May 31, 2007

150 years of shit!

Earlier this week I was hanging over the Thames in one of the London Eye's pods. The blasted thing was stuck for 20 minutes and Baby Chimp #3 was getting restless.
Being only six, with the expectedly short attention span, she was orbiting the interior of the capsule discretely, convinced she had become invisible. This illusion was immediately shattered when she exclaimed "Yeeuuuw!!! Look Daddy - the river's full of poo!!!"
Of course, being halfway to the top of the Eye's revolution, the object of her derision wasn't poo at all, but the swirly dirty brown current of disturbed mud that flowed along the length of the river at high tide.
150 years ago the Thames really was a river of shit. Open cesspits and drains leaked human effluent into the waterway and in the summer of 1858 London was treated to The Great Stink. Parliament was particularly worried about cholera. In those days, people thought that bad smells could transmit diseases. The result was the commissioning of the greatest sewer network the world had ever seen.
The engineer behind it was Joseph Bazalgette.
This week, Big Brother inflicts itself on British TV once more. The UK chairman of the company behind Big Brother is Joseph Bazalgette's great-great-grandson.
As Stephen Fry has drily remarked, Peter Bazalgette was undoing his great ancestor's works by pumping shit back into our homes.

May 30, 2007


Andrew Marr’s short history series currently airing on BBC TV is moving along at a cracking pace. His light touch is just about right for what could otherwise be a turgid trudge through British history since the end of World War Two.
I was particularly taken by yesterday's short anecdote about the Austin Mini. In a few short minutes he demonstrated how a brand can so neatly encapsulate its time.
This is the ad he used as illustration.

What I didn’t realise was that the launch of the tiny, economical car in 1959 – desperately needed because of fuel rationing in the wake of the Suez crisis – was at first a flop. It took a simple piece of publicity – giving a Mini to the newly married Princess Margaret – that started the snowball rolling. Soon, the celebs of the day were seeing driving it, and the car took off.
Marr revealed that the brand wiped the floor with the opposition by selling at £350 for the basic model in 1960. Having just flicked my abacus, I find that this amounts to around £5,500 in today’s money. To put this into context, a brand new bottom of the range Mini today costs £11,600.
Why the ridiculously low price?
Austin didn’t do their sums – the car was sold at a loss and the decline of the British motor industry was assured.
No wonder Britain needed cheering up.

May 29, 2007

You're making me wet, grandma

It’s a tough job flicking through the men’s mags, but someone’s got to do it. How else to determine the fast-testosterone zeitgeist of the under 30s? Mind you, they’re not as good as they used to be. When I was actually in the target demographic, Loaded was funny, FHM not so dirty, and GQ was so snooty you needed to chew a plum to read it.
Some of the ads a still quite good though, although the nearer you get to the back of these mags, their quality diminishes.
I was pleasantly surprised by this masterpiece from the nether pages of Maxim. It’s a cheapo that doesn't even turn up on Nielsen, has a touch of crapness about it but is still very, very funny. It took less than a moment to force a laugh out of me which, considering how crowded these mags are (especially with other ads for muscle-building supplements, mostly featuring extras from “300” surrounded by blondes with pneumatic tits) is a triumph.
Somehow, I don’t think an art director or copywriter worth their salt would have considered this Carry On execution, but just like the Classic Ford Cortina, is made of cheap elements that create something that is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.

May 28, 2007


It was an odd thing to see my sleepy town in the national news over the weekend. On Friday, armed robbers mugged two security guards who were resupplying the cashpoint machine at my train station. A passerby was shot.
I missed the event itself by about five minutes.
Come the evening, with news and police helicopters buzzing overhead, I returned to the railway station.
A scene familiar to all Brits took place before my eyes:
Outside the station: a news cameraman and a slightly glum looking reporter were preparing to go live.
Behind the reporter: four youths goofing around, waving at the camera. Rabbit ears. Usual thing.

Reporter: "For God's sake stop it! You should be ashamed of yourselves! A man was nearly killed here. Show some respect!"
Youth: "Yeah mate, but we're not the ones making a living out of it."

May 25, 2007

Yeah! Wooh! Hey Buddy! And other Tom Cruisisms

I'm using the feeble excuse that the name of this blog includes the words "media monitoring" to justify playing this clip. I could drum up a planning-esque argument about shifting paradigms and perceptions, but, dammit, that's not my style. Actually, I was tempted to use the word "weltanschauung" but that sort of intellectualising would move me too close to the Russell Davies plannersphere for comfort. My brain isn't accustomed to working at that level without chemical assistance.
Yes, you can probably tell the evil pills are still in my system, which is why my brain did a slight brainflip watching this - the best Tom Cruise impression ever. What's frightening (for TC) is that the impressionist is the BBC's Lucy Montgomery.

May 24, 2007

Please employ brain

There’s no middle ground with recruitment agencies. As an employer who has used them several times I have found that they generally fall into two camps: the ones who bombard you with CVs, most of which bear little relevance to the job description; and those who you seldom hear from - but will send you one, or maximum two, absolutely spot-on CVs.
I strongly advocate the Chimp Messiah method of dealing with a mountain of CVs. This only works for stage #1 of the selection process.
Separate the CVs randomly into two roughly equal piles.
Shove pile #1 into the bin.
You wouldn’t want to hire anyone who’s unlucky, would you?
I have a strong suspicion that JPL Group is of the “CV-bombarding” variety of recruitment agency.
Thoroughly lazy copywriting that stinks of in-house work. What the shuddering fuck do summer fruit tarts have to do with their business? And no, they don’t recruit for the catering trade.

Eye'm nearly ok

Another spanner was thrown into the blogging works, this time with a thoroughly evil infected eye ulcer that had the docs in the eye clinic cooing.
"I've seldom seen such a huge ulcer", said one.
"It's spectacular," said another, possibly unaware of the pun.
"Take these drops and come back next week. We need to keep an eye on you."
Ha bloody ha.

May 23, 2007

Driven by dicks

Here's another spoof ad - a new one from Channel Four's Adam Buxton, fresh on YouTube. I do like the Nissan Transformer ads (much better than the Citroen efforts). They're slightly ickier but thankfully are not immune to Buxton's touch. How nice it would be if these cars could really do these tricks. The school run would certainly be more fun.

May 22, 2007

Look what’s in the bakery

Fresh on the heels of their first ads for Asda, Fallon keep the bakery theme going with this cheeky Skoda spot.
I am having difficulty articulating my unease because of the industrial-strength painkillers I’m taking to prevent me ripping my ulcer-ridden eye out.
Here’s the thing. I’ve never seen anyone make a car out of cake before, so kudos for the idea.
1. Hello little girlie. Come into my car and have a sweetie. Hansel and Gretel. Missing child in Portugal. Obtuse, I know but my brain’s slightly fucked at the moment.
2. Drive, don’t walk. Eat cake. You fat bastards.
3. Custard pies. Jelly down the trousers. Skoda is the car of choice for clowns.
It’s a fantastic idea that had my kids wondering who ate it after they finished making it, but I can’t figure how it would persuade me to buy a car.
However, I do have an urge to go to the Asda bakery and buy some doughnuts.
They might even take my mind off the pain.

Trigger’s Broom

I wouldn’t consider a Mars bar to be a Mars bar if Masterfoods had gone ahead with its plan to introduce rennet (an enzyme derived from cows’ stomachs) into the recipe.
I’m not a veggie, but my enjoyment of the product would be greatly diminished if I thought there was dead animal in it. Mars bars are a rich sensory overload; pure, sweet pleasure. If carniverous guilt had become part of the package, then I wouldn’t want to eat them.
But how much of its ingredients need to be intact in order to maintain a brand’s authenticity?
We are told that the fire which nearly destroyed the Cutty Sark did leave much of its infrastructure whole. It looks like the metal skeleton and some assorted geegaws that had been removed for renovation survived. Virtually all of the wood was consumed.
I’ve downed many a pint in the shadow of this magnificent sailing ship, but, despite my affection for the old vessel, it’ll take a lot of effort to convince me that when the ship is eventually rebuilt, that it’ll be the same one.
It’ll be like Trigger’s Broom.
(Trigger, a character in a British TV comedy, famously celebrated using the same broom to sweep the streets for 20 years, even though he’d replaced the head 17 times and the handle 14 times).

May 18, 2007

I wuz slimed

Posts will be erratic and slow over next few days. My home PC died a couple of days ago. Because I spend daylight hours plotting the overthrow of mankind, I will have little time to post new stuff.
Already, highly-skilled techno monkeys are clambering over the hard drive. They are creating something stronger, faster and much more dangerous.


There’s a competition running on BBC Radio 5 Live where listeners are invited to submit a recording of themselves reviewing a film. Having heard some of them, the effort has reinforced my view that reviews of anything (books, films) created by the general public are cock.
Just read some of the rubbish on Amazon. The book reviews by readers are supposedly one of the retailer’s strengths. But there are so many semi-literate (judging by the shocking spelling and grammar) people contributing, that one wonders how they managed to read the books at all.
All which makes me wary of writing my own review. I’m going to try and avoid the pseudo intellectualising that’s a characteristic of many reviews by simply pointing out what this book does for me.
There are two things George Parker does that make me laugh out loud. One is his well-targeted polemics in his AdScam blog, and the other is the shameless plugging of his book, MadScam, at any opportunity. Well, this is the ad business after all.
If there’s one regret I had when reading the book (I finished it last week) is that it’s short on swearing, but I guess that fruity Anglo-Saxon wouldn’t have gone down too well in the US.
I still think of myself as an outsider in advertising (about 40% of my working life being spent in the sector), and I am still baffled at how and why certain people in the industry still try to envelop themselves in a cloak of mystery.
MadScam, initially aimed at businesses with nascent marketing strategies, had me chuckling because – at last – I was being told that some of my observations (mostly about witch-doctoring with the sole purpose of extracting money for nothing) were right all along. There is just the right amount of coverage of the various media - what works and what doesn't - which also explains some of the jargon I've long hated. One tiny caveat (mainly for George, rather than the reader) is that with the fast-evolving new media, he'll have to update the book quickly and frequently.
Who should read it: anyone studying business and wanting an honest view of what is occasionally seen as an afterthought of business operations; newcomers to the ad industry; people working in big agencies.
Who shouldn’t read it: people working in big agencies who think they’ll be doing the same job in five years’ time.

See also: Good taste

May 17, 2007

Sleep of the dead

Want to frighten your mum? Then take a nap on her sofa with one of your blood puddle pillows.

Spotted in Popbitch

May 16, 2007

Familiar picture

Typical. You wait five years and suddenly two come at once. These posters first appeared around London in February and March. Oh how the agencies must have laughed…
And it gets better. According to Private Eye, both posters were placed one alongside the other at Victoria Station.

May 15, 2007

FACT! Religious War!

"From before the Crusade, to the current war in Iraq, all have wrongly caused death of innocents and objects of amazing human history."

More wisdom in Fuckwitapedia.

See also:
FACT! Rocks!
FACT! Chuck Norris!
FACT! Fornication!
FACT! Pens!
FACT! Kangaroos!
FACT! The 19th Century!
FACT! Dinosaurs!

She’s edible

The twentysomething carnivorous male brain has an underdeveloped nausea gland that helps its owner devour anything. Never mind that the burger bought from a van outside the footie ground is chock full of little tubes and minced lips and arseholes – so long as there are boiled onions and ketchup around, it’s a nourishing, convenient meal.
Convenience is the name of the game for Rustlers and their microwaveable burger. Last week Brand Republic said that the new Rustler’s TV ad generated over 200 complaints from people worried that it would encourage date rape. That’s a bit like saying the Lynx Bomchickawahwah campaign, with women losing temporary control of their senses, might encourage the use of GHB.

Remember Burger King’s spoof left-handed burger? That’s an idea Rustlers should be playing with. Cook a burger in 70 seconds and devour it with one hand, and pour yourself a relaxing hand-shandy with the other. It sums up the lifestyle depicted in this ad very nicely – convenience food for wankers.
Finally, here’s an amusing curiosity posted by the same user who posted the ad on YouTube: the Rustlers stand at a trade fair. It’s a pity the video isn’t longer – I’d like to know whether this poor girl had to “re-cook” herself every couple of minutes to keep the exhibit going, or whether she was a one-off serving, congealing slowly on the sofa.

May 14, 2007

Graffiti from b3ta

As well as its weekly image challenge (check out the recent "If ads told the truth" ), the always excellent run a Question of the Week. This week's subject: "Best graffiti ever".

May 11, 2007

Nonsense and sensibility

At times like this, I really admire the French. The huge turnout at their presidential election puts the UK to shame. And, as a bonus, the losing side likes to throw in a riot with complementary burning car. Here in Britain, defeated voters retire to their homes, have a cup of tea and resolve not to grumble.
It's unsurprising then that there’s nary a whimper at the non-news of Tony Blair’s resignation. Any crowds that emerge upon his real departure in June will either be hired from Yellow Pages or protesting about the Iraq war.
The great British public like to complain over the phone, or in writing (I include email), rather than with petrol bombs (unless they are of the pit bull / fags in bed / Burberry baseball cap breed), particularly about things that don’t really matter - take a look at the top 10 list of most-complained-about ads.
Racism and anything that definitely incites violence are lines that shouldn’t be crossed in advertising, and I’m hard-pressed to see anything that is as clear-cut as that in this list. What it tells me is that people’s sensitivity barometers are wildly different. Perhaps we’ve diverged from the 1970s when, as the BBC points out, it was "sex depravity, pornography and general sleaziness" that offended.
I suggest that language plays its part, and this government is largely responsible for it. Seemingly innocuous phrases used by our masters have shed their innocence to sound sinister, threatening or deceitful. As a consequence, maybe we are too ready to detect double-meanings and imagined insults.
Blair’s resignation, neatly coinciding with the ASA list, prompted the Daily Telegraph to publish this list of “100 names and phrases you’d probably never heard before 1997”. I challenge any British resident to read the list and not experience an emotional response to at least half of those words.
Examples – ASBO, Burying bad news, Congestion charge, Hoodies…
I can feel my teeth grinding already.

Good intent

From Private Eye.

May 10, 2007

FACT! Rocks!

"...people who study rocks are referred to as geologists, not to be confused with geometry"

In view of my previous post, I was hoping to find a nugget of wisdom about Diamonds in Fuckwitapedia, but that respectable online resource clearly doesn't think that they exist.

See also:
FACT! Chuck Norris!
FACT! Fornication!
FACT! Pens!
FACT! Kangaroos!
FACT! The 19th Century!
FACT! Dinosaurs!

The great advertising diamond conspiracy

I've had a few odd comments in my email inbox about my staff. "Where are the scantily clad monkeygirls?" asks one. Another enquires "Have you fired Dave?"
The diplomatic silence was necessary because of very sensitive investigations.
International underground chimpanzee media monitoring centres don't just run themselves, you know. The money has to come from somewhere. I have the secret monkey army to train, and a propaganda campaign to manage (thanks to one of my US-based sleeper agents for spotting one of my projects).
After one of my African diamond mines went off-line, the no-longer-scantily-clad monkeygirls went undercover to discover the whereabouts of an entire month's output, but not before the value of my diamond stocks took a hit.
All I will say is that Dave, you traitorous teddy bear, if you are reading this then I'm on to you. Did you think we wouldn't notice this remarkable coincidence?
Both appeared in the same week.
You can almost hear the copywriters groan.

Fairy: "We've got a load of diamonds to shift, how can we relate a completely irrelevant commodity to washing up liquid?"

Smirnoff: "Comrade Davidovich instructs us to dump these rocks onto the decadent Western consumer. What do diamonds have in common with vodka?"

May 09, 2007

FACT! Chuck Norris!

Norris has been an outspoken critic of evolution, the teaching of which he holds partially responsible for school shootings: "We teach our children they are nothing more than glorified apes, yet we don't expect them to act like monkeys."

More wisdom in Fuckwitapedia.

See also:
FACT! Fornication!
FACT! Pens!
FACT! Kangaroos!
FACT! The 19th Century!
FACT! Dinosaurs!

May 08, 2007

Wall to wall smut

This ad certainly got my attention. A pair of shapely legs writhing up a wall, the instruction to Feel It, and a brand name that appears to include the word Anal. Girls, don't let those painful haemorrhoids make you climb the walls.
But no, Anaglypta just happens to be a style of wallpaper and the brand's supporting website continues the theme of the press advertising. In the vast and varied catalogue of products that have used sex to sell, this must be a first. Look, they even have a crap viral ad:

May 07, 2007

Oh Lordy

It's a bank holiday, so I'm slightly behind developments in the admosphere. Here's something from my Saved For Later file that I received by email. I've no information on the story behind this, but it does remind me of Viz magazine's wonderful spoof ad for Life of Christ In Cats.

May 04, 2007

My DSE affliction has blown up

I call it DSE – Delayed Series Expectation – and I’m in a particularly chronic phase right now. There’s a good chance you’ve experienced DSE at some point in your life.
Let me explain.
On Monday morning I finished watching the 6th series of “24”.
I had not seen the previous five series.
On Tuesday morning, I watched the first episode of series 1 (while having my 40-minute pre-breakfast stint on the exercise bike). That warm fuzzy feeling, of knowing that I have MASSES of catching up to do on something I know I’ll enjoy… that’s DSE.
It’s the same thing when you discover an author you enjoy who already has a large canon of work.
How liberating to have an entire series on DVD. And no bloody ads! But, based on what I saw on series 6, this is what I notice and assume about the show:
So far (episode 3), I recognise nobody else other than Jack Bauer.

- The CTU HQ is different. It must get blown up.

- No Morris, Bill, or annoying sulky moany-faced phone girl, meaning all of Bauer’s series 1 colleagues must get blown up.

- He has a wife and daughter I didn’t know about. At some point, they must get blown up.

- He’s a (relatively) stable character in these episodes, whereas in series 6, only the adrenaline rush keeps him from psychosis/nervous breakdown. Which must mean that everyone he knew 5 years previously has been blown up.

- Early in series 6, downtown LA gets blown up, whereas early in series 1, a plane gets blown up. This indicates that between 1 and 6, lots of innocent people will get blown up.

I know I’m going to enjoy the next few months.

May 03, 2007

O9 F9 11 O2 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 CO

I'm simply joining the revolt.

I'm taking the unusual step of answering a comment in the open because Jeremy Jacobs rightly questions the point of this post, and I see that in its original form it does look like I'm being rather obtuse and smug.
But there is a point.
The post links to an article on boingboing about one of the largest movements of mass petulance I've ever witnessed. I won't go into the exact details of this story - read the article.
It's a superb example of social networks in action. And social networks - the interconnected world of blogs, YouTube, Flickr, digg, tagging and so on - occupy a space that brands and ad agencies barely understand. It's where people get on with communicating with each other, and where brands (or companies, organisations etc. if you don't like the ad speak) are on the outside, looking in, if they're bothering to look at all.
Social networks are run by the end-user. That's where the content comes from. That's where the character comes from.
The title of this post is the subject of a mass demonstration against an attempt by a licensing body to remove any reference to a code that will allow people to decrypt the anti-copying technology on HD-DVDs. There are parallels with the music industry's gradual acceptance that consumers should be able to have free use of unencrypted music (DRM-free).
Anyone wishing to follow the progress of this story should regularly check out boingboing, which despite its esoteric content, does a good job of keeping tabs on online social trends.

Millimetres matter, but so do little crawlies

Saw this remarkable ad for Samsung during a visit to b3ta , and must admit to having mixed feelings upon watching it.
b3ta readers are known for rejoicing in the offensive and the cruel, but regularly show a soft spot for small fluffy animals and, it would appear, for insects too:

“what gimp thought of applying that to - specifically - launching minature custard pies at insects? What sort of deranged mind would make that leap?”
“seems a bit cruel to me”
“never thought i'd feel sorry for creepy crawlies”
“What kind of cunt thinks firing sticky shit at insects wings will make people want to buy that phone? I know they're only insects, but there's just no need.”
"it's up there with Sony sacrificing a cow at a computer games press conference.”

The supporting website does declare that “no insects were harmed in the making of Millimetres Matter but some did get a little sticky... actually, they seemed quite happy to help clean up - by eating up the sugary mess!”
But in all my years, I’ve never seen a bee smile.

Get your monkeys (no relation)

Much chucklement emerged upon spotting this pic on a nice comic-related Flickr photoset. Being a sad, only child who used to get board games at Christmas despite not having siblings to play against, I frequently considered sending off for these odd creatures spotted in comics. The thing that stopped me was the currency - I didn't have a clue how to convert my pound notes into dollars.
(Please - no Sympathy. If I wanted any I'd find it in the dictionary nestling somewhere between Shit and Syphillis)
Since then, I've had two run-ins with Sea Monkeys. The first was as a gift for my second-born. Unfortunately, we never got to see them hatch because he ate them, obviously mistaking the eggs for sherbet. The second was at the office, with one of the planning department PAs deciding to grow her own little desktop colony.
And what a disappointment. The lazy little bastards didn't even try building a castle. Obviously peasant stock.

May 02, 2007

Brand Rep... Brand Repu... Brand Repub...

Is it just me, or is the Brand Republic website (the online home of Campaign and Marketing) trying to wear my teeth down? Previously dull yet fast, the relaunch is well-meaning but slooow, especially when trying to drill down a few layers, increasing the chances of getting one of these wretched error messages. Come on guys, it's been weeks.

Feel the fear!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! It's on record that clowns frighten me, especially clowns that are too happy, too springy and too hamburgery. I'm going to have wretched nightmares for weeks after seeing this, dubiously described as the "First Ever McDonald's Advert". Just how many people has this gurning psychopath quietly killed over the years, I wonder? What horror lies behind that paper cup nose?

See also: Eat me, Fattie

May 01, 2007

No happy finish

A couple of years ago TBWA\France made two of the best AIDS awareness videos I've ever seen. The first was about a girl coming of age who, after going through a string of lovers, finally finds Mr Right. This was swiftly followed by an equally engaging story of a homosexual boy's journey of discovery.
Sadly, the third story in the collection isn't as good. The same humour and explicit action is there, but it misses the charm of its predecessors by BANG! - going straight into bonk mode without seeing the protagonist's development from naive virgin to sexually active adult. Such a shame.

Giving the old girl a buzz

This is slightly not safe for work, mainly because of a dodgy url. It's a mundane online video ad for an unfeasible-looking sex toy, earning mank points for the thought of granny getting it on with her big cone.
The worst bit? The peculiar object costs a hefty £50.
I just hope it's worth it.