See you in autumn

Put emails on auto-reply, lock your doors, put the pizza shop on speed dial. GTA IV is out today. Have a good summer, see you all in autumn. 

George Lois at Moma

The Moma retrospective of George Lois' iconic Esquire covers starts this week. What an amazing body of work those covers are, and to think they were a monthly side project while he was also running his own agency. I've got to get over to see this sometime. Runs until March 31, 2009.

More embarrassing Lois hero worshipping:
Dodgy Cover Version
Three Books You Should Have Read If You're In Advertising
By George

New Fentimans Commercial Advertisements

Roll-up ladies and gentlefolk, and feast your eyes on these curious new advertisements we have proudly created for our friends at Fentimans
. Fentimans make fine botanically brewed beverages, and sell them in these really smart bottles. Their previous campaigns set up a very nice Victorian look and feel, but we always felt the product was treated a little apologetically - not so helpful when you're trying to establish yourself and get people to try you out. So given that the packaging is so well put together, and that we're trying to get people to recognise and try the product when they're out on their Friday-big-shop, we thought we'd make the product the hero. We wrote headlines that directly suggest to people that they should try the drinks - in a very Victorian way of course. And together with Friends of Sell! Sell! Delicious Industries we created traditional letterpress style type for that authentic look. Look out for the ads in magazines and Sunday supplements - and look out for the drinks (Ginger Beer, Curiosity Cola, Victorian Lemonade and Dandelion & Burdock) at your local purveyor or supermarket.

To see more work, click here.


10.15 is an interesting photography blog where contributors take a picture at 10.15 am wherever they are in the world. There are people from places as far and wide as New Yawk, Mumbai, Japan, Israel, Paris, Winnipeg and Brazil. I like the fact that it's not really about making an arty picture, just recording that time somewhere in the world.
Reminded me of that sweet movie Smoke where Harvey Keitel's character takes a picture of the same street corner outside his cigar shop every day.

Flip Book Niceness

Really nice video made by directing duo André Maat and Superelectric for Kraak & Smaak's new release Squeeze Me. Really great technique - expect to see it royally ripped off soon by someone selling confectionery or maybe some kind of tablet-based vitamin drink.

The Lost Cat Poster Theory

A post today on Scamp about charity ads and his quote of copyranter's excellent take on the matter has got us thinking about this post we've been meaning to do for a while.

A few years ago my cat went missing. After it had been missing for about a day it became clear that to help get it back, we needed to make some posters and flyers to get people looking out for him. Now, to put this into some context, I love my cat. A lot. And I wanted him back safe in one piece as soon as possible. So, to me, this was the most important piece of advertising I'd ever done.

Looking back now, I applied every ounce of experience and ability to making the most effective poster I possibly could. I thought about who it was aimed at, what I wanted them to take out of it straight away, how I was going to catch their attention, how I was going to make them care, how to get them to act, what tools to give them to act. And how to do all of this in as pithy a way as possible, so a person going about their own business would get the message. And, just as importantly, I didn't employ any technique that would get in the way of the communication, or that would cloud the main point - only things that made the poster more effective.
The poster I made wasn't a million miles away from these posters above, it wasn't particularly beautiful, it certainly wasn't a piece of art. But it was simple and compelling, and effective.

Afterwards I thought about what would happen if you gave the brief of a lost cat poster to a typical creative department. If they applied the same methods to the poster as they do to their clients' communications, what would the end result be like? Would it be shot by an obscure Brazilian photographer they'd always wanted to work with? Would the main point be obscured by a joke, or by an obtuse idea that got in the way? Would the focus of the creatives be on the poster's absolute effectiveness? Or would they be obsessed with creating a poster that 'had never been done before', or that their peers would be impressed with? Would they have avoided using a picture of the cat because 'it's a bit of cliche innit'? I'll leave you to your own conclusions. But if they had to design a poster to get their own loved pet back, would they approach it differently?

And that is the The Lost Cat Poster Theory. It's a reminder to everyone, and to creatives especially, that the use of creativity in advertising is there to increase the effectiveness of the communication, and for no other reason. Creativity is not there for its own sake, it is a means to an end. If a creative idea is getting in the way of the message, or is an unnecessary flourish, or muddies the point, or is confusing, then the person creating that advertising is letting their own ego get in the way of the job in hand.

Previous Sell! Sell! On Advertising...
The Bus Test
Trucks and Chocolate
Three Books You Should Have Read If You're In Advertising
Citroen C5 Goes Deutsch
If It Was Your Money
Vier Out Of Ten
Inaction Man Causes Action

Screensaver Clock

Have a gander at this top typographic screensaver clock by Simon Heys. It's fantastically simple. Although it does feel like the countdown to a very complicated bomb.

London Mayor Quote Of The Week

No, it's not a rent-a- quote from current incumbent Livingstone or mayoral wannabes Johnson or Paddick. And it's not even a quote from this week. Or the last four hundred years, come to that. The choice words we're talking about are from Lord Mayor Sir Thomas Bludworth who speaketh them at 3a.m. on Sunday 3rd September 1666.
When summoned to look at a fire just a couple of hours after it started, he dismissed it saying "a woman could piss it out" and went back to bed. Bad shout, Sir Thomas.
The blaze continued for the next five days and turned out to be the Great Fire of London, the most famous and catastrophic disaster in the capital's history.  Credit goes to the London's Burning exhibition at the Museum of London for bringing this to our attention.
Guess it makes Ken's call to replace Routemasters with bendy buses look like a masterstroke in comparison. 

Jobs at Sell! Towers: Quality Designer Wanted

CHECK THE UPDATE That's right. We are looking for a talented, smart (head smart, not clothes smart), junior graphic designer or graduate. You need to love design and type more than your family pet, have a love of tea, and an appreciation of (often very) bad jokes. Any interwebnet skills are always nice, but they're not necessary. Get in touch (include some of your work) at

Err, thanks for that

On our travels yesterday, we saw this poster at a railway station. It opens up a whole new area for public information signs - Stating The Bleeding Obvious. A couple of others they could get cracking on:
If you do not require a taxi, do not queue here - Taxi rank
Don't need petrol? Don't stop here - Petrol Station.
Not planning on flying? Don't buy a ticket and check-in - Airport.
How helpful.

OBEY Penguin. New Shepherd Fairey book covers.

Designer/illustrator/artist extraordinaire Shepherd Fairey had created these new book covers for Orwell classics 1984 and Animal Farm. They really give these books the strong packaging they deserve. It's amazing how the cover can set the tone for the book, they now look like the powerful stories that they are, rather than academic pieces of literature. Great work Mr Fairey, and hats off to Penguin for getting him to do 'em.

This Side Of The Truth

Hey look, it's Ricky Gervais directing a movie - with proper director's 'framing fingers' and everything. This Side Of the Truth is the blog of the shoot of the film being made by Ricky Gervais and Matt Robinson. Gervais is writing, directing and starring in TSOTT, and updating this blog regularly. Sounds like it should be fun movie.

Meet the ScreenThings

Well our ScreenThing project is now fully live and kicking. ScreenThing is an interweb project for the Motion Picture Association, for film and TV fans age 11-15. It's hosted through the Piczo network and brings exclusive film-related content, competitions, chat, and the chance to make and share short films - to kids who like that kind of thing. A big thanks to excellent Friends of Sell! Sell! illustrator Sam Chesterman and designers Delicious Industries for their work on the ScreenThing characters (top pic), that run through the site and that users can customise and use on their own Piczo pages. The site will be updated with new content and competitions throughout the year, though constantly running will be SpoofThing, which features user-made versions of famous film scenes, kicked off with some we made earlier with Squa. Cheers good people.

Richard Hogg

Have a look at the splendid illustration, design and film work of Richard Hogg here. Richard is a former operative of Friends of Sell! Sell! Airside.

"No wonder he's in the fucking reserves"

We hereby challenge anyone to come up with a funnier example in the genre of football managers swearing on camera.  Here's that classic clip of Harry Redknapp reacting somewhat unfavourably to having had a football deliberately kicked at his head by one of his players whilst he was giving an interview.  This footage never fails to give us the giggles.  You can never watch it just once as there's so many things to go back and enjoy.  

In particular, the moment after he's delivered his first foul-mouthed outburst to the perpetrator is comedy gold. You can almost feel Redknapp's simmering rage as he tries to regain composure and get back on track but his rapid-fire blinking lets you know that he's been completely distracted from the interview and is more concerned at continuing his rant at whoever clobbered him with the ball. Granted, Harry blinks and twitches a lot at the best of times but in this piece he goes into blinking overdrive as he searches hard for some fitting words to round off his bollocking which he eventually finds and delivers with aplomb.

In our humble opinion nothing comes close to touching Harry in the football manager swearing stakes, especially since the BBC wiped archive material of Alf Ramsey who was captured on film during half time in the 1966 World Cup Final saying to Nobby Stiles "this tea tastes of fucking horse piss". 

Button badges from Prickie

We got these button badges from the excellent Prickie. They have an amazingly big collection (over 15,000) and a nice site that's easy to find your way around, and way too easy to keep adding to the badges in your order.

Dodgy cover version

As anyone who knows Sell! Sell! will tell you, we are massive fans (borderline stalkers) of American art director George Lois. As well as his excellent advertising and design work, he created some of the most iconic magazine covers of the 20th century for Esquire in the 60's, including this one featuring actress Virna Lisi (on the left). 
Lois created bold, striking images, that crackled with his trademark visual wit, covering taboo subjects and political themes as well as pop culture. For some reason, Esquire have reprised this particular cover on the current US issue. The modern version doesn't even come close to matching the power of the Lois original. For this kind of thing to work, surely it needs to add something to the original (other than an obligatory flash of Jessica Simpson's cleavage). Or it needs to be at least as impactful and as well shot/cropped/framed, otherwise it just comes off as a pale imitation. As this does.

Inaction Man In Action

This is Inaction Man, an action figure we created to promote the lovely and very healthy folks at Nuffield Proactive Health. He comes in his own comfy armchair box with burger wallpaper, and has detachable burger and TV remote accessories. Inaction Man gets sent out to companies to create interest in the very excellent health and fitness services that Nuffield offer.
The first, most important goal of any kind of direct mailed piece is to not be immediately thrown in the bin, the second is to be interesting and compelling enough to be read, the third one is the tough one - getting actual responses. Happily, some recent results have shown that despite his sloth-like nature, Inaction Man has been 500% more effective at getting responses than Nuffield's previous efforts.
And that's the kind of action we like.

Jolly songs about Atomic Bombs

We went to our local lunch spot today, and this was playing on the stereo. 'Atomic Platters, Cold War Music from the golden age of homeland security' is a compilation of 40's, 50's and 60's songs about 'the bomb'. It includes such classics as 'Atomic Cocktail' by the Slim Gaillard Quartette, 'Atom Bomb Baby' by The five Stars, and 'You Hit Me Baby Like An Atomic Bomb' by Fay Simmons. It's quite strange to hear very upbeat deliveries and jaunty tracks about atom bombs and such. But quite funny, in a funny sort of way. Find out more here.

Vier Out Of Ten

It's always a crying shame to see brands resorting to borrowed interest in order to sell themselves. This latest example is a classic case of "let's see how many iconic and culturally significant things we can associate ourselves with in order to seem edgy and cool".  

Set to a hip soundtrack we see some laboured and charmless vignettes of New York, the miniskirt, punks and the Rio carnival.  The last few seconds of the commercial informs us that it's actually an ad for Becks Vier, "the beer that said no to compromise".  You what?

By basking in the glow of all these great revolutionary and ground-breaking things, I think Becks are trying to tell us that Vier is also revolutionary and ground-breaking.  Which is bollocks.

Now I imagine the brief said something like "communicate that Vier is a 4% standard lager that tastes like a premium lager". But this is also bollocks.  I've tried Becks Vier and in no way does it come close to matching the quality of its strong continental lager distant cousins.

Maybe we've got an old-fashioned view of what makes a great ad, but over here in our backyard we're big believers that in any commercial the product should be the hero.  In this ad, the beer comes across as an almost apologetic afterthought.  It ends up being the least interesting thing in the ad when it should really be the most interesting. 

What a pity that Becks wasn't the client that said no to "the beer that said no to compromise".

The Tell Tale Heart

Walking through Hoxton Square today and spotted this. It's not a horrible crime scene, rather part of the 'You Dig the Tunnel, I'll Hide the Soil' exhibition at the White Cube Gallery by Harland Miller. It's quite funny watching everyone do exactly the same thing as I did, which is to walk into the square, stop and go 'hello, what's going on here?' then realise after a minute or two that no-one's moving, then wander up to it and have a look.
I love the fact that people were having a picnic next to it.

You cannot escape the spam

If you thought you were safe from spam when you weren't on your computerisor, think again. The mischievous folks from Left Hand Rotation have taken spam into the real world, spamming people, real live letterboxes, and anything else they can get their hands on. Mmmm, now I'm craving reconstituted meat products.


Firmorama. They make really nice illustrations and designs. And they're from Brazil. Which probably means they're pretty good at keepy-uppies too. See more here.

Design Porn

Ah the guilty pleasure of the logo book. This is a great Flickr collection of logos from the 70's. Glitter for art directors.


A big thanks to SQUA for his top work on our ScreenThing spoofs which, after a lot of quite surreal late nights, and some fun sound sessions, have been unleashed onto the real world. This first one features a very scary knitted dinosaur in a shot-for-shot remake of the famous scene from Jurassic Park. You can see more ScreenThing spoofs here, including a Star Wars space scene remake featuring a ping pong bat. More on ScreenThing coming soon (as they say in the movies).

If it was your money

Next time you come up with an advertising idea, have another look at it and say to yourself "If this was my money - if it was my product I was promoting and my money being spent on marketing - is this what I would do?".

Sell! Sell! Salutes... Whopper Freakout

What do you do when you've got a product that your customers love, but they're so familiar with it that they don't really think about it any more? Well, one thing you could do is to take it away and see what happens. That is the simple premise of Whopper Freakout. It's great to see this simple idea unfold - especially when the Burger King people offer customers a competitor's product instead of the Whopper. It's no surprise to us that this comes from across the pond - where people aren't afraid to make entertaining and funny creative work that focuses on the product. This is classically great advertising. CP+B, Burger King, and Whopper Freakout - we salute thee!


We received this smart mailer/poster from illustrator Niko (Nick Chaffe) this morning. See more work on his webnetplace.

Citroen C5 goes Deutsche

Spotted on telly last night, the new campaign by Euros for the Citroen C5. On paper this is a really good idea: Citroen are saying that their new C5 (don't I recognise that name from somewhere?) is so well made - it could be mistaken for being German. The perceived wisdom is that Germans engineer fine automobiles from shiny aluminium in pristine laboratories - and that the French throw cars together with old wine crates on a farm, so it's real opportunity to change people's perception about the Citroen build quality. A great start point for some creative work, and an idea that can work all over the place. Unfortunately the ads themselves don't do this idea justice. Granted, the telly spot has a great soundtrack, and is shot really nicely - and we don't have a problem with the comedy German stereotypes - but the idea just isn't coming through. The 'Made in France' bit at the end feels apologetic, like this was all one big lie, that unfortunately it's not made in Germany by quality engineers, but in France by people who park by crashing into the car in front, sorry. The posters we spotted this morning are just bad puns, with the headlines "Schmitt Hot" and "Touch of Klaus". The shame here is the unfulfilled potential of the idea - the creative potential of whole area of the French doing things in a more German way, and the potential of an idea like this to really change people's perception. Which is one of the holy grails of great advertising, is it not?

When random events in the universe combine...

1. Someone writes a soft rock song about coffee.
2. Someone Else remakes things in Lego
3. Someone Else's Dad is a fan of soft rock Someone who made song about coffee.
4. Someone Else's Dad suggests to Someone Else that he remake Someone's music video for soft rock song about coffee.

Goodbye to a great adman, Paul Arden

Sell! Sell! is deeply saddened to hear of the death of true advertising great Paul Arden. We had the pleasure of being introduced to Paul by the lovely Roger Kennedy and since have taken the opportunity to visit the wonderful gallery he ran with his wife Toni on many occasions. Paul's maverick nature and love of his craft made him a truly inspirational man. His books 'It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be" and "Whatever you think, think the opposite" are required reading for anyone who wants be a better creative. He will be sadly missed by many. Our deepest condolences go to Toni and family. Read more about Paul and leave messages of condolence here on the Creative Review blog.

3 Books You Should Have Read If You're In Advertising

When I was at art school, I was taking an American Literature course on the side. In the first lecture, the tutor put up on the board a big list: "100 books you should have read by the time you're 21". I hadn't read any of them. I was 23. This brings us neatly to our much shorter version. If you work in advertising, especially if you are a creative, or if you are trying to into advertising, you'll be much better off if you have read these three books. We're not saying they're going to instantly make you into a creative genius or anything - but they'll give you a really good base of knowledge. They are all quite old, especially the Ogilvy one, and people will tell you 'it's all out of date', but the basic principles in these books still hold true - how to talk to people, how to sell, how find something interesting about a product. They're all quite different in their approach eg Ogilvy's is a thoughtful, almost scientific approach, whereas Mr Lois shoots from the hip (and the lip). I don't think it would be helpful to anyone to treat these as serious 'how-to' books and follow them religiously - but having the combined knowledge of these three people in the back of your mind will certainly help. Find them here: Ogilvy Lois Whipple. No, we are not being sponsored by Amazon.

Conrad Ostwald

The charming showreel of animator Conrad Ostwald here.

Words are Pictures

Yes they are. The lovely typographical and illustrational stylings of Craig Ward can be found here.

Plastic Bag Animals...

This is a really smart and playful street art idea. The artist, Joshua Allen Harris, makes animals out of discarded plastic bags and then ties them above the ventilation grates above the subway in New Yawk. When the subway train goes past underneath, the air being forced out brings the animals to life. The ones that sort of wave and wiggle are especially funny. Snazzy*.

Greatest April Fool's Day Pranks

It being April Fool's Day, and spotting a couple of hoaxes in the paper on the way in to Sell! Towers this morning, we thought we'd try to find some really good April Fools pranks. This is our favourite so far: "In 1962 there was only one tv channel in Sweden, and it broadcast in black and white. The station's technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that, thanks to a new technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to display color reception. All they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their tv screen. Stensson proceeded to demonstrate the process. Thousands of people were taken in." Excellent. Read the full description of the hoax in all its glory here. And see the top 100 April Fool's Day pranks here. Including the famous Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.

Updating Proverbs #1

"When you only have two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other" goes the Chinese proverb.
Whoever wrote this proverb needs to get themselves a reality check. Realistically if you have two pennies you aren't going to be able to buy bread - even something like asda's own brand bread is going to cost you more than that - and lillies, when was the last time this guy had to buy flowers? And even if you could buy these items for a penny each - why? Ok so you've got yourself some dry bread, that's a good start, some food - what is going to go well with that? A flower? So you're holding a flower, eating dry bread - I don't see a great improvement on where you were before. And bees - surely bees will be attracted to the flower, so now you've gone from having two pennies to eating dry bread whilst being attacked by bees. That doesn't sound very wise. If you've got bread, then surely the other thing you should be buying is some butter. Or soup, or jam. Then you have at least got yourself some semblance of a meal, plus you don't have the hassle of trying to hold a flower while you're eating.
Summing up then, a more useful, updated proverb might be "When you only have two pounds, buy some bread with one and some butter with the other, and if you have any left over get some cheap jam". Job done.