Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year That Was

The most fun I had on the blog this year (except for this) was probably this.

But I don't really like looking back.

So if you're a fan of cheesy Agency videos with hot women and enforced mass participation, here's another one, from a shop called Provid in Ukraine.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Ad Blog Charts For Q4 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 7,991
2     (2)AdRants19,722
3     (new)Creativity Online26,784
4     (6)Coloribus50,034
5     (3)Adland52,762
6     (15)The Inspiration Room Daily53,171
7     (4)Adverbox56,151
8     (8)Advertising/Design Goodness  59,388
9     (7)AdFreak66,907
10   (10)Bannerblog75,342
11   (9)Adverblog75,556
12   (11)Logic + Emotion93,267
13   (14)Ad Forum 104,892
14   (13)AdPulp113,075
15   (16)ViralBlog122,983
16   (17)Best Ads On TV158,483
17   (18)Jaffe Juice231,092
18   (19)Scamp232,781
19   (new)Campaign Brief275,394
20   (21)AdScam303,522
21   (20)Crackunit304,943
22   (22) Make The Logo Bigger    309,394
23   (25)BrandFlakes for Breakfast345,306
24   (new)Only Dead Fish366,553
25   (new) Talent Imitates, Genius Steals379,328

Four new entries on the world chart this quarter.

At No.3, I have decided to count the excellent Creativity Online in the chart. Formerly known as Ad Critic, this site is a lot more than an ad blog - it has a wealth of opinion, analysis and interviews. But since the line between a website and a blog continues to blur, and their content is updated daily, I'm including it.

The Australian ad site Campaign Brief makes its debut at No.19. If you have an interest in the land Down Under, or just like sparky ad blogs, I recommend it.

Only Dead Fish (Swim With The Water) is a highly insightful UK advertising/marketing/social media blog written by Neil Perkin of IPC Media, now in the chart at No.24. Neil's traffic has doubled in the last 12 months. Go visit and you will see why.

Finally, my friend Faris, who has previously featured in the UK Top 10 but is now based in New York (as McCann Erickson's 'Digital Ninja'), has busted into the world chart at No.24. His blog Talent Imitates, Genius Steals will make you just a little bit smarter every time you read it. Plus it's amusing.

Top 10 UK Ad Blogs (world
1   (1)Scamp232,781
2   (2)Crackunit304,943
3   (4)Only Dead Fish366,553
4   (8)Welcome To Optimism    472,775
5   (5)Spinning Around478,768
6   (6)Rubbishcorp484,186
7   (7) Interactive Marketing Trends487,164
8   (9)Adliterate603,607
9   (re-) Chimp Media Monitoring 889,993
10  (10)TV's Worst Adverts913,770

For those new to this quarterly-published chart, I might just re-cap that it’s drawn from the rankings of web metrics company Alexa, who measure visits by users who have the Alexa toolbar installed. Since that means mostly bloggers and techies, the chart is somewhat biased towards blogs which are popular with other bloggers, or tech-heads.

Some people say the chart is extremely boring, others say it helps them discover new things. I just like doing charts. I also like maps, and statistics. So sue me.

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 would love to be able to include Dave Trott’s brilliant blog, but there isn’t a way to count its visitors separately from those visiting the website of Dave’s agency, CST.

I'm only counting English language blogs.

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jesus

Here at Scamp we're celebrating Christmas with another batch of atheist adverts, created by you, the readers.

(click image if you need to enlarge)

What do you think - do you like any of these?

Keep the ideas coming: send to simon dot veksner at bbh dot co dot uk (N.B. this is not a BBH project, I just don't have another e-mail address). Next year we are going to start actually running some ads, even if I have to pay for them myself. Which I probably will.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Do We Love For The Love Of Wispa?

It started with a Facebook group, which attracted 206,792 Wispa fans.

Then came some wonderfully fresh-looking bus sides, which declared "For the love of Wispa, we need cheerleaders" (or marching bands, etc).

The process was brilliantly stage-managed, and led up to the filming of the TV ad at the beginning of December, in Alexandra Palace, which features grannies, lasers, fireworks and a barbershop quartet.

I'm not going to say what I think of the actual ad, because it's the end of the year and I'm getting sick of how opinionated I am.

But what I wonder is this: have we arrived at a point where the way an ad was made has become more interesting than the ad itself?

Maybe nowadays, in the case of a 'big event' TV ad, the ad itself is just one piece of the engagement plan.

Compare with the life-cycle of a Hollywood movie. The movie truly begins with a tiny newspaper story about a big-name director deciding on his next script. Next, the papers fill up with a discussion of which stars might be in it. Next, gossip from the shoot. Then pre-release merchandising. Then the book of the film (comes out before the film). Then press previews of the film. Then the posters come out. Then media interviews with the stars and director. Then the premiere. THEN THE FILM ACTUALLY COMES OUT IN CINEMAS. Then people review it on iMDB. Then the DVD comes out. Then it runs on TV.

The film itself is just one small part of your 'experience of the film'.

Is our business going the same way? Are we now making ads where the true goal is to get people to watch the 'making-of' the ad, on the website?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Has The Ad Of The Year Snuck In Right At The End?

I'm talking about the new VW Golf commercial.

I heard the idea over 18 months ago, from mates who work at DDB, where everyone was convinced it could be great. So does it live up to expectations? No. It exceeds them, quite considerably.

From a rock-solid line and strategy, they've created a truly top-notch film. It's got tension, energy, excitement, and even moments of humour. Plus the music, which if I'm not mistaken is a 2 Many DJ's job, is just ace.

Well done to creative team Sam Oliver and Shish Patel, CD Jeremy Craigen, and director Ivan Zacharias. I hate you all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Job Insecurity

Last week, I asked you to vote for your ad of the year.

The winner was this:

So congratulations to DDB London, creative team Rob Messeter & Mike Crowe.

This week, we're looking forward to next year.

And let's face it, the picture is gloomy. So I'm asking the ultimate question - do you think you will still have a job on December 31st 2009?

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

And in the commments, let's talk about the recession. Will only shit people get fired, or is everyone at risk? Are we looking at a major shake-up next year? Are we all doomed? Let me know what you think.

Previous Polls

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Boots Now Own Christmas

It's safe to say your line's a good 'un when even other advertisers start to use it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas YouTube Videos

Well, Scowling A.D. and I have exchanged presents... so despite the hang-over, I'm actually feeling pretty festive today.

Here's some Christmas videos for you.

Bleed The World

Christmas In A Box

Jingle Dings

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who's Doing The Heavy Lifting Here?

In a possibly pointless exercise, I've tried to work out who contributed more to this year's best ads - Planners, or Creatives.

Since I don't have infinite time to waste on this kind of thing, I've only looked at TV ads. The list I'm using is Campaign's Top 10.

My method was to give each ad 10 points, then allocate those points between Planning and Creative.

By way of example, an ad like the AA's 'Fourth Emergency Service' would be scored as 9 for Planning (genius strategy) and 1 for Creative (forgettable execution), while Sony 'Balls' would score 2.5 for Planning ('great colour' is hardly groundbreaking for a colour TV, but at least it's simple) and 7.5 for Creative.

Hovis 'Go On, Lad'

Planning: 2.5 ('heritage' is nothing new for Hovis, but at least it's single-minded)
Creative: 7.5 (superb execution, technically brilliant and charming too)

Nike 'Take It To The Next Level'

Planning: 1 (I'm not even sure what the strategy is here, the best you can say is it doesn't get in the way)
Creative: 9 (Awesome. The kids love this kind of shit)

VW Golf 'Enjoy The Everyday'

Planning: 6 (I really like this strategy. For me it gets to the heart of what Golf is all about. It's your regular, everyday, workhorse car... but it does that regular stuff just a little bit better than you might expect)
Creative: 4 (They've taken a slightly YouTubey technique, but legitimately made it their own, with an excellent job on the music)

Barnardo's 'Break The Cycle'

Not judging this one, since Scowling A.D. and I were two of the creatives on it

Toshiba 'Time Sculpture'

Planning: 3 (there IS a strategy here - 'TVs that are as amazing as what you watch on them' but it took me a long time to figure it out. Still, at least it gave the Creatives licence to do 'anything amazing')
Creative: 7 (arguably the technical achievement of the year)

BBC 'Journey To The East'

Planning: 1 (I can't see any strategy at all. One point for not getting in the way)
Creative: 9 (top music, top animation)

Drench 'Brains'

Planning: 5 (a good strategy - I've never heard a water talking about keeping your brain hydrated before)
Creative: 5 (good creative too; puppets are funny. Fact. Making this a well-balanced ad in terms of strategy and creativity.)

TFL 'Moonwalking Bear'

Planning: 7 ('It's easy to miss things you're not looking out for' is a brilliant strategic leap - arguably the strategy of the year)
Creative: 3 (it's brilliant creative too, they've certainly done justice to the brief of the year)

Natural Confectionery Company 'Trumpets'

Planning: 1 (is 'let's just focus on the sweets' even a strategy?)
Creative: 9 (the entire success of the ad is down to the surreal humour of the writing)

VW Polo 'Singing Dog'

Planning: 5 (Polo have been using the 'confidence' proposition for a while now, and there's no doubt it's a clever way to sell a small car)
Creative: 5 (highly entertaining iteration of the campaign)

Overall score
Using the chunky calculator we are issued with here, I make the average score for the year's best ads - Planning: 3.4, Creative: 6.6.

Am I just biased?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Anatomy of a Turkey

I know some of you are occasionally critical of Campaign, but I think they've really got their shit together this month with a string of well put-together Top 10's of 2008.

However, the only one the Guardian deemed worthy of highlighting was the list of Top 10 Turkeys.

It seems we're fascinated by bad ads.

The Guardian piece attracted over 150 comments - the most I can recall seeing on there all year.

And the TV's Worst Adverts site regularly makes the chart of the UK's Top 10 ad blogs.

However, an analysis of bad advertising begs a very important question - what exactly IS the definition of a turkey?

To my mind, a badly dubbed foreign ad, like the Renault thing at No.3 on the Campaign list, is not a genuine turkey. It's just a badly dubbed foreign ad. Different category.

Similarly, a badly-lit ad with second-rate celebs (e.g. Carol Vorderman loan sharking) is not a turkey either. It's too cheap and scrawny to be a genuine contender for Christmas dinner.

No, surely a true turkey is an ad for which the makers had high hope... followed by great disappointment. It's an ad where you can see a wide expanse between expectation and result, between budget and pay-off, between effort and effectiveness. That's the land where the turkeys gobble.

By those criteria, the Gillette schtick (Campaign's No.1 turkey of the year) isn't really valid... because I doubt the creatives at any point thought it could be good.

What's your nomination?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Poll: Ad Of The Year 2008

Today, we're going to compare apples with oranges.

Of course it's impossible to judge a poster against an iPhone app, or a TV commercial against a print ad. But it's fun.

The nominations I'm putting up are Campaign's picks for ad of the year in each medium: FT (poster), Hovis (TV), iPint (digital) and Harvey Nichols (press).

Here they are (just click on an image if you need to make it bigger).

Vote now, in the right hand column of this blog. And hey, don't just vote, say why you voted how you voted, in the comments.

Meanwhile, the result of last week's poll shows what an industrious little lot you are. Only 15% of you are working at less than half power. And an impressive 25% are on maximum burst, or at least 90% of max.

The comments added texture to those high-scoring numbers. Some were from juniors and recession-fearers, who report feeling pressured to bust a gut. But pleasingly, some were from folks who just love what they do, and who are giving it 100% (in the words of Billie) "Because We Want To."

Previous Polls

Top Ten Virals Of 2008

The Guardian has a neat rundown of the Top 10 virals of the year, including the one above... an ad that ridicules the making of adverts.

How many had you already seen? My score was 5. Shabby.

And did you think they were better than the regular TV ads? I would say yes. There's very little big spectacle here - no giant zoetropes or foamed-up city blocks. But there is a lot of cleverness, and a lot of cheek too.

The standard of virals is going up, as more and more agencies start to do them. However, it's interesting to note that the top two on the list - Wassup 2008 (Charles Stone III) and Diesel XXX (The Viral Factory) - weren't done by ad agencies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lace Weighs In

Garry Lace, the former £800,000 a year CEO of TBWA, Lowe and Grey (which in the words of one observer, "he ran like it was the 1980s") has kept a lower profile in the last couple of years.

He's been running a company called Admedia and not saying much in public... until yesterday.

Commenting on the story of the departure of Mark Cadman as chief executive of Euro RSCG, he wrote this:

Is it me or have some sections of the advertising world lost their collective minds? As I now understand it, hot on the heels of Lowe telling the world that they don't need a UK CEO, Euro RSCG now do the same. Maybe I missed the chapter on alternative methods of management but I've always worked on the assumption that companies need a leader. That person for whom people will work harder and care more because they are able to construct a vision for the business based on experience and instinct and articulate it in a powerful and motivating way. That person who proves to be a magnet for talent and clients alike and for whom nothing is impossible. Someone in the agency world today should stand up and expose the trend towards leaderless agencies as the nonsense that it is.

It's good to see a big character like Garry back in the public arena, and I have to say, I agree with him.

The idea that an ad agency, or indeed any group of people, can thrive without a leader is patent nonsense.

I've always been fascinated by leadership and charisma. I met Garry Lace very briefly in a bar once; he certainly had it. I've also met or worked under Paul Hammersley, Moray MacLennan, Nick Hurrell... Johnny Hornby. They had it. As does more than one individual here at BBH.

But what is 'it'?

The best definition I've heard of leadership is 'confidence, decisiveness and energy.'

Can you beat that? Is leadership still important? Who do you think has it?

(And remember, we're just talking about account handlers here - people who don't have a brilliant ad or strategy to impress you with, but must do it with nothing but their personality).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Creative Director Wanted

Rubber Republic, a London-based viral ad agency, are hiring a CD for their Bristol office.

They're the people that made this tongue-in-cheek campaign to promote the creative industries in the South West:

Job info here.

Atheism Update

As a personal project, I've started a campaign to promote atheism. Here's the website.

Submissions are very welcome; this is my pick of the latest batch:

I was inspired by the British Humanist Association's plan to create an atheist bus campaign.

I had a couple of meetings with them, along with the media agency, Naked, and shared some ideas, but it now looks like we won't be working together. They're a cool bunch of people, but they have decided to commit all the funds raised by their campaign to the original bus-side concept.

I still want to promote atheism in other ways; it looks like I am just going to have to do it myself, guerrilla stylee.

To that end, Scowling A.D. and I have a meeting with a very talented director tomorrow morning, to discuss shooting this script as a test:

We open in a typical large bookshop, e.g. Waterstone’s. Maybe we’re upstairs.

There are quite a few customers milling around, and one member of staff.

When the member of staff goes off somewhere, the ‘customers’ all swing into action. Each of them pulls out two or three copies of the bible (same edition), and place them on the Fiction table (there’s a sign clearly marked Fiction), then they scurry away.

We film the reactions of normal customers and members of staff, when they see this new display.

Title: DiscoverAtheism.Info

I think this could make for an amusing and thought-provoking piece of film, something akin to the style of Whopper Freakout. Incidentally, this was also written by a U.S.-based team.

I'll keep you informed of how it goes.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Exciting News If You're A Fan Of Either Fallon, Kaka, Or Zoetropes

Euro ad-blogger Dabitch has all the info you could want about the shooting of the next Sony Bravia ad.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Poll - How Hard Are You Trying?

This week's poll, suggested by J, looks at effort.

Are you busting your balls? Or are you coasting? Or something in-between? Vote now, in the right hand column of this blog.

And on the wider question... are the most successful creatives the ones who are trying the hardest? Or is it better to be more laid-back?

Previous Polls

P.S. Comment moderation is now on. I met up with Ben of If This Is A Blog... the other day and he said it was working out really well for him. So I'm going to try it. Also, please note change to comment policy. Personal attacks no longer allowed. We can still critique work, but not each other. Goal isn't to make this place more boring, just more positive.

Today's Quote From 'Murder Must Advertise'

This is a quote from a "dyspeptic" senior copywriter called Mr Copley: "He had always said that the younger generation of advertising writers were No Good. Feather-headedness. No solid business sense. No thought."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Not Voodoo

I've discovered a rather good new blog called Not Voodoo, by an advertising creative who uses the pseudonym 'Gordon Comstock'.

Here's a funny picture he took:

And here are three examples of his writing:

If you were the Chapman brothers (both of them, so you wouldn’t have to argue about it) you could do a series of poor copies of adverts, or even just copies of ads taken from YouTube, and sell them for millions as studies of the relation between commercial ideas and ideas that sell. It wouldn’t be good, or even original, art, but it would really annoy advertising people.

Recently my Art Director produced a visual for charity ad that was so unpleasant anyone seeing it involuntarily recoiled in shock. We were all ready to do it, but at the final moment discovered that, like most unpleasant things you’d really like to do, it had already been done in France.

I was put in mind of a cyber-spat I had with Neil Boorman, erstwhile Shoreditch Twat, about his book the Bonfire of the Brands. I'd picked a fight with him based on the fact that he was using Facebook, a brand, a rather big brand, to promote his anti-brand book. He clocked that I worked in advertising and basically told me to fuck off, saying sarcastically, "actually you're right, I really want to work in advertising, this whole burning all my possessions thing is just an attempt to get my book in at Mother."

It's a blog worth keeping an eye on, I reckon.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Today's Quote From 'Murder Must Advertise'

"The new copy-writer - Miss Rossiter was saying he was potty."
"They're all potty in that department, if you ask me," said Mr Harris. "Children. Arrested development."

As Heard On A Shoot

Sent to me by a very senior production company person, who stresses that he loves working with ad agencies, and this is just a bit of fun:

The map is wrong, how do they expect us to get to the location? Look, they mis-spelled my fucking name! What happens if it rains? That’s all they do is drive trucks? I have to have coffee. Don’t they have chairs for us? When you’re lit the client would like to look through the lens. Are we going to see that cross on the film? Can they make her look more French? Can she hold it closer to her face? It looks like something’s on fire. We forgot the product – have you got a runner who can go to the shops? He did it in casting. Can we make the product larger? Why does it look so dark? Can we pause on the bite? Is the video guy asleep? Unfortunately we don’t have the right pack but we can fix that in post can’t we? I liked it better in the animatic. Which one is the eyepiece? What am I looking at? The client is very sensitive about that - I don’t think we should bring it up. Where is my Evian? Nobody told me. When is lunch? He doesn’t care what it costs, he’s not fucking paying for it! Why isn’t she smiling? I hope we’re not having Italian, we had Italian yesterday. Where are they going to put the camera next? It worked fine in the test kitchen. Can you find me a charger? Is this the same guy we cast? That’s not what we discussed in the PPM. Can the Client get his hair cut? Can we cast a model with size three shoes... like me? Can we shoot it both ways? Can’t we get wi-fi up here? Breakfast was beautiful. The drinks are great but tomorrow could you serve the client’s product instead? What is the call time for us? Where’s the best restaurant? How do we get to the hotel? Do you need us anymore?

Do they mean us? I rather fear that they do...

How many have you said?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Today's Quote From 'Murder Must Advertise'

"Truth in advertising", announced Lord Peter, "is like leaven, which a woman hid in three measures of meal. It provides a suitable quantity of gas, with which to blow out a mass of crude misrepresentation into a form that the public can swallow."

Girl Sucks Up Her Own Vomit

This 'use a condom' commercial by DLKW is super well directed, and I love the 2 (two!) scenes where the girl sucks up her own vomit - genuinely haven't seen that before - but something about the ad bothers me.

I think it's this: there's no reason why the ad should run backwards. Compare with a legit use of the device - an old ad for BT that showed an engineer 'unsnipping' phone lines because thousands of people were 'coming back' to BT.

Anyway, it's rude to criticise without being constructive. So here's how I would have constructed the ad: there's a great visual parallel here between the alcohol-induced vomit and the pregnancy-induced vomit. That tells the whole story. Put the first one at the beginning and the second one at the end, and suddenly you've got a structure that makes sense.

My version's better, right? I would put it together myself on iMovie, but I haven't got that much time on my hands.

Murder Must Advertise

On the recommendation of Russell, I've been reading 'Murder Must Advertise', the 1933 novel by Dorothy L Sayers.

The plot features a mega-posh amateur detective called Lord Peter Wimsey, who goes undercover in an ad agency after one of the creatives gets murdered.

As one might expect, he finds copywriting terribly easy, and they're rather sorry to see him go once he's solved the murder. (I won't bore you with the details of the actual crime, or the laughable sub-plot concerning advertisement headlines being used as code for a gang of drug dealers).

But Sayers herself worked as a copywriter for seven years, and I was curious to see if any of the ad stuff would resonate today.

It does. Here are the words of warning that creative director Mr Hankin gives Lord Peter on his first day at the agency: "You'll soon find that the biggest obstacle to good advertising is the client."

1933, folks.