Post Of The Day: The Importance Of Being Angry

[I'm writing this on the blogger phone app, so lets see how this goes...] It's been a source of amusement to us that over recent years, it has been depicted that a culture of happy-clappy optimism is the best environment in which creativity and good thinking can best flourish. 

Many agencies project this view, yet to us that's always been wrong-headed. No-one ever changed anything by thinking everything's groovy. In fact, it is dissatisfaction and anger with the status quo that create the necessary energy to do things that are fresh, interesting and that change things. 

The excellent Martin Weigel has written a top-notch post on the subject over on his blog, have a look, here:

Now, what is it exactly that we’re trying to sell here?

Whilst idly leafling through a certain publication at lunchtime [Management Today, since you asked], I realised that I had subconsciously skipped every single ad in my quest to find some editorial content of interest.

In short, I was consuming the medium of print like a normal human being.

Nothing particularly remarkable about that. And nothing particularly remarkable about the fact that not a single piece of advertising had caught my eye.

After all, we’ve banged on enough on this blog about how much vacuous wallpaper stuff there is around these days, so it’s hardly surprising that every execution went unnoticed, despite me working on the front line of the business and all that jazz.

Anyway, I thought I’d go back through the issue to see if any of the ads had redeeming features.

Nope, not really.

You could tell that whoever was involved had clearly put a lot of time, effort and money into making these ads. They were for big corporations with big budgets, not tinpot outfits with tuppence ha’penny to spend.

The ads weren’t exactly bereft of an idea or bereft of craft. They just weren’t very good.

I think part of the reason for that [and it might be just my own personal view of what makes for great advertising here] is that very few of the ads were actually focused on selling anything tangible, like a specific product.

They were more concerned with conveying some sense of the kind of brand that they wanted you to think that they were. A spirit, an attitude, a feeling, a way of life, for you the punter to buy into hook line and sinker.

Now, that’s all well and good. Nothing wrong with that you may say.

However, in the medium of print it’s a bloody difficult thing to capture and express something that is capable of building a real emotional connection with an audience.

So many companies these days seem intent on using advertising to convey a brand positioning rather than flog a product. That’s misplaced energy in our view as it’s an arse about face way of creating enduring relationships with customers.

We’re 100% with the grumpy sage Bob Hoffman when he says;

"We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product."

The huge backward step of the new Apple campaign is an ‘Exhibit A’ case for the prosecution of putting brand over product. Style over substance.

I’m a big Apple fan and that campaign actually succeeds in making me feel less, not more, positive about them as a company. 

Fuck knows how it makes people feel who don’t currently have any Apple product. Confused? Ambivalent? Satisfied that they haven’t made such a smug choice?

I bet the one thing it doesn’t make them feel is any desire to go out and buy an Apple product.

I could cite plenty of other similar serial offenders on TV for the examples are legion in many an ad break. However, I’d rather not as even the act of recalling them is profoundly depressing and I'd like to finish this post.

Now, clearly there’s no right or wrong approach. We’ve said as much here.

But I can’t help feeling that there’s a lot of confused clients and agencies out there who have lost their way and ended up working back from communicating a brand purpose rather than starting with the question;

Now, what is it exactly that we’re trying to sell here?

You can often see the thought process on the page as these brand-y bollocks ads can’t avoid becoming anything but an expression of a meaningless, undifferentiating and clichéd corporate chest-beating straplines.

Going back to my one man print survey, here’s a few examples of some straplines I came across.

Go Further
Simply Clever
Brilliant For Business
Inspire The Next
Let’s Build A Smarter Planet
Amazing In Motion
Make It Matter

You what? The ads weren't for bleedin' NASA or anything.

I’d wager that only an idiot savant ad geek would be able to namecheck all the brands behind this cringeworthy puffery.

I’d also wager that they cut no ice with people in the real world and would be barely remembered at best or even attributed to the right brand.

The insular and self-obsessed worlds that many corporations operate in fail to recognise that most of these real world people don’t really give that much of shit about them in the first place.

Quite often in this business, it’s our job to do something interesting and make these people give that shit.

Starting from a standpoint of trying to communicate a brand positioning first usually means that this is actually less likely to happen.

It’s almost as if agencies have forgotten what the point of advertising is.

Which brings me back again to this key question.

Now, what is it exactly that we’re trying to sell here?

The New Advertising Landscape

Following recent developments, the shape of the advertising industry is pretty easy to navigate for clients...

Brock's Dub

It's been a while since we've posted a brain cell-melting YouTube clip. Fear not, Brock's Dub is here to help us get our brains all nice and gloopy for the weekend. Head to his channel to check out stupidityness-erer.

The Great Gatsby before & after VFX.

I'd heard the Great Gatsby film was a work of art but this short film has blown my mind. The amount of work that has gone into pulling off some of those big set piece shots is phenomenal.
I've not seen the film and having watched this I'm kicking myself for not having seen it on the big screen in all it's glory.

 If your interested in the technical details the comments section is worth a look.

Make Your Own Royal Baby-Themed Ad Kit

I don't know if you noticed, but a baby was born yesterday. Well, most probably quite a lot were born, but one in particular has got the world's attention.

In response, in the advertising industry – being the creative, left-field, free-thinking thing that it is – almost every agency produced some half-arsed, fawning ad trying to milk whatever they could out of the event.

If your brand was one of the unlucky few not to have hopped on the back of the birth like a fat guy riding a kitten, then worry no more! Because we have provided you with the tools to make your very own Royal Baby-Themed ad - our Royal Baby-Themed Ad Kit.

Just print out the page, cut out the fantastic royal baby-themed elements or words you want, and stick it all together, add in your company logo and voila! You have a royal baby-themed as that looks at least as good as the ones produced by the so-called best agencies in the country.

You're welcome!

The Theatre Of The Absurd

For a lot of agencies and clients, the whole process of buying and selling advertising has turned into a circus.

The advertising business is staffed by a depressingly high percentage of clowns with endless “decks” [O Lord, how we despise that word] of PowerPoint slides often over-complicating things and banging on about issues only tangentially relevant to any proposed creative solution.

We’ve all endured and winced our way through unnecessary lengthy and painful presentations where it seems the main agenda is for the agency to showboat their zeitgeisty cleverness and irresistible charm to potential suitors.

To help them woo clients and create some faux differentiation amongst their equally homogenous competitors, often agencies will propagate a mystical and supposedly unique proprietary process for the development of creative work [Idea-Ideation NonsenseTM or somesuch bollocks].

The reality is that behind the glitzy curtain and cast of thousands of no-marks, the task of generating a big idea to help transform a brand’s fortunes invariably falls to a couple of talented people in a room together chatting through the problem and coming up with interesting possible solutions.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. You can’t plan your way to a big idea, someone's actually got to have a big idea.

No matter how many fucking pages the brief runs to and how many fucking conversations about strategy you have, at the end of the day somebody needs to knuckle down to provide the inspiration and creative magic.

These days it feels like most agencies place way, way too much emphasis and importance on the song and dance of the whole shebang presentation almost at the expense of the creative work itself.

The situation is often exacerbated in times of new business by the whole charade of the pitch process, where everyone wants to show how frilly their knickers are by parading more charts, detail and information than those harvested by GCHQ as part of the Prism surveillance operation.

It’s almost as if agencies forget that the thing that clients are actually buying is the end product of a piece of advertising rather than a 120 page PowerPoint presentation.

Punters aren’t going to be exposed to a 120 page deck as part of a TV campaign so why put clients through the misery?

We’re proud to say we’ve never, ever done a Powerpoint presentation. And we never will.

Clearly it’s essential to be insightful, articulate and compelling when presenting clients with creative recommendations but we’ve found the old-fashioned trick of sitting down and talking face to face with clients works a treat.

Sometimes an approach with minimal props, minimal fuss, minimal diagrams, minimal charts, minimal preamble helps put the creative work, the thing that clients are actually buying, on a pedestal.

And if the advertising is really good enough and it’s bang on for what the client needs, it’s often best to let the creative work speak for itself.

The best clients know their shit. They know their brands inside-out. They know what the problems are. They just need an agency to help them fix them with some smart advertising.

What they don’t need is the hot air and filibustering foreplay of a PowerPoint marathon to distract them from the main event of getting to the point and showing them the bloody creative work.

In my experience, this is especially true of CEOs and senior marketing folk who think fast and work fast. They spend their whole business lives quickly grasping issues, getting to the heart of problems and making swift decisions.

It’s well worth remembering that in any presentation these types are always going to be impatiently thinking “I really hope they’re going to show me a great idea?” rather than “I really hope they’re going to show me lots of thinking purloined from Godin/Shirky/Gladwell, some pen portraits/smiley pictures of my target audience and a nice brand onion full of meaningless adjectives”.

I know it’s easy and lazy to cite Steve Jobs, but in this instance, I think his wisdom is so true and painfully applicable to the world of advertising.

In the Walter Isaacson biography, he’s quoted as saying “People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint”.

Now, we can’t all be Steve Jobs. But if we all know what we’re talking about we can ditch the deck and get by without using PowerPoint.

Remember. It’s not the deck that people are going to remember. It’s the ads.

Second Best

Once upon a time, I was told that in order to be a good Account Manager - in every meeting I needed to be second best in the room at everything: so second best Planner, second best Creative, second best Producer etc.

Rather than try to learn every discipline under the sun at weekends, risk debilitating stress related illness and piss off everyone in my team - instead I opted for 'plan B'.

Spend your energy surrounding yourself with good people who know their stuff, learn to trust them and help them where you can.

La Antena

A couple of weeks ago whilst galavanting around East London like the pretentious cock I am, I found myself in Spitalfields market at the East End Film Festival's screening of La Antena (trailer below). 

For those who don't know, La Antena is an Argentinian, black & white, Part-silent film about an evil media tycoon known as Mr.Tv who has stolen the voices of an entire city (bar a singer and a child with no eyes).

It is probably the best film (visually) I have ever seen. Every shot is like an arty-farty black and white vintage photograph. There's also some really nice typography in there too.

So if you're interested in all things that look nice, or like me you enjoy watching foreign films because it makes you feel all cultured and fancy, I strongly suggest you watch it.  

What Distinguishes a Great Client?

Our good friend and blogging compadre George Ad Aged Tannenbaum sent us the below clipping after reading yesterday's post. It's a 1988 article from Adweek entitled In Advertising What Distinguishes a Great Client? Ten Principles For Building a Better Relationship With Your Agency. It still stands as good advice today. Thanks George! By the way, if you aren't reading George's superb blog already, you really should be.

Click on the images to enlarge. 

10 Things Clients Can Do To Get Better Creative Work

There’s no denying that there’s currently a lot of gnashing of teeth about the parlous and desperate state of creativity in advertising right now.

It’s fair to say that there is awful lot of rubbish work being produced.  And an awful lot of “meh” work and an awful lot of wallpaper work that just goes unnoticed. 

All in all, a pretty depressing state of affairs, I’m sure you’ll agree.

There is a myriad of reasons why this might be the case.

It’s hard to do great work and make it see the light of day. Bloody hard.

However, it ain’t impossible.

Rummaging around in the advertising blogosphere and speaking to mates in other agencies, I sometimes get the sense that a sort of fatalism has crept into the business and that some people have almost given up trying to do great work so convinced are they that it has almost zero chance of it happening.

I appreciate that quite often there are some substantial barriers that get in the way of great creative work. Some might be cultural, some might be personal, some might be financial.  All could be deeply ingrained.

It’s really easy to lay the blame at a client’s door.  After all, they’re the ones that ultimately have to approve and pay for the advertising.

But agencies are also equally culpable.  They’re the ones actually doing the bloody work in the first place. It’s their responsibility to ensure it’s as good as it possibly can be, whatever barriers might stand in the way.

Now, there’s no magic wand that can be picked up and waved by clients to ensure that the Holy Grail of great creative work is found when answering every brief. 

But I believe that there are some fundamental principles that, if followed and adhered to by the big client cheeses commissioning the work, then this will significantly increase the prospect and likelihood of them being rewarded with great creative work

1.     More time.

Within reason, the more time you have to create and produce advertising, the better that advertising will be.

The less time there is, the greater the possibility that the advertising will be poorly conceived and poorly executed.

Yes, everybody is under pressure to move quicker and deliver things faster. Yes, there’s a constant demand to turn things around at the drop of a hat.

“You need this by yesterday? No problem.”  

That’s the attitude that needs to change.

Clients need to give agencies proper, decent time to come up with great ideas.

And agencies need to try to buy, safeguard and protect this time if they want to do great work.

2.     Only work with the best possible people

The better and more talented people there are involved in the creation and approval of the advertising, the greater the likelihood it is that good work will be the result.

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Probably because it’s true.

The quality of people makes a massive difference to the quality of the advertising.

Not all creative teams, planners, account handlers are created equal.

Very few agencies are blessed with a high density of talent across the board. And even so-called “creative” agencies can turn out absolute stinkers.

Quite often, there can be a systemised streaming approach to who works on what.  The “jewel in the crown”, shop window accounts can often be staffed by the cream of the crop and heavy hitters, leaving the less glamorous or smaller clients with the runts of the litter.

If I was a client, I’d demand to know the track record of everyone working on my piece of business. That’s a sure-fire way of finding out from the start whether great advertising was a probability or a pipe dream.

3.     Involve as few people as possible in the development and approval process

It’s a truism that too many cooks spoil the broth.  Quite often, they’ll end up all pissing in the broth and suggesting individual recipes for a new broth that nobody will ever agree on.

Streamlined teams with direct and immediate access to key decision-makers will always produce better work than legions of minions and middle-men scurrying back and forth trying to accommodate the world and his wife’s point of view.

Beware of dealing with people who only have the power to say no. For they are often the time-wasting devil.

4.     Don’t “test” creative work with research.

Research can be a very useful tool early in any process to help understand strategy and audiences better.

However, put creative work in front of the general public as research stimulus and see how quickly it all turns to shit.

Steve Jobs famously said customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.

And Henry Ford is supposed to have said  “If I’d have asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me they wanted a faster horse”.

This might be a sweeping generalisation but I remain convinced that the same holds true of asking people what they think about an advertising idea before it’s actually been made.

Instinct and judgement from advertising experts is going to beat the views of eight disinterested people in a windowless room every time.

5.     Let the agency creative director be the creative director.

Why keep a dog and bark yourself?

Most clients clearly recognise that agencies have a specialism and that they provide them with something that they can’t do themselves, otherwise they wouldn’t hire them in the first place.

However, there’s an unfortunate and distressing trend for a certain breed of client to spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy fannying around endlessly challenging the content and detail of agency creative recommendations whilst making half-baked creative suggestions themselves in an attempt to make the advertising better.

I’d politely suggest that these kind of clients should worry less about the colour of trousers that somebody might wear in their commercial and defer to people with greater expertise and experience who may know a thing or two and may be able to help them.

It’s amazing what a bit of trust and mutual respect can do for a relationship. 

The clients that give their agencies the space, freedom and encouragement to do great work are the ones that usually get great work.

6.     Make sure agencies are properly and fairly remunerated.

Pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys.

With agency profit margins increasingly being squeezed, you can bet your bottom dollar [or bet your only dollar if you’re a tight bastard] that agencies will find a way to get by on doing the bare minimum rather than going above and beyond.

Cut corners on fees, production costs, resource and it’ll end up showing in the work that comes back.

7.     Grow some balls.

It’s easy to say and harder to do but clients should take more risks.  Too many people are covering their arse and not sticking their head above the parapet right now.

Sure, there’s no end of marketing career politicians climbing up the greasy corporate ladder but it’s often the brave, pioneering clients that don’t play it safe who end up making a name for themselves in the long run.

8.     Focus on quality rather than quantity.

Agencies aren’t at their best when they’re behaving like an advertising factory, churning out multiple routes upon multiple routes until a client happens to pick one they like.

And what clients what they want isn’t necessarily what they need.

Passion, enthusiasm and conviction goes a long way in this business. The best work often comes when an agency believes it’s doing the right thing for a brand.

There’s an immediate conflict of interest with that viewpoint and a defeatist, conformist approach that offers up a basket of lots of different ideas in the hope that a client will pick one they like.

9.     Don’t jump on the bandwagon.

The sheer act of doing something different to everybody else in your category will get you noticed.

Despite this rather unspectacular observation, it’s staggering to see how much samey samey bollocks is going on. It’s almost as if people are actually frightened of standing out from the pack.

Having a herd mentality rarely produces great creative work.

Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. Just worry about doing something different.

10.  Fun not fear.

Agencies should be business partners with their clients, not cowering, servile, obsequious suppliers.

Relationships characterised by fear rarely end up consistently producing great creative work.

If your agency and the people who work on your business feel valued and are having fun rather than feeling stressed and shit-scared then chances are you’ll end up getting much better work.

These thoughts by no means provide a universal panacea.  But they’re solid building blocks for anybody genuinely interested in getting better creative work from their agency.

Our New Bullshit Free Zone Posters Are Now Available at STARTUP VITAMINS

Since we made our original Bullshit Free Zone (hyphen deliberately omitted) posters back in May 2009, we have probably sent out about five or six hundred to people fighting the good fight against the rampant encroaching army of bull. Whilst our supply ran out some time ago, we still get many emails from people asking for them. So to meet the ever-present demand, and to keep things interesting, we have teamed up with those fine folks at STARTUP VITAMINS to produce a new and improved BFZ poster.

It's now in four different colour schemes, each in two different sizes, and you can buy it ready-framed for those more formal bullshit free zones in your life. We have some samples here in Sell! Towers and they are stonking – beautifully printed on very good quality, thick paper. Rest assured, get one of these in your life, and no one will be in any doubt of your approach to jargon and waffle.

So why not pop over to the website and get yourself one - here - even better buy one of each and put one in every room.

A huge thanks to Julia and the team at STARTUP VITAMINS.

Winning Creative Awards is Not the Same as Doing Great Creative Work

Steve Henry wrote a good post on his Campaign blog this week (read it here) – his six tips for a successful career in advertising. Tip five is very interesting to me, because it tallies perfectly with the Sell! Sell! view of creative awards, and you don't often hear high profile industry people say this...
Only work at agencies that genuinely care about great creative work. (NB this is NOT the same as saying they want to win lots of creative awards. In fact, it’s usually the opposite,) They will all tell you they love great ideas, but it’s very easy to see if they’re lying. Look at the work on their website. Agencies that say they want to do better work are like people who say they’ll definitely cut down on their drinking.

Snickers - You're Not You When You're Hungry

I came across this the other day. Kenny G and his trusty instrument sending himself up in a new Snickers ad in the USA.

The penny dropped and it made me realise that this campaign was being customised on a market by market basis. The Yanks get Kenny G and we get Joan Collins.

The Aussies get Ray Meagher ["Alf" from Home and Away for those of you who didn't spend their student days watching tosh on the telly]

From watching these it's clear that the campaign is simple and flexible enough to easily work across different markets. There a core thought for the message that leaves enough wiggle room to add value by finding the right "local" celeb and scenario to act as the centrepiece.  All well and good.

Normally, I'm a fan of companies doing something bespoke for individual markets if budgets allow. It can avoid the dumbing down and dilution of any communication whilst giving a creative team freedom to explore something specifically tailored to the sensibilities of a particular audience.

In this instance though, I can't help feeling that overall effect is far less rather than more than the sum of its parts. Maybe it's the writing, maybe it's the casting, maybe it's the direction, maybe it's just that the incongruity of a celeb in an unusual setting isn't radical or funny enough. Either way, there's just something about these ads that make them feel lacking in ambition and scale. They're all just a bit "meh" in my view.

Sometimes it's better to pool resources and do something big and bold that has universal appeal. In fact, contrast this campaign with the previous Mr T ads for Snickers.

The strategy doesn't really same that different, Snickers comes across a hearty , but the execution just feels more confident, bolder, more effortlessly irreverent and they just seem far funnier and bang on for the audience in all the aforementioned countries [as far as I know the Mr T ad ran in the US].

I'm obviously unaware of the reasons why this approach was eventually jettisoned but I'm surprised that Mars reverted back to country specific ads after running something like that which cut through like a bastard [technical Millward Brown phrase].

Anyway, I might well be in a minority but these ads demonstrate that sometimes Think Global, Act Local is not always the best thing to do.


Quite like this ad for Carl's Jr Super Bacon Cheeseburger. It stars the meat eating monsters from Epic Meal Time. Although I get why they've used these characters, I think the idea is strong enough not to have them. They may have had a better result casting some strange but stronger actors. Overall it's a thumbs up from me.

Photography on the BEEB.

It's been a good week for photography on the BBC. We've been treated to not one but two good  documentaries as part of the Imagine series.

Firstly 'Vivian Maier: Who Took Nanny's Pictures?' – The incredible story of a mysterious nanny who died in 2009 leaving behind a secret hoard - thousands of stunning photographs. Never seen in her lifetime, they were found by chance in a Chicago storage locker and auctioned off cheaply.

Secondly 'McCullin' – A powerful documentary portrait of legendary British war photographer and photojournalist Don McCullin.

Beware though, although the photography featured is astounding, each is quite depressing in it's own right.

The Extremist Art of Not Being Extreme

There are a lot of absolute arguments in advertising. Is the best advertising emotional or rational?  Should advertising be entertainment or utility? Brand or product?

Some of these are sometimes interesting debates (notice the deliberate double qualification).

What drives me bananas though, is the insistence that all advertising is best done one way. The very idea that all advertising should be emotional is just as stupid as the notion that all advertising should be rational.

The idea that all advertising should be led by brand is equally stupid as the idea that all advertising should be led by product.

It seems people in advertising are incapable of recognising that all problems, products, markets and situations are different. They seem convinced that there has to be one answer that fits all. It's utterly bonkers.

Because you had success with one problem by solving it in a certain way is no guarantee that the same approach will be suited to the next problem.

Just because a brilliant ad used a moving, emotional approach, does not mean that a moving, emotional approach is correct for the brief in front of you now.

This extremist approach to thinking seems to be all-pervading. I wonder why?

Is it because agencies and ad people feel the next to be extreme about a point of view so that they can shout it from the rafters? To differentiate themselves?

After all, almost all agencies claim to have some proprietary point-of-view or approach that makes their work better than the next guy.

But surely that can't be the case if every new problem demands a different approach, can it?

Largely those claims are pure bullshit - they're just there to mask the fact that the real secret to producing great advertising is great people - as if their best people could leave, and the next best people would produce equally good work by working within the system or philosophy. Utter deluded horse shit.

So the wail of the people arguing from the extreme continues; "THIS is the best way to approach advertising" "No, THIS is".

Being extreme about your approach has become very much the status quo.

It's actually the extremist view to say that things actually might be different from problem to problem.


"Let There Be Beer". Oh dear.

You may have noticed that a brand new campaign launched this weekend to try to stimulate flagging beer sales in the UK.

Whilst I laud the attempt to try to do something about the situation, I can’t help feeling disappointed [and a little baffled] about how advertising has been used to tackle the issue.

“Let There Be Beer” is the tub-thumping, rallying cry of the campaign.

“Let There Be Beer”?

Judging from the launch commercial that’s just been produced “Let There Be Lager” would have been a much more appropriate slogan.

Is this really the best the brewing industry could do?

They’ve ended up making what seems like a totally generic campaign for lager. I’ve looked hard and can’t see any evidence of ale being featured in any of the depressingly familiar and laboured vignettes of the commercial.

Apparently the five biggest global brewers are behind the campaign. And therein lies the problem.

Hats off to them for clubbing together to fund the campaign.  However, while the input of their cash is probably the single most important thing that’s helped this initiative to see the light of day, it’s also given them blinkered buyer’s rights into controlling the messaging to ensure that their own nests are amply feathered.

I totally appreciate that that this campaign needs to generate a commercial gain and a decent return on their investment but it looks like this conglomerate has fallen into the trap of making an ad that’s more in their interests than that of their audience.

And it’s this conflict of interest that could ultimately backfire as it comes across like a cynical corporate marketing ploy rather than a genuine attempt to inform, educate and entertain.

There’s nothing in the ad that gives people a single reason to think differently about beer. In fact, I’d wager that it merely reinforces what people already think and know about the category.

This ad doesn’t say or do anything different to the campaigns that the brewers already have out there for their bland, bog standard fizzy lagers. It’s of the same frothy, fluffy ilk and cut from the same knockabout cloth as cooking lager advertising that it’s possible that punters could even misattribute it to a brand instead of a category push.

I winced and shuddered when I read the quote from someone involved with the campaign talking about how it demonstrated “beer’s unifying presence at social events”.

Fuck me, what’s the new news here that’s going to make people re-evaluate beer and drink it more often?

Beer as a reward for hard graft and thirsty work [the barbecue scenario].

Beer as a social lubricant to help bonding with new people in uncomfortable situations [the “meet the girlfriend’s father scenario”]

Beer to celebrate the end of the working week and time to kick back and relax [the office scenario]

All of these clichéd social situations aren’t exclusive to or owned by the consumption of beer. They can be and are often fuelled by any kind of booze [well, not absinthe maybe].

My biggest gripe in the whole flawed strategy is that they haven’t started with the product and worked their thinking around this.

There’s so many potentially interesting things to say about the vast array of different types and styles of beer that are emerging these days that would open up people’s eyes to the possibilities of what they might be missing.

It’s true that young people “drink to fit in” and choose brands they like. But it’s also true that there comes a time when depth of flavour, taste and experimentation becomes important in their drinking habits and repertoires.

It feels like they’ve decided to treat the category as a brand and ignored all the product qualities of beer in favour of undifferentiated, touchy-feely guff instead. This is a crying shame as there’s a real story to tell about product quality as CAMRA, the small breweries and craft beer makers would all testify.

People are drinking less beer because other drinks are seen as being a more interesting and rewarding alternative, whether that be flavoured ciders, alcoholic ginger beer, wine, spirits, cocktails etc.

This campaign could have been an opportunity to challenge people’s assumptions about beer and make them think differently about the world of beer.

I hotfooted it over to the Let There Be Beer website to see if there was more depth of product communication behind the campaign only to be met with a holding page with a date proclaiming 11.08.13.

Another major fail. Why go on TV with ads and not have a website ready?

It’s left me wondering what momentous thing is going to happen in six weeks time.  Apparently they’re in the process of “creating a whole new world of beer for you”.

Now that’s some claim and undertaking.  I’d politely suggest that a “whole new world of beer” doesn’t need to be created. People just need to know more about the world of beer that exists right now rather than a parallel universe where cooking lager is king.

What a missed opportunity.

Wish I'd have listened more in Science class

Whilst I was doodling, setting fire to exercise books and staring at girls - everyone else in Science class was learning about really interesting stuff. Turns out Science isn't all coloured flames, confusing graphs and looking at pictures of ovaries - it can help us explain the world around us and understand what would otherwise be branded witchcraft.

The Creative thought process for example. 

When you have that aha! moment - although feeling like something just popped into your head, the brain goes through a distinct objective process. From watching an awesome 50 minute documentary, I recon I'm now suitably qualified to summarise. 

Moments before - the right occipital lobe (associated with visual senses) is flooded with alpha waves - effectively shutting down this area for a split second, allowing the brain to focus. Then... BOOM time. The right temporal lobe (the creative/interpretive bit) is flooded with gamma waves - and rather than turning you into the Incredible Hulk - your brain makes awesome creative insightful connections pulling and linking things from all over the shop.

Furthermore, research shows the right temporal lobe is more easily influenced by things in your left field of vision. So always be wary of Machiavellian Account Managers sitting to the left of Creative Directors.

Isn't Science amazing. 

Despite this new knowledge the hours for Creative Development on my project estimates will still be listed under 'Magic', but amazing to know that Scientists out there are trying to help us all think more creatively... aswell as figuring out Cancer and developing high-yield crops to end global famine.

(thank you to BBC Horizon for the superb special on Insight and Creative Process in the Brain ... well worth my license fee