Free Fire Posters

If you've been swanning around Shoreditch lately, you'll have no doubt spotted these Trainspotting-inspired posters for Free Fire. Placed side-by-side in Old Street Underground, these poster are a veritable feast for the eyes. The finest 'seen-it-in-real-life' design guff I've seen this year.

There's no reason why design/advertising can't have an aesthetically positive effect on it's surrounding environment. These posters are proof.

These palm-moistening posters were designed by Empire Design (I think, don't quote me on it). 


10 Years of Sell! Sell!...

Something that we've always been monumentally crap at here at Sell! Towers is shouting about what we do as a company and PR-ing ourselves. I suppose we're just constantly looking for the next opportunity or concentrating on working on the next piece of work that we can make into something great, so rather than looking at what we've done or what we're doing and shouting about it, we're getting on with stuff and looking forwards. This was brought home to me the other day when I realised that we had let pass the fact that we've been doing this thing for ten years, without so much as a nod. No PR puff-pieces, no big party, no shouting from the rooftops. So I said let's sit down for half an hour put down some of the stuff from the ten years of Sell! Sell! that means something to us, and this is what came out....

Ten years of Sell! Sell! — 15 years ahead of our time 10 years ago...

In ten years we have:
Always put the quality of the work first
Given ourselves a stupid name that confuses people
Changed the way an ad agency works
Invented an action figure 
made people more important than process
Helped a paper publisher become a successful digital brand 
Retained the IP of a big idea
Designed products
Named new beer
Helped people live healthier and happier lives 
Never gone to Cannes
Spent too much of our startup cash on a cash register from 1901 
Brought media back to the table
Introduced a legendary junk food to the UK
Had people work together rather than in a production line
Helped reduce copyright theft
Fixed our pinball machine a million times
Produced health guides that save lives
Hand-printed our own newspaper ads
sacked-off the pinball machine
Written a manifesto for a new creative revolution
had it published and sell out many times over
Helped create a kids’ social media platform
Campaigned to make 29th February a free day for everyone
Missed the big call from BBC news
Made an ad videogame before it was a thing
Created the concept for a city restaurant & Bar
Laughed at ourselves 
Breathed fresh life into a dusty old bottle
Made weekends sacred
Walked the walk that others talk 
Picked fights with the big guys
Put the client’s interests before our own interests
Made Paul McCartney laugh
Then helped him to advertise his family’s brand
Been close to the edge more than once
Stood firm against procurement for the value we add
chucked 12 pies off 12 bridges
Made it into a film that was screened at the Renoir
Set fire to the production line
Made some great friends
Made some good enemies
Never used PowerPoint
Brought surrealism to the big screen
Challenged the orthodoxy of the ad business
Been down to our last teabag
Made a dusty old liqueur the most extraordinary drink on the bar
Given everyone their birthday off for free
Not entered a single industry award
Had a client hire us three times at three different companies
Stayed humble
Remembered the value we add is in creativity not technology 
Given a keynote in Delhi
Weirded-out some regular agencies in Miami
Helped a challenger grow over 300% 
Made commuters crave a proper breakfast 
Sold the IP for a big idea separately to our fee
Failed to improve at darts
Directed Madness in a fake detergent commercial
Helped a tech innovator to appear as good as it really is
Created ideas to last and grow not to be flashy
Named technology
Said ‘no’
Never taken no for an answer
Taken a poker millionaire back to his roots
Accidentally took him out mid-shoot with a football to the danglers
Changed the way a creative company works with clients
Not been afraid to be unpopular for doing the right thing 
Charged for the idea not for the time
Never let a single piece of crap out of the door
Brought an old brewer into the 21st century with their first ad campaign
Retained clients for years through the work not contracts
Annoyed the wrong people
Presented ideas that scared the shit out of us 
Been rubbish at PR
Beaten big agencies in shootouts 
Been hard on ourselves
Run a global campaign from a five-person office
eaten more Tandoori than is probably a good idea
Said goodbye to a dear friend and partner
Scared ourselves
Questioned ourselves
Stuck at it
Had a great laugh
Waited for the business to catch up
Probably still at least five years ahead of our time...

We’re just getting started...

Brand Porpoise - Don't Get left Behind

If there's one thing we've learned about marketing and advertising over the last few years, it's that there are no shades of grey or nuances of approach when it comes to marketing – at any one time there is only one right way to do things, and everything else is old-fashioned, or dying. Now, this blind absolutism may seem extremely stupid, but hey, who are we to judge? Once a new fad starts to snowball, everyone wants to get in on the act. Pages and pages of copy are written and published daily by the marketing press on the fad, blog posts from eminent marketing twonks, tweets and hashtags aplently follow, plus, obviously a couple of people do speaking tours, and write books about it. Maybe you'll even get a whole conference dedicated to it, with people tweeting the sage advice about the fad. The aim, obviously being to work towards the moment when every brand in the world is doing exactly the same thing all the time. What a utopia!

Well, recently we have cottoned on to the fact that it is now impossible to be a brand in 2017 without having a porpoise. Yes, forget having a good product that people might want to buy, or a better service than your competitor. Forget solving a problem for the customer, in fact fire all of your product development staff, your engineers, fuck it, lay off the entire workforce – all you need to succeed is a porpoise. And that porpoise doesn't even have to be related to what your product or service is – you just need any old porpoise.

But why take a chance with your porpoise, when we can help you define your perfect brand porpoise with our unique Porpoise Definement Methodologizer (TM obviously)? We can find the perfect porpoise for your brand. But don't take our word for it – here are a few we've already done (everyone loves a case study don't they? Even if they might have been perfectly relevant solutions for the particular brand in question, but of fuck-all relevance to anyone else – if it worked for one client once, well surely it's right for every client in every category, right? That's the beauty of blind absolutism utopia!).

Here's the brand porpoise we recently found for airbnb...

It's name is Cuddles. Since we found airbnb's porpoise, things have really taken off for them. They don't have to worry about boring things like cost and convenience, or choice. They have cuddles.

Here's another brand porpoise, this time one we found for uber-cool taxi-driver disemploymentizing service Uber...

Uber's brand porpoise is a friendly little porpoise called Flipper. Now don't write in saying that Flipper is an unimaginative name – that just shows how little you understand about blind absolutism utopia. The point isn't to be original, the point is to just have a porpoise. And what a beauty it is!

Now don't be fooled into thinking that a brand porpoise is just for fancy-crazy new tech startups. No. Remember. It is right for everyone. Every brand. To demonstrate this, here are two brand porpoises (yes, that is the correct plural, sadly) that we found for functional, supermarket products. Here you can see them side-by-side, as you might in any supermarket aisle...

Now, before you write in and say Hold on, won't this be a tad confusing for the poor old punter? Two completely different brands, with quite different products that each have different functional qualities having what appear to be quite similar porpoises? We'll stop you there. Maybe you just don't get it yet? It doesn't matter. Every brand, to be successful these days, needs a porpoise. Don't argue. It says so in that marketing article online, and in that new book by that trendy bloke, and in loads of tweets and conference speeches. However, obviously defining or finding your brand porpoise isn't easy. Obviously. Obviously it takes a LOT of work, charts, presentations, worshops, away-days, idea-storms and brainsplooges to define a brand porpoise – all of which we can charge you through the nose for help you with.

And it pays to go to the experts. Take this for example...

To the untrained eye, that might look like a potential brand porpoise. But no. That is just a common-or-garden aquatic mammal. Don't make this mistake or your brand is destined to languish in the backwaters of the brand ocean for the next century. Come to us and we'll burn through hundreds of costly man-hours over the next twelve to eighteen months which our holding company accountants will give us hefty bonuses for help you work out exactly the right brand porpoise you your brand. And we'll maintain and feed it...

This is a picture of us feeding Coco-Cola's brand porpoise. Their porpoise is called Happiness. A bit twee, granted, but you know, when they're paying you this much it works, it works, right? This is where having an expert agency on-hand is vital – because a lot of people think that brand porpoises eat fish. In fact, a brand porpoise feeds on delusion. We have to keep them well-fed with delusion, with a bit of healthy misinterpretation on the side. We do a lot of research to make sure we have all the delusion we need to keep your brand porpoise looking great. Some silly people used to think that Coca-Cola's massive success was due to them being available on every street corner, constantly advertised to reinforce association with refreshment and taste, highly distinctive and having worked its way into becoming a product intertwined with American popular culture. But they could not be more wrong. Obviously their success is based on Happiness, their friendly brand porpoise.

To help people understand, we have – obviously – created a diagram: The Anatomy Of A Brand Porpoise...

Please feel free to use this in your next meeting.
Don't get left behind.
Don't be a dinosaur.
Don't be different to any other brand.
Don't get caught with some stinky relevant dolphin.

Get yourself a brand porpoise.

We can help.

We Talk Music, Horseracing and Y'know, Making Stuff...

For an insight into the thinking behind our new Racing Post commercials, have a read of this interview on LBB Online, Racing Post: Why Trust and Daring Are Worth Betting On, with our talented friends from Gas & Electric and Yellow Boat Music.

When Do Brands Overstep The Mark?

This is a brilliant sketch from Saturday Night Live, inspired by this year's Superbowl commercials, it captures the conversations that appear to be going on in marketing departments and ad agencies today...

In my opinion, it seems agencies and marketers need a sense check. They need to ask themselves if they really know why people buy what they buy.

Usually the reality is that most people just want products that simply meet their needs and do what they’re meant to do (some economists call this ‘satisficing’ – when people choose, they don’t always search through the detail of every option available to find the perfect choice).

Most people don’t need or want a brand to have a ‘higher purpose’ or to stand for something above and beyond the role that the product plays in their lives. 

Of course it’s a positive thing for brand owners to feel that their products have a useful and worthwhile place in their customers’ lives. But many brands are guilty of vastly overstating and overplaying their role in grand ‘brand purposes’.

Who wants to be told how to lead their life by a beer? Or moralised to by a soap manufacturer? Certainly no one outside of marketing departments and deluded agencies.

“The worst thing about these hyperbolic brand visions is that they lead to equally fantastical and idiotic tactical work.” Mark Ritson, Associate Professor of Marketing, Melbourne Business School.

I think this kind of self-important approach leads to cynical, patronising advertising that has nothing to do with the real reasons we choose the products and services we use.  People aren’t fooled by it. 

But what do you think? Is it okay for brands to get involved? When do you think brands overstep the mark?

More Than 200 Experts Behind You, Our New Campaign For Racing Post

Our new campaign for Racing Post breaks this week. The aim is to establish RP's position as the authority on all things horseracing and the go-to place for the best betting intelligence.

Looking into this brief we discovered that Racing Post has more people working behind the scenes on reporting, data analysis, breaking news and technology than anyone else in racing. But we were conscious that we didn't want to make the typical chest-beating brand ad that people are tempted to go to on this kind of brief. We're always thinking what's in it for the punter? What the horseracing enthusiast or regular bettor (at whom these ads are aimed) cares about is getting the best information when and where they need it, whether that be on the app, website or paper.

So we came up with the idea of wherever people happen to be using a Racing Post product, the RP team are right there with them, whether it's a load of data analysts on the top deck of a bus, a group of tipsters in your bed, or the whole RP staff crammed into your front room. The campaign is launching the new line When You Bet On Racing, You Can Bet On Racing Post, and to bring it to life we went to the team who have helped us to make some great Racing Post ads in the past.

The spots were directed by the excellent Tom King at Gas & Electric, who is now adept at wrangling a live racehorse, a cat and a huge cast into a normal front room (no CGI or tricks used). Tom is a great director who brings a lot to the scripts and is always a pleasure to work with. Music was by the very talented chaps at Yellow Boat Music, who we always enjoy working with to create the right feel and help the ads stand-out form the crowd.

Thanks to everyone involved, especially Racing Post themselves for going with a idea like this, and for being game enough to lend us a load of their experts to be in the ads.

The TV will be followed by print, outdoor and digital ads breaking in the next couple of weeks.

Be Diagnostic Not Dogmatic

Advertising needs to become far more diagnostic and less prescriptive.

Agencies need to break the habit of thinking that their ‘special process’ or unique approach is the only way to solve the client’s business problem.

Many agencies favour a kind of blind absolutism, where one approach is right for everything. It's tempting for agencies to have this kind of dogmatic approach to problem-solving, because they feel it gives them something interesting or differentiating to say to clients.

Unfortunately for clients, as the old saying goes the hammer always sees the nail – but the problem isn’t always a pointy piece of metal, nor the solution a heavy knocking implement.

There’s no one size-fits-all, one way to do advertising that’s right for every product, brand, category and business problem.

To suggest there is makes the advertising industry look quite stupid to those in the business world.

We should always start with the business context, the situation of the client, and what they’re trying to achieve, rather than some rigid ideology that you force the problem to fit into.

Great ideas flow best from open minds.

Our new book ‘How To Make Better Advertising and Advertising Better – The Manifesto for a New Creative Revolution’ is available exclusively at the Design Museum.