Thursday, March 29, 2007

IPA Blogging/Planning Talk - Who's going?

So who is going to this tonight?

I will be there.

Campaign Fame and an Announcement...

Campaign have taken it upon themselves to publish my article. Which is nice.

Taking umbridge with Mr Bullmore, it's just about how blogging helped me out. So, I guess, now is as good a time as any to reveal my (badly kept) secret.

I work here as a Junior Planner. Have been for almost a month now.

It's been good fun.

Most importantly though, I guess I'll have to start a new blog now (but not quite yet, as I am poor/lazy to switch to typepad).

I will still keep this site running and so on - it will act as a forum for any juniors looking to break into the industry.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Skiing down Angel tube station. Ooh yeah. Read more here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I would like a shiny Mac. But they are SO expensive.

I would quite like a Mac, principally because of Keynote.

Look at those sexy charts. Pure Planning Pornography. And you can do all kinds of strange and wonderful things with that app.

And, perhaps even better than that, I can now run Windows (still the O/S of the Gods), take advantage of the many free WiFi spots and generally dance the dance of life.

But the cost. Oh, the cost.

No variation either. I guess that's how Apple started a Mac religion - charge a price premium and people will always claim they've done well and bought the right thing.

And, don't worry - the PC at home will run games. I haven't gone fucking insane - and the Mac will have to have a two or three button mouse. Not one of these crappy one button jobs.

The term 'Creative Generalist' is shite...

The term 'Creative Generalist' means "curious divergent thinkers who appreciate new ideas from a wide mix of sources" as coined by Steve Hardy...whose blog can be found here.

It's a great blog, no doubt about it. But I want to take issue with the notion that it defines planners.

I'm a subscriber to Stanley Pollitt's approach to planning. Not Steven King's. Whilst great planning must be rigorous, derived from a wide variety of sources; a science it is not. True research is far closer to that.

As a planner padwan (I'm claiming that one as my own), I prefer the term 'Creative Planner'. I come up with ideas founded in an essential truth, try to back them up and if it doesn't work, break the wall down and start again. Or try and catch another ferret/idea..

Bet you wondered about the image.

Account planners DO have to focus on one thing. Being too much of a Creative Generalist means that you're no good at condensing things down.

Whereas being a Creative Planner means you keep all the rigorous thinking, but focus it around ideas. Too much creativity and you lose focus (and this, I feel, is how the argument about blogging vs planning came about - oooh, rampant random thoughts from planners! This CAN'T be happening!), but always having it around you is just right.

Don't get me wrong, planners have to be interesting and interested in a wide variety of things; and yes, the best planners are like this. But sometimes you have to be able to turn it off.

Anyway. Anyone have any thoughts?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Twitter is a bastard (but I've FINALLY got it to work)


After many exhaustive emails/me being a combination of a technological 'tard and a neo-luddite, I've got twitter to work.

Tune in to find out the many minutiae of my everyday life. What I've had for breakfast and so forth (if you like that sort of thing..).

Ben Folds is brilliant.

And one more for you.. (not quite as sensitive)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Going off track..

Marcus's recent post struck a chord with me about blog voice and things you discuss.

And I quote:

"I’m rather bored of the advertising-blog waffle and, to tell you the truth, some of you use language I simply don’t understand, which, in fact, is rather scary when you think about it. I’m disappointed with the fact the young ones are not as angry as I was when I was 25. I find most of what you write dull. Not all of you, for there are exceptions but most of you. It’s easy to copy the style of Russell, John or Richard but you will never be Russell, John or Richard so why bother? Why not be you?"

Now, I'm not sure exactly who this is addressed at, but I do know that I have been guilty of this in the past. Partly it stems from the attempt to find your voice.

No, I'm not Russell, Richard, Mark Earls or John Grant. I couldn't ever be.

But when you are a junior/apprentice, trying to learn a trade, it becomes important to just shut the fuck up at times, and sit back, and reformat your thinking through those who have been there, seen it, done it, and have the 'I'm a planner, a'right?' T-Shirt.

I hope my blogging voice goes some way to explaining how I'd be in real life - an overly talkative chap who probably likes Championship football a little bit too much and loves watching and trying to read people. Yes, it's been (probably) overly influenced by other people at times.

But I dearly hope my blog has enough of me in it. If not, humble reader, I'll change.

God knows my last 2 weeks worth of hits have been bad enough.

Did you all not like the Unicorn?

How owning a notebook makes you a better person..

I don't keep a diary.

I've never been that interested in recording thoughts that I thought everyone would have considered and mulled over. To me, it just seemed like a bit of pointless exercise.

Not anymore... yes, I've succumbed to the wave of planners who tote them around; I now have a moleskine. And it's really bloody useful.

Inspired by Richard's 4 point dissection of brand ideas, I've recently been doing a few myself in this notebook. As well as getting down some thoughts/quotes I quite like.

No self masturbatory diary esque thoughts yet, but I have been mulling over (as an offshoot of my infantile brand idea thinking) further thoughts on just how I'd improve brands and their position in the market.

Place me firmly in the fan of the notebook camp.

Also, much as I'd have liked to get a notebook which wasn't a moleskine, I pretty much had no choice - there really aren't any other viable alternatives that I could find (and who could resist the blurb about who has used their notebooks before?).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet..

(Thanks to DJ Damien, usual policy applies)

Happiness truly is a cigar called Hamlet.

At least, it was for me (not that I smoke...well, the odd cigar).

Ads like the one below were the reason I wanted to get into advertising in the first place. Such a clever positioning - 'Whatever the problem, smoking a Hamlet will make you feel better' allied with such a range of amazing executions (thank you CDP).

This for me, is advertising at its best because it is both subtle and obvious (yes, I know they are diametrically opposed, but eh - it's probably why the true greats are so hard to do/replicate).

Don't believe me/think I'm talking bollocks? Click the link for the bunker spot, or look below for Photobooth, two of my favourites..

Holycow is a genius..

Check out this link.

Best piece of thinking I've read in a long time.

So are you a prog or punk fan? I like a bit of both in my comms, though punk advertising should be on the way back.

I'm going to think about some comms which is punk (Tango, Pot Noodle) and some which isn't (current Orange, MoreThan, T Mobile, MOST mobile phone ads, HSBloodyC) and write something of worth at some point during this week.. but for now, enjoy Mark's thinking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


There are times in this world where we really can't make a sensible decision about things.

Confounded by dense clouds of information, we have nowhere to turn.

Until now.

Ask not what you can do for a Unicorn, but what a Unicorn can do for you.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Positive Associations (or how Sacrum had it right all along)

You know Scorsese won an Oscar, don't you?

The Departed was a bloody good film, as well. However, I mention this now because, as a result of the film, I've begun to listen to the Dropkick Murphys a lot more (listen to their Live on St Patrick's Day album; it is fantastic).

And it's because of a very significant scene in the film (If you've not seen it, I won't spoil it for you) that features a DKM song that I heard of them.

The same was true of Jose Gonzalez and Heartbeats, the song on the Sony 'Balls' spot.

Now, wouldn't it be nice if brand associations were like this - you see/hear/experience something you like, so you are willing to part with a bit more money or buy that brand ahead of another in a very generic marketplace..

Now, I'm fairly sure the latter, if one is willing to participate in the branded entertainment (and by that I mean games/entertainments the brand has actively put on - not sponsored or Godawful 'branded entertainment' with brand names being namedropped as quickly and easily as a drizzly shower in the Midlands) is effective at getting people most of the way to wanting to purchase the brand's product.

The other two aren't. I cannot remember many radio ads at the best of times (barring one amusing estate agent about about the customers 'coming' first - to give you an idea, it features the odd spot of bedroom gymnastics, lovingly recorded on the ad), and brand specifics are hard to remember in the vast majority of TV spots I watch (and I take an active interest in this stuff - God knows what it must be like for the average punter).

Give someone something to experience, or target your ads properly; ads aren't like songs - you don't instantly seek them out, unless it's: a) incredibly well targeted or b) offering you something to try/a obvious point of difference.

Then you too can be experiencing brand warmness (cheers Sacrum):

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Acronym Addiction..

Picture belongs to SevaOwen - usual rules apply.

Well, I thought P&G had it bad with their acronyms.

But, perusing through some more corporate documentation today, it would appear that each marketeer has their own brand of 'newspeak'.

It's slowly but surely driving me insane - it certainly would be nice to be able to understand just how these all fit together, especially when looking at incredibly confusing charts. Alas, I think the two are liable to remain hand in hand for as long as a concerned marketing manager needs to keep his or her job.

That said, every discipline has their fair share of this sort of verbal diarrhoea - in the dim and distant past when I was still a student, the postmodernists (sorry to see you go, JB) to the feminists and even the liberal humanists had a bash at confusing the humble student. And were usually very effective; it's why I switched to doing 'traditional' lit after the first year.

The larger question remains; how can you hope to communicate effectively with a public who don't have the time or the patience to pay attention to a lot of (simpler) ads, when you swim in seas of unchecked language and nothingness?

It certainly explains the swing towards visual communications, and why conversations about whether a colour 'is' a certain brand will become more evident as time goes on.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Brilliant quote..

And one which several companies could do with taking on board:

"Laugh and the world laughs with you; talk, and you may be lynched."

Meant in jest here, but it's one which the vast majority of agencies and brands could do with taking on board.

We need more nonsensical communications; it's why I still think there is a future for big budget ads, or ads featuring the likes of Jack Dee or Peter Kay.

Also - Miles Kington is one of the reasons I read The Independent regularly. Such a brilliant writer.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Soapbox Proclaimations vs Demonstration Led Thought..

Usual policy applies - photo is from WallyG

Bit of a wordy title, but nonetheless...

In the 20th century, most brands adopted the former position.

You are the consumer, we are the speaker, we will dictate to you and (by in large) you will accept it. Barring overly contentious advertising, you generally didn't have too many repercussions. That was, of course, before the land of choice, which exploded (along with consumer culture in general) in the 80's.

Indeed, one of my favourite essays of the late 90's dwelt on this - the problem with choice in today's society (if the link doesn't load, it was called Retail Advertising: the third way' by Stephen Carter.

Moving on to the 21st century, and we now have a shiny new lot of technology (nice, isn't it?), which in turn leads to the latter method of advertising.

So, we have Fruitstock, we have Run London. But is the model any better?

Yes, I do appreciate that the two can sort of work together (although it is noticable that you got a hell of a lot less branded entertainment in the former century), but I think that any new model of comms should use aspects of both in order to get the message across effectively.

The beauty of new technology means that the latter can lead to the former - you can show THEN tell, whereas it always was the other way round. Bloggers can edit/write move scripts now, and (whilst I'm not a fan of TBWA's 'Write Your Own Creative Brief' method), advertisers can be cannier with how they display their thinking.

What is perhaps most telling is that bloggers are now being cited as major sources of news (see the Huffington Post) and blog posts are being published (well done, NDG). How long before blogging creates mass market communications?

*Note to any advertisers; I'm free for any 2 minute biopics, if required.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Youtube knows our Aunty.

Check this out.

Now that Aunty (the BBC, for those of you who have no idea what I'm going on about) has got into bed with the BBC and Google, does this mean that Youtube has been accepted by the wider world now?

The article speaks about the other (US) networks getting into bed with both of them. So eh... what do we expect in the next year?

Youtube to be broken up by other labels? The monopolies and mergers commission to clamp down? Internet laws to be toughened up?


Looks like (until one of those two winds up a higher power) it will continue on, ad verbatum. I'll be interested to see what happens.

I am a rock. I am an island.

Taking another leaf from Richard's book, I fancied putting some more thinking up on the blog, just to provoke a bit more discussion on the blog (and not just posting spam emails with amusing surnames).

There is a school of thought which says that no brand was ever cut off, isolationist and able to dictate exactly what people thought.

However, I think that's bollocks; certainly, there was a time when people were more than willing to trust the advertising agency and the advertisers themselves (NB: This trust probably only lasted from the 1920s to probably about 1950).

However, now advertising is looked upon with skeptism, no brand can be seen to be completely from the top down, broadcasting a message onto the masses.

That's just a wrong headed approach, and I think people realise this.

There's also a debate which suggests that more brands (and agencies, for that matter) NEED to adopt the island approach and not get too wound up by what consumers can do to your brand.

Just have a point of view, and don't be bloody stupid - harping on about HSBC at this point, but WHY does it have to have a discussion about everything? That doesn't explain to me why I should use the bank (even if it is supposed to be a repositioning). If being an island means you stick with what you know, more's the better.

Thoughts, readers?
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