The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


A Look Back At 7 Years …

As I have 2 days left of working at Wieden, I thought I’d put up some of the films [some are case studies because I can’t find the actual spot online] that I’ve either had something to do with or happened on my watch while at W+K Shanghai.

To be honest, there’s loads more – including 3 campaigns that haven’t come out yet, of which one is particularly exciting – but I appreciate how indulgent this post is already.

So with that – and in no particular order – here we go …

Converse Lyrics

NIKE Mr Sun

Fiat 500 La Vita E Bella – with thanks to my Mum

NIKE Temple Of Deadly Quickness

P&G Best Job

NIKE Find Your Greatness

Jeep Built Free

Jordan Winning Moment

Heineken Curiosity Pays

NIKE Epic Step

Spotify Japan Music Changes Us

As I said, there’s a bunch more stuff I could put up, but when I look back at this – especially in relation to where China/Asia advertising traditionally sits – I nod and, to paraphrase Phil Knight from the W+K global credentials film, say “It’s not bad”.



WiFi Wickedness …

Just to make sure no one is under the mistaken illusion that this blog is topical, I wanted to bring your attention to something that happened way back in March 2016.

OK … OK … I know for this blog, that’s pretty topical, but let’s put that aside for now.

As I’ve discovered over the years, the car industry may be one of the most competitive industries out there and nothing highlights this more than at Auto-shows.

Seriously, it often appears the focus of the manufacturers is simply to out-do the competition rather than try to engage the potential owner.

Anyway, at New York Auto Show last year [yes, last year] Audi set up a bunch of free Wi-Fi networks and gave them names that highlighted the A4’s features over the BMW 328i.

And because people are always scrambling for free wifi at conventions like this, a huge amount of people not only saw it, but got educated by it at the same time.

Simple, smart, evil.

Of course, this isn’t a new thing, just a smart thing.

A deviously smart thing.



Little Things Make The Difference …

In Asia, hand cleanliness is almost an obsession.

People even eat their sandwiches and burgers with knives and forks to avoid having to pick them up.

OK, so maybe that’s the case everywhere and I’m just showing my common Nottingham roots … but I still find it fascinating.

Everywhere you go, there’s hand sanitisers.

I’m not just talking in hospitals, I’m talking restaurants and all sorts of other places.

Recently, I saw this on my wife’s bag.

Yep, it’s a portable hand sanitiser.

But I’m not saying this because it highlights how long we’ve been in Asia, I’m saying it because making a product that can attach easily to a bag is an act of simple genius.

For a culture that doesn’t want to just wash their hands, but have them truly germ free … this little idea has big appeal.

Sure, there’s other products on the market that do a similar thing, but having something that attaches to your bag gives a peace of mind that wipes hidden in your bag, just can’t do. Plus being permanently on display helps advertise the brand to all who see it. Nice.

I’ve said for a while that I feel designers are doing things in more interesting ways than ad agencies and ultimately that’s down to one simple difference of approach.

Designers want to solve problems whereas ad agencies want to communicate problems.

Not all agencies are like this.

Not all agency employees are like this.

But right now, the design industry is kicking our ass and I swear it’s because we are holding on to remuneration models that reward ‘the old ways’ rather than finding ways to get paid for what we are truly capable of if given the freedom to do it.

[That and the fact adlands creative department hiring policy is still primarily based on art and copy rather than embracing different types of creative people/thinkers/doers]

We will have to wake up soon, otherwise the bullshit we churn out for Cannes – that we claim is ‘creative problem solving’ will become the benchmark for our standards and when that happens, we may as well pack up and go home.

But I have faith it can be done, if only because I saw The Kennedys Shanghai consistently solve problems in imaginative and innovative and intriguing ways for 9 months.



Welcome To Delusional …

I get pester power.

I understand how that dynamic can work and works.

I also know the airline industry is very competitive and the A380 hasn’t been as super-successful as was originally expected.

But – and it’s a really big but – I’m not sure that tactic will convince an airline carrier to suddenly start buying A380’s.

Not just because those planes – or any plane for that matter – are the sort of thing you buy on a whim, but because most airline travellers tend to choose the carrier rather than purely the plane they will be travelling on.

And then there’s the bullshit of their domain name.

iflya380.com

Look, I know the actual name of the plane is A380 – as in Airbus 380 – but the inclusion of the ‘a’ makes the domain name sound like it’s the passengers who fly the bloody thing.

As in I FLY A 380.

Why couldn’t they change it to ilovea380.com or itravela380.com?

Yes, I know I’m sounding John Doddslike, but it makes something bad even worse … and don’t even get me started on how utterly boring the website actually is when you go to it.

Honestly, what do they think this campaign is going to do?

What the hell are the KPI’s for this campaign?

And seriously, how the hell are they justifying ‘the passengers favourite’.

I would absolutely kill to know the thinking behind this work because in a weird way, it has put me off Airbus and A380’s … and judging by fact they’ve only received 14 emojis – of which at least 1 is ‘shocked’ – it would seem I’m not the only one.



Credit Where Credit Is Due …

One of the things that has always bugged me about adland is the ad ‘credit list’.

Sometimes you’ll read about a one-off print ad that has a longer credit list than a bloody movie.

Seriously.

Look, I get the importance of having your name on things – this is an industry obsessed with that – but it kind of gets ridiculous when people are mentioned because they put the stamp on the invitation for the client launch.

That’s why I always loved that Mother credited everything as Mother.

Sure, you could claim it robbed those involved in the making of the work from getting the credit they deserved – but I can tell you for a fact, there’s no way those people would be anonymous for long.

Of course the worst is when people take credit for things they didn’t really do.

Or big themselves up to make it sound like they were instrumental in what was created.

With that, I want to tell you a story that I heard from my friend – and creative extroidinatire – Kash Sree.

A long time ago – in the 80’s to be precise – there was a phenomenal writer called Richard Cook.

The creative director he worked for was notorious for not giving credit to the people who deserved it and had left Richard’s name off numerous previous pieces of well received work.

One lunch, the creative director handed Richard an ad and asked him to write some copy for it before he got back.

Richard – in a demonstration of his talent – wrote the piece over his lunch break.

It’s the ad at the top of this post.

The ad went on to win countless awards.

In an award-obsessed industry, Richard wasn’t exactly surprised that the creative director yet again denied Richard had anything to do with the work. So Richard unleashed his weapon.

He simply stated if anyone needed proof that he was responsible for the ad, they should read the first letter of every paragraph of the copy.

I’ll save you the bother. It spelled out ‘Richard Cook wrote this’.

Genius.



If You’re Going To Hijack, Do Something Interesting …

The ‘hijack’ strategy is now being used by so many brands that you have to ask if it’s even effective anymore.

OK, so when it’s done really well, it still has the power to impress … but so many brands are now doing it in such a half-baked way [often relying on the occasion to make the impact rather than the work] that a lot doesn’t even make a dent.

What’s even more annoying is this trend for brands to enter debates with no other purpose than to push their own agenda.

They don’t contribute to the debate.

They don’t add to the debate.

They don’t even care about the debate.

It’s all take, take, take … even though the media loves to claim “the brand is taking a stand about issues facing society”.

I’m looking at you Dove and your #AlternativeFacts ad … even though you’re far from being the only guilty party.

However there’s some brands who at least have the decency to make their exploitation amusing.

Sure, you could say Dove did that with the ad I’ve just criticised them for … but lets be honest, they’re not exactly known for going outside of their lane in terms of topicality and even though they could have easily turned this into a legitimate ad about their product credentials, they chose to go for the lowest common denominator. Possibly because it’s also award season soon. Possibly.

And that’s why I like this idea from Chinese teabag brand, inWE …

Yes, they are jumping on a bandwagon.

Yes, they are trying to gain free publicity from it.

But at no point do they try and claim it is some sort of political statement, which allows you to enjoy it for exactly what it is.

A bit of fun.

And the irony of this is it makes the brand far more likeable than all those others who try to hijack a cause or occasion to show they care.

Because most don’t, not in a way where they will sacrifice their profit for their cause.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe in the power of ‘brand purpose’.

But saying you care and committing to it are – sadly – very different things which is why it’s kind of refreshing to find a brand who isn’t trying to claim it’s saving the World but simply having some fun with what they do.

Which some would argue is a ‘brand purpose’ … but then they tend to also be the sort of folks that call humans, brands.

They’re not. They’re humans.



Pepsi’s April Fools Ad Is Brilliant …

Well done Pepsi.

Where so many brands made their April Fool’s ad obvious as hell, you’ve gone with subtlety.

The use of a multi-cultural audience was brilliant.

I loved how you made sure they were all stunningly attractive to ensure minorities would find it even harder to feel like they belong.

Comedy gold.

And then you gave them all incredible creative talent to really rub people’s noses in it.

But not just any creative talent … you have them play Cello’s and use DLSR’s to show they have sophisticated taste as well as cash.

Lots and lots of cash.

You cheeky, cheeky monkeys.

And what can I say about that demonstration!

The most passive, bored-looking demonstration of all time.

Even when members of the crowd are supposedly struck by an overwhelming desire to express their creativity – like that scene from 80’s TV show, Fame – you can’t help but feel their version of self expression would be to play musical statues.

Seriously, whoever came up with that should win an Emmy.

I especially like the way you incorporated the Pepsi colours and logo in so many of those signs to really take-the-piss out of social movements.

Less, ‘stick it to the man’ and more ‘we are owned by the man’.

Brilliant.

I must admit, while I was enthralled, I wasn’t sure what the demonstrators were supposed to be demonstrating about.

Sure there was that banging soundtrack going on about ‘live for now’, but surely the opposite of ‘living for now’ is shuffling your feet in a demonstration rather than actually doing something you enjoy.

No wonder they looked so bored and walked like extras from ‘The Walking Dead’.

And that’s when you played your trump card … Kendall Jenner.

At first, I must admit I was confused.

Surely Kendell Jenner is the absolute opposite of raw, youthful energy?

But then you brought us right back into the humour by suggesting she would shun her luxury lifestyle to join a march that no one knows whats for, simply because some bloke with a cello strapped to her back smiled at her.

A bloke she would never encounter in normal life because she makes sure she never has to mingle with the common class.

Get these copywriters writing for Saturday Night Live NOW!

Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, you upped the game again.

My god, are you insane?

Slowly we see the crowd of about 37 people come face to face with some nondescript Police Force.

I say nondescript, but they’re definitely not American.

Oh no, even you know not to take the piss out of the US Police Force.

I hold my breath wondering what is about to happen.

Then Kendell appears again …

And what’s she got in her hand?

Yes, a Pepsi. A can of fucking Pepsi.

She walks right up to the Policeman and hands it to him.

SHE FUCKING HANDS IT TO HIM!!!

Better yet, you make it so he takes the can and then takes a swig.

The crowd go wild.

Kendell walks backwards and disappears into the crowd.

What a twist … WHAT A FUCKING TWIST!!!

The 37, blue wearing, multicultural, creative practicing teens weren’t demonstrators at all, they were simply spreading the Pepsi word.

They were like Mormons.

Pepsi Mormons.

Absolutely amazing.

I tell you, this ad shouldn’t just win advertising awards, but also comedy ones.

I bet all of comedies greats are looking at this right now and clapping their hands in awe.

Nothing can beat this. Nothing.

Not even Pepsi’s previous attempt at comedy genius – the one where they linked the Mona Lisa’s smile to their logo design.

OK, so some may say the humour is too subtle, but come on, no one would believe that highly paid marketers and agency creative directors really think this reflects the attitudes and behaviour of modern day youth. I mean, apart from being utterly preposterous. it would be totally embarrassing.

No, this is comedy gold, pure and simple. Even the fact they launched it after April Fools Day is hilarious.

Thank you Pepsi for giving me the best laugh of 2017, though you should know being laughed at is not the same as making people laugh.

Pepsi: the choice for a generation that doesn’t exist.