Have a look at the new Bad Lip Reading NFL video.

Love a bit of schoolboy humour.

Victor Nunes

does these great little drawings incorporating random objects. Lots more fun in his facebook album.

Real Brand Building. The Difference Between Building A House, And Painting A Picture Of A House.

Much of advertising and marketing has developed into the study of brands. But are marketers and advertising people over-obsessing about brands?

That's possibly a controversial statement I realise, the kind of statement that is often met with You just don't get it or pitying shakes of the head. Because obsession with brand is the 21st century advertising and marketing business.

But whilst I totally agree that a 'strong brand' - a brand with positive associations and that people trust or believe in - is important, I'm not so sure I agree with the current thinking of how they are built. 

Marketing and advertising people, and 'brand consultants' increasingly measure things like the above; trust, positive associations, etc. - the kinds of things that cumulatively tend to be known as 'brand saliency'. That might be a useful barometer of where the brand is at, but it's only one half of the story.

People outside of marketing departments in client companies understandably get twitchy when those things become the sole measure of marketing or advertising success. After all, they're used to measuring things like growth, profit margin, market share and 'gasp' - sales.

The trouble is, when people become over-obsessed with the measures of brand saliency and related soft measures, these are then often subsequently taken to be the 'end game' - brand saliency becomes the ultimate aim, rather than a useful barometer. Brand saliency becomes what people call a 'false proxy' - something we can measure, but that in itself isn't actually success.

What do I mean by that? Well, good advertising and marketing people are well aware that strong brand saliency and business success tend to go hand-in-hand. There is a strong correlation between brands with a strong image and positive associations, and brands that are commercially successful and strong in their category.

The big mistake being made by marketing, advertising and branding professionals is in the blanket assumption that the brand saliency was the cause of the business success, and not simply a correlation.

That is to say - doing well the things that build commercial success, also tends to build alongside it a strong brand. While there are exceptions to this line of thinking on both sides (brands with strong saliency that go out of business, and brands with poor saliency that are commercially successful) in the era of the cult of brand, the assumption and belief from marketing, advertising and branding professionals is that this purely happens one-way - that strong brand saliency causes commercial success. But I'm not so sure it always happens that way around.

So what happens next in their line of thinking is, these people have decided that to build a commercially strong brand, you need to use your advertising to build saliency. And if you want good saliency measures as results, you put in stimulus designed to increase them. So the obsession becomes with 'brand' and its attributes, personality, emotions, trust - the soft measures.

Today, most branding experts and advertising experts alike will tell you that your marketing and advertising budget should be spent building these things. But in effect they are often just 'gaming' the system of measurement ("Yay, look our saliency is great!"). Not actually brand building.

Unfortunately this a very 21st century type of problem. Much like a lot of current popular culture, it's all about facade and light on the substance. But whilst it's fine for a modern pop star or slebriddy to have a fleeting, mayfly-like moment in the sun, we expect the money we spend on building a brand to have a lasting, commercial effect.

Just like vacuous celebrities, building a brand 'outside-in', image first, isn't very robust. And just like celebrities, those with some actual substance and robust foundations (in the case of celebrities, read 'talent') at their heart will outlast and endure.

The 21st century approach to brand building is like the wannabe pop star who, noting that Tina Turner wears high heels and a sparkly dress, spends all their time at the mall, working on their outfit.

In this industry we spend a vast amount of time studying successful brands. When you look at the strongest and most enduring brands, it's clear that most have what we would consider to be strong brand saliency.

But what is often dangerously overlooked in this era of the cult-of-brand, is that their success has often been built over time by people buying, and continuing to buy – and use, and be satisfied with, that brand's product or service.

And that, in turn, that good saliency we can observe and measure in those successful brands, has been generated by that continued purchase, use of, and satisfaction with, those brands' products and services.

Those are very robust foundations. And often, when we observe the saliency of these brands, we don't realise that that saliency wasn't created by the things we now call 'brand building', it was built by promising and delivering something of substance.

It's easy to overlook the fact that often the marketing and advertising that built those strong brands was used to communicate why people would benefit from the product or service of that brand, and reminding them to use it.

To (badly) paraphrase Bob Hoffman, people grow to 'love' those brands because they buy those brands' products (and are satisfied with them), they don't buy their products because they love the brand.

So when you take a step back, we might ask ourselves if where marketing and advertising people are going wrong, is that they have the causes and effects mixed up.

That in a world where all categories and products are different, where reasons and impetus for buying are different - complex combinations of rational and emotional reasons - that the blanket assumption that the best way to build strong brands, is by using the advertising for brand-building - attitude pieces, rebrands and emotional, please-like-us brand-led advertising, is possibly a little naive. And maybe, an extremely bad use of a lot of valuable budgets.

That, in effect, it's like the difference between building a house out of bricks, mortar, wood and nails – or painting a picture of a house.

In advertising agencies of the 21st century, people seem to be spending an awful lot of money painting pictures.

Maybe those advertising budgets should be used to build instead?

Infographic of the day.

Wonderful illustration of the perception/reality chasm of iPad usage in the painfully pretentious Apple commercial. Via DOGHOUSEDIARIES

Moving The Sun

Keep your eyes peeled for a short documentary called 'Moving The Sun' by artist Bobby Golding.

Really interesting idea and a top bloke.

"Moving the sun is a short documentary about a small town in Norway called Rjukan. For 6 months every year the sun doesn't rise high enough over the mountains to light the town that lies in the valley below.
The film asks the audience, what must it be like psychologically to live in an environment where half of your life is spent in the shadows, living through winters that reach -20 degrees.
Through beautiful cinematic shots we explore the town and the hostile landscape that surrounds it. With honest and thought-provoking interviews from the artist behind Rjukans's sun mirror project, residents of the town and experts in the field of seasonal psychology, we will capture the crucial essence of what it means to live in Rjukan."

Pricasso and the pricks

Sometimes I quite like humans.

Example: A strange man called 'Pricasso' who paints with his meat and writes some pretty strange poems.

Sometimes I dislike humans.

Example: These pretentious try-hards.

A bluffer's guide to football, American style

It's that time of year.

Superbowl is just around the corner, so here's a handy little guide to what's actually happening in between those irritating clips of meaty, muscle people trying to flog you a domain name or some muppets trying to sell you a Japanese motor.

Why Good Ad Creatives Are Great

I  wanted to write this after reading this post by Scamp (thanks Scampy) about the ECD of VCCP, a London ad agency talking about hiring 'randoms' for his creative department. Like Scamp I can see a bit of where he's coming from, but at the same I think it's the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

Let's be honest, there is a lot of bashing of ad creatives, from both within and outside the industry. And, hands-up, I've been a part of that too. Mainly because bad creatives do my head in. They are the excuse that the industry uses to malign and sideline creative departments.

There is a problem in the industry with a vast amount of creatives coming from very similar background, and doing very similar courses to 'learn' how to do advertising. Some of these creatives lack originality of thought, courage and conviction. They are bad creatives.

But this post isn't about bad ad creatives. This post is about good ad creatives.

They are still out there. Quite a lot of them.

And good ad creatives are still the most powerful force in marketing.

And it's a crying shame that they're undervalued, because what they bring to the business is amazing.

Good ad creatives understand business problems, and want to solve them.

Good ad creatives are equally happy talking to a salesman or a warehouse worker as the CMO, and know how to get useful information out of them.

Good ad creatives constantly push themselves to produce original work.

They probably hate working late, or working weekends. But they carry the problem with them at all times, and are likely turning it over in their head whilst at the cinema on a Friday night, or making breakfast on a Sunday.

Good creatives are great at strategy, not just in an instinctive, childlike way (as often depicted) but in an intelligent, commercial way.

Good creatives are great at soaking up others' knowledge.

They are adept at looking at problems and situations from other peoples' point of view.

They ask lots of questions - sometimes ones that seem stupid, but that release vital insight or information.

Good creatives have an opinion.

Good creatives are able to walk the fine and difficult line between having the courage of their own convictions in the face of critique, and listening to others' points-of-view in case they're right. Then reacting to that to improve the work. In fact, they are probably better at this than any other character in the marketing and advertising industry, more than any client, more than any planner.

Good creatives can craft great copy, beautiful images, powerful images.

They can be punchy, or thoughtful, have impact or beauty, they can be brief, or expansive, they can be simple, or elaborate.

In short, they can work in a variety of styles, to best suit the job in hand.

Good creatives can solve a massive problem with a simple thought.

Good creatives have both plain common sense, and artistic qualities.

Good creatives constantly look for inspiration in art, literature, film, design, theatre.

Good creatives don't copy or lift or steal.

Good creatives make something new and powerful inspired by their reference points.

Good creatives love a factory tour.

Good creatives are happy chatting with the glass collector at Chorley Labour Club, or the Chief Financial Officer of HSBC.

Good creatives are not the hammer that sees the nail. They don't assume that every solution is an advertising media solution - even though sometimes those spaces are already booked.

Good creatives have healthy competition with their colleagues and rivals, and use this energy to push themselves and their work.

They take their responsibility seriously - they take ownership of the problem - whilst at the same time retaining a very difficult to achieve state of looseness that allows them to think creatively and laterally.

Good creatives are self-aware - probably the most self aware people in the business. They constantly police themselves to make sure they're not falling into patterns of thinking, or cliche or lazy thinking.

They strive to keep their thinking fresh.

Good creatives go again. And again.

And again.

The hate doing - and redoing - work for the wrong reasons, but will keep going and going if they feel they're getting closer to something good.

Good creatives come from any social or education background.

Good creatives have instinctive understanding of what makes things good or powerful or right, but are constantly striving to understand why it is so and learn and improve.

Good creatives aren't scared of emerging technology, but aren't hoodwinked by the latest fashion or fad.

Good creatives have a healthy skepticism.

Good creatives ask why not?

Good creative are a complex mix of very disparate qualities, traits, and skills - often things you wouldn't expect to find in the same person.

And good creatives do all this day in, day out.

They are the engine room of the industry.

They are the advertising industry.

Used effectively, and given the right opportunities, they are still the most powerful force in marketing.

They should be the leaders and the spokespeople of the ad industry.

I'm convinced that there are still many very good and even great creatives in the industry. The talent is there. The problem is the systems they are made to work in. Why, even in agencies that are considered good, is only a small percentage of output of a high quality?

The problem often isn't the people, it's the system they are made to work in - the factors introduced by the way the agency is set-up, the way their relationships with clients and holding companies are established.

When people like Darren Bailes talks about hiring stuntmen or randoms, they are trying to solve the wrong problem. They are attacking the symptoms not the real problem.

I would like to Sell! Sell! be able to provide a (work) home for more and more good creatives, so that they can really do what I know they are able to do. If you are a good creative who feels stifled by the system you work in, and would like to instead work in an environment built around creatives, please send us your details - we're not hiring right now, but at some point in the future we will be looking for the industry's brightest and best creatives.

In the meantime, let's raise a glass to thinking on the khazi.


This spot captured my attention when it came on the telly t'other night.

Good cinematography, interesting use of sound, engaging vignettes - it certainly depicted an appealing side of the British winter if there can be such a thing. Very well done.

Well, I say appealing. I turned the heating up and put the kettle on after watching it.

It drew me in and made me wonder who was behind it. Especially as there were no clues, cues, voiceover or even a stray product shot there to give the game away.

Was it North Face? Jack Wolfskin? Milletts? Visit Britain? Berghaus? Kendal Mint Cake?

Nope. If I'd have blinked at the end of the commercial I'd have seen that this was an ad for Land Rover.

Is this a good ad for Land Rover? I dunno.

I can go out and do all of these things in a Ford Galaxy.

Would a more overt link to the car or driving made these ads any less effective?

I can see how this campaign instils a sense of pride and justification in people who already own a Land Rover. And maybe, that's its main aim and job.

But will it do enough to help get Land Rover onto the consideration set of someone in the market [or about to be in the market] for a new car?

Personally, I don't think it's enough to for Land Rover to just be associated with the great outdoors. In fact, I'd wager that an association of the car to help you take on the great outdoors would be more powerful,

Interestingly, the #Hibernot microsite tackles this head on and has a trails page where you can view and upload routes to enjoy and explore.

I know it's not fashionable thinking, but I wonder where it would have taken them if they had embraced this idea more directly in the TV campaign and made the car the hero of the great outdoors rather than the great outdoors being the hero?

Answers on a frosty postcard.

We would be very grateful...

In 1979, after seven years of preparation - The Transglobe endeavour, led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, set out from Greenwich. Lots of people had gone around the world, but all horizontally - but none thought it even possible to do it vertically (ie: crossing the Arctic and Antarctic in the process).

Ranulph Fiennes and a team of volunteers committed 7 years of their lives to the expedition - sourcing all the equipment and provisions required with the aid of over 600 sponsors providing all the goods required for such a trip, including:

- Over $1,000,000 of Oil
- Twin Otter aircraft + pilot, including retractable Skis and a full set of spare parts
- Icebreaker Ship + crew
- 100 tonnes of mixed dry food stuffs
- £420,00 worth of salaries for crew, outside the team formed of volunteers.
- A TV+Stills production crew to accompany and document the whole expedition.

All free of charge. In exchange for their products, sponsors would typically receive gratitude in the form of colour photographs of their goods in use on the expedition aswell as bimonthly reports on the equipment concerned.

HRH Prince Charles called the endeavour "mad but marvellous".

So next time I'm told by a client "We're going to need to trim these costs" - I will naturally look into the abyss, smile, think of the great Transglobe expedition, and proceed in sending emails to all my suppliers starting "Dear Sir/Madam. I would be very grateful if...".

The Tube

Over the last 40 years Photographer Bob Mazzer has amassed a great collection of snaps documenting life on the tube. From the mundane to the absurd. They're well worth a look.

See more here.


Fosbury Flops

I'm sure we're not the only ones to have noticed Dick Fosbury being used to advertise two very different products in a very similar way.

I've no idea which commercial came first but, putting aside the ridiculousness of agencies not doing their homework to find out whether Fosbury was going to be gainfully and simultaneously employed in any other marketing campaign, I think both ads demonstrate lazy thinking.

It's this depressing "advertising by association" trend which, instead of finding something meaningful and motivating to say about a product, seeks to align a brand with the intrinsic values of something or somebody else often totally unrelated to their core business.

In this instance, Fosbury's pioneering method of jumping over a bar onto a mattress is being used to draw a [lame] parallel with the offerings of Wuaki and Mazda. The ads rely on a detailed voiceover to spell out what they want people to take out from the communication and the products end up being a mere bolt on at the end. It's easy for me to say that this kind of generic approach can be taken for any brand, especially as two companies have already done this.

Pardon the pun, but in both cases, this is not a great leap to take. By making these associations it's painfully apparent that Wuaki and Mazda desperately want us to think that they too are revolutionary.

If they had bothered to focus the communication on informing people about why they might be revolutionary rather than just saying that "we're also revolutionary/rule changing" then I might be arsed to think about their products differently.

Instead, the ads feel like a bit of indulgent, self-congratulatory, trumpet blowing.

The only person I can see benefiting from these campaigns in the long run is Dick Fosbury who undoubtedly got a very comfy landing on a mattress full of cash.

Skateboarding ads are guff

With the exception of Lakai of course. A more detailed look at the standard of skateboarding advertising coming soon. Ish.

Ad of the year so far.

Gary Goals. He's scored in "every match he's ever playsed in" dontcha know. Surprised Sam Allardyce hasn't been on the phone yet.

January is crap

But if you are in London, here are two things to make it a bit less crap:

Mark Denton's D&AD lecture

and Dave Trott's talk at the Typographic Circle.

Who's your mate?

Humour is as much a part of Advertising as the beloved starburst or product shot. During recent toilet sessions I've pondered why a brand would want to be 'that funny guy', and how Advertising can play a balancing act between Marketing and Entertainment. Here's where I'm at...

No one wants to listen to a dry faceless life-sucking rainforest-destroying multinational corporation selling them stuff - boooooring - the public are much more receptive to a friendly human guise (puppet old aged pensioner loan sharks for example). Whether the Frankenstein's monster personification is revealed explicitly or not, a brand's persona could be male or female, old or young, and just like real people they can be largely serious or playful and funny.

Comedy in Advertising can be a great way to relate with people, broach an otherwise awkward subject or just poke fun at life's little ironies. I'm sure you can think of ads that have made you laugh out loud, but also some real stinkers. One size rarely fits all. (For the record, I don't believe ANYONE finds the smarmy Money Supermarket bloke chatting shit about running with cats funny.)

So trying to make a brand/ad funny is a big gamble. On one hand if it's a good fit for your product, comes from a truth and it's well crafted you could really resonate with someone, or on the other it could crash and burn and make you look like that desperate friend of a friend trying to ingratiate themselves into the gang.

I don't have a resounding final thought on this - but would say that all too often humour, irreverence and randomness is employed to distract from a brand not having anything interesting or differentiating to say, or as fluff to pad out a very simple idea to fill a 60 second spot.

Back with a bang

I know it's already been seen by 43 zillion people and shared by people that aren't even born yet, but this commercial is simply far too good not to appear on this blog.

To get all poetic, it's a shining beacon on a foggy hill overlooking a sea of piss.

Thank you, Old Spice and W&K. Thank you very much indeed.

Fancy a Furtle?

Hot off the press are two new additions to Fentimans' range of Furtling Mats - 'Rose Lemonade' and 'Orange and Seville Mandarine Jigger'.

Thanks to Iain McIntosh on the illustrations.