My childhood, to put it mildly, was not a middle class one, so I was spared that haughty parental diktat to watch BBC and not ITV. Thames and LWT were our channels of choice which meant that I grew up watching Opportunity Knocks, Benny Hill, Man About the House and The Sweeney. Good job too because watching the commercial break during every episode of On the Buses turned out to be the perfect preparation for my future career. I mustRead more
Posts filed in: Typography
Podcast: MICHAEL WOLFF
Leap before you look. That’s written on the back of Michael’s business cards. He prefers instinct over logic; everyone can access to logic, so they all end up in the same place. At Wolff Olins he took a brief to rebrand a paint company, now most would end up with rainbows, peacocks or some colourful iconography. Not Michael. He chose a fox, because ‘the owner reminded me of a wily fox’. When Bowyer’s needed a new logo, Michael went withRead more
PODCAST: Cabell Harris
Ad agencies often claim to have no set style, that each campaign is created from scratch, bespoke for every client. It may be true for the mediocre ones, but not the great ones. Nobody used to confuse the work of AMV, BBH and GGT. The same with Wieden, Chiat and Fallon. Today, stick me in front of a tv and I’d fancy my chances at picking the Droga5. Or spotting the Uncommon on a tube platform. Because although ad agenciesRead more
PODCAST: Oli Beale.
“Hello Dave, We’ve not met before. I’m an ad creative too. I felt compelled to write and tell you how much I’m enjoying your blog. I’ve learnt loads. (Now I’ve started writing this email I feel a bit silly!) Anyway, keep pumping your stuff from the loft out into the ether. It’s wonderful. Thanks, Oli.” I got that email in 2013. I wondered where this charming young man went to college or was on placement, so I googled him: ‘PartnerRead 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
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
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
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
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