WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE – Mark Denton

A funny thing happened the other day…I saw an advert on the internet and I went out and bought something. Don’t laugh, IT’S TRUE! The advert was for a TRIO bar and after seeing it I urgently needed a toffee/chocolate hit. Of course I couldn’t find a Trio anywhere (do they still make them?) so I had to make do with a Toffee Crisp. They (I bought a multi-pack) were very nice. I can’t remember what their advertising was likeRead more

WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE.

I read this psychologist’s theory once; everything we say we say to impress others. Everything. Like that, me starting this blog by quoting some psychologist’s theory in an effort to come across all intelligent. If it’s true, it could explain why asking people to name their favourite ads becomes an exercise in creating a cool, intelligent persona. You’ll can watch this live if you’re on an awards jury. This year there will be a lot of jurors positioning themselves asRead more

HANDS UP WHO’S HEARD OF SI LAM?

LOST AND FOUND. By Alfredo Marcantonio. I first saw the name Si Lam alongside “We’ll never make it big” a Volkswagen poster that appeared in 1967’s New York Art Directors club Annual. It was produced by DDB’s Los Angeles office and I reasoned that Mr Lam would be one of the many talented Californians who boasted Japanese extraction. It was a misapprehension that I fostered for 40 years or more. DDB New York’s legendary Beetle and Bus ads lived onRead more

WASHES WHITER.

In 1990, the U.K. had just four tv channels. Only two aired commercials. In that year the BBC aired this five part series about advertising. They didn’t skimp on time or money and aired it in primetime. I wonder whether this could happen today? True, they were only competing against three other channels. There was no internet back then. No Netflix to compete with. The gaming industry was like an amoeba at this point. There were no mobile phones. BarelyRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB: Addendum

I chanced upon this whilst researching this series. DDB News, 1966 – The Women’s Issue. It’s an odd little thing; one minute it feels progressive, the next..not*. (*Yes, I’m talking to you Legs Page.) But it’s a useful snapshot of the environment the women I’ve written about were working in at the time. Also, DDB would’ve been one of the most progressive agencies.  (See previous posts for details.)  Read more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 8: The Copywriters

‘Truly original creative work doesn’t tend to win awards.’ – John Hegarty. He’s right of course, (he is, after all, John Hegarty). It not only means that great work didn’t get the recognition it deserved back in the day, it means it’s not on the record for people like me to check today. Because awards annuals are the only reliable place to check who did what when. I’ve grouped the people in this post because they had far fewer entriesRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 7: Mary Wells

I wasn’t going to include Mary. I’ve already written a post on her and I couldn’t find anything new to add, like an interview from her time at DDB. I thought I’d just post a link to the previous post. But then I thought; the title of this series is The Women Who Built DDB, she deserves more than a link. She may not have had the influence over DDB as Phyllis Robinson, created a campaign as famous as JudyRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 6: Carole Anne Fine

One of the frustrations of putting together these Women Who Built DDB posts is trying to track down their work. The journey starts with scouring old copies of The New York Art Director’s Club Annual and Communication Arts magazines. After that, it’s a desperate flick through the random old books and magazines my wife is forever on at me to get rid of. With a bit of luck I’ll find a bunch of grainy little back and white squares withRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 5: Lore Parker

‘What was the most effective headline I ever wrote? ‘Dear Mrs Robinson’. Without a scrap of work to show, Lore Parker’s letter to Phyllis Robinson landed her a job as copywriter in the best ad agency on the planet. She stayed nearly thirty years. As with the subjects with all of these posts, the work feature is just a fraction of their output. So although I wish I could unearth more of her work, Lore’s talk on what it’s likeRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 4: Rita Selden

After the first post in this series a friend got in touch to say he liked it, but wasn’t that ‘built’ a bit of an exaggeration? No. Look at ‘Bill Bernbach’s Book – The advertising that changed the world of advertising’, written by Bob Levenson, a 30 year veteran, both writer and Creative Director. (When Creative Director meant head of all creatives.) EXHIBIT A: The picture above, it’s from the cover of that book (women involved in all six adsRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 3: Judy Protas

Unusual names are more likely to be remembered. So I knew that the writer of the Levy’s campaign was called Judy Protas. I didn’t know she’d written one of my favourite ads – Ohrbach’s ‘Back to school’. I knew the Crackerjack ads but didn’t know she’d written them. I didn’t know she’d written the Ohrbach’s cat ad (probably the most famous DDB before VW came along). I’d seen the funny Crackerjack commercials on a 100 Greatest ads reel back inRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 2: Paula Green

“It’s not the size of the budget.

 It’s the ferocity of the idea” 
 – Paula GRRRRReen. I’d seen that name underneath some Avis ads.
 But Helmut Krone’s campaigns tend to be referred to as Helmut Krone’s campaigns. (See what I mean?)
 The spotlight rarely makes it past him. So the writers, and often originators, of much of his most famous work get forgotten. Avis is a prime example. I love the art direction of the Avis campaign, but I loveRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 1: Phyllis Robinson

‘We used to have more female than male writers back in the 60s.’ Someone in the HR department of DDB NY told me that, about 5 years ago. Occasionally I’ll remember it and wonder whether it’s true, if it was; why it happened and why it changed. I just looked into it; it’s true. In looking into it, something else dawned on me. DDB in the fifties and sixties were, and still are in some quarters, considered the best, mostRead more

PODCAST: STEVE HARRISON.

When I started out, lunch with my old writer Sean would end with ‘Right, let’s shift some product’. It was irony, of course. It’s rare for creatives talk like that. If you’d have asked me at that time about the performance of one of my ads, I’d have given you a ton of awards data, but nothing on sales. To be fair, awards won are what creatives are salaried on, not units sold. And if you’ve ever sat on anRead more

CHEMISTRY LESSON.

It’s like a blind date; Agency and client get together over coffee to find out if they have any chemistry. Either party can bail if they’re not ‘feeling it’, or take the relationship to the next stage if they are. It’s a good idea, but unlike a blind date, the two parties don’t sit at the table as equals. For one party this is just one of multiple coffees they’ll be sampling, for the other it’s their only coffee. OneRead more

FASHION MUST-HAVES FOR THE COMING SEASON: 4. A RIBBON.

It doesn’t have to be a ribbon. Could be anything really – a pattern, shape, lemon, hedgehog, just something visual associated with your brand. It’s beyond a logo. It should run through your communications like the name of a seaside town through a stick of rock. Not appearing alongside it, but informing what ‘it’ is. Why? It increases your chances of your messages being remembered as yours. The boffins at the Ehrenburg Institute call them ‘Distinctive Assets’. The bottle saysRead more

FASHION MUST-HAVES FOR THE COMING SEASON: 3. ACCESS.

Beauty may attract, but it also repels. Look at the impossibly gorgeous, 0% body-fat models in most fashion ads and you’re confronted by how different you are. So rather than the desired response ‘that could be me’, you may think the opposite ‘no way is that me’. It’s like a gang rejecting your membership application in real time. The nuances of how these gangs present themselves is important. A recent documentary showed how Ralph Lauren puts his gang together, and it wasn’t how I’d imagined. For aRead more

FASHION MUST-HAVES FOR THE COMING SEASON: 2. FAME.

Streaming killed Blockbuster. iPhones killed Nokia. What killed Gap? I know, I know, technically they’re not dead, but boy are they diminished. Back in the day, everyone I knew had something with Gap written on it in their wardrobe. Not any more. Did they just happen to be in the right place at the right time? Or maybe it was their advertising? Put simply; when ran good ads they were successful when they didn’t they weren’t. I realise that’s notRead more

FASHION MUST-HAVES FOR THE COMING SEASON: 1. A CONSCIENCE.

I hated this campaign. It didn’t follow any of the rules we were supposed to follow at the time. It didn’t focus on something uniquely Benetton. (History, products, ingredients, process, etc.) It didn’t even attempt to persuade anyone their products were better than the competition. And frankly, it didn’t seem very clever. It felt like a generic solution that just happened to have a Benetton logo stuck to it. In retrospect, I was wrong. It wasn’t generic, it shone aRead more

Another post about radio advertising. (Sorry.)

There may even be another one, along with Paul Burke I’m trying to track down the 100 best radio ads. (If you have any send them in.) But onto this one, one of the surprising joys of doing this blog is unexpected things that turn upon my doorstep. Proofs, agency brochures, old DVDs, all manner of ephemera. (Or ‘crap’ as my wife calls it.). It’s lead me to post blogs on David Abbott’s BT Pitch, Fallon McElligott’s Rolling Stone campaignRead more