Archive for July, 2006

The random delights of Schiphol

July 27, 2006

Spent a couple of hours in Schiphol airport night, on the way back from a secret thing. As well as being terribly efficient, it’s also very interesting. I’m not aware of too many airports that have a Meditation centre and a museum…



And the shops are all generically named. If you squint you can imagine what it would be like to live in a world with no brands…



And the descriptive approach to labelling continues inside the shops too. My favourite was ‘very old cheese’. I think I’ll be using this photo again; just need to think of the right idea…



Endangered savouries

July 24, 2006

Just read an article in the Guardian about ‘classic’ British dishes falling out of favour with the under-25s.

On one level I think it’s a great article. Mostly because the names of some of the out-of-favour foods are so mysterious and evocative:

  • Bath chaps
  • Jugged hare
  • Brawn
  • Bedfordshire clanger (scrag end of mutton with kidneys)
  • Pan haggerty (fried onions and potatoes)
  • Hogs pudding
  • Faggots


On the other hand the article really annoyed me, because it’s so obviously inspired by a press release from UKTV Food, but doesn’t take it further. I’d like to read some proper analysis, including:

  • Why food names have become so descriptive (‘on a bed of..’).
  • Why some high-end restaurants are returning to the offal based recipes.
  • Many of the dying-out names are local. Are local recipes dying per say, or are the more palatable ones hanging on? (Burslem oatcakes)

How low will they have to go?

July 17, 2006

Every Monday morning I walk through a shopping centre in Slough on my way to BlackBerry’s lovely serviced-office-complex. On the way I pass a generic sportwear shop, and can’t help but notice their window display.

A week ago they were selling En-ger-land merchandise off at 70% off…



This week they’re trying to flog it at 90% off?



What a contrast with the hope and pride we felt just 6 weeks ago?



July 13, 2006

Our first campaign for BlackBerry is live this week. That’s Albion making a proper grown-up advertising campaign, for a proper grown-up client!


Don’t be too clever

July 13, 2006

The ubiquitous Russell and others have written about what makes a good planner. The list of fundamentals goes something like:

  • Be a generalist – willing to turn your hand to anything.
  • Be interesting – hungry for information and willing to share it.
  • Be collaborative – your role is to be a catalyst for the team.
  • Be selfless – give your ideas freely and don’t expect credit for them.
  • Be sneaky – to get brief-rejecting creatives to do what you want.


But if those are the things we should be, what about the things we shouldn’t? Top of my list is ‘don’t try and be too clever’.

Trying to be too clever is bad because:


I know I’ve been through concerted phases of trying to be too clever in the past. And when I get over-excited I can still lapse into it now. I think that trying to be too clever happens when:

  • You believe your own hype when people say ‘that’s clever’. (They either mean ‘that’s really good and simple’ or ‘that’s too complicated and I don’t understand it’.)
  • You think that people (clients, bosses) expect you to do something different each time. No they don’t. They want you to do the right thing, and probably don’t even remember what you did last time.
  • Certain clients seem to need several feet of clever-looking bound PowerPoint documents to fulfil their KPIs, and trick you into producing them.

Examining my own motives for a second, I suppose I’m advocating simplicity because I’m aware how simple this blog is compared to some of the cleverness that’s out there, and I’m trying to make myself feel better!

Blurred lines? What lines?

July 13, 2006

Part of the debate about the emerging Marketing 2.0 focuses on how we need to change how people in agencies work to enable us to get beyond image marketing and into cultural ideas. And the most quoted of those new practices seems to be ‘blurring the lines between planners and creatives’. But that’s what I’ve always done, or at least tried to.

Now, I’m not for a second claiming to be ahead of the curve here. I just think that I had a couple of advantages early on:

  1. I didn’t grow up in the advertising world, and so never had the ‘seperatist’ approach imposed on me.
  2. I trained as an Industrial Designer.


When I did my degree the course was proudly generalist, lurching from Fluid Dynamics to Art History via TIG Welding. And being good at Industrial Design means combining an understanding of what people want, how stuff works, and how to make it attractive. I wasn’t very good at Industrial Design, but hopefully I’ve at least managed to transfer some of that hybrid thinking to brand communications. I’ve certainly always annoyed creatives by making them get involved in my strategy stuff and sticking my nose into their pictures and words.

Also the formative years of my career were spent at Interbrand. Chatting to Patrick last night over a beer, he commented that the designers there were much more open to collaboration than agency creatives he’s worked with. Interesting,

I wonder why that should be?

World Cup failure opportunism

July 3, 2006

I was sent this ad today by LoveFilm, giving me a free DVD rental, to fill the void now England have been knocked out of the World Cup. It’s quite nice (although I think I’m going to go and enjoy the sun now rather than watch more telly), and it casts their brand in the role of comforter, which I think is quite appropriate.

LoveFilm World Cup ad

It reminds me of an ad my friend Lou wrote for Orange when we were at Interbrand in 2002. Rather than wallowing in misery, it demonstrated the brand’s optimism and belief in the future by naming all the exciting young players who would be contenders for the England squad in 4 years time.

I think this is a much nicer form of opportunism. Of course Orange never ran it, because only advertising agencies can do advertising, isn’t that right?