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.

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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear Client, We Work Hard For Your Money

Ogilvy Athens unaccountably removed their beautiful song from YouTube, despite the worldwide acclaim it received (still available here though).

And McCann's Manchester took their wonderful video down less than 8 hours after I posted about it.

So now I wonder... how long will this sumptuous re-working of Donna Summer by Mindshare remain live for...?

The Barry & Troy Show

Today I've added a link on my blogroll to digital creative team Barry & Troy.

They've done this drawing of Wolverine on the shitter, which I like.

And Superman reading a book.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are You Wasting 10,000 Hours Of Your Life?

Malcolm Gladwell, displaying his awesome 'science hair'

There's been much coverage recently of Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers, due out in a couple of weeks, which outlines his theory that the secret of success in any discipline is simply to put 10,000 hours into practicing it.

Russell posted something on this a year ago.

Namely, that Gladwell's 10,000 hours principle is wonderfully reassuring for violinists or chess players - their job is the same today as it was 10 years ago, and they'll be doing the exact same thing in 10 years' time.

But what about us?

Our business is changing fast. Are you spending 10,000 hours becoming an expert in something that won't even exist in 10 years' time?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Soho, Lunchtime Today. The Recession Has Officially Begun.

For those of you tuning in from outside the UK, Greggs is a notoriously inexpensive sandwich retailer.

But you know what? I think the midday moneysavers in this picture are over-reacting, because I don't believe downturns actually affect individuals that much.

Sure, they affect companies. Agencies will have less business, and so are forced to fire people. But assuming you don't lose your job, that means you have roughly the same amount of work as before, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The First Christmas Ad Of The Year Has Arrived (And It's Actually Good)

I've reported before on the alarming news that CHI have begun to make good adverts, like Drench and 'Tide'.

But now they've only gone and made a good advert for Argos. (Not on YouTube yet. Click here to see it.)

That, my friends, ain't easy. Especially considering it's the fucking Christmas ad, for God's sake.

Maybe I'm a sucker for the Hammer. But that isn't the only reason I like it. I'm also a sucker for solid product benefits ("we're a straightforward place to shop") delivered with solid entertainment.

It's no Gorilla or Snowplough.

But lest we forget, this is what the Argos christmas ad used to be like...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday Poll - Life In The Ad Mines

Last week's poll reveals that the majority of us are having lunch outside the office just once a week or less. A staggering 29% are little more than drones, eating lunch 'al desko' (thanks anon) every single goddamn day.

So it seems appropriate that, as suggested by "J", this week's poll should be about stress.

How stressed are you in general at work? Vote now, in the right hand corner of this blog.

And let's discuss it too. Are we all pansies, considering the worst that can happen to us is maybe we get a paper-cut, or sore eyes from watching YouTube all day?

Or are deadlines-of-death, Planners who put three separate adjectives in the 'what is the single most important thing we want to say' box, and people who should have been butchers not marketeers, all a legitimate cause of frustration?

Write your view in the comments.

Previous Polls

Friday, October 24, 2008

Campaign 'Big' Awards

I wasn't there last night - tummy bug. What was the ceremony like? Any thoughts on the winners?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"This Is The Way To Integration" - Come On, Sing It With Me

Wedding dad dancing. Mild sexual harassment. Behold a self-promotional video from McCann's Manchester (thank you, anonymous contributor) that gives Ogilvy Athens a run for its money...

A Ballad For David

Oh. My. God.

The folks at Bold Ogilvy Athens have made a tribute to David Ogilvy.

It's beyond parody, I won't even attempt to say anything funny about it... I merely draw your attention to the opening title: "Caution. The following video clip is an amateur effort."

Thanks to anonanon

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Digital Ghost Towns

I heard of an interesting concept today (from Alistair at AKQA) - digital ghost towns.

These are corporate websites built at great expense, no doubt expecting a large number of visitors, but which don't get any.

I suppose the most notorious is Bud TV - just the 940,843rd most popular website in the world (according to Alexa).

Another example might be Texaco, which is only the world's 1,844,509th most popular website, despite its super-useful Texaco garage locator. (For when you need petrol, but only Texaco will do).

By some measures, Second Life is another, having 15.5 million registered users, but only 70,000 in any 24-hour period.

Arguably, the internet itself is one giant ghost town. Millions of sites, the vast majority being almost totally empty.

I guess the lesson is the same one it always is. People aren't interested in corporations, they're only interested in what corporations can do for them. So an insurance company has to offer security, a deodorant must give you confidence and a brand of football boots a winning mentality.

And a company website must offer something useful - something that people want - or it will become a digital ghost town.

'Fess up - have you built one?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lunch Poll

Last week's poll says that the overwhelming majority of you care about advertising. The percentage who are 'faking it' was a little worrying, however, at almost 1 in 5. Don't you realise your souls must look like batteries when they've been left in the radio too long? Just kidding.

In this week's poll, we assess whether your conscientiousness extends to the lunch hour.

Are we still able to pop out for a pie & a pint from time to time?

Or has the credit crunch forced us into an almost permanent state of sandwich-at-the-desk?

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

And in the comments, tell us your view on lunch. Is it a vital break from the ad-face? Or is it strictly for the dinosaurs, and it just pisses you off when people come back from the pub chewing a Polo to signify they haven't had anything to drink at all, honest?

Previous Polls

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

iPint Lawsuit

Trevor Beattie is God, in my opinion. But he's having an interesting week.

First was the announcement that TBWA is not going to take over his BMB outfit after all. (Which incidentally means the position of ECD at TBWA London is up for grabs again.)

And now Creativity reports that the Silver Lion-winning iPint application for Carling by BMB - which has been downloaded 6 million times - is the subject of a $12.5 million lawsuit by the developer of the iBeer application.

There have been several cases (notably when director Mehdi Norowzian sued the agency that created the Guinness Dancing Man ad) that touch on the question of copyright infringement in a piece of film.

What the law will decide when it comes to an iPhone app, we shall soon find out...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.65 - What Would Howell Henry Do?

It's impossible to reduce the output of HHCL - Britain's 'Agency of the 90s' to a single technique.

Certainly some of their work, like Fuji and First Direct, was avant-garde... but they also employed many time-honoured advertising methods such as adapting a pop promo (the commercials for Maxell cassettes using misheard lyrics were based on the video for Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan).

And straightforward (but brilliant) metaphor ads like the fat slapping orange Tango man.

But there's one particular technique that they executed with great panache, which I think is an arrow definitely worth having in your quiver.

First example is one of their earliest ads, for Danepak Lean & Low bacon. This 30 second ad features fully 21 seconds of voiceover that is little more than a list of product benefits:

"We love... good food, like this Lean & Low bacon. And what's great about Lean & Low, this new product from Danepak, is that it's lower in fat, and salt. So it's better for our figures. Plus it doesn't spit so much fat everywhere. Danepak Lean & Low - the natural choice."

Of course, the fact that the Andersen family are naturists, their modesty preserved only by conveniently placed tablewear, makes the whole thing very amusing.

Next up, their famous ad for AA insurance. At the time, it was notorious for being the first ad to feature an Asian couple in a role that wasn't predicated on their ethnicity, and possibly the first ad to own up to the fact that couples argue.

The interest generated by these two factors enabled HHCL to smuggle in scads of product points about the AA's car insurance 'internet site.'

Finally, one of my favourite ads - Blackcurrant Tango.

Ray Gardner, with his flabby belly and disdain for French exchange students, must be one of the most memorable brand spokespeople of all time. In fact, he was so entertaining, we didn't mind that he fed us quite a few sales points about Britvic's new carbonate - that it's "a charge for the tastebuds" and even that Tango have been "working on it for three years."

Perhaps unfairly, I summarise this technique as 'wacky person reads brief.' But used well, it's highly effective all-round. Awards juries are happy - it's a clever conceit. The client is happy - they get to hear all the reasons why their product is so great. And the consumer is happy - they get to watch naturists or whatever.

As a further bonus, the heavy product content makes this type of ad more-than-usually easy to sell.

Previous Tips