Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In My Day, There Were Rules For Scam

You had to at least get the Client's approval.

Last year's Cannes saw a new low, where a TV ad for JCPenney won a Bronze Lion... until it turned out that JCPenney had no knowledge of it.

But today comes a new new low.

An Agency called FP7 in Doha created this ad for Samsung, which ran in Lebanon.

Not only did they not get the Client's approval... it isn't even their client!

Sunny Hwang, the president of Samsung Electronics Levant, said: "At no time was Samsung Electronics aware of these advertisements and the company has not approved or commissioned FP7 to create any advertising campaigns."

Full story here.

What next? Can I just mock up an Economist poster, slap it on a wall, and enter it for awards?

Fancy working on Nike? Or Honda? Don't bother getting a job at W&K. Just shoot an ad and send it out to the newspapers.

Someone needs to do something.

P.S. For tomorrow I'm going to try to get an interview with an ECD from Asia - the epicentre of scam - and hear their side of the story.

P.P.S. Thanks to Antony Mouse for drawing my attention to this unholy outbreak of wickedness

Monday, March 30, 2009

TV "Not Dead"

Sorry this isn't another post slagging off the latest viral, but I do think it's important.

Bob Hoffman (The Ad Contrarian) has written the best refutation I've ever seen of the "TV is dead" argument.

His jumping-off point was a story in The New York Times last week about a massive new piece of research conducted in America, which showed that “Even though people have the opportunity to watch video on their computers and cellphones, TV accounted for 99 percent of all video consumed in 2008."

If you're far too extremely busy to read Bob's full piece, here is the four-word summary:

TV still kicks ass

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fake Ones Are Better

I love this, but then I'm a sucker for all that post-modern shit. It's the perfect mode of humour for the smart-arse (because it's self-consciously 'clever') and the English (because it's indirect/ distancing).

However, it's well-recognised that the emergence of irony in a form indicates that it's no longer at the peak of its cool. Must we therefore infer that virals are no longer cool?

Thanks to GC for sending it.

Which LED Ad Do You Prefer?


or Honda?

I feel terribly disloyal saying this, because the director of the Samsung viral is a good friend of mine (Hi James, sorry, really sorry, he is a brilliant director, everyone, he did Nike 'Torres' for example, check out his reel at Outsider.TV) but I think I prefer the Honda one.

I like the vibe of it, it feels more real, and doesn't feel like it's trying to explain everything to you.

My correspondent MM's view was: "Love the idea of sheep covered in LED lights, but the post looks like it’s been done on a ZX Spectrum."

Anyway. What do I know. The sheep have 3.5 million views already.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How The US Airforce Responds To Blogs

And if that doesn't work, bomb them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When Real People Critique Adverts

This is a new viral for Stella, created by Mother, that remakes '24' in the style of 1960s French film director Jean-Luc Godard.

Other ads in the campaign feature Bruce Deville playing Jean Meqlain in "Dial Hard", and "8 Kilometre", in which two duelling literati face off in a war of words in a French jazz club.

I thought they were quite nice.

But on the Guardian Media website, comments from the public include:

"Has the credit crunch taken the talent out of advertising?" (this from kranl).

bumfight reckons: "That has to be the lamest spoof every made. It's also the laziest. And it's about as 'funny' as rectal cancer."

"Dreadful," reckons hitandrun. "The Truffaut one is quite impossible to watch till the end unless you're a severe masochist."

Crikey. And they say ad blogs are bitchy.

A useful reminder, I suppose, that we live in a bubble, within which "the latest new work from Mother" is very interesting. But outside of which, it's just so much more pollution.

Monday, March 23, 2009

When The Ad For The Ad Is Better Than The Ad Itself

You know those 2-minute films that Agencies put together, to summarise a multimedia campaign, to enter into awards? (Example above).

I know some people hate them, and would much rather judge the work itself, rather than a slick film that someone's made about the work.

But I must admit, they're a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Rather than watching an ad, looking at three print executions, some direct mail, some store designs... all of which fall out of the envelope and onto the floor... all you have to do is watch a movie.

And now there's a website that collects these little movies. Other examples on there include the Night Driving campaign, and Lynxjet. Who knows, one day they'll have their own festival - the case study film festival.

Thanks D for the tip.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Does Anyone Walk Around Any More?

When I was a youngster, you'd often see Creatives 'hanging out' in each other's offices.

In the last few years, I think that's declined.

I'm sure we've all got busier. But I also reckon the internet has permanently altered our in-office socialisation (would perhaps be surprising if it hadn't, considering the transformative effect it's had on our social lives in general.)

Think about it. Whenever you have twenty minutes' downtime nowadays, do you pop in to see a mate, or do you click onto a website?

Tell the truth. Oh, and vote in poll (top right of this page).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sell! Sell!

Here's another blog I want to introduce you to.

It's called Sell! Sell!, is written by Creatives - good ones - and has cool stuff on it like these meatscapes.

And the Daft Punk console.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sympathy For The Boss

I do hope you've started reading The Ad Contrarian. I think it might be my new favourite blog.

Responding to all our unsolicited advice for Creative Directors, he has posted some thoughts of his own - not about how to be a good Creative Director, but how to be a happy one.

His most important tip is to hire good people.

If you have terrific people, the advertising business isn’t that difficult. If you have mediocrities, advertising is impossible. For your own self-preservation you must get rid of bad people and hire good ones. There is no other way to do good work and have a happy life. Talent is a rare and precious thing. The idea that "we're all creative" is absolute bullshit. Mediocre talent never makes terrific ads. Never.

This set me thinking how easy it is to whinge about one's CD/ECD. In actual fact, they have a pretty damn hard job... dealing with all the mediocre people around them like you and me. How many ads that you show your CD are actually any good? Not many, right? And he has to wade through all that shit... and then stroke your ego enough to make sure you don't go back to your office and sulk.

Read the rest of the post here.

Oh, I also like this cartoon of his.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top Team

People used to discuss who is the 'top team' at such-and-such an Agency. I haven't heard the term in a while though... and that makes me wonder if it still has any currency.

Let's find out.

Who would you say is the top team at their respective Agency?

P.S. I can't really stop people from anonymously naming themselves. But just think how hollow you'll feel.

P.P.S. Also, no BBH nominations please, wouldn't be cricket

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Makes A Good Creative Director?

"Hi guys, do you have some ads to show me?"

There's an in-depth post on The Denver Egotist on this subject at the moment, Part 1 here, Part 2 here.

It's worth reading, though as I say, it is long. And I have a short attention span. So I thought I'd throw the question over to you guys with a challenge to put it more concisely.

What would you say makes a good CD - or a bad one - using as few words as you can.

Here's my entry. A good CD "says no nearly all the time" (6 words).

Oh, I've got one for 'bad CD' as well. A bad CD "is woolly" (2 words).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What They Really Wear On The Today Programme

This is what happened when viral agency Rubber Republic were challenged by BBC Radio 4's Today programme to create a viral film for them, after one of their guys was interviewed on there. So far, it hasn't gone massively viral, but it's early days. I think it's quite funny.

P.S. Evan Davis wrote an interesting blog post on his experiences of advertising - apparently he finds us ad people "intimidatingly cool"(?!?!?), and also shares his thoughts on the film. But what do you think?

The Ad Contrarian

Here's a great new blog for you - The Ad Contrarian - whose writer is "the CEO of a pretty big ad agency" and yet is honest enough to complain about Clients who "don't wipe themselves without first researching which hand consumers prefer."

He's wonderfully cranky. In one post, he discusses a plan to cull his facebook friends down to 50, except "every few weeks I'll drop No. 50 and give someone new a chance. If they perform they can stay. If I find out they're branding consultants, or don't drink, or think Whoopi Goldberg is funny, they're gone."

And in another, on corporate brand campaigns, he points out that:

Nobody gives a shit that...

* you believe people are your greatest asset.
* you believe one person can make a difference.
* you think the world needs to be more connected.
* you think we need to preserve our precious resources.
* you think the children are our future.

If I might be allowed to summarize... they've heard it all before and they don't give a shit.

There's even serious stuff too. Check it out.

Oh, and the ad above... is a real ad. For the Ukrainian Army.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Those of you who are interested in film-making may want to consider entering Straight8, the competition where you shoot a 3-minute film on a single cartridge of super 8 mm cine film. No editing allowed.

The clip above is pretty funny - it was the 2003 entry by Dave Buonaguidi, a talented creative whose career has encompassed stints CD'ing at St Luke's, 4Creative and Karmarama.

I do hope Stephen Hawking doesn't read this blog. Or his lawyers.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Return Of The 3-Day Week?

We all know the recession is getting worse. I am hearing about good people - good people - being made redundant.

And now, I have heard that Creatives at one Agency have been put on a 4-day week. Better than redundancies, I suppose, but where will it end? Could we return to the era, last seen when Ted Heath was in power, of the three day week?

And would you go for that... or would you rather take a pay-off and leave?

Saturday, March 07, 2009


"Whenever I go abroad," writes Bentos, in a comment on the last thread, "all the billboard ads seem to simply be a picture of woman smiling next to the product. All of 'em. Not being able to read the copy probably emphasises the similarity. Then you come back to Britain and notice the exact same thing!"

What do we think about this type of ad? Well, obviously, we think they're shit.

But. I remember one time I went on holiday to Cornwall. It was raining, we were staying in a shitty B&B and feeling miserable. Just then, a L'Oreal ad came on the TV. It was so glamorous, so exciting... presented such an image of perfection... it made me want to buy. And I don't normally even use eyelash-thickening products.

Does sheer glamour sell? I fear it does, doesn't it. I like to think that Scarlett Johansson + Idea would sell more product than Scarlett Johansson + giant packshot, but maybe I'm just living in an ivory tower of idea-obsession, and don't understand the world of fashion advertising...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Top Three Cliches

It is said (by my friend AT) that Larry Barker (former ECD of BMP, and prior to that, WCRS) had only three rules for his Creatives: no chameleons, no mime artists, and no ginger-haired people.

Apparently a team once walked into his office and he blew out their ad before they had even showed it to him, because he could see through the paper that it was a chameleon.

Mind you, this story is a few years old. Maybe the Top 3 Ad Cliches of today would be different. What would you nominate?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Director of the Month: Martin De Thurah

Being tagged "the new Ian Botham" has hindered the career of many a promising cricketer. Even Freddie Flintoff.

So hopefully I'll not be jinxing Martin De Thurah, by labelling him as a possible new Jonathan Glazer. (He's even at the same production company as the G-Man : Academy).

This dude is Danish, and started out life as a painter, and I think I can see both those influences in his moody and majestically-lit films.

He's mostly done music videos and shorts so far, which all look absolutely incredible - if you're after something dark & cinematic, you could do an awful, awful lot worse.

So, watch the reel, and tell me what you think. Am I smoking crack with this Glazer comparison, or does it have some validity?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Mind The Gap

Every year, top headhunters The Talent Business produce the authoritative guide to what everyone in the industry is earning, which they provide to Agency management. However, I twisted the arm of one of the lovely people over there and got them to send me a copy.

Are you on the right amount?

Looks like salaries in Above-The-Line have hardly moved since last year. Though they could well be lower next year, what with the economy going the way it is...

Now here’s the table for pure Digital Agencies.

Holy Dropdown, Batman!

This is what caught my eye in the report - the hoooooooj gap between salaries for ATL and Digital.

Why do Digital Agencies pay their Creatives less? Is it justifiable?

And an interesting implication: a lot of Creatives in above-the-line Agencies right now are thinking that, for the future, it’s essential they get Digital experience - and are considering making the move across.

But is it a case of ‘gain some skills, drop some salary’?