Monday, November 30, 2009

The toughest brief yet.

... the annual Agency Christmas Greeting.

Didn't think it would be this hard, the jolliest brief of the year, but when the client is your employer, boy things get tough!
The challenge is to find an original thought about christmas (if that's possible) but still keep its relevance to the agency and promote its creativity. So far we have been failing with this and not getting the balance quite right.

So we had a week on it, researched and found there's a whole load of agency christmas love out there to contend with. See here for a big list of them form 2008.
Some of my favourites are below..

I'll keep you updated on how our first agency christmas card goes. eeps.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

School of Saatchi

*Gasp* no unfortunately not the notorious Saatchi and Saatchi but the Charles Saatchi of Saatchi Gallery type of school.

Did you catch it? Last night on BBC 2, the new Xfactor style art programme aired. Twelve young artists will battle it out every week to convince a panel of judges including Tracey Emin, Kate Bush, critic Matthew Collings and collector Frank Cohen and ultimately Charles Saatchi to let them exhibit their work in the Saatchi Galleries.

I watched it with baited breath, thinking this is either going to be a flop, exploiting young artists and showing some really poor executed pieces (bit like the recent Philippe Starck 'Design for Life' show on BBC2) or a triumph showcasing interesting and thought provoking art. But much to my surprise it was the later. There was a wide range of talent and I fell in love with Tracey Emin and I have gained some more respect for her. She reminds me of a great creative director that can smell shite a mile off and isn't afraid to question peoples reasoning. She was informative, clear and straight to the point. However having been through art school and such I do have a keen interest in contemporary art but some pieces I just don't get despite the explicitly clever reasoning behind it.

They also got the artists to do a life drawing lesson. Most of them couldn't draw, and some were shockers but the point was it was more about the skills needed between the eye and the hand and discipline in drawing. Which brings me to my daily drawing of scamps, which believe me could do with some discipline! what's your scamping style? illustrative? Stick men? freestyle? and does it really affect how well an idea gets sold to the client?

More on this soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chameleon Comedians

Could comedians cut it in the advertising world?

It could be argued that comedy has many parallels to advertising. Apart from the fact they both try to sometimes make you laugh, it seems that both succeed on finding an observation, truth or insight about a situation/product/person and exaggerating this to an audience. One to get laughs the other to get sells or both in some cases.

For example Lee Evans takes the simplest of observation and truths about "home cooking":
“I love restaurants, and that’s the thing now, they always boast about now, restaurants…home made cooking…I don’t want home made cooking, that’s why I’m here! ‘cos I don’t like the shit at home! Yeah…you know! And they don’t say who’s home it is, do they! Could be a mental home, couldn’t it!”

It's small insights, such as questioning what "home cooking" really means that could be a great starting point for say an organic restaurant company trying to outshine its fast food chain competitors. A small truth that has a broad appeal.

I then found a blog post on Nat and Lol's blog, Smells like team spirit. on campaign where the girls have been going to sketch writting classes and analysing sketches to see why they are successful. From these classes they noted that:
"I was struck by how similar this is to writing an ad campaign. The joke is the central thought, or strategy. And the variations are simply different executions of the same thought - just as three posters in an ad campaign are basically escalating the same concept in different ways."

Of course it also works the other way around- Copywriters can turn to comedy. Take Steve Patterson for example, a Canadian comedian once a copywriter who was fired because he was" shamelessly trying to inject humour into an ad ". So too much humour can also be a turn off.

I also remember watching a documentary where the comedy duo Smith and Jones get challenged with writing an advert. (Youtube and Google searching unsuccessful with referencing, please inform me if you remember it) However after a good start all I remember is that they found it really hard trying to tone down the laugh appeal and focus on the core message.

So lessons learnt...
Comedy can swing both ways. Perhaps the common denominator in both careers is finding that insight that people can connect with which makes something ordinary have appeal. Perhaps advertising is trying to find that balance between laughs and sales. Either way usually the funniest adverts are the most memorable.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009