Ads Displaying Great Abilities

September 6, 2016

Here are three wonderful TV commercials from the UK. They are designed (with huge success) to play off people’s view on disability.  They are all brilliant.

“Back in June, Channel 4 announced that Maltesers and ad agency AMV BBDO had won its Superhumans Wanted competition, which offered £1 million of the broadcaster’s commercial airtime to a brand that featured disability in its ad campaign. … In keeping with the ‘Look on the Light Side’ theme established in earlier Maltesers ads, they see characters taking a humorous look at awkward and embarrassing situations, which in these new ads have all been inspired by real-life stories from disabled people. Check out the three spots below:

Reason #220 NOT to use Facebook

August 26, 2016


No facebookEven though their own research shows that 80% of users react negatively if an ad’s sound is turned on when a video starts, that is exactly what Facebook is planning to happen now.

According to a story in Consumerist, the current default is to have the sound OFF, but Facebook wants to change that in case you miss any of the important advertising messages FB’s paymasters are sending you.

You will soon have to specifically switch the sound off because, of course, advertisers are more important than members’ convenience.


Previous Reasons NOT to use Facebook


One-Hit Marketing

August 5, 2016

There are times when the human ability to spot an identity niche and to exploit it for personal profit simply astounds even me.  According to the Sun newspaper:

“McDonald’s trials a ‘walk-thru’ for weekend party animals who are too drunk to drive. An outlet in Llandudno, North Wales, has opened a lane for pedestrians to serve hungry diners straight out of a nearby nightclub in the early hours … The restaurant rolled out the trial last weekend, sparking a frenzy with sozzled customers with late night munchies.”

It seems to me that if the drunks simply walked into the restaurant and stood in the normal service lanes, that would be exactly the same experience (and warmer in winter).  But far be it for me to pooh-pooh marketing initiatives that rebrand regular activities and present them as profit centres, even for one-off events.

This is probably just a local PR stunt, but the fact it can get global coverage overnight these days is what is both so exciting (about the power of social media messaging) and so concerning (about the power of social media messaging).

How Brexit Won — An Ad Man’s View

July 21, 2016

The always useful Creative Review has an article up right now about how the Leave campaign won the recent UK referendum through more direct, single-minded, and emotionally appealing branding than the Remain side.


Rob Coke notes the Leave campaign’s positive use of active verbs, direct imagery, and the colour red especially when compared with the mixed messages in cold blue of those who wanted to stay.

This is an excellent review of just how branding can be made to work. Recommended as a teaching aid for anyone running a campaign.

We’re The Superhumans

July 15, 2016

It seems to be a day for short films. Here is another beauty, an ad for the Rio Paralympics.

Cannes Lions Winners

June 30, 2016

The Cannes Lions Festival is always worth watching for those interested in creativity and technique in marketing and advertising. Some of the very best creatives and film makers link to produce wonderful short works.

There is always some controversy to keep us interested. As Creative Review’s piece on Cannes discusses, a few pieces were withdrawn even after prizes were awarded.  The same report lists all the winners.  Terry O’Reilly of “Under The Influence” attended Cannes and his blog has some interesting discussions.

Here are a couple of prize winners that I found particularly special. The first is a 3-minute piece from the Spanish lottery corporation that is beautifully made and has a heart-warming message.


The other has a personal meaning to me, suffering as I do from COPD. It is called the Breathless Choir:

Beautiful and creative stuff.

Father’s Day

June 19, 2016

Can you keep a dry eye after this beautifully produced commercial?


The Subtle Approach

June 14, 2016

As regular readers will know, I love good advertising. The following ad is for the Prince’s Trust organisation in England and it exemplifies the use of subtle nuance over the shock tactics used by so many charities.  Best played at full screen.

Note that even at the end, the information still-frame continues the Parallel Lives theme, with How Can You Help on the left, and How Can We Help You on the right. Very effective material, brilliantly produced.

Signs Of The End Times

May 5, 2016

I know that for many people, the fact that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were the last men standing in the GOP nomination battle — not to mention the fact, now, that Trump will actually be the GOP Presidential candidate — were a sign of the end times, a sign that things just cannot get worse.

But wait!

Kentucky Fried Chicken have developed an edible nail polish that tastes like Hot & Spicy; you just lick it until it is gone.




For now it is just available in Hong Kong, but how long will we be able to beat back the barbarians?


A New Famous Logo

April 26, 2016

I spent a great many years in marketing, including the successful redesign and relaunch of an already successful brand. I am aware, therefore, of the problems inherent in product change; and I remain fascinated by the general art of marketing and rebranding in particular.

That being said, it is no surprise that I would really enjoy the story of changing the logo of one of the world’s iconic products — Guinness and its harp.

The new logo and typeface on the left; the old on the right

I’m sure that a great many Guinness drinkers will not notice — at least consciously — the subtle change in design and font.  But as the story tells so well, the implication of hand-tooled craftsmanship will be unconsciously appreciated.

Great work.


Killing Mosquitos With Advertizing

April 21, 2016

A huge amount of commercial advertising is bad for you, sucking the life out of your brain and your wallet by inducing unnecessary consumerism. However, that cannot be said for a wonderfully innovative design being tried in Brazil where the mosquito-borne Zika virus is flourishing.

A company has developed a billboard that mimics the smell of humans and attracts mosquitos from more than a mile away. They are trapped in the billboard and are killed.  Not only is this a remarkable use of design and engineering, it has been released under Creative Commons, allowing any city to use it.

Bravo to everyone involved, and thanks to Creative Review for passing on this information.

Nissan Are The Rogues

February 28, 2016

This winter, the Nissan motor company has been running a series of TV commercials for its Rogue car, and each one appalls me more than the one before.

The conceit of each ad is that some aspect of nature — snow, trees, rocks — rather than being something to celebrate and enjoy is the enemy of mankind and that the Nissan Rogue is required to help people defeat these vicious opponents.

The message, available to impressionable children every day, is nothing but anti-environmentalism, anti-nature, and ultimately anti-human suggesting, as it does, that humanity can only “deal” with the forces of nature through some technological “fix”.

The whole campaign is a disgrace.

Big Brother IS Watching #2

February 18, 2016

Do you remember Foursquare? I guess it is still around but I haven’t heard of it for quite a while. It was an app that directed you to stores and restaurants close to where you were physically located based on the GPS data supplied by your mobile phone. I was reminded of it when I read this article from Creative Review called Creativity and Programmatic Advertizing.  The article might be a bit inside-the-beltway for those not in the advertising and marketing business, but it includes some extraordinary insights into the kind of information databanks that corporation compile about you and me.

First of all, the definition of “programmatic advertizing”:

“Programmatic advertising offers the chance to connect with the right consumer at the right place and time … Programmatic allows you to run segmented work that will appeal to all of your audiences – it then optimises the creative to the version that best suits a media channel’s audience.”

There is nothing new about the first sentence.  If you are placing ads on the TV show “Sesame Street” you are no doubt aiming at a different audience than if you place the same ad on “The Batchelor,” for example.  Even the second sentence is unoriginal: the ad you place on “The Batchelor” will (or should be) different than the ad you used on “Sesame Street“.

The difference today is the matter of scale.  Old campaigns may have had half-a-dozen different sets of copy and images for various market segments.  Today, technology has exploded that almost infinitely.

“Unilever’s Axe brand in Brazil … recently used programmatic adverts to serve online viewers with up to 100,000 variations of its Romeo Reboot ad.”

The particular variation you get to see is not random, of course. It is designed to appeal specifically to characteristics about you that the advertiser already knows from your purchase history, demographics, browsing profiles, and a million other data points that you don’t even recognize you are giving away.

I have no doubt that within a few years almost every ad will say something like “Hello Jak, here’s a piece of cookware that we know you’ve been thinking about.”  We already get this from Amazon.

I don’t need or want that kind of omniscience from corporations. And it sure makes me think more fondly of those quaint old Foursquare days.

Billy Clark

February 4, 2016

Billy Clark

The image and the following text are from an article on the always interesting Creative Review.

Norwich University of the Arts graduate Billy Clark has been producing some lovely illustrations of late, from self-initiated portraits and still lifes to a visual account of Paris Fashion Week for Port magazine … His main focus is illustration, though he still works on design projects and hand-drawn type from time to time. Clark’s work has a painterly and slightly retro feel, combining bold colours with a clever use of light and shade.

I like his stuff.

Large Scale Public Art Brings Stars To The City

December 10, 2015

I was intrigued by a detailed article in Creative Review about a large installation Stella Artois beer is bringing to New York and Buenos Aires.

“There are many upsides to city life, but one of the downsides is the impossibility of seeing the stars – light pollution has put paid to our chances of that. So, for the holiday season in New York and Buenos Aires, Stella Artois has created an installation that brings the stars back to the city, for a brief period at least.”

2015 Stella stars

“As well as the beautiful vision of a starscape, the installation has an interactive element too, with certain stars equipped with movement sensors. When a visitor reaches up to these, they will drift down slowly towards them. These special stars are also linked to cameras that capture a photo of the guest reaching up which they can then access at the end of the experience – theme park style – and share on social media …

“The attention to detail on the project extends beyond just the visuals into sound too. ‘We collaborated with some NASA scientists in order to get various recordings that they have captured from stars,” explains Mother producer Max Yates. “Stars genuinely make a sound … we then took those sounds and they form part of the installation, as a background noise that is interactive as you walk through’.”

Sounds fascinating. Sorry I missed it.

Vinyl Album Cover Art Awards

November 7, 2015

Man, there are some truly wonderful artworks in the world today. And some of the strongest can be found in the cover art for vinyl albums.

vinyl album


vinyl album 2

for example.  These are just two nominees (Robert Beattie, top; Rutherford and Mason, below) for Vinyl Album Cover Art of the Year Award.

They are taken from an excellent article in CreativeReview which covers the short list in detail. Well worth it both as a good read and as a display of the images themselves.

Man On The Moon

November 6, 2015

The John Lewis stores in England have been known for decades as a fine employee-owned company. They are, I believe, one of England’s largest retailers, with more than 80,000 owner-employees. My grandmother worked for them in the back office for a long time in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Their Christmas ad this year reflects everything that is good about the company.

The French Really Know …

November 24, 2014

… how to advertise orange juice!

Pizza Branding

November 19, 2014

pizza hutI was in marketing for quite a while before I retired. I still have a fascination with the art of marketing, and applaud when it is done well.  So I am a sucker for “insider” stories about major brand renewals, such as that happening at market-leader but aging Pizza Hut. has a great piece on how Pizza Hut is moving to a fourth rebranding in less than two decades. The campaign is being led by Deutsch LA, the same group that just completed the Taco Bell revamp.

The logo, the menu, the customer audience, black as the new red, even the buildings themselves have come under the re-design microscope. Jared Drinkwater, Pizza Hut’s VP of Marketing says:

“If you look at the trends in food among young consumers, it’s about flavor exploration. We felt like nobody was doing that in pizza.”

He shakes off any idea that Pizza Hut is going upscale:

“If you think about the cast iron in the pans in the back of our restaurant, it has that gritty look. And we think, from a design perspective, the food pops really nicely.”

Time will tell.

Les Sapeurs Rise Again!

January 18, 2014

One of the most popular posts I ever wrote on this blog was about Les Sapeurs in the Congo. That post was from more than five years ago and I still get hits on it every week.  Just the other day I was watching TV and saw this ad from Guinness that features the group.

It is just wonderful that these folks are still getting coverage.  Bravo!