Friday, January 30, 2009

Scott’s Diary

Scott, the studio dude, is locked in a room with no windows or hope, retouching shots in a campaign for the TOP SECRET new Rolls Royce (codename RR4).
The poor chap’s been in there since early December. We let him out for a few days over Christmas to see his family, but his son cried so much about the strange man with a beard and dead eyes that he returned to work early.
For posterity, I asked Scott to chronicle his day:

0900 Go IN THERE.
0903 Sit at desk and stare at screen in horror.
0933 Start-up computer.
0935 Need coffee.
0936 Scurry back into room, nursing coffee scalds, hotly pursued by Militant Account Girl demanding print-outs.
0937 Begin work.
0939 Give in to despair.
1100 Decide there’s always hope.
1101 Give in to despair again.
1120 Decide to jump out of window.
1130 Realise there are no windows.
1131 Jump into door.
1300 Drift back into consciousness, dimly aware of lunch tray being repeatedly rammed into skull by Militant Account Girl trying to pass it under door.
1301 Push lunch back in disgust.
1301 Immediately regret it and try to retrieve lunch. Fail. Gnaw on mouse pad for sustenance.
1400 Prepare for client feedback meeting. Vow not to take any more comments.
1403 Meekly agree to all comments.
1405 Begin client amends – “make the colours more emotional”
1406 Ram fists into eyes in attempt to stay awake.
1700 Rudely awoken by Militant Account Girl, accompanied by Angry AD, screaming for print-outs.
1900 Decide that’s enough for the day.
1905 Curl up under desk and drift into listless sleep, dreaming of the day I get readmitted into studio.

It's okay Scott, only one more month to go.

I care

Mini Mance cares

This chap Marcus, in Germany, met a single mum suffering from cancer. She feels alone and that no one cares. And in a fit of wanting to do something actually useful with this internet thing, he’s asking folks to say they care.
I started to automatically filter out his message like every other ask for help, assuming he wanted money, ‘there’s lots of needs, can’t help everyone, I’m a cold-hearted bastard, etc.’ But then I saw the posts people had made and I thought it was a BEAUTIFUL THING.
He’s not asking for money. And so if all he’s asking is that people say they care, why the heck not? (Unfortunately, I couldn’t get Baby Realmenwritelongcopy to take a photo of me holding the sign, so I had to take one of her. But it’s close enough.)
The funny thing is, now I’ve become involved, I definitely would give money if Marcus sets up a way of doing that.
It’s a very interesting example of how by involving people in something, you can get past those initial defences. Even with self-centred, avaricious assholes like myself.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Loveable bigots

The travel company Activities Abroad is currently getting some fantastic stick for sending out an email promising ‘chav-free holidays’. It featured a list of names that that are unlikely to appear on one of its holidays, including Britney, Chantelle and Dazza.

Brand Republic reports the email has ‘sparked outrage from some customers who have accused the firm of "smug class warfare" and said they will not use them again’.

Although their strategy appears to have spectacularly backfired, the company is taking the kind of unrepentant stand that’s currently serving the BBC so well.

"I simply feel it is time the middle classes stood up for themselves. We work hard to make a decent home and life for our families and we pay our taxes to contribute to our society and economy" blustered managing director and avid Daily Mail reader, Alistair McLean, before completely losing the run of himself. "Unfortunately, everybody else in our society seems to take from us, whether it is incompetent bankers or the shell-suited urchins who haunt our street corners."

I didn’t actually make that last bit up. Honestly. “Shell-suited urchins who haunt our street corners.” Fantastic.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When casting goes wrong

I got stuck behind this on my ride in today and felt compelled to record it, even though it cost me precious ground in the race against my cycling nemesis, Mr Tight Shorts and Eerily Hypnotic Large Muscular Butt.

Now I might be wrong, but I’m fairly sure that when the writer came up with that line, those two weren’t exactly what he had in mind.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spectrum ZX joy

Anyone who spent their childhood playing Jet Set Willy and Monty On The Run will shed a sentimental tear at this, the DVD loading sequence and menu for The IT Crowd first season.
I couldn’t get the sound to record when I did it on t’computer so I went back to basics and videoed the screen. No, I don’t have anything better to do with my time.
It’s strangely compelling viewing. There are loads more screens, I sat watching it for about ten minutes (see above) and there was no duplication. I don’t know if they recreated it from scratch and it was a huge job or they somehow just stuck their graphics into the old one.
Also, I can’t remember the name of the actual game they’re ripping off? Does anyone know?
Anyway, it’s a real treat and a good example of knowing your target market. And taking time to make something that could have been basic and dull into something that brings pure delight into the hearts of kids of the 80s everywhere.

Dark thoughts

Today the AD is off. Bad news.
For starters, I have to make my own tea.
But far worse than that, it means Traffic are collecting up every last scrappy crappy little copy job for me to do.
And when they’re done with that, they’ll invite me to a brainstorm.
Has anything good ever come out of a brainstorm? Seriously.
I can’t help feeling this day will end badly. I had a dream last night. I was standing in a line with other copywriters on my old primary school playground. Then they started picking. The dream ended with a kick from Mrs Realmenwritelongcopy but I just know I got picked last.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pretty pictures

The last couple of posts have been a bit wordy so here’s some pictures for the more basic among you.
Those nice girls from CIA popped in today with donuts and books and here’s a few that caught my untrained eye.

Lee Hasler

Mike Wilks

Mick Marston

Jeff Nishinaka

Dave Needham

Yuko Shimizu

I'm hoping this little pitch will secure me a second donut next time they visit.

One for word nerds

Tag cloud for Inaugural Address

I've been looking round for a good analysis of the Inaugural Address and got this from a chap called Ian Griffin. Here's a couple of examples.

There was the simple tricolon:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

and the tricolon with the third term doubled up:

The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.

There was anaphora, the repetition of words at the start of neighboring clauses:

Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished.

and even more powerfully:

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died in places Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Although this wasn't Obama's most inspiring, let-me-blow-you-away-with-beautiful-words speech, he still made our politicians sound like bumbling, illiterate children. Who cares about the guy's policies? I'm just looking forward to some decent oratory over the next few years.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lovely flowing words (not mine)

The other day I had to write some copy for Visit Wales and, like a conscientious professional, asked for some previous work to get an idea of tone of voice.
I was horrified to be given a mailpack filled with copy that flowed so beautifully, I could only imagine it had been squeezed in one go, like eloquent toothpaste, directly out of the copywriter’s brain and onto the page.
Here’s an example.
Now it’s getting dark earlier, there’s more to see in Wales. You can even see a dragon on clear nights (that’s the Draco star constellation). We’ve some of the lowest light pollution anywhere. But if it’s cloudy, look for the plough instead. (It’s the 7th most common pub name.) Finding space inside should be easy too. There’ll be more seats by the fire. And more beers to choose from. Our seasonal ales have just been brewed with fresh green hops. In fact, the only thing you won’t see more of here is crowds. That’s why autumn is our peak season.

Beautiful. There are more ideas in that passage than some creatives have in their books.
Also, can you imagine putting a para break in there? You’d need a scalpel and a surgeon’s steady hand to find the exact spot where one thought ends and the next begins. Getting copy to flow effortlessly like that is one of the hardest things to do.
The guy that wrote it (Dan Wright) no longer works here. That’s because after writing this piece, he knew he’d penned perfection and was driven mad by his own genius before eventually killing himself. Either that or he went to work at Lida for a fat payrise.

It’s probably not real, but it tickled me

Brief: to create a door-drop advertising dog food.
It’s the sort of job to make the most upbeat creative shudder. But some flamin’ galahs down-under came up with this.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Slow news day

In the absence of anything of historic significance going on today, I thought I'd just stick some pictures up. Got these off tumblr.

Yes we can mark the occasion with cookies and lego. And why not?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Envy and malice

I sent this round to my work chums earlier, because it is unquestionably utterly unbelievably brilliant.
A young graduate here replied that he knows the guys who did it, they had been on his course, "Really chuffed for them, they're two very talented guys" he said.
I replied that I hated them.
He confessed that, yes, he felt the same.
You see? It's just so much better when we express our jealousy, hatred and insecurity. It's healthy.
Let's hope these guys spend the rest of their lives paralysed with the fear of having to follow this up and we see them sitting on a bench in Soho Square soon, sipping Purple Tin and scaring passers-by with drunken renditions of 'The only way is up'.

Dystopian horror at Lyddle End

I was up late finishing off my contribution to Russell Davies’ beautiful and spectacularly pointless crowd sourcing project, Lyddle End 2050.
In a nutshell, participants are each given a piece from the Hornby Lyddle End range and asked to doctor the building to create their vision of what the village will look like in 41 years time. There’s already some lovely contributions.
This chap has created a Dairy Tree, for ‘a convenient supply of freshly squeezed milk’.

And this guy came up with a unique answer to your home using up its local resources, ‘your cottage will simply get up and walk (or run!)’.

But my favourite has to be the Fabricator Tuck Shop.
Anyway, I was very excited to be given the Main Terminus Building. Here’s my two penneth.

The year 2050. The post-apocalyptic dystopian society of Lyddle End, where the ruling power is gathered behind the sinister pseudonym of 60s crooner and averagely-liked talk show host, Des O’Connor.
The Main Terminus Building is the most feared building in all Lyddle End. For it is from here that the Sunshine of Love Express departs to take away Lyddle End un-persons found to be or believed to be resistant of Des’s beneficent love.
No one knows what goes on in Happiness and Heartaches, the train’s destination, as no one has ever returned. Some say un-persons are subjected to a 24-hour loop of Des’s definitive 1967 rendition of Danny Boy. Others that their hopelessness is extracted and used to fuel the Sunshine of Love Express (as all remaining natural resources are directed towards the state’s war with the world’s other remaining superpower, Rod Hull and Emu).
Looking at the fruits of my labour in the cold light of day, I feel confident this was time WELL SPENT.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ad of the year?

I’m serious.
Twice now, people I’ve been with have laughed OUT LOUD at these ads. The first time, it was Mrs Realmenwritelongcopy and I assumed her hormones were still imbalanced from recently giving birth. Then, on the way home last night, my friend saw a bus side with the same image of a mechanic and the line ‘Call our crack team’.
“Call our crack team!” he laughed, “Genius!”
Needless to say, neither of these people works in advertising. Surely this is yet another example of how hopelessly out of kilter our judgment is? Any Creative Director would laugh you out of his office for this pun-tastic eyesore. And yet there’s nothing the great British public loves more. We need to get with the program.

Do you de-ice your windscreen with your shoe? Well, do you?

On a related note, I was browsing the Auto Windscreens website, when this caught my eye. Nationwide Autocentre research has found that the following objects are commonly used to scrape a windscreen:
  • Credit card (27%)
  • CD (12%)
  • Shoe (3%)
A shoe! I mean, really. That got me thinking about what kind of a shoe would actually be effective?

Too floppy.

Too sharp.

Hmmm, maybe.

The website goes on to point out that:

While such objects could prove satisfactory for clearing the ice from a windscreen, it is often better to take a more prepared approach.

In most cases, the best method to remove ice from a windscreen is to use de-icer and a purpose-made ice scraper.

That’s right, you heard it here first folks. The best method to remove ice from a windscreen isn’t actually a shoe, but de-icer and an ice-scraper. Well, I for one am glad I've given it some thought anyway. I hope you are too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Workplace high jinx

For some time at Partners, I presided over daily Treat Time.
This would consist of putting on the Treat Monitor Sash and spinning the Treat Wheel (pictured) to the backing track of the Treat Song (the intro. to The Jackson Five’s Rockin’ Robin, seeing as you ask). If the wheel landed on Treat, I would then take out the Treat Box and allocate one Treat (a Treat is defined as something of a confectionery nature e.g. biscuit/cake/chocolate bar) per person.
This daily distraction served two purposes. One, to regulate our sugar intake which would otherwise get completely out of hand. And two, to punctuate sleepy afternoons with the nervous thrill of ‘will we?/won’t we?’
Sadly, Treat Time was abandoned after a few silly individuals (read studio, it’s always studio) spoilt it for everyone else.
So I was wondering who else has this kid of dumb office ritual? I know it’s not just here, because I’ve heard word of our cousins at OgilvyOne running a biscuit FA Cup (based on a taste-off model, followed by dunk-off in the event of a tie).
What do you do to break up the working day? Balancing the bullet-point on your nose? Pet-stroking hour? Knock-and-run on the CEO’s door?
That’s right, I’m asking for your comments. Now I’ve got ACTUAL PEOPLE reading this blog, I thought I’d give it a go. Don’t leave me hanging here people.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The right to work

I did this for The Refugee Council a while back, they loved it and then didn't run it. I never really found out why but thought I'd stick it up anyway, perhaps for all those human rights activists who regularly visit my blog to spot and decide to run on behalf of their charity.

Monday, January 12, 2009

These aren’t just any job cuts…

The Guardian reports:
The BBC has caused anger after broadcasting a spoof advertisement that seemed to make fun of Marks & Spencer staff who have lost their jobs. BBC Radio Solent made a version of the M&S ads with a voice saying: "These are not just any job cuts, these are M&S job cuts."
(Needless to say, The Daily Heil was outraged, which proves it was funny.)

Gallows humour, it’s what makes this country great. On a separate note, Marks and Spencer should be delighted that they’ve got a line which has entered the national lexicon. It’s viral marketing in the old-fashioned sense (although admittedly, only one step away from “Wiz zeeze ferrero rocher you are really spoiling us”). Instead I think they’ve scrapped the Dervla Kirwin voice overs in favour of David Jason. Fricking sacrilege.

Friday, January 9, 2009

DM creatives. Parasites on the arse of humanity

This superb post by Not Voodoo about DM agencies and their utter fecklessness had me chuckling with mirth one moment and quivering with rage the next. I started out writing a comment but it got so long I decided to make it into a full-blown post (also I’m hoping that by linking back, I may lure my first-ever reader).

It’s definitely true that we letter writers have an inferiority complex the size of Soho towards ATL-ers. But as Gordon also says, the whole ad industry is a social pariah. ATL creatives have an inferiority complex too, only theirs is towards those higher up in the career-perception pecking order – novel writers, film directors, or whatever. Presumably, there’s some group of professionals who feel inferior to us. Prison guards, perhaps. Or McDonald’s employees (the ones who do the rubbish and the toilets – maybe not the ones at the tills with five stars on their badge).

The reality is, there’s not that much difference. If you were magically transported into our department, then the creative department of WCRS downstairs, I’m not sure you’d be able to tell which one's which. The main difference between my mates who went ATL and those that went below is that they were willing to be unemployed for two years after college. And their egos were approximately 2,000% larger.

Anyway, thanks for a funny post Gordon.
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More Burger King genius from Crispin, Porter & Bogusky

I’ve been chuckling about this ever since I saw it. Facebook users can sacrifice ten friends in exchange for a Whopper. The removed friend then receives notification they’ve been swapped for a burger.

If I was asked to do the follow-up to Whopper Freakout, I’d crawl under my desk to rock back and forth and whimper at the hopelessness of it. But they’ve only gone and done it.
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

The focus group’s choice

Airmiles is a brilliant product (I know because I started collecting as a result of reading the brief).
We did tons of ads for this brief over several months. Those executions were a lot more engaging and would have got people talking down the pub. But in research people were still scratching their heads wondering what the hell the product is.
So here’s the focus group’s choice. If you don’t like it, blame them.
Top work on the animation by Studio AKA, who turned it around in no time with good grace.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Flight Of The Conchords, you got it goin' on

In a campaign to launch their second series, Flight Of The Conchords have got this nice bit of user-generated-ness where fans submit their own videos lip synching to one of their hits. The winner will be aired on HBO. The best bit is the intro from 'No.1 fan' Mel.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Competent AD vs Low Maintenance AD

No sooner do I get rid of my old, slightly broken Art Director with the wonky drawing hand and dodgy proposition-reader, then I begin to miss him.
The new one is competent, which is nice. But he’s also rather demanding. For instance, I now have to write subheads. Previously, I could bat those requests away with, ‘We can work that out if the client buys it’ and he’d smile and do a squiggle (a nice little conspiratorial moment, that).
Worse, lines are often batted right back at me or sometimes even IMPROVED without my say-so. This is a particularly mean trick as he knows full well that if I complain, I’ll have to think of something better.
The old one said embarrassing things, which at the time I felt reflected badly on me. But now I wonder if he made me look good? Have I now become new AD’s embarrassment? The fly in his career ointment?

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Witching Hour

With the arrival of my firstborn, I’ve found myself walking the boards of Real Men Towers at all hours of the night, staring out the kitchen window.
It's a whole new world. Like time stands still and I can creep around undetected, watching over the neighbours while they sleep and maybe stealing their food.
It’s also like it’s stolen time, because I still do my usual daytime stuff but I have this secret night-time life as well (although the bags under my eyes would suggest my secret life is catching up with me). Still, when the bairn does eventually sleep through the night I think I’ll miss it.