The McGuire Programme

It's very likely you would have already seen this piece of branding by Nathan Webb and Sean Rees for The McGuire Programme as it has been passed around the internets a lot of late.

This piece of work is one of my favourites I have seen this year. The bold and simple graphic styling is incredibly strong and lets the designer to dip in and out of using type or illustrations without it feeling disjointed.

The ideas at the heart of the branding are great and have been done a lot of justice with the execution. If I was wearing a hat, I would take it off. As I'm not, I shall take off my trousers.


In 1886 the sugary, syrupy, water behemoth Coca-Cola's advertising slogan was 'Drink Coca-Cola'. Today, after 127 years of progress, 62 different iterations and no doubt enough money to wipe out world poverty being spunked on it, their advertising slogan is 'Enjoy Coca-Cola'. Progress indeed.

Here's the list. 1906 is a classic.

1886 - Drink Coca-Cola.
1904 - Delicious and refreshing.
1905 - Coca-Cola revives and sustains.
1906 - The great national temperance beverage.
1908 - Good til the last drop
1917 - Three million a day.
1922 - Thirst knows no season.
1923 - Enjoy life.
1924 - Refresh yourself.
1925 - Six million a day.
1926 - It had to be good to get where it is.
1927 - Pure as Sunlight
1927 - Around the corner from anywhere.
1928 - Coca-Cola ... pure drink of natural flavors.
1929 - The pause that refreshes.
1932 - Ice-cold sunshine.
1937 - America's favorite moment.
1938 - The best friend thirst ever had.
1938 - Thirst asks nothing more.
1939 - Coca-Cola goes along.
1939 - Coca-Cola has the taste thirst goes for.
1939 - Whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you may be, when you think of refreshment, think of ice cold Coca-Cola.
1941 - Coca-Cola is Coke!
1942 - The only thing like Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola itself.
1944 - How about a Coke?
1945 - Coke means Coca-Cola.
1945 - Passport to refreshment.
1947 - Coke knows no season.
1948 - Where there's Coke there's hospitality.
1949 - Coca-Cola ... along the highway to anywhere.
1952 - What you want is a Coke.
1954 - For people on the go.
1956 - Coca-Cola ... makes good things taste better.
1957 - The sign of good taste.
1958 - The Cold, Crisp Taste of Coke
1959 - Be really refreshed.
1963 - Things go better with Coke.
1966 - Coke ... after Coke ... after Coke.
1969 - It's the real thing.
1971 - I'd like to buy the world a Coke. 
1974 - Look for the real things.
1976 - Coke adds life.
1979 - Have a Coke and a smile
1982 - Coke is it!
1985 - America's Real Choice
1986 - Red White & You 
1986 - Catch the Wave 
1989 - Can't Beat the Feeling. 
1991 - Can't Beat the Real Thing. 
1993 - Always Coca-Cola.
2000 - Enjoy.
2001 - Life tastes good. 
2003 - Real.
2005 - Make It Real.
2006 - The Coke Side of Life 
2007 - Live on the Coke Side of Life
2008 - love it light
2009 - Open Happiness
2010 - Twist The Cap To Refreshment
2011 - Life Begins Here
2012 - Enjoy Coca Cola

Job Titles

One of the peculiarities of the advertising and marketing world over the last ten years has been the rise of the silly job title. Some of this is down to new media and things, whilst some is definitely to do with people trying to jazz-up their job, or make themselves sound reet clever and that. The famously crap ones like Social Media Guru or Digital Ninja we all know, but here's few more to throw into the mix -

Bloating Curator
Digital Bumfoozler
Strategising Crimper
Head of Strategic Loftiness
Laconic Liason Officer
Chief Opportunistic Executive
Information Doctor
Filth Architect
Code Wrangler
Art Spaniel
Kinky Planning Weasel
Beard Spectacles
Swivel-Eyed Brand Loon
Social Docker
Interactive Fartspitter
Schtick Executive Officer
Interminable Content Wizard

Any suggestions, or ones you've heard or seen yourself, drop 'em in the comments...

The Chirping of a Philistine Who Thinks the Paint is More Valuable than the Painting

If you read only one thing about advertising today, read this post from Bob Hoffman.

Sorrell and his clones who head up other agency holding companies need to find new businesses to rape. Their day is over. Their time has passed. They have been a massive, tragic failure. They have enriched themselves and impoverished an industry. 
It’s time for these people to go.

We could not agree more.

CDP Radio Rentals

This is one of my all time favourite ads. The idea is wonderfully simple, it's well cast and the balance between conveying the product's benefits and humour is perfect.

Save the Badger Badger Badger

This afternoon, dear readers, the plan was to treat you to a wonderful piece I'm just putting the finishing touches to. A post about an old ad campaign I came across recently. A bold, smart, gutsy campaign that ran for years, and how those are scarcer than a Norfolk Grey's lower right molar these days.

But it's going to have to wait, because I've just found this...

OK, I'll admit it. Despite coming from farmer stock I've not got the foggiest about the badger culling/tuberculosis situation, so can't really comment on whether it's a good or bad – I just really love that video.

If you, however, do have strong feelings for badgers then TeamBadger with Meatloaf and the gang will be right up your sett. Sorry.

Farewell Eddie Braben

Eddie Braben, the writer behind the Morcambe and Wise show, died this week. The duo were the frontmen with the fame, but Mr Braben was the man in the background writing the funny stuff. Hats off. It gives us an excuse to post up some classic Eric'n'Ernie.

All that glitters is not gold

Whenever some new fancy pants piece of technology or innovation emerges these days there's usually a great deal of clamour and unqualified nonsense from digital evangelists and neophiles that this piece of technology or innovation is brilliant and will change everything.

Remember when the "Red Button" was going to change advertising for good? We were told that with  this amazing, innovative functionality, people would actually stop watching the programme a commercial was actually interrupting to magically interact with a piece of advertising [i.e. sign up to take a test drive of a brand new Mazda or some shit like that].  Would they heck as like.

Similarly, there's a lot of kerfuffle about Vine right now and you get the sense that this is yet another bandwagon to be jumped on as these neophiles scurry around trying to convince us all that six second video clips are the new Holy Grail.

There's a ridiculous belief held by many, and not just the fringe lunatics, that just because something is new it must be better than what has gone before.  That just because something is new it is therefore ripe for commercial exploitation by marketers who can reach a valuable new audience for very little or no investment.

Just because you can use something for the purposes of advertising doesn't necessarily mean you should. Anyone clicked on a banner ad deliberately recently?

It beggars belief the amount of time, energy and money that advertisers in low interest categories spend trying to "engage" their audience on Twitter, Facebook etc.

The most frightening thing in our business right now [apart from the dearth of great creative work] is the dangerous assumption that most people are already interested in what we have to say and want to take part and get involved in some kind of conversation or relationship with a brand.

There may be a tiny percentage of hardcore advocates of a brand who fit this bill.  But not many I wager.  If in doubt, always refer to Poliakov's Pyramid Of Engagement 

Most clients spending their valuable shekels on advertising need to recruit new users for their brand or product.  Our primary job is to use our creativity to get them interested in that brand or product in the first place.  Yes, that might still mean communication that is more one-way "interruption" rather than a two-way dialogue, but when done with charm, craft and reward this type of advertising is a far, far more effective use of advertising investment. Full stop.

Being American... it begins with a Bulmers

I've had time to reflect on the new Bulmers ad, and despite trying my best not to be a cantankerous old sod, its really grating.

Other than the VO, none of the content is localised. Everything is so blatantly cowboy hat wearing, gun toting, loft party, sidewalk surfing-ly American - its more jarring for a UK viewer than kicking a brick up a set of stairs.

Seems an odd choice for a company who throw about the lines 'Original Irish Cider' and 'Great British Cider since 1887' in their communication.

High five for brand integrity Bulmers. Yeehaw.

Work Superficiality

I recently read an interesting, albeit not so surprising, article on my (90s child) generation's unprecedented levels of narcissism (three times as high for those in their 20s as those over 65). This is something that resounds with my own views, especially since moving to London and sharing flats with people also working in junior roles.

Moving in with strangers involves a lot of initial small talk: “So what do you do, where do you work and god damn it Lee, how are you so handsome?''

My response to being asked what I do is “I'm an Art Director”, which is usually met with raised eyebrows and an impressed-sounding 'oooooh!' (much to my ego's disappointment, this is usually because they don't know what it means but it sounds fancy). When they then ask me what company I work for, the eyebrows come down and an apathetic expression inevitably falls over their face as as they quickly realise I don't work somewhere they recognise.

When asked about their work, I hear something along the lines of: “I work for this massive company, which, of course you've heard of so I won't explain who they are.” There is rarely talk of what exciting challenges their work brings them or what they do on a daily basis no less.

Sadly, this has led me to come to the realisation that my generation's vanity problem has seeped into the way we approach work and has led to, at least in those that I have met, a shallow idea of what constitutes success.

When talking with my flatmates, they tend to list the 'important' well-known clients they work for. When I then talk about my clients I'm met with a deadpan expression as they look away with disinterest, simply due to the fact that I don't say I work for Coca Cola. Apparently it doesn't matter how exciting the work we're doing is, just so long as it's for a massive, well-known company.

It would seem from my experience that people are more concerned with who they've worked for and what company logos they can plaster their CVs in, rather than the work they're doing – which is exactly what my flatmate has done. He recently sent me his CV to check, and instead of reading an insightful personal statement I was blinded by company logos.

It may set me apart from those I've lived with over the past year, but who I work for isn't my top priority. It's being challenged to push myself to the best of my ability every day, to strive towards producing interesting and effective work.

If being professionally superficial and consumed by outward appearance means working for big companies, reeling off lists of giant clients to anyone who'll listen and never really looking beyond face value and deciphering what worth you bring to your employer or whether you're developing your skill set, I'm glad I've been known to wear the same shirt two days in a row.

The Era of Professionals

I was following some chatter on the old internet earlier, instigated by Armando Iannucci asking "Has politics actually come to an end? I'm serious. Does it work any more?".

Someone replied "What's Poisoned politics is the professionalisation, people going into politics for life. It's not normal." Someone else added "Politics has replaced government - politicians who know how to play the game, but no idea how to make things actually work".

I think there is some scary truth in that. Governments used to be made up of principled individuals who had a vision for how to make life better, and how to get there. But now it seems like the debate is more important than the subject being debated. Being seen to do the right thing is more important than doing the right thing.

I don't think that it's a problem exclusive to politics.

We live in the era of professionals. You can see it in business, in organisations like the FA and, unfortunately, in advertising and marketing.

When I first came into advertising, people who had studied marketing at college or university were few and far between. Almost every marketing person you met had come up through the organisation, and ended up there because they were good at it. Generally they had a great grasp on the realities of their business.

Now, almost every marketer you meet is some kind of marketing graduate. They are trained in theory, charts, diagrams, powerpoint.

I remember the hilarity when we saw our first Brand Onion - what a crock we all thought. But it was the exception. Now every brand has a brand onion. Or a pyramid, or a doughnut.

When we used to present work, you looked for a visceral reaction in the client. An understanding of why something would work.

Now, you just sense a series of check-boxes being mentally ticked off.

But this isn't just confined to the client side. Oh, no. Agencies used to be the stamping ground of interesting, lively dangerous free-thinkers and do-ers.

Agencies are now largely staffed by advertising's version of corporate drones. Advertising civil servants.

And people who have played it safe are at the top of the business. They have smarmed and politicked their way there, they kept their heads down and made the right moves. They didn't upset people, they didn't take risks, they just greased their way up the pole. They keep the holding company happy.

How someone can be professional in the field of advertising I have no idea. The best advertising comes from people who walk in every morning with no idea how they ended up there, and no idea how they came up with their last good idea. And if you do approach something in some organised, structured process, I guarantee the result will look like exactly that.

We got an email the other day from some young person who said their life's ambition was to be an account manager. Fuck me. Poor bastards.

It's not just confined to the accounts side. Never has the ad industry's creative departments been inhabited by such a professional, organised, uninspiring lot. Who are these people who decided at age 17 that they wanted to be a creative? They scare the living shit out of me. This isn't like being a doctor you know, you can't learn it at college. What life experience and lively thinking has someone to offer who has been training themselves in the business of being a creative for the last five years?

I had one of those pointless internet exchanges with a creative the other day, because they wouldn't accept that there might be another formula to creating good advertising other than the one they were taught on their ad course.

In the end you have bow out of these things and allow them the last word, after all, as someone much more funny than I once said "The problem with arguing with stupid people is that they drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience'.

And to be fair, they weren't stupid, far from it. They were just a product of a world where professionalism, knowing how, doing it right, going by the rules, playing by the book, are encouraged.

We live in the era of professionals in advertising.

But, and I know I've asked this question before.

If people now are so much better trained, clued-up - professional - then how come almost all advertising is absolute crap?

The answer... No matter how hard you try, you can't professionalise your way to great advertising.

Printi Printer

All round top bloke and good friend of Sell! Sell! Steve Qua has been documenting the result of each Liverpool game this season with a unique hand cut print [interest declared - Vic is also a Liverpool fan].

You can see the full set at Steve's Tumblr here, and keep up to date with the latest prints on the PrintiPrinter Twitter here. In the meantime, here's a selection from a few of the more memorable games that Liverpool have been involved in this season. I particularly like the use of the Uruguayan street-fighting bitey fish to symbolise Luis Suarez's last appearance.

Here's a charming short film showing how Steve puts together one of his prints. Lovely stuff.

Rumour has it that Steve is going to continue producing a print for every match until Liverpool claim their next league title [Steve is also studying human cryogenics].

I've not waited until the end of the season to show a complete set as Liverpool are playing QPR next week and I don't want to heap further abject humiliation on the club [interest declared - I'm a QPR fan].

Which Ad would you like to bring to life?

Ah, the wonders of On Demand multichoice TV advertising.

I do not wish to learn about dual frontal stereo speakers or live home screens. Would sir like waterboarding or a stress position? Where is the 'Neither, just get on with it' option?

HTC - who do you think you are?

I want the content I've searched for and clicked to watch. If there are ads before it, fine, crack on - but dont presume I wish to embark on a journey of engagement and discovery with you after a long day. All I want is Grand Designs.

Football Philately

Jimmy Greaves, John Charles, Gordon Banks, George Best, John Barnes, 
Kevin Keegan, Denis Law, Bobby Moore, Bryan Robson, Dave Mackay, Bobby Charlton. 

The Royal Mail is celebrating 150 years of the Football Association & the 140th anniversary of the Scottish Football Association with a range of specially commissioned stamps. The set of 11 will feature the finest 11 players to have played for the home nations since the 1950s. In their opinion.

Artist Andrew Kinsman has done a smashing job of illustrating all the players. The retro kits look great too.
 Get the stamps over yonder.

What Bob Did Next

Bob Hoffman, the grumpy man behind the Ad Contrarian blog, has launched his new thing - Type A (great name). Billed as an advertising and marketing consultancy that focuses on 3 areas: 1) Consulting to independent agencies 2) Turnaround Marketing 3) Helping marketers develop strategies to reach consumers over 50 - you can visit the website here.

We consider Bob a kindred spirit, and wish him outrageous success with the new venture. The advertising business needs - for its own health and future - more great, strong, independent agencies, if Type A can help make that happen, then they have our support.

Good luck Bob!

The Secret Is In The Sediment

It's a hot, sunny day so we thought we'd serve up a nice cold glass of Fentimans. The Secret Is In The Sediment is the latest in this years print campaign, with the elements being hand printed on our vintage press here at Sell! Towers, in the same way as the previous Rose Lemonade ad (you can read read more on the process here if you're interested).

Chupa Chups Gum Bucks The Trend

Take a look through any newspaper or magazine on any given day and it will be full of ads. You'll flick straight past the vast majority of them because they simply don't capture your attention.  And they don't capture your attention because they don't look interesting or have anything interesting to say.

Add on some superfluous Facebook and Twitter logos, a meaningless and banal campaign endline, a QR code, a hashtag maybe, a phone number, web address, some spurious promotional price offer bullshit. terms and conditions smallprint and you have a recipe for anonymity.

And, unbelievably, this same "cram as much unnecessary information into the creative work" approach seems to applies to posters too.

In a world where most print advertising assaults our senses and insults our intelligence, it's refreshing to know that simple, smart, charming, well-crafted advertising can still manage to see the light of the day.

Well done to Chupa Chups and TBWA Barcelona for making this campaign happen.

Via Ads Of The World

Rubber House

Check out the wonderfully witty and weird animations of Rubber House

The Billing Block.

Apparently that indecipherable block of text at the bottom of movie posters is called the 'Billing Block'. Although it looks like a messy bit of typesetting it's actually the outcome of strictly adhered to legal agreements. The New York Times has a great piece explaining how it's put together over here

No One Likes A Liar, Do They Rufus?

It still never ceases to amaze me, in this age where work goes through rounds of comments and feedback and other such methods of disimproving it, that advertising based on utter nonsense still emerges into the wide world.

I don't mean big lies. Like claiming an effect that is unproven, they rightly get caught in the net of the regulators. More the little lies, or false premises. I find myself, in the manner of a curmudgeonly old git, incessantly shouting back at my TV “No it isn't” “No I don't” or “That's not true” at the nonsense put forth before our eyes and ears.

How do these things make it onto TV? There is an ad knocking around at the moment for Voltarol – a piece of horrendous globo-bollocks depicting some woebegone fictional father and son combo from central casting, going to some ad-friendly version of a sporting event. “When you're watching the match, nobody wants injury time” declares the inoffensive but amorphous voice over man. I'm sorry – what? Have you ever actually watched a sporting contest?

Did no one, at any stage, say hold on, you know this bit right here, the first words uttered in the commercial? Well that's just not true is it? Yes I know, Rufus, but that's the bit where we link football to pain - geddit - injury time - pain - football? Well, yes Tarquin, but people do like injury time, don't they – at the very least it ensures they get the allotted ninety minutes for which they have payed their hard-earned, at the most it's the exciting climax to the match as one team throws everyone forward. Well, look Rufus, if you keep going on like this, we're never going to get this finished and be able to hit our Euro-town centre and push olives and fashionable vodka down our pointless mouths. Good point Tarquin, I'll type it up, you grab my scarf.

And so it goes. Another small entry into the encyclopaedia of why people tune out of ad breaks.