Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Back to 90

No not at the Astoria.

Italia 90.

Did you know this?

Phew. I found a time machine.

About time, too.

I'm always running out of time.

My wife, especially, keeps asking me to do stuff that requires going back in time.

Luckily, I came across a time machine in a London tube station, earlier today.

I'm not going to say which one right now, for obvious reasons. But here's what happened:

I thought I'd kill time waiting for a train by taking a stroll over to another disused platform.

There were no barriers or signs.

I just walked left, instead of right, and found myself staring at this strange typeface.

When I looked down, I thought it was some kind of ironic homage.

Then I realised what I was looking at was absolutely genuine: an almost-intact tube poster from the 80s - look how young Jimmy Saville looks.

I'm astounded they're still in this condition. I've no idea how it's happened. And I don't really care, either.

What's also amazing is that there are several posters below these two. You can see when you look at the one on the left. I couldn't quite make out what the poster below was advertising but if you were careful, you'd probably be able to separate them.

Looks like someone's already had a go. I want to go back to try to get them. They are awesome.

At the time, I felt like I'd discovered buried treasure, or gold. I felt lucky, honoured, ecstatic.

Then I calmed down, got on a train, bought a copy of CR and a Burger King and came home to share them with you.

The posters, I mean, not my copy of CR or my Burger King.

(Large Whopper meal, if you must know).

Back then kids cost just £1!

The age of the train, eh?

Speech bubble: Jimmy Saville is saying the map. Amazing.

Forget #littlebreaks. Who'll join me in using the twitter hashtag: #awaydays?

Travel within this area is fine. You Northerners can piss off. Speak to your travel agent - for a train? Genius.

PS. Did you spot the rail logo on Jimmy Saville's collar? A British Rail tracksuit top, ffs!

Did they knock these out? Or was it specially made for JS because 'he only wears tracksuits'?

I don't know.

All I know is if you put that logo on its side on a baseball cap, from a distance, someone would think you were wearing an NY cap.

Right, that's that sorted. Now I better go and see what my wife wants.

NOW WITH ADDED TV AD! Proper integrated campaign, then

What age is it?

You can still bump into saucy ladies - even at 125mph!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The London long copy challenge, from CBS Outdoor

(or 'You don't know me. But you will.')

What do you do?

Are you a copywriter? An art director? A designer? A planner? A client? Are you an advertising account manager or director? Are you a journalist? Do you work in PR?

I have no idea. I can't see you sitting there reading this.

But I do know one thing about you that is absolutely certain.

You've stood waiting for a train. On a platform. On your own. Fairly bored.

And, like anyone who's ever inspected the writing on a bottle of shampoo while they poo, you've looked for some words to read to occupy your mind and pass the time.

Thank goodness, then, for long copy, which can be described as any attempt by an advertising writer to capture your attention for more than a split second and tell you a story and entertain you by making you laugh, smile, cry, change your mind, or perhaps even all of the above.

This art and craft is not dead. It's very much alive, several metres under ground, beneath the streets of London.

So who better to champion the art of long copy than CBS Outdoor, the London Underground media specialist?

It launched the London long copy challenge a few months ago.

I 'wrote' a 'blog post' on it here.

Well someone was impressed by my insightful copy, because CBS Outdoor's PR company, Edelman, invited me to the awards that took place last night at the Getty Gallery (thanks, Katie, and hello Will).

Just as well, really, because I hadn't entered the competition.

But a lot of creatives did. Around 500 teams, I think.

Including Xara, Glenn and Cat.

You don't know them. But you will (smiley face).

Xara Higgs, Specsavers Creative

I nearly bumped into Xara on platform 3 at Oxford Circus. Like me, she was photographing the long copy ads that CBS had been showcasing.

Only she wasn't a punter. She'd written this beauty:

Client: Specsavers
Creatives: Naomi Bishop, Catherine Thomas & Xara Higgs
Agency: Specsavers Creative

Very funny, hey? I saw people laughing at it later in the gallery.

So I was glad when it made it to the final ten.

Well done Xara and Specsavers. And In case you didn't know, they're based in Guernsey and it's an in-house team.

Glenn, freelance,

Glenn introduced himself in front of this cracking ad in the not for profit entries. Have a read. It's beautifully written, right up to the very last word:

Client: MicroLoan Foundation
Creatives: Richard J Warren & Paul Hancock
Agency: DLKW Lowe

I think Glenn is probably someone else you don't know but you will soon. He didn't make it to the final show last night but his entry to the long copy challenge was shortlisted and based on the work he'd done for a Chevrolet brief from Idea Bounty.

He and his partner Aimee also came second in Idea's Bounty FT brief with the idea for an app that persuades you to pay for FT content by monkeying around with your business calendar and sending you relevant company info from the FT. Clever, heh? I can see why it came 2nd. Wonder what came first.

Here's their entry into the long copy challenge, which made it to the long list of 90, not the final 60. But as Glenn said, he'll take that for him and his partner, Aimee's first combined entry. Damn straight:

Glenn & Aimee, freelancers, - check back at the end of this week when their new site will go live

Cat Arundel, the Uber agency, Sheffield

The third interesting person I met last night was Cat. She was in front of me in the cloakroom queue. She wrote this funny ad for Allied carpets, which I had remembered reading. You will too:

Client: Allied Carpets & Flooring
Creative: Cat Arundel
Agency: Uber Agency

And, happily, Cat hadn't put an apostrophe in T&Cs. While this was a long copy challenge, not a grammar challenge, if you're a professional writer, you should really know where an apostrophe goes and where it doesn't.

That means you, the person who put an apostrophe in 80s. Tut tut. You were talking about something that belonged to the number 80, were you?

From losers (smelly faece) to winners

I can't spot any dodgy apostrophes in the winners, can you?

Both the following teams win £125,000 worth of media space for their client and £2K worth of shopping vouchers, meaning whoever you are, it definitely pays to write long copy.

Commercially driven

Client: adidas
Creatives: Phil Kitching, Tim Clegg & John Murphy
Agency: iris

Their copy: The poster celebrates the fact that adidas are sponsoring Team GB in the London 2012 Olympic Games. And where better to announce the imminent arrival of a new generation of British athletes than on the transport system that will take Londoners to the Games.

The pared-back and simple visual is of a photographic studio, as yet empty, suggesting the imminent arrival of someone famous.
On the clean white space, naked ambition of an as yet unknown Team GB athlete appear, whose tone embodies the true spirit of the new generation of Team GB Olympic athletes.

Not for profit

Client: Kids Company
Creatives: Graham Fink & Simon Dicketts
Agency: M&C Saatchi

Their copy: Kids Company is a charity that provides emotional and practical support to over 14,000 deprived and vulnerable children across London. As with any charitable organisation, they rely on the generosity of others to fund the essential work they do.

Our brief was to create a campaign that would help to generate a large amount of smaller donations from people across London, as well as engaging them in the seemingly ‘invisible’ problem of vulnerable children in our city – children who are probably no more than a stone’s throw away from the stations and Tube lines we pass through everyday and who form part of our London community.

See the rest of the London long copy challenge winners here.

What do you reckon? Where you there last night? Did you enter? Did you win?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

D&AD Sharp'ner, Truman Brewery, Thursday 11 November

Should I really be writing this at 9.25 with a 12.00 deadline?

Probably not. The thing is, part of the reason I want to write about this so much is BECAUSE of that 12.00 deadline.

John Simmons made an interesting point last Thursday. Actually he made a lot of interesting points but one in particular stuck in my mind.

He made the point that all too often copywriters are brought in at the last minute to 'fix' some work.

And then what happens?

At 6pm on Sunday evening I get a call from a client asking if I can come in the next day (and I'm assured it'll only take one day) to rescue a self-promotional brochure that's been rubbished by its own people.

And I just can't help but get slightly annoyed. Because this brochure's been cobbled together from a white paper and some thoughts from a couple of directors. And now they want to try to fix this Frankenstein's monster in a day.

Now I'm not saying it's not possible (and when I finish writing this I'm off to finish off writing that), but on Sunday night I couldn't help thinking of a car mechanic analogy.

Customer: "Hi there, my car's broken. But can you do me a favour? Can you just spend a day on it? Thanks."

Mechanic: "No problem. I'll do what I can in a day."

Does that sound right to you? Sounds a bit shaky to me. Then I started to think of a scenario where you might possibly 'just try to patch the car up' and I thought of an F1 car race, where a mechanic might now that the engine is going to blow up eventually but that for the next 27 laps, it might just be okay.

And then I thought how apt this new analogy was for business. And how everything always seems to be a race (usually against time).

But my question is this: is it really a race?

This brochure's clearly been 'not happening' for months. Why rush it now when you've got the copywriter in?


Monday, November 8, 2010

Remember, Call of Duty: Black Ops is just a game

That's right, keep telling yourself that, as you peruse the real-life 'stuff' on which its ten new weapons and items are based.

According to community manager Josh Olin, Treyarch called upon the services of three different military advisors:

Lieutenant Colonel Hank Keirsey (who's consulted for previous COD titles) contributed to making sure the Vietnam War sequences feel accurate;

former Spetsnaz member Sonny Puzikas gave the team a primer on Spetsnaz combat tactics,

and Major John Plaster provided insight to how Black Ops were undertaken in general based on his experience within the SOG.

Heckler & Koch G11 assault rifle

China Lake pump action grenade launcher

CZ75 with full-auto upgrade

(closest gun range to an international airport award)

HS-10 shotgun

PSG1 sniper rifle (most inappropriate theme music award)

Stoner 63 rifle (more about its designer, than the gun itself)

Camera spike (alright, you've got me, this one isn't real life)

Jammer (okay so not quite the same thing - a mobile phone jammer - but even more fun, especially since these things work IMMEDIATELY meaning the wife in this clip is yapping so much, she doesn't even realise the person she's talking to has gone)

Motion sensor

I can't find a single good clip for a motion sensor, so here's some footage of special forces at Mazar Sharif in Afghanistan:

Decoy grenade (gameplay)

Guardian review

The article I used as a source for this post

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Argos Bing Crosby beatbox

I laughed a second time at the use of the word 'things' - don't think my old head of copy would have thought much of that.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What's the worst that can happen?

More Dr Pepper UK social media goodness.

These comments will only get better. Here are the first few, following this status update:

Dr Pepper UK

Scratch here ▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒ to reveal today’s status.

about a minute ago · Comment · Like

12 people like this.

Rob Arash Inman ッ old
about a minute ago · Like

Jack Wallbank ‎*Scratch*
about a minute ago · Like · 1 person

James Keene You wana do what to a pig?
about a minute ago · Like · 1 person

Ryan 'Kop' Edwards Its not working =/
about a minute ago · Like · 1 person

about a minute ago · Like

Joshua Sharman fail
A few seconds ago · Like

Rob Arash Inman ッ ‎"YOu are gay"
A few seconds ago · Like

Glenn Tuxworth your mums a pig
A few seconds ago · Like · 1 person

Matthew Parkinson wat a dik
A few seconds ago · Like

Tyler Meredith is this a hint that the status takeover is returning? yay!
A few seconds ago · Like

Nigella's back

Must be killing her.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stairway to heaven

One of the most amazing clips you'll ever see.

I knew it was being passed around the world fast when a friend in Oz was commenting on it on twitter around the same time as me (and he's seen it in somebody else's tweets, not mine).

It had 13,901 views on YouTube at 13.47.

By 21:06 it had 118,487.

This morning, it had been taken down.

You can read why at the blog. I haven't provided a link because it was down when I tried.

It's pretty funny if you ask me. The guy says he took the clip down 'before someone important sees it'.

Hmm, yeah, ok. Do you think maybe it's in a few other places by now?

Here it is if you haven't seen it. But I'm sure you already have.

(If the movie below gets removed try my Google search link above or Google '1768 ft transmission tower' or 'Stairway to heaven' or both).

Best watched in full screen. With a settled stomach.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tippex YouTube rewrite

Shoot the bear.

Don't shoot the bear.

Or choose something completely different.

It even deals with swears - nice.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The wilderness downtown

You'll need to download Google Chrome to watch this interactive film for Arcade Fire's song 'We used to wait' (that's half the point).

Even if you're not a fan of either the band or the browser I'd say download the latter and interact with the music video from the former.

You can always delete the browser later (sorry Google, still love ya).

As for the song and the experience - I think that they will stay with you for longer.

Check out The Wilderness Downtown, the interactive music video for Arcade Fire's 'We used to wait'

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Like button top ten

Everyone's gone 'like' button crazy.

Here's my like it top ten.

Well it's a top six actually. Can you help me find another four?

You're allowed some creative licence. For example, Shimmy Shimmy Ya doesn't have 'like' in the title but sings 'ooh baby I like it raw'...

How do you like it?

Do you like it?

In no particular order:

1. I think I like it - Fake Blood

2. I wanna see you freak (like this)

3. That's the way I like it - KC and the Sunshine Band

4. DJ Pied Piper and the MCs - Do you really like it?

5. Shimmy Shimmy Ya - Ol Dirty Bastard

6. I like it - Enrique Iglesias ft Pitbull

(Video not working? Click the song title)

7. I like to move it - Reel 2 Real (via @Iamfakeblood)

8. I like it - Gerry & The Pacemakers (via @nickfaber's mum!)

9. Like I love you - Justin Timberlake (via @Iamfakeblood)

10. Smells like Teen Spirit - Nirvana (via @Iamfakeblood)

Over to you.

Suggestions in the comments please...

PS. Yes I could have shared a Spotify playlist but with no 'wanna see you freak' my list would be like so incomplete (like a date without a kiss). If you want to find it, go ahead. And let me know how you get on with that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NA (new acronym)


UT = untweet.

I just coined this myself (I know, aren't I clever?)

The inspiration?

People on twitter mentioning names under the heading 'RT gratitude'.

No need, really, even if you do work in PR.

As if that wasn't bad enough (the RT gratitude tweets), then you see people RTing the RT gratitude tweets.

Enough already!



Friday, August 13, 2010

There's no excuse to talk like a twat any more

It's never been very hard to write good brand copy guidelines.

One helpful tip for any organisation is for someone to sit down with an example of written business communication and write down some of the bullshit words you see.

Bullshit words like 'going forward', 'facilitate' and 'in addition'.

You then list these as 'what not to say' and translate them into plain English.

For example, 'in the future', 'help' and, well, 'and'.

Now, you don't even have to do the translation.

Awesomists at Mule Design in San Francisco have done it for you.

Type in your terrible business jargon into UNSUCK-IT and let this miracle of word wise webery do its magic.

Thanks to @crispinheath for sharing this.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Don't go zombie

Business brains used to take Virgin Trains.

Do they still? I don't know. All I know is that zombies don't.

At least, that's what Virgin Trains' advertising says.

I liked the posters. The comic book illustrations caught my eye.

Now, Marketing magazine direct agency of the year 2008, Elvis, has made a game that lets you kill zombies in your postcode. On Google street view.

High scores win prizes.

Get zombiefied and facebook friends can come and rescue you.

Go to 'Don't go zombie'

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two loons. Where the best comedy comes from, by Kevin Eldon

Another parallel to creative copywriting I found in my reading material today (tell me what it is and I'll send you a prize), this time from the world of comedy.

And if you've ever had to have your work signed off by a committee, then you'll be interested to hear what actor Kevin Eldon has to say about the future of comedy online.

"On the net, comedy can be done without the blandinisation, if that's a word, that comes about when you've got committees overseeing comedy and it's all about ratings.

The best comedy comes from one or two loons working on a project undisturbed."

PJ Pesce on directing and writing straight to dvd sequels

PJ Pesce is a film director/writer. Here, he's talking about working on straight-to-dvd film sequels (before you judge him on that, I'd read his Wikipedia page at the end of the link above).

"You don't get to go over budget on these," says Pesce.

"You don't get to go over-schedule, not even by an hour.

If you don't come in on time, tough: they'll just figure out a way to cut it without those scenes.

I look back on Lost Boys 2 and think that we were fucking insane to even attempt to make that movie in 21 days.

I was in Thailand on Sniper 3 and there was one day that was particularly hellish.

I put my head in my hands and the script supervisor said to me, 'Well at least you're getting to make your own movie.'

I took my hands away from my face and looked at her as if she was from Mars.

'Are you out of your fucking mind?

What are you, on fucking heroin? My movie? This is the studio's movie!

Do you think if I was making my movie I would call it Sniper 3?!'"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Please type this phrase into Google

Cut and paste it if you like:

Roman army wikipedia

You have to love the Interwebs.

(But watch out - they're very addictive.)


Monday, June 28, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Canteen’s fish and chip masterclass, 23 April, 2010

Good fish and chips are a serious business, so let me start with a joke:

Canteen: would you like a free fish and chips?

Food blogger: what’s the catch?

Canteen: today, plaice or pollock

Like good comedy, good fish and chips are hard to find.

To help solve this problem, Canteen head chef and co-owner, Cass Titcombe, delivered a free fish & chips masterclass to a table-full of London food bloggers, on Thursday 23 April, at the chain’s Baker Street branch.

13 food bloggers. Two tables. One mission: to find good fish and chips.

When the applause died down (I thoroughly recommend clapping whoever is cooking for you – it can only do good), Cass began by talking about the oil for the chips, which must be ‘clean'.

He then described a two-stage cooking process for Canteen’s chips, which are, in case you were wondering, somewhere in between huge, chunky-style wedges and thin French fries (in other words, perfect).

Maris Pipers are blanched, peeled and cut. But not left in water, so they are crispy. Part one of cooking is at 140 degrees. The chips are then cooled. Part two is at 190 degrees, until crisp and golden (which ours turned out to be, by the way.)

The fish. Canteen’s is usually breaded, not battered. Some say controversially. However, this is quicker for the chefs therefore quicker for the customers. Battered fish is also very messy.

When Cass speaks, food bloggers listen.

Speaking of messy, I was dribbling quite a lot at this stage and some drool happened to fall from my lips onto my parchment, blurring the ink from my quill.

As a result, I’m not exactly sure where the following words fit in but Cass spoke them so I’ll repeat them here: pale ale, self-raising flour. Consistency of thick double cream. Mushy peas. Tartar sauce.

From L to R: Patrick, Canteen co-owner and urban sailor, Tom, Canteen business support dude and wearer of sweatshirt that makes it look like he's wearing a backpack.

Questions from the floor

Any colouring in mushy peas? No. Soaked in bicarbonate of soda for at least 12 hours.

Why no beef fat? Because a lot of people don’t want to eat meat.

Do you make your own breadcrumbs? Yes, our own stale white bread. White bread’s colour makes it easier to judge cooking (another detail that proves how much thought goes into Canteen’s food).

Do you use cod? Yes and Pollock and whiting and plaice and haddock.

Do you tell people what fish they’re getting? Yes, there’s a daily amendment.

Where does fish come from? Small day boats off south coast.

What sort of vegetable oil? Will check.

My question (in my own head, I didn’t ask): why is there only one food blogger asking all the questions? Who was he?

Is fish fried separately from chips? Yes, separate fryers.

Pickled gherkins? Onions? No.

Eggs in tartar sauce? No.

Pasteurised egg yolk? Yes.

Cass’ favourite fish? Breaded haddock.

When was the pollock caught? Yesterday.

Because Cass is a co-owner of Canteen and talked about 'spotting a gap in the market for affordable, great British food on the high street', I got the impression one of the food bloggers thought he'd given up a job in the city to 'try his hand at cooking', because someone asked him 'so how long have you been cooking, then?' This isn't something Cass suddenly decided to do, in case you were wondering, he's been cooking professionally ever since he went to college. To study, you guessed it, cooking.

I was treated so well, I couldn't bring myself to point out they'd done their sign backwards. Oh well, guess you can't be good at everything.

The fish and chips

We each got some breaded plaice and some battered pollock. The plaice tasted 'more fishy’ than the pollock and was delicious and moist inside a perfectly crispy breading. The pollock was drier than the plaice and wonderfully flaky - and tasted a bit like cod (forgive my simplistic description - my first time with pollock); the batter, crispy. The chips were, well, perfect. The right blend of fluffy and crunchy.

Breaded plaice and battered pollock

What more can I say? Well the stats don’t lie. How many food bloggers were invited? 13. How many came? 13. How many food bloggers were served plates of fish and chips? 13. How many plates had any fish or chips left on at the end? Zero.

So even if you don’t listen to the master, Cass Titcombe, Canteen's head chef, heed the numbers. Listen to the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. Can you hear them? They’re saying ‘go to Canteen. Order fish and chips’.

Our lifelong commitment to you or How The New John Lewis Ad is Making Everyone Cry

'Our lifelong commitment to you'

Who'd have thought a line like this could make a good ad?

Proof that with a little insight into your target audience and a lot of creative genius (oh and quite a bit of cash too) you can turn dry business speak into something wonderful. Something human. Something that makes you cry, even.

Obviously I didn't cry when I watched this ad. Because I am a man and I am HARD. And even though I have a 17-month old daughter, I'd never fall for such a sentimental advert (I repeat: advert).

You, on the other hand, might. In fact, if you've got kids yourself, I'd put money on you blubbing.

Hankies at the ready. And... go!

m name="allowFullScreen" value="true">


Did you spot the human?

Did you cry?

And didn't you just love granny's march right at the very end?

Try this challenge the next brief you get: look for the human.

If you're interested, here are some articles on this ad I read AFTER I wrote this post:

The Telegraph

U Talk Marketing

The Guardian

But what do you think? Holler back.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Ecobuild can teach us about marketing

You might have heard of Ecobuild. It's the world's biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment.

Imagine green walls, solar panels and responsibly-sourced timber - and you're thinking along the right lines.

Last week saw 000s of businesses selling these kinds of products pack into Earl's Court London to show off their wares.

And I was theres.

If it's green and it's a wall, it's a green wall

By chance, really, as on a train into Paddington, I'd overheard a woman talking about going to see the green walls. That's walls that are green with plants, not a band, btw.

That piqued my interest, having recently worked on some scripts for Masdar City, the world's first sustainable city.

I'm also still reeling from moving into a house where my energy bills are over 3 times what they used to be. I've got my free electricity monitor from British Gas. And now I know how much it costs to run every household appliance, from kettles and fridges to indoor marijuana factories.

She supposed to be doing that?

Okay well maybe not indoor marijuana factories.

I hope to share everything I've discovered in a newspaper article that I'm writing. There seems to be a lot of stories on the subject at the moment - and most of them are about the kind of things we can do to our homes to bring our bills down and maybe even start generating our own electricity (and get paid for it- good gosh!)

Get your free monitor from British Gas

One of the most interesting things I've read is that Labour is planning some kind of scheme whereby you can invest in solar panels and only pay back what you save every month in bills. Makes sense considering few of us can afford the £6000-8000 it would cost to buy and install solar panels.

If you'd like to DIY or don't think Labour's going to stay in power, then you might instead like to spend $1.99 on these instructions I found on ebay to make your own panels from scratch.

Anyway, so one reason I went to Ecobuild was out of interest. The other was because I thought it might be an opportunity to discover some interesting people to work with.

I called Pete, from TAP BANG, a video production company, who I met at a Baker Street BNI chapter to see if he wanted to go, too. He did so we met up before exploring the show separately.

Here's what I discovered:

A trade show is the perfect place to go to understand how you, your product, your messages and your design work in your marketplace.

What's going on?

As I walked around, I was struck by the endless barrage of words.

Company names, specifications, facts, figures.

I was also struck by how few of these companies had a one line statement that answered the question 'what's this about, then?'

Sure you can figure it out in the end by looking at the products and all the other bits of text on boards and brochures. But this takes time. It's a pain the arse. And it gives you a headache, especially if it's getting close to lunch time.

Why you?

Walking around a trade show, you'll also see just how important it is to answer the question 'what makes us different?'

There's not necessarily an incredible answer to this. After all, lots of companies do the same thing. But as good as a description as you can manage - as thorough as possible - helps people see exactly what you do.

It saves time and effort. Which means people won't get annoyed. You wouldn't like them when they're annoyed. And they wouldn't like you.

Stand out

I also saw how few exhibitors had anything that might really grab your attention. I'm not talking gimmicks but something different, something that shows a little thought, something that makes you stop and stare or think or act. Something that no-one else has.

Here's an example.

Out of the hundreds of stands I saw, only one (yes, one) advertised prices. Not only did this help you see what they sold, they also compared online prices with show prices, giving people a strong reason to buy NOW. This stand was packed. Some people were actually jostling to take a look at the prices. Others were talking about them. Why the secret? Is it true you're so expensive you don't even want to advertise the price because it might scare people off?

And another.

The Dyson stand. Textbook stuff:

The one-line USP - 'The fastest, most hygenic hand dryer' BING! IN ONE!

The attention-grabber - a tall, clear perspex box filled with paper with the copy 'If everyone visiting ecobuild this year uses the bathroom just once, the paper towel waste would stretch over 20,000 metres - the height of 194 Battersea Power Station chimneys' - BING!

Apart from the line 'if everyone visiting ecobuild this year uses the bathroom just once' making me ask the question 'What? Ever?', this is a great illustration.

It gives you a mental image that will stay with you. They've even made it London-centric. Nice.

Dyson also had a section clearly laid out for case studies. Apparently the Dyson dryer helps EDF Energy save 7 million paper towels and £30K - BING!!

And finally.

A big tick for Elmhurst Energy, whose backboard asked 'Are you a surveyor, architect or engineeer? Property developer or contractor? Local authority or housing association?

It sounds funny but by letting your target audience know who they are, you take a step towards saying what's in it for them. You want to get people nodding. Capiche?


Punters are bombarded with hundreds and thousands of products - and millions of words of information.

You really need to answer the question: 'what makes my product different?'

Failing that, make it easy for people to understand you.

Simplify your messages. Resist the temptation to overdo it.

Stand out.

Be remembered.

Get people's attention.

Spend some money and do it right. Dyson clearly had enough dosh to create a stand big enough to give a bit of space to each of the following: carbon trust badge, paper towel demo, case studies, hand dryer cutaway, its USP.

Of course, it's not all down to messaging. Dyson also benefits from its reputation. But that's another blog post.

And in case you were wondering, my name's Hayes Thompson, I'm a copywriter who can also write long copy. I am very, very reasonably priced. And Led Zeppelin is/was the greatest band in the world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Client comments

Look, clients, we take your words and we create

Client comments. You've got to love them. Seriously, you have to. Otherwise they might drive you insane.

So cherish them. Keep them. Make a folder for them. Save them. Back them up.

Then one day you can do something with them.

I'll tell you what I've kept. A 300 word email I had to write to defend/fight for/save a paragraph of copy. Or rather, prevent loads of mistakes being made with the suggested changes. It's an important distinction because I wasn't merely being precious. The changes to the copy the client wanted simply didn't make sense, logically or grammatically, so I argued it point by point.

So that's what I've kept. But somehow it's vergy ugly. It looks ugly and it feels ugly. It's like a sad battle that should have never happened in the first place. A victory but a fairly hollow one because the end product wasn't going to win any awards. It was just that the changes suggested added nothing and in fact made a few silly errors.

Far more pretty is what Brighten The Corners, a London-based design studio, has created from their client comments.

They've taken the best from their inbox over the past three years and made three lush posters from them. They look good and, copy fans, there's stuff you can read, too! Pretty AND funny. I know because mine just arrived in the post.

The first one's above. Two and three are below. Order yours now from Brighten The Corners. They're only a tenner plus 70p p&p. And don't forget to save your best client comments, let them mature. And one day you can do something with yours, too.

Ain't client comments pretty?

Gutted if you ended up on this

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best UK TV ad of 2009

For me, the best UK TV ad of the year came on December 31. This TV ad for TV ads was worth the wait.

Everyone has their favorite ad and this ad has picked some classics. OK so maybe not Bodyform. But you can't deny the enduring legacy of the 'woah, Bodyform' jingle. Not now, anyway, haha.

Seriously, though, if you ever saw the ad in question, I bet you can remember the three words that came after the 'woah Bodyform' bit. I know I can.

That's power, folks. Getting me to remember a Tampax brand. OK so I needed to be prompted but you know what I mean.

An interesting thing about this ad for me - there's no replay of the old ads. It's just audio. And that's enough to bring the memories flooding back.

It's supposed to be an ad for TV ads. But actually it's an ad for ads. It's an ad for good writing, for catchprases. It's an ad for stories, for jingles. It's an ad for characters, for tone of voice and for human emotions. And you can put those to work in any medium. Still, it's hard to beat TV's reach. And how would a website or a viral help you tell JR Hartley's story any better?

I laughed my head off when I saw this ad. I could write and write about it (any maybe I will later to cheer myself up if I get depressed). For now, I'll just let you watch it. Goodbye 2009.