Thoughts On New Blood

A couple of us went over to the D&AD New Blood exhibition today (we are on the lookout for a talented junior art director as you may know). Here are some random things that occurred to us, unedited and without fear or favour...

– New Blood is 'a good idea'. We give D&AD some stick about their awful awards scheme, but what they do for new talent is great. Is it possible to support the D&AD that does New Blood but not the one that does the awards?

– There was a good energy about the place; excitement, nerves, fear, confidence, anticipation.

– How many students are coming out of these colleges each year now? It's ridiculous. One tutor we spoke to had 78 graphic design students graduating this year - 78! In one graduating class. The competition for jobs is intense. Are  courses taking too many students?

– Some courses do a much better job than others at packaging and displaying their students' work for easy consumption.

– In general, graphic design students are way ahead of advertising students in terms of the level of their work. I don't mean level of finish - I mean sophistication of thinking, and how close they are to being ready for professional work. The advertising lot are miles away. We don't expect people to come out of college fully formed, but I was genuinely surprised at the poor general level of advertising work. That's really depressing. Quite a few talented designers who could potentially make good advertising art directors though.

– The level of writing from the advertising courses is particularly depressing. Where on earth is the industry going to find the next generation of great writers? Not from advertising courses by the look of things. We need to find a route into the industry for writers that doesn't count on art colleges.

– If I never see another fucking Facebook app in a portfolio I'll be a happy man. Where are these poor people getting their guidance that this is a good way of showing how you can think?

– There is a fair amount of developed craft skills amongst graphic designers.

– The gap between the best and the worst is surprisingly wide. Are courses being less strict about paring down course numbers by losing weaker students as the course progresses? Are the finances of colleges playing a part in this?

– The 'idea' of your stand isn't important. Making it easy to find the talent, is.

– Too many QR codes, gimmicks, trying to be wacky ambient ideas, not enough proper thinking.

– Too many typos and spelling mistakes.

– It was bloody hot.

The First Ever Car Ad

According to Retronaut, this is the first ever car advertisement, appearing in Scientific American February/March 1898. Before emotional cues, and brand attributes, it is a rational, logical presentation of reasons to consider this new fangled invention.

Hartbeat Out-take


Bill Bernbach Said #64

Number 64 in our Bernbach series...

“The men who are going to be in business tomorrow are the men who understand that the future, as always, belongs to the brave.

Read all of the previous Bernbach Said posts here.

Long Exposure Shots In Space

There beautiful long-exposure photographs are taken by space station flight engineer Don Pettit. See the full set hereVIA IT'S NICE THAT


A lot of people talk about emotional advertising. What they generally mean is advertising that attempts to induce you to bond with the brand or product rather than present a rational argument as to why you should try it. I don't think that you can solely live by one or the other approaches - every decision that a customer makes is a complex blend of both, depending on the category and person. Anyway, I'm not going to get into that now.

What I'm talking about is the emotion that you put into making advertising. I think it helps. A lot. People in advertising and marketing are like anyone - they want people to think that they are good at what they do. So there is a pressure to act and approach problems professionally and diligently. Unfortunately, this professional approach can be counter-productive. The more professional you attempt to be, the more you are stripping the humanity out of what you're doing.

The more that you attempt to be responsible and proper, the more that you are stopping yourself reacting to the problem/brief/situation in a human and normal manner. And you need this honest, human reaction to create really good work that other people will relate to or be affected by.

Agencies and marketing departments put us under pressure to prove that we know what we're doing, and that discourages people from behaving normally. Resist this urge as much as you can, and allow yourself to react to problems and briefs in an honest manner - it will lead to more honest work. I'm lucky enough to have been around when some great work has been created, and often that work has had its root in someone being angry at how stupid something is, or violently disagreeing with an approach, or a real disagreement between people who are working on it, someone thinks that product is stupid, or someone who admits they are confused about something and attempts to solve it in the work.

Another part of this is this kind of happy-clappy environment that a lot of agencies try to foster. Everything is rainbows and ponies with this lot - it's all builds and positive vibes. It's all facile horseshit to force people to get along and not question things. And especially to try to get the talented people to bear the stupidity of the idiots who inevitably surround them in big agencies. These forced cultures in fact make people withhold their genuine reaction to things, and ultimately that's not healthy, and not good for the work.

Try to be true to yourself and the feelings you have about a problem or brief, and try to capture that emotion and reaction in your work. That's how you get to things that no one else would have thought of, and how you do work that surprises people. And because it has genuine human thoughts at the heart of it, not professional marketing insights - it's how you create advertising that people actually relate to.

Euro Mischief From Sweden

Some good European football-based mischief from the Swedish sport newspaper Sport Bladet...

Hello Again

Hello there. Happy Monday. We're back, hope you didn't miss us too much. Yes, we had a nice break, thanks for asking. Here's a picture of the sun, just so that we can be reminded what it looks like...

We Are On Summer Vacation

This week is the Sell! Towers official summer vacation. Like National Lampoon's but without the jokes. We'll be back next week.