July 31, 2006

Nice place for a holiday

I’m not happy. There’s yet another survey about happiness, the third in the space of a month. This time we’re told that the Danes are the gurning champions of the world, by virtue of a survey asking people about their general wellbeing.
A previous survey informed us that Iceland was the happiest country, so there must be something about Viking culture that predisposes them to lifelong chirpiness when they’re not committing suicide (Denmark had the highest suicide rate in western Europe in the 1980s).
These lists are always more fun when you start at the bottom. In this case you’ll see the unhappiest nations are the the real basket cases (e.g. Congo, Zimbabwe), which suggests that maybe this is another survey part-sponsored by my alma mater, The University of the Bleedin’ Obvious.
The odd thing is that I know at least three Zimbabweans and they are amongst the happiest people I’ve ever met, and several Danes of my acquaintance are gloomier than a French art movie.
In the middle of the list you’ll find the world’s troublemakers (USA, China, France, Russia). This is unsurprising when we consider the split personality characteristic of the world’s most powerful countries: they have the means to make their people the happiest on earth, but appear to get more satisfaction by wasting these resources on making everyone else miserable.
Yes, the UK is amongst this pack too, its four main constituents having their own unique reasons to be unhappy: the Welsh because their neighbours are the English, the Scots because the English nicked their oil, the Northern Irish because of that English bloke Oliver Cromwell and the English aren’t happy because they don’t like the English (no, really).
Get to the top of the list and you’ll see that the so-called happy nations are probably the most boring. Switzerland is number two, for heaven’s sake. As Harry Lime quipped in The Third Man: "In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

See also: What I need is… a small island (Vanuatu is the happiest place on earth) and: Happy as a Viking on a rampage (No it isn’t. It’s Iceland!).

Tags: Surveys

Today's achievement: I can see my toes

And so it was back to the world of Second Life. My second visit left me feeling as baffled as my first, my main achievements after one hour being that I learned how to look at my feet, turn to face the camera, and perform a pre-programmed dance that in real life would have got me beaten up.
Depressingly, I have yet to see evidence that this artificial world welcomes ugly avatars (like mine). And there are too many people shuffling up to the on-screen mentors asking idiot questions like "Dude, where can I find a kick-ass weapon?"
In avatar experience terms, I’m clearly still a toddler. How on earth the entrepreneurs who are building business empires in this environment ever found the patience to achieve this, I’ll never know.

Tags: Online

July 28, 2006

I'm hungry. Get me a woman. A big woman – now!

Oh boy, you’ve got to love this. The BBC reports that a study of 61 male university students found those who were hungry were attracted to heavier women than those men who had eaten. The hungry men also paid much less attention to a woman's body shape and regarded less curvy figures as more attractive than did the men with full bellies.
I like the fact that the sample was a group of students. Think about this. Males, probably aged 18-21, away from their parents for the first time. Under these circumstances, they’d shag anything in a skirt, their sexual prejudices swinging like a pendulum after every visit to the student union bar.
Also, a hungry student, being virtually penniless, would subconsciously equate a well-fed woman with a meal ticket. Shag her, and she might give you a doughnut.
Mind you, there’s probably enough mileage in this survey to convince someone to sponsor a larger survey using a more representative sample. Think of the possibilities for advertisers: ass- or boobvertising on Juno-esque women, their bumpy bits promoting pizzas and burgers shortly before lunchtime. Or better still, big women eating pizzas and burgers shortly before lunchtime.
Oh, hang on, I see someone’s already thought of that; there are hundreds of them on Oxford Street.

See also: 10,10,10,10,10 and 10

Tags: Human behaviour, Sex, Surveys

We will tell you what to think

Being independent, I now disagree with The Independent. Thanks for shoving your views down my throat, Indy.
The covers of the red-top tabloids scream their opinions every day, which is to be expected.
However, even if you didn’t know the political bias of the quality papers, you would expect to be able to read something on the front page. A few facts would be nice.

Independent front covers from 21st July, and today.
There are at least two sides to the story unfolding in Lebanon and we have the choice of either sticking to a particular point of view or of changing our minds.
Some of the people on the petition have opinions I’d like to hear (Director of Christian Aid, Former ambassadors, even a few scientists); but when I see Damon Albarn, Brian Eno, Tracey Emin and Peter Gabriel there, my first reaction is to tell them to shove it.
Whatever experience a career in music or in exhibiting shitty beds gives them, celebrities have not earned a right to stand before me like a high street charity mugger and proselytise, unless they want to sing songs about war or make a Statue of Peace out of toilet paper and frozen ducks’ blood.
Except for Saint Bob, of course.

Three wars are raging in the Middle East, and Iran is quietly making nuclear bombs. Meanwhile, in Cloud Cuckoo Land:
Daily Express: Diana, Diana, and more sodding Diana

See also: Diana - get over it

Tags: Media, Morons, Politics

Lock up your grandmothers. Yes! It’s Barry Scott!

When JWT lost the Reckitt Benckiser account to Euro RSCG earlier this month, it was losing more than its £830m global business - it lost an instant icon. Never mind long-established brands like Harpic, Clearasil, Mr Sheen, Nurofen and Dettol. The big loss was Cillit Bang.
The first Cillit Bang ad burst onto British television in 2004. Since then, there have been about a dozen more.
There is something deeply odd, slightly disturbing and outrageously cheesy about these ads. They seem to be a cross between the worst kind of QVC-type feature and the stripped-bare type of product demo that belongs in a past decade. But I can’t help but love them, in a Let’s Befriend The Ugly Little Ginger Kid Cos He’s Always Being Picked On kind of way.
The lynchpin is the fictional presenter Barry Scott. In the first ad, he was quietly enthusiastic, resplendent amongst the garish brand colouring, unfazed by the ridiculous product name. Here was a magic product that could strip a penny (seemingly wedged in a squatter’s toilet for twenty years) of all its grime in two seconds! Barry Scott saved my life!
And now we get to the latest ad, probably the last one made by JWT. The quiet enthusiasm has given way to mania (Barry Scott – Yes – Barry Scott! In subsequent ads Yes It’s Me – Barry Scott! And you can suck my cock!), and he’s spreading his love to include some equally insane-looking harridan women who look as potentially shouty as he is.
Needless to say, Mr Scott and his grime-busting fanny magnet have become a cult. See the dozens of amateur spoofs on YouTube (the tip of the iceberg). My personal favourite is this sweet musical number.

I just hope that Euro have the balls to continue to develop this superb creature, without letting it fade like too many American sitcoms. Or better still, bite the bullet and shove Barry down the plughole, to gurgle away forever as a fond memory.

Tags: FMCG, Spoof, TV ads, Viral

July 27, 2006

New Bravia ad in the making

If photos and videos from an ad shoot are your cup of tea, then take a look at a Flickr set documenting the creation of the latest Sony Bravia ad, and this short video snap.

Tags: TV ads

These Japanese bra ads are just so darned cryptic

Lift door opens. Man's jaw drops open when he espies sweet young lady's unusually crowded balcony. Man drops something. Comedy ensues. Much Japanese (I assume) chit-chat. The words "up up" appear frequently. Whether this refers to fabric engineering or priapic activity is unclear. Maybe they are having a discussion about the efficiency of modern elevator technology. See if you can decipher this enigma here.

Tags: TV ads, Naughty bits

The Devil is alive and well

British TV has recently shown examples of organised homophobia in the USA, in particular the picketing of funerals by Christian zealots crowing over the deaths of their country's soldiers.
This video clip appears to relate to one of these demonstrations, but with some gratifying mockery from a smart arse Aussie reporter.
Meanwhile, some vitriol flows the other way from this supporter of a gay police organisation in the UK. Again, it's religion stirring the waters.

Tags: Human behaviour, Online, Viral

Drink... don't drink

From Private Eye

Tags: Media, Press/outdoor advertising

July 26, 2006

I look damn good, if I say so myself

There you go: I'm now a cheapo web designer. A few photos nicked from the web, a flurry on Powerpoint and hey presto: a new header for CMM News. Dave was almost out of the picture, but after a minor sulk he's in, in all his teddy bear goodness. Sometimes I amaze myself.

Tags: Dave, Online

Coca-Cola targets tall psychotic women

Northern Planner and the-ad-pit have both taken a pop at Coca-Cola Zero’s advertising, its TV spot in particular. There is something about the nudge-nudge digs at the annoyances of life which is particularly galling, considering this is one of the world’s largest corporations doing the sniggering.
Now I see Coke has backed down from its too smug press and poster campaign that was doing a fine job of alienating women, tall people, and people with mental disorders (and especially tough for tall psychotic women).
See the Girlfriends and Tall People ads on Flickr.
Admittedly, I think taking offence at marriage gags and an over-supply in the height department is pushing sensitivity a bit too far, but the psycho dig is a bit close to the knuckle.
However, it’s this one that gets my goat. TV without the ads:
In the UK Coke and its various sub-brands spent over £5 million on TV advertising alone in 2005. So, you’re going to drop TV advertising, are you?
I wonder if any Coke execs drive SUVs.

Agency: VCCP

Tags: FMCG, Press/outdoor ads, TV ads

Skidding safely

Here’s a brilliant idea from a personal security website: fake dirty underpants with hidden pockets to hide your sneaky stash! Gross!

via Maxim

Tags: Poo, vomit & wee-wee

July 25, 2006

Mister Hasselhoff, do you like your ego boiled or poached?

The Hoffmeister’s back in a new viral for Pipex. With a celeb such as this in an ad, I wonder if anyone pays attention to what he’s saying, such is the car-crash fascination of watching the ego outperform the man. Sorry… Pipex? What’s that?

Tags: Celebrities, Viral

July 24, 2006

Interesting advertising strategy: piss off the Chinese

KFC have clucked off the Chinese with a TV ad showing a Taoist monk proclaiming a chickenburger to be a "masterpiece". Today’s Independent describes how KFC's monk drew particular anger as he is based on Fu Qingzhu, who helped defend China against invaders in the early 17th century. The Chinese are sensitive about how their heroes are portrayed, particularly by foreigners.
Most Taoists are vegetarians.

Tags: Morons, TV ads

Tie me battered seal pup down, sport

I once got into a fight with a Norwegian over an argument about food. He made a gentle quip about what he understood was Britain's national dish, fish and chips.
Innocently, I said that there was nothing controversial about pieces of deep fried potato served with a slab of fish in batter, unlike Norway's national dish, which I assumed was battered seal pup.
I am reminded of this episode by the unlikely figure of one of our national treasures, Rolf Harris, who has recorded this protest song aimed at Canada's seal batterers. Seeing a celebrity on a similar cheese level (a unique star status that requires an association with nostalgia, a certain self-deprecation, and being a target of light ridicule) as David Hasselhoff and Tony Blackburn being passionate about this issue makes this video strangely watchable and, if you are so inclined, moving.

Via: b3ta

Tags: Celebrities, Viral

July 21, 2006

BBC floating head fails to declare that the penis is evil

While Channel 4 is preparing to shock the nation’s aunties with its festival of self-love, the nation’s Auntie, the BBC, is indulging in its own form of self-abuse. The corporation’s governors have upheld complaints about a trailer for the BBC’s digital TV service that featured a giant animated head made up of smaller heads, labelled by viewers as “repulsive” and “disturbingly psychotic”.
Brand Republic reports that the campaign was dropped from broadcast in December after over a thousand complaints.
I laughed when I first clapped eyes on the trailer, recognising the same horror elements I’d seen many years ago in weird John Boorman cult film Zardoz, where a floating head booms death commands at hordes of barbarians.
The BBC’s trailer is a pretty average piece of CGI, but you’d need to be blind not to see how it could upset little kiddies and the many wilting violets that constitute the great British public.
The BBC trailer can be seen here, and the penis-hating Zardoz here.

Tags: Media, Morons

A nation without its trendsetters

This story set our agency trend watchers in a short spin. So what would happen if a nation’s trendsetters went on strike?
How awful for the USA that it will have to make do with second-rate trends while the strike continues.
If you hadn’t already guessed, the article is from The Onion.

Via buy it or die!

Tags: Spoof

Tissues at the ready

You'd think Kleenex would've sponsored this, but maybe Channel 4's latest wheeze, Wank Week, isn't the sort of occasion a respectable family brand would want to be associated with.
Tummy wipes aside, I wonder what the whole point of this is. I mean, a whole week?
Channel 4 is one of the UK's prime terrestrial TV channels, with a reputation for sailing close to the wind with some very risky scheduling. I'm simply curious at the nature of the content that could possibly sustain the theme's momentum for this length of time.
The flagship event is the Masturbate-a-thon 2006, a massive public occasion of US origin, in London early next month.
Channel 4 factual entertainment commissioning editor, Andrew MacKenzie explains: "Following on from the success of Penis Week, we feel this is exactly the type of provocative and mischievous programming that Channel 4 should be covering in the 11pm slot. Masturbation is something many people do but not many people talk about."
There's more about Wank Week in this Guardian article (you may need to register first).

Tags: Human behaviour, Media, Sex

Meet a giraffe

Yay! My favourite animal in an imaginative outdoor campaign from San Francisco, according to the comments on Advertising/Design Goodness.

Tags: Giraffes, Press/outdoor campaigns

July 20, 2006

From the University of The Bleedin' Obvious: Celebs are a waste of money

I’ve always considered celebrity endorsements in ads to be as believable as a call girl’s assertion that you’re her best-ever shag. Those in either profession are simply going through the motions in their own inimitable way and if you believe either of them, then you’re the sucker.
This form of advertising has taken a bit of a media battering recently, what with the overexposure of underperforming football stars in the World Cup and the wearisome presence of Carol Vorderman in those secured-loans ads for a firm that has been compared to the worst kind of loan shark.
So it was with some satisfaction that I read about a new study part-sponsored by the NCC which reinforces this view. In short, it reveals that the star approach could be a waste of money.

Tags: Ad industry, Celebrities


4x4 drivers are vilified on three fronts: the increased likelihood of killing a pedestrian when struck by one of these monsters; the amount of space they occupy in crowded cities (especially in London, where the mayor will shortly introduce a new tax on top of the Congestion Charge aimed at drivers of these cars); and the amount of pollution generated by their gas-guzzling engines.
I suspect that there are a lot of "ordinary" saloon cars on the road, particularly the older ones that struggle through their MOTs, that are much more polluting than newer 4x4s. But it's the pollution argument that has obviously influenced Greenpeace to launch this new viral.

Recurring themes: roll up for the agency spankathon

It’s usually safer to keep me away from the creative process. It was quietly suggested to me, in the politest possible way, that centering a campaign for a top-range car around a cartoon giraffe might not be a good idea (giraffes need plenty of leg and head room). This came a month after discussing a new line of anti-ageing lotion (giraffes smothered in creamy white stuff), and a campaign for a newspaper (giraffes as an allegory, contrasting the large broadsheet format with a new compact size).
Now I am elevated to running things from my basement command centre, which has been a trifle humid of late. I have attributed my recent peculiar dreams to the heat, until this morning when I realised that there was something more substantial niggling me. “Dave,” I commanded my deputy, “switch on the big computer thingy and look something up.”
Enter: BUM or BOTTOM or BUTTOCKS or ARSE or ASS, with some truncations.
I studied the printout.
The Renault Megane: shaking bottoms. For the last hundred years, Asda: patting bottoms. And a few years ago, Velvet toilet tissue: rows of cheeky naked bottoms…. all from the same agency. Why, even last week it released a viral for Charmin which, although it didn’t feature any on-screen buttocky goodness, was unashamed in its salute to the bottom’s natural function.
There’s something deeply ingrained within Publicis that encourages the celebration of the gluteal region. Get on their mailing list so you don’t miss out on the annual agency spankathon.

Google suggests ideal holiday destination

Another triumph for Google Adsense. From the website of her Majesty's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Tags: Online

July 19, 2006

A day when chaps can be chaps

Let's hope that Nike, Pepsi and the usual suspects can be kept away from what must be the final bastion of fair play in a world of poor sportsmanship: The Chap Olympics, which took place in London earlier this month. Apparently sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin (who?), events include the three-trousered limbo, hop-skip and jump holding a brimming gin and tonic, and (my favourite, this) the team event of mixing a dry martini without a butler to help.
More about it on Hendrick’s site, plus there's a photoset from the BBC. This surely is destined to match the Red Bull Flugtag for sheer sporting pointlessness.
As a sad footnote, it appears that this month’s Scottish Flugtag has been postponed because it might frighten the birds.

Tags: Human behaviour, Sponsorship /PR

July 18, 2006

Beirut boob

Click image to enlarge

From today's Sun. Two bad ad placements.

Tags: Press/outdoor ads, Morons

Bush observation

It’s not necessarily the politics that lets the US down, but Bush’s table manners.

Tags: Human behaviour, Politics

Fcuk liberty

Britain's freedoms have been steadily eroded by a succession of terrorism-related laws. This at least is the point of Rory Bremner's article about the decline of liberty in this country in last week's Sunday Telegraph (unfortunately unlinkable).
This isn't going to be a freedom and liberty polemic, because many other journalists and bloggers have commented upon how the new laws have been used to batter ordinary folk who are simply protesting.

Tony Wright: poor bugger
Trevor Beattie: clever bugger
No, what is noteworthy is how one protestor, a Leicestershire trader called Tony Wright, was fined £80 for "causing distress" by displaying T-shirts with the slogan "Bollocks to Blair".
Is the word Bollocks worse than the word Fuck?
Certainly there were plenty of complaints when French Connection UK morphed into FCUK. But seeing as it was only mere mortals who were offended, the official view seems to be that they could go fuck themselves.
FCUK was the idea of TBWA's Trevor Beattie, who was re-hired by the Labour government and produced their flying pig and creepy hypnotist posters for the 2005 election campaign.

July 17, 2006

I have passed into another world

Spent some of Sunday evening on Second Life, the online virtual world where you can create, buy and sell. I don't know what to make of it, other than I guess this is what some people's idea of an afterlife must be. Disorientating and lonely, so far without friends...
Wasted 5 minutes chatting up some chick with a black and white tail and a fox's head, before boredom set in.
This is my avatar, Chimp Fieschi, getting lost while looking for giraffes. When I work out how to turn around and face the camera, you'll get an idea of how ugly I've made myself. The odd thing is that everyone else has made themselves look gorgeous and exotic. Funny that.
First things I need are some fruit and a teddy bear.

Bad taste ad

All is not as it seems. Explanation here.


Tags: Press/outdoor ads

Women, know your limits

Frankly, I couldn’t be bothered uploading the Minstrels ad onto YouTube (see previous post), because I loathe it. Even I, old chauvinist that I am, find it unbearable. It's the implied simple-mindedness of the chocolate-munching heroine that I can't stand. To non-Brits unfamiliar with the ad, take it from me that you’re not missing anything.
Copyranter, in a response to my Beauty and Brains post, led me to part of an interesting website which makes a case, with plenty of pictures (always a good thing), against the poor representation of women in advertising.
Even the supposed backswing of the pendulum, where men take a pounding and are made to appear comically downtrodden or wimpish, doesn’t wash. Advertising, a much maligned industry at the best of times, should not be targeting for ridicule any group of people regardless of whether they are a minority or a majority. Any agency that uses this approach is doing its client a disservice. Ultimately it is relegating the integrity of the advertised brand in the jaded eyes of the consumer.

Several years ago the English comedian Harry Enfield made this brilliant public service announcement spoof that sought to warn women against the perils of showing any hint of intelligence. In my opinion it’s his best ever sketch because although it is mocking the attitudes of post-war Britain, it still seems valid today.

See also: Women, know your place, which leads to a genuine Kelloggs ad from the 1950s, and probably Harry Enfield’s inspiration.

Tags: Advertising industry, Human behaviour, Spoof, TV ads

Minstrels. The lost script: Spy Pill

This cab’s going to cost me a fortune. What was it I was trying to remember?

I wonder if I’ll see any giraffes.

[gasp!] Brian said he’d left me something in my handbag! Maybe it’s a secret message!

I don’t remember buying this.

I must have been shit-faced last night. I wonder how many are left?

He's scoffed the lot! This looks like rabbit poo. I think Brian's been messing with my head.

Maybe I'll find something in here. If I hold it up, I might just see David Hasselhoff tearing down the Berlin Wall.

No, nothing at 50 degrees. If I tilt it further I'll see what's jamming the entrance to this multidimensional hyperspace portal. Maybe there's a giraffe up there. I'll tilt it a bit higher. That'll help.

Aah, David Hasselhoff. I love that guy.

I can't remember who I am.

Haha we've just passed a giraffe on a motorbike.

I'm driving to the police station.

Hello ickle fairy. You been naughty ickle fairy?
Bad queenie eat naughty ickle fairy.

Mmmm. Secret message...


Tags: TV ads, Spoof

July 14, 2006

The joy of learning

Speak Italian in a week (Daily Mail)
Speak Italian in a day (CMM News)

Tags: Media

Plant porn

It’s funny how sex education classes seem to begin with lessons on plant reproduction. That’s no fun for teenagers, is it?
Zzz boring, you think, and yet a look at this luscious ad for Quinn’s, Diageo’s new “fruit-based alcoholic drink”, makes one reconsider the supposed ennui of plant life. OK, the shrubbery isn’t exactly shagging, but the suspiciously feminine-looking bits combined with the bouncy soundtrack makes for a very fruity viewing experience. No wonder Tarzan stayed so long in the jungle.
Agency: Mother

Tags: TV ads

July 13, 2006

Get yer 'ot muffins 'ere

One of these Canadian McDonald’s ads contains a slur on the English muffin, which has surely been around longer than the fluffy ball of sugared dough with the same name that hails from the USA.
Here’s a meme I’d like to share with the world: McDonald’s burgers taste better when the buns are turned upside down.

We say tomato, you say melons

Spotted in her Majesty's Daily Mail. These are publicity shots for King Arthur. The pic on the left is for the UK market. The other one is for the USA. Spot the difference.
'Nuff said.

Tags: Media

Round and firm

Over to the Russian Marketing Blog for a closer look at this beauty.

July 12, 2006

No peeping

Coco de Mer is the posh sex shop that prefers to cater to women only. It nestles in central London. Two of my lady chums went there to check out a rumour about their changing booths. It turns out that, apart from the peepholes, they now include webcams and terminals that the customers can use to take snaps of themselves trying on the lingerie, and then send the pics to others. Two moans about this: 1. Having seen a couple of the snaps, I now have blurred vision; 2. The minxes won’t let me post the pics here.

Tags: Gorilla, Online, Sex

What I need is… a small island

When I was small I used to read Edgar Rice Burroughs. Characters in his Land That Time Forgot series experienced a form of evolution where they started at pre-stone age level, and would progress through several stages to become fully-formed, happy cavemen.
Even then, I thought there was something wrong with this. How come they stopped at just being happy cavemen? Couldn’t they suddenly sprout wings and fly; maybe also sprout antennae and in an instant acquire all human knowledge?
Aah, mony a mickle maks a muckle, as a poacher once told me, and he was wrong because the acquisition of all possible physical and mental needs does not necessarily a happy bunny make.
It’s time to refer to that theory defined by Maslow, which assumes that contentment can be measured against a tick box of needs that would, if true, sort human beings into tiers ranging from Fred Flinstone to Smug Git.
I’m not going to try and piss off all those planners who may, from time-to-time, resort to slotting in that Maslow diagram into presentations. I’m not denying it can be useful, in the same way that statistics can help chivvy along an argument.
I’ve always considered that a weakness in the Maslow theory occurs when the lower tiers rise up and bite the arses of those in tier #1. Anyone fortunate enough to reach that lofty level of self-actualisation has supposedly fulfilled their needs, but is in danger of having to suddenly reprioritise those lower tier physiological needs when megalomania and paranoia set in and they lurch for the security section in Yellow Pages.
Actually, Maslow’s pyramid is a good theory, but like all such academic ideas, will be challenged by real-world pessimists wearied by a materialistic world (e.g. me).
And so it is with some surprise that I find a real-world example over which one could loosely overlay Maslow and say that the theory is broadly correct.
A new study identifies a small Pacific island as the happiest place on earth. Vanuatu comes top of this happiness index which is based on consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness, rather than national economic wealth measurements. With wealth taken out of the equation, it’s easy to see how materialistic countries such as the UK and USA fare so badly in the index (108 and 150 respectively).
Of course the irony is that this has absolutely no value to advertisers. What use are other people’s needs where wealth is not important to achieving happiness?

Vanuatu: You couldn't possibly be happy here, could you?

Tags: Surveys