Category Archives: Advertising

When Cutdowns Go Wrong.

Let me prefix this entry with a disclaimer. I honestly didn’t plan to start writing about advertising again with a negative post. I wanted to start with fireworks, song and dance, and a love letter written to the industry I longed and am proud to work in, but unfortunately, the first set of ads that actively made my fingers itch just happened to rub me up the wrong way. Sorry about that. I’m pretty sure any one that knows me will be able to tell you it was inevitable really… I’m a bit of an arse.

Let me set the scene for you. It was Sunday evening. I’d just eaten a bowl of soup, I had a fever, I felt like my sinuses have been hit with bricks, and the Pride And Prejudice series featuring Colin Firth just happened to be on the TV. I’ll admit now that I was half watching it through a haze of over the counter pain-killers and a game of Monopoly on my iPhone, but I most definitely paid attention during the ad breaks… if only to annoy Victoria by telling her if I liked them or not.

The ads that caught my eye were actually the sponsorship idents for the programme I was so desperately trying to not become hooked on. They were 10 second stings for Warner Leisure Hotels made by the Aesop Agency and you can watch three of them below.

The first thing that hit me after viewing each ident was a feeling of confusion. What exactly was going on in each one? We peer into the lives of an elderly couple going about their rather mundane lives and then skip to shots of the couple doing something vaguely similar in the grounds of a Warner Leisure Hotel. My first thought when seeing the idents was, ‘why, exactly?’. The two different sets of moments seem rather unparalleled on a first watch. If you take the second ident, where Carol tells Colin they’re seeing her sister three times in the coming week, he looks upset to say the least. We then jump to a hotel where we see them shaking hands with others at a dinner table. Are we being told that through the pleasure of a stay in a Warner Hotel we can live more memorable moments that we would in our normal lives? Are these moments in the hotel supposed to be an escape from the mundane? The banality of ‘real life’? Surely it would have been more effective if after we saw Colin being told he was seeing his sister in law three times in a week, it was him alone enjoying the pleasures of a hotel break. At least then there’s a sense of ‘I can enjoy a more exciting and fulfilling time in a WLH than I can in real life’.

The same can be said for any of the idents. If we were to see the couple sacking off their normal lives to flirt with the pleasures only available in a Warner Leisure Hotel, it would at least have the ‘go from A to B’ effect and a simple take away of ‘my life has been improved with this product’. That at least, was my first guess, but on repeat watching, the couple we see in the hotel are actually completely different. The plot thickened.

After at least ten seconds spent rummaging through a google search listing, I stumbled upon the full 40 second ads in the series. They completely changed my perspective of the idents, but they left me feeling exactly the same about the cutdowns. I still didn’t like them.

After viewing the above, we now know that Colin and Carol are neighbours to the unnamed Warner Leisure Hotel couple. It’s like an alternate version of Keeping Up With The Joneses… you know, where you don’t even try to keep up with the, you just sort of, live with what you’ve got.

In the 40 second ads we find out that Colin is dealing with the boredom of being married to an unadventurous woman who refuses to try new things. I almost felt sorry for the poor sod. The second of those 40 second spots above is actually incredibly enjoyable to watch. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t chuckle as he walked into the pool wearing golfing attire, only to pop out the other side with his trunks on. It was nice. It told a story. The ad sold me a lifestlye. After watching those 40 second ads, I know that to try new things as an over 50 couple, I should be packing up and heading off to a Warner Hotel. It was something the idents failed to do.

Maybe I had to have seen the full suite of ads before seeing the idents, but after re-watching the cutdowns I’m still left with a sour taste in my mouth. Why is half the time in a ten second ad showing me something boring? Why isn’t every valuable second showing me exactly how to make my own memorable moments in a WLH? It’s a question that still confuses me. If ‘Life Begins At Warner’, why am I being show a couple who don’t want their life to begin… Well, at least half of a couple who don’t want their lives to begin anyway.

Could it be a case of trying to fit established creative into the 10 second cutdowns, or could it just be a case of misunderstanding… Maybe I just don’t get it. To me, it just seems like a waste. With such a nice 40 second ad in ‘Colin And The Dragon’ and the obvious benefits in staying at a WLH (golf courses, archery and showtunes!), why waste so much valuable ad time showing me people who don’t want to embrace a fun weekend away. Again, why show me a couple who don’t want their exciting new lives to start at Warner? There’s no benefit to that. In my eyes, the cutdowns just don’t do the job they’re supposed to. They don’t do enough to sell me the ‘memorable moments’ promised by Warner Leisure Hotels… The cutdowns just went a bit wrong.

If you’ve got any thoughts on the ads I’d love to hear your opinions. After all, I’m merely one person, completely out of the target audience, trying not to watch Pride And Prejudice on a Sunday evening, getting completely confused by ten second idents that aren’t even aimed at me. It’s a tough life.

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Flame Sax, Flex & Danger – Old Spice

Oh dear God, I knew Old Spice adverts were good, but when did they get this good?! I honestly don’t think I’ve laughed this hard at an advert before. It was the eye contact during “Flame sax”, and out of breath “Danger!” that got me. Genuine tears.

The amazing thing about this advert, you know, apart from it being hilarious, brilliantly done, genuinely funny, and incredibly creative? It’s interactive. It’s INTER-BLOODY-ACTIVE. That’s right, you can press buttons, and stuff actually happens. INTERNET. You can record your own little breakdown and share it for all your friends to see. Why on earth you’d want to do that when the original is flawless no one knows, but it all fits in together perfectly. Sites like Reddit will eat this up; advertising done well, advertising that’s shareable, and advertising that includes the viewer. They’re playing with something tied to the product. It’s genius.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a half naked black man shout the words “sausages” and “internet” in quick succession. Then I’m going to make him play a flame sax. Marvellous.

Split Screen Is The New Nostalgia: Part Two

I never understood the draw to Blackberry. I especially don’t understand the draw to Blackberry now, when everyone and their Mother has an iPhone, or an Android capable phone. It was just one of those things/fads/wants that passed me by. How fitting of me to try and wade in on the most recent Blackberry ad as they attempt to sell me their way of life, their mantra, and of course, their new handset.

Here’s what Blackberry had to say;

We believe life’s made up of two kinds of people. Those content to go with the flow, and those who grab life with both hands. If you are someone who seizes opportunities, asks the questions, makes things happen, BlackBerry is designed for you.

Thanks for the life affirming choice defined by a telephone Mr.Blackberry. I better get a handset so people know I’m the ‘get up and go’ kind of cat that doesn’t follow anybody’s rules, not even his own! Facetiousness aside, the advert is okay I guess. It sells itself on the idea that a person is defined by what phone they have. In fact, I can remember a time when you were defined by what phone you had (does this still happen?). If it was anything other than a Nokia 3210 you were the scum of the earth…

That reminds me of a little story.

I’ve only ever been mugged once in my life, but there could have been a second time. I was surrounded by a group of at least 5 late teens when I was about 14 years old in the centre of Manchester. I was told to give them my phone. I of course obliged, because it’s only a phone, and I quite like my face the shape that it is. On pulling a blue brick with detachable antenna from my pocket, I was immediately laughed at, and told to be on my way, phone in hand. That’s right, when I was 14, even muggers didn’t want my phone.

Distractions aside, the advert does it’s job. It sells the kind of lifestyle Blackberry want their phone owners to have. They’re attracting the strong thinking individuals clamouring to get away from the large market reach of Apple. Has it been successful? Time will tell. How do I feel about the advert? Well I’m glad you asked…

First thing’s first; the soundtrack is god awful. In the ad we’re trying to associate with the images on the right, or at least we’re supposed to if we fit in with the Blackberry way of life. So why on earth is the soundtrack so wishy-washy? So boring?! It’s lift music. It’s exactly what the viewer is not supposed to be; indecisive! It’s the entire opposite of the campaign idea.

Text is kept to a minimum throughout, so very much like the Gu advert ‘Give In’, we’re left with imagery, and our own imagination. That’s usually a nice experience, but here the choice of imagery is a tad strange. None of it really screams ‘individual’. The choices could have had a little more thought put into them, as some are a bit lacking. Fillers if you will.

However, there are a few hidden gems in there. The “can’t be bothered” vs the “can’t wait” is at least a second baser, but hidden in the last fifteen seconds of so is an absolute home-run. One of life’s great questions. If you didn’t see it, take a look.



That, is fucking genius, and I’ll applaud the creative until the cows come home for that one. It’s perfect. It’s witty, clever, and questioning, all in two seconds of moving image. In fact, sack the entire advert off, run this as a billboard campaign, use the line “We believe life’s made up of two kinds of people. Those content to go with the flow, and those who grab life with both hands” (or the line from the ad, whatever), and the tagline “Which one are you”? Heck, I’d buy a Blackberry right now if that existed.

I don’t like ending a post on a high note, so we’ll go for the shit sandwich approach. Music; rubbish. Imagery of glass; genius. The line “Do You?”; hate it. I don’t really know why either. It just doesn’t sit right. Maybe I’ve got some sort of vendetta against the written word at the moment, because I hated the line from the Suzuki advert too. Who knows.

Anyway, I’m off to stare at a glass of water in the hope it’ll magically turn into a Blackberry. That, or I’m just going to drink it.

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Split Screen Is The New Nostalgia: Part One

In a rather elegantly filmed 41 second short, the WWF (the guys that like animals, not the sweaty guys in tights) are trying to insinuate that we are all connected. Animals and humans that is.

The execution is incredibly simple. The WWF have taken pre-existing footage of animals going about their daily lives; swimming, sleeping, having a wander… blinking. Then they’ve refilmed and choreographed the exact same footage, but with human beings in place of the animals; cycling, sleeping, having a wander…blinking. It’s a bit cutesy, but the ad manages to pull the heart strings in the correct direction. You’d have to be stone hearted to not be upset for little Marcel holding his head in his hands as he watches his habitat burn.

Sorry, I’m being a bit insincere, but it’s all a guise to stop me from gushing at the fact this advert is actually damn good at what it’s trying to achieve. Sure it has the same message as any other appeal advert, but at least it’s shot to make it look nothing like an appeal advert. It’s artistic, it’s clever, it’s nicely choreographed and framed, and it’s already had me click through twice. Of course both of those times my Adobe flash plug-in crashed, but one day it’ll load the website.

While we certainly share the planet earth, and we are almost definitely connected, I bet a tiger has never had to CTRL+ALT+ESC his way out of a crashed Firefox. Lucky bastards.

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Levi’s Vs Nike.

Two brands I actually buy into have joined together in a collaboration that actually speaks to me. It’s rare that something like this happens, but at least it’s a decent looking video short.

It’s funny, because if I could only wear one brand of jeans it would be Levi’s, and if I could only wear one brand of trainers it wouldn’t be Nike. While I love the swoosh, my heart has been taken by Vans. I do very much appreciate the amount of time, effort and money Nike has pumped into Skateboarding (Pacman Nike 6.0s you will be mine), it just isn’t the skate brand for me.

Either way it’s a cracking short; straight to the point, selling the alternative lifestyle. Isn’t that what any good ad should do?

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DC Shoes – Gymkhana

I wasn’t going to post today, and yes, I realise that since my triumphant return quite a few of my entries have been based on entertainment shrouded in sponsorship rather than straight up advertisements, but I think you’ll find that three years ago I predicted that this might happen. That’s why today I am again bringing you another rather lengthy video clip that should shock, amaze, and inspire.

Brought to you by DC (one of my favourite skate brands might I add), this video, quickly becoming a viral sensation, is a modern day retelling of Bullitt… but, without the chase.

What we have here is a perfect promotional video. A brand known for their participation in extreme sports, lends their name (and money) to something truly amazing. The result? Over 400,000 hits in a day, and there’s still 6 hours left. This video will bring DC shoes more exposure than any billboard, press ad or TV commercial could. It’ll be talked, written, and blogged about for at least the next two months solid. It’s virally charged internet gold; front page news on Reddit, 4chan, MSN, and of course the most important of all, right here. Heck, I have a feeling it’ll even make the news as an ‘And Finally’ piece.

The kicker in all of this? In 9 minutes and 52 seconds, only 2 seconds are spent advertising a facebook website for DC… Not even a link back to their own website. A missed opportunity some may say, but I think the approach is perfect. Wearers and lovers of the DC brand will forever be excited to have been part of DC history, regaling new fans of stories for the previous Gymkhana videos and achievements captured by the brand, while new fans of the video will remember DC as ‘that one who sponsored Ken Block in a race around San Francisco. You know, the one with the video we saw on youtube’.

It’s a win-win situation for the brand. Providing interesting content for old fans; “hey, you know what we do, so have some more”, and captivating new fans; “this is what we do, so come and be a part of it”.

Mass exposure might not always equal sales… but in this case, I’m sure it’ll help.

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Vans – Since ’66

Here we have a very inspirational short on my favourite footwear brand. A short and concise history of Vans.

“It was never about waving around the brand like a flag. It was always about the people” – Paul Van Doren

If only other companies worked like that. I’m sure I’ll be bringing back at least 3 pairs of Vans when I head Stateside in less than three weeks. For now, I’ll just rewatch.

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We’ve Been Go Compare’d

A couple of days ago I posted an image of a defaced Go Compare advert. I looked, I laughed, I posted, I moved on. The world was a great place to live in, that was until my lunch time when I saw this on facebook.

Now, that’s a very similar style of graffiti to the one I posted the other day. A serial attacker maybe? Who knows.

Well, guess what. I do. It’s been playing on my mind all day, so I went on a little research spree. Now without seeing that second image I would have lived my life merry in the notion that only I (and you) had seen the aforementioned graffiti, but two similar occurrences? Impossible. It seems there have been a few other “vandalism” attempts on subsequent Go Compare billboards.

This is all starting to seem like a bit of a consipiracy to me.

Well I guess it’s no surprise that the images I’ve posted are part of a broader campaign to, get this, bring even more attention to the launch of the new Go Compare advert. Mainly by abusing the fact that they have the most annoying character on television and most hated advert two years in a row by running a campaign making fun of their own star, all the while encouraging the smartphone obsessed public to eagerly snap pictures and send them flying through the internet to various social media websites for a couple of extra thumbs up? Clever Girls (read girls as ‘advertising bastards’).

I can’t be angry for being fooled when it’s a stroke of genius by the creatives at hand. I haven’t seen Gio’s new ad, but I’ll be sure to seek it out one day when I can be bothered purely out of respect for tricking me into reposting their billboards. Now that I think about it properly, the website address and logo hadn’t been defaced in any of the ads, and I’m pretty sure that’s the first thing that most anti-advertising paint specialists go for. Oh to be you and naive again, and not have to ruin what could have been an enjoyable entry. Damn my mind, and damn the clever creatives.

Bugger. Turns out even the Youtube channel is covered in graffiti. My detective work certainly needs a bit of practise.

Don’t mind me. I’m just a gullible idiot.

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Sailor Jerry Uncut – Where Eagles Dare

There are three things about myself that pretty much any one I’ve ever met can attest to;

  • I love advertising – I’d live it if I could. I am constantly enthralled by new campaigns, creativity, and the notion of selling an idea that people would love to be part of.
  • I adore punk music and its offshoot genres, especially in a live setting – My record collection is about 80% pop-punk, 10% hardcore/screamo, 5% indie/alternative, and 5% hip-hop. I’ve been to way over 300 gigs in my life time, and I’ve got ticket stubs to prove it. Out of those 300, I can tell you exactly who I’ve thrown myself off of a stage, amp or speaker set to, and I can tell you exactly which shows I’ve caught a crowd surfer/stage diver to the face.
  • I’d take a spirit, mixed or otherwise, over a pint of beer any day – I’ve never liked beer. It’s probably because I had such a sweet tooth when I was younger that I started to drink vodka and mixers when I hit the clubs, and that has stuck with me ever since. Of course at the age of 25 my palate has matured, and I’m perfectly happy sipping a Long Island Iced Tea, Mojito, or a good spiced rum.

Yep! That’s me alright.

It’s a surprise then, that I stumbled on this next particular branded video while doing my internet rounds this evening. You should probably turn your speakers up, as the soundtrack is pretty damn good.

Now that’s a lifestyle video done well. Good rum. Good music. Good times.

There’s not much I can say about the video other than it sells the ‘Sailor Jerry’ lifestyle perfectly. It manages to do this much better than some other spirits. I’m looking at you Bacardi, maybe you could learn a trick or two. The spot is loud, fast, and blurry. Just like a night on the spiced rum should be.

I feel the effectiveness is all in the quick paced editing and cracking soundtrack from The Misfits. The quick cut montage approach appeals to my internet warped attention span, and the blistering soundtrack appeals to the fourteen year old in me wondering why I’m not playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the Playstation every second of every day. The imagery contained within calls out to my live music obsessed side, and after looking up just who has played outside the store in Philly, I’m sort of jealous I’ve never had a chance to attend one. There’s nothing like a good punk show to raise the spirits of anyone down in the dumps.

Overall, it’s a video that has managed to capture my attention, and has been replayed at least fifteen times so far. In today’s world, in which I am sitting at a computer with 8 tabs open and trying to use seven different computer programs, all the while simultaneously using my smart phone and giving my time to write a blog post, that’s something special. That’s something very special indeed.

Now be gone with you. I’m going to try and jump off my couch onto a beanbag. That’s sort of like stage diving right?

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