Thursday 31 July 2008


Now that's the kind of empty promise I expect from a public transport company. Not a hot young Web 2.0 brand.

Broken promises ahoy!

My latest Around The Blogosphere column for Marketing magazine hits the news stands today.

As usual its also available online at the Around The Blogosphere blog.

This month it looks at chatter around brands delivering on their promises.

Click here to check it out. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Seems people do like advertising

The Gruen Transfer.

A TV show about advertising on the commercial free ABC network.

Sounded like a recipe for failure to me.

Looked like it too after the first episode.

However despite a few early teething problems the show has gone from strength to strength.

What started out as a bunch of industry insiders and in-jokes has become one of the ABC's most popular programs.

The first season comes to a close tonight with a second season already commissioned.

To see just how popular the show is take a look at these stats:

During its 10 week run over 10,000 ads were created on the Gruen website.

There are 2,000 friends of the show on Facebook.

The Gruen website has had over 1.8 million page views.

Almost 1.3 million people tune in to watch every week.

Best of all the show has raised awareness of the industry, which has seen colleges and universities innundated with people wanting to know how to get in to advertising.

Which means, I guess, the show is a terrific ad for advertising.

On the commercial free ABC!

Tuesday 29 July 2008

The one word meme and me

I'm a sucker for a meme, so I couldn't resist this one that Lauren and Age have both taken part in:

1. Where is your cell phone? Hallway
2. Your significant other? Beverley
3. Your hair? Greying
4. Your daughter? Ruby
5. Your son? Max
6. Your favorite thing? Music
7. Your dream last night? Forgotten
8. Your favorite drink? Bitburger
9. Your goal? Smile
10. The room you’re in? Cosy
11. Your church? Doubt
12. Your fear? Unwanted
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Elsewhere
14. Where were you last night? Home
15. What you’re not? Simple
16. Muffins? Raspberry
17. One of your wish list items? Argentina
18. Where you grew up? Globally
19. The last thing you did? Write
20. What are you wearing? Co-ordinated
21. Your TV? Off
22. Your pets? Hamish
23. Your computer? Apple
24. Your life? Better
25. Your mood? Frustrated
26. Missing someone? No
27. Your car? V-dub
28. Something you’re not wearing? Jumper
29. Favorite store? Ebay
30. Your summer? Pool
31. Like (love) someone? Always
32. Your favorite color? Blue
33. Last time you laughed? Today
34. Last time you cried? Football
35. Who will repost this? Someone

Monday 28 July 2008

Gorillaz take on the Olympics

The Olympics are only a matter of days away and we're about to be buried under a deluge of sponsors messages and unlikely advertising.

Here in Australia it's being covered by Network-7. Which means a couple of weeks worth of Bruce McAvaney saying 'that's special' over and over.

Meanwhile over in the UK they get Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett and his Gorillaz partner Damon Albarn to knock up a very unlikely promo.

Can't imagine something like this ever going to air for a major sporting event on Australian TV.

Then again the Brits aren't exactly known for their sporting prowess so perhaps this promo was designed to distract people's attention away from the BBC's Olympic coverage.

Thought for the day

If there's one thing that gets me down at work it's listening to young creatives complaining about how they never get any decent briefs.

Either that or they moan about how they didn't spend three years at uni to end up writing copy for eDMs and multiple letter versions.

Kids don't know they're born as my old man used to say.

So here's a great piece of Monday morning advice for everyone out there with a shit brief on their desk:

"Don't look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity."

That pearl of wisdom came from the late Paul Arden.

I advise every junior who works with me to put that quote on their wall and refer to it each and every day.

When they ask me why I simply point to the sepia toned printout of the exact same quote pinned above my desk.

Sunday 27 July 2008

Yes, but...

I got this brilliant video from Amber.

It's very funny and, sadly, so insightful it's not funny.

Brings to mind a great quote by Bill Cosby that I have pinned to the door of my office:

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."

Barack in Berlin

There has been much written about the size of the crowd that turned out for Barack Obama's visit to Berlin.

And is it any wonder? Just take a look at his poster.

A classic piece of German design.

Almost Bauhaus like.

Apart from the fact that the Bauhaus didn't use upper case.

Pic via

Saturday 26 July 2008

Where's our news?

During my talk at the Design on Toast breakfast the other day, I spoke about the importance of maintaining our local voice in films, ads etc.

This comment now seems especially pertinent given the axing by Channel #9 of their current affairs flagship Sunday Program.

Long a favourite of former network boss Kerry Packer, Sunday was a great example of Australian current affairs broadcasting.

Now it is no more.

Who knows what will replace it. Some cheap US imports I'd imagine.

Channel #9 is also involved with Australia's most popular web portal NineMSN.

Which is why I shouldn't be surprised to see a headline on todays news feed proclaiming 'Neil Young releases anti-war tour film.'

People clicking through to the story would be able to read about Neil's concert film Deja Vu which "opens in theatres this weekend."

Problem is, it doesn't. Well not in Australia anyway!

The film premieres locally at the Melbourne Film Festival on Tuesday. I know because I have tickets.

No cinema release date has been set at this stage.

Why oh why does Channel #9 persist in feeding us overseas content?

And more importantly, don't they have any fact checkers working in their news room?

A splash of fun at work

In all the time I've worked in advertising I've never been to a client office or factory that made me wish I worked there.

They're always so dull.

I seem to remember Hewlett-Packard having a great art collection, but the building itself was just another grey drab concrete office block.

Which is why I really love what Ford have done with their factory in Cologne.

This is where the soon to be released Fiesta is being built.

To celebrate this, as well as tieing in with the launch campaign, the factory has been given a colourful maker and been rebranded as the Love Factory.

It's so good to see brand values being embraced by more than just the marketing team.

Similarly here in Australia Boral have given their concrete trucks a hippy makeover.

And the reason for this transformation? To celebrate the addition of new trucks to their fleet which run on an environmentally friendly gas.

Friday 25 July 2008

Blog humour

One of the things I most enjoy about reading blogs are witty comments.

And I saw a particularly good one on the ad site where I found this uncredited ad for Barbecues Galore:

"That dude does not look like the manly bbq type at all. He looks like someone who would take his girlfriend (or boyfriend) to a sushi bar before the Shins concert."

Now that's funny.

Certainly funnier than the ad, don't you think?.

Thursday 24 July 2008

Does the truth hurt?

The power of advertising

This is one of the greatest posters of all time.

A classic from the early days of Saatchi & Saatchi.

Three word headline. Simple shot of an unemployment queue. That's it.

Simplicity itself.

I found a lovely story about this ad tucked away in one of Scamp's Tuesday Tips.

Apparently when Maurice Saatchi presented the concept to Margaret Thatcher she turned her nose up at it.

"It's advertising Labour," she said.

"On the contrary Margaret," he replied. "It demolishes them."

Given that the poster was a key driver behind the election of the Iron Lady, you'd have to agree that he obviously knew what he was talking about.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Michi and me this morning

I was very surprised to see about 150 or so people had braved a very wintery Melbourne morning to join Chloe from Michi Girl and myself for the Design On Toast breakfast seminar.

We had a very interesting chat about brands, branding and where brands fit into society.

Chloe mentioned Nike a couple of times during the discussion. And not always in a positive light.

Whilst I, of course, managed to squeeze a couple of Bill Bernbach mentions into the conversation.

Would have been good to have this great quote from Bernbach to hand this morning, as it seems quite pertinent:

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgerise that society. We can brutalise it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

Special thanx to Kate & Alice from the National Design Centre for putting the whole thing together.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Too single minded

I know it's an unfair way of looking at it, but it's hard to get this very clever ad when it's seen at this size.

Click it to enlarge if you wish.

If you do you'll see the word waterproof sitting below the brand name.

Waterproof shoes made from umbrellas. Get it!

As I said before, it's very clever. But...

Is this ad too single minded?

So focussed on the waterproof proposition that it fails to communicate anything else?

I think it is.

It's not the only press ad like this out there either.

Award shows are full of them. Ads with such a strong focus on the proposition that the brand seems to fall by the wayside.

Whilst it's great to strive for single mindedness, should we be sacrificing communication of the brand to do so?

Creative by APEX BBDO - El Salvador

Monday 21 July 2008

Through the eyes of Eames

With not one but two design festivals currently running in Melbourne, there's no shortage of interesting things to see or do in town at the moment.

Yesterday I hopped on the tram to Richmond to go and see The Gifted Eye Of Charles Eames.

This is a wonderful collections of Charles Eames' personal photography, collated for exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The show is running in the Living Edge furniture showroom, which means you get to wander amongst the furniture and design of Ray and Charles Eames whilst looking at the photos.

It's on till next Sunday and is well worth a look. Only downside was the lack of poster, catalogue or chance to buy a print.

Sunday 20 July 2008

Inspiration for a viral video

Thanks to Indexed for the loan of the index card.

Saturday 19 July 2008

Come join Michi and me

Melbournian readers of this blog who are up early this coming Wednesday might want to drop into the BMW-Edge theatre in Federation Sq, where I'm taking part in the Design on Toast breakfast seminar.

It's part of the Melbourne International Design Festival.

To be honest I have no idea what I'm supposed to be talking about, but my fellow panelist is the lovely Chloe Quigley from Michi Girl.

I used to work with Chloe at JWT once upon a time. I haven't seen her for about ten years, so it should make for some interesting conversation.

Entry is free. Click here for info and bookings.

Friday 18 July 2008

Disposable mobile phone

Brand extensions are quite commonplace these days.

Even so, who would have though that Bic, makers of ballpoint pens and disposable razors, would introduce a mobile phone?

Certainly not me that's for sure.

Then again, who could have foreseen Apple getting into the phone market either?

Thursday 17 July 2008

Playing with fire

The huge Catholic shindig Word Youth Day has seen Sydney swamped by christian kids.

Even the Pope is attending.

Local agency BWM has capitalised on this with a campaign for their favourite watering hole the Australian Youth Hotel.

The ads are guaranteed to cause a fuss and get people talking.

Or maybe that should be blaspheming and arguing?

The priests ad above is my favourite from the campaign.

Click the pic to enlarge.

Play nicely boys

A spat appears to have broken out between two agencies here in sleepy old Melbourne town.

Seems one of the agencies involved has been running a Google adwords campaign using the names of other agencies as a search term.

Sounds like a pretty obvious thing to do to me. In fact I reckon agencies everywhere are probably doing it.

Quite why this spat has bubbled to the surface in the Oz advertising arena is anybody's guess.

As my Mum used to always say - play nicely boys.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Beautiful billboards

Billboards have never looked as beautiful as they do in the photography of Branislav Kropiak.

The man really has an amazing eye.

Click here to see more of his great work with outdoor ad spaces.

In need of an idea?

One of my creative mentors once told me not to be overly protective of my ideas.

The more you give away, he said, the more great ideas you'll have over time.

Of course some people don't want to give away their thinking.

Although they're more than happy to very cleverly sell it via a machine for 50c a piece.

Click here if you're in urgent need of an idea.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

It's electrifying!

When I was a kid back in the seventies there we two things that every hot blooded young lad lusted for; a Raleigh Chopper and a Ford Capri.

This ad is for the early eighties model of the Capri and I suspect it may well have been influenced by the John Travolta song Greased Lightning from the movie Grease.

Monday 14 July 2008

Please read


Saturday 12 July 2008

iPhone mania down under

Like many other people I was up bright and early Friday morning to get my hands on an iPhone 3g.

After 4 hours and a few heated moments along the way I got one.

Although due to the overwhelming demand I couldn't get it activated until lunchtime Saturday.

Which is why Apple are rush releasing the fantastic new iBrick.

Click here to learn more about this technological marvel.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Fresh thinking or old hat?

Dave Trott is one of my advertising heroes.

His agency Gold Greenless Trott was one of the UK's best, no make that the world's best, back in the day.

Dave's copped a bit of flack for his grumpy old man attitude in recent times, mostly from London creatives young enough to be his grand children.

His classic How to get your first job in advertising was written when he was in the creative dept of BMP.

It has dated a lot since its publication but it's still an essential read in my mind.

Today I stumbled on a classic blog post Trott has just written looking at the ad industry's obsession with all things new.

Rather than link to it, I'm borrowing it and posting it here:

What can we learn from the past?
Apparently nothing.
It’s gone so it can’t be any good.
It must be 10, 15, even (gosh) 20 years ago.
How can it be of any use at all?
Our business is obsessed with the new.
It can’t distinguish between change and improvement.
New = Good. Old = Bad.
So everything new is automatically better than everything old?
Well let’s see if that’s true.
Is Damian Hirst automatically better than Picasso?
Is James Blunt automatically better than Elvis?
Is Lewis Hamilton automatically better than Jackie Stewart?
Is Andy Murray automatically better than John MacEnroe?
New is just the ground claimed by people who aren’t good enough to win by being better.
New is just a justification for dull being done in a different way.
So what can anyone learn from the past?
Tracey Emin recently wrote a 4 page article for The Independent about what she’d learned from renaissance painters: Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Raphael, and Titian.
Mike Tyson “The Baddest Man On The Planet”, would constantly play films of the man he learned most from: Jack Dempsey, world champion in the 1920s.
Paul Gascoigne used to study the moves of Johann Cruyff to learn things none of his contemporaries could teach him.
Vivienne Westwood recently said on TV she still learns from studying Coco Channel.
These people don’t just compete with whatever level of talent is around at present.
They compete with, and learn from, the best there’s ever been.
In our business that would be John Webster, Paul Arden, Bill Bernbach, Helmut Krone, etc.
When did you last meet an advertising student who’d even heard of Bill Bernbach?
What makes our business more trivial than any other form of creativity is that we aren’t trying to build on what went before.
We’re just anxious to get to the latest technological gimmick before anyone else.
I think this attitude cheapens what we do.
We confuse being first with creativity.
We confuse ‘new’ with ‘better’.
Isaac Newton said, “If I have done anything it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Oops sorry.
Newton’s dead, he can’t be any good.

Click here to download Dave Trott's How to get your first job in advertising.

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Melting moments

I love these street art pieces which I found on Wooster.

No doubt we'll see something very similar turning up at an advertising award show in the not too distant future.

Although it could also be argued that the melting ice cream van by the Glue Society in Sydney got there first.

Click the pics to enlarge.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Through the eyes of Kubrick

The recent Nike football ad directed by Guy Ritchie received a lot of coverage in the blogosphere a little while back.

Much was made of the ad's use of the camera to present a first person viewpoint.

I have to admit I wasn't a fan of the ad myself.

This lovely promo for Channel 4's Stanley Kubrick season uses the same technique to much better effect.

Although it does add to the enjoyment if you're quite familiar with the masters work.

Monday 7 July 2008

A letter from who?

Had an interesting little 'chat' at work today.

I was working on a charming little direct mail piece which was to include a small note that would appear hand written.

Given the personal nature of the letter I wanted the head of the company to be the signatory.

However in the brief the marketing manager was listed as signatory.

As you can imagine I argued against this, on the grounds that the note would look more like a sales piece than a personal note if it was signed by someone from marketing.

Suffice to say I got my way.

Any animosity during that 'chat' will be long forgotten by the time the pack is produced but the actual job will hopefully be remembered for some time to come.

Which is why it's always worth fighting the fight if you truly believe in something.

Sunday 6 July 2008

Advertising a scam

There was a great deal of chatter in the advertising blogosphere a few weeks back about scam ads at Cannes.

Sadly this ad isn't a scam. Unlike the election in Zimbabwe.

Click the pic to enlarge.

I am not a target market

My name is Stanley.

I am a male in the 40 - 49 demographic.

However I am not a stereotype.

I am me.

People who know me know that I have a penchant for Paul Smith socks.

They no doubt know that I am a long suffering supporter of the St Kilda football club.

And they probably also know that I love Japan but am no fan of sushi.

That's why this week people who know me have done the following:

Sent me a txt message to let me know that Paul Smith socks are 30% off at David Jones.

Sent me an email to see if I'm going to the St Kilda v Carlton game on Friday.

And posted an interesting link about Tokyo on my Facebook wall.

These people are my friends. Some are much closer than others, but all of them friends.

Facebook is not my friend.

However it does help me stay in touch with my friends.

If Facebook was my friend it would talk to me in the way I like to be spoken to about things that might be of interest to me.

Instead it serves up with monotonous regularity ads like the ones scattered through this post.

Ads so impersonal and badly targeted that I am writing a blog post about them rather than clicking on them.

Saturday 5 July 2008

Ikea home storage

Who better than Ikea to plug their storage products by adding a splash of colour to an otherwise grey drab goverment housing block?

Click the pic for a better look.

Nice work from Ogilvy Frankfurt.

Friday 4 July 2008

Man vs Banner ads

Some serious numbers

Hits and views is common terminology in today's world.

What many of people don't realise though, is just how many hits or views popular websites get.

A great example of this is YouTube.

Parent company Google are currently fighting a billion dollar copyright infringement case over YouTube videos.

The judge presiding over the case has ordered Google to provide info to the court on who watches videos and when.

Google lawyers have argued that to print this information would require the equivalent of 12 million books.

12 million books!

Now that's some serious site visit numbers. Don't you think?

Thursday 3 July 2008

The world of music

The Abbey Road pedestrian crossing is instantly recognisible even without the Beatles walking across it.

It's just one of many landmarks around the world made famous by its use on an album cover.

My favourite magazine The Word has just launched their Album Atlas in beta.

It a fun and interesting Google maps musical mashup. Well worth a look if you're into music.

Seen any dinosaurs lately?

I read a fascinating article about Bill Gates whilst on holiday.

It described him as an innovator whose time had past.

It sounds a bit harsh, I know, but it seemed less so in context.

Someone else who could be described in the same way is Howard Stringer the global boss of Sony.

Stringer had this to say recently about the innovative company behind two of the biggest category killers of the century thus far:

"Apple is a marvellous company, but it is a boutique. We are a giant conglomerate."

Hmm. Could that be the sound of a dinosaur talking?

History on tap

If you're looking for interesting images to use for presentations or anything else for that matter be sure to take a look at The Smithsonian collection on Flickr.

Some oustanding photos. Many of them of great historical interest.

Check it out here.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Introducing Generation V

The latest issue of Marketing magazine is out now.

This month in my Around The Blogosphere column I take a look at the online conversation generated by the coining of the term Generation V by Adam Sarner, Principal Analyst at Gartner.

It really is an interesting read, if I do say so myself!

Click here to take a look. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment.

Tuesday 1 July 2008

A holiday discovery

I'm just back from hols today.

And even though I was tempted to to write a couple of posts while I was away, I somehow never found the time.

What I did do though was add several stories to my page.

I also discovered a fun new web tool called Wordle which I used to visualise the most popular terms on my page.

Click here to go create your own Wordle visual.