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

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

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

MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS SPORTS COUPE: ‘Shiny?’

Discounting premium products can be risky. It can take decades to build up a premium positioning for a brand, to give their products a value beyond the materials and man hours that have gone into their making. Once you start discounting you risk making it feel less special, because people know that, generally, products get discounted because they aren’t selling, if they aren’t selling it must be because nobody wants them. MERCEDES-BENZ PROBLEM: A stock-pile of C-Class Sports Coupe’s. They decidedRead more

NOT IN-CAMERA: Giles Revell.

Where did you grow up? The sleepy town of Sawbridgeworth, it’s on the Hertfordshire and Essex border. When did you take your first picture? There was no eureka moment, I inherited my grandfather’s Silver Ilford Sportsman.I do remember being intrigued by its beauty; a matt silver finish with shiny brown hinged leather case. I wore it across my waist in my early teens, but had no idea what I was doing with it. It felt sophisticated, technical, way beyond anything I’d ever come inRead more

BOSS No.6: Tim Delaney.

  Why advertising? I wanted to be a hotel bell hop boy when I left school at 15. But when I looked in the newspaper want ads – Junior Opportunities – they only had 2 ad agency messenger jobs. I went up to London and one of them offered me a job. What was your first job in advertising? A messenger- in a tiny basement room with 4 others. Quite Dickensian,when I look back. Did you try and get intoRead more

BOSS No.5: Mark Denton.

Why advertising Mark? It all happened by accident. I was quite good at drawing as a kid and my Uncle had gone to Art School and had ended up as a Silversmith. The Dentons weren’t that imaginative (they all worked in the Family Scrap business) so ‘good at drawing’ meant that I should go to Art School too. My Mum thought I could get a job as one of those people who paint the patterns on the edge of platesRead more

ADNAMS: Words.

Agencies and clients generally shack up together after a single blind date, (or a pitch, to give it its technical name.) As a result, the relationship is a marriage of convenience; ‘‘Do you, Least Bad Agency In The Process, take you, Client Who Needs To Look Like They’re Shaking Things Up?’’ But when an ‘old flame’ comes back the dynamic is different, you feel you have to do everything you can to justify their decision. Or at least I did when this happened back in 2009.Read more

ENGLISH HERITAGE: Wiggly lines.

I used to love those long copy Leagas Delaney ads. True, I never read the copy, but the theory at the time was that if  you write a thousand words on, say, how a boot was made, you’d appear like a very well made boot. Showing a thousand words of copy was like a bit like a quality mark. But I liked them because they looked nice. Well, sophisticated, to be more precise. In a sea of price flashes, exclamationRead more

LOOT: Scruffy product = scruffy ad.

Capture or create a brand’s personality? When you’re producing a new campaign they’re your options. Although it’s not always possible, I prefer using what’s there, either physically or perception to fabricating something. Your work has more chance of resonating with the public if it feels to authentic, to feel authentic to them it needs to tally with their views of the brand. E.g. If your bank, for so long the sensible, staid pressence in your life starts talking like aRead more

THE ECONOMIST: Venn diagrams.

The Economist was an open brief at AMV.  It meant that everyone in the creative department worked lunch hours, weekends and in downtime on posters for The Economist. This had been going on for about ten years. I turned up as Creative Director on the account, about ten years into the ‘Red Campaign’. I’d estimate that on average I’d approve one out of every fifteen ads I was shown. We’d need a campaign of ten posters to run every threeRead more

TURNING STORIES INTO ADS: The Guardian.

Newspapers deal in stories, they have to find them and write them up every day. If they find good ones their sales increase. So when agencies try selling them brand campaigns, they tend to think it’s a lot of namby pamby nonsense. Instead they prefer their marketing to be based on specific content. That could be anything from a scoop to a serialisation of an autobiography. The problem is that the stories are rarely on brand, they are often theRead more

MERRY DOWN: Year 1.

“We have a bit of an image problem with Merrydown, its main constituency appears to be students and street tramps.” Chris Carr, Merrydown Chairman. These were the only Merrydown ads we could remember seeing. (Written by Chris Wilkins.)Six sheets and fly posters were booked, so posh, long copy ads like those were out. The creative department came up with various routes, some good, some less so. Who’d have time to look at a picture, read the explanation below, then check out whoRead more

ADIDAS: Running ads.

These were the first Adidas ads I did. Loud, aggressive and very yellow. I wasn’t a big fan of the look that had been created at the time, I felt it killed the images and came over like Nike, only less sophisticated. (To be fair, they stand up surprisingly well today.) I got the chance to break away from this style with some running ads Tim Delaney had written. It helped that he’d written ads that were tonally very differentRead more

TIMEBANK? HELP!

THIS I KNOW: Agency: AMV/BBDO. Writer: Sean Doyle. Photographer: Nadav Kander. THIS IS WHAT I DON’T: What the hell are they talking about? Or for that matter, what do TimeBank do/sell/make? Can anyone help? Answers on a postcard to P.O. Box …. (I will now pay Google a visit and ask them what they know of these TimeBank people.)Read more

BUDWEISER: Heritage isn’t sacrilege.

This was a very popular ad when I turned up at Bishopsbridge Road. When the client asked for more they were told the cupboard was bare, it was a one-off. New fangled beers were popping up in the more fashionable bars every week, Budweiser needed a campaign to give them a bit of cache. Sean Doyle and I were briefed on a campaign aimed at readers of the Face, Wallpaper and ID, what’s the technical term for them? Fashionistas? Opinion formers?Read more

BBC NEWS 24: Safe is sometimes best.

It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when rolling news wasn’t a thing. Whilst at AMV/BBDO, Sean Doyle & I got the brief to explain that not only was rolling news a thing, called BBC News 24, it was a good thing. It occurred to us that 90% of news was unplanned, random acts, terrorism, floods, accidents, things you just couldn’t predict or plan for. It seemed like a good angle; news doesn’t stop happening, so BBCRead more

VOLKSWAGEN SHARAN: Wrong and right.

BRIEF: Dads need a break, Volkswagen Sharan’s roomy interior is the perfect for them to enjoy a bit of ‘me time’. The Sharan was essentially a transit van with windows cut out of the side panels and seats welded into the back. A Creative Director’s job isn’t to just oversee the creative work, it’s to be the conduit between the creative and other departments. So, if a brief comes in that you don’t think you can turn into credible creativeRead more

ANTI-SMOKING: Free can be expensive.

Every so often, a newspaper or magazine will call up asking for some ads. These can be anything from ‘If drugs were legalised how would they market themselves?’ to ‘How should banks communicate post 2008?’. Strangely enough, one such brief helped me secure my first job in advertising; ‘How would Vets advertise if it became legal for them to do so?’. (The concepts below ran in Marketing Week, probably helped turn my trial into a job.) (Hang on a minute… ‘HowRead more

VOLKSWAGEN: ‘Abbo’.

In 2009, we pitched for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. As the recession was just starting to bite and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles were generally dearer than non-Volkswagen commercial vehicles. I thought we needed to find a writer who could write. Someone who could put together a reasoned argument as to why businessmen should pay more for something they could buy for less. It’s a tough brief. I tried to think who’d fit it, but couldn’t think of anyone. I’d recently picked thisRead more