National Beard & Mustache Championships

At Sell! Towers we're big admirers of fine facial foliage. In the darker months of the year there's normally a fair amount of plumage of our own on show in 8 Printing House Yard, but none of our efforts quite match the dedication and preening required to produce a Championship entry like these.

They were all taken earlier this month at the 4th Annual National Beard & Mustache Championships in New Orleans by photographer Greg Anderson. Over 150 contestants entered and Greg has immortalised them all in this giant gallery of portraits.

Oh Come On, #SMWLDN, Grow A Pair

If you had too much time on your hands, you might have noticed this tumblr yesterday, taking the piss out of the inane tweets emanating from the Social Media Week London conference.

It's worth a look, because it is funny, and it's funny not least because it's true.

Twitter is plagued by these kind of glib soundbites masquerading as insight - often they are put out into the world as if they were the words of fucking Descartes.

And often they are just thinly veiled sales pitches for what that so-called expert is trying to push at the time.

Even just the idea of a bunch of social media gobshites getting together for a great big talkathon makes me involuntarily clench.

But the spurious outpourings onto twitter are surely the worst examples of how to pollute the medium?

So I was glad to see someone doing a healthy bit of piss-taking.

But then I was befuddled to see one of the conference goers gnashing and wailing about the 'haters'.

I mean, come on. The world needs the checks and balances of piss-taking and satire, to keep people honest.

And let's be honest, the world of marketing needs it more than any other field I can think of.

And within that, the field of 'social media experts' surely must rank pretty close to the top of the bullshit charts?

So suck it up, social media types. And stop the wailing.

Maybe, just maybe, it would be a good time to stop and take a cold, hard look at the things that are being laughed at.

Maybe if you actually took a moment to look at what you're saying from an outside point of view, you might be able to improve the way that you're portraying your business, and your field.

Because more often than not, when someone finds it easy to take the piss.

It's because the subject actually demands the piss being taken out of it.

Bargain Bin Blasphemy

If you're of a meek disposition then look away now [and get busy with inheriting the earth]. A good old rummage on the internet has uncovered the marvellous phenomenon that is the Bargain Bin Blasphemy tumblr.

Classic album covers have been, er, lovingly defaced to create a new aesthetic. Once you've clocked the homespun Norwegian Death Metal makeover, it's pretty hard to remember what the originals actually looked like.

I'm sure Beelzebub will be bursting with pride.

When You're Not Invited To The Party, Turn Up Anyway...

One of our latest cheeky little ads for Fentimans. Morning Advertiser, an on-trade magazine, publishes a brand report every year. It turns out that you can buy an ad space in the report. So obviously...


The moral of the story being, when you're not invited to the party, turn up anyway, with a twin-ended dildo.

Shit Rough Drafts

Check out these (fake) Breaking Bad rough drafts.

Some of them are hilarious.

There are a load of other shit rough drafts on their tumblr page. 

Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising (again)

These are great. 
In fact they're so good this is the second time they've appeared on the blog. 
The tumblr might be a couple of years old and no longer updated, but as we said then these really should be required reading for everyone in the advertising & marketing game.

The Dictionary of Business Bullshit

Kevin Duncan, kindred spirit and long time mucker of Sell! Sell!, has been collecting corporate gobbledygook for over thirty years.

He's now used this ammunition to compile the world's first dictionary of business bullshit.

Recently published, with over 2,000 entries, this comprehensive and amusing tome gives you everything you need to denounce and ridicule the nonsense and jargon that pollutes everyday working life.

It's definitely worth getting your hands on a copy, not least to give as a gift of shame to any serial offenders who talk shit rather than talk straight.

Kevin's always on the lookout for new contributions. Send the worst example of business bullshit to him here and he'll include the best in the next edition.

New St John Ambulance ad

Powerful stuff from BBH and Dougal Wilson.

Hope it helps saves lots of lives as well as prompting people to remember to take the washing in.

Fashion Update

Not too long ago - if a man were to wear running shoes and jeans, he'd be the laughing stock (unless you are Steve Jobs and could use industry defining innovation as a distraction).

Times they are a-changin'.

It would seem everyone's now ok with this combo, provided the running shoes are made by those clever buggers at Nike.

Nike's marketing team have gone into overdrive recently to showoff their latest innovation - Flyknit. Apparently old fashioned running shoes are heavy, clumsy and lack craft... not if you knit them on a loom they're not.

Wait a minute, but Outdoor posters are heavy, clumsy and lack craft too... not if you knit them they're not.

Ross Kemp on Gangs

Check out this Ross Kemp on Gangs video from some very silly people from Way-ales.

Ian Stevenson

Here's some charming bits of street art by Ian Stevenson to brighten up your day.

London to Brighton Timelapse Train Journeys

I do like a bit of timelapse.

In addition to the unedifying spectacle of the BBC unnecessarily throwing away shitloads of licence fee payers money, they have also been doing stuff like this.

It's a charming, four minute piece that shows the London to Brighton train journey side by side in 1953, 1983 and again in 2013.

It's interesting to see what's changed and what's stayed the same over a period of sixty years.

Given First Capital Connect's notorious unreliability, I'm surprised that 2013 version actually managed to make it to Brighton without any delays.


Bridget & The Midget

This video is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time.

It's a 33 part 'modern opera' written, directed and starred in by R.Kelly.

Apparently it's not a joke.

You can watch the whole thing here

I suggest you don't, who knows what kind of damage you would do to your brain.

Francis Ford Coppola: On Risk, Money, Craft & Collaboration

"An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?" 

There's a good interview with Francis Ford Coppola over on 99U by Behance.

Lots of compelling quotes, like the one above, and insights gained from his 45 years of experience in the business of film-making. A lot of which seem aptly appropriate to the business of advertising.

The G***** F**** Commercial

Remember that infamous Jonathan Glazer Flake ad that gained notoriety a couple of years ago? Well it has resurfaced on Vimeo (thanks to Ben for pointing it out).

It caused a huge stir at the time, as much as anything because it was quite heavy-handedly removed from around the  internet.

Bloggers were threatened with legal action if they showed it, and it became quite a talking point.

Looking at it now, it's funny to think how the company got their nickers in such a knot about it.

This is a really good piece of work, a very good commercial.

The kind that defies rational arguments about messages and take-outs, you just know it would the one thing that people remembered from the ad break.

And it's not that controversial is it, really?

All it's really guilty of is not playing within the safe confines of bog-standard chocolate ads.

It got me to thinking about just how safe and confined commercials are.

They play within an area of tone and style that is just one tight area of film and video style.

Think about the vast range of tone and style of movies, art film, video art, documentaries, TV programmes and music promos.

The range is a broad as any art form or medium.

Yet advertising all seems to play within the same safe five percent area.

It's a crying shame, and I can't get my head around the conservatism.

It makes commercial sense.

Any time you break out of that safe area, you immediately give yourself a huge chance of standing out and being noticed.

We did it with the commercial we made for Drambuie last year.

It doesn't fit within the normal parameters of what people expect from a commercial.

As a result, the reactions are amazing.

It hasn't run in England yet, so you may not have seen it in an ad break.

But where it does run, every time it airs, you see loads people react to it, and talk about it.

I'm not going to lie, some people are saying it's weird, or odd, or they don't like it.

But a huge amount seem to be blown away by it. Someone even described it as art.

Now we're not so stupid or vain as to take the praise any more seriously than the criticism.

But it is heartening (and a vindication of our belief about this approach) that it gets noticed and talked about, and remarked upon so much.

And look, we know, it's not even that different, or that weird.

It's just not the same.

This Flake is one of those rarities that sits outside that normal safe area of sameness.

It's great.

We should encourage it.

Clients should embrace it.

The ad business would be a lot better for it.

Our clients would be a lot better off for it.

And audiences would be a lot better off for it.

Rum Bunch

The last refuge for the desperate, lazy scoundrel when short of creative inspiration is to plunder the "advertising by association" box of fun.

If you cannot think of anything genuinely interesting or differentiating to say about your brand or product, simply associate it with somebody whose values or character you wish to draw a parallel and be identified with.

Look, we are interesting, honest. We must be, we must be, because we are exactly just like these really aspirational, interesting people. Please believe us. Please.  

I've been exposed to these godawful Lambs Navy Rum ads too many times to remain silent now.

I just cannot believe that there isn't anything more compelling to say about Lambs Navy Rum than making some lame comparison with some painfully cliched and less than appealing "edgy" stereotypes.

In addition to this Creative Branding Guru horror show, there are several other executions featuring a Burlesque Performer, Tattoo Artist and, wait for it, even a Founder of a Luxury Concierge Service.

It's very charitable and gracious for Lambs to spend their precious advertising shekels giving publicity to these individuals and making them the hero of their advertising instead of the rum.

It's a crying shame as it's a potentially iconic brand with a deep, rich history and sense of authenticity. Is there absolutely nothing about the rum itself that they can say that might make people actually want to drink it?

Guess Lambs must think otherwise and be very, very happy for the product to be associated purely as a superficial bolt-on with this motley crew.

Looks like they've also been taking the "Brand Engagement crazy pills as there's even a True British Character section to their website where they ask searching questions like Which True British Character traits do you possess? and What makes a True British Character?

You can even take an insightful personality test and discover the real you....

Click here if you can be arsed to witness this glorious piece of marketing in more detail.

Sell! Sell! will not be held responsible if you want to gouge your own eyes out with a blunt spoon after seeing this though.

The Good And The Bad Of Web Design

This is no great opus on web design, but it just happened that we came across two sites within the space of a day that seemed to represent the best and worst of the current state of web design.

First, the good: a site to advertise the position of Rich Silverstein's assistant. It's simple, it has an idea behind it, it's well written, and uses clever web coding sparingly and appropriately to make the experience better.

Now, the bad: a site that, well I'm not really sure - it's clearly something about butchers or a meat-based product but you're a better man than me if you can be arsed to find out. A clear case of technique and execution drowning the point of the site. I'm actually interested in finding out what this product is, but the way the site is put together makes it really difficult. This dynamic vertical scrolling technique is being hammered to death, and if there isn't really a reason for it, as in this case, it just ends up looking like a digital agency's vanity project. Over wrought and annoying. To whoever put this together, I'd just say remember this old chestnut - because it's as true in web design as anything else - "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should".