The Secret Door

The Secret Door, a magical portal and your very own wormhole into the furthest nooks and crannies of the world. Well, Google Earth anyway.

Click on it's knocker and you get taken to images of random locations across the world cleverly pulled from Google maps and streetview. Who knows where you'll end up.

Maybe here?

 Or here? 

Or, if you're really lucky (unlucky?). A Russian & Turkish baths in Miami. Nice.

We're not really sure what it's all about, although it is connected to Safestyle Windows. Who might have been better off putting the secret door cash into a new website of their own, just sayin. But anyway, it's genius and a great way to lose a half an hour of your life.

150 Years Of London Underground Posters

Now, here's an anniversary that's worth celebrating.

I took a trip to the London Transport Museum recently to see their Poster Art 150 exhibition - 150 of the greatest Underground posters ever produced.

There's an astonishingly diverse and hugely impressive range of posters on display.

It's well worth a trip down to Covent Garden to see all this classic "advertising as art" in one place.

For the office-bound and bed-ridden, there's always the London Transport Museum online archive instead.

Ode to the Rah

Over here at Sell! Sell! we're looking forward to the Cheltenham Festival. Can't say I know a great deal about horse racing; but it seems like a rather good day out and an excuse to get dressed up proper fancy like.

Whilst researching potential outfits, I stumbled across this absolute gem of a blog.

Now don't get me wrong, done well and with taste, a pair of red trousers can be a valuable asset to any man's wardrobe; however far too often for my liking is this gift from the gentry squandered.


Today is Friday. You know what that means!? Nothing. Here is a video that amply reflects the state of my brain this afternoon.

Have a good weekend folks.

How To [Not] Fail

Earlier this week, Martin Weigel gave a talk at the IPA 44 Club.

He's kindly shared the slides on his excellent blog, Canalside View.

It's a brilliant must read for anyone who works in the business.

And if you're looking for ammunition to shoot at the engagement evangelists, you can get your more than your fill.  There's plenty of hard evidence and facts to keep you entertained.

Click here to enjoy Martin's words of wisdom.

PS Here is a little titbit - probably the best description of the ludicrous trend toward engagement nonsense we've seen, from Mr Brooker...

Balls and Laughs

Too much intelligent discussion on here of late, so here's a film about balls to counterbalance it.

In all seriousness, thanks for all of your thoughts and comments over the past few days, it's great to have some healthy discussion, so please do continue to share your thoughts.

This brilliantly simple film was made by the extremely talented Daniel Mercadante, using images found using Google image search.

Also by Daniel is this superb film Laughs, made completely using clips found on the web. Try to watch it and not laugh.

A Note on Fear

Following on from Friday's post, I wanted to pick up on some of the comments noting Agencies' 'fear' of losing clients - and how counterproductive this can be.

Fear is an essential human response. If we didn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate emotional or physical threats such as Tesco burgers or promiscuos older ladies at Christmas parties. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death.

I think back to when I was an intern, and the immense fear I had everytime I got my Director a coffee (presented head down with a subservient cower of course). I'd stress about whether I'd made it too weak or too strong, and if my googling of 'what is a macchiato' had resulted in the correct answer at all. If stories of him were true, should the drink not allign precisely with his high expectations, he would surely fire me.

Fortunately for all I quickly learnt how to make good coffee - then shortly after that fear wasn't a very desirable quality to have as an employee. If ever he was going to brief me on anything other than hot drinks, I needed to stop being such a bitch and grow a pair pronto.

Fear is never a solid foundation for any healthy relationship - business or personal. 

You don't buy your partner flowers because you're scared she'll leave you - but because you love her. A dog shouldn't fetch a stick for its master because its afraid of being beaten - but because it enjoys the game.*

Isn't it better to build from respect and common goals, rather than fear and obedience?

And to finish, what better than a succinct quote from a clever bloke;

"He who has overcome his fears will truly be free" - Aristotle

* please dont read too much into these examples and what are clearly my unresolved issues.

125 Years Of So What?

This commercial for Foster's proudly proclaims 1888 as a vintage year for Australian cooking lager and marks the momentous occasion of the brand's birth.

It's a well put together commercial that obviously cost a pretty penny to produce.  Nothing wrong with that.

However good the execution is, it's the actual message of the commercial that I'd like to take umbrage with.

I just don't believe that anyone who lives in the real world gives a shit about Foster's "landmark" 125th birthday. Or the fact that it's been brewed since 1888.

With the "Brad and Dan" campaign Fosters had recently begun to rediscover its cheeky Australian laddish "no worries" mojo.  Although the same two fellas are featured in this campaign, it feels like they've been shoehorned in to this ad for the sake of consistency.  And tonally it feels somewhat of a diversion as this ad bigs ups the reverence at the expense of humour.

Now, I'm not dismissing heritage as an important element for all brands.  I just don't think it's remotely important for the standard lager category.

People in advertising agencies and marketing departments can often fall into the trap of kidding themselves that people are much more interested in brands than they really are.

Hence something like a brand's 125th birthday might be seen as being fundamental and newsworthy in an internal meeting, when in reality it musters a "so what?" response from the average Joe on the street.

I'm not a fan of this kind of corporate chest-beating, trumpet-blowing-smoke-up-your-own-arse nonsense.

It's often the bigger brands with deeper pockets who indulge in this kind of activity.  More money to waste, I suppose.

Anchor did the same in 2011.  Again, a 125th birthday celebration marked by some cows with hats on having a party [since when did "125 years" attain this magical anniversary status?].

Desired consumer response. "A yellow fats brand is 125 years old.  I must switch brands from Lurpak."
I think not.  

Surely, brands can find something more interesting to say about themselves rather than patting themselves on the back and banging on about how long they've been going for.

Fosters has been going since 1888.  OK, put it on the tin.  But don't put it on the telly.

It's Not The Client's Fault, It’s Your Fault

Advertising is in crisis.

Those of us who have worked in the business for longer than the life-span of a mayfly struggle to remember a time when it was more enfeebled.

There is a paucity of great work, or even good work. Agencies seem largely to have lost the respect and trust of clients. And a culture of fear, jobsworthness, and corporate safe-playing runs through most agencies.

Agencies will happily drop their trousers, and fees, if a client so much as blinks in their direction. Agencies that also seem happy to be commoditised by intermediaries, and who will endlessly pitch and pitch, and pitch, for free, at the mere sniff of a sniff of some new business.

When you start talking to agency people about why this is, pretty soon clients start getting all the blame;

“They don't listen to us”
“They want to write/art direct/direct the ads”
“They ruined a great ad with a shit shot”
“They made us work the weekend”
“They made us pitch”
“They made us re-pitch”
“They put together a pitch-list of six agencies”
“They made us drop our fees”
“They wouldn't pay for decent production”

You get the idea.

And it's true that there is a lot of this behaviour about.

Clients are doing that kind of stuff, and it is affecting the business negatively.

But. And it's a huge but. Why? 

The simple answer is, if you work in an ad agency, it’s probably your fault.

A wise man once said “You get the clients you deserve”.

It doesn't mean that you attract a certain kind of client.

It means that you train clients to believe that it is acceptable to behave in a certain way, with your own actions, and reactions.

Once agencies allow, or encourage, clients to do something, the client thinks it's acceptable. It is that simple.

When many agencies behave in a certain way, clients can expect every agency to behave that way. And if they don't, the client will just go to an agency that will.

It's no coincidence that hundreds of agencies will free pitch – and that clients see free pitching as a natural part of the advertising process.

It's no coincidence that hundreds of agencies will drop fees to eye-wateringly low levels to win or keep a client – and that clients believe they can squeeze agencies until they bleed, fee-wise.

And the fact is, right now there are many, many clients who have never known any different. And blame them as you might, it's not their fault. They have no other frame of reference. They assume that this is how advertising works, that it's how it has always worked. 

Clients only do the things that ad people see as negative to the work and the business, because agencies have led clients to believe that it is acceptable to do so.

Every time your agency drops its fees, free pitches, re-pitches, joins a stupid RFI or procurement procedure, makes people work through the night, or the weekend, says yes to something they think is rubbish, accepts a detrimental change to an edit, lets the client art direct the ad, write the ad, every time your agency says yes when it should really say no, you are part of the problem.

The only way that ad agencies will get better clients, is for agencies to accept only behaviour from clients that they think is helpful to the process.

It's hard to see that happening as agencies grow in size, and the day-to-day is separated further from the money-counters.

It's hard to see that happening when agencies prize growth over quality, while the over-riding priority is winning, keeping and retaining clients at all costs.

It means growing some balls and actually doing things in the way that you think they should be done.

While the majority of agencies are happy to drop their trousers, clients will continue to see the dropping of trousers as a normal part of working with ad agencies.

Moonrise Kingdom script.

He's not everyone's cup of tea, but Wes Anderson knows how to make a stylish film. And last year's release, Moonrise Kingdom, was up to his usual standards. With award season upon us and in the hope of winning the Best Original Screenplay, Focus have released an annotated script complete with screenshots, scribblings and little details from the film. Even if you're not a fan it's worth a look.

Flick through it or get the pdf here.


Film Title Sequences

The other day and that, I was like totally watching Reservoir Dogs. I completely forgot how good that film was, from its fantastically simple plot, great casting, unexpected soundtrack and iconic title sequence. It got me thinking about the important role a title sequence plays towards the success of a film. It then got me thinking about some my favourite title sequences. I then started thinking of american style waffles, but thats another story.

Here is a small handful of my favourite film opening sequences, starting with Reservoir Dogs.

Dexter - A series about a Police blood spatter pattern analyst who leads a secret life of a serial killer. A clever little title sequence, similar to that of 'American Psycho'. Some really nice shots with some tasty, tasty murderous undertones.

Naked Gun - If you haven't seen the Naked Gun Films you are a boob.

Monsters inc - Some smooth, smooth jazz with a Saul Bass twist.

Lord of War - Wonderfully simple idea and good execution. Shame Nick Cage ruins it with his never-ending-forehead and by talking and stuff.

Last but not least, Foundation skateboards - That's Life. A really low budget sequence, restricted to the use of pre-recorded and pre-photographed content. This is a good example of how a great song can completely make a piece of film.

10 Buzzwords That Need To Die

Regular readers will know that here at Sell! Sell! we are sworn enemies of all forms of marketing bullshittery and annoying, often meaningless buzzwords.
A helpful article by Kaitlin Carpenter on PR Daily outs 10 of the worst offenders spouted by the bullshit babblers of today.

We'll forgive Kaitlin for not pushing the envelope and leveraging her knowledge by including such gems as advertainment, media agnostic and anything attached to the words open source or beta. It's still a jolly good read.

You can activate the article here 


No matter how deep into a project you are; it's important to take a step back every now and then and see the big picture.

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you artist Jared Clark making pictures with sharpies and his face.

Engagement Vs Interruption

One of the dangerous myths perpetuated in marketing over the last two or three years is the notion that the 'interruptive' model of advertising is somehow out of date, and that communication based on 'engagement' is better.

To those of us who make successful interruptive things every day for our clients, this has long been considered utter bollocks. It's the kind of nonsense that sounds snazzy as a presentation at a conference, or as a pitch by an agency that specialises in that kind of thing. But it just doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of simple common sense.

Not least the simple fact that NO ONE ACTUALLY WANTS TO ENGAGE WITH YOUR STUPID BRAND, DUMMY. As we were getting at here and here.

I could obviously go deeper into why, but thankfully someone has already done it. Some mysterious soul (if you are reading this please tell us who you are so we can give you the credit you deserve) has created a useful, thoughtful analysis of the interruption vs engagement argument. I get the impression that the author wouldn't want to claim this as a scientific piece, but I think it is soundly based on common sense, with some facts to back up specific points.

Oh, and we got a couple of mentions, which is nice. Thanks, whoever you are.

It's well worth a read - you can read it or download it here.

Here are a few snippets...

Hey, Let's Talk About Shit!

Pardon the headline.
But it is quite appropriate.
I'm not going to describe the idea.
I'm not going to even begin to dissect how utterly and completely, unbelievably moronic this is (Vice have already done a cracking (sorry) job of that).
I'll just say this:
For many years, Andrex have deftly, cleverly, managed to build a strong brand that expertly sidestepped the very unappealing reality of what their product is for.
It has been an object lesson in advertising really.
Whether you 'like' the kind of cheesy nature of the advertising or not, Andrex has been engineered to mean fluffy puppies - with their associated niceness, softness, happiness, comfort.
It has helped them become a household name, one of the most, if not, the most recognised name in the category.
Well until now, that is.
This is the unhappy consequence of when those idiotic conversations prompted when someone says they want something “More interactive, you know, that engages the audience?” are allowed to actually become reality.
And to top it off, there is no part of it that isn't awful.
Even the execution is horrifically bad in every way that it is possible to be bad.
What must the original architects of Andrex's success be thinking?
Surely, with all of the meetings and presentations that advertising has to go through these days, someone, at some point, must have pointed out how bat-shit-crazy this is?
Have a look at it (and read Vice's superb write-up) here.
Oh well.
I just wish I could wipe it from my memory.

Jelly London

Yesterday we were visited by Rhiannon Nicol from Jelly London, who brought along a book of some of their illustrators. There was a fantastic variety of work showcased, from amazingly handcrafted typography to wonderfully witty and offensive scribblings.

Below are some of my personal highlights.

 Alison Carmichael

 Gregori Saavedra

 Jo Bird

 Matt Johnstone


 Karen Cheung

Damien Weighill

Head over to their website and have look for yourself.

Testing To Destruction

Almost 40 years ago a man with some classic mutton chops wrote a seminal book on advertising research.

That man was Alan Hedges.  And that book was called Testing To Destruction.

I found a copy online recently and read it again.  You can find it here.

The first thing that struck me was that it's still just as relevant today as it was back in 1974 when it was published.

I think a lot of promising ideas never survive the hurdle of research these days.  Too much emphasis is often placed on executional rather than strategic issues.  And bold, radical, unusual creative work can often bite the dust if people have no frame of reference for it.

Despite all the hoo-ha surrounding the brave new world of communication, consumer behaviour hasn't really changed at all.

And it all seems that clients' approach to creative development research hasn't changed either with management "looking more for research rather than illumination".

Witness one primary cast-iron conclusion drawn by Hedges;

It is not possible to make a realistic test of the effectiveness of a commercial in a laboratory situation in advance of real-life exposure.
Until this simple but uncomfortable truth is grasped much advertising research will go on being sterile and unproductive.

Testing To Destruction recognised that consumers aren't rational beings and laid out some helpful and insightful principles on how ideas could be helped, nurtured, understood or protected by research.

It's essential reading for anyone embarking on creative development research to ensure that the right questions and big questions are being asked.

Post Super Bowl

The Super Bowl - that magical time of year in the Adland calendar when the world stands and marvels at the latest wild, witty and wonderful creations born from the U.S.A.

I guess the closest we come to the SuperBowl halftime break (in Advertising anyway) is the X Factor or Champions League Final - and even then, there really isnt anywhere near the same buzz around it. I didnt manage to stay awake until the halftime break, but this morning as I sat with my porridge I was genuinely excited to see what had run... and this year didnt disappoint.

In the American spirit of freedom and democracy - what were your favourites?

James Watt, I Kind Of Agree With You, But Ultimately, You're Wrong

You might have seen this article in Marketing, where BrewDog founder James Watt is quoted as having said this about traditional advertising:
I would rather take my money and set fire to it... It's the antithesis of everything we stand for and everything we believe in. It's a medium that is shallow, it's fake and we want nothing to do with it.'  
You know what? When you look at most advertising, at face value it is shallow and fake, and on top of that, I'd add a bit shit. In fact I'd say at a guess, in terms of quantity in the public domain, 99% of advertising fits that description.

Going to a lot of ad agencies is the equivalent of burning your money.

But, the thing is, advertising isn't a medium, and it's passive.

It doesn't force you to be one thing or another.

Advertising is simply the act of talking to people.

What you do with that opportunity is entirely up to you.

You can be shallow and fake, or you can choose to be truthful and honest.

You can use advertising to accurately depict your company, your products, your philosophy.

You can use it to engage the audience in the same way as if you were in the room talking to them.

You can present real and honest reasons and arguments for them to consider your products.

Unfortunately, not many people do.

So 'advertising' as a whole becomes tarnished with the failings of the way it tends to be used.

But when you do do honest, truthful, intelligent, engaging advertising, people tend to really appreciate it, like it even. It stands out a mile. It works, too.

Ask me how I know.

The problem is, if you can only think of shallow and fake things to do in advertising, then you probably think it's only possible for advertising to be shallow and fake.