Monday, December 31, 2007

The Ad Blog Charts for December

Here are the world's most popular ad blogs, as measured by traffic rankings from Alexa.

Top 25 Ad Blogs (world
   ranking)
1     (1)AdRants33,776
2     (2)Advertising/Design Goodness  49,905
3     (3)Duncan's TV Ad Land61,567
4     (4)Adverblog71,637
5     (5)AdFreak74,120
6     (new)Bannerblog74,262
7     (6)Adverbox86,507
8     (7)Adland106,347
9     (8)Copyranter121,805
10   (9)Logic + Emotion128,458
11   (10)Coloribus131,006
12   (11)AdPulp183,970
13   (14)Jaffe Juice248,899
14   (12)Ad Punch264,388
15   (13)Experience Curve272,267
16   (15)Twenty Four315,166
17   (16)Agency Spy330,323
18   (19)Adliterate394,779
19   (18)Behind The Buzz411,574
20   (17)AdScam433,325
21   (21)How Advertising Spoiled Me466,004
22   (re-)Crackunit480,942
23   (20)BrandFlakes for Breakfast495,824
24   (re-)Scamp501,606
25   (22)Welcome To Optimism    512,141

New in at 5 is Bannerblog, an Australian site that looks like it could be fairly useful to all you Digital types.

An ↑ means a blog's traffic has gone up by 15% or more in the past month, and a ↓ means it's gone down 15%.


Top 10 UK Ad Blogs (world
  ranking)
1   (1)Adliterate394,779
2   (3)Crackunit480,942
3   (4)Scamp501,606
4   (2)Welcome To Optimism    512,141
5   (5)Faris558,004
6   (7)Only Dead Fish1.1m
7   (8)Fish N Chimps1.1m
8   (9)TV's Worst Adverts1.5m
9 (10)Life Moves Pretty Fast1.7m
10   (6)Northern Planner1.7m


UK means UK-based. Ad blog means ad blogs not marketing blogs, so that excludes Gapingvoid. Although Paul Colman is now a planner at W&K he doesn't class Life In The Middle as an ad blog and Russell Davies no longer blogs about advertising. I'm only counting English language blogs.

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Reviewed, 2008 Predicted

What were the main topics on Creatives' minds in 2007?

In all probability, they were beer and sex.

But... we only discuss advertising here.

So, judging it solely by the posts which prompted the greatest number of comments on this blog over the past 12 months, the main subjects of interest for 2007 were:

1. Big TV ads. Not everyone liked Gorilla, Guinness, Play-Doh Bunnies and Smirnoff. But we cared about whether they were good or not.

2. The question of originality. Turns out there'd been another ad with a drumming gorilla and two LA-based artists had depicted multicoloured bunnies in New York, and Heinz weren't the first people to slice a ketchup bottle.

3. Creativity (or the lack of it) in Digital. DDB London creative Rob Messeter's post on Digital And The Emperor's New Clothes created quite the shit-storm.

4. The Creative Director Merry-Go-Round. Saatchis, JWT, MCBD, Hurrell & Dawson, Grey and Y&R all got new Creative Directors in 2007. Only Premiership football managers change quicker.

5. Awards (various posts). Awards still determine how much we get paid, so however much we might like to pretend they don't matter, they do.

6. Which agencies were doing the best work. The consensus says it's Fallon, with a group behind them of W&K, Mother, BBH, DDB, and Abbott Mead.


Will the same themes be discussed in 2008?

Well, some of them are eternal.

For wherever there is an office with a door that can be closed, a pub to sit in, or a place in cyberspace that allows anonymous commenting, Creatives will bitch. That's just what we do.

We bitch about our bosses, the companies we work at, our peers, and the work itself.

And all of that will continue. Praise the Lord!

But one theme is new, or newish. And that's Digital. Most above-the-line creatives (here in the UK) are doing little or no digital work, but they are reading about it in Campaign and on blogs, and are wondering if it's going to stay in separate 'digital agencies' or whether they'll be doing it soon too, and if so, whether the work will be any good or not.

My guess is that Digital will not end up staying in separate agencies like DM has. We'll all be doing it. I think this is going to start happening very very quickly and my advice is to get on board now.

The creativity will improve, of course it will. Right now, Digital is in its infancy. People are still getting to grips with the medium itself, let alone how to be creative in it. Creative standards will leap forward just as they did in every medium. (Ever seen those early TV ads?)

And Digital will affect the big TV ads we're so patently still obsessed with. The question is how. Will it kill off the big TV ad, as fewer people tune in? Or will Digital herald a new golden age of TV creativity, on the grounds that if you don't entertain, you don't get eyeballs?

The situation is on-going... I won't pretend I have the answer.

But I'm pretty sure that's the question.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Consumers Are Such Whores

This consumer-created ad has won a contest run by Pringles, and will actually run on British TV - on Christmas day, in fact.



Number of mentions of product name: 8

Number of packshots: 31

Number of product shots: 100+

Sample lyrics: "You love the Pringles cos they taste so yummy... you love the Pringles cos they're happy in your tummy."

The only hint of rebellion in the brothel comes when a child's voice asks: "What IS jinglin' Pringlin'?" but he is quickly slapped down by no less an authority than Mr Pringle himself, who curtly informs him: "Just eat your Pringles, okay."

That's right, Johnny. Shut the fuck up and eat your Pringles. Daddy's making an advert.

And consumers have the nerve to criticise OUR efforts! Well take the plank out of your own eye first, 'cos guess what, you suck worse than we do.

Even the last ad that Grey made for Pringles was better.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday Tip No.35 - How To Do Radio

I'm delighted to have Paul Burke guest-writing this one.

Paul is a part-time DJ, multi-award winning copywriter, and author of four successful novels... but his primary credentials here are that he is the all-time most awarded radio writer in the UK. Earlier this year he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Radio Advertising Bureau.


TIPS FOR WRITING RADIO, by Paul Burke

Don’t.

Seriously, don’t. You won’t like doing radio. Not if you went to art college. If you were visually trained, why on earth would you want to work in a medium with absolutely no visual content?

Radio will not boost your career prospects. British advertising is still in thrall to the visual. So, even an award winning radio campaign will bring you neither a giant pay rise nor a slew of creative directors beating a path to your door. Your work will be invisible. Literally. Its merits will go unreported in Private View and unrewarded as Pick of the Week.

Still reading? Good. Because if you’re a real writer, as opposed to one indistinct half of a “creative team”, these drawbacks won’t bother you. You’ll find radio the purest and most satisfying medium of all.

Not every ad you make will be brilliant but the following tips should help you make each one as good as it possibly can be.

At the risk of stating the obvious, nothing exists on radio until you write it. With no visual short-cuts, everything has to be said. Someone, somewhere in the script will have to say it so who’s that someone going to be?

If you’ve chosen to create a mini-piece of comedy or drama, start with the characters and the first thing to do is give them names. Can you imagine writing a book and calling all the characters MVO and FVO?

Let’s call your MVO and FVO Nick and Helen. Immediately they’ve taken on lives of their own. So what do they look like? How old are they? What’s their relationship? Do they like each other? Before they open their mouths, you should know everything about them. Once you do, just write down what you think they’d say in the situation you’ve created. If Nick and Helen are good characters, they will help write the script for you.

When they have, look at the script. It needs to answer the following questions:


Who are these people?

Where are they?

What are they doing?

How do we know?

If the answer to any of them is unclear, go back in and tweak. It may only require a single word or sound effect to fix the problem. Nick and Helen have got to sound convincing. Yes, of course they’re selling a product but it’s not enough for them to just present the facts. If Helen were trying to persuade Nick to her point of view in real life, she’d put some guile and emotion into it. Make sure she does the same in your script.

Likewise, if Nick thinks his new Ford Focus handles well, make sure he says it handles well rather than talking about its “class leading road feedback”.

Not all scripts have characters playing parts. Sometimes, what’s required is a straight read from one voice. This is when you’re allowed to call the voice MVO or FVO and casting and attitude are even more important. Decide exactly what sort of person you want to convey your message. “Hear” that voice in your head, and search until you find it.

If you’re advertising Newcastle Brown Ale or the Scottish Tourist Board, or your commercial is only running in a particular region, it makes sense to use the appropriate accent. Otherwise, regional accents are best avoided. It’s completely untrue and, actually, rather offensive to suggest that some accents are less trustworthy than others. It’s the voice and the character behind that voice that’s either trustworthy or untrustworthy.

If you feel that your idea would benefit from a particular accent, that’s fine, as long as you steer clear of “Mr Versatile”. We’re all depressingly familiar with Southerners adopting Northern accents, posh people pretending to be common and white people pretending to be black. In every case, with the genuine article easily accessible, don’t let the voice (and therefore the whole idea) sound phoney.

Casting is crucial so try not to fall lazily back on to the “usual suspects”, whose voices are heard in practically every ad break. It’s not that these actors are bad, they’re extremely good. Which is why they’re so popular. Which is why, if you use them, your ad will sound like everyone else’s. Try to be a little more original. Keep your ears open, listen to the radio, watch TV, go to the theatre and find good people.

The same applies to inspiration for your ideas. There are far fewer aural than visual cupboards to raid. but the same two maxims apply.

1. No output without input.
2. The important thing isn’t where you find your ideas it’s where you take them.

There will always be obstacles between you and the awards podium; you just have to make sure you overcome them. You’ll always encounter greedy clients who try to cram too much into 30 seconds. Be good enough to tell them that they’re wasting their money because end up remembering nothing. Re-iterate your point by saying “I throw one ball at you, you’ll catch it. If I throw ten at once, what do you think will happen?”

Then of course, there the legals. On TV and press you can set them in barely legible type at the bottom of the screen or page but you’ll have no such luck with radio.

Certain terms and conditions may have to be added but always question exactly what needs to be said. The RACC can be prescriptive enough, but the clients’ own compliance departments are often far worse. Encourage those clients to stand up to the enemy within and only put in what the RACC have deemed absolutely necessary.

Having written your script and cast your voices perfectly, all you have to do now is make the commercial Pick your engineer as carefully as you’d pick a director for a TV commercial. Find out who’s particularly good with actors, or music or effects and get the right one to bring your creation to life by suggesting things you wouldn’t have thought of. You don’t want one who just sits there pressing the buttons. Good engineers will have opinions on all aspects of the production. They do this for a living, so make sure your commercial benefits from their knowledge, skill and experience.

Scripts tend to expand in performance so never think that yours is set in stone. Be ready to edit stuff out. Cut and cut again. You brought these words into the world, so let them breathe. Also, certain words that look fine when written can sound odd when spoken, so keep adapting, keep amending, and keep improving until the engineer’s next client is knocking on the studio door.

Follow these tips your next piece of radio might just be fabulous. The sort of commercial that goes in one ear. And stays there.

Despite his God-like status in the industry, Paul would like to point out that he is very approachable - indeed actually available, for freelance radio writing and production. Feel free to email him at paul_burke@btinternet.com


Tip No.34 - How To Do Press
Tip No.33 - How To Do TV
Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

Monday, December 17, 2007

Click Here To See The Arse Of Someone Who Works At Glue

Following on from AKQA's gerbil-powered festive extravaganza, here's Glue's Christmas message - a live stream of their staffers 'cycling to Lapland'.

I've got to say, it's really rather clever and fun.

The digital agencies' seasonal efforts are starting to make the traditional agencies' tactic - very thin bit of dead tree, sent via Royal Mail - look extremely dull and old-fashioned.

Friday, December 14, 2007

An Agency Christmas Card That Isn't Shit

Loving this year's Christmas message from AKQA.

As we all know, Christmas is a time of festive cheer, gifts... and neon signs powered by gerbils.

'Cheese' and 'Biscuits', resident rodents at AKQA in London, are powering the agency's 2007 festive message - the neon sign lights up every time one of 'em takes to the wheel; live video streamed daily from 9:30 to 5:30 GMT.

The little blighters were having a nap when I visited, but I'll be back. They better get busy.

British v American advertising

The 'Ad Of The Year' post uncovered an interesting phenomenon - the divergence between UK and US television commercials.

Commenter 'James' put it succinctly:

Good UK ads: No dialogue / acting. Good US ads: Great dialogue / acting. I think we have lost the art of how to write. We are an industry of art directors.

He could be onto something. Think about our best work this year - Gorilla, Cake, Smirnoff 'Sea' - all visual. You could add Bravia 'Bunnies', Sony 'Walkman project' and the Guinness and Stella ads too.

Meanwhile the best US work is dialogue-driven. The first ones that come to mind are Skittles, and the Little Lad who likes Berries & Cream, but there are many others.

Here's a darn funny 15-seconder I saw on AdRants:




And how do we execute the exact same proposition here in the UK?



Ugh.

Is it time to do dialogue again? You know, I think maybe it is.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hitler Needs Another Art Director





Another Downfall mash-up, this time set in the world of advertising...

found via the excellent Make The Logo Bigger

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday Tip No.34 - How To Write Press Ads

See Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters.

That's right. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a press ad.

What there is, is an utter myth - and I wish I knew who invented it, because I would send round my man to administer a sharp slap around their chops - that there's a special type of ad that consumers are 'willing to spend a bit more time with', 'can legitimately require some working out', or 'does not have to be instant.'

Horse shit.

Press ads have to fight harder for attention, in my view, than any other medium you could name. Let's take radio. The consumer will inevitably listen to your ad - it is too hard to reach out and switch the thing off while you are ironing. Take cinema. The consumer is in a darkened room, staring at nothing except your ad, on a giant screen.

But press? Your ad is competing directly against Britain's wittiest columnists. Against news stories about wars, financial collapses, rapists and amnesiac canoeists. Against a paparazzi picture of Lindsay Lohan falling out of a taxi.

Unless you can place your ad on Lindsay Lohan's knickers, how are you going to get it looked at?

The answer is you have to make it simple, with a never-seen-before visual and fresh design.

Don't write headlines until you've miserably failed to come up with a purely visual solution.

And whatever you do, don't write copy. This isn't 1959, when a chap would sit in his armchair, puffing on his favourite pipe, and have a good old mull over some finely-crafted advertising copy.

A press ad should be a poster on the page. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tip No.33 - How To Do TV
Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Friday Poll: What's Your Ad Of The Year?


I'd like to thank my agent, my manager... oh, and Mr Cabral of course...

In my view, there hasn't been a clearer Ad Of The Year since Guinness 'Surfer'. It's the ad that real people are actually talking about. It's the ad that (apparently) is selling lots of chocolate. It's the most breakthrough piece of brilliance of the year.

Gorilla.

But maybe you disagree.

Maybe you think Gorilla is over-hyped irrelevance.

Perhaps you think Skoda 'Cake' is better. Or Poke's work for Orange. Or something else - add your own nomination in the comments.

And vote now, in the top right hand corner of the screen.

Previous poll results:

Friday Poll No.16 - Do Difficult People Do The Best Work?
Friday Poll No.15 - Who Is Responsible For Ineffectiveness?
Friday Poll No.14 - Your Personal Success Record
Friday Poll No.13 - Which Department Is The Most Insane?
Friday Poll No.12 - What Music Do You Listen To While Working?
Friday Poll No.11 - What Time Do You Get In?
Friday Poll No.10 - Who Drinks The Most?
Friday Poll No.9 - Press v Online
Friday Poll No.8 - Success Or Glory?
Friday Poll No.7 - Is Reading Blogs A Waste Of Time?
Friday Poll No.6 - Job Satisfaction
Friday Poll No.5 - Festive Greetings
Friday Poll No.4 - Ad Of The Year 2006
Friday Poll No.3 - What's Your Favourite Medium To Work In?
Friday Poll No.2 - Agency Of The Year
Friday Poll No.1 - Which Department Is The Most Overpaid?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Congrats to Richard H

Campaign reports that Richard Huntington, writer of Adliterate, Britain's No.1 ad blog, has been appointed Head of Strategy at Saatchis.

As I've written before, Richard's a great guy. So, great news.

To mark the occasion I have created a small gift for him.

Here it is.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday Tip No. 33 - How To Do TV

There are tons of people out there far better qualified than me to give advice on how to do great TV ads.

And one of them is Nick Gill.

He’s written Axe ‘Getting Dressed’…



...and Vodafone ‘Time Theft’, among others.



Fortunately, Nick did a talk for us here at BBH the other day, and he gave me permission to put the gist of it up on Scamp.

I’ve added a few bits here and there, so if anything doesn’t make sense, it’s probably something of mine not his.


Writing Great TV, by Nick Gill

The elements that go into making TV are Strategy, Creative and Craft.

They will all be present, but not necessarily in equal quantities. For example, the iPod ads don’t have a new strategy or an exciting creative idea. But the craft is great. ‘The Fourth Emergency Service’ campaign for the AA was a brilliant strategic breakthrough. It didn’t have much of a creative idea along with it, or a great deal of craft, but it still worked.


STRATEGY

A fresh strategy is something that changes the language of the market.

It’s about looking at what everyone else is doing, and doing something different.

It’s something that makes the viewer say “What’s a brand like you doing in an ad like this?”

Strategy is primarily the responsibility of the Planners, working with the Client, the Account Team, the Creative Director… so by the time the brief gets to you, the strategy will have been ‘signed off’. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a contribution.

Be the person that simplifies the strategy still further. Try to rip out as many of the rules as possible. (Here I mean not just the rules on the brief, but the ‘rules’ of the market).

De-sophisticate your thinking. Don’t start writing ads till you know exactly what you’re trying to say, and what you’re trying to say is very simple.

(Knowledge is great but it doesn’t always help Creatives. Sony employ 4 year-olds to help with product development, because they don’t know what the ‘rules’ are.)

Get the ‘sensible shackles’ off. Great TV is a bit logical. But mostly not.




CREATIVE IDEA

The basic principle of writing good TV is the same as for any medium. Simplify, and then exaggerate. That’s all we do. Oh, and add a sprinkle of magic dust on top.

All you have to do is make an arresting statement about a brand, and make it entertaining at the same time.

Try writing a simple, functional script first. In fact, often the simplest idea actually turns out to be a pretty good ad.

The best ideas are usually the freshest ideas – stuff you haven’t seen before.

Fresh ads seduce us and disorient us at the same time.

Something that doesn’t talk or behave like an ad captures our interest.

Avoid formulas. Why have the packshot at the end? Why not have it at the beginning? (c.f. Real American Heroes).

If coming out with a brilliant script is like passing an anvil then, I’m sorry, that’s what you’re paid for.


CRAFT

Writing the script

You don’t have to write “we open on” or “cut to” in your script. Write how you want.

How much to write? Well, for your creative director, start out just writing a couple of paragraphs to get the idea across. More is a waste of time.

But when it’s time to go to a client, you’ve got to write it up and help them see it.

Paint a picture. Make it vivid and interesting. At some point, it’s just going to be left on a director’s desk somewhere, and he has to pick it up and – just from your words – want to shoot your film.

Don’t cram stuff in. Far, far more scripts are too busy than too sparse.

Don’t write “We open on a man. He thinks it’s Tuesday.” If it can’t be shot, it shouldn’t be written.

Mentally storyboard your ad. Or actually storyboard it. Heck, why not?

What is the emotional agenda of your film? Are you trying to make people laugh, cry, feel proud? You’ve got to know.


Presenting to client

A client may have lived with a brief for months, and almost feel they can write the ad themselves. So it’s hard to get them in a position where they’re open to a surprise. But you have to try to. They are giving you some bread, some butter and some cheese so they’re very much expecting a cheese sandwich. Explain to them it might not be a cheese sandwich. In fact it would probably be disastrous if it is a cheese sandwich, because all you are doing is concocting something obvious that they could have done themselves.

Try to give clients emotional ownership of an idea. Share early thoughts. Have lots of reference.

A client will often ask “what music will this film have?” Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” If you have only just thought of the idea, maybe you don’t know yet. The film isn’t finished until it’s on air. It’s an organic process.


Pre-production

Your producer has a huge contribution to make. Don’t just use them as a glorified secretary. Use their creative judgement too. They may be far more experienced at making TV than you are.

Getting the right director is crucial. Glazer won’t do a tabletop ad. Don’t waste your time thinking “But he’s never done one of those, it might be interesting for him, just for a change.” It won’t.

In your shortlist of directors, always have a banker and a wild card.

The script you send to directors shouldn’t necessarily be the same as the one you send to the client. Who says it has to be?

When meeting directors, you need to decide ‘Can I work with them? Do I like them?’ Never work with arseholes. It’s just not worth it.

If you are making an ad about a tap-dancing horse, clients will often want to see a director who has already shot tap-dancing horses. Sell the client on their broader qualities.

Write lots of backstory for the characters you are going to cast. Don’t just write ‘Man, good-looking, late 20s’. Who is this man?

Often you’ll need a central character who needs to be sympathetic. But that doesn’t mean smug. Go for vulnerable. It works so much better.

Try out gags in casting.

Try music against casting tapes.


Shooting

Film sets can be intimidating for young Creatives. Remember, it’s your ad.

Make sure the clients feel they are being listened to.

Directing is very difficult. Give them space. Let the director do the shot.

Then again, if they do the shot and it is wrong, intervene. Never let the director waste time.

Be open to happy accidents that occur on set.


Editing

First cuts are terrifying. A lot rides on them. You will probably be angst-ridden. But don’t let your angst show. Be positive.

Often a film can change so much from the first cut. So don’t be downcast if you don’t like it. Have faith in the editing process. Ads have gone from ‘canned’ to ‘Cannes’ with a single editing tweak.


Sound

Music helps you move people in a particular way. Make sure you’re pushing the right buttons.

There’s nothing wrong with personal taste. If you like a piece of music, chances are others will too.

Look for trends. Then avoid them.

Try using the ‘wrong’ music. What would Levi's 'Drugstore' have been like with a hillbilly soundtrack?

A great VO can make an ad. Or even a brand (c.f. the effect Garrison Keillor has had on Honda).

Try using an unfamiliar voice, or a familiar one in an unfamiliar way.


AFTERWORD

If you make a turkey, it will have a huge media spend. If you make a great ad, not so much. Sorry.

You have to believe you can beat Gorilla.

In the future, consumers will edit out ads that don’t entertain them. In fact, it’s already happening. Great. Bring it on.


The summary? Good TV ads are like good vegetables. Fresh, and produced organically.


thanks Nick

Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

Monday, December 03, 2007

Martin Scorsese does branded content



Martin Scorsese wrote, directed and stars in this pretty entertaining piece of branded content, which is a mockumentary homage to Hitchcock for Freixenet wine.

Does it work? Yes. Not only is Martin Scorsese a great director, who absolutely pulls off the Hitchcock thing, but he's also a very engaging comic actor. There's even a rare appearance by Thelma Schoonmaker for film geeks to enjoy.

Okay, so maybe the story intrigues a little more than it satisfies, and Marty totally bent over on the packshot, but overall it's another win for branded content.

I don't think Creatives are as excited as we should be about branded content. As the content isn't being forced down consumers' throats but has to be sought out by them, clients seem to understand that these films have to be very creative. That's got to be good for us. And with little or no expense on media, some of that media budget does seem to be available to be re-invested in the creative. E.g. you can get Scorsese. Time to start taking this shit more seriously, I feel.

Friday, November 30, 2007

By Popular Request - The New Carling Ad



Nice ad. Very nice. The conceit of transposing the 'nightclub knockback' into outer space is box-fresh, and there's some funny writing to enjoy here too.

Director Fredrik Bond doesn't need any praise from me because he's already rich, successful and good-looking so let's forget about him and praise the production team - all the 'production bits' like casting, wardrobe and set design are absolutely spot-on.

My one quibble is the endline. The thought is great - a desire to be 'one of the lads' is undeniably a highly motivating truth for young men. But putting it as overtly as this - 'Belong' - is saying the unsayable, isn't it? After all, Porsche's endline isn't 'Get Laid', and Rolex don't say 'Look Rich.'

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Ad Blog Charts For November 2007

Here are the world's most popular ad blogs, as measured by traffic rankings from Alexa.

Top 25 Ad Blogs (world
   ranking)
1     (1)AdRants31,092
2     (2)Advertising/Design Goodness  52,635
3     (3)Duncan's TV Ad Land53,843
4     (4)Adverblog65,784
5     (5)AdFreak73,782
6     (6)Adverbox80,122
7     (8)Adland121,661
8     (7)Copyranter125,789
9     (9)Logic + Emotion134,236
10   (11)Coloribus152,257
11   (12)AdPulp174,419
12   (10)Ad Punch184,340
13   (13)Experience Curve229,807
14   (14)Jaffe Juice255,709
15   (15)Twenty Four274,722
16   (16)Agency Spy314,086
17   (17)AdScam397,186
18   (18)Behind The Buzz430,133
19   (24)Adliterate438,290
20   (19)BrandFlakes for Breakfast485,944
21   (22)How Advertising Spoiled Me540,900
22   (25)Welcome To Optimism    551,604
23   (re-)American Copywriter562,615
24   (21)Hee-Haw Marketing562,850
25   (re-)Make The Logo Bigger575,893


Somewhat moribund this month. Like the American pop charts always seem to be.

An ↑ means a blog's traffic has gone up by 15% or more in the past month, and a ↓ means it's gone down 15%.


Top 10 UK Ad Blogs (world
  ranking)
1   (1)Adliterate438,290
2   (2)Welcome To Optimism    551,604
3   (3)Crackunit579,105
4   (4)Scamp692,621
5   (5)Faris772,867
6   (6)Northern Planner1.2m
7   (7)Only Dead Fish1.3m
8   (re-)Fish N Chimps1.4m
9   (9)TV's Worst Adverts1.5m
10 (10)Life Moves Pretty Fast1.6m


And an almost implausibly static UK chart. Were it not for the mysterious re-entry of Fish N Chimps, it would be completely unchanged.

UK means UK-based. Ad blog means ad blogs not marketing blogs, so that excludes Gapingvoid. Although Paul Colman is now a planner at W&K, and even smiling apparently, he doesn't class Life In The Middle as an ad blog and Russell Davies no longer blogs about advertising. He does write about it in Campaign though. Great column. Also, I'm only counting English language blogs.

If I've missed anyone out, please tell me and I'll put them in next month.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital

by special guest writer James Cooper, creative director, Dare.

I feel a little bit like jumping into the bear pit here, but since Scamp asked me to write this and I’m leaving London soon to do something different you can take it or leave it. If this advice helps just one creative then that’s a good thing.

I think I should let you know my stance. I don’t think digital is the answer to all advertising’s prayers, far from it. In some cases it makes sense for a digital idea to lead, in other cases TV or press (or PR – Run London for example) to lead. I’m not sure I can think of any reason why you shouldn’t use digital at all in a campaign but I’m sure someone will find an amusing response to that.

Much of what the press reports about digital taking over from TV is also more apt for the US than here, where, in fact, it still makes sense to hit a load of people during Coronation Street. Time zones and scale make it more cost effective to do things differently across the pond. So don’t worry, you’ll still be able to make your ‘films’.

Here goes for a few things that might help you get your head around digital work.

1. Keep it simple. Life is not so different down here in the basement. If you can’t explain your idea in 6 words don’t bother. Start again. With all this software around (and clients) there are people that will always want to make things more complicated. If you start off with something complex the chances are it will turn out a mess. A site that has been hijacked by girls, a site that crushes desks, a girl you can tickle. All simple. All good. All winners. NB. The flip side of this is that if you want to win a craft award for sound design or motion graphics or something like that then complex RULES! You absolutely must be more cutting edge and geeky than those freaks in Northern Sweden who never leave their macs and only eat reindeer meat and dried white foodstuffs.

2. Be original. Same rules apply to when all you lot who moan about whether Bravia or Guinness or John Lewis was original or not. Poke’s nice unlimited site looks a little like a Motorola site, our nice Bravia site looks a little like a Pioneer site. The point is it’s not such a leap to imagine that creative brains come up with the same things. An amount of copying goes on, but these things right themselves in the end. No one is going to make a serious career out of being unoriginal – apart from The Chemical Brothers. There are trends in digital in the same way there are in TV. If you really want to stick out then you have to do something different and we all know how hard that is these days.

3. Doing digital is harder than TV. What? Yes, sorry folks, it’s true. The delivery of TV (and Press) has not changed since it started. In digital there are constant innovations that you need to keep up with. As a creative you will be expected to know how to come up with an idea for a site, what it looks like, how it should be delivered and how people will interact with it. No one is going to do this for you. Then you need to multiply this for all the other ways an idea can be expressed in digital other than a standard site; a facebook app, mobile, digital outdoor, banners, interactive TV, Second Life, YouTube and basically whatever some dude in California comes up with next. If you’re not interested in technical innovation then, again, don’t bother.

4. Great digital work usually comes from teamwork. Usually two creatives – a writer and an art director, a designer and a techy. Having said above that you need to know how all the geeky things work you won’t actually be expected to get your hands dirty with code or anything like that. This is both good news and bad news. The good news being that you don’t have to have spent years buried in software manuals. The bad news being that the person who has done that now earns more money than you do and can f**k up your project at the flick of a switch. Also this person will actually work at your agency rather than be a hired supergeek like a lighting cameraman for example. You will have to learn to deal with seeing someone everyday who is more important than you and has better trainers than you.

5. The digital equivalent to ‘Balls’ is Nike +. This is the piece of work that everyone wishes they had done and arsey creative directors use to dismiss other pieces of work, ‘Well, it’s OK, but it’s not Nike + is it?’ If you don’t know what Nike + is you may as well pack up and go home. The thing that makes this work interesting and a cultural shift is that it is useful. Consumers actually want to use this piece of advertising, they seek it out. Anomaly have coined a phrase, ‘branded utility’ - expect much more of this sort of stuff.

6. It’s actually easy to win an award if that’s all you want to do. In the same way that if you can somehow manage to do a 48 sheet with no words and a visual metaphor then it stands a good chance of winning something at Cannes the same is true of digital, especially banners. Do a neat visual trick, have a little bit of user interaction, lose the words, change your name to something Brazilian sounding and Bob est ton uncle.

7. If you are going to use celebs do it in an interesting way rather than just plonking them on a site. We are just about getting the budgets to do things with proper actors and artists rather than the girl from accounts. And of course it’s well worth it. We did a site with Martin Parr a few years back that was very successful and I am just finishing a project for Sony Vaio with John Malkovich where he has written the first scene to a movie and will judge the next scenes posted on the site. This, to me anyway, feels right contextually rather than just giving him a laptop and asking him to smile and say ‘cheese’.

8. People talk a lot about community and social networking. Sometimes this is the right way to go, often it’s not. Doing something on MySpace will not guarantee you a hit. It’s horses for courses I’m afraid and that’s part of your job to work it out – interrogate your brief and media agency and don’t settle for buzzwords.

9. Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one likes a smart arse. A lot of people started up digital agencies or came from ATL agencies to get away from cocky little shits. I know, I know, you’re just passionate about your work. But life is too short to have to deal with assholes. Work should be fun and when it is, it tends to be more successful. The best ideas come when you are happy and relaxed. As Mr Wenger once said, ‘to win you have to enjoy what you do first’. And, as I say, ‘if you weren’t enjoying yourself while you were winning then, frankly, what was the point?’

10. What’s with this conformity? Who says 10 is the right number?

So as you can see it’s not that much different to TV and Press. You need an idea, you need to keep things simple and use your common sense. There are shortcuts to awardsville but if you seek something bigger, something that people will talk about down the pub for years to come then it’s back to the grindstone I’m afraid (and take a techy with you).

thanks James

Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

'The Art Of...' Endlines Really Suck

Her spaceship had an incredibly stylish kitchen, which she also used as a gallery


It's my least favourite endline in the world.

What's yours?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Apparently This Is Why


A while ago I decided that, since I slag off loads of other people's ads on Scamp, it was only fair to put my own up.

I haven't done it for a while because, well, I haven't done an ad for a while.

But now I have. And I'm very excited about it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm On A Course


And you know what? The training is bloody good fun, and feels like it could be really useful.

Sadly, this is the first course I've had since a 1-day 'Writing for Radio' workshop in 1995. That's TWELVE YEARS ago.

Why do creatives get so little training? Is it because creativity is felt to be innate and therefore unteachable? Or do people worry we'll just throw bread rolls and not listen to what we're being told?

I suspect it's part of an ongoing conspiracy to not treat creatives like proper businesspeople. Maybe more on that another time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's happened to British advertising's great tradition of Christmas turkeys?

OK, the Morrisons ad is not good.

But I really like the John Lewis campaign.

A few people have written in to point out it's "inspired" by the work of artists Tim Noble & Sue Webster.

(See more of Tim & Sue's work here.
Did Lowes use them to make the John Lewis ads? I do hope so)


But you know what?

I don't care.

The ads feel classy like John Lewis should. The "whoever you're looking for this Christmas" line is a really nice spin on the hackneyed whatever you're looking for. Plus, they get to have their cake and scoff it also - the ad showcases their wares too.

And best of all, no Santa or tinsel in sight.

Even the Argos christmas ad isn't too bad this year. (Not on YouTube as yet, sorry).

What's going on? Is it just me, or is the standard of Christmas advertising actually on the rise?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gold Is In The Detail



Really nice film featuring Dave Droga as an animated dog, talking about the type of advertising he likes, and how to win a pencil.

It's part of D&AD's 2008 call for entries.

via Living Brands

Friday, November 16, 2007

JCrgn Is Not Jeremy Craigen

The real Jeremy Craigen

A "Jcrgn" commented on my thread here about the new Guinness ad. Campaign printed it too. So I guess everyone assumed this was a comment from Jeremy Craigen, creative director at DDB.

It wasn't.

It was someone pretending to be him.

So, I'm happy to put the record straight. And am now worried that the bloke claiming to be Tony Kaye isn't who he says he is either...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

And How Come There's Only One Monopolies & Mergers Commission?

My friends at Lunar BBDO have a funny find on their blog today -

What is the 'Word Of Mouth Marketing Forum' doing to get the word out about their event?

Hypocrisy-alert, Batman... they've made an advert.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday Tip No. 31 - How To Do Posters

Someone once said: "A poster should have no more than seven words on it."

That person made a schoolboy error.

You see, a poster should have NO words on it. None at all.

I really mean it.

Why?

Because a poster is not like TV, where the consumer is sitting on the sofa in his underpants, eating cheese & onion crisps, looking directly at your adverts.

No one is looking at a poster unless you make them.

Now if you want to catch a fish, you need a hook. And if you want to catch an eye, you need an image.

Crucially, an image of something people have never seen before.

So far so good. But the problem is - a logo is going to go on this poster, maybe a packshot, maybe an endline, maybe a web address or a phone number (who ever wrote down a phone number while they were travelling in a moving vehicle?)

In a way, there is already too much distracting shit on your poster before you even sit down to write it.

So make life easy on yourself, and accept that you cannot have a headline.

You just can't.


There's one exception. You can have just a headline, and strip away everything else. However, these nearly always end up being compromised when the client says it looks boring and wants you to add a background. So use carefully.

Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

Monday, November 12, 2007

The New Stella Ad. Would You Pass It On?



The first time I saw it, my reaction was (Scooby Doo voice): "Huh?"

I then did get it, second time around, and actually quite liked it. The casting is of the usual top standard ("Hello, is that the Freaky Continentals Agency? Lowe London here again"), and the music is particularly good.

But I suspect most interest will focus on the new strategy. Replacing a thought as enormous as 'Reassuringly Expensive' is no small task, and only time will tell whether this new direction will appeal as much, and last as long. But I think 'pass it on' does have a shot. It does communicate quality quite effectively, and it has a nice communitarian feel to it, that may improve Stella's faintly 'aggressive' image.

Of course, the beer itself still tastes absolutely disgusting... but there's not much Lowes can do about that.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hooray For The Awkward Squad


The result of my latest poll shows a majority of voters believe there is no correlation between niceness and talent.

Well you know what? I disagree.

Nice means easy to get along with. But to make work that is different you need people who are different - dreamers, weirdos, obsessives, folks who are 'wrongly wired' - and of course this type of person is not as easy to get along with as your average Joe.

Advertising agency creative departments are becoming too boring. You hear stories of people getting fired because they like a drink or two, or wear funny trousers. That's very sad. If there's one thing that a good ad agency should be good at, it is getting the best out of difficult people.

Previous poll results:

Friday Poll No.15 - Who Is Responsible For Ineffectiveness?
Friday Poll No.14 - Your Personal Success Record
Friday Poll No.13 - Which Department Is The Most Insane?
Friday Poll No.12 - What Music Do You Listen To While Working?
Friday Poll No.11 - What Time Do You Get In?
Friday Poll No.10 - Who Drinks The Most?
Friday Poll No.9 - Press v Online
Friday Poll No.8 - Success Or Glory?
Friday Poll No.7 - Is Reading Blogs A Waste Of Time?
Friday Poll No.6 - Job Satisfaction
Friday Poll No.5 - Festive Greetings
Friday Poll No.4 - Ad Of The Year 2006
Friday Poll No.3 - What's Your Favourite Medium To Work In?
Friday Poll No.2 - Agency Of The Year
Friday Poll No.1 - Which Department Is The Most Overpaid?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oh dear oh dear oh dear



The new Guinness ad is terrible, in my opinion.

Just way too Coggy.

And Scowling A.D. had an interesting comment - he found it insulting the idea that these clearly very poor people would have so much time to waste setting up a pointless stunt.

At least the tortoise-racing Cubans had a bit of money riding on their event.

And I hate the way that, in the end, it all amounts to nothing more than an elaborate packshot. And how the villagers cheer that packshot!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Has Digital Finally Come Of Age?




I think maybe it has.

This thing for Orange, which I first saw on Faris's blog and which was created by Iain Tait's crew over at Poke, is simply awesome.

I know I hosted a piece by DDB creative Rob Messeter saying that most interactive work is "pony" and "puerile", and of course a lot of it is. But then most TV ads and posters are rubbish too.

I suspect it may take just one incredible piece of digital work to change the perception that above-the-line creatives have about on-line (after all, perception always lags behind reality). This site may be it.

Even the loading screen is cool - bees deliver globs of honey to fill up a pot until it reaches 100%.

And the site itself...

Well, I'm not going to say anything about it. I urge you to check it out.

But something that gets you engaging with a brand's promise and its tone for half an hour - an hour even - that's got to be more effective than a 30 second TV ad, doesn't it?

Tuesday Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit





Yesterday's post about "weird shit" - in which I suggested that creatives should spend time looking at random stuff as well as the latest movies and magazines - prompted a great recommend by Flo Heiss - VVORK (see images above).

John Webster used to regularly visit a local greetings card shop, and just spend five minutes going round looking at every card in there. Why? I guess he just liked the quick hit of jokes, images and surreal little nothings. Sites like VVORK are the modern equivalent.

I'm not talking about finding ideas to rip off.

I'm talking about keeping your mind open, alive and unconventional.

Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish