Thursday, 31 December 2009

Zimoun: Sound Sculptures


Thanks to New Art for this. (Double click video to view full-screen.)

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Ikea: Hard At Work and Play

Here I've put together a little collection of super-fantastisch Ikea campaigns.

The first two videos are digital and ambient efforts to push the new catalogue. Above is the fairly well-known 'facebook showroom' idea. Below is the lesser known 'cinema catalogue' idea, where high-powered lights project prices onto film footage while people watch in the cinema.. only two or three tags per film mind, just so it doesn't get too annoying.

Below is the 2009-D&Ad-graphic-design-yellow-pencil-winning 'Bigger Storage' ambient campaign from Ogilvy (Frankfurt). Another beauty!

Next up is a very clever campaign/PR stunt/brand communication of sorts. During the expenses scandal the 'John Lewis List' from which MPs selected their home-ware was replaced with an Ikea one... here's what happened...

Now for a bit of traditional!
First a TV spot that works ever so well - by Publicis (Milan).

And finally we have a lovely couple of print ads. The first (one of a series by DDB) dramatises 'home delivery' just perfectly. The second has already made it into plenty of advertising text books and annuals for its staggering simplicity...

When you have a brand this fun and quirky, it seems you really can go to town.
It must be a joy!

Monday, 21 December 2009

A Unique Perspective

There's something very admirable about Rob Ryan's way of thinking.
Particularly in the piece shown above.
He takes a unusual angle on something every-day and thinks it to its conclusions.
This is a valuable skill to have. Especially when generating ideas.
Whether it be in advertising, art, literature, or whatever - what I value most is a unique perspective.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Powerful stuff

Nice copy based campaign from M&C Saatchi for Cabwise.

(Source: Browsing the Creative Review Feed)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

There's an ad in this somewhere

(Found on Reddit frontpage)

Tony on Digital

When I went to my Watford interview Tony said 'most digital ideas I see are shit'.
He said that if an idea works in traditional, it will work in digital. Don't start with the medium, start with the idea. That's something Dave Trott's said before, and I fully agree.

But does that mean you shouldn't shape the idea to the kind of media that's being used?
What about CP+B's 'Sacrifice a friend', Forsman & Bodenfors 'Ikea Facebook Showroom', or even Nitro's 'Best Job in the World'? These are all campaigns where the medium was central to the idea and its success.

If want a place on the course, I suppose I'd best learn what Tony wants first and deliver that.
After all, he knows his stuff.

In passing, he mentioned the recent 'Rage against the X-Factor' campaigning.
He said 'is it going to win any awards? No. Is it going to create a lot of publicity? Yes, probably.'

I think his point was that he doesn't want to see ideas which depend on the medium doing all the hard work. Especially not in your book.

There's no idea behind the Rage campaign bar 'sticking it to the man'. Nor is it the kind of campaign you can sit down and write in a room somewhere, expecting people to get on board. When this kind of thing happens, it just happens... it's highly unpredictable.

The Power of Reddit

Call me a geek, but I love Reddit and I love internet memes.
They are fun to witness, and tell you a lot about people.
So long as you can plow through the incredibly geeky computer coding, Call of Duty, and engineering posts, Reddit is a great place to spend five minutes.
Half a million people do it every day. This vid is a must see.

Watford: 'the Oxbridge of advertising'

So yesterday I went to Watford for my interview.
It was a very interesting experience and I learnt a lot...
Or rather - so much of what I already suspected was brought home, big time.
About originality, simplicity, what to put in my book. It was an awakening of sorts.

At the moment I doubt I got on, but they sometimes give you a second shot at the interview a couple of months down the line. I'm reluctant to go into too much detail just yet, because knowing what to expect is a real advantage, and the last thing I want to do is help someone nab my place on the 2010 course!
Apparently Tony has already given away 10 of the 25 slots to last year's deferees. That was quite a surprise considering this was the first round of interviews.
I'll let you in on the structure of the day though, just so you know what I went through.
It was a bit like masterchef!

I was up against four other candidates (one who worked for JWT Paris and had flown in from France). I think it should have been five, but there was a no-show. Here's what Tony had us do:

1. A quiz on the industry. One minute to answer ten questions.
2. Go away for an hour and a half and prepare:
i. Responses to a live brief (ours was 'Think of ways to make people turn down their mp3 players on public transport'). One minute to present.
ii. A speech on one person from a list (Steve McQueen, Charles Bukowski, Alain Robert to name a few). One minute to present.
iii. Show your portfolio of work. Two minutes to present.

In the quiz, I managed to beat the other four candidates by two clear points with a meagre score of four! I did quite badly, but everyone else did worse.
One of the questions was 'Who is x factor winner Joe McElderry moving into a flat with?'
Despite watching the whole of The X Factor, I hadn't a clue.
The question was to see whether you read the tabloids or not.
Apart from that, I was revising the right sort of thing last week - creative directors names, agency initials, current clients.

As for the presentations, I didn't do so well.
They were done in front of Tony and four current Watford students.
Two candidates scored better than me, two scored worse.
He liked my portfolio and gave that six out of ten; quite positive feed back really.
He said I had lots of good devices and knew how ads worked structurally.
I'm glad about that and I now know exactly what I need to work on.

He's letting us know the verdict by post in January.
As I say, I've got my fingers crossed for a second shot.
I was so nervous I couldn't eat and if I hadn't read snippets of what to expect on other people's blogs, I'd have been even worse. That said, I can see why Tony keeps it a secret. He wants to see what you know and what you're like naturally - not how much you can prepare for what you know is coming. That's another reason I'm not giving too much away!

The Watford Interview

EDIT: I originally held this post back but now I'm making it visible on 15/07/11

It's the post you've all been waiting for. (All ten of you - if that).

After sending off my portfolio and creative test last last month, a letter came inviting me to an interview for the BTEC Advertising Copywriting/Art Direction course at West Herts college - commonly known in the industry as 'the watford course.'

The night before the interview, after 4 hours on the road and two bottles of Bud, I kipped at a nearby B&B.
The room was hotter than a sauna, but generally quite nice.

Next morning, I went to the cafe to get my complimentary breakfast.
I turned down the full english and went for a danish pastry and a drink.
I stared at the pastry for a whole hour before getting the bloke to wrap it up in cling film.
I was too damn nervous to eat.

On my way to the college, I called into the news agents and checked the tabloids... I'd heard there'd be a question on The Sun's headline.

After a brief chat with the four other candidates in the foyer, Tony appeared.
He took us to a room, gave us a brief intro speech, then hit us with a quiz. One minute - ten questions.

1. Who is the executive creative director at TBWA London?
2. Who is x factor winner Joe McElderry moving into a flat with?
3. What agency did the recent running jockey TV ad for Weetabix?
4. What agency did the recent Bakers Tweet for Fresh Bread?
5. What does M and C, as in M&CSaatchi, stand for?
6. What agency did the most recent Carling TV campaign?
7. Which of these is not an ad agency: Brooklyn Brothers, Isobel, Poke.
8. What agency handles the above-the-line UK work for Honda cars?
9. Which agency won Campaign's 'Agency of the Decade'?
10. Name three ex-students of this course?

I think one person got 0, two people got 1, another got 2 and I got 4.
A small victory on my part.
(Noticeably, The Sun question was replaced with an X-Factor one... again, something tabloid-based).

As Tony said after the test, you can find the majority of that information through reading Campaign or spending 5 minutes on each of the major agencies' websites.
True - but whether or not the names of every client and every creative director stick in your head after you've looked at over 20 agencies is another question altogether. (The past two weeks I've been memorising what the initials RKCR/Y&R, BMP, DDB, BBH, AMV/BBDO, TBWA and HHCL all stand/stood for, but didn't think to learn Maurice Saatchi's first name. Typical). Given a minute more, I coulda got six, maybe seven right, but I simply wasn't quick enough.

After the test he gave us a really engaging 20 minute talk about what it is to be a creative and about the type of person he was, and the kind of traits he was looking for in us. I'd say it was worth the trip alone.

After that he gave us an hour and a half to:

A. Come up with ways to get people to turn their ipods or MP3 players down on public transport (with one minute to present your ideas).
B. Prepare a minute-long presentation about one of the following people: Alain Robert, Steve McQueen, Charles Bukowski... I can't remember the rest.
C. Present your portfolio - two minutes.

Now, for A, obviously he wanted executions, not just strategies. And of course he wanted as many as possible. (If I could do it again, I'd bring an A3 pad to pop my scamps in. The A4 stuff he gives you is no good when you're standing up and you've got four current students all leaning forward to see your scribbles).

For B, what he wanted wasn't so clear. Crucially, he doesn't want to find out how much you know about your chosen person. Nor does he want the kind of facts you can find on wikipedia. He wants you to make the information interesting. Make it personal, take an angle, be memorable, say something funny if possible...
Whilst I was there, one girl simply re-enacted McQueen's famous scene from the great escape, running round the room making motorcycle noises and eventually jumping up on a chair and falling down.
She got 9 out of 10.
Essentially you've got do anything but the obvious, whilst still remaining relevant.

Unfortunately this only dawned on me afterwards. I was so panicked I forgot that this was part of an interview for a creative course, not an English Lit one. I ended up giving a perfectly friendly, light-hearted presentation on Bukowski, recalling a scene from Factotum and explaining his take on 'creativity'. Ultimately I did nothing inventive with the task. MY BAD.
I got three out of ten. Tony told me that this was mainly for the joke I put in there.

Finally task C. Present your portfolio.
Have you ever flicked through an catalogue in Argos looking for a certain page?
Well that's about the pace at which you had to show your ads.
There is no time for long-copy, and - as I soon found out - Tony cares very little about ideas designed to work through digital media. He wants posters. Simple, visual campaigns expressing a benefit. Your top three executions for each campaign. Ideas you can get in five seconds (without having someone explain them to you). You have to let the ads speak for themselves to an extent. Simply set them up by saying who the ad is for and what the benefit you're dramatizing is. Also, (classic folio advice) avoid ads for big brands like Volkswagen, Heinz, The Economist, Mini, Sony - your stuff is always going to be compared to the work that's already being produced, and that shit's gonna take some beating. (You can throw a few ambient ideas in, so long as they're as simple and as clear as a poster would be).

In short:
NO to long winded virals. NO to long copy ads. NO to big brands.
YES to crisp headlines/straps. YES to visual wit. YES to smaller brands with simple benefits.

I got six out of ten on this one. He said I knew how ads worked, how they're structured, and I had a good range of devices going on. I was quite pleased about that. But, again, if you're presenting to five people, an A3 folio wouldn't go a miss. Mac your ads up too (in photoshop or whatever), as this makes them much more legible.

So - the panel's results came in for the presentations.
Two people did worse than me, and two did better.
I seriously doubt I'll get offered a place straight off, but with any luck I'll be invited back to give the interview another shot in March some time. If so, I'll be a hell of a lot calmer, and I'll know exactly what Tony wants from me.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Grab a Brown paper Bag

God. How awful.
Is brand-enduced vomiting a recognised condition? Because I think I have it.

(That's my initial response to this ad. But let's see how it pans out...)

Well, apart from the boring spiel the Volvo fella gives, midway through, the 'sell' is impalpably soft.
Not that that's always a bad thing.
But in this case, the idea in no way stems from the brand or anything Volvo are about. And I hate to say it, but it seems like they're using the blind man for some kind of bizarre sympathy vote. Blind men can't even drive - are they just teasing him?
And don't even get me started on that soundtrack...

They seem to think the line 'There's more to life than a Volvo, that's why you drive one' gives them the go-ahead to make "feel-good" ads about absolutely anything one might encounter in one's life.... other than, of course, a Volvo.

I don't know...
There's something about this kinda of advertising I really don't like.
Maybe it's just branding campaigns in general.

Remember that ad?

To get onto the Watford course there's a test. I hear it happens on the interview day. I have no idea what sort of questions will be asked, but I guess they'll be about advertising. So, I've set myself the modest task of learning about every agency in the UK - plus a couple more to boot.
I've written the name of each one down (and what the initials stand for), their current creative directors and most of their major clients. I've also made a list of this year's Cannes Lions and D&Ad winners...

After starting on A3 paper... I realised that I should probably have done a spreadsheet instead.

Oh and there's my cluttered desk... Rubberduckzilla 'n' all.
Oh, who did that ad?
I left them off the list too... silly me.

This is a real test of memory. If you spot any errors in my list, please let me know. And if anyone has any interview advice please dispense. It's only five days away!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The First Elevator Ambient I've Liked

When anyone ever uses elevator doors to advertise on, it's always something predictable which plays on the splitting apart/separating function of the doors themselves (divorce lawyers etc.) But this one is bloody cool.

(Found on Reddit frontpage - I spend way too much time there).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Building a Buzz

I just noticed this article somewhere or other.

After reading, it occurred to me that if an art gallery had one of the pieces stolen it would generate a lot of free press... especially if it was replaced with a fake and no-one noticed for a good while. What a story!? Just so long as the story got out eventually. People would hear about the exhibition, and might go see what the controversy was about.

If the theft of this brick art (supposedly worth around £3k) wasn't an advertising stunt for the exhibition, it should have been. And even if it was found out to be a hoax theft - the artist could always say it was part of the art! It raises questions about fakes and originals, the made and the found, or whatever kinda waffle you hear on 'School of Saatchi'.

Dave Trott's recent posts have gotten me all mischievous and thinking about how ads work with no budget at all. Create a bit of outrage and you can't go far wrong!

The Future of Google

(Source: Digital Buzz blog)

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ever Wanted 3,174 VW Ads?

Well here you go!
A gentleman called Roy has catalogued them all - by year, model and country.
Some you'll know well, and others you won't. Here's a beaut:

Hermes: Window Installation

Installation from Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka in the window of Hermes House in Japan.
There's something very calming about it. I suppose it's like witnessing slow motion in real life.
Courtesy of We Love Viral.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ad Strategies: Yo mamma's so fat she X

Yo know the type of joke? It goes, "Yo mamma is so fat she X"? Here's a few:

Yo momma's so fat, at a restaurant when they give her the menu she replies " yes Please"
Yo momma's so fat, when she went to the beach Greenpeace tried to drag her back in the water.
Yo momma's so fat, she makes Big Bird look like a rubber duck.

We'll my dear readers, ad land has it's very own version: this product is so X it Y. (Also labelled more simply, by Peter Barry, as the 'exaggeration' strategy).

Here's a few classic examples with the literal (as opposed to lateral) translation underneath:

This knife is so sharp, it cuts through the chopping board too!

This cement dries so quick, you don't even have time to write your name in it!

This marker pen is so permanent, an autograph will stay with you till your old!

Now, as you can no doubt tell, verbalizing the idea behind the visual takes away the magic... if they'd been posters with the same idea in words, they'd have been burnt instantly.
The wit of these ads seems manifest in the 'play' between the product logo and the image itself.

I imagine the writer going on a little journey... coming up with an incredibly short story to dramatize the benefit... eventually arriving at the idea after a long period of time and a lot of lateral scribblings...

The viewer then takes that same journey, but a hell of a lot faster...

Maybe that's what makes you laugh... the G-force in your tummy?!

The result? 'A smile in the mind' as the old book title has it!