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, 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, 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

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

THE MOST UNFASHIONABLE FORM OF ADVERTISING?

What was the last product demo you saw? Not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, they’re all over those, but on tv, billboards or press (does press still exist?). You just don’t see agencies doing them anymore. Odd, because, and I hope I’m not giving away any trade secrets here, the goal of most advertising is to persuade people that the product featured is good. Ideally, REALLY good. So showing it in action, performing well, seems like it might be aRead more

GREEN BOOKS: Type 3.

It’s always weird looking back through these books. Like looking at those insects trapped in a chunk of amber.  There they were, right in the middle doing something, simply walking or picking their nose, frozen in time. These books are a bit like that, a snapshot of what was happening at a certain moment in time, captured chronologically. (Encased in green this time, not amber.) This moment is ’93 to ’94, type & graphics, and what an odd moment itRead more

PODCAST: RICK SITTIG

Many of you won’t recognise that name. You won’t find it attached to tweets his latest ‘hot’ campaign, or next to a picture of his latest lunch; he doesn’t do social media. You won’t find his agency in any new business tables; they only handle three clients at a time, so tend to have long client relationships. You won’t find their scripts in any production companies; they direct them in-house. This is because, when, 23 years ago, the goal forRead more

JUST LIE.

Advertising is like kryptonite to us human beings. Just as our instinct kicks in to ensure we don’t look directly at the sun, we now do the same when advertising appears in our peripheral vision. We know it’s there; jumping up and down desperately trying to get our attention, but we manage to shield our eyes from it. Like everything else, the internet can throw us a bit of data on this – last year, ‘25.8 percent of internet usersRead more

PODCAST: RORY SUTHERLA…

That’s not a mistake, it’s my attempt to graphically warn you that this podcast ends abruptly. The idea was that I’d grill Rory on some of the issues facing our business today. He is easily one of the most thoughtful, smartest guys in our business, just check out some of his quotes below if you don’t believe me. But rather than ask softball questions that were too broad, I thought it’d be more interesting to make it binary. Forcing aRead more

BULLSEYE!

I worked with Sean Doyle for roughly 12 years. One morning, about six years in, Sean threw a scruffy ball of paper over to my side of the desk – ‘I did us a logo’. It was like a miracle; Our names fit together perfectly, symmetrically, what were the chances? It was worth putting it together even if just to enter for awards. I turned the scribble into type. That wasn’t how Sean had imagined it. DYE was too dominant.Read more

D&AD&ME.

In 1961, notoriously hot-headed photographer Bob Brooks arrived in London. The advertising scene he stepped into was a very poor relation to the one he’d left in New York. His biggest grievance was it’s annual advertising awards “it was put on by a printer, whose clients were the major agencies, so the ads were often credited as being ‘designed on a group basis”. No names were mentioned, and nobody knew who designed anything.” Rather than except the situation, he gotRead more