Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Brand Advocacy: A guide to feeling used

If believe you are a free agent, this video may make you feel a little sick - like a punch to the gut, or going out first in a game of poker... but love it or loathe it, this is the shape of advertising today...

Source: Digital Buzz blog.

That's right. Now that we converse more than ever, and through so many means, it seems we do the advertiser's work for them. All the advertisers need to do is get the conversation started, or sustain it when it dwindles... kinda like your ideal party guest! We have tons of what I think people call 'touch points'. In theory, I can advocate something through Twitter, Blogspot, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, review sites, and good old word of mouth (though in practice, I've never been inclined to set up a Twitter account and will abstain from doing so for a little while yet). Also, it seems that any campaign launched nowadays isn't be complete without an accompanying iPhone application... a comment brought to life by this interesting video installation which shows the download frequency of the top 200,000 iPhone apps...

Source: CR Blog

So yeah... if you weren't already aware of what you are supposed to be doing, this is it... this is how the ad-makers have you down... so please behave. And, to leave you with one final question... how exactly does this crazy-frog-esque ad fit into the new model?

Answers on the back of a postcard.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

I Heart Stickers

For this post I thought I'd bring together a few sticker/adhesive sort of campaigns which probably fit under the ambient category (ambient advertising refers to pretty much any any kind of advertising that occurs in some non-standard medium outside the home). Most of these examples take advantage of their situation/positioning, making it part of the ad or joke. So here goes a few of my recent faves, in no particular order...

This one is by the mighty BBDO (Germany) for MediMax... as you can probly tell, the shaver moves as the articulated section of the bus rotates. Only a great (or very bored) mind would look at the articulated section of a bus and think to put an ad there. Super.

This one's by an agency called Marcel (Paris). Though it reduces the effectiveness of the mirror, it can't help but steal your attention - making you part of the ad. The next two examples work in a similar fashion. For the one below, your best seeing the two images in conjunction...

So yeah... clever huh? It's by Saatchi & Saatchi (Cape Town) for Save our Seas. Finally there's this one...

Its by Advico Y&R (Zurich) and is for who are campaigning to abolish torture. Again, this is an ad which utilizes it's position and does so in an unconventional way. I just wonder why I've never seen any ad of this sort first hand. Perhaps I'd see more of them if I went to London or something. I'd love it if each time I went out I saw ads like this, life would be so much more interesting (well... maybe not so much more but a little). 

P.S. Credit where credit is due, most of these ads are pillaged from a collection of blogs eg. I Believe in Adv and Osocio (more on Osocio soon). 

In terms of personal progress - I am still no nearer to finding a job for the year, though I have applied to Blockbuster, Loch Fyne Restaurant, Tesco and shit like that. Hopefully I will get something, then I can start writing some ads. I bought a book in 'Help the Aged' today by Edward DeBono on Lateral thinking (recommended reading for the Watford Course)... it's supposed to de-mystify the concept of 'creativity', pinning it down as something which can be taught, and thus learnt. Sounds a little dry, but I can't wait.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for a blog on 'Ads for change, not awards' and the notion of 'Brand Advocates' which is quite a new one to me! 

I'm learning... slowly.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

A Word to the Wise

Here's a PSA as relevant today as it was back then! But gosh... isn't it long!? Perhaps they released it as a single or something... check that beat out.

That's all for now. Full blog post to follow soon on Stickers! Wowee!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Food for Thought

Okay, this post is just a few things I've seen lately that I liked the look of. It's a bit of a mish mash - few D&AD award hightlights, and a couple more to boot. Here we go. Firstly there this, which won a Yellow pencil in Art Direction (Poster Advertising). It's called 'Husky & Camel' (one in series) and it's by BBDO/Proximity Malaysia, for Jeep...

It's clear why this won itself some stationary - it's clever, simple, all the things an ad should be. It reminds me of the kind of thing you'd find in 'A Smile in the Mind', where 'getting it' is the whole satisfaction. Next up is 'Rose Campaign' by JWT for DeBeers, (a diamond retailer) one of the winners in the ambient category...

Makes you think how one well placed, engaging ambient ad can do a hell of a lot of work. Apparently it got DeBeers over 2.5 million dollars of free media coverage. Again, a clever yet simple idea well executed. Then there's this ad ('Rabbit') for Comcast by Goodby Silverstein and Partners which also won a Yellow Pencil.

Now, I don't much like this ad - the idea isn't as pure as in my other findings and, to be honest, it kinda creeps me out (maybe it's something to do with my irrational fear of hares)... but it's funny nonetheless! 

Besides the D&AD award winning personal faves, theres this one which I like a strange amount. It hit our UK screens not long ago and is by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for....... well see if you can guess the brand before the end and you might see why I like it so much! 

They probably could have been really ground breaking and got away with not saying who the ad was for! It just reinforces how ubiquitous the brand really is. As a spokesperson for Heinz said, "This ad reminds consumers that Heinz Tomato Ketchup is so iconic and so irreplaceable that you don't have to see it to know what it is, when it comes to mealtimes it is your best mate." It also has a lot of humanity to it: the kid who uses too much; the bloke scraping the last bit out. I'm a sucker for humanity. So, I guess that's all for now. 

Suddenly I have a hunger for some chips (and a glass of juice)... 

Heg out.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Dance Classics vs. Absurd Graphics

"If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." 
- Albert Einstein

Okay, another post for you here. It seems that Clemmow Hornby Inge (CHI) have cracked the formula for a great TV-cum-viral video campaign. The most recent example to come to fruition is their 'Pheasant Rodeo' spot for Drench, in which a man rides a giant pheasant, drinks some Drench orange juice, then continues to ride the pheasant, all set to the 1989 hit 'Ride on time' by Black Box... and the strapline being "Stay on top of your game.'

Before this, of course, there was the 'Brains' spot, also for Drench, in which a brilliantly animated CGI Brains (of Thunderbirds fame) took to the stage and danced to the 1992 hit 'Rhythm is a Dancer' by Snap! until he got thirsty... for Drench water, would you believe.

With that one clocking up more than 800,000 YouTube views so far, and 'Pheasant Rodeo' well on its way, it seems like CHI are on to something. Perhaps a dance classic, plus an absurd graphic does get people going these days... it certainly provides a bit of light humour in 'these dark economic times', though we can't use the crunch to explain everything.

The drench spots are, of course, predated by that legendary Gorilla (set to Phil Collins' '81 hit 'In the Air Tonight') and those somewhat less legendary eyebrows (set to Freestyle's '84 hit 'Don't Stop the Rock'). All four share a sense of humour, delivering simplistic audio and visual bliss. Perhaps people are so sick of being advertised to, they'd prefer it if brands just dropped all pretense of honesty or sincerity and just gave them an unadulterated good time - one they want to pass on to others.

Expect to see more of these before the day is done.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Let's get a little Sci-Fi

Hello again! I hope you liked my first entry, it seems so long ago. Now, I thought I'd give you a little content to get this thing started - you know, a video or link or two, rather than just a ranting about myself. So here we go, the topic today is 'Augmented Reality'. For those of you who haven't encountered it yet, its where a camera/webcam recognizes a specified shape and adds graphics to it - it augments what it sees. So for this to work, the home user has to print out a sheet of paper with an emblem on it, hold it up in front of their webcam, and move it round to manipulate the 3D object in front of them. Here's an example that should bring it to life from Citroen, the car manufacturer:

Now, the obvious problem is the time it takes for a user to understand the process... its slight barrier between the user and actually getting to the ad itself. But if/when the somewhat cumbersome, sci-fi-esque term 'augmented reality' comes in to common use, this barrier should become less of a problem. But then there's the inevitable second issue... the novelty of this technology, when put to advertising purposes, will quickly wear off. That's when people will have to start getting creative with it... but in space as cramped as a home-user's webcam screen... is there room for much more? My desk already looks cluttered with a Citroen C3 - Picasso parked up on it. To be honest, I don't wanna stick my neck out on this one - we'll have to see how things progress. 

However, though advertising might struggle to make full use of this technology's potential, there are other areas in which 'augmented reality' really looks promising. Take this example from BMW... a camera recognizes the parts of the car engine, and highlights those which you need to take out/move in order to repair your car. Its a very clear, hands on instruction manual! And in this example, Priority Mail obviously benefit from enabling their customers to gauge the product's size. 

Of course, with the BMW example, you need to have 3D glasses - obviously very expensive, but perhaps something worth buying when enough applications are made available/uploadable to the same pair of glasses. And of course, with the Priority Mail example, you could just use a ruler to find out how big your box needs to be. Maybe more people have a printer and webcam these days than they do a ruler, I don't know! Either way, I imagine that in the majority of cases, there is a more cost effective, 'paper based' / 'common sense' alternative to using 'augmented reality', but while the wow factor is still there, it does seem to be something that many industries can take advantage of. Only question is... how long will it last?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

A Madman's Mission Statement

Welcome. Make yourself at home, get a cup of tea or a glass of juice if you wish. Sit in your favourite chair if you have one, put on your lucky pants if you have some. Today is the day I post my first ever blog entry! Let me get straight into it. Unlike many blogs, this one has a purpose. Well, its purposes are twofold:

1. To highlight and discuss funny/well-shot/creative/bizarre ads and new issues surrounding advertising as a whole. 
I'm interested in all types of advertising - television, radio, print, digital, ambient, and so on - so you'll if you follow this here blog, your diet will be varied. Admittedly CR Blog does the exact same thing and despite the thousands that read the magazine, very few bother to comment or discuss the stuff they post up there. So I guess I can't expect to attract too many readers that way. Hence the blog's second purpose...

2. To document my personal progress as I embark on a 'here goes nothing', 'get my foot in the door' journey into the world of advertising/copywriting. 
Now, my friends have been giving me a little aggro about 'selling my soul' and marketing lard to kids 'n' all, but really that stuff doesn't bother me. I think they've probably watched too many movies and think you have to be a tough guy rather than a nice guy to get into the industry. Of course I might be proved wrong, but therein lies the beauty of this blog -  I'm doing it so that other like-minded idealists can see how one man fared on his journey, how exactly he coped, what moves he took etc. It's a kamikaze mission. It starts with making a book/portfolio, then applying to advertising school for a year, then trying to get a job. 
The course I want to get on next year is of course the 'oxbridge of advertising'... The Watford Course (at West Herts College) headed by the respectable Mr. Tony Cullingham. Now this is something easier said than done... a lot easier. After answering the 10 creative questions and submitting your portfolio/book, successful applicants get invited to a group interview (which has been known to last up to five hours, so I hear). The interview comprises of a 'think on your toes' advertising pop quiz - which agencies have which clients, which creatives are with which agencies... all that jazz - and you also get the chance to talk through your book, and respond to some more on the spot creative tasks. No doubt I'll be a ball of nerves, but I have a year to get my act together, so I intend to use it well. The first step I'll be taking (after finding a job to keep me alive for the year) will be subscribing to Campaign - the advertising industry's weekly supplement, "the Bible of british Adland" as it is known - and reading the hell out of it. I'll also be writing ads and 'being a sponge' as Cullingham puts it - absorbing as much as I can, from as many sources as I can... no idea stealing mind (see The Youtube Dilemma). 
Assuming I do get on to the course, do find a creative partner I like, do get a job, and do come up with some genuinely good ideas ... the journey (and this blog) will end when i finally secure my first D&Ad pencil... or it will end prematurely when I kill myself on the way.

So on that note - with its fine balance of optimism and pessimism, idealism and cynicism - I'll leave you dear reader, but please... stay tuned!