YOUNG'S: Jamie bloody Oliver. The first time I ever clamped eyes on him, he was sliding down a banister, shooting a hoop while bopping to Toploader; I hated him.
Then something strange happened. While Gary Rhodes slowly fingered fish and Gordon Ramsay reduced down to an amalgamation of Rab C Nesbitt and the Grand Canyon, Jamie started doing loads of good things for society. I begrudgingly started to like him.
But now, I am in awe (it's only his ubiquity that mars this ad. It's a decent one). He has got four kids. How the fuck does he manage to do so much stuff?
I think we're looking for the dark energy that powers this universe in the wrong place. It's not in CERN. The Higgs boson is somewhere up Oliver's jacksy.
NIKE: For 20 years, I feel like Nike hasn't left me alone. Constantly on at me, like a positive-thinking bully. "Just do it." "I can." "Make it count." It's Anthony Robbins in good trainers.
It hasn't worked. I'm still here struggling to do "it". But I'm probably not its "target", after all. Someone else told me "Impossible was nothing", but impossible did turn out to be something: a child's turd lodged inside one of my trainers.
However, this incessant positive bullying is done with great style - this campaign is vintage Nike. I particularly liked Mo's poster; there's one by Staples Corner in London. There's something poetic about sitting in traffic, chuffing Quavers in a Prius, being told to #makeitcount. I thought about Tweeting something, but iPhones don't like cheesy Quaver fingers.
DUREX: Bareback riding. That is stiff competition. But it looks like these sheaths do offer something a bog-standard cock can't. I quite liked the idea. It's tricky to come at this from a different angle. Although the endline stopped me: "LOVE SEX." Who's arguing?
VISION EXPRESS: Ah, the old "reverse Lassie". I enjoyed watching this. I like dogs. Simple joke, well told. Although I would have shown the dog getting run over, leaving the horrified driver believing the dog must have been wearing the wrong glasses. Lassie should've gone to Specsavers.
VODAFONE: Yodafone. Now we know the true subtext of the Emperor's hatred. He had foreseen this ad.
George Lucas - how much wonga can one man have? Yet he's stuffing the boot of his Millennium Falcon with phones and some gadgets from Currys.
He gave us Star Wars, then shoved a lightsaber up where the Dagobah system don't shine. I don't know, for a late-thirties male, there are too many layers of emotion to enjoy this. That said, I did like the wasabi gag.
MCDONALDS: The strange thing with this ad is that, while it trades on its sharp observations, I've never observed a McDonald's restaurant like this. A remake but with a load of pissheads and families with horrid, fat, screaming children would be really on the button.
But that's stupid. TV isn't about serving you the crap you have to deal with in the real world; just as the food served doesn't have to look bugger-all like the pictures three feet above it.
And, just like the grub, I can't help but enjoy it. I wish this parallel universe existed. But maybe it does, alongside the Higgs boson up you-know-who's posterior.
Project: Coffee and conversations
Agency: Leo Burnett
Creatives: Rob Tenconi, Mark Franklin
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Production company: Academy
Exposure: TV, outdoor, press
Project: Jamie Oliver by Young's
Client: Natasha Gladman, marketing director, Young's Seafood
Brief: Raise awareness of the newly launched, responsibly sourced Jamie
Oliver frozen-fish range
Art director: Mother
Director: Alex Boutell
Production company: Channel 4
Exposure: TV, social media
Client: Marie Deery, brand communications manager, Nike UK
Agencies: Wieden & Kennedy, AKQA
Writers: Darren Wright, Guy Bingley
Art directors: Guy Featherstone, Carlos Matias
Photographer: Adam Hinton
Production company: ManaMedia
Exposure: Press, outdoor, online, social media
Client: Danielle Crook, head of brand advertising, Vodafone
Brief: Demonstrate ways that Vodafone makes customers' mobile usage
better - small things that can mean the world
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Thais Delcanton
Art director: Darren Simpson
Director: Stacy Wall
Production company: Gorgeous
Project: How in-sync are you?
Agency: Euro RSCG London
Creatives: Fabio Abram, Braulio Kuwabara
Directors: Si & Ad
Production company: Academy
Exposure: TV, social media
6. Vision Express
Client: Brian Linnington, brand strategy director, Vision Express
Creatives: Nick Bird, Lee Smith
Director: James Griffiths
Production company: Moxie Pictures
There’s music that I’ve bought, downloaded, streamed and stolen, that, in all honesty, I’m now beginning to feel embarrassed about.
Not too long ago, I purchased an album by U2 and one by Pete Doherty. Now, I like both albums and I’ve no beef with the music, but increasingly while listening, the very thought of the singers is starting to impair the enjoyment.
It’s the musical equivalent of thinking about maggots while tucking into egg fried rice.
Doherty, whether it’s true of the man or not, comes across as a prize cock in all his manifestations in the press. And don’t get me started on that half pint of Guinness, Bono.
I just see too much of these people. In their irrepressible urge to sell more records and increase music company profits they, like any other person with too much exposure, highlight their flaws to the world and, inevitably, become fucking irritating.
The more I see the less I like and, eventually, the less I’ll buy.
Not that this is anything new in the music ‘biz’. But it does seem like the noise has been turned up to 11.
The internet and social media have allowed every artist, convinced (or told) of their inherent interest beyond just making music, that they can (and should) connect and offer their gagging audience more and more access.
I know I can switch it all off, and I know it’s my job to embrace this sort of shit. But our industry, more than most, gets a sniff of something good and unquestioningly charges ahead; like an account director with an unsigned expenses form.
All of this made me think of an old friend of my dad’s, Raymond Froggat, a country and western singer you won’t have heard of.
The reason why you’ve never heard of him? Well, he mounted a social media campaign back in the 60s which probably ruined his career (if you judge such things on fame and fortune).
His social media campaign was simple: straight after a gig he would go to the bar to chat, laugh and drink with the audience he had just played to.
This wasn’t your usual Twitter, Facebook, exclusive footage kind of social media; this was the ‘in your face, pissed’ kind of access. Unlimited. Warts and all.
He would act like one of their mates. He always did it. He was just Ray. Completely accessible, highly social.
My dad (not a marketer by trade) told him he shouldn’t have done it; he should build some mystique – you didn’t see Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Elvis, etc, fraternising with the proletariat.
They created ’star’ quality. They acted like stars and let our illusions of them build and they didn’t dare drink with the crowd for fear of obliterating those illusions by becoming ‘one of us, one of the lads’.
Froggy, as he was known, worked with the best, but never made it big. You could argue his ‘content’ wasn’t as good, but with better management he could have packaged what he had into something more desirable, mysterious, long lasting and truly marketable.
Sometimes, perhaps, the best social strategy is not being social at all.
In today’s saturated market it’s difficult to imagine how you could gain any sort of notoriety, fame or success without pumping an artist down the throats of the masses via any tube available.
But maybe that’s why today’s biggest music star is Simon Cowell and not another Elvis.
The article originally appeared on Brand Republic:
We open on John Anderton strutting through a mall. It’s 2054. As he walks his retinas are being scanned, and personalised holographic messages are beamed directly into his eyes.
“Hello, John Anderton. You could do with a Guinness right about now?” shouts the sort of annoying dickhead you’d want to drown in a bathtub of Guinness.
“Get away, John Anderton, forget your troubles.” says a beautiful air hostess-type, being as persuasive as a pot-holing holiday to a Chilean miner.
Why, in the future, is the advertising always so shit?
Has the gene pool eradicated any lasting genetic code from Abbott, Bogusky, French, et al?
Whenever a film offers a vision of the future, advertising adopts its usual role: a symbol of a morally bankrupt world. A world sick with rampant consumerism that will stop at nothing for your time and money.
In the real world, the story is pretty much the same; even when a friend regurgitates “I’m on a horse”, or pretends to drum like a gorilla, they’ll still, when asked, say that advertising is a poo that needs flushing.
For Minority Report Spielberg got together a think tank of scientists, philosophers, etc. to make detailed and considered guesses on future technologies—from cars and architecture to telecommunications and drugs.
Obviously none of them spent any time writing a decent ad (although that would be an interesting bit of business for an agency to pick up), because that’s the hard bit. No, instead, their ideas tapped into the obvious: advertising will get more invasive and more sinister.
Of course, I know, it’s a bloody film. But forgetting that detail, it is interesting how films, (actually any kind of future gazing) always have the same ideas. Try it yourself; think about advertising in the future. You’ll go down a couple of roads, and then end up with invasive media ideas and products that have become more intelligent.
Now, forget those two things, and try instead to think of a good cartoon character, a funny slogan or catchphrase, a short film that will make someone piss themselves, a storyline that will make an audience cry.
Hard. Actually, pretty impossible. It’s a tough job right now, never mind in 60 years time.
Just ask the people in 1950, who thought that by the year 2001 we’d have robot butlers and intelligent kitchens, why they couldn’t predict the obvious hilarity of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The boring fact is this: the things that made people laugh, cry, worry, envy in 1950 are in principle (though, mostly, not in execution) the same as in 2000.
The one thing that gets forgotten in all these predictions, is the one thing that doesn’t really change, people’s brains.
Technology doesn’t change us. It just allows, moulds, highlights behaviours that are hardwired into our brain’s software. As one advertising legend once said—”It took millennia for our brains to develop; it will take millennia for them to vary even a little bit.”
For example, the millions invested in social media (not to mention the millions of power-point slides), boils down to teenagers, being able to bitch with one another, whilst they watch American Idol; or friends using Facebook to upload pictures, just to rub their friends faces in their incredible social life.
In this respect, if advertising that is beamed into your retina does not appeal to you on an emotional, intellectual, gut level, it will be worthless and ignored. No different to the fate of every shit piece of junk mail today.
It will, as in the past, come down to creativity, which you just can’t predict.
It’s not exciting, but it is the future, and if you don’t agree? Well, when the time comes, you can just talk to my Apple Data-RaX Hand because my cryogenically thawed face ain’t listenin’.
This week the ’shoehorn’ is a little bit softer, a bit closer to home. I’m looking to traditional advertising, which, if the conferences, blogs, and general chatter are to be believed, is nay too popular. Not least amongst the digital fraternity, a large quota of which actually hate advertising. Full stop. To them traditional agencies represent the apex of this evil.
Which does beg the question “Why haven’t they downloaded an app to find the nearest job center and ‘checked-out’?”
So my intention is to tiptoe through this and hopefully shine a light on one of the many helpful things the Mad Men can still teach us, beyond alcoholism.
It’s actually not that long ago when traditional advertising didn’t exist. Circa 1998, I recall it was just called advertising; there was nothing to be ‘traditional’ against. Then brands thought they’d found the holy grail of advertising, the ‘click-through rate’. And the tsunami began.
In 1999, me and my creative partner, Sam, had just begun our first job in a digital ad agency. However, what we failed to mention at the time, was that neither of us had actually been on the Internet. So we had to take a train to Sam’s cousins house to go and see it.
We’d learned our trade as a ‘traditional’ creative team; our heroes were Hegarty, Flintham, McCabe, Trott, Henry, Steel and the mighty Bernbach. Media was simple; a variety of square shapes, you ’simply’ had to fill them with something good.
In 1999, our ignorance of the internet was actually a benefit; had we known our ‘big’ ideas couldn’t be made in 12K we’d have buggered off sooner. Thankfully we met Dave Cox, a rare kind of programmer who used his knowledge to find a Yes rather than say No. I suppose a new kind of creative team had evolved. Unfortunately we didn’t have Twitter to tell everyone.
I was very fortunate to have straddled both worlds, so to speak. At that time, and still today, most people in digital have never actually worked in a traditional agency. The old art of copywriting is either not known or seen as irrelevant, especially if we can get the public to write our ideas.
Exposure to traditional agencies comes from all agency meetings where the digital lot are told what big idea they have to translate. This inevitably leads to a lot of demonizing and a reactionary party line that “they’re dinosaurs” and “just don’t get it.”
On the other side of the table, we have some traditional agencies who treat the digital lot as a bunch of geeks that wouldn’t know a brand strategy if it was loaded on a USB and shoved up their external drive.
As usual it’s mostly bollocks.
There are great people and stuff to learn from both sides.
One of the ‘traditional’ legacies that has stayed with me, is a love of posters. When we were an upcoming creative team the poster was the toughest thing to write.
Using an image and (as a general rule) 8 words, you must communicate a brand strategy, insight and on top of that, do it in a way that is memorable and stands out.
This takes some sterling penmanship. Neil French does a wonderful piece on omitting elements, the fewer elements you have the more powerful the poster.
And for us, this oldest of media is a splendid way to approach an all-singing multi-platform digital campaign.
With all of the variables, platforms, possibilities and different people poking their noses in, it doesn’t take much for the whole thing to become more complicated than waking someone out of a deep sleep and shouting the plot of Inception at them.
So a great way of keeping it all on track is to write a poster for the idea. It doesn’t have to be the next ‘Economist Management Trainee’, (just give that a go to test your mettle) just simply sum up the idea and strategy. The rule is this: if you can’t distill it into a poster it’s too complicated.
Just like the 30 second film pitch, this becomes the backbone and blueprint that allows everyone to riff off and expand upon without losing site of what we’re trying to communicate.
And even more importantly bringing it down to that simple level really shows you whether you have something worth saying; there can be no hiding behind technology, just like a shit film can’t hide behind special effects.
Even today when we see a team’s portfolio it’s great to see the hardest of writing tests. The poster. It proves they can write and proves they have the skills to make things simple. A skill in short supply.
Imagine you had to write a stand up routine. How would you go about it?
It’s likely you would start with people and what makes them tick, observations on human behaviour, greed, love, relationships, jealousy, power, funny things that have happened to you in the past, characters you’ve met, oddities and inanities of modern life, things happening in the news and stuff that just tickles you but you just can’t explain or analyze why.
The last thing you would do is worry about where the venue is, what media the jokes will be told through, the navigation of your forthcoming iPad joke app, or whether the people in the audience are checked in to Foursquare or Facebook Places (although you might write a joke at their expense).
The professional comics, well the ones I have read about all mutter the same sort of advice. Richard Pryor says, “Tell the truth and funny will come.” Others talk mainly of keeping an ear out for funny characters and incidents you see or read about. Everyone agrees that it is mainly down to hard graft—”It took me ten years to become an overnight success,” said Jerry Seinfeld.
Considering who these people are, this is pretty boring, obvious stuff. But they don’t fill venues talking about the process of writing great material; they fill venues with great material.
Much unlike our own industry, we fill venues and conferences by mostly talking about the process and technologies involved, innovations, new buzzwords and platforms. Which, don’t get me wrong, are of huge importance and considerable interest.
But it’s far easier and far more interesting to talk about innovation and technology than about someone who sat down trying to write something funny, or moving or persuasive.
And so, the blend of ingredients required for great work has been skewed. Technology and innovation have become, dangerously, the main criteria for success. The less interesting writing process is seen as a less important skill. Or worse, a skill that anyone can do if they decide to turn their mind to it.
To simplify this and redress the balance, we often use a “joke” analogy with our clients. It serves primarily to get beyond all the buzzwords, hoopla and complications. It helps us remember what our goal is, which in this case, is to make people laugh.
We ask them to imagine that instead of writing adverts, we write jokes instead. (An invitation for them, and you, to politely inform us that they already knew that).
A joke, as we all know, can appear on TV, a poster, mailer, banner, blog, twitter, AR, app or whatever platform we’ll be evangelizing tomorrow. The most important thing is how funny that joke is. If it doesn’t make the person who sees it, in whatever guise, laugh, then they won’t remember it and won’t retell it down the pub/school gates/office.
It’s the writing of the joke and all its nuances that is clearly the vital ingredient. And just as not everyone is a comedian not everyone is automatically a good advertising writer.
Granted in the real world our job isn’t to just make people laugh, it’s to sell and persuade. These days we use an ever expanding array of tools to reach our audience, engage with them and be of some use to them.
No crappy analogy can address every variable this beautifully complicated industry throws up, but for us it serves to make it less complex to our clients and also gives balance and respect to all the different types of skills needed to make great work.