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 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

DON’T BE ASHAMED TO S***! PART 2.

First, it seems that Part 1 hit a bit of a nerve. I got a way more feedback than I usually do. Maybe it was a contrast to the science, pseudo science and plain bullshit around our business at the moment? But reducing the process down to a simple, human form seemed to really resonate, one person said it was like ‘advertising unplugged’. Which was the point. But you never really know how people will respond, often the posts IRead 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

DAVID ABBOTT’S SAINSBURY’S CAMPAIGN. By Richard Foster.

Some things are made for each other.Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Strawberries and cream. Parma ham and mango (see below). To this list of perfect partnerships we must add another: Sainsbury’s and Abbott Mead Vickers. It all started one afternoon in 1979 when David Abbott’s secretary put a call through to him saying there was someone from Sainsbury’s on the line. David thought it was his local Sainsbury’s, where his wife regularly shopped. It wasn’t. It was Peter Davis, theRead 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

GREEN BOOKS: Dave Hieatt

This book was glued and cellotaped together before Hiut Denim, The Do Lectures, Do Books and Howies were even a glint in Dave’s eye.It’s nearly 30 years old.But it’s so them.It features the same ingredients that shine through those companies today – humanity, ecology, wit, positivity, a wide-eyed curiosity and a kind of folksy down home vibe.In fact, if you wanted to make a Dave Hieatt pie, here’s the recipe book.Read more

DON’T BE ASHAMED TO S***!

I’m not a big fan of ‘BRAND PURPOSE’. It seems to replace specific reasons for buying a product with generic claims that aren’t even specific to the product category, let alone the product. It leads companies to make claims that make them seem nuts. Charcoal insoles that ‘stop sneakers from smelling’ get elevated to ‘Creators of a nose-friendly planet’. If you can’t say it to someones face without feeling embarrassed, don’t say it. ‘DISRUPTION’ is another popular word. But it’s a $10Read more

PODCAST: Carlos Bayala.

My first South American. One of the most thoughtful creatives I’ve come across. We worked together for a bit at Mother and I loved that he was forever curious about what the people in the real world were thinking, would they give a shit about our little product or dumb ad? Not surprisingly his new agency is different, its New. That’s not a typo, that’s its name. It’s also appropriate because he’s teamed up with a Rocket Scientist from… actually,Read more

AUTHOR seeks PUBLISHER for short-term RELATIONSHIP.

I’ve found a great book on advertising; ‘Methods of the Madmen’. The only problem is it’s not available. It’s been written by a friend of mine, Mike Everett, as well as writing the book Mike wrote many great ads whilst at Collett’s and Lowe’s, including the Olympus David Bailey campaign, the freaky ‘Wrangler. That’s what’s going on’, Birds Eye’s ‘Dishonest woman’ and a bunch of Hamlet ads to name but a few. He’s kindly allowed me to feature a few chapters hereRead 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

David Abbott Talks.

Le Corbusier – Dinosaur! Coco Channel – Granny! Paul Rand – Has-been! Irving Penn – Neanderthal! Saul Steinberg – Silly Old Fart! Looks weird doesn’t it? Because we’re not used to seeing those people disrespected, they’re lauded for their part in elevating their profession. Especially by those in the same industry, who study their every idiosyncrasy to inform their own creative output. It enables all of us who follow to start further down the page. It’s why all creative industries striveRead 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

Remember house ads?

Not for the first time, a tweet by Richard Shotton got me thinking – ‘A rare example of an ad agency advertising themselves well’. (It showed an old Fallon McElligott house ad.) When was the last time I saw an agency advertising itself? I couldn’t think of one. It’s a shame, because as well as helping clients get a sense of an agency, house ads were a great way for people like me to a snapshot of the culture within 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

PODCAST: Me (Pt.2)

When I interviewed Sir Alan Parker he kept saying ‘take that out, take this out!’. I tried to explain that these ads were part of his journey, they shed a little light on his journey from the mailroom to Hollywood. He was having none of it ‘I’m a less is more guy, you’re a more is never enough guy’. He’s right, well, in terms of ads I’m definitely a less is more, but in terms of the blog, interviewing peopleRead more

The bit between the Me Pt. 1 and Me Pt. 2 podcasts.

Usually when I do these an interview or podcast, the challenge is trying to find the persons work, some people have not a scrap. (Yes, I’m talking about you Jeff Stark! And I haven’t forgotten you either Sid Myers!) I also like to add a bit of ephemera, for some colour, but it’s rare to come across that.   The challenge this time was what to leave out; the CDD phone lists, the Mercedes meeting notes or internal memo? InRead more