World Cup 2014 – Best of the Best Ads

May 20, 2014

I love the World Cup. The best players in the world, the roar of the Three Lions, the heartache of England losing on penalties. The ads which can cross over into popular culture.

Nike shows a journey from footy in the park to the pinnacle of the world. One of the best things about world cup ads is that the boot manufacturers get to show off all their best sponsored athletes and we get to see them doing amazing skills.

Whereas adidas focuses on just one player, but what a player he is:

An inspiring, tear-jerking, emotionally charged piece of film brought to you by Powerade:

Samsung pays homage to one of the great series of Nike ads, “The Mission“:

ESPN makes Brazil look pretty tempting about now:

Whereas back in the UK, ITV plays on the emotions we footy fans face (well, all sports fans):


I bet he drinks Carling Black Label

April 28, 2014

We were talking about this ad at the office today – an oldie and a goodie from the UK. Its amazing to see the power of a great execution of a powerful brand idea, with evocative music.

I remember seeing the “behind the scenes” on a science show when I was younger and it was fascinating. The team trained the squirrel to move along the course over a series of weeks by placing the nuts at sequentially further spots throughout the course.

Music trends in advertising

April 24, 2014

Young female singers covering songs by older white men…and advertising agencies using them to make a strong emotional connection with “mom”.

Lilly Allen covers Keane’s “somewhere only we know” for John Lewis

Ellie Goulding covering Elton John’s “your song” (one of my favourite songs ever) for both John Lewis and Kraft Peanut Butter

Trend or observation?


If this is the future of social media…

April 23, 2014

If social media becomes bad photoshop with tenuous copywriting (aka “real time marketing”) and brands talking to other brands, I quit.


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.

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