Archive | Print RSS feed for this section

I CAN guess what you do

11 Sep

This ad makes me happy every time I see it:

The client has resisted any temptation to squeeze in any mood photography, destinations, prices or the attendant t’s+c’s. What we’re left with is a lovely ad with bags of attitude that leaves me with a url that I remember. And that’s no mean feat. Other brands try harder and get less. This one feels joyful and effortless – hopefully just like the holidays they sell.


Godbaby TM

6 Sep

OK, before we start, this is one of mine, and I’m putting it here because there’s already a lot of debate on Facebook. All I want to do here is to explain the thinking and leave you to make up your own minds. The poster was created for the organisation to create a buzz about Jesus this Christmas, and here it is:

It’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas but we need to get our creative out there so that churches have time to order their posters and other promotional material from us.

Christmas is a busy time and there will be a huge amount of sales and advertising clutter so we needed to create something that would interrupt people and make them think.

On a superficial level, we are selling a doll that has certain special functions. In keeping with the trend that every Christmas throws up a ‘must have’ toy or gadget, Godbaby is what everyone can have for Christmas 2012.

But what about those functions? He cries and he wees – both of these are possible and many dolls already have that capablity. But saving the world? How can a toy do that? It’s simple, it can’t, so we clearly aren’t advertising a toy.

If that’s the case, what are we advertising? The clue’s in the headline. Godbaby. Or, to unpack it, God a s a baby. Christians believe that Christmas is when God arrived on earth in human form as a baby called Jesus of Nazareth. ‘No Shit Sherlock?’ you say. Well, apparently this is new news to a lot of people, particularly kids who have not been brought up in a church environment. Britain is growing ever more secular and as a result, Bible stories are told less often to less people.

The single most important role of this poster is to tell people that Christmas is about God and Jesus, not toys, gizmos, gadgets and the other trappings of the consumerist Christmas.

So why package up the divinity of ‘God made man’ into something that wouldn’t look out of place in Toys R Us? We believe that you need to meet people where they are, and where they are at Christmas is in a retail maelstrom. Christmas is a festival of consumerism for non Christians and Christians alike – we are all caught up in it. So why not use the language of consumerism to describe the Christmas story?

The poster is proving controversial for several reasons. First, the mention of Christ’s bodily functions. We believe that Christ was human and his body conformed to the same physical laws as our bodies. If it hadn’t, his crucifixion wouldn’t have been so terrible.

Second, the baby creeps people out. Well, that’s dolls for you, but also, we don’t want people feeling comfortable with the image. Jesus wasn’t cute, meek, mild or any of the sanitised attributes given to him by the Victorians – he was confrontational, plain talking and, at times, furious.

Thirdly, he’s made of plastic, which some find sacrilegious. That’s really just to make the point of making him a commodity. We had to make him out of something. A flesh and blood child is not something you can buy at Chrustmas, even in Harrods. Besides, Jesus has appeared in all manner of formats over the years – few people have a problem with statues of Jesus made from marble or carved from wood.

No poster can convert anyone into a new belief system, but a poster can provoke the thinking that leads to this. Jesus is already on the margins of the modern Christmas retailfest. If our poster means that just some of the conversational buzz at Christmas is about Jesus,  our work is done.

Sshh! Machu Picchu!

31 Aug

Am I missing something here?


This is Machu Piccu, right? One of the most famous places on the planet? According to the statistics, the number of people hiking along the Inca Trail to the citadel rose from 6,000 in 1984 to 82,000 in 2000. Currently 2000 people a day complete the hike. The trail is also being eroded and tea bags and water bottles litter the route. There are even plans for a cable car.

Sooooo…. Peru, Empire of Hidden Treasures? Maybe there are some, just not on this poster.

Weakest Lynx

30 Aug

This has been doing the rounds on social media, which means it must be popular.


But what is Lynx suggesting? That it was their deodorant / bodyspray that saw girls strip off in front of Harry? No Lynx, it’s because he is a prince, third in line to throne and worth billions. Your small can of chemicals and gas had nothing to do with it.


16 Aug

We all hate people who insist on standing on the left of escalators, but is this poster on the Tube going to change behaviour?

It feels wrong on several levels. Firstly the abruptness of the headline comes across as sniping; it’s something you’d say if another passenger just shoved you – a reminder of the hatefulness of many Tube journeys. Why is Tfl telling me off?

Or is it (as I suspect) a message to the influx of Olympic visitors to remind them how we do escalator travel in London? If so, it’s even ruder. ‘A little courtesy won’t harm you’ is an awful way for an Olympic host nation to speak to its guests.

And this is before we get to the design.

If the graphic for ‘STAND’ is two footprints side by side, surely the graphic for ‘WALK’ should be footsteps going down the escalator? Why an arrow? It’s clunky.

All I can suggest is that the agency was away having a jolly at the Olympics and Tfl knocked this one up themselves.

It’s all happening on the Tube

18 Jun

I’m not great at taking photos in tube trains. I feel weird. And when I’m taking photos of ads in tube trains I feel like a complete freak, so I tend not to do it. Still, a couple of tube cards have caught my eye in the last month and I apologise in advance that the following photos are not my own. This one made me happy, but for the wrong reasons:

I have come to detest the Evening Standard. Maybe it always was a venal, right wing rag intent on scandalising the commuter belt, but at least in the old days we had to pay for it. Now it’s free and infecting all who read it with the same venom as the Express and the Mail. Yes, the paper I am reading is rubbish, but I’m bored and it’s that or deleting photos from my phone for the next 15 minutes.

And then there is this:

Only this isn’t it. The one I want but can’t find on the web has a pinstripe suited business leader saying ‘Who cares about Greece? I’m waiting until Ireland goes on sale’. Now, I don’t know who the man is, and I know very little about the current economic crisis. So much so that I don’t know if the ad is ironic or super smart.

The line underneath is ‘for business people with more sense than money’. I’m assuming that the ad is selling me share trading, or a business website, or some kind of economic commentary. But no. It’s selling me conference calling. Only it isn’t, because it has just confused the heck out of me.

In fact, as you can see from the ad I found on the internet that sits in the same campaign, they are now being defaced. Way to go powwowwow. I hope your conference calling business goes from strength to strength. Maybe next time you should try telling people what it is you do and why they should use you. Just a thought.


21 May

It’s worth writing about this one just to say ‘Check out this checkout’.

Maybe this stuff works. Maybe people who are at the checkout in a major store think to themselves, ‘Ooh, the food’s good, maybe I could insure my holiday with these people’.

You think? What exactly is jumping out at you from this mess? Where’s the single minded, unifying call to action that tells us Sainsbury is a financial institution that will make my life easier, safer and better? There isn’t any. It’s a mishmash of flyers and leaflets vaguely held together by some orange circles and a font. I doubt if one in a hundred shoppers picks anything up from here, despite Sainsbury paying good money to an agency.

One day an agency and client will embrace the challenge of POS properly and the results will be game changing. In the meantime, the checkouts of major supermarkets remain as cluttered as board full of ads in a newsagent’s window.