss it? Or in retrospect does it all seem a bit silly? Please do leave a comment, or send an e-mail to simon dot veksner at bbh dot co dot uk.

Baz Luhrmann Ad For Tourism Australia

Unlike most film directors who make commercials, Baz Lurhmann did a good job with this. It actually makes sense. And carries some emotion. The strategy is maybe a bit cliched, but the cinematography carried me through. Interesting to read the comments about it on Aussie ad blog Creative Brief.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.64 - Be A Person Of Integrity

Have you heard the rumour that Dave Trott got his first job in advertising with a book of ads he didn't write?

The story was that he used American ads he knew UK creative directors wouldn't be aware of, and re-presented them as if they were his own.

Amazingly, Dave has now confessed on his blog that this story is true.

So the man who wrote the pamphlet on How To Get A Job In Advertising, the pamphlet that was recently re-printed by Campaign, the pamphlet that hundreds of creatives have used as a guide to writing good ads, didn't do it that way. He did it a different way. He stole someone else's ads.

Now, we're Creatives, and we're supposed to be 'creative' and break the rules. But this isn't cool.

I'm not going to write a post that explains why you shouldn't lie and you shouldn't steal. What next? Why you shouldn't rape a receptionist?

All I'll say is that even if you're completely lacking in moral principles - the Patrick Bateman of advertising - it would still make sense to follow common-sense morality.

Why? Because when people find out you've lied or cheated, they get pissed as hell.

I've seen a senior team, hired on approx £75K, get fired for pretending the work in their book was joint work, when it was mostly done with other partners.

I know of Creatives who have been asked to leave agencies because of petty pilfering.

If you're utterly brilliant (e.g. Dave Trott) you can probably get away with this kind of thing. But 99% can't.

So my advice is to be a person of integrity.

And if you're not, act like one.

Previous Tips

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Poll

Last week's poll says only 5% of you specialise in Direct. The figure for pure Digital was about what I expected, at 26%, and maybe pure Above-The-Line was a bit less than I expected. A fairly high percentage of you in today's mixed-up world work in a wide mix of media. And why not.

Today's poll (vote now, in the right hand column of this blog) asks 'What would you do if you weren't working in advertising?' I've tried to include a broad spread, though obviously there wasn't room to put in every possible career like 'working at Foot Locker' and 'filling the Smarties tubes with Smarties'. If you have a view on what you could or should be doing, or think I've missed out a glaringly obvious option, let me know in the comments.

Previous Polls

Top Ten 'Lies Directors Tell'

A director, yesterday

We've explored the lies of creatives and of suits. Now the top 10 lies we hear from the coked-up ex-creative behind the camera.

1. I love the script
2. We can fix that in post
3. During the filming I want you right up with me by the camera
4. Yes, we can cover that off, no problem
5. We haven't got time to do that shot
6. Hotel? I think I'm in the same one as you
7. I'm getting lots of scripts, just not of the right quality
8. Doing features is great, but I'll always come back to commercials
9. When I'm not shooting? Well, I still come into the office every day
10. My first priority is to get the idea across

Thanks to R&A for the suggestion. Click on 'comments' below to add your own.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Ad Blog Charts For Q3 2008

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

Top 25 Ad Blogs (world
1     (1) Ads Of The World 9,561
2     (2)AdRants20,122
3     (4)Adland45,268
4     (6)Adverbox53,169
5     (new)Creativity55,077
6     (8)AdFreak61,570
7     (5)Coloribus61,751
8     (7)Advertising/Design Goodness  68,983
9     (9)Adverblog71,732
10   (10)Bannerblog78,281
11   (12)Logic + Emotion111,232
12   (11)Copyranter115,783
13   (13)AdPulp123,110
14   (new)Ad Forum 126,470
15   (3)The Inspiration Room Daily135,391
16   (14)ViralBlog169,483
17   (new)Best Ads On TV181,003
18   (15)Jaffe Juice274,786
19   (20)Scamp285,912
20   (18)Crackunit312,842
21   (24)Behind The Buzz324,282
22   (17)AdScam328,713
23   (21) Make The Logo Bigger    330,415
24   (23)Experience Curve378,548
25   (22)BrandFlakes for Breakfast384,844

Top 10 UK Ad Blogs (world
1   (2)Scamp285,912
2   (1)Crackunit312,842
3   (3)Behind The Buzz324,282
4   (4)Only Dead Fish417,721
5   (6)Spinning Around422,405
6   (re-)Rubbishcorp442,513
7   (8) Interactive Marketing Trends528,482
8   (7)Welcome To Optimism    533,911
9   (5)Adliterate736,585
10 (10)TV's Worst Adverts737,203

For those new to this chart, it’s based on rankings published by web metrics company Alexa, which measures visits by users who have the Alexa toolbar installed. As that’s mostly bloggers and techies, the chart is probably biased towards blogs which are popular with other bloggers, or tech-heads.

The definition of what is a blog as opposed to a website is becoming blurred. Some of the sites above are commercial ad archives, or the online versions of news-stand ad mags, which I'm now including for the first time. As long as the content is updated dailyish, and the blog portion of the site is separately measurable, I don't see why they shouldn't be in here.

Some people find the chart boring, others say it helps them discover new things. Me, I've just always loved charts. As a kid, I pored over the pop charts, and football league tables. That doesn't make me a geek, does it?

An ↑ means a blog's traffic has gone up by 15% or more in the last quarter, and a ↓ means it's gone down 15%.

UK means UK-based. Ad blog means ad blogs not marketing or PR blogs. I'm only counting English language blogs.

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