Bill Bernbach Said #40

Our Bernbach series is forty. You will find it in a bar wondering where the last decade went, whilst browsing auto trader for a used sports car...

“There are few things more destructive than an unsound idea persuasively expressed.”

Read all of the previous Bernbach Said posts here.

Friday Classics

Some TV commercials of yore, when ads actually attempted to impart something of consequence to their potential customer...

Please Use The Seats As A Footrest

A good pictogram should clearly communicate its meaning if the viewer can't read the text that goes with it. Not like this.

Bill Bernbach Said #39

Number 39 in our Bernbach series...

“Be provocative. But be sure your provocativeness stems from your product. You are NOT right if in your ad you stand a man on his head JUST to get attention. You ARE right if you have him on his head to show how your product keeps things from falling out of his pockets.”

Read all of the previous Bernbach Said posts here.

One Minute Physics: Dark Matter

These Minute Physics films are a great idea. But my head is still spinning after most of them. Try this one on for size, it's about dark matter...

Advertising Greatness #3: ABSOLUT

We haven’t done one of these for a while, so we thought we'd make it a good one. Absolut. An iconic campaign that did that rare thing: it stopped being just an ad campaign and became a part of culture.

In a similar way that The Economist did with the billboard poster, the Absolut campaign devoted itself to being brilliant in one media. In this case, print. That single-mindedness is something that you rarely see today. Maybe that's one reason why we rarely see the utterly brilliant these days? Too many campaigns trying to be too many different things in too many media?

Images from, where you can see a massive collection of Absolut ads.

The New Copy Book. The D&AD Done Good.

I give the D&AD a fair amount of stick, for what I think are the right reasons (Branding 2.0? Rilly?). But this post is to praise them heartily for something. The new Copy Book.

I remember poring over the original one for hours and hours on end in previous agencies, and I've been trying to get hold of a copy for Sell! Towers for quite a while.

It has a great cover design by Paul Belford and This Is Real Art, and contains the most comprehensive collection of great advertising writing that you'll find anywhere. For all writers, a must. For young writers, especially so. And for anyone who is involved in the commissioning or creating of advertising it really is worthy of your time.

Nice one D&AD.

More on great ad writing:
My Favourite Writing
Simple Is Good
We're Not Poets, We Are Salesmen
Wisdom On Writing By The Great Drayton Bird
This Is The Truth About Advertising Blog Readers

Bill Bernbach Said #38

For a very special someone out there (you know who you are): number 38 in our Bernbach series...

“Today’s smartest advertising style is tomorrow’s corn.”

Read all of the previous Bernbach Said posts here.

How Much Can You Trust A Man With A Beard?

With the wearing of facial hair returning to popularity, is it enough to get by on the old adage never trust a man with a beard? This infographic by Matt McInerney might help (see the full piece here).

Bill Bernbach Said #37

Number 37 in our Bernbach series...

“We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it. We are so busy listening to statistics we forget we can create them.”

Read all of the previous Bernbach Said posts here.

My Favourite Writing #7: Stuart Harkness

As our regular reader will know, it’s our belief that regardless of strategy, creativity and the creative crafts ultimately make the difference between great advertising and not-so-great advertising. And none more so than great writing. Regardless of media or technology, great writing is still the most powerful tool available to the marketer and advertiser. So we've been asking people whose opinions we respect to tell us their favourite three pieces of advertising writing. And thankfully most of them didn't tell us to fuck off. We’re running them as an irregular series. Today's is number seven, with selections from Stuart Harkness (who played fast and loose with the 'three pieces' part, but they're all good so here goes)...

1 – Technics Goldie – The Closest You’ll Get to the Sound in his Head
This feels totally immersive. Sucks you in and paints a vivid picture of the inner workings of the mind of a musical genius at the time. Maybe I’m swayed by nostalgia, a misspent youth at the Blue Note before its demise and Hoxton became ubiquitous with leg warmers and you had to be riding a unicycle just to order a beer. But the sign off gets me every time.

2 – Sunday Sport – Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard.
Newspapers are the original headline writers. Selling their grubby wares from the shelves. Grabbing your eye. Listening to your voicemails. The infamous Sunday Sport sought to carve its own bizarre niche with far-fetched yarns splashed across the front page. WW2 Bomber Found On Moon is the probably the most noted example but the World Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard line still tickles me. I used to have it pinned up on the wall of my old office and whenever got work shredded had a quick squizz. Never failed to bring a smile to my face. Yes, it’s absurd. Totally inane. But that’s why I love it. Plus again it paints a picture. Of a man counting to his death in an airtight wardrobe. Brilliant.

3 – PlayStation and The Big Issue

I started out working at TBWA years ago when the place was banging out brilliant press and telly. The Double Life PlayStation spot written by Ed and James is driven by a great set of words. I still get goose bumps watching it.

Nigel and Paul were also resident at the time. And set the bar in terms of both writing and art direction. Roberts’ work on the Big Issue is a great example of powerful copy that pulls no punches. Yes it’s long. But fuck it’s tight.

4 – Nike - There is no Finish Line

Running sucks when you’re six foot six and weigh seventeen stone. Give me a football and I’ll play for 90 minutes. But the thought of pounding paving slabs brings me out in shin splints. Yet this makes me want to take to the streets like Rocky in Philly. To run up steps. And scream at the top of my voice. It is the challenge attached? Or the eternal nature of it? Forward facing. Perpetual. Amid a state of solace. Constantly pushing yourself to do better. A bit like writing ads if you still believe in craft. I sometimes look at the writing our Portland office has output over the years on Nike and feel inspired. Those pesky Yanks can write the tube socks off stuff. I doff my invisible baseball cap.

5 – Dos Equis – The Most Interesting Man in the World

On the theme of great writing from across the pond the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man In The World Campaign is a well crafted sum of its parts. ‘His charm is so contagious vaccines have been created for it.’ ‘His organ donor card also lists his beard’ ‘He once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels.’ Amazing. Even if it is a bit Chuck Norris. The thing is you can tell someone is clearly enjoying coming up with these. Pissing their pants as they put pen to paper. Not in an incontinent manner. But cracking up reading lines out in a suitably pompous voice. Finding the funny vein and then draining comedy gold out of every single artery. ‘Stay Thirsty My Friends.’”

Thanks Stuart.

My Favourite Writing #1: Mark Denton
My Favourite Writing #2: Drayton Bird
My Favourite Writing #3: Ben Kay
My Favourite Writing #4: Dave Trott
My Favourite Writing #5: Vinny Warren
My Favourite Writing #6: John Allison