Hands Up Who’s Heard Of MAD DOGS & ENGLISHMEN?

Remember Alessandro Volta? Douglas Engelbart? What about Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis? Thought not. Even if I asked who invented electric light, the computer mouse and social media, those names are still unlikely to come up. More likely, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg will spring to mind. They didn’t invent those ideas, they either stole from those guys or ‘built on their thinking’.But although now virtually forgotten, their work was crucial, take away their thinking would be likeRead more

THE LOOKY-LIKEY AMALGAM.

I few months back I recorded a podcast with Richard Shotton, one of the brightest people in the business. Whilst preparing I read Richard’s book, The Choice Factory, it’s great, full of fascinating insights and observations on human behaviour and how we respond to marketing. Whilst taking in all this intelligent insight an interesting theory occurred to me; why don’t we just create ads that people like? Granted, it’s no theory of relativity, but it’s odd that it’s barely aRead more

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of GEOFFREY SEYMOUR?

ADVERTISING’S OSCAR WILDE. An appreciation of the work of Geoffrey Seymour. By Mike Everett. It is one of the great ironies of the advertising business that one of its most talented writers is better remembered for his salary than his work. When he joined Saatchi & Saatchi in 1982, Geoff Seymour was paid £100,000 a year, a sum of money that soon became known in advertising circles as a ‘Seymour’. It may have been as an eye-watering amount at theRead more

PUSHING WORDS AROUND. Pt 1.

Pictures are great. As everyone knows, they’re worth a 1000 words, but they offer so much more; emotion, drama, humour, shock, surprise, information, style, etc, etc. So what do you do if you can’t use one? If you’re an art director it’s especially tough, because your job is to make people engage against their will. So the temptation is to overcompensate with graphics. But it’s a risk, as Bill Bernbach warned ‘Merely to let your imagination run riot, to dream unrelatedRead more

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 4.

The Advertising Standards Council wouldn’t let that title pass. I guess it was my intent when I cello-taped it to the cover. There are a few old New Yorker ads in there, but the majority are English, from the early seventies. It’s odd collection, looking at it now is a bit like wandering through a car boot sale. There’s the finds that have famous attached, so may be worth something:   1. Illustrator/Artist Glen Baxter’s Gilbey’s Gin ads. 2. Photographer ArtRead more

The Wall Street Journal’s CREATIVE LEADERS SERIES.

The haircuts have dated. The clothing looks dated. The puns feel very dated. The page layouts look dated. The screen treatment of the photographs look dated. But a lot of the thinking, not so much. As Bill Bernbach said “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive toRead more

THE BENEFITS OF LONG-TERM BAND CAMPAIGNS.

Played at 78rpm, one side of a 12’’ shellac disc could play up to five minutes of music. In 1948, Columbia Records came up with an alternative; a PVC disc with finer grooves that, played at 33rpm, could play up to 22 minutes a side. It not only changed the way we listen to music, it change the music we listened to. First, these ‘Long Players’ were seen as ideal for theatre musicals and film soundtracks. Consequently, one group dominatedRead more

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 1.

‘‘Alright fatty, what you after?” How do you react? I’m guessing it would taint your opinion of that particular bookshop, making you less inclined to buy. Nobody likes being disrespected or patronised. What about if that bookshop owner had said “Oh, just to let you know; the new Proust collection is just in”. Sure, you’d look behind you to check that they were talking to you, but you couldn’t help but be pleased that they’d presumed you were intelligent. ItRead more

PITCH: David Abbott/BT.

“Hey Dave, I’ve got something you might want to share on your blog. It’s 30 minutes of David Abbott pitching the famous BT Bob Hoskins campaign, direct to camera, apparently for some BT big-wigs who missed the original presentation. Not only is it a lovely piece of advertising history, it’s also a masterclass for any creative about to step into pitching. I found it when I was at AMV and had to present a re-pitch for the entire BT account.Read more

PITCH: Innocent?

The creative pitch: Companies invite agencies to present creative proposals on how to improve their marketing and therefore their bottom line. Best proposal wins. Wrong. For a start, clients run only one campaign for every 16 they are presented in pitches. (Thanks Martin Jones, AAR Guru & Brighton fan.) How can it be that fifteen of the sixteen agencies get the brief so wrong that they end up throwing their time, energy a work in the bin? Because, as I’mRead more

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 2.

These ads from 1960’s copies of The New Yorker are weird. They’re just so, well, New Yorker ads from the sixties. As evocative of their era as a Blockbuster membership cards and the sound of fax machines were of theirs. That’s not a criticism, some are great. But it’s striking just how different they feel. So different that it got me thinking why and what unifies them? 1: $’s. Look at the ads and you’ll notice that they have allRead more

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 3.

Another batch of fertilizer. That’s not a euphemism by the way, just a reminder that ideas grow from ideas, they rarely appear out of the blue. I sometimes hear people say ‘I’m all about tomorrow, I never look back…I’m like an arrow heading towards the future’. It sounds bloody exciting. Then I look at their output, and it often feels so…so, soul-less  gimmicky…nothingy. Like it or not, the truth is that jobs, like most jobs, are less about inventing thanRead more

PODCAST: Richard Foster.

Read any article on good copywriting and you’ll find the same names appear. David Abbott and Tony Brignull usually battle for the top two slots, Tim Delaney and John Salmon fight it out for third place. But talk to writers about the same subject and another name appears; Richard Foster. Richard is the only one of the five who has worked under the other four. (He may well be the only writer to have worked under the four?) For aRead more

PODCAST: Sir Frank Lowe.

“Frank Lowe single-handedly cajoled a whole generation of writers, art directors and film directors into revolutionising British and world advertising.” – Sir Alan Parker. It seemed a bit over the top. I know he was very good and had a big impact on the business, but ‘single-handedly’? But I guess Alan is his mate, so he’s probably bigged him up a bit. Having just spent three hours nose to nose with Frank, I got a taste of what Alan was talking about.Read more

PODCAST: Dave Hieatt.

Since he quit advertising, Dave has had a big effect on it.First, with Howies.His mail order catalogues built up more than customer base, they built up a fan base.They were, and still are, traded on Ebay.Not for their clothing, for their vibe; that decent feel-good, smart, happy, moral life is for living, do the right thing voice. (Dave: Did I miss anything?)Their writing and ideas were ripped them off mercilessly by ad agencies, constantly being used as reference for tone ofRead more

PODCAST: Chris Wilkins.

‘Chris is one of the few very, very bright people around.’ – CHARLES SAATCHI. ‘On his day he’s a much better writer than I am.’ – DAVE TROTT. ‘He is intelligent, witty and versatile and I’d say he’s probably one of the best three copywriters in the country.’ – JOHN WEBSTER. ‘He’s just done a podcast with me!’ – DAVE DYE J. WALTER THOMPSON. Guinness. BOASE MASSIMI POLLITT. Bambi Nappies. Pepsi. The Labour Party. Cresta. Cadbury’s Smash. Southern Comfort. SAATCHIRead more

UNADVERTISING.

Successful companies rarely take chances. Why would they? Often, it’s hard to pinpoint why exactly why things are going well, so they’re careful not to rock the boat. It makes advertising them tricky, because the whole point of advertising is to stand out. To do that you have to be different from the things you are trying to stand out from. But looking different can feel risky. ‘Why take a risk? Especially now, when everything’s going so well?’ It’s why theRead more

Hands up who’s heard of Jeanloup Sieff?

Cultural trends are difficult to spot when you’re in the middle of them. They look like ‘normal’, it’s only with the benefit of distance can you join the dots. It’d be useful to recognise current trends because generally they are followed by the polar opposite. In fashion, plain is likely to be followed by pattern, natural by synthetic, subtle by loud. When type was set on film and photographic paper, Art Directors and Designers were obsessed with sharpness, because perfectionRead more

INTERVIEW: Jay Maisel.

I’ve worked with, met, written about and interviewed a lot of photographers over the years. But only one has made me run out and get the same camera he uses. Going through his work again for this interview reminded me that photography needn’t be big, complicated or scientific, it can simply be about the joy of seeing. Photography can be anything; two colours vibrating next to each other, light bouncing off a wall or simply someone doing something unusual. IRead more

Len Weinreich’s corkboard.

One of the side-effects of putting out this blog has been the people I’ve met. Take Len Weinreich, whilst trying to find Paul Leeves work for an upcoming podcast, I came across Len, it turns out he lives down the road from me. Alan Parker had referred to him as ‘the bloke who taught me everything I know about advertising’, Dave Trott said he gave him the best piece of advice on advertising he ever got and Paul Leeves simply saidRead more