Friday, 30 October 2009

Ode to the art director

Okay, so the 'glass ceiling' is something we've all heard of . And Ogilvy & Mather (Istanbul) take it literally in this spot about prejudice. But on paper this ad would seem average.... "lets take the glass ceiling metaphor literally - block people's paths to things with CGI glass." It's the art direction that makes the spot work. If I wrote this ad by myself, I'd probably just discard it. I'd say I wasn't thinking enough. But an art director could transform the idea into something like this.

I'm not making excuses for average ideas. 'Think Now, Design Later' taught me that the concept comes first, and a bad idea cant be saved no matter how flashy you make it look. You can't polish a turd.

I think my point is that the copywriter/art director team is crucial to the process.
Not having one to bounce off is proving tough.
I've got no one to save my average ideas and make them great.
And no one to bring my 'great' ideas down to earth.

Advertising ain't solitaire.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Foxkalomaski - Last day

Yesterday was my last day at Foxkalomaski. It went fairly well. I helped out with some scamps for an A2 board for a company called Star Alliance who were running a competition to win free flights to europe which you enter by handing over your business card. The line I used was 'Your business card could be your ticket' - with a graphic of someone chucking an aeroplane made from a folded business card. Boring stuff really. Then I helped with some scamps for ASK restaurant's new years eve promo. They ended up using a couple of my ideas. (There were some horrible puns flying about for the christmas posters too; Yule love it, Merry Menu, Christmas Pizzaz! It made me feel quite sick.) Then, after a good chat with the chaps in Brik Digital, I went and played with ideas for Yorkshire tourist board...

I know they're a bit silly, but by this point it didn't really matter.

I learnt a lot these two weeks: about how the business works, about how fussy clients can be, about the daily commute and about what not to put in my book. I managed not to go out on the town once in my entire time here which is a bit crap. Looking forward to getting back to sheffield.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Here's a great new series from Aardman Animations which tackle Erectile Dysfunction (E.D.):

It really tickles me. (Sorry about the pun in the post title)

Foxkalomaski - Quick one

Quick update. Yesterday Steven and Gary (FK managing partner) had a meeting with a couple of media planners/buyers - the idea was to brainstorm some more ideas for the Thai campaign. Steven presented some of the ideas we came up with (including some rice ones). Anyway, apparently one of the media fellas said that rice idea was a bit 'too one-dimensional'. Gary said that they liked my sky lantern event idea too. Woop! For a moment back there I thought I was going insane.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

'Great minds like a think'

Today I had a good chat with ex-Ogilvy Healthworld Creative Director Selwyn Learner. He recently set up his own agency and shares office space with FK.

Besides discussing our favourite Economist ads, he gave me a few words of advice on putting a book together. Though he studied Pharmacology at Uni and got into advertising via quite an unusual route (without needing a book), he had plenty to tell me. After showing him a few of my creative test responses, I realized that a lot of them needed work and weren't up to scratch (the fact that there we're some I didn't even want to show him told me enough!) I need to go back and rethink a lot of what I have so far. However, he did like the following line I did for

I intend to write a few more of these and put them in my book, but I'm having trouble repeating that simple 'setup - twist' formula. Any suggestions are welcome! I'm also thinking of putting some ads in for Dreams (the bed company) because their advertising is damn awful. I also started coming up with some ideas for the D&Ad 'Metro' newspaper brief which I intend to put in my book too. I'm giving myself till January to send off my Watford application.

The race is on!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Modern art, makes me...

So the weekend rolled around and I went and explored London town. Saturday was an utter failure of a day. After sleeping in, I spent the rest of the day traipsing round looking for small galleries which turned out to be closed, between exhibitions or utterly inaccessible. Sunday, however, was great. I got up early and went to the Tate Modern. Though I didn't shell out for the 'Pop LIfe' exhibition, the free parts of the gallery had more than enough to keep me busy. There was some great work there and I ended up with a big list of pieces to look up later. A couple that stick in the mind:

Salvador Dali, Moutain Lake - Though I'm not usually into surrealist painting, something about this piece just grabbed me. It's like a dream - or nightmare - I've had. Very sinister indeed.

Joesph Beuys, The Pack - This one made me laugh. I'm not sure if it's supposed to illicit that response, but something about the wolves being exchanged for the sled's they pull - and all coming out of the back of a useless looking VW. Apparently it's based on the artist's personal experience of being stranded and rescued; having fat rubbed on him and being wrapped in furs. Either way, I liked it for it's comic absurdity. There should be more laughter in galleries I think - it's not always serious.

Kurt Kern, Leda and the Swan - This short film/video art was pretty erotic. Extreme close-ups of the seemingly horrific rape of young Leda by a bizzare puppet Swan! Egg yolks rolling off breasts, seasonings and cream everywhere, and a beach ball or something in the mix too. All cut in a very jerky manner. It was like a snuff film or something. Hypnotic to watch.

Oh and I also managed to see some work by one of my old favourites, Joseph Cornell. That was quite special; just being in it's presence.

So after that, I made a trip over to Tate Britain. I happened to pass Westminster on the way...

And of course the protests were happening. Personally I reckon I got a great shot here... better than the papers. It was chaos there over the weekend, mind.

The turner prize was on at Tate britain, but I only had an hour before closing and didn't want to shell out a tenner. Instead I absorbed some beautiful Romantic paintings and saw a few other exciting pieces like this one by Anish Kapoor called 'Ishi's Light':

Which is a great thing to behold. When you look inside at certain parts, it's light looking into the sky on an overcast night; pitch black, it seemed to go on forever.

So that's enough for now. Catch up later in the week.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

New McDonald's ad? I'm lovin' it!

Is it wrong to like this new McDonald's ad? I think the tone is spot on. They know exactly who their customers are - passers-by! Most people don't set out to eat their lunch or dinner in McDonalds... people just pass by and think 'go on then'. Okay the repetition is a bit cheesy, but still, for McDonald's its a vast improvement.

Copy-writer No.1

I envision this becoming a feature. Its called copy-writer and looks at blatant copying in advertising. (A bit like the CopyCunts blog - i realise the irony)

This first one I spotted a good while back. Take a look at this pretty poor ad for Richmond Sausages:

Then check out this great scene from Ratatouille:

The traveling back scene is EXACTLY the same. Agencies should be penalized by the IPA for this kinda shit. Or the writer should get a 2 campaign suspension. Grrr.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Windows 7 and Badvertising

First time you watch this, you think it's ironic:

Then you remember that Americans don't do irony - this must be for real.

THEN you think: no. Surely this must be ironic - somehow, this time they've managed to grasp it. It's all fine. It's all a big joke - deliberately bad-advertising. A spoof. Phew.

THEN you see this, which found it's way to the Reddit homepage today:

And you realise that they wouldn't have spent money producing all this promo shit for the kind of 'subtle joke' you hope it is. They actually think people will have Microsoft parties. They really have got it that wrong.

I think this must be a case of someone who doesn't actually understand people making ads for a product they imagine everyone is just dying to fall in love with. The inflated ego of someone who is simply out of touch.

The only saving grace is that the ad is SO BAD, it's accidentally gone viral with 1million+ hits.

Foxkalomaski - Rice

So me and Steven (a junior account executive on placement) have been thrashing out ideas for this Thai airways campaign. We came up with an idea for a microsite (as requested) based on Karma; Thailand being a devoutly Buddhist nation. The idea was if you treat others well, you'll benefit too. You reap what you sow. So basically, users are invited to submit what they believe are worthy journeys. Other users then up-vote the most worthy journeys, and Thai air makes the winners trip possible. A good deed gets rewarded. (I got the idea after hearing about this site called Kickstarter where cool projects request funding, then the best are given cash by the philanthropic visitors.) I figured anyone who submitted a journey would then encourage friends and family to go visit the site and up-vote their journeys so they stood a better chance of winning.

After pitching this and three other ideas in a presentation, the team weren't really sold on any. They said they'd rather we'd gone down the 'rice' or 'thai food' routes - ideas which had been mentioned in our first discussion. They suggested a couple of things: a website with rice based recipes and a competition calling for rice-based art which could then be exhibited in a major gallery - because 'ABC1s', (university educated, with with expendable income) are the type of people who go to galleries (marketing speak). And they said that our ideas were too 'niche' and wanted us to come back with something more commercial. After all, everyone has to eat.

('Of all the people in all the world' - rice based art I remember seeing in Manchester)

Looks like we're back to the drawing board yet again! I guess this is good experience in dealing with clients. As Luke Sullivan says, when one idea gets knocked back, 'there's always another ad'.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Foxkalomaski - Thai Airways

Today things were a lot better at FK. Steve let me know that I was going to be sitting in on a pre-pre-brainstorming session for a new campaign for Thai Airways. Following their latest campaign for The Bahamas tourist board (see Fourteen Islands Film Challenge), FK & Brik are looking to develop something similar for Thai Airways; they want a low-spend, high 'talkability' campaign, which generates web hits, press coverage, user generated content (UGC) etc. Who doesn't eh? (To see how it's really done, check out this year's big award winner The Best Job in the World for the Queensland tourist board).

So anyway, I started thinking... What I knew was that I wanted to get away from imagery like this:

...which seemed to proliferate previous Thai Air work. Nor did I want to feel too restricted by the Thai link; I didn't want to limit the campaign possibilities by having to bring it back to the textile trade which gave rise to the 'Smooth as Silk' strap-line currently in use. We can be a little more liberal, you know? Sony don't sell TVs - they sell colour; BMW don't sell cars either - they sell joy. What do Thai airways sell? Freedom - exploration - escapism? These are all more abstract concepts which can be extrapolated from the product, yet lend wider ad scope.

After a bit of net browsing, I discovered that sky lanterns are big in Thailand; they come out on just about every thai festival or occasion worth talking about. Here:

I know it says Taiwan, but they're big there too. They're just spot on for an air travel company. In Thailand, they even symbolize worries floating away!

So I thought some kind of event, in a major city like London, where thousands of these lanterns (coloured purple and sporting thai logos of course) are let off would create a bit of buzz and be seen from a mile off. I figured it may attract a lot of A. free media coverage B. YouTube uploads and C. Photo sharing and blogging. (Note, the vid above has 420,000 hits in just 7 months, and thats not even set in London!)

Such an event would also be a great photo opportunity - enabling later print executions with images like this:

I raised this idea at the pre-pre-brainstorming session, it didn't exactly fly. (Excuse the pun). While it gave some strong imagery, it didn't have the longevity or depth the team were after. They wanted something which would direct traffic to the site month on month... not just the weekend of the event. I saw their point - it's no 'best job in the world'.

A little dejected, I went off to have another go. When I got home and did a little more internet research, I came across this:

So it looks like the yanks beat me to it. Even if it's not an event/stunt like mine, it's the same idea - just with a corny as hell voice over. I guess I'll need something else. Back to the drawing board as they say.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Foxkalomaski - The Chimes

Well I made it to London alive. Small town northerner that I am. And, on my first day, I even made it to the Foxkalomaski office early enough to grab a croissant and watch a number of iPhone toting, umbrella wielding commuters commuting.

After an initial bit of confusion - Head of Creative, Steve, being out at a meeting till 11 and me not getting the memo - I was given the office tour and introduced to everyone in the department. (I was pleased to hear that FK also run a small sister company called Brik who specialize in digital. The guys in their seemed cool. I'll have to get pally.)

When Steve got back he gave me a brief to work on. The client, one of their current ones, is a shopping centre called The Chimes. He basically wants an over-arching idea which will lend itself to several print executions.

As far as advertising sectors go, retail has to be one of the less exciting. For many, a shopping centre is really no more than a roof placed over a group of conveniently grouped stores. The task at hand seems mainly to be one of branding - communicating the centre's values, personality etc. and giving the place an overall consistent 'look'.

After reading the relevant lit given to me, I decided that a visit to the shopping centre would be a good way to bring to the project alive (above).

I then visited the nearby (though more central) competitor Westfield London Shopping Mall, a place which, I'll admit, blew my Stockport socks off. It was the most opulent/chic/upmarket places I've ever been with highly decorated window displays and minimally stocked designer outlets everywhere...

This place was miles better than The Chimes, but then again... it cost a lot more. It had chandeliers, touchscreen navigation points and (most importantly) Gregg's wasn't listed in the restaurant section. I certainly have quite a job on my hands. Let's hope I can come up with something tomorrow.

For now, my feet are tired from all that walking. I'll leave you with a fashion tip courtesy of H&M London. Black is in right now:

Friday, 2 October 2009

Ever been to Soundville?

You're wandering the streets, listening to your MP3 player, and you imagine to yourself a world where there is music played out from speakers all round the city, soundtracking everyone's daily lives. Fleet foxes in the morning, Mum in the evening, Burial at night and Freescha as dawn is breaking. Anyone had this idea before? I imagine it all the time when about town (usually when the reverb on the track is just the right amount for the place your standing). Well someone else has had the same idea and made it into a Sony ad. I'm quite pleased that I'm thinking in a similar way to Juan Cabral - the mastermind behind Sony Balls, Sony Paint and Cadbury's Gorilla. Take a look:

With great direction and choice of music (Mum even got included!) this spot feels just great. The concept sits well with the rest of the sony spots too.


I'm off to London this weekend for my two week placement with Foxkalomaski. Don't have a clue what to expect, but I'm pretty excited. Fingers crossed.