Newly Built Ad For MyBuilder

Since the beginning of the year we've been working with the lovely people over at, developing a new ad campaign for them. That will come later in the year, but in the meantime, here is a tactical double page ad we've produced for them to go in At Home magazine this month. The idea was to replicate a full spread from a directory, the traditional place where people go to randomly find a builder. So, lots of fun inventing fake builders names, and replicating the unique style of directory ads. Which came a bit too easy, it has to be said.

German matchbox labels

We spotted some rather lovely German matchbox labels over on Shailesh Chavda's flickr stream, via Scott Hansen's blog. Most labels in the set are from the 60s or 70s and are 'predominantly inspired by Swiss and German modernism'.
Considering their size, the labels are extremely intricate and beautifully printed. It's a charming collection that's well worth a look.

Eating Off The Peoples Princess

Red nose day
The people’s prawncess
Shady Di
Uncle Ben (Laden)
The people’s mince-ess
Post houmous

Eating off the People's Princess. Genius. Funniest thing we've seen in ages.

Happy weekend everyone.

Dick Bruna book jackets

Online shop and design studio Present&Correct is currently offering up a selection of books that its founder, Neal Whittington, has collected with front covers by Dutch illustrator Dick Bruna. They look great, especially when you see them all togethor, after a quick look on their website it seems there aren't too many left. So if you fancy one you had better hurry.

A stick up

On my journey to Sell! Towers this morning I spotted this notice stuck over an ad for Vitabiotics.
Quite clearly it's a hoax (the slap-dash, guerilla style sticker and glaring typo weren't the only things that led me to that conclusion). But it's really rather funny and it cheered up an otherwise quite grim tube ride.
Do let us know if you see anything similar dotted about...

David Lynch Cleans Up New York

Anti-litter public service commercial directed by David Lynch.
That's how they do it in NYC then.


Advertising. An Industry Of Accepted Norms.

A good Norm

I'm befuddled by one peculiar aspect of advertising.
For a business which is supposedly full of mavericks and creative thinkers, it loves convention.
There seems to be a herding instinct in the business, where everyone gravitates towards one way of doing things.
Maybe it's just lack of imagination?
Think of all the unspoken, accepted norms in the business.
There's a way that car advertising should look and behave.
There's a way to make an online brand name memorable.
There's a kind of work that wins creative awards.
The tag line should come at the end of a TV ad.
Beer advertising should be matey.
There's no difference between products.
The USP is no longer relevant.
Planners write the briefs.
A brand ad is worthy, a direct response ad is dirty.
No one reads copy anymore.
One big idea is better than lots of smaller ideas.
Young is good, old is bad.
Featuring the product is lame.

Ok, so that's just a few pretty crap examples, but you get the idea.

We are surrounded by hundreds of accepted norms that shape the way that we approach advertising. They influence the way that we even approach approaching advertising.

Then there are a whole other level of conventions that were going on without me realising, (until we set up Sell! Sell! that is) - accepted norms on a business scale.
How many people you need in an ad agency.
What kind of people should be in an agency.
How you should court the industry press.
How you should grow.
How you should charge for your work.
How you should behave towards clients.

Some conventions and accepted norms are based on common sense and good experience.
But many are just the result of bad habits and lazy thinking.

It's in the nature of the human brain to create patterns of behaviour, and the same is true for thinking.

We all know that creative thinking, if properly applied can make advertising work harder.

But by nature, we revert to old ways of solving problems unless we always actively question what we're doing, and question what is accepted.

Advertising should be a business of questioning and challenging. Of constantly interrogating convention and accepted norms to find a way of gaining an advantage for our clients over their competitors.

Yet it sometimes feels like, as a business, it's bound by and adheres to conventions and accepted norms like a fusty old gentleman's club.

I met the walrus

Here's a philosophical and rather brilliant treat to mark the start of the weekend.

In 1969, during the time of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "bed in" protests, a 14 year old Beatle fanatic, named Jerry Levitan, borrowed his father's reel-to-reel recorder and snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto. Lennon, who had apparently ignored reporters for months, supposedly laughed at Levitan's intrusion and agreed to an interview. The result of which was a 40 minute meditation by Lennon on love, war, peace, angst and the break up of the world's most famous band.

Thirty-eight years later the historic interview was made into this beautiful narrative short. The animation and illustration is excellently rendered and perfectly synced to Lennon's musings. It's no wonder the creator, Raskin, of 'Kids and Explosions', scooped up bucket loads of awards for it.

Enjoy! Have a great weekend. And Peace.

Joe Wilby's Fine Cuts

We've just completed this project for film and commercials editor Joe Wilby. It's a full set of stationery, postcards, invoice, cards, DVDs, website etc. all based on the theme of people who 'cut'. We've used some old school advertising illustrations of different tradesmen and businessmen, along with some suitably punny cut-based slogans. The print is single colour lithography on different weights of Strathmore natural white, for that classic feel.

Letterpress Coasters

We bang on about letterpress quite a lot here at Sell! Towers. But we just can't get enough of it. There is something special, almost magical about the process. The craft involved, the smell of fresh printed ink, the texture, the little inconsistencies between each print... I could go on and on, but I'll spare you. Instead have a watch of this little gem charting the process taken by Repeat Press in producing a beautiful set of coasters for High Snobiety.

Quarter Productions have some other good videos worth a watch but if you are veggie, I'd stay away from this one.

How Branding Has Confused Politicians and Business

As we head towards the general election, it's becoming clear that politics in this country is now much more about facade and image than ever before.

We have airbrushed party leaders, soundbites, and slogans devoid of real meaning.

The substance is conspicuous by it's absence. Trying to get a politician to clearly state a policy or idea these days is like trying to nail sick to a window.

It's becoming increasingly frustrating. When is someone going to say what they really think? Or state what they would actually do should they come to power?

But perhaps we shouldn't blame politicians and the parties. Perhaps they're just following the example set by modern marketing and advertising?

After all, marketing and advertising has become increasingly about the facade.

Modern advertising and marketing has become all about the brand. Brand advertising forgets the substance - the product or service the business provides, what makes it good, why people might choose it - and concentrates instead on building some values around the brand.

Millions and millions of pounds are spent each year on consultants and advertising 'building brands' in this inefficient and misguided way. And the fact remains that if you build your brand this way it only ever remains a facade. That image can crumble as soon as people are exposed to the reality or experience of the product, if they do actually try it.

Apple and Innocent are examples of great brands that have become strong by talking about their products - about what makes them good, why you might like them - not by building a facade. Of course, they've got the way they communicate spot-on, so that it all adds to the way that the brand comes across, which is important. But it is communication with substance at its heart. Not airy-fairy, vacuous 'brand advertising' about feelings and emotions or rainbows and unicorns.

Advertising and marketing courses and professionals increasingly hold Innocent and Apple up as examples of 'great brands'. But they never seem to realise or acknowledge that how they got there was through good, old-fashioned product advertising (and of course developing good products and improving them).

These ad and marketing people understand that they are great brands, but they clearly don't understand how they got there, because to try to replicate their success they always seem to recommend brand advertising.

Hundreds of companies are throwing millions of pounds at the wall, hiring branding agencies, doing touchy-feely brand campaigns, building their facade, and they're neglecting to tell people what makes them a good company - the product or service that they sell. They're neglecting to give people a reason why they should try that product or service. As our friend Bob Hoffman puts it, they're trying to get them to try the product by convincing them to love the brand. It's such an inefficient, ineffective, expensive way of building business. Popularity doesn't necessarily translate into sales. Being known alone doesn't translate into sales - well-known companies go bust every year.

No, the real way to build a brand is by getting people to buy, use (and hopefully use again) your product or service. And to do that you need to give people the meat in the sandwich - the reasons why. Not just build a facade.

So, even though the current political leaders and and their words seem empty, false and meaningless - and we find it increasingly frustrating and unhelpful, can we really blame our politicians for using the same approach of facade without substance?

After all, they're only doing exactly what the supposedly smartest ad agencies, brand consultants and marketers recommend to businesses every day.

Cover Me Badd - The Update

Hello, and a happy Monday our reader. Just a quick update on the Cover Me Badds - we've had quite a few entries, some of which are really funny, some quite dark. Which is nice. Anyhow, there's still a week and a half to get your suggestions or designs in (close date is the end of March) so why not have a go?

"Cover Me Badds are phony book covers designed to slip snugly over the cover of most popular books, keeping your choice of reading matter private."

Read the original post here, for more information.

Read the Cover Me Badd latest update here

McDonalds - Just Passing By Inspiration?

Something's been nagging me about the McDonald's ad for some time now. And it's something other than my prejudice that McDonalds should be using their advertising to feature the food they actually sell rather than trying to pretend and persuade us that their restaurants are all full with a marvellously diverse cross-section of customers drawn from Great British society.

The ad's very, very well written and David Morrissey beautifully delivers one of the best voiceovers I've heard in a long time.

It's the "Just passing by" turn of phrase that's been bothering me. I've heard it before somewhere. And I couldn't recall for the life of me where and when that might be.

And then I remembered. It's a song isn't it? Yes, it's a song. A song, not a poem.

But who the bloody hell sang it? Buried deep in my subconscious somewhere a voice said Rolf Harris. That's right, Rolf Bloody Harris.

Now, I'm sure many ad geeks would have already made this connection and been aware of this source of inspiration [or rip-off as the less generously minded among you would probably have it].

However, thanks to the joys of good old YouTube, I can share this with a wider audience and simultanoeusly put to bed something that's been bugging me ever since I saw the ad for the first time. There's also a cracking version of the song from PlayAway that's worth watching that has a very youthful, pre-Baldrick, Tony Robinson going bonkers.

Would have been a nice touch if the ladies of the harem of the court of King Caractacus were featured in the commercial just passing by. Maybe that would have made the ad a little too unbelievable.

Anyway, enjoy. Then go back and watch the McDonalds ad and see it in a very different light.


Our good friends at Delicious Industries have just produced these great personalisable business cards. Called Howdoos, they're hand letter-pressed in pink and black, so they've got a lovely feel to them. There are two designs and they're going to be available in packs of ten. Nice idea.
More information here.

To Wayne, I'm Sorry


New Marmite Ads

Each one of these great new Marmite ads has caught my eye on my walk from the station to the agency every day. There's a confidence and knowingness to these executions which is spot on for the brand. Another 'back of the net' effort from DDB. Top marks to them for keeping this campaign fresh and relevant.

Fresh Fentimans Furtling Fun, And A Tonic For A Monday

Something for a Monday, our latest Fentimans furtling beermat. For those unfamiliar with it, Furtling is the Victorian Art Of Erotic Hand Manipulation (or making your fingers look like bums and things). We've made some previous versions for Fentimans Ginger Beer, Curiosity Cola and Victorian Lemonade, and they seem to go down well - we've seen some for sale on eBay by some opportunistic, cheeky blighters, and people sometimes write to Fentimans asking for them, which is nice. This new one is to promote Fentimans' new Tonic Water, and delicious it is too. If you'd like to know why it makes such a good mixer, have a read of this...

Low Rise

The kind chaps over at the freshly typed online mag, Low Rise, update us with their fresh nuggets of information to help us keep our fingers on the err, pulse. It makes a most pleasant pre-weekend read and the best part, it's free!
Click here for a read.
Happy reading. Happy Friday!


Tokyo/Glow follows the nighttime journey of an illuminated man from a crosswalk sign as he embarks on an adventure through the streets of Tokyo.

A great little short film, and soon to be music video.

Advertising Is...

Advertising is the subtle art of getting one person to buy one thing.
A million people at a time.

Cover Me Badd - The Phenomenon Needs You

Picture this. You are on a busy train, tube or bus on your way to work. Or in a modern coffee bar filling in time between your a brand saliency optimisation meeting and a visit to the proctologist. You are reading a book.

Whether you like it or not, close proximity and basic human nature means that people are going to judge you on that book. People are idiots after all. That's where Cover Me Badd comes in. A new Sell! Sell! Doubles initiative, Cover Me Badds are phony book covers designed to slip snugly over the cover of most popular books, keeping your choice of reading matter private.

Reading the latest Dan Brown, or Ukrainian Tractor Drivers Go Bananas? Or perhaps Confessions Of A Shopaholic, or something like Gareth Gates' Autobiography (is there such a thing?)? Worry not about being looked down upon by your snooty fellow travelers for your populist or hurredly chosen reading matter. Simply slip a Cover Me Badd over your book and read happily.

Cover me Badd covers come in many different styles. Some are intellectual, like War & Peace Translated Into Mandarin (try topping that, disapproving studenty type), some are in-depth, like Space Science 4, An Expert's Textbook. And others simply say don't fuck with me, not even for an instant, like Serial Killing For The Intermediate, A Hands On User Guide. Whatever your need, there's a Cover Me Badd for Everyone.

Packs of our Cover Me Badd fake book covers will be hitting the stores later this year. But first, we'd thought we'd offer the chance to you, our dear reader to enter your own. Simply come up with an idea for a name, or even design a fake book cover, and send it to us at - The chosen entry will be included in our launch pack, and of course the winner will not only garner massive fame and what the Americans call Kudos (aftershave, I think), but also a share of what we are cautiously estimating to be an obscene amount of profit. So get your designing and writing fingers out. The closing date is March 31st.

Read the Cover Me Badd latest update here.