Sunday, October 28, 2007

Still Here..

I didn't beat the security guard in, sadly.


It's been a few weeks now. So I thought I should write a short missive, before I bugger off to soup/Match of the Day 2.

I have been a busy boy, with quite a few accounts on the go, an inability to remember names/learning how to filter out unnecessary stats (the last bit is taking quite a long time), and just generally worrying that I seem to spend quite a lot of time thinking about things, rather than on the phone, like my account team.

Revisiting the old master.

Still, all's going well. I'm getting to grips with Outlook/meetings and suchlike. I'm also slightly in awe of the account team I sit with, and reminded why I was so rubbish at account handling.

Indeed, I'm learning how to work in a team again, what with all of the different personalities and behaviours. Working as a freelancer really doesn't teach you that, as nice as it is. Of course, those same people can also give you work to do, which is sometimes a bit of a bugger, but ah's a learning process, and I'm trying to get to grips with working on multiple accounts with different priorities.

It's all a bit mind bending, jumping from one strategic problem to the neck. But I'm learning. The next thing will be briefing folk. I'm sure it'll all be good...

All of that said, I wish the Piccadilly line wasn't such a bastard. Bloody tourists. Heh.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back To Work..

I hope I don't have to sit at a desk like this.

Since the demise of my former agency, I have been a rambling man, hitching my spurs to various freelance assignments.

Well, I'm pleased to report that yes, I have a new job. It's here. I start on Monday.

Needless to say, it's been a very interesting last 6 months. Interesting in the character building sense, but I think I wouldn't be as appreciative of my new position if I hadn't had to work for it. I'm grateful to be able to put my head down, and learn some more proper planning. I still have a fear of groups which needs to be overcome (having never done any - though I have viewed them before).

I'd also like to say thanks very much to everyone who has had to put up with my whinging, networking and ruminating on the topic of advertising recruitment. Special thanks must go to Rob, Charles, Sam, Andrew, Lauren, MJ, and my Dad. Thank you all.

And one really good thing came out of all of this malarky - Ad Grads, which we hope will provide a useful resource for any grads, or people wanting to switch careers. We aim to keep up the momentum of the blog, and encourage more and more people to write copy for us, to keep things interesting and ticking along. If you fancy it, shoot us an email..

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not a load of old cobblers..

Nice boots. But could they be jazzed up a bit?

I've long been a fan of brands which have a real historical factor, and are constantly seeking to innovate. Penguin, Kodak and Guinness, to name but a few.

And I believe Dr Martens fall into this category. As they put it on their site, "No other ‘brand’ has been mutated, customised, fucked up and freaked out like DM’s. Without asking or being able to stop it."

Now, a lot of brands over a certain age try to assert their historical, 'we were first' credentials. And a statement like the one above looks like puffery if you aren't careful. So, it is nice to see them actually walking the walk (not an intentional pun, I promise), and actually giving the masses something to play with.

A contemporary classic is what, I'd imagine, the likes of Converse and Vans are constantly trying to achieve. Where those brands differ from Dr Martens, for me (as an innocent shoe bystander with no real loyalty to any of them, to be honest), is that they aren't regarded as having the ability to last. Dr Martens, as a brand, and as a shoe, can actually make assertions like the one above because I would imagine (in the event of any post apocalyptic landscape) that Doc Martens will still be about. Not quite so convinced by t'others.

Annnyway, all of that waffle leads me to a site which some friends of mine have designed for DM.

Yes, you can make a design for a boot, which will be available in DM shops worldwide, and you'll receive a thousand pounds for your trouble. I like these kind of campaigns. Especially when I'm guaranteed to win the money:

I'm not sure if ANYONE can beat that bad boy, but if you think you could do better, go here..

Nina, Lauren, Tom LR, Ben, Smithy - I expect submissions. With pictures, just like mine..go on. If you are interested, join the Facebook group here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Karl Lagerfeld and Creativity..

The man himself. Picture via Robtanphotos. Usual rules apply.

I've been contemplating the nature of creativity for a little while now, and thought I should share with you a few quotes from Karl Lagerfeld as well as an interview I read with him.

Obviously, as a planner, I'm interested in the process of creativity, and how best I can help stimulate creatives to make brilliant (and effective) work. Now, while fashion is a wholly different world to advertising in some respects (does it really matter if conventional models of effectiveness are adhered to in fashion?), there are some fascinating similarities, and some thought-provoking pieces of thinking dictating how we go about creating new work.

The first gem from Karl is: "I don't like standard beauty – there is no beauty without strangeness."

Let's stop and think about this, in relation to advertising. Take the Cravendale work, right from the 'Cows want it back' through the current W&K 'Miiilk' executions. Distinctive, eh? I think so - and for me, the purpose of the advertising is to emphasise the moreish nature of the product, yet doing it in a wholly new way for the category, in the case of both executions.

Compare this to the endlessly bland ads you see on a daily basis - when was the last time (honestly, without your advertising hat on), you tried to analyse a print ad, or a TV spot? I bet it was a long time ago - because what the industry perceives as beautiful - say a stunning piece of print art direction - has become something people expect, or have gotten used to seeing (that's not to say it can't be spot on, of course).

In my opinion, some of the best outdoor stuff (Ogilvy's cigarette tanker for Cancer Research UK) and print (RKCR's 'Soon' for Virgin Atlantic). Both are very different, what I believe Lagerfeld infers when he talks about things being 'strange'.

On with the quotes.."People who say that yesterday was better than today are ultimately devaluing their own existence."

This one, for me, is interesting - it really speaks to the notion of what, I think, fashion is. And also why it is so widely decried as a waste of time by those people who see it as being fantastical, but ultimately a needless indulgence.

Now, when cameras come into ad agencies, the results seem to be very similar - the general public seen it as a waste of time, rampant creativity at its worst. And yes, I've been in situations where you dearly wish people would remember their history (as they should), but that's not to say we should cling resolutely to Messrs Bernbach, Krone, Saatchi et al when it comes to playing with the notion of a layout, or challenging some of the limitations of conventional advertising.

Essentially, continually striving to make the next piece of creative work the best it can be. Don't be content to have another car ad with it driving along fast, with a rock soundtrack. No, think about what the driving experience is actually like, for example.

Right, enough creative cheerleading, have some more Karl (this is the only quote from The Observer Magazine on 27th of May 2007 - read the article here), on the subject of how he goes about creating ideas:

(After illustrating a model) "Lagerfeld ripped the drawing from the pad, crushed it in his hands, and tossed it into a large wicker hamper, which over the course of the evening filled with similar small masterpieces. 'I throw everything away!' he declared.' The most important piece of furniture in a house is the garbage can! I keep no archives of my own, no sketches, no photos, no clothes - nothing! I am supposed to do, I'm not supposed to remember!' He smoothed a gloved hand over the empty page in front of him and visibly relaxed."

Now, I think that bit in particular is telling about the nature of creativity, and creatives. The idea of chucking everything away and starting again is really interesting - and if the planner has written a half decent brief, that sort of zest should manifest itself in the work.

Of course, it is also potentially problematic - the way Lagerfeld is implies someone who wants to shut themselves away, and not take any guidance from anyone else (which is rubbish - he's met a friend of mine/'borrowed' one of his ideas). And this, if applied to advertising, suggests a sort of creativity which is at odds with the notion of sociability, of creating ideas that get infused into culture (which is when, I think, advertising is at its best).

I think Lagerfeld is a fascinating man (anyone who loses 6 stone in little over a year has to have an iron will), and I'm going to enjoy seeing how creativity, both advertising and beyond, continues to manifest itself in the light of technological advances.

When it comes to advertising, I'm with Laurence Green's article - I think the best work taps into people's innermost beliefs and desires, and makes them want to play and engage with it.
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