Advertisers Are Like Prison Cafeteria Cooks

So last night was the Brit awards apparently. I say apparently because I hadn't a clue it was even on until a load of people started talking about cloaks and falling over.

Obviously, in this modern era of reatime marketing, the world was then deluged with brands making tenuous and extremely lame falling over related content.  

This is modern advertising's greatest grand fuck-up, not just in this low-rent, twitter and facebook stuff, but in proper, grown-up advertising too.

This belief that you can just push whatever you want at people ('consumers') regardless of whether it's any use or benefit to them.

The best advertising should start with people - the customers - what do they want, what's in it for them? Why should they care? About our product? About what we have to say?

The onus is on us to show them what's in for them.

But most advertising appears to be the result of advertising and marketing people just deciding what they'd like to say, whatever makes them feel better in the board room or agency, and just saying it.

In that sense, modern advertisers are like prison cafeteria cooks – ladling out whatever slop they decided to cobble together that day, regardless of whether it makes us gag.

Advertising is increasingly, insultingly lame in the way it underestimates its audience, much like it was in the 1950's before the creative revolution gave way to a more honest approach that credited the audience with intelligence. Strange it seems to have gone backwards.

At least, thankfully, most advertising these days is barely noticed.

Time for another creative revolution?

Go now and eat a pie.

The week is nearly at an end.
Now go and live your weekend like the Lancashire Hotpots:

Brand Bullshit Week

An up and down week for brand bullshit this week. On the upside, Bob Hoffman takes the brand bullshitters to task in two excellent consecutive posts, the second of which brilliantly eviscerates Kevin Roberts' complete misunderstanding of what has made Apple successful. On the downside, we find a national newspaper mindlessly regurgitating a thinly-veiled agency promotion in the guise of misguided brand-nonsense survey. There's so much wrong with that survey, the premise behind it, and the assertions made on the back of it, it could easily absorb most of my day pulling it apart. So I won't. But here are just three quick bullet points:

- The whole premise of people 'loving' or 'hating' brands, and that in turn influencing their buying behaviour, is completely misguided. It's this very start point that's leading to so much bullshit and wasted money in advertising. If you are tempted to disagree with this point (and I suspect many in advertising and marketing might) why not treat yourself to a little read of some of Professor Byron Sharp's work.

- Conflating political parties and consumer brands is fucking nuts. Idiotic. Thinking of political parties as brands is the kind of shit that has got politics into the horrible state that it's in. They are ideologies, the approaches of which, people can genuinely (and violently) agree or disagree with. The idea that people have the same kind of relationship with political parties as they do with a brand of sandwich spread is beyond fantasy. This idea that 'everything is a brand' and everything a brand problem, is a moronic plague on our times.

- Let's just take the headline 'hated brand' (not including political parties) - Marmite. For christ's sake, do these people understand nothing? At least Marmite themselves, and their agency thankfully understand people's relationship with their product. The publishers of this survey clearly don't. People's 'relationship' (if you'll excuse the word) with Marmite is with the spread, the product, Marmite. Not the brand. Some people like the taste of it, some people dislike the taste of it. I really dislike it (I'd be in the 'hate' part of Marmite's excellent advertising slogan), I feel neither here or there about the 'brand'. In fact I don't mind it. They appear to know their product, and their advertising normally has charm and wit, and doesn't treat me like a moron. I'm fine with the 'brand' Marmite. I will never buy the product however, because I don't like it.

I'm going to stop myself there for my own sanity (and I have work to do). All I will say is, if you're a business owner or a marketing person, and your agency thinks that people's buying behaviour is influenced by their attitude towards your brand, and their solution is (inevitably) some brand advertising - for the love of god, get yourself a new agency, pronto.


Clever, nicely shot film by Bert Haanstra...

Lovely NASA Film Of The Sun

February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun's atmosphere, the corona. In honor of SDO's fifth anniversary, NASA has released a video showcasing highlights from the last five years of sun watching. Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun's surface.

Walking Legs

A couple of weeks ago I went over to Somerset House to check out their exhibition of fashion photographer Guy Bourdin's work.

It was very good. A proper photography exhibition. Lot's of work, well laid out in a big space, with a good amount of info on the work. (Not all galleries get this right, too many times I've left a gallery frustrated by good work being marginalised by poor exhibition design.)

One of the highlights was Bourdin's series called Walking Legs.
In 1979 he was commissioned to shoot an ad campaign for glamourous shoe designer Charles Jourdan. He took his partner, their son and an assistant on a roadtrip of Britain in his black Cadillac.
No models, just some mannequin legs & fancy shoes he stuffed in the boot with a couple of cameras.

These are most of the shots he produced.

Bourdin's own Black Caddy peering around the corner.

And they are very good. Over 35 years old and they still feel fresh.

With the tightest of constraints Bourdin produced a fascinating series of images that are much bigger than the sum of their parts. Images that are part of a fantastical, surreal world with menacing undertones that draw you in and leave you wanting to know more.

There's very little fashion advertising today that does that.

There's very little advertising today that does that.

 ps. Dave Dye has a very good blog post that explores more of Bourdin's work.

Here Is Your New Ad Campaign

We are nothing if not thoughtful here at Sell! Towers. We'd like to save our advertising brothers and sisters from the effort of going through endless strategy presentations, rounds of development and research groups. So we've made this handy template for the new campaign that you're working on, to save you the trouble. Now the whole of the advertising industry can fuck off down the pub...

Advertising 2015: phoning it in, one cute animal at a time...

Ritson does the Social Media maths

For anybody interested in a keen sense of balance and perspective, this is a must-watch, highly entertaining piece from Mark Ritson about the relative effectiveness of social media marketing and the laziness of journalists when reporting the facts about the so-called diminishing power of traditional media.

Via our good buddy @talktojimmer

P.S. yep we get the irony of sharing a YouTube clip of something on our blog that we first came across on Twitter...

Tony Zhou — The Quadrant System

Tony Zhou has been up to his old tricks of making it easy for people like me to pretend that we're clever, observant and know a lot about film (cheers Tony).

For those who don't know about Tony Zhou's videos, he pulls apart films and explains why they're so damn good.

His latest video is about the Quadrant System in the film 'Drive'.

Drive (2011) - The Quadrant System from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

Check out some of his other greatest hits:

Edgar Wright - How to Do Visual Comedy from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

David Fincher - And the Other Way is Wrong from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

Martin Scorsese - The Art of Silence from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

Anthony Blazo

Photographer Anthony Blazo has done some lovely work for Victory Journal. His gritty sports shots are particularly pleasing to the eye. 

Top Notch Print Work

This is really great press work. A real stand-out, provocative, honest thought, great writing, strong art direction, and it works hard. All from a black and white 25x4 newspaper ad. In my humble opinion it's the strongest print work of the last 12 months. And you know what? It was done by an agency that describes itself as a direct digital agency. I know descriptions don't matter that much, but sometimes I think that advertising agencies, in their rush to look as if they get the next big thing, have forgotten how to do the things that traditionally have made them valuable to businesses and charities. Like top-notch print advertising. This is that. And it's better work than has come out of any of the so-called top 30 ad agencies in the last 12 months. Hats off to AIS, and especially to the father in question, Alex Smith, for his brave campaign. Donate here.

This is the strong follow-up ad released recently...

"What Digital Marketers Can Learn From..."

Whilst idly browsing Twitter last Friday, I stumbled across another one of those spurious, lame ass articles entitled "What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Formula 1 Racing".

True to form, the thinly veiled PR pitch from a customer engagement agency made some painfully laboured, long-winded and not startlingly revelatory or relevant comparisons between, er, customer engagement and the world of F1 racing.

Here's a soundbite that might help if you have trouble sleeping. Can't see it helping anybody with their digital marketing though.

The F1 team operates with intense, fluid communication around liberated data. Not pressured, but intense -- focused on the next move to an outcome. Not just integrated, but fluid -- constantly moving and reforming the whole with a sense of past, present and future. Liberated data means it's all collected, harnessed, shared and used by everyone.
For marketing, the F1 ideal means that cross-functional collaboration is required to gather collate, analayze and disseminate date that streams in from every customer interaction so that the right sequence of lightweight interactions can be orchestrated.

You what? 

There's a lot of this sort of lazy journalism polluting the internet. This was in AdAge - hardly tucked away in a remote backwater in the netherworld of writing about advertising.

Quite how much of this nonsense exists may come as a surprise.

Simply type "What Digital Marketers Can Learn From..." into Google and you will be rewarded by over 6,870 results.

There's obviously a quick and easy formula that the giants of thought leadership are tapping into to get their nest-feathering messages out into the big wide world.

Just take any subject whatsoever in the known universe, preferably one that has fuck all to do with the business of marketing, and then proceed to make as many vague and torturous links between said subject and the business of marketing.

Here's a taster of some most excellent examples...

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From A Few Toymakers

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From NASA

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Frank Lloyd Wright

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Beyonce

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Mystery Writers

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Sir David Attenborough

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Serial

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Cooking Fried Chicken

What Digital Marketing Can Learn From The Monasteries

What Digital Marketing Can Learn From The Ebola Crisis

OK, we made the last one up, but in the context of all the other blather it doesn't really seem that ridiculous does it?

Now we're all big fans here of constantly learning, opening our minds and feeding our brains but somewhere along the line this trend of looking outside the business for inspiration seems to have got out of hand. Maybe it's a sign of the times but it speaks volumes that there's so much of this rubbish around.

If there's anything to take out of this phenomenon, it's that Digital Marketers sure have a hell of a lot to learn.

Maybe it's time they learnt that there really isn't that much to learn from reading articles entitled "What Digital Marketing Can Learn From..."