Dave Trott Lecture

Dave Trott breaking it down nice and simple. I think everyone - 'professional' or otherwise - could do with watching this.

National Geographic Found Tumblr

Today, you lucky people, I'm going to share with you one of my very favourite places on the internet. The National Geographic Found Tumblr. If you don't already follow it, you are in for a treat: FOUND is a curated collection of photography from the National Geographic archives. In honor of our 125th anniversary, we are showcasing photographs that reveal cultures and moments of the past. Many of these photos have never been published and are rarely seen by the public. It's updated very regularly, the images are of an unbelievable standard and breadth, and every time I go there, they blow me away. Pure photo-porn. Here are a few examples to whet your appetite...

Westinghouse demonstrates an electric razor using x-ray technology, May 1941.

A man and his dog on the Overhanging Rock in Yosemite National Park, May 1924.

Three adolescent Jewish boys, their heads traditionally covered with skullcaps or top hats, sitting in front of school lockers in Brooklyn, June 1982.

Original William Henry Jackson print held in the collection of the Colorado Historical Society. This is a hand-tinted print.

Botafogo Bay and Rio de Janeiro at night, September 1920

People watching a solar eclipse squint through smoked glass or film on Rebun Island in Japan, March 1949.


"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." 1878 Western Union Memo

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one on particular." - David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920's

"The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty - a fad." - Michigan's Savings Bank advising the lawyers of Henry Ford

"The cinema is little more than a fad. It's canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage." - Mr C. Chaplin.

"Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night." - Darryl Zanuck

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home" - Ken Olson

Now, what do the above quotations tell us?

On the one hand, you could say that they remind us to ignore the advances of our technology at our peril.

However, on the other hand, I think they more powerfully demonstrate the futility of so-called experts making predictions with about what will or won't happen in the future.

It's something that the advertising business, to its detriment, has become obsessed with in recent years.

Armies of ridiculously named 'futurologists' and 'trend-hunters' telling us that 'everything has changed' and falling over themselves to convince us that there's a pot of gold at the end of some mythical rainbow.

Nest-feathering, militant digital evangelists parroting "TV is dead. TV is dead. TV is dead" without any facts or substance.

Conference upon conference dedicated to new ways of thinking. New ways of doing things. Conjuring up new buzzwords and brainwashing the easily influenced and simple of mind.

It's a sad reality that there are far too many people working in the business today who are more focused on doing something new than doing something good.

If all the energy put into obsessing about the future of marketing was channelled into doing some better work in the here and now, then I'm convinced the overall quality of advertising would improve and standards would rise.

Less talking, more doing.

Because, to misappropriate a famous Keynes quote;

"In the long run we are all dead."

Ad nauseam by Adam Corner

If you do any reading today (I won't be, it's friday for god's sake) read this arrangement of words by Adam Corner on cynicism and anti-consumirism in advertising.

Designers touching their faces

I don't think I'd enjoy the internet as much if it wasn't for silly Tumblrs.

This weeks silly Tumblr is designers touching their faces.

Indoor League

Another blast of nostalgia to brighten up a chilly day. You can keep your Sky Sports Super Sunday nonsense. Televised sports doesn't get any better than Fred Trueman introducing Shove Ha'penny with pipe and pint in hand. You know he's deadly serious when he says it's "the biggest bonanza of sporting skill I've ever clapped eyes on". See for yourself and watch that bonanza of sporting skill right now.

Cache Monet

Click this link for the weirdest website you'll see this fine friday morn.

Guess The Brand

This is funny, I especially like the two ladies at the end trying to guess who the ad is for.

Big trucks that are really good at driving backwards.

This is good.

A single minded product benefit portrayed in an interesting way.

You don't see a lot of that these days.

I'll even forgive them for using Enya.

Christmas Ads Part 2

How could we forget this two minute celeb-fest from Woolworths from the bunch below?

It would have made Twitter explode if it was around back then.

All This Year's Christmas Ads In One Place

Well, all the ones we can find at least. Have a look, compare and contrast. What do they tell us about ourselves, society, commerce, the companies involved, advertising, trousers and/or turkey giblets, I wonder? In no particular order...


John Lewis







TK Maxx

Can You Help?

I wonder if you can help me.

I hope you can.

A lot of us talk about the ad industry being in a poor state, and the output (the work) being of a pretty shoddy standard.

Some people counter this by saying that advertising has always been 80% shite 20% good. Some say 90% shite 10% good. And that today is no different.

I have a some sympathy with that argument, because I know there was a quite a lot of shit advertising in the 50s, 60s, 70, 80s and 90s.

But I just can't shake the nagging feeling that it is worse now than ever.

But I know, maybe I'm being too harsh, maybe I'm looking at it through the rose-tinted eyewear of  nostalgia.

Maybe today isn't so bad, after all.

So I'm wondering if you can help me, kind reader. And I would appreciate you enlisting the help of others in this little request.

Please could you, via the comments section, share with us, companies and brands that have been around for at least more than 20 years, but that have done their best advertising in the last 5 years?

Then I'll be able to rest easy.

Advertising Needs Good People To Do Something

I've written before about how advertising people have to take their share of the responsibility for the current poor state of the advertising business.

This has upset quite a few people, I know.

They prefer to lay the blame squarely at the feet of clients or holding companies.

The thing is, I agree with them.

I'm not saying that poor clients (not all clients, but an increasing, poor, majority) and the giant holding companies are not to blame.

My point is simply that as advertising people, we have two clear choices; we can go along with it, or we can fight it.

And going along with it is the same as accepting it.

And accepting it is the same as endorsing it.

And if you're endorsing it, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Because no one else is going to change it for us.

Do you think that suddenly, the holding company board and shareholders are going to go "Oh, okay you're right, this is terrible. We're going to to make all of our companies independent again and put our money elsewhere"?

No, they are not. Not while they can still squeeze a buck out of you they're not, anyway.

And do you think those legions of poor quality clients are going to suddenly say "Goshdarnit, my marketing qualification wasn't worth shit, I should really stop imposing a culture of fear and monetary pressure on my agency, whilst simultaneously listening to their recommendations more and not try to do their jobs for them"?

No. It's not going to happen.

So you are left with those choices above. Either fight and push and bite and scratch for what you think is right.

Or just go along with it.

But, I know, I am realistic. I don't expect everyone in advertising to fight.

There are hundreds of people in advertising who are just happy to be in the room.

People stealing a living from advertising. They have neither talent, nor energy, nor principles. They are happy to just be working in advertising.

I'm not interested in those people, they're lucky to get the entry keycard, and they know it. They're not going to rock the boat.

Change is in the hands of the good people. Smart people, talented people, energetic people, principled people.

These are the people who we need to fight back. To start their own companies, with principles, with standards, and who stand up for the right way to do things.

Creatively-led companies.

So that we hold the best work, the best talent, the best people to ransom.

Accessible only to those clients willing to pay reasonable fees, allow proper amounts of development time and who want to build respectful relationships.

Only then will we see things really start to change.

Because, as Edmund Burke famously said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Revolution, my arse.

So, you may have noticed yesterday in the news that Tesco have signed a deal with, ahem, Amscreen to install hi-tech screens in their petrol stations that scan the faces of shoppers to detect their age and sex so that advertisers can target them with a tailored message.

Yep, you read that right folks. Petrol stations. 

A petrol station. That sanctuary. That haven. That oasis of calm where a captive audience of relaxed car drivers with time on their hands are going to be most receptive to pay full, undivided attention to a piece of digital advertising on a screen while they are trying to pay for fuel, fags and a cheeky pasty. 

Unsurprisingly, given the vast amount of cash that's no doubt changed hands, this is being talked up by both parties as some kind of advertising revolution.

Revolution, my arse.

More like a couple of fairly meek and apathetic protestors gently waving a placard in an empty cul-de-sac. 

I promise you, this innovation will not overthrow the status quo and create some kind of new world order for the advertising industry.

Technology can be a great enabler but just because you can do something, it doesn't automatically follow that you should. 

This malarkey is just another instance of taking every opportunity to bombard people with ads without any real regard for human nature or due consideration as to whether there is any appetite and desire for them to be consumed.

Given the extremely limited dwell time in petrol stations and the mindset that customers will be in whilst at the till, my instinct is that ads in this "medium" will end up being seen like one giant banner ad. 

Just irritating and distracting noise that will end up being screened out. 

Wallow in these marvellously deluded soundbites from these pioneers of technology and groundbreaking retail wizards.

Simon Sugar, Amscreen Chief Executive and son of you-know-who said "This could change the face of British retail" 

And Peter Cattell from Tesco had this to say "We're always looking to work with partners who provide innovative ways to enhance the customer shopping experience… The ability to tailor content based on time and location means it can be extremely useful and timely for our customers".

Who the fuck is he kidding? It's all about Tesco trousering pots of money from desperate advertisers.

I'd sincerely like to know how this intrusion actually enhances the "customer shopping experience" [if you can genuinely call buying stuff in a petrol station a shopping experience] or how exactly it can be useful and timely for customers.  

Sugar also claimed that the devices were "like something out of Minority Report". Not a particularly accurate or clever thing to say given that the technology raises serious issues about civil liberties and individual privacy rights.

I'm sure that most people, if pressed on the question, will probably not be comfortable with having their faces scanned or "detected" without having given any prior consent. And the argument that it's acceptable because no data is being collected is just lame, patronising and embarrassing.

Drill down into the actual detail of what the technology does and it's hardly a shining example of bespoke micro-targeting.

The cameras can only determine gender and three broad age groups. So, if I get a haircut and don't shave it'll know I'm a fortysomething bloke. That's it. 

That isn't remotely enough information to be able to produce a credible "tailored solution" for an ad as they know bugger all about what I like or buy or would potentially be interested in liking or buying.

Also, there's only one bloody screen as far as I can tell. Last time I went in, there was actually a queue at my petrol station. A not altogether infrequent occurrence either.

Does that mean I'm only supposed to get to fleetingly see the ad that's just for little ol' me when I'm actually at the front of the queue doing something else [i.e. paying for petrol]?  

I'm not actually surprised that this nonsense has been cooked up by Amscreen. Sugar's track record for genuinely innovative technology that sticks is patchy at best and as far as I can tell he's got a relatively unsophisticated, crude and blunt view of how advertising works.

It'll be interesting to keep a watching brief on this one to see what develops. Maybe I'm wrong and this will be the future.

However, for the time being I'll be counselling our clients to not get seduced by the hype and to steer clear of any involvement. There are many far better and proven ways to connect with customers than  advertising to them when they're in a petrol station.