Thursday, 11 February 2010

Moving again...

Its been a long time since I posted on this blog.  The main reason being that I have been working on a big project to set up my own company.  One of the main reasons that I think writing down your thoughts is important is that it forces you to have thoughts, to order them, to generate a point of view that would otherwise stay in pieces.  The thinking and learning I did here have played no small role in getting to a place where I believe I have something new and exciting to offer as a business.  It has its own blog here. So if any one makes it to this page please make you way over there, and I look forward to hearing from you,



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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The best fairtrade comms ever from Cadburys

Its been a while but thought I would pen a few words about the latest stuff from Cadburys.  I think its awesome.  Lets remember for a start that the story that they want to communicate is actually about their internal operations - the supply chain no less.  To many not a rich source of creative communications.  Going fair trade can easily be seen as a tick box exercise or be communicated in a cliched, 'because we care' kind of way, rather than being seen as a source of inspiration.  If you don't work in advertising then the latest work seems like some memorable 'out there' fun with an African theme to express the fair trade connection.  If you do you are tempted to think about how it was sold or even explained to the client to get them to sign it off.  You might also dig a bit deeper and find that the every aspect such as the people, music, and visual themes seem to been pulled together in an authentic way from genuine Ghanaian references.  For example the rapper is a top selling Ghanaian rapper, the face/mask was based on tribal art etc... etc...  Maybe that's part of the reason why it works even though it seems like a random fantasy / drug induced dream.  The final thing of note is the way it uses the 'make culture not ads' approach i.e. it works as branded entertainment.  There is a 'music video' edit as well as an i-tunes download, and I'm sure, loads of other things that I've not yet seen.    Brand substance I'd call it.

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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Awesome idea to make every road a power plant

This idea to make roads out of super tough solar panels really captures the imagination.  One of the big problems for getting renewable energy ideas off the ground is that they create an obvious impression on the landscape and there is a highly vocal minority who usually manage to convince councils to block promising projects.  'We are not against renewables, we just don't want them in our back yard' is the usual argument from people who have detected the slightest whiff of an impact on house prices.  Now someone has had the idea of making solar panels look like something big and ugly that for some reason causes less of an uproar with middle England... roads.  Whats really interesting is the ways they could create advantages over conventional roads such as ingtegrated lighting panels allowing better visibility.  This would give the ability to change road markings to alert drivers to possible hazzards making them safer.  They could also mean less road signs which are also pretty ugly.  Maybe if they managed to disguess other renewable energy projects as a branch Waitrose or 'good local schools,' then there could be even more sell in : )

Seen here...

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Sunday, 9 August 2009

Little Aston

From the few articles I have read it seems that the Aston Martin hatch back is not going down very well.  I wonder if there is any genuine problem with the idea on a practical level or whether everyone is either directly (if you do it for a living,) or indirectly (because we live in a marketing society,) just applying some kind of brand extension logic that is a learned set of rules rather than a fundamental anthropological response.  

Yes it does seem strange that Aston Martin would make a hatchback because they trade on selling the unattainable dream.  But this is just a marketing idea.  If we were to place this into a more human context it would probably be like someone we know that has a really aspirational ability i.e. a top chef, deciding to go and work in a chain pub.  Maybe it was because they fell on hard times and needed the cash? Perhaps it would make us doubt the quality of the best they had to offer i.e. if they are willing to lower themselves then why should we expect greatness from them in anything anymore?  But having said this if you put the initial expectations on one side for a minute and think about the realities then it makes you wonder... wouldn't Aston Martin be pretty good at making a hatch back if they put their mind to it.  And wouldn't it be good if more people could experience the Aston craft and expertese without having the money to buy a super car.  And more to the point where I am coming at this from... wouldn't it be better if they found a way to make money out of a product with a lower environmental impact.  

My view is that every brand at some time in the future is going to have to play with the idea of a brand extension that they might at one time have never imagined.  Anyhow to cut a long story short I like the little Aston and would be happy to see more experimental designs from companies that show that they know how to loosen up.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Brand Global, Eat local?

Hellmann’s - It’s Time for Real from CRUSH on Vimeo.

More on the theme of food.  And also another slightly geeky interest of mine... info-graphics.  Data and art together - does it get any better than that :)?  Genuinely though I think that lots of the truths about the world around us are hidden by the fact that we can't easily process the underlying information.  For example the realities of the journey of all the products that we buy in our supermarkets stay remote and difficult to grasp while we shop.  If we could really get a sense of the mass of trains planes and automobiles involved it may not sit right in our minds.   This is the point of the film but the interesting thing is that while the previous example below is from a bunch of independent film maker types, this example if from one the of the worlds biggest companies i.e. Unilever.  My gut instinct would be that a single jar of Hellmann's is made out of the eggs of chickens from every continent and so it's unexpected that they have the credibility to start an eat local movement with their Mayo as the star.  I am also pretty convinced that they have done their homework because the risks of an expose focusing them as per the example below is pretty high.  

On a slightly separate note it is here where the idea of green influencers comes in.  Mainstream audiences do not adopt behaviours of green niches like the conventional trickle down model.  Instead they act like a kind of police (like those that roam the pages of ebay,) to alert us as to whether Unilver are presenting themselves proportionately.

If I were them I'd take a look at the Hellmann's case but then also remember that they are not an island in the Unilever stable.  Dove is criticised for Axe's attitude to women.  If Hellmann's walks to the supermarket while other brand rock up in a hummer this could back fire.  Lets see if it stands up to questioning.  

Original ref on adverblog.

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Saturday, 18 July 2009

Food Inc 'Information wants to be free'

Expose on the food industry... Generally in advertising we work on the principle of above and below the line.  A new idea that I have been thinking about is in front of and behind the line.  The vertical line being the inside world and the outside world of the company.  At the moment many companies seem to think its ok to have very different behaviour on the two sides which results in this kind of damaging revelations.  What used to be the exception is now the rule in this area i.e if there is something to be exposed then the chances are that it will - seems like this needs a law to explain it.  I could call it 'Davidslaw'... but then I'd have to spend some time on the maths to actually prove it.  Until then perhaps the 'information wants to be free,' principle will suffice if you use it in the liberty sense rather than the economic one.  Step-up an agency that works in front of and behind the line! 

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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

What would you consult apple on?

As apple seems to be everyone's favourite case study to prove pretty much any argument going in the branding and communications worlds, it is difficult to think what you would go and talk to them about if they held their hands up and said, ‘we don’t know what to do next, can anyone help?’ In actual fact their approach to advertising and media is pretty straight forward. Its  conventional compared to what I would talk to most of my clients about. An advertising idea thats basically a piece of visual design work that never changes, with a TV + big posters media strategy. In fact most of the things that we use in case studies really happens from the inside out. Having said this I had a little think about what I might pitch to them given the chance.  To me it would seem to be pretty difficult to talk about doing much differently in the way their brand delivers on and enhances the experience of their products. In fact its pretty impossible to separate out where the product stops and the brand begins. I would leave them to it on this front.  But then if they are suffering anywhere then it is something like the same problem that McDonalds has had since their runaway success.  The problem of seeming almost like a corporate religion but one that leaves us with the distinct impression that it might not necessarily have our best interests at heart. I would talk to them about their place in the world. And lets face it they pretty much seem to succeed in most things that they do i.e. who would have thought they could have revolutionized the mobile business in just a couple of short years. I would put the design teams and technology experts to work on something bigger that looks at the broader social issues about the way we live.  If you applied the simplicity, innovation, inclusiveness and aesthetics that they bring to their products to other issues or problems that affect society such as education in third world countries or community organisation at home, I expect they would come up with something marketable.  

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