Parody videos: imitation is the highest form of flattery

March 16, 2014

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You may have seen the video where 20 strangers kiss for the first time.

You may have seen the “first hand-jobs” video.

You may have seen the 20 unattractive brits kiss for the first time.

You may have seen the 20 dogs sniff each other for the first time.

Colleagues used to strive for a viral video. Clients have started to ask for a viral video. Perhaps what we should be striving and asking for is a series of parody videos. More than YouTube views, that’s probably the surest sense of whether your video has cracked the mainstream consciousness and has some sort of impact or effect on the illusive zeitgeist.

The Ongoing Transparency Trend

January 27, 2014

A couple of weeks back, I had a brief email chat with Susan Krashinsky at The Globe and Mail about transparency in general for her piece on the QSR industry. Here’s what we talked about:

We’ve seen more and more famous figures (e.g. Obama) taking to Reddit for AMAs. Why is transparency, lifting the veil on companies, and appearing to have a more direct connection such an important trend right now?

As people, we are relentlessly curious and crave answers from brands as we would from our own friends, families and colleagues.The new mindset is that “if you’re not telling me what I want to know, you have something to hide”. On the other side of things, companies that are acting in a modern, human way and who are being transparent are being rewarded for with consumers’ time, attention and more importantly trust.

What does it say for the changing media landscape, that more and more marketers are looking to direct channels to connect with their customers? Certainly paid media is not going away entirely, but it does seem the old model is changing.

As marketers, we have a lot of new arrows in our quills, now we must learn how to use them properly and effectively – both separately and together. Modern brands are now taking full advantage of four types of media: paid, owned, earned and shared (3rd party sites where companies participate such as reddit or Facebook). The trick is not blindly getting involved in all of these but in knowing what media can do which jobs in solving a business problem. 

Charles Dance’s Sochi poem made my spine tingle

January 13, 2014

The best Sochi 2014 promo spot I’ve seen yet…clearly C4′s “meet the superhumans” has inspired Aunty to up its game:

Here’s the spot:

Here’s the poem:

I am the dreadful menace.
The one whose will is done.
The haunting chill upon your neck.
I am the conundrum.

I will summon armies.
Of wind and rain and snow.
I made the black cloud overhead.
The ice, like glass below.

Not you, nor any other.
Can fathom what is nigh.
I will tell you when to jump.
And I’ll dictate how high.

The ones that came before you.
Stood strong and tall and brave.
But I stole their dreams away.
Those dreams could not be saved.

But now you stand before me.
Devoid of all dismay.
Could it be? Just maybe.
I’ll let you have your day.

And here’s to #TeamGB coming second in the medal count – after all, in Canada, #WeAreWinter.

Think Different

November 21, 2013

For an industry that prides itself on divergent thinking, we too often follow our preconceived notions of what is “true”. We’re not the only ones. Gladwell talks about this for a whole book in David and Goliath. I haven’t finished it yet, but his hypothesis is that preconceptions aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on. That the optimal class size isn’t as small as can be but should be mid-sized (he proposed 25). That dyslexia is not, actually, an undesirable trait – that for the right person it can be galvanising.

Where else is this happening? Where else can we see that maybe, just maybe, what we know to be true is not, actually, true. Well, American Football has been doing it for years: always punt on fourth down. Always kick deep from the kick off. But why do we do these things if they aren’t beneficial for us?

Why indeed? This great online six minute short from Grantland (one of my favourite places on the internet at the moment) shows the high school coach who challenged these preconceptions, who ran the data and worked the odds to come up with a truly divergent strategy that is paying off for him.

The caveat emptor here is that as the quality of the players on both teams improves and get closer to the pros, the numbers and the odds may not support this strategy. Even the preconceptions around the challenging of preconceptions need to be challenged.

Have a hypothesis. Test it. Be prepared to throw it away if it doesn’t make sense. Keep on testing it until it doesn’t work. Throw it away when it makes sense to do so. Repeat.

Bear, Hare and John Lewis

November 13, 2013

Every year John Lewis outdoes itself with its Christmas advertising. Past tear jerkers are below, but this one is particularly great, thanks to a Lily Allen cover of an old Keane song and Disney animation…literally, animated by Disney. Lovely from my friends at Adam&Eve/DDB

Perhaps I’m drawn to it because I read the “Bear wants more” series to my little man!





And my favourite John Lewis work from 2010:

Optical Illusions from Honda

November 10, 2013

I’m not sure if this is an advert or a really well made piece of film. It must have taken forever to concept, pitch, sell, design, produce, film and edit so kudos to the agency. I enjoyed watching it; I hope you do too.

I love this sort of stuff and have written about optical illusions before, in 2010 and the below from opposite my office, way back in 2006!

Honda spot via gizmodo.

Uncle Drew 3

October 28, 2013


uncle drew

The latest chapter in the Uncle Drew /Pepsi Max story hit today – ever since I saw the teaser last week, I’ve been anxiously and eagerly awaiting it!

We’ve covered Uncle Drew before – as a wonderful expression of a simple idea through long-form story telling.

PepsiMax is a regular cola in disguise.

So the genius in chapters one and two was the twist – the old guy struggling to keep up with the “young bloods” was actually one of the top five active NBA players, in disguise. Now, I’ve got to believe that every person interested in seeing the film, has seen it – there are probably 60mm views of all the chapters and the rip-downs/re-uploads. So if I’m told that a “basketball documentary” is being filmed and an old dude shows up and wants to play…I should have an inkling of what’s about to happen. Will I still be able to have the same reaction that observers had in the first chapter and that made the story so effective – we know Uncle Drew is in disguise but the spectators and competition doesn’t. It is real and authentic. So does this genius of an idea still come through? Does the twist still hold some magic? Can this hold true for at least two more chapters – the “team” Uncle Drew is putting back together has to have at least five players?

I don’t know about you but I’ve got to admit, (spoiler alert) having a WNBA star was a really nice twist and the anticipation of trying to guess who the next NBA star will be is enough to get me through to the next one!

See you soon, Uncle Drew.


What the rush towards native advertising really means

October 15, 2013

It means that earned media is more powerful than paid placements. It means that interactions (participation) make everything better. It means that endorsements from your network are more influential than not. It means everything is coming together as a paid, earned, owned, shared media matrix.

The trick with native advertising, to make sure it doesn’t go the way of straight up paid advertising, is to not make the ultimate consumer of the ad unit feel like they’ve been tricked into seeing it and engaging with it.

How big is the rush towards native advertising? This big.

Android KITKAT 4.4

September 9, 2013

I definitely have a “brand affinity” for KITKAT so when I saw that they had partnered with Android over the name of the latest OS release, I was intrigued. When I heard it was a no-money-changes-hands commercial partnership I was even more intrigued. I presumed that the Android team had gone to the Stringer Bell Business School and, like many drug lords, was offering the first for free but would be charging for the next ones.

Judging by the milage KITKAT is getting from this partnership, I’m sure we’ll see some more of these co-naming initiatives. My favourite pieces that I’ve seen are this parody video (pardodying who else, Apple):

…and this launch stunt pic which I saw from my former client at Hershey:

I’m off for a KITKAT!

Accrington Stanley? Who are they?

September 5, 2013

Every time I hear the name Accrington Stanley, I can’t help but think of this superb UK Milk ad from 1980′s.

Liverpool was, is and will be my club forever so to see that Ian Rush drank milk, well, that was good enough for me. And which 8 year old boy wants to play for a club they’ve never heard of?


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