Monday, August 31, 2009

Creative Graduates - What's in your BOOK?

Dear Students,

Welcome to the first ever back to school week on Dear Advertising. For the first insertion I wanted to put the legacy of the creative book into the spotlight. This is something that has stayed pretty much the same for graduates throughout the years despite how much advertising has evolved and changed with time. The equation looks something like this; Cool Brand + Witty Line = Print Ad. Don't get me wrong I feel that there is still a place for the 'book' but I think that their just might be a more effective way to use it especially for new grads.

Since moving to my current agency I have not only had the pleasure of interviewing and helping hire new suits but I have also been privileged to be a part of hiring creatives and most recently new graduates. I felt as though I was a part of some kind of secret society. We all sat around this room in silence, peeling back pages of the book, nodding our heads, asking questions, looking up to imply deeper thought and finally shaking hands with the fresh faced new generation before sending them on their way. After about 2 or 3 of meetings it hit me that for the most part these books are all more or less the same for a graduate.

The similarities aren't in the quality of work, the art direction or even the copy, what I mean by this is that each book showcases the same executions, some print, out of home and maybe the odd online display ad. On top of that the ads are usually for some of the worlds’ largest most established brands; Coke, Coors Light, Google, Toyota, Tide, Colgate, etc. etc. In an industry where you need to stand out as an individual (or team) that sees things differently this needs to start and end with your book.

I do not blame the graduates of these programs, instead I blame the teachers who have lived in an era where things were always done this way. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to work with some very talented individuals but I have to say the best creatives were the ones that weren't looking for a solution that involved a witty headline with a clean layout. These creatives seemed to come up with the big idea first from a true insight and allowed this idea to dictate the mediums to be used. Instead of setting out to develop a print ad or a billboard.

So please dig a little deeper, put on your client or account person hat and develop some rationale that speaks to a true insight or solves a real problem.

I think that if the next generation can apply this type of thinking we will be in good hands.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Flash Back Friday - Back to School

Dear Readers,

Its that time of year again. Days seem to be getting a little shorter, evenings a little cooler and all of our beloved mediums have been flooded with back to school advertising. While there is not much funny nor good work form the back to school archives I figured the best example was this spot for Staples that has been in use since the mid 90's.

A lot of back to school advertisements focused on the children and savings parents good enjoy during this time. Staples took it to the next level by focusing on the sheer joy parents feel when back to school time roles around. Yes I think its about time for a refresh but you have to say that this is a classic.


HEADS UP - Next week we will be dedicating all of our posts to back to school tips for students and graduates regarding the Ad Industry.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Canadian Olympics

Dear Nike,

The Olympics are coming to town. And while the McDonalds ad featuring Patrick Chan did not get me pumped for it I just watched your first Nike hockey Olympics spot and aside from being 'I am Canadian'esque, I am motivated to go and get my skates sharpened. This motivation does not only come from the fact that I am Canadian (and born on a frozen pond) but because I feel the creative team on this managed to 'skate' a fine line between ridiculousness (maple syrup and log cabins)and how Canadians really feel about there sport. On top of this, the spot managed to lend itself nicely to the Olympics without becoming only about the biggest stage in sports.

Olympics aside the tagline used to sum up the spot captures the essence of the Nike brand without being overbearing - Force Fate. What better way to leave nothing to chance by taking control to ensure you 'Force Fate'.

The pressure is certainly on for Team Canada to produce on our home turf. Until the first puck drops I look forward to watching more Olympic ads like this.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Young Talent our Most Precious Resource?

Dear Advertising Big-Wigs,

In the last couple of months I have been witness to too many examples of how Agencies, and specifically our leaders, are failing to prepare, mentor and nurture rising stars in our industry. Perhaps my perspective is jaded, but it seems to me that there is a serious lack of training and support available to young creative and account people in our industry, and with shrinking budgets, and emphasis on short term profitability, I don’t see this trend improving any time soon. Now don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of young, curious and talented advertising professionals out there, who on their own time are reading blogs, taking courses, and generally expanding their knowledge but it certainly isn’t formally encouraged (or rewarded) by many agencies.

At the very least, I think we owe it to our industry to actually help our account people learn how to approach writing a brief – what makes an insight an insight? What makes a brief powerful, and how can is it used to inspire a creative team? Basic stuff, but we can’t expect our account coordinators and AE’s to learn through osmosis. Someone might want to walk them through this important part of their future role. For the creative folks – they need to take an active role in selling the work, and please, we need to help them figure this out sooner rather than later. If we continue to have account people writing bland, uninspiring briefs, and creative people who are unable to articulate their ideas and relate them to an overall strategy, then surely we are all doomed.

We are a creative industry, and we thrive on big ideas that challenge the status quo, but I think it is time we bring a little bit more rigor into our training – after all, how are we supposed to improve the way we approach our jobs, if we never learn the fundamentals?


Todays blog was written by guest writer KB.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Flashback Friday - First Cell Phone Spot

Dear Readers,

This is a very special Flashback Friday, not because of the ad but because its my birthday. This is the first cellular phone ad ever made. Who needs words when you have amazing background music and emotions. Cellphone ads have come a long way for the better.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Give me some 'Knorr' ads like this

Dear Knorr,

I just saw your new spot from Knorr for Lipton Sidekicks. I want to start off by saying great stuff DDB Toronto and secondly want to commend the Knorr clients on this that believed that an idea that is a little more cerebral can do great things for your brand. From the strategy to the execution I think this is right on the mark.

As a side note whoever chose Michael Bolton as the song is a genius.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Billboards Extensions

Dear Every Client Who Purchases Outdoor Advertising,

I love me a great new billboard. I feel that it is one of the simplest and purest forms of advertising when it is done right. And by done right I mean a message that is concise and to the point (5-7 words). When billboard extensions became all the rave I couldn't have been more excited, "This is going to be great and grab even more attention!" (Picture me holding a small flag that says 'Billboards are #1'). These are the ones I get excited about:

This enthusiasm slowly started to die when extensions started become the norm for no good reason other than to just have an extension. Here are a couple of examples of the not so good:

All I'm saying is that if your going to have an extension at least try and make sure there is good reason for it.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Flash Back Fridays

Dear Old Gold,

Another Friday and another gem.

I strive to have a song like this written about me one day. "He's an independent guy, he likes to set his own kind of style." Just a guy working on his house hacking some big deal. Its the flavour that he's after but its the coupons that she likes!? Amazing.

I wasn't around when cigarette advertising was legal but if it was all like this then I feel like I missed out on a lot.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Its a Mad Mad World

Dear Mad Men,

With the Season 3 launch of Mad Men this Sunday I thought I would take a moment to look at how AMC has made this one of the most highly anticipated premiers for a cable TV show in a long time.

I know I recently had a Mad Men post on my blog about the Banana Republic promotion and Mad Men Yourself application but as I continued to research the launch I uncovered just how big of an event this is. Maybe its the fact that its a show about advertising and a lot of advertisers have blogs, twitter accounts, facebook fan pages and have a huge influence on media or maybe its the fact that this show has taken on a life of its own and has become bigger than Jesus. Either way I think we can all agree that the hype around this premiere is a shining example of what is possible if you a) Have the right show and b) Put the necessary resources and thinking against what is possible.

Any other TV shows out there should be taking notes on how to launch a new season but I guess we will only know the real success after the premier.

Here are some other things the show is doing to help with the premiere:

For August 10th only and Mad Men partnered together and exclusively feature a Mad Men inspired complete with cars from the 60's, interviews with Rat Pack legend Sammy Davis Jr. and even an advice column for yesteryear. In my opinion a partnership made in heaven given the womanizing attitudes fostered by Mad Men's leading men.

New York goes mad leading up to the premiere. Mad Men themed events will be taking place all across the city from the Hilton on 1335th serving up Mad Men inspired cocktails to the Museum of Art and Design running a special exhibit showcasing 1960's inspired advertisements all leading up to an outdoor viewing of the season premiere in Times Square.

These plus online apps, Banana Republic partnerships, features in GQ, Vanity Fair, The New York Times and of course stories all over the world of blogging are ramping up to what should be one of the biggest premieres of the year. The question remains are the producers of the show Mad!? I guess the ratings will be the judge of that.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Diet Coke and Duffy,

Dear Diet Coke,

You and I both know that celebrity endorsements have kind of always been your thing. Aside from your brand efforts there has always been someone helping you hock your product and over the years you have looked to pop music icons to help spike your sales. This entry isn't about bashing the fact that you use celebrities to help boost sales, I see the benefit in using today's it girls and guys, instead its about why the creative always seems to be so bad. Take your latest installment featuring Duffy:

I spent the whole time I watched this ad trying to figure out why she was on that bike and why a ten speed? Through song she explains to us that she's got to be free thus the reason she has stolen this bike and decided to go for a joy ride through a grocery store!?!?

My thought is that all of the pop icons Diet Coke has used over the years have a little bit more of a personality than just being singing puppets. Why not explore this? Here's a look of some other classics from Diet Coke:

There has got to be more to our pop music stars than this. All I'm asking the creative team to do is dig a little deeper.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Flashback (Foreign?) Friday

Dear Kinder Surprise,

Is this for real? That is really messed up. I would have loved to be in this meeting when scripts were presented.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

There's a New Joker in Town

Dear Obama,

My mother always said that when people criticise you it just means they are jealous and I for one still believe it. Aside from the criticisms on CNN, Fox News, BBC and honestly the list goes on and on it is the Artistic community that has heavily involved themselves in politics these days. It started with the Obama 'Hope' poster (Did you pay that guy?) and now the latest installment the Obama 'Joker' poster that includes just one word 'socialism.'

Not going to lie Obama this doesn't look good especially considering how nice the work is. My Halloween costume would have been that much better if I would have had this unnamed Art Director doing my make-up. These posters have been popping up all over LA and other neighbouring major cities in an attempt to deface Obama (see what I did there).

All I have to say is 'Why so serious?'


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

HP - You on You

Dear HP,

Saw your new You on You campaign on You Tube late last week. I am interested in seeing how many entries you guys are going to end up getting. It seems to me that a lot of companies have launched User Generated Contests with mediocre success. It seems to me that UGC works for some brands and just doesn't make sense for others.

There are many lessons to be learned when it comes to these types of campaigns and I'm sure more casualties to come.