Houlton-Gate: Fentimans Fight Back

If you've read a newspaper or a news website over the last couple of days, you've probably seen the stories about our good friends at Fentimans having their delicious lemonade branded an 'imitation liquor' by officials in the town of Houlton, Maine, in the good ole US of A. At the centre of the furore is the up to 0.5 per cent alcohol by volume that is created when Fentimans botanically brew their drinks.

The Aroostook Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse, the Maine Attorney General's Office, and Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin (I swear this is true) have all got involved.
Officials from the Aroostook Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (ASAP) and the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse (MAPSA) have maintained that the beverage should be classified as imitation liquor since learning that a Houlton High School student brought a bottle of the lemonade to school several weeks ago.
The story trucks on today as the latest developments are that Maine's Attorney Generals office has banned the sale of the lemonade to under 21 year olds.

So, obviously it was our pleasure to help Fentimans with a suitable response, which is what you can see here.

Esquire Ricky Gervais Cover Reprises Classic

This months cover of the UK Esquire magazine recreates the original, iconic The Passion of Muhammad Ali cover with a jokey shot of Ricky Gervais by Rankin. The original, absolutely classic cover (below) was conceived by George Lois and shot by Carl Fischer in 1968.

By the way, if anyone ever spots an original Esquire with the Sonny Liston santa cover for sale, please let me know.


Following on with the Halloween theme, American cartoonist Chris Ware has created a smashing seasonally themed cover and four page cartoon strip entitled 'Unmasked', for The New Yorker magazine. He portrays the holiday in a modern day light yet still retains his classic comic strip cool. The cover sums it all up well, showing people absorbed, almost zombified by their iphones.

You can read more and see Mr Ware's 'Unmasked' strip here.

via +KN


We decided to spook ourselves a bit today, to get us in the mood for Halloween this weekend, by making this week's top five our top five horror flicks. The films that make us quiver whilst hiding behind the sofa cushions. The most gruesome of gruesome. The scariest of the lot, well to us anyway. 

So without further ado, and in no particular order, we've got ...

1. Shining (film posters only, we're far too scaredy cat for clips)

2. Salem's Lot (bit of a left fielder but terrifying nonetheless)

3. The Omen

4. The Exorcist

5. And, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (gulp)

If we've missed any chilling films off our top five then let us know, but remember we scare easy.

Cassetteboy vs Nick Griffin vs Question Time

Cassetteboy is back with another comedy cutjob. This time it's Nick Griffin who gets the Cassetteboy treatment. The Apprentice one is here if you missed it first time round.

Friday Comedy Gold

This week we have a not quite so vintage clip of a BBC Wildlife cameraman getting molested by a rare parrot, the Kakapo. Funny yet slightly disturbing.


Fun, funny, mischievous, instinctive interface, quick, brilliantly simple design. Excellent stuff. Hats off to Lean Mean Fightin' Machine.
Have a go here.


The Graphic Eye

Polaroids can make everything look good, eh? A big thanks to Stephan G. Bucher for including ours (above) in his new book The Graphic Eye.

Our good friends over at Delicious Industries also have these two excellent images in the book. The seagull is especially good I think.

The Graphic Eye is published by Rotovision and showcases 'Photographs by international graphic designers'. It's worth a look if you like that kind of thing.

New 2012 Olympic Pictograms Unveiled

It's a tough brief. But one that every designer (myself definitely included) would love a crack at. The 2012 Olympics people have unveiled the new pictograms for the games. For me, the Munich '72 graphics have always set the standard, with Mexico '68 following closely.

There are two versions of these, the black and white ones at the top, and the 'dynamic' ones underneath. You can see the full sets over on the official 2012 website and read more about them on their blog.

So, what do you think?

Mr Chips

Happy Friday readers.

And to get your weekend started we're introducing a new feature, Friday Comedy Gold. Our regular readers will know how much we like a good laugh so we thought we would take it a step further with a classic funny to top the week off.

First up, some vintage Catchphrase. Enjoy.

Is The Free Press Really Free If It's Free?

When I were a lad, free papers had names like The Citizen, or The Advertiser, and featured headlines like "Spate of hanging basket thefts hits Chorley" or "Local man injured in refuse collection accident". They popped through the door once every fortnight, and were generally put to use lining the budgie's cage, or stopping oil getting on the kitchen floor when taking a scooter apart. As a news medium, they left a lot to be desired.

More recently in our fair capital, we've seen the rise (and in the case of one, fall) of a new kind of free newspaper, the evening rag. The London Paper, and the Lite look(ed) a bit more proper - they didn't have ads for funeral directors on the front cover, and they weren't made from the same paper used for school loo roll. The Lite, which is the surviving title, is more a smorgasbord of pop culture and news snippets than a serious newspaper. Something you can pick up, read for two minutes, and put down again. That's not to do it down or be snooty about it, it works well for what it is - a quick diversion for commuters, something a bit more interesting than staring at the back of the man-in-front's head, or reading mind-numbingly bad tube card advertising. But a serious newspaper it is not.

However, this week marks a quite remarkable event in the media, as the London Evening Standard becomes Britain's first proper newspaper to go completely free.

It's a brave and unprecedented attempt to reverse the fortunes of the paper, which has flagged in recent years. According to reports, the circulation was 450,000 a day, five years ago, but had sunk to an average of 116,192 a day last month. Those are pretty desperate statistics, and not surprisingly the Standard blames the rise of free London papers for it's predicament.

The last paid-for Evening Standard

The Standard is aiming to print 600,000 copies a day, and distribute them throughout central London, and on the back of that massive jump in readership, hoping to be able to increase its income from advertising by 40 per cent (up from an estimated £25m). A rise that would theoretically make up for the loss of the cover price, and more.

It's interesting because we have a value perception of the Standard, so getting one for free feels like a good deal. It's like when anything that normally costs us money is free - we want it. It's a bit like the story of the bloke who was trying to give away an old motorbike and parked it in his front garden with a sign that said "please take' - no one took it, because they assumed it was rubbish. So he put a different sign on it that said "For sale £25". And someone nicked it.

It's that perception of getting something for nothing that we used to have to pay for that makes it seem like a good deal. Whereas the papers that have always been free are just free papers. But, will that be enough to make 484,000 more Londoners pick one up?

Certainly I'd be more inclined to take a Standard than a Lite if they were side by side, not least because 'lite' is a terrible Americanism that I associate with a poor version of something. But mainly because I think I might learn of some actual news or hear of important events that had taken place in the world that day, not just who Pixie Raincloud went to a party with. Although
obviously I want to know about that too.

But will going free affect the journalism and style of the Standard, and if so, how? Will it change to attract the readers of the Lite? Will stories become shorter, will there be more coverage of
slebridies? Less meat and more sauce? I'm not holding the Standard up as some ultimate bastion of serious news reporting. But it has always felt more on a par with a national daily than your typical evening rag. I can imagine everyone over there must be really conscious of not
appearing to change, especially over the first few weeks, and no doubt the other papers will be watching it intently for any sign of dumbing down.

But there is an equally interesting question. Is it healthy for a serious newspaper to rely 100 per cent on ad revenue for its survival? Sure, we've all got used to the idea of free content, free entertainment, and with the growth of online, free news. We've come as consumers to expect most of these things to be free to us, but obviously they've got to be paid for somehow. This bold experiment may work wonders for the Standard, the economics may balance out. But just because it economically works, and just because want or expect things to be free, does that necessarily make it a good thing?

In the 1960s, advertising giant and radical thinker Howard Gossage wrote an excellent piece on the death of the The New York Times, Western Edition, entitled "What good is freedom of the press if there isn't one?" (from which, you'll gather, I hamfistedly paraphrased the title of this post). In it he makes the case that a newspaper should belong to its readership, in that it is their money (the cover price) that should keep it alive, not advertising revenue. This, he argues is the only way to guarantee a genuinely free press.

It's an interesting thought right now with The Standard, because notionally a paid for newspaper has a responsibility to its reader, but a newspaper that is kept alive wholly by money from advertising? Where do its responsibilities and allegiances lie? As a reader, should we still expect it to be us? What if that paper suddenly had the opportunity to break a huge scandal that affected the public at large, surely a dream scenario for any journalist? What if the subject of the scandal was a company, and that company was huge and represented a large chunk of that vital advertising revenue? Would we expect it to expose the very people it relies on for its survival? I don't know, I'm not suggesting anything so sinister or dramatic would ever happen, just using it as an example of how complicated it could become. And how, as readers and consumers, we can potentially lose our power simply by demanding that something be free.

Of course, we can always try to reclaim that power by using the paper to line the budgie cage.

The first free Evening Standard

One thing is for sure and that is that we live in very interesting, exiting times. Will the Standard's move be successful? Will the opposite move by News International and the Financial Times into more paid-for online news content work? Will the physical papers survive? Will online content remain largely free? And most of all, will it work out better for us, the reader and consumer? Will our increasing desire for free-ness leave us better off? Or not?

Any thoughts or opinions welcomed.

The sequel

Not quite as good as the original but still funny.

Happy Meat

NSFV (not safe for vegans)


The Quiet Revolution

Nice prints and things can be found over at The Quiet Revolution, by London based illustrator Claire Scully. The 'Bejewelled' collection is definitely worth a look. We posted a few of our faves up above.
To see more super stuff click here.

S!S! At KK

I passed our uber-fashionable neighbours at the KK Outlet on Hoxton Square as I was wandering back from picking up what turned out to be an excellent Friday morning bacon sandwich. And lo-and-behold they have in their window one of our FOJFS tee shirts.
How nice.
Thanks KK!

(Oh, and Jonathan, if you're reading this, yours is on its way over as we speak)

Richard Hammond's Hair

Sell! Sell!, as London's Hairiest Ad Agency™ takes a keen interest in hair. So we were excited to note that Richard Hammond's hair is starring in the latest TV commercial for supermarket Morrisons...

However, we are starting to get a bit worried that poor old Richard is starting to get upstaged by his barnet, which clearly has a better agent than he does. Rather than resort to another attention-seeking high speed crash, it seems to us that the clear way forward is a simple haircut, something that it appears Mr Hammond has resisted thus far.

But as is the Sell! Sell! way, rather than merely carp on from the sidelines, we're trying to do something about it. We've created an action group: People Willing To Chip-In For A Haircut For Richard Hammond. The thinking is simple: the more people that join, the less we each have to pay towards the haircut, even if we send him to somewhere really fancy and celebrity, like Upper Kutz in Guildford.

You can join the group here. You can also make a suggestion for Richard's new look.

Knock-Off Newsflash

As part of our continuing Knock-Off Nigel campaign, we've produced this piece of interactive tomfoolery. It's a customisable news report, in the style of a full-on US news piece, that you can put your mate's (or your) name and picture into and send to whomever you so choose. Hosted on the Nuts website, you can enjoy it in action here.

Thanks to the lovely people at Gas & Electric for their production wizardry, Naked Penguin Boy for their technical know-how and ahem, stamina, IPC for their helpfulnessness, and not forgetting of course Phil. Good old Phil. Cheers!

PC plod

Did you ever get that sort of flat feeling when these anonymous and suspiciously slow plodding feet (that move annoyingly just off beat) came on telly? An all too familiar sort of sinking feeling from way back when you were wee, where the end credits of the Bill signified bedtime, like it or not.

Well if so, this week's top five might be right up your street...

We've come up with our top five onscreen coppers who give us the exact opposite feeling - we feel positively joyous when watching these old Bill's! So to celebrate, and in no particular order, we've got -

1. Axel Foley

2. Frank Dreben

3. Chief Wigan

4. Officer Dibble

5. Inspector Clouseau 

If we've missed any hot fuzz let us know.

Let love rule

Lenny Kravitz & J.U.S.T.I.C.E - Let Love Rule

Check out this great music video from Kevin Schofield. The video takes the form of the end credits of a movie which the character starts interacting with. It's always great to see people messing with the format and trying the unexpected.

Kevin is also the guy behind the XXX Diesel viral and BPA Toe Jam. Brilliant stuff, although not quite safe for work.

Via Motionographer

40 Years Of Monty Python

The collective genius of Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones and Palin first came to our television screens as Monty Python forty years ago today and changed comedy forever. Brighten up a miserable Monday morning by watching the legendary "Fish Slapping Dance". 

You, Dog

Although this was made last year, it definitely still deserves a mention.
Deerhoof's 'You, Dog' stop-frame music video, made by the creative folks over at a nice idea everyday, is super. It looks like great fun to make and the tune kind of sticks.
If you haven't seen it, give yourself a nice two minute treat this Friday. Enjoy!

The new media workout plan

"Every time you open a new tab to check out one of the above websites, stop. Get up from your computer and do the exercise associated with the site you were going to visit."

A nice little idea from illustrator Patrick Moberg.

It's October And TAC Is Back

Hooray, hooray it's October. Halloween, cold evenings, the smell of burning leaves, and Bob Hoffman, our favourite grumpy ad blogger (AKA The Voice Of Reason), is back.
Go over and say hello at The Ad Contrarian.