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

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

YE OLDE ADVERTS.

Before we start, full disclosure: I’m not anti old ads. I quite like them. But weirdly, a surprising number of creatives leaders don’t. At least, they say they don’t in public, I’m sure in private they must have a cheeky flip through the odd One Show annual now and again? They put out phrases next to their profiles like ‘All about the new’, ‘Future facing creative’, ‘Forwards, not backwards’ ‘I never look back’.
 It sounds so cool. Frankly, it makes meRead more

WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?

If you lived in Britain in between 1937 and 1958 there’s a reasonable chance you were spied on. It wasn’t called spying, it was called Mass Observation. Armies of clip-boarded volunteers quietly observed Britons, recording their behaviour in the most minute detail, unearthing invaluable insights on our society. Like this one, “the average time taken to drink half a pint of beer in pubs on a November Saturday night in Brighton in 1938 was 7.3 minutes.” (It also discovered thatRead more

PODCAST: Gary Goldsmith

Pick up any New York Art Directors Club Annual from the sixties and you can feel the heat coming off the pages. The Writers are using words previously confined to conversation, the Art Directors are trying to find new ways to present the information (‘Creating new pages’ as Helmut Krone put it.) Then, the seventies. A whole different story; the experimentation and energy appear to have dried up. True, there are still lots of good thoughts and lines, but inRead more

FOUND: BERNBACH STUFF.

I’ve no idea where this came from. I’ve had it for at least twenty or so years. Looking at that high-class screw holding it together and thick cell cover, it probably once belonged to a Creative Director. (Me and my friends didn’t have access to that kind of luxury at the time.) If you recognise it, get in touch and I’ll return it. It’s one of the best, most thorough interviews I’ve ever read with Uncle William. So thanks andRead more

PODCAST: David Kolbusz.

When you start out in your advertising career, Pentel in one hand, MacBook in  the other, you seem to be surrounded by good work. Awards books are choc-a-bloc with it. As you go on, year by year, you seem to see less and less. For example, the first D&AD Annual looked at probably had an 80/20 ratio of good to bad. 10 years later those percentages are likely to have flipped. As you move on you become less swayed byRead more

PODCAST: Alan Brooking.

I’m guessing you’re not as familiar with that name as were with others I’ve posted? But you’ll be familiar with his work. Saatchi’s ‘Pregnant Man’? BBH’s ‘Black Sheep’ poster? CDP’s ‘Wolf In Sheeps Clothing’? Yes? All shot by Alan. Because they’re such a fantastic ideas, they look as though anybody could’ve shot them. The images are so simple and clear you can’t imagine done them any other way. But each is the end result of a series of choices. TakeRead more

PODCAST: Trevor Beattie.

‘Recorded any new podcasts lately?’ I get asked this a few times every week. The askees range from college attendees to retired adman. As I pick the people I interview, they seem as famous as The Beatles to me, but they’re often unknown to the askees. After offering up a name and watching a blank expression appear, I reach for a quick handle, something from culture that I think they’ll know. Occasionally it’s an ad fact; ‘Set Up Fallon beforeRead more

GUT.

Facts seem to have lost their resonance in may areas today, but in marketing, they’re still king of the castle. They call the shots. Whether it’s big data, qual, quant, O.T.S, ROI, A/B testing, name any marketing abbreviation, if numbers are involved they must be obeyed. These numbers get distilled into rules. It makes sense, who wouldn’t want to use previous learnings to improve future performance? But somehow, applying these learnings to creative work often feels uncomfortable, less like improvingRead more

Minneapolis, U.K.

I’ve spent over thirty years working within a few square miles of Soho Square. Historically, it’s where the majority of the client’s headquarters were situated. It’s also where country’s magazines, photographers, printers, film companies based, so it became where the bullseye for the country’s ad agencies. Leaf through a bunch of awards annuals and you’ll be hard pressed to find work from another city. Birmingham and Manchester pop up periodically, but not regularly. But in the eighties, one city turnedRead more

THE WALL.

It’s what you hit when you run a marathon. A sudden loss of energy followed by your body telling you ‘I’m done, it’s all over’. But keep putting one foot in front of the other and pretty soon you’re through to the other side, with renewed energy. I was teaching students at the SCA2 last Friday, and was reminded that as creatives we also face a walls, (not physical ones, obviously, they were torn down years ago to make roomRead more

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of Frank Budgen?

We’re smack bang in the middle of the age of collaboration. Any press release for a creative hiring now contains that reassuring phrase ‘Known for being collaborative’. (To me it always reads ‘We’re pleased to announce we’ve finally found a creative who will listen to us’.) The feeling the team had creating the work is as scrutinised as what they created. But collaboration means different things to different people. For most of the team it conjures up enjoyable meetings onRead more

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