Blimey it's been a bit quiet on here lately hasn't it? Sorry about that. And don't think we're back with some brilliantly thought-through in-depth piece that we've been beavering away on either.

We aren't. The reason (Yes reason not excuse. What? Shut it) is that we're thigh-deep in a couple of very interesting but rather hefty projects. Yes, you heard - doing work. Actual creative work. I know!

People writing things, thinking of ideas, designing (sorry, art directing) stuff, shooting stuff, reviewing stuff. Crazy talk eh?

So there. Sorry about no new blog posts though. We do enjoy doing them. We will be back, normal service will be resumed at some point soon, so please do keep checking in.

Anyway, it would be nice to hear from you – what do you think of this year's Christmas ads? I know our readers are very opinionated, brutal but even-handed, so we'd love to know what you think.

I'm particularly pleased with the title of this post, by the way. Put it in the work as we always say.

Everyday Objects Reavealed To People As If They Are Sacred Artifacts

So it has started, comrades.

The yearly snoozefest of Christmas ads, that is.

The trade press seem to love it, probably because it gives them something to write about other than big data and diversity. I wonder if they realise there other, extremely meaty issues in this industry to interrogate? I would say probably they do, but why bite the hand that feeds you eh?

Anyway, every new Christmas ad is revealed by the trade press as if it is the latest canvas from Da Vinci, and this morning Campaign bring to us these efforts by Morrisons.

Now, I'm not going to lay into these. After all, what's the point? They are so completely middle of the road, it would be like beating a labrador. Cruel and unnecessary. A family, doing family stuff, people in supermarkets looking happy being helped by happy staff whilst happily buying products from abundant shelves. Is this real-life or what? These could be for any supermarket, and they could have been made at any time in the last 50 years.

No, the reason I'm posting these is because of two shots, one in each ad. These shots have me perplexed a little. Now we all know how much preparation and interrogation goes into making a TV ad these days, how much every single shot, every decision, every piece of casting, wardrobe, action, is pored over. So we have to assume that, especially as this is the supermarket's Christmas advertising, every shot is very deliberate, more than deliberate, calculated.

So these shots have me interested. I think there is some foul play at work. Someone is trying to fuck with us. Both shots occur at exactly 20 seconds, exactly halfway through the ads.

In this first ad (below) we see a normal-looking lady, possibly in her fifties, being shown a bag of carrots, as if she has gone up to a member of staff and said "Excuse me, very sorry to bother you I know you're busy, but I've been told of something called 'carrots' - do you know of these?" They walk over to the veg aisle, and the assistant takes a bag of carrots from the top of a giant pile of bags of carrots "These are carrots" says the assistant. The woman looks in wonder at the bag of carrots, and then we are whisked away from this scene, left to wonder.

Who is this lady, who looks as if she has seen a bit of the world, but who doesn't know what carrots are, or where one would find them? She looks like one of us, a normal person, but her actions betray her. Is she some sort of facsimile or artificial intelligence? Or perhaps an infiltrator from another civilisation, here to investigate earth and our human ways? One things is certain, we are left pondering this question way past the endline.

(We need to talk about the endline though, don't we? Christmas. Morrisons Makes It - that's just not true is it? Morrisons don't make Christmas do they? Christmas without Morrisons would be exactly the same as Christmas with Morrisons, the only exception being if you work for Morrisons. This is just a bog-standard lazy lie that makes the client feel good, keeps the agency in the good books, and is completely pointless.)

And the same thing plays out in the second ad, exactly halfway through. Only this time with a bag of satsumas. (This ad seems to have been removed from YouTube by Morrisons so I can't play it here, but you can still watch it on Campaign, here.) A different lady, this one younger, maybe in her thirties, is shown a bag of satsumas as if she is being presented with the Antikythera Mechanism. "Yes" she says "I have heard much of these satsumas, but to actually hold them in my own hands..." And then again we are whisked away, left to wonder on these people. Who are they?

I don't know exactly what to take from these adverts, other than if you are new to planet earth, or new to human culture, the assistants at Morrisons will be happy to introduce you to some of the basic foods eaten by humans. And for that, at least, I think we can be glad that these adverts exist.

ESPN SportsCentre Commercials

Ben Kay is doing these great podcasts interviewing creatives and directors, it's well worth a listen if you haven't already.

His latest chat is with the great Jeff Labbe, an American creative and director who's responsible for some great ads, and some of the ones that we looked up to when we were starting out in the business.

Jeff wrote the Beware Of Things Made In October campaign for Fox Sports, which blew our minds at the time, such simple, funny spots.

Have a look at his work on Ben's blog, here.

Americans seem to have always been to able to write commercials for sport and in particular their sports, baseball, basketball and (Amercian) football, in a brilliant way that we seem to struggle to match over here. Don't get me wrong, there have been exceptions, but in general we don't seem to have that ability to write the great, funny stuff about our sport and sports heroes that the yanks do about theirs. (I have my own tinpot ideas about why that might be, but that's not for this post.)

Anyway, all this reminded me of that great era of US commercials that we feasted on when we were starting out. At that time the only way of getting hold of them was on a Umatic sent over from a production company. We'd crowd round a monitor to watch the latest thing someone had got hold of.

This particular campaign stands out in my memory - the superb ESPN SportsCentre stuff directed by Bryan Buckley and Frank Todaro when they were a directorial duo at Radical, and written by Hank Perlman and Daryl McDonald...

Fantastic stuff. You can see a compilation of ESPN SportsCentre commercials here (these are from over a range of time and I don't think they all share the same directing and writing credits)...

After Bryan Buckley and Frank Todaro went their own ways and each became hugely successful in their own right, we were lucky enough to work with Frank on a couple of our projects. He directed our commercial for Travelocity and a series of ads we did as part of the Clarks New Shoes campaign,. It was real pleasure to work with one of these master US craftsmen, and we learned a lot along the way.

Donald Trump Sings Mahna Mahna

Good old Donald, eh? He's a constant source of amusement isn't he? It would be more funny if the idea of him becoming president of the US wasn't so scary. But anyway, as an entertaining diversion here he is, singing the famous Muppets' song Mahna Mahna (yes, I checked, that's the correct spelling)...

Power In Simplicity

I came across this powerful ad this morning while looking through some reference books, and it made me wonder, what has happened to the idea of strong ideas, executed simply?

We're now more used to seeing weak ideas that are then over-wrought and over styled to within an inch of their lives, over-photoshopped, over-slick and often with multiple logos, web addresses, social tags added for good measure.

There's a real power in stripping things back and getting your message across in the most simple way you can. But then that requires the skill of reduction, which is seemingly out of fashion.

Christian Aid, CW Dave Trott, AD Eddie Haydock, Agency Bainsfair Sharkey Trott

The Bullshitters Have All The Charts

Happy Monday folks. I feel like we've been neglecting this cherished organ over the last couple of weeks. This is mainly due to the fact that we're up our mucky bits in a couple of extremely tasty projects at the moment.

Apologies to anyone who has been stopping by for a new slice of our nonsense only to find that our nonsense shelves are empty.

Anyway, to anyone who hasn't been reading the blog for long, there are over eight years worth of our nonsense on this blog, most of which is way better than the kind of half-baked tat we write these days. If you're interested, take a look down the right at the monthly archives, or you can view by subject under Categories.

To keep things moving along, I thought I'd repost what has been one of our most popular posts, The Centre For Common Fucking Sense in Marketing, featuring our second most stolen and reposted image, Poliakovs Pyramid Of Engagement (do feel free to steal, by the way, the more the merrier)...

Advertising and marketing is filled with lots and lots of very smart, talented people, people who have good instincts and common sense. So why is it then that the bullshit-talkers and the purveyors of nonsense are in the ascendancy?

The answer is simple.
The bullshitters have the charts.

You know the scenario. You're in a meeting, you know full-well that something is going to work/isn't going to work/is true/isn't true, but someone will turn up with a deck of charts to prove themselves right and you wrong. And there you have it. The people with charts always win. The end. Even if it flies in the face of what is clearly common fucking sense. This is because everyone is shit scared of getting it wrong, or rather shit scared of being blamed for getting it wrong. So everyone hangs onto anything that looks like it proves something. Then they can blame that later if it all goes tits-up.

Over here in smug Sell! Towers we created our own little bubble, where common sense rules, and powerpoint is outlawed. However, we know that this isn't the case for everybody. So in an attempt to help redress the balance, we are fighting fire with with fire. We are creating a body of charts to illustrate common sense. We're sorry it has come to this. But here we are. Here. Anyway, now the smart people of advertising and marketing can fight the bullshitters and nonsense-talkers with their own charts. A chart-off, if you will. Published under the banner of The Centre For Common Fucking Sense In Marketing, or CoFSim for short (a stupid, nonsense-y name to confuse the bullshitters).

So here we present the first. Poliakov's Pyramid Of Engagement. A simple, yet convincing-looking chart to prove what our common-sense tells us. That people are more likely to spend time engaging with something that they're very interested in. Ergo, if you are marketing a product that isn't in the top interest zone, you better have a rip-snorting, son-of-a-bitch of an idea (or a big prize) if you want anyone to interact any further than a cursory glance. So now you can turn up at that meeting to discuss the lame user-generated-content campaign idea for the new scouring-pad client, armed with suitably complicated-looking ammunition to back-up your argument that everyone is taking crazy-pills if they think anyone is going to take-part.

Read more Sell! Sell! on Advertising here.

Sell!Feed 2


Sell! Sell!’s idiot in residence here again. My previous attempt to be expelled from this blog has backfired. Not only have I been asked to do this every week, but I keep getting told that I'm the prettiest princess in all the land.

So, you can look forward to this brain-numbing nonsense every week from here on in. (I can’t apologise enough.)

Sell!Feed round 2. Let’s boogie.

Christian Vieler takes some pretty good snaps of dogs the moment before they catch their treats. Wonder how long it'll before we see these with a Pedigree logo bottom right?




Provide those peepers with some visual tasties at Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Portals. It's showing at Victoria Miro until the 5th of November. 

South Park get stuck into the bedlam that's currently occurring over in that there America.

Get yourself some free learning over at Open Culture.   

An informative and expansive interview with Eric Timothy Carlson about his new design for Bon Iver's new 22 album.

Finally, and most importantly, a video of a woman backflipping face first into a pile of poo. Thank you internet.