Modernista - The web moves on

I was around for the early days of the web. Everything moved at an alarming rate. We all worked very hard to find and keep up with the latest techniques and thinking. Since then it has found it's pace and progress has slowed. Over the past few years my passion for the web has cooled significantly. Largely because it's been a really long time since anything has caught my eye. Since anything has made me think i've seen something new.

This week i came across Modernista! (via the article in Creative Review). It's a site for a Boston based creative agency. The only thing that is on their site is the menu. The whole of the content is hosted elsewhere. The biog is on Wikipedia, the news is on Google, the print work is on Flickr, the broadcast work is on youtube etc etc. It might initially sound lazy, but it's absolutely genius. I'm a huge fan and when i saw the site, the little flag went up in my brain to say 'this is it, this is the next step'. i applaud Modernista for it's bold use of the web.

Visit the Modernista! site now
(yes the ! is part of their name)

logo's gone bad

when creating brands you have to be soooooo careful. getting it wrong or missing something can mean very embarassing and public unpicking of a mess. sometimes the subject matter is enough to set you up for a fall and generally anything that is paid for by the central or local government will be scutinised to hell (2012 anyone?).

i recently saw this logo for ProCapita. I won't comment on the use of drop shadows, but i really can't have escaped anyone's notice along that the initials for ProCapita are PC and the logo shows CP. Why push ahead with a logo that is so bad they had to ignore the actual company name to make it work?

Here is another example of government funded logo that has been hit with critiscm. the logo as it stands is fine. not ground breaking, not offensively fashionable. what's the big deal? well at the point that the marketing and design teams started applying it to various objects people began to notice that when it's viewed from another angle it gives another impression all togther...

Now please don't jump on my back. This is not just my childish humour. The Times has run an article pointing out how much it looks like a masturbating stick man.

Like it said you have to be very careful when creating brands. Not just the quality, not just checking for any similarities to other logos, names or brands but it seems it's really important to look at the new marque from every angle and in every context.


what makes a creative director great ?

not good! great. good creative directors usually come from talented designers, art directors or copywriters. but what sets apart the great ones? the ones that students have heard of and the ones that young creatives aspire to be like.

if you look back at notable creative directors the ones who make it above the creative industry and out in to the general public more often than not those ones have huge personalities and idiosyncrasies that make them stand out as individuals. when david ogilvy started his agency in new york and begun to pull in the clients he made a concerted effort to play up english stereotypes by wearing tweed and insisting the whole agency had an afternoon tea break. all of this behaviour became part of his legend. had he not been such a noticeable personality would he have attracted the clients and attention that he ultimately did?

in today's creative industry there are a number of larger than life characters who are cutting their own paths to the top of the mixed metaphor pile. campaign magazine even has a tounge in cheek top 10 each year for the ad industry.

all of these routes to industry superstardom involve a great deal of hard work and shameless self promotion. nobody that you've heard of has ever been plucked from their quiet studio and thrust unwillingly in to the limelight. it takes dedication. dedication to shoving yourself out there and making as much noise as possible. dedication to getting up there on stage in front of your peers. dedication to putting your opinion out there and dedication to unabashedly being yourself and risking ridicule at the hands of your industry.

so what makes a great creative director? it comes down to giving people something to write about. if your not memorable you'll never be remembered.


Pitch Day


It's cold and everyone is asleep. It must be a pitch day. An Account Director will tell you 'it's a brisk start'. It's not brisk. It's cold and everyone is asleep.

I'm greeted at Gatwick airport by a team of fifty helpful attendants. I'm assuming it's part of BAA's attempt to show everyone they are not useless, what seemed an unfair battering they received when Terminal 5 open at Heathrow. As i enter the North Terminal I'm told by Gavin, the helpful Gatwick attendant, that my flight goes out of the South Terminal. I'm quite sure I was told North when i booked. Gavin checks it's North. Thanks Gavin. Maybe BAA deserved the battering after all.

Plane leaves LGW for Newquay. The flight takes just over an hour, leaving time for me and Nick to have an impromptu management meeting.

We arrive at the client's office and get a tour of the design and marketing studio, sales team, operations and staff kitchen/hang out area. We are then shown to the the room where are pitch is taking place and left alone to prepare and wait for the client.

Richard rearranges the chairs for the presentation.

Richard rearranges the chairs again for the presentation.

Richard rearranges the chairs once more for the presentation.

Clients arrive and move all the chairs back.

Everyone is in. Hands are shaken and the presentation commences.

Food arrives mid pitch and we break for a slightly akward food frenzy.

Presentation recommences

We are done. Time to pack up and leave the client to carry on with their busy week and mull over our proposals.

We head for Westgate Watergate bay for a well earned beverage. The sun comes out and the sea view is stunning. Our terrace overlooks the beach and Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant. We easily lapse in to the usual pitch analysis conversations. Richard and i swap Ogilvy stories.

Newquay airport. We check in. Have our shoes removed. Money, watch, belt and phones scanned. Then we have the privelege of paying an 'airport development fee'. Maybe i'm being a little selfish here, but i don't know why i'm not allowed to fly out of this airport with the ticket i've already paid for, unless i pay money towards some mystery development.

Flight is delayed. So we amuse ourselves at Newquay airport the only way we know how. We drink.

Flight lands at Gatwick

Trains back to brighton are delayed. Standing at Haywards Heath station i begin to wonder if i added up the amount of time i've spent alone, waiting for delayed trains, exactly how long it would take for me to want to kill someone.

I'm back in Brighton. It's cold and everyone is asleep. It must be a pitch day.


The Next Creative Revolution

R/GA's nick law has written a very good article on how he sees the advertising world adapting itself to a changing (digital) age.

If anyone is worth listening to about the future of digital design it's R/GA. They have been through all of it's incarnations since before the dawn of time. I fully agree with Nick's points, although i wouldn't level it so squarely at Bernbach. Either way the change in 'big agency' mentality is something i've been writing about for a while and i'm surprised it's still an issue up for discussion.

Perhaps the landscape is that different in the USA, but i think the shift in approach is gaining momentum with an increasing list of old school agencies hiring experienced digital creatives to executive positions.

Read the article here

The Co-Op = Beautiful

This portfolio site from Melbourne based agency The Co-Op stands for everything i love in design right now.

Stunning use of print and finishing techniques, sublte embrace of current trends, diverse art direction and approach, perfectly photographed, a perfect mix of regional and global brands. all good.

Plus i can't quite believe they were so committed to creating the addidas brand image (shown above) that they opted to photograph it, rather than fake it.


D&AD Pecha Kucha night

Last night we hopped on the train and headed up to catch one of the d&ad's president lectures. It was a pecha kucha night which means a list of speakers with 20 slides, which only lasts 20 seconds each. The format allows you to pack in loads of great presentations in bite size chunks. The speaker's approaches included inspiration, recent work, people they admire and sleep walking. Well worth the time and money.

It was a completely packed event. Easily more than 400 people drinking and listening. Great to see so many people out from behind their computer screens and mixing in the world with one another. Over all it was one of the best design events i've been to, certainly the best d&ad event i've been to. Loads of really passionate people with lot's of funny and heart warming revelations.

SCDF - Brighton branch meeting

Yesterday I went to Lime to take part in the inaugral meeting of the SCDF's brighton branch.

Peter brought us together and we made our first steps to deciding what our aims would be and how it could learn from the already established branches in chichester and portsmouth. The new brighton steering group so far consists of lime, me, jake from brighton uni and mike from world achitecture news. we are hoping to add a couple more faces to the line up soon.

At this point we've outlined meetings and a launch event. I'm really excited by the prospect of developing the forum in to something that is recognised as a marque of excellence and helping to plug brighton in to the supposed 'national organisations' such as d&ad, design council and dba.

We've also got a RAD news story going out in their email newsletter soon, which is nice to see as a benefit of membership.


Busy Week

I've been meaning to post something for a while. I've been stacked. It's been busy in the studio and i've been up to lots of things.

We've got a pitch on right now for a toy company. It's a particularly tricky brief and to add to the mix we are not pitching alone. We've hooked up with a marketing company, who bought us the lead. I've only ever pitched in collaboration once before and that was for some M&S digital work. It was the worst pitch ever. Not because we pitched with someone else, but because the whole proccess and response was handled incredibly badly. This collaboration is already far better managed, for a start we've actually spoken to them before the pitch - which helps.

We are flying on Tuesday to pitch against two other agencies.


Another Sony ad

Sony have unleashsed another ad to follow in line with the bravia campaign. In this one they release a load of stuff in a city, film it and play an emotive soundtrack over it. not exactly moving the format on. this one doesn't even have any colour in it, hardly 'colour like no other' is it. i don't know if Fallon produced this one, but it's well below the standard set

watch it here


Know your values

Know your values is a good little batch of interviews with designers. The sound quality is variable and the 'jump to' function doesn't always work, but the interviewees offer some really nice views and the site's concept is very good.

Press Junkie

Check me out. I've been pimping my ass out again. This time i got a mention in Creative Review and a little interview in The Argus, which came via Wired Sussex.


On and off since late January I've been ill. Nothing major, just a cold here, cough there, ear infections etc annoying little bugs that seem to lead to something else. Generally i don't usually do anything more than get juiced up on Lemsip and carry on as usual. But last week it hit me harder than before, to the point my breathing became restricted and i fell apart.

Under duress i went to the doctor. She told me i had a cold, an ear infection and a Bronticial infection and immediately signed me off for the week. I can't remember the last time i had a whole week off work due to illness. It was a bit of a shocker. The doctor told me, in no uncertain terms, i wasn't taking good enough care of myself and i needed to rest and take medication to beat this.

So after a week of staring at the walls and finding ways to amuse myself i'm well enough to be back at work. Lesson learnt; don't forget to take care of yourself, a small break to recooperate is better than not stopping and letting it take you out for longer.


Today I like....

things i like today include...
  • Brand books
  • Adele's 19 album
  • The account teams in Mad Men
  • Being on the SCDF steering committee
  • Brand workshops
  • Flash rollovers
  • Kate Nash
  • GF Smith's Paladin Gravure board
  • Having my name in Creative Review (again)
  • Tom Crawshaw's online portfolio
  • Photographs by Jason Tozer
  • Dyson's design school
  • Friends getting married
  • Alpha Beat's unabashed pop
That's it.


Mad Men

I've been watching BBC's mad men (as well as it's supporting documentaries) and i've started to really obsess over it now. It started slowly, but strong and is quickly turning in to my favourite programme. How can i not be drawn in to a glamorous show about a creative director!

The attention to detail is frightening. The production crew clearly have done extensive homework. Not only are there are references to key moments in advertising from the era, but it seems the writers and producers have a firm grip on the advertising industry and the ongoing dynamics between departments and roles. Many of the values have changed in today's industry, but it's funny to see how much has remained the same. From the production meetings to the interplay and tensions between account teams and creative teams.

If you don't facy staying up for it, you can watch it on the iplayer, but i recommend you invest some time in this programme. There is an ever increasing amount of crap being pumped out through out tv's right now. So it's refreshing to find something of real high value.

BBC - sort your house out!

There is no question, the BBC site is massive. It's a sprawling monster of a site that has
more traffic and more people to keep happy than most every site in the world. I am in no way naive to the fact that housekeeping on a site that huge is a mighty task.

Much has been written about the new homepage. When it was launched in it's beta form every blogger under the sun had a review to give and it seems the BBC have done very little to capture anyone's comments and feedback as the new homepage seems to be almost exactly the same as the beta version.

This week it has started integrating the rest of the site in to the new format. But disappointingly it seems quite happy to take it's time over the matter. The news front page has had a facelift, but you don't have to make more than one click to find the old format site lurking under there. For me this is a real let down. I understand that it's a huge site, but if you are one of the world's most visited web locations i for one would want to make sure it was consistent and in order before i went tinkering about with it again.

This slow trudge through the updates will probably take years to cover the site's full depth. By which time the homepage will probably have been redesigned three more times. I would much rather they concentrated on making the site better overall, instead of trying to jam in new features. It's like starting a new DIY project before the last five have been finished. That's just bad housekeeping.