Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Campaign A List

They say no one reads the A List apart from the people who are in the A List.

But I did. And I've rootled out the funny(ish) bits, for you.

What would you change about yourself? I'd have a tail (Graham Fink)

Best thing about your job? The frisson of staff fear as I stride to my desk every morning (Leon Jaume)

Worst thing about your job? The constant backdrop of distant, mocking laughter (Leon Jaume)

The biggest lie you've ever told? The one about advertising (Trevor Beattie)

What would you change about yourself? My constant fucking swearing (Ringan Ledwidge)

Your USP? Tits and balls (Kate Stanners)

If you could be anyone else in the business, who would it be? I'd have Beattie's head, Davidson's gut and Craigen's hollow legs. I'd be a fucking ripsnorting ad monster (Ben Walker)

Advice for a wannabe A Lister Work every weekend (Tim Delaney)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Ten Biggest Cocks And She-Cocks In Advertising... Ever

Following on from this and this, angry genius Charlie Brooker has made another damn funny programme about advertising. Well worth watching the whole thing via BBC iPlayer here.

In case you can't, here's Charlie on a 1970's Twix advert:

Anyone who fails to buy a chocolate bar that can be easily shared with attractive members of the opposite sex is a girlfriendless loser destined to catch the bus home and spend the evening wanking and tying a noose.

On the acting seen in ads:

There's a whole range of facial expressions that human beings never pull in real life, only in commercials. Expressions which register emotions like 'good value'

On the Gold Blend couple:

Stop talking about coffee and start fucking.

And on advertising in general:

5x worse than the Nazis.

Ah yes, but we can laugh at ourselves. So maybe we're not quite as bad as Hitler's mob...

Thanks to ben for the tip

50 Cent Is Upset With Me

He sent me this...

But he doesn't look that tough, does he? I reckon Sophie could whup him.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.66 - How To Write Endlines

Civilians think that 'coming up with slogans' is our whole job.

And in a way, they have a point.

The slogan, that much-derided term, is the complete encapsulation of a campaign or brand idea. Ideally it distills everything important that a company stands for, and acts as a springboard for great communications.

So endlines are important. Which makes the ability to write good ones a valuable skill to have.

Lines win pitches. They build brands. And they create fame for the person who wrote them.

I always thought it would be a bold move for a creative team to have a tiny portfolio with just 8-10 pages in it, and on each page nothing but a campaign endline they'd come up with.

The first thing to do is be absolutely clear about what you are trying to say.

"Australians wouldn't give a XXXX for anything else" says 'Australian'
"Finger lickin' good" says 'delicious'
"The appliance of science" says 'advanced'

Don't even start trying to write an endline until you've got what you want to say down to one word.

From there, it's about applying dem old-fashioned copywritin' skills to express that concept in a new and interesting way.

Here's a few devices you can deploy:

1. Insight. The KFC line is a good example of this. What do you actually do when you find something delicious? You lick your fingers. Think about what people actually do when they use the product.

"Let your fingers do the walking" is another example, coincidentally it's also finger-related. The line says 'convenient'. And it works because of the insight that when you use the Yellow Pages, you go through it with your fingers.

2. Zingy language. Rhyme, alliteration and neology (coining new words) all help. "Beanz Meanz Heinz" is just so much more memorable than "Heinz - the definitive baked beans" isn't it?

3. Words with two meanings. Of the 20 endlines that Adslogans nominated for slogan of the year 2007/8, no fewer than 6 of them employed words with double meanings, including the excellent "Be humankind" for Oxfam, and "Get some nuts" for Snickers. So, think about the words related to your product, and whether any of them have additional meanings that you can use to your advantage.

And if you have a method that you use in writing endlines, do share it in the comments.

Previous Tips

Break The Cycle

Following Hunting, which opened the debate, here's the next film in our Barnardo's campaign.

Director: Jeff Labbe
Creatives: Nick Allsop, Nick Gill, Dominic Goldman, Simon Veksner
Creative Director: Nick Gill

There's digital activity too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Goodnight From Vando

Vando, Sydney-based writer of The Jason Recliner, has announced the 'final recline'.

Knowing there's no coming back has let the already-candid Vando truly let rip.

Transmedia planning is described as: "a wank... just a fancy term for coming up with a well rounded media plan."

Second Life: "Not only is it weird, it's dying."

And on trade magazines: "do we really need... weekly mags where everyone in advertising talks about each other and bla bla bla. At the end of the day, if a Creative Director at Watkins, Spruce and Gribley thinks a competitive ad for Fruit Loops is crap, who gives a shit. Ad folk could spend more time educating their clients rather than their colleagues, but that doesn't win new business does it?"

Goodbye Vando, you'll be missed.

The Marketing Blogs section of my sidebar's looking rather threadbare. Anyone know any good ones?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sony Balls On Steroids

There's something weirdly compelling about this.

Carnival Cruise Lines dropped a giant beach ball in Dallas to break a record for the world's largest beach ball, and made an ad out of it.

I don't know what it is about giant objects... but they're just great, aren't they?

Oh, and why is it that in advertising you need to have either one big thing (PlayStation giant ball idents, British Airways 'Manhattan') or many small things (Sony Balls, Big Yellow 'Tide')?

Thanks to DW for the tip

The Goat That Ate Its Own Legs

I wrote a post a couple of months ago about ad people who have written books.

Well, now we have a new name for the list.

Alex Burrett, formerly top radio producer at BBH, has written what sounds like a cracking book of short stories called My Goat Ate Its Own Legs.

Characters in the tales include the ex’s of both God and Death, a dog addicted to cocaine, a couple who literally merge through the intensity of their mutual lust, and another who eat their kids. Plus the goat that ate its own legs.

The cover has a bite chewed out of it. I like that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Terrifying Counter-Theory

A colleague has just sent me this oldish but influential article on Low Involvement Processing, by Robert Heath.

The article makes two main conclusions: one good for us, one terrifying.

The good one is that Heath believes emotional advertising is far more effective than rational messaging.

"I believe... the majority of successful UK advertising campaigns... do not succeed by getting over rational performance-based messages, but by building up simple yet potent associations and linking them to brands."

We can all be happy about that, can't we? No more 'science bit' that the client makes us put in and is delighted with, and which everyone else completely ignores.

However, the reason Heath prefers emotional advertising is because he reckons ads are 'low involvement processed', i.e. consumers aren't paying active conscious attention to ads and so don't pick up facts and rational stuff, but do pick up feelings and associations.

And the conclusion we must draw from that is it doesn't really matter whether your ad is 'noticed' or not.

We all talk constantly about the need to 'stand out', 'get noticed', 'get talked about'.

I've even written about how there's no point doing an ad that looks like something people have seen before, since they'll just screen it out, in the same way that early man screened out 'that rock' and 'that tree', and would only notice 'holy shit, a sabre-toothed tiger' things he had not seen before.

But maybe being noticed doesn't matter, as long as you create the right associations.

I'm reminded of this piece by Jon Howard that talked about an ad for Amoy sauce which generated virtually no awareness, but a big sales uplift. The ad was 'invisible', but worked.

If true, this is all a bit worrying, isn't it?

Monday, November 17, 2008

"They're feral, cruel and ruthless"

Director: Jeff Labbe; Copywriter: Scamp; Art Director: Scowling A.D.; Creative Director: Nick Gill

This piece of film we made for children's charity Barnardo's was released this morning; it's had coverage on BBC Breakfast TV, the Today programme on Radio 4, and others, which I'm delighted about.

I've always been interested in language and use of language, so it was gratifying to get an idea out which is on that theme.

Here's the link to the BBC's online coverage, plus they've opened up a forum on the subject, which has attracted over 900 comments (as at 11.30am). Obviously not everyone will agree with what we're saying, but it's great to see a proper debate about society's changing attitude towards children.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Science Of Having An Idea

I've written before about How To Tell If You've Had An Idea in which I described how my own (regrettably rare) 'lightbulb moments' feel like a mild electrical shock in the brain.

Now a wonderful New Yorker article from July 2006, sent to me by Johnny Cleaver, sheds some scientific light on the question.

It's largely an interview with Mark Jung-Beeman, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University, who has spent 15 years studying exactly what is happening in the brain at the 'moment of insight.'

His observations include these:

1 Solving problems with insight uses a complete different part of the brain than solving problems with analysis

2 The sensory areas of the brain go quiet just before an insight, as the brain diverts its considerable computational powers to focusing on the problem

3 Insight nearly always follows a feeling of impasse, comes suddenly, and is preceded by a massive spike of electrical activity

Does this tally with what it's like for you? And I'm curious to know how many times a day/month/year do you experience this moment of insight?

You can read an extract of the article here, maybe the whole thing if you register.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

First Presentation of Atheist Ads

I met Ariane yesterday, organiser of the atheist bus campaign, to talk about what they might do next.

I was lucky enough to be able to show her what I think are some very interesting ideas... produced by you lot.

I haven't attached names, since many prefer to remain anonymous.

But we had over 100 submissions in all, from Melbourne to China to New York. Thanks everyone.

Everything was looked at, discussed, and helped hone our thinking, so if you don't see your ad up here, that doesn't mean you didn't make a contribution. You did.

Let me know what you think of them...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two excellent new TV ads today

The John Lewis Christmas ad continues the fine work Lowe London has been doing on this brand.

Clarity, purity, emotion... built on a first-class present-shopping insight.

Top work.

It's also notable for apparently being the first UK advertiser to use a Beatles track.

Secondly, the new Toshiba ad.

A cynic might say there's no idea. There isn't one.

But I think this will still work. The technique is so gobsmackingly amazing that even though I didn't really glean anything from the VO, the association of the word 'Toshiba' with this piece of film has shifted my perception of the brand.

And the fact that it was by Grey makes me feel a bit strange. I might have to go for a lie down.

P.S. There's still time to vanquish God. Click here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Believe In Advertising

Dodge Avenger. Buy one get one free.

Great story in The Guardian on Saturday.

Apparently the motor trade is in deep doo-doo - to the point where one car dealer actually reduced the price of his Dodge Avengers by 50%. And even then, his stock wasn't moving.

But when he had the idea of offering the cars on a Buy One Get One Free deal - he got 22,000 customers.

That's right. The exact same product. At the exact same price.

It was purely the way the offer was marketed - the power of words - that generated desire.

And that's what we do, ladies and gentlemen. That's what we do.

P.S. In keeping with today's money-off theme, a friend of mine has set up a company selling British wool and sheepskin clothes called Woollen Salmon. Their whole collection is knitted by small family-owned companies within the British Isles.

As an ex ad-person, she is offering ad people a 20% reduction. Just go to their website and enter the code AD01 to get the discount.

P.P.S. Keep the atheism ideas coming in. We've had loads of great stuff, but there's still time - the first meeting is Wednesday.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Advertising For Atheism

The remarkable Ariane Sherine is organising an atheist bus campaign, which has already generated loads of PR (just try Googling 'atheist bus campaign').

And she has already raised upwards of £50K to fund the execution you see above.

I've offered to help her out with some other ideas.

And I'm asking Scamp readers who are free of the God delusion to help out too.

Are you a Planner? Maybe you could contribute a cool strategy.

Creative? Write us an ad. Do it up in photoshop if you like, but a scamp is fine, or even just a headline. Obviously this isn't a BBH project and there's not going to be any money for anyone at any stage, but you'll get full credit.

You can make a suggestion in the comments on this post, or e-mail me something at simon dot veksner at bbh dot co uk.

Or go to a separate site I've set up called Advertising For Atheism, where I'll be putting up some of my and anyone else's ideas.

If a few of us get involved, I'm hoping the crowdsourcing thing could be really fun. Don't you think?

I've had a go at writing a brief, so here it is below, but if you want to suggest a better one, then feel free.

First presentation is on Wednesday.

Atheism Brief

Even in the 21st century, religion still has a big hold on people. Religious fanatics around the world kill thousands every year. Millions of people live in countries with oppressive faith-based regimes. Bishops get an automatic seat in the UK legislature. And state-funded ‘faith schools’ are allowed to discriminate in favour of religious pupils. Meanwhile, churches and evangelist groups (‘The Alpha Course’) are advertising for recruits. Where is the voice promoting rational, science-based atheism?

The British Humanist Association has raised over £50K to fund a campaign promoting atheism. The subject of our ads should probably be religious belief in general, rather than any religion in particular. But if you do mention a particular religion, it would seem to make most sense to reference Christianity, since this is by far the most widespread religion in the UK.

Get PR. The campaign has already had great coverage in the media (try Googling ‘Atheist bus campaign’), and will hopefully get even more when we launch. An ad with real insight and bite will be more likely to get PR.

We’ll never reach the religious fanatics, and there’s no point talking to existing atheists. We should aim at the (very large) group in the middle – reasonable, intelligent people who were probably brought up with a bit of religion, and haven’t really questioned it since. We need to move their dial.

There is no God.

Fossils. Empirical science. The presence of ‘evil’ in the world contradicts the Christian notion of God as omnipotent and beneficient… more at, especially the Debate Points section.

Plain and factual might work. But then again, nothing undermines more effectively than humour. It’s open.

1) Idea must be cheap to do
2) In terms of media, it would be good to do bus-sides because bus-sides have already been announced. But we could propose an alternative use of their money if we had a great idea for a different medium.
3) The ASA code says “Marketing communications should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.”

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We Made A Difference

He didn't just have amazing oratory, an army of volunteers, and the advantage of representing the opposite party to George Bush.

He also had some truly kick-ass comms.

Like this

(10 million views)


(12 million views)

And perhaps especially this

(4 million views)

Makes me proud to work in advertising.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Do The Test - The Sequel

Agency: WCRS
Creatives: Kit Dayaram & Tom Spicer
Director: Chris Palmer

I hope this one can be judged as an ad, without the whole originality/non-consultation hoo-ha thrown up by the last one.

And judging it as an ad, it's pretty damn good. The country-house murder scenario is pulled off with aplomb. The bit where the ***SPOILERS changes are revealed END SPOILERS*** is genuinely intriguing. And crucially, it passes the 'do I want to watch that again?' test.

My only gripe is that surely they could have cut one of those supers at the end.

However, as with all sequels, there's one burning question we need to answer: is it Godfather 2, or City Slickers 2?

Guinness 'Horses' or Cadbury 'Trucks'?

I reckon it's Sony 'Paint'. Which was slightly less good than Sony 'Balls'... but still ended up being one of the ads of the year.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Is Copywriting A Bit Like Poetry?

That was the question posed by a Radio 4 documentary broadcast yesterday, entitled 'Beanz Meanz Rhymz'... which included a brief contribution from me and Scowling A.D. (should be available here - our bit is at 25 mins in).

The presenter concluded there ARE similarities between copywriting and poetry, since both deploy a similar armoury of linguistic weapons, including rhyme, alliteration, rhythm, metaphor, simile and compression.

Most contributors agreed that these techniques help advertising messages penetrate the cranium and stay there. However, some of their examples ("You'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent") were archaic.

So my contribution was to suggest that while you & I may remember tons of jingles and slogans from our childhood, the adults of tomorrow won't. What sticks in their heads is more likely to be the visual extravaganzas of Cog, Balls and Gorilla.

Or am I wrong?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Stress Poll - Result

I don't know what to make of this poll - maybe a planner can help me interpret the data. (Sorry for all the mean things I've said about you, guys).

It's a strangely equilibrious (is that a word?) chart. Few of you feel either totally chilled or totally stressed-out. But few want to describe themselves as 'average' either. Maybe I should re-run this baby when we hit the middle of the recession...

Previous Polls