difficult, is worth doing - The Verdict

Well it seemed liked it was live. There was no glamour or production sheen that we've come to expect from modern broadcast ads. In fact the roughness of it was quite jarring initially.

Once the jump got underway it was really exciting viewing. I was gripped watching to see if the skydiving team could pull it off. The shots of them breaking through the clouds from above was fantastic and at times it felt like you've jumped with them.

There was no soundtrack and no great end shot. Just the Honda, Power of Dreams type slapped over the top of a field. I'm not saying that was a bad thing, perhaps this is the first in a series of live ads. Possibly Honda and 4creative have started something, after all every ad was live in the beginning.

The end card did carry a 'watch again at...' url push, but to be honest i watched it ten minutes ago and i can't remember it. As the Honda site is slow as a dead snail it's probably going to pop up on youtube by the morning. But if your pushing a web address on a highly publicised broadcast spot my advice would be to make sure as hell it's been uploaded, hoping you've got a grace period of a few hours or minutes is not going to cut it.

Overall a very brave strike in a new direction for advertising. A bit raw, but hats off to Honda and 4creative for pushing a bold new idea in to fruition. Honda really has surpassed any other car maker in it's brand work.

difficult, is worth doing

Channel 4 is running an ad campaign to promote an advert!

At 8.10pm tonight they will broadcast a live advert, which follows a group of skydivers jumping from a plane and spelling out the word Honda. The whole ad is scheduled to run for more than 3 minutes.

A very interesting strategy, I'll be watching the ad and the reaction to it with interest.

Guardian have covered it here. It turns out the ad is not produced by WK who have done all there other ads, but instead it's by 4creative who can add this to their ever growing portfolio of incredible. A while back Creative Review ran an article asking if 4creative were the best ad agency in the UK. I'd have to say Yes.


Tell us how to advertise to you

I can't decide if this is a good strategy or if it's really bad. i can't imagine ever wanting to respond, but maybe i'm not the demographic. it seems like responding to what people want is a good approach, or even being seen to be responding is good. but it also seems slightly lazy. i think there are better ways to connect with your audience. dunno

tracking brand perception with brand tags

this is a nice project that allows anyone to input words that they associate with a brand. you can then see the cumulative clusters of words for each brand.


12 in 12

12 in 12 is a really nice project by craig oldham. it details the twelve most important things he's learnt in his mere twelve months in the design world.

i like this a lot. it's feels like the same approach i took for my interview post, it's also like a post or lecture idea i've been batting about for ages about advice for students.

anyways craig's work is probably far better than any of my ramblings so have a look.

At the foot of a mountain

At the end of last week i set myself a huge challenge. We have a really great new business opportunity coming up and it's going to take a herculian effort to pull it off.

If i write all the details here it could ruin it, i will say i haven't made so much work for myself before. I am excited by the challenge and the possible outcome, but right now i'm at the very start of my task and staring up at the pile of work and self inflicted pressure that lays before me over the next week and a half.

Once it's done i'll stick all the details on here, but until then i'm too busy to blog.


In the press

My letter made it to print in Design Week. I'm watching the skies for any evil spells Pentagram might cast over me in response.


Ogilvy hosts the Apprentice

This year Ogilvy London has stepped up to host the gang of twats that make up the potential winners of this year's Apprentice. They have previously been to Saatchis and bizarrely CHI (probably their last cock up before hiring Ewan Paterson and turning things around). Sadly the agencies never feature that highly and the work produced is always cack, it's still interesting to watch from a voyeuristic point of view.

It's easy for me to sit here and laugh at the work produced, but i'll leave that for others to do. I will say that we need their work to be so bad. If it was great, we'd all be out of jobs pretty quickly.

However my biggest rant is levelled at Sir Anal. I simply don't believe anyone at Ogilvy advised him to select the winner because it was the one which hammered the pack shots out. The silver dwarf sat there (in his elevated chair) bleating on about the how "making my bloody auntie smile, isn't going to bloody shift tissues". Well i'm sorry before you go on national tv and lecture on the fundamentals of advertising strategy it's probably a good idea to have a shred of insight. Nobody jumps off their sofa and buys anything after seeing a TV, the purpose of a tv campaign is to associate a brand with a particular emotion, so that when a consumer is fulfilling their usual purchasing routine they subconsciously recall that emotion which drives the purchase. Beating viewers about the face with loudly coloured pack shots and patronising them with hammer heavy scripts hasn't made a successful campaign for more than forty years.

Wake up Sugar you don't know shit about advertising and you have no place telling people how to do it. I can only imagine his gnarly little vitriol if he one of the teams had presented Apple's 1984 or Guinness's Surfer. He'd probably turn over and die if he saw Sony's Bravia ads.


Big type 2

Smashing magazine has run a second edition of their big typography showcase. We made it in to the last showcase, which was nice. It was pretty funny to see Virtual Memories Inc in there, it looks like they saw us in the first edition. Despite that there is some really nice work in the new showcase so make sure you take a look.


Pitch update

Last month we were down in Cornwall for a pitch. The pitch was for digital work with toy makers Worlds Apart. Since the pitch we have been back and forth going over details of our proposal with thier marketing team. We heard on Friday that we didn't get it. Booo

The truth is that no one really got it. They decided to give the work to Mcann who are their current agency. I guess if your going to lose to another agency it should be to one of the biggest in the world. Obviously we are not happy to have lost out, but we are all happy with the work we produced. Sometimes these things are decided outside of the pitch and influenced by factors beyond your control. None the less we are still keen to work with them and hoping to stay in touch for any future projects.


Amazon updates

The old girl of the web Amazon has had a little nip and tuck.

This site is huge, it gets mahoosive amounts of traffic and has stood as a testiment to e-commerce, however it's design, build and general usability have never been shining examples of design at its best. From the outside the task of updating this site seems like one i would not take lightly, but if anyone is in a position to invest in this process it would be amazon.

The updates are nothing to write home about. The nav has moved to the left and uses a rollover to show secondary level categories. Nothing that is going to win design awards, but i do like the fact they have made a feature of the redesign with this page. It also gives you the chance to offer feedback on the change.

A welcome and much needed update, but could try much harder. Please see BBC homepage for examples of how to adopt new technology to mainstream, high volume sites. Also the guardian for examples of deep content levels with clean, uncluttered layouts.

New poster

New poster in the studio. I saw this on a tshirt in brighton at the weekend. Wicked bad.


D&AD awards night

(image by mark forrester)

Last night was the D&AD awards evening. It was also my son's third birthday so i couldn't go, however as the details, photos and results emerge i certainly feel like i missed a great night. the big winners were apple and fallon. the new venue looks awesome.

controversy is stirring over the lack of winners under the 'graphic design' category - although i fail to understand why graphic design has it's own category. surely it's present as a part of the other categories. was there no graphic designers involved in any of the packaging, digital or branding projects?

anyways info here, photos here, twittering here and winner listings here

i'm going home to polish my pencil.

Character's fresh new site

San Francisco based design agency Character have released a beautiful new site. The work is stunning, the photography of the work is stunning. Not only that, but their studio looks really nice too. I like this site, it makes me want to be better. It's tone is just what i initially wanted for Preview. Looking at this site reminds me of the importance of brevity and makes me want to revisit the design of our site. hmmmmm


Recent Fruits

We are finally starting to see the fruits of our recent brand work. We pitched for and won a rebrand campaign project back in January for a construction firm which is still under wraps. We've done loads of really great work so far, but until it's been properly launched i can't start showing people. Don't worry, as soon as it's live i won't shut up about it.


Dixon Baxi - Sci Fi ident

watch it. i'm bloody jealous.

Next on Four

I like channel 4. They have a huge job in maintaining any kind of consistency and they are not only competing with the monolithic bbc, but now they compete with five hundred and one poxy cable channels. Through it all they have been responsible for some of the best shows on tv in recent years. even big brother started as a great idea. even if it has turned in to a nasty blemish on channel 4's face.

i respect their will to improve and i was really impressed to see them so publicly embracing their mission with the release of 'Next on 4'. There is an accompanying blog which has some really interesting content.

I think it would do a lot of companies good to put their mission statements out there for everyone to see. It's commendable to see them trying to up their game.


My Big Five / Client Wishlist

Someone once said it's impossible to score if yuo don't have a goal. That might very well sound like cheesy eighties power talk, but i think it actually has some merit. I think it's important to stick to your goals. So i'm working my way towards working with the following clients ( in no particular order) :

1. Coca Cola
I have a bit of an obsession with CocaCola. I don't drink it (unless it's with a lot of whiskey). But i work with brands and there is no bigger brand than Coke. It's a worldwide cultural phenomenon and despite what you might think of it's dominance you have to respect the fact that they have become the world's most ubiqitous product. I would love to be involved at any level with CocaCola. There are many strands to the business and I'd love the chance to work with a part of that organisation.

2. Dyson
The Dyson name has become synonymous with design in the UK. The main vacuum cleaner company and the soon to be opened design school both present the greatest opportunity a designer could ask for. The chance to deliver work for such a design focussed client is a dream. I'd sell relatives for the chance to work with these guys, as well as the design school.

3. Honda F1
Not Honda, just Honda F1. I'm a huge F1 fan and there was always going to be an F1 team in there and whilst i'm a deeply devoted member of the tifosi i also have eyes for this UK based team who have stood for progress and intelligence above the rest of the field. Honda F1 was the first team to publicly address the environmental issues around the sport and they are constantly at the forefront of the media savvy pack. A truely championship worthy team and brand. If i managed to combine my love for f1 with my love for design i could happily retire knowing i've achieved as much as anyone could ask for.

4. De La Warr Pavillion
This one is an unexpected selection to follow 3 global brands. But the De La Warr Pavillion stands out as a modernist masterpiece on the South Coast. I've only been twice, but both times I had to spend hours walking around photographing, grabbing all the literature i could and checking out the exhibitions. It's a lot of different things to different people, but to me it's a beacon of refined design and architecture along our gaudy coast.

5. A University
ok this is a bit random and generic, but i've always really wanted to get more involved with a university. We have placements here on a fairly regular basis and i do whatever i can to help design students and tutors. I had really wanted to rebrand Northbrook, as i went there and it really needs it. But Chichester is ramping up it's design provision, so i be more than excited to get involved there.

Others i considered
My plan was always to make it five clients, which meant i had to leave out a number of other really great brands i want to work with including...
Gucci - amazing brand. i love gucci and it's whole approach. they should really be in the top five by the reason i didn't include them is that they don't seem to outsource any design, which i guess is to be expected from an organisation that guard's it's style so closely.
Odeon - love film, yes i do
Mothercare - a really great brand, but i think nbstudio has it all sewn up these days. still would be nice to work with.

Landor - all aboard.

Branding giants Landor have given their site an update since i last looked. It's a bit business heavy for my liking. You really have to dig to see the work and even when you get down to it massive brand projects like bmi only give you two images, which seems a shame for such a broad undertaking.

The best thing about the new site is that they've detailed Walter Landor's iconic decision to move the entire agency on to a boat in San Fran Harbour. What a legend. How impressive would that be as an office? I would love to work somewhere that exciting. I bet they were beating away the clients who wanted to come in for a meeting on the poop deck.

Having notable offices has a really big impact on clients and their perception of your success and ability. Even the most brilliant creatives will struggle to get clients on side if they work out of a rat hole.

If you have the time I recommend having a read.

Read about it here


Don't call it a Hoover

I have a huge amount of respect for Dyson (the bloke and the brand). he has really stood up for design in the uk. when i heard the initial plans for the 'design academy' i was thrilled. i've always imagined someone creating an institution dedicated purely to creative endevour, much like the bahaus in the forties.

the school has recently been given the go ahead by bath council. however the plans have changed since it was first announced and now the emphasis is purely on product design and engineering. bit of a shame graphic and digital design no longer sits alongside it's core topics. None the less i have every intention of making a trip to visit the school when it opens.

In the mean time i've added Dyson to my big five (clients i want to work for).

Design Week - letter / rant

here is my recent rant/sarccy letter to design week...

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Yeah Viva La Revolution!. I’m fully behind Kenneth Grange’s charge on bad design. I relish the day when a raging rabble of Howies wearing designers brandishing the latest copy of Wallpaper as weapons storms the offices of Microsoft. Bring on the public trials of those who have offended our eyes and let us come together for a healthy round of laughter at those less intelligent than our selves.

However before we set off on our quest to rid the world of centre aligned Comic Sans, perhaps we should ask exactly who is going to determine what is ‘good design’?

Don’t get me wrong I am fully in support of us using the opportunities we have as designers to influence our clients responsibly. But good design cannot be determined by an elitist group of practitioners and should be handed over to the public to decide. How about we follow Hilary Cottam's lead and come together to find ways of connecting our industry with local governments and communities.

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IDMF & Internet World - the verdict

yesterday i took the day out of the studio and headed to earls court for the international direct marketing fair, which ran alongside internet world. they two exhibitions were in the same venue with no real divide so for the purpose of the post we'll treat it as one.

the exhibitors
after a short time it was easy to put exhibitors in to one of three categories.

  1. noise - sadly this made up about 80% of the stands in the venue. the number of lazy, ill advised stands and presentations was depressing. everyone in this category used the same blue, scrappy stands with lists of overly complex offerings. usually flanked by middle aged men in suits trying to shove poxy leaflets in every one's hands
  2. clowns - 10% of the remaining exhibitors opted for the lowest common denominator. loud music, sweets, balloons, tacky gimmicks and glamour models women in fancy dress or barely any dress. With no consideration to what's being sold, they simply assumed that stacking them high and selling them cheap was the best way to improve their business
  3. quality - the final 10% fell in to the last and most respectable category. exhibitors who made an effort to find something useful to give people, or those how made it very clear who they were and what they offered managed to really stand out. Sense stood out as one of the best stands at the show. other good stands included cim, big kid, refreshed media and hotel chocolate (not sure why they chose this event, but it worked bloody well).
the keynotes
i managed to catch a number of presentations throughout the day. i have to be honest i was surprised at how many people were preaching or extolling the virtues of considering digital concepts at early stages of creative development.

are we still going over this?

i won't name and any names but hearing old school agencies talking about how digital needs to be considered as a serious route of brand campaigns seemed like i'd slipped back five years. these agencies are modelled on making massive profits from buying and reselling media space. now spend on tv and press is dropping they have no answer.

local boys nixonmcinnes gave a presentation on using social media. the talk was essentially about using social media networks as part of a marketing plan and how best to approach these new avenues. all of tom's points had merits, but it seemed unusually to be restricted to social media. many of his points on how to engage consumers and represent yourself with honesty are relevent to branding in general. i think he would have held court far more effectively in the 'brands reignited' section of the show.

Overall i felt a bit depressed by how little some people have moved on in their approach to integrating digital creative work in to their proccess. Some of the ideas in how to use emerging technology is so basic it harps back more than 40 years, to when advertisers were getting to grips with cultural changes and spending patterns.