Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Map Of The Advertising World

Have you ever seen one of those altered maps known as a 'cartogram'?

Here's one:
Map of the world with each country sized according to
its GDP, rather than actual land area.

Long-time readers of this blog will know that I have a fondness for maps, charts, and statistics. If that makes me a geek, well... um... it's cool to be a geek nowadays, no?

Anyway, I was mucking about with a freeware image editing program called Gimp last night, and decided to use it to create an advertising cartogram.

If you are an advertising creative, this is what the world really looks like, folks:

Map of the world with each country sized according to
its 2012 Cannes Lions per head of population.

I think the result is pretty interesting.

Reading the map from left to right, or west to east as I should probably say, we see that North America has atrophied. The USA came 1st in the Cannes Lions league table, but it has 315 million people, which on a Lions per capita basis puts it roughly on a par with Mexico and Canada (12th and 15th in the table). 

South America has shrivelled too. Argentina is recognisable, with 32 Lions and 40 million people, but Brazil and Colombia don't fare so well.

Moving on to Europe, we see that the centre of the 'old continent' is dominated by the mighty Belgium. With 32 Lions for only 10.8 million people, this fine effort from the new home of Candid Camera-style viral videos has reduced its neighbours France and Spain to mere appendages to the southwest. The UK does quite well, having finished 2nd in the Cannes league table, with 89 lions for 62 million people. Moving northeast of Blighty we find Holland, Germany, Denmark, and the nordic powerhouse - Sweden, with 45 Lions (6th place) achieved by only 10 million people. Too cold to do anything else except stay inside and design websites, I suppose.

In the Middle East I have put Israel and the UAE nestled together, I hope they don't mind.

But the middle of the map is more notable for its absentees. India and China both won a few Lions (14 and 12) but once you divide that score by their enormous populations, they disappear. Time to stop sewing footballs and start writing ads!

But the real story, for me, revealed by this cartogram, is that Asia/Oceania is by far the most creative corner of the planet, on a per capita basis. New Zealand nearly leads the world - at something other than rugby - coming second only to Sweden in Lions per capita. Above NZ, Australia is punching considerably above its population, though it doesn't match Singapore (just above Aus.) whose 5 million people won 15 Lions. Above Singapore is Hong Kong, another strong performer, with 8 Lions won by 7 million people.

Conclusion: why is everyone moving to New York? It's shit anyway. We should all be moving to New Zealand, or Singapore.

source for population stats 
source for Cannes Lions stats

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What We Can Learn From The Union Of Nicki Minaj And Justin Bieber

I can't see tongues getting involved. And I've no idea what they'd find to talk about. Heck, they probably don't even have each other's phone numbers.

But some music biz marketing person has decided to put them together, and their record will go to No.1 for sure. 

Each is broadening their fan base. And each is becoming more interesting by being associated with the other.

I'm old enough to remember Mick Jagger and David Bowie getting together to do Dancing In The Street, which at the time was thrilling, even though the video was a bit pants. 

In more recent times, we've seen very cool collaborations between the likes of Nick Cave and P.J. Harvey, Bjork and Thom Yorke, The Black Keys and Mos Def.

In film too, there's always a frisson when you hear that Kylie is appearing in some crazy indie movie, or Bill Murray is making another film with Wes Anderson.

So why don't we see more collaborations between brands?

Advertising is predicated on novelty. Every car brand ever advertised is "The NEW xxxx." That is, unless it's "The all-new xxxx." 

In a world of basically parity products, we're always looking for something new and interesting to say.

Even new packaging is sometimes enough to hang an ad off.

Usually there's nothing.

And yet the obvious idea, of dimensionalising a brand by associating it with a brand from a different field, rarely happens.

When it does, it's usually awesome. I mean, when Ice Cream Snickers came out, my head practically exploded. Before my teeth fell out, that is.

But in a way... that's quite an obvious one, because they're both foods. And the ice cream wasn't even a brand.

Apple and Nike did, er, quite well with Nike+

So why don't we see more of that? Why not this?

Okay, that probably wouldn't happen.

But shouldn't a camera company hook up with a tourist board? Or a men's fashion brand support Barnardo's?

Apparently there is a website out there called Brand Dating.

They are already doing stuff like charity partnerships, co-branded products, joint advertising, etc.

But I reckon it's something we could all think more about, for our own brands.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Everyone's A Copywriter Now

It's getting harder and harder for us Creatives to feel special, when there are so many damn people nowadays doing more or less exactly what we do, on the internet, for free.

I was researching memes recently for an ad, and what struck me was how similar they are to print ads. 

First World Problems

College Freshman

Overly Attached Girlfriend

And of course, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there making YouTube films, many of which are like TV ads, except the budget is zero, and the makers do it for free (excepting the very few superstars of YouTube, who make just a few thousand dollars a year).

It used to be that advertising occupied a unique space. There was Art, which was 'up there'. Then there were TV shows and movies, which were somewhere 'over there'. The two closest things to advertising were comedy sketch shows, which we pillaged ruthlessly to make ads out of, and conceptual pop videos, which we, um, also pillaged ruthlessly to make ads out of.

I guess my point is that what we do is beginning to have less and less scarcity value.

Are we sitting on our asses as complacently as first-world call centre workers in 2006?

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Who Is This Man And Why Does He Have $540 million?

Answer: his name is Luke Taylor, and he just sold a digital agency network called LBi to Publicis.

All right, admittedly he didn't get the whole $540 million himself, but I imagine he got a fair chunk (the agency was owned partly by its management team of which Luke Taylor is the CEO, and partly by private equity investors). 

Now, I'm not against people getting rich. In fact I'm all in favour of rewards for success.

For example, the BBH crew, who also recently sold to Publicis, deserve every penny of their payout in my opinion - they have created great work, actually some of our industry's best-ever work, and done that consistently, for thirty years. And they've done it profitably, too.

Stef Calcraft, one of the co-founders of Mother, also sold his stake, last week, and received a tidy sum - again, deserving every penny, in my opinion, having co-created the shop that won Campaign's Agency of the Decade in 2009. And Mother is not just a creative hot shop. It's also growing strongly (a presence on three continents) and is also highly profitable.

But LBi?

Let me ask the simple, age-old question - what have they ever done?

Well, Campaign asked Luke Taylor "What recent work for clients are you most proud of?" and his answer began like this:

"We are currently in the process of leading Johnson & Johnson on a global journey of digital transformation. We service a total of 15 J&J brands across four continents, making it one of our broadest client engagements."

Ah, the Johnson & Johnson work. Of course.

Nope, I haven't seen it either.

But maybe that's an aberration. Let's take a look at the rest of their showreel.

I didn't recognise one thing on there.

They say a sample of one person is unfair... but that does surely depend on the person.

I'm more or less an advertising obsessive. I write an ad blog so I read all the ad blogs, and click on a link for anything that looks interesting. And I spend a horrendously unhealthy amount of time online anyway, where presumably I could (nay, should) have been exposed to LBi's work.

Please note - I'm not saying I think their work is crap. I'm saying I don't even know what it is.

Then again, if the first job of advertising is to get noticed, maybe I am saying it's crap.

Am I wrong? Do you work at LBi, and it's actually the shizzle? If so, set me straight. Otherwise, join me in wondering how Luke Taylor just made $540 million.