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Archive for May, 2010

Twitter went nuts over the last few days about the full-length-feature-version Nike World Cup ad.

This one.

But I just don’t get it.

It’s the same old Nike formula.

Yes it’s an epic.

But it’s not “epic”.

Yes I smiled at the Homer Simpson / Ronaldo vignette.

Yes (big fucking surprise) someone managed to get a decent acting performance out of Wayne Rooney.

But it leaves me cold.

It’s the Chelsea or Real Madrid of TV advertising. Huge budgets that no-one else can match, used to buy the brand’s way to success.

It is clearly designed to impress but it doesn’t.

The YouTube generation has, I think, been educated to separate the idea from the execution. Huge stars and lavish production values can’t disguise conceptual bankruptcy.

An old Viz cartoon (I can’t remember which) featured a spoof magazine called “Body Builders Have Small Dicks”.

This ad is like the imagined content of that magazine. Lots of bulging bicep but sadly lacking in the trouser department.

Compare and contrast with the Honda Impossible Dream ad.

This one.

As the YouTube blurb says, it’s “bigger, longer, awesomer and impossibler” than the original version that first ran three years ago.

This ad is an epic.

And it’s “epic”.

It moves me in ways that the Nike ad doesn’t begin to.

A sentiment echoed in the comments it has been receiving.

“I don’t know when the last time was I got goose-bumps watching an ad.”

“Epic commercial video. Nice music. I’ve cried a bit.”

“Beautiful.”

A quick look at the comments on the Nike ad is revealing. There’s much more cynicism at play.

The motives of the players are questioned.

People seem to want to find fault with it.

Even three years on the Honda ad feels fresh and original, and not just for the automotive sector where it stands head and shoulders above everything else.

Whereas, on the basis of this World Cup ad, Nike hasn’t moved on in well over a decade.

It’s interesting that both ads are the output of the same agency group.

Nike by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam.

Honda by Wieden & Kennedy London.

Honda 1, Nike 0

England 1, Holland 0

An omen?

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I want someone to mock me, to kick my ass, to make me feel stupid.

So said Jasper Westaway of Onedrum.com at TechCrunch Edinburgh on Wednesday last week.

He was talking about the value that good product marketing people bring to tech businesses, and how difficult they are to find.

But the principle applies to any business.

It’s much better to have someone inside your organisation who can make you feel stupid with a few intelligently naive questions than to wait and leave that job to someone outside the organisation in, say, a vital pitch presentation.

I’m in the process of hiring a new planner for Blonde at the moment, and I have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking for.

Not just a series of ticks in boxes in terms of skills and experience.

I want someone who scares me.

Either because they can do things that I can’t.

Or because they are, or will be, better at the things that I can.

This is the only way to recruit.

A long long time ago a friend of mine had a video (VHS) of Deep Purple in concert.

At one point there was a break in the proceedings as various members of the band talk to the sound engineers on the mixing desk because they’re not entirely happy with some of the levels.

In the end the lead singer, Ian Gillan, speaks into the microphone and says “We want everything louder than everything else.”

Wouldn’t it be great if, through a range of skills, personalities and experiences, everyone in the agency was better than everyone else?

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I fell head over heels in love with each of my children from the moment they were born.

They were beautiful because they were mine.

But other people’s babies have never really done it for me. Babies per se are not beautiful.

I can empathise with the cocktail of emotions experienced by new parents, and share in their joy, but I have no desire to cradle or coo over their baby. Sorry.

That was until I saw Jon Mountjoy‘s baby at the Edinburgh Social Media Coffee Morning (EdCM) at Centotre on Friday morning.

I cradled.

I cooed.

I coveted.

The iPad is gorgeous.

Jon let me a have a brief play with a couple of applications. And, even without wifi connection, I was smitten by the sumptuous attention to detail that has gone into every aspect of the user experience.

It is not just a bigger iPhone.

Actually, no, it is a bigger iPhone.

From a technical point of view anyway.

But there’s no “just’ about it.

The iPad is a bigger iPhone in the same way that a 60 second TV commercial is a longer 30 second commercial. Or that a 48 sheet poster is a bigger 6 sheet.

Whilst factually correct these statements completely ignore the enhanced creative and storytelling potential of the larger formats.

A 60 second commercial is 100% longer than a 30 second spot. But it’s storytelling potential is off the scale by comparison.

And it is bespoke applications that realise this interactive potential that will set the iPad apart from the iPhone and other devices.

For me, now, it’s a matter of when not if.

Jon’s baby has made me iBroody.

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God I was looking forward to reading this again.

I don’t know how many years it is since I first read it but my abiding memory was of general originality and awesomeness and a vague recollection of a surprising twist in the tail that I just didn’t see coming, the exact details of which I couldn’t recall.

As a fan of “extreme dude” authors like Chuck Palahniuk, the book more or less sold itself to me with heartfelt dust cover endorsements from Irvine Welsh (see cover artwork above) and Chuck himself…

I swear to God this is the best book I have read in easily five years. Easily. Maybe ten years.

Chuck Palahniuk

And, first time round it didn’t disappoint.

Life has dealt John (Johnny) Dolan Vincent a tough hand. It has also dealt him a left hand with a fully formed sixth finger

Every six months or so he succumbs to excruciating migraine style headaches (“Godsplitters”), which are not recognised as being real by the medical profession, and which therefore inevitably result in him overdosing on whatever painkillers he can lay his hands on.

And here’s the rub.

Johnny is a brilliant forger. He lives behind a series of stolen and concocted identities. He devotes his time between Godsplitters to remaining as anonymous and as far off the various bureaucratic radars as possible whilst he earns money from low key jobs, topped up by providing identity services to the Los Angeles mob. Both literally and metaphorically he seeks to conceal his hand (six fingers is most definitely a handicap for anyone looking to melt into the background).

But each headache induced overdose brings him into contact with the very bureaucratic machinery that he so meticulously looks to avoid – hospitals, medical records, insurance, psychiatric evaluations.

After each overdose – described in graphic, meticulously researched detail – he has to jettison one identity and create another. He’s a narcotic version of Dr Who, regenerating himself as someone new after each near-death experience.

The story joins Johnny in hospital in the aftermath of his most recent overdose. As usual he has to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to ensure that he is not a potential suicide risk before being discharged from hospital.

And the narrative unfolds through his cat and mouse interaction with his evaluator, one Dr Richard Carlisle. We learn about Johnny’s childhood, his descent into criminal activity and his potential salvation through his girlfriend, Keara, the only person in whom he has ever confided his multiple identity secret.

Johnny is as skilled at working the evaluation system as he is at creating false identities.

At the outset he skilfully pulls the right strings and presses the right buttons to present himself as being sane, but not suspiciously so. This is by no means a trivial exercise. Based on childhood experience Johnny knows that the last thing he wants is to be referred indefinitely to a psychiatric institution.

However, Johnny’s mafia associates are not best pleased with his frequent unannounced disappearances and identity changes. As their patience runs out it becomes apparent that his best chances of short term survival lie in the very thing he fears – a psychiatric referral…

And that’s probably enough detail to hopefully whet the appetite without giving too much away.

On second reading this is still a rollicking good read, and a fantastic debut novel.

And the ending is good. Just not the “where-the-fuck-did-that-come-from?” handbrake turn shocker that I vaguely remembered.

If you like Chuck, you’ll probably dig Craig.

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