There’s A Beast In The Room, It’s Called The Company

I have a very wise client that observed, after listening to comments at his team’s away day, that there was a beast in the room.  He said the beast was mentioned by name “Well, The Company…”,  “The Company set up this process…”, “The Company aren’t doing enough…”

The beast in the room was The Company.

People talk about their company as if it is a strange entity.  Some rally against it, some are intimidated by it, many see it as a burden they must bear.

Few people look at their company as a vibrant community made up of people like them.  In fact, it’s not people like them, it is them.

Not my job…
When I was working at a UK Broadcaster we had a security service that patrolled all our buildings at night.  They’d started locking the small meeting rooms and they had the only key to open them.

One morning, a senior manager in my team complained that the rooms weren’t available for use until someone called security.  He then looked me in the eye and said “Why doesn’t someone call them every morning when they come in?”

I told him he was welcome to do that.  He shot back “I meant someone else.”

Oh, maybe someone from The Company … Continue reading

Simple Things That Make Us Happy

Sometimes I am humbled by what underlies our hectic lives.

We are so busy doing things, stressed to the max, trying to cram a little more into our day.

We’re exhausted by work, stuck in traffic and squeezing fun into our free time.

There isn’t much space for contemplating the meaning of life.

And why should we?  Surely, life is about living to the max, experiencing everything we can and acquiring a few nice things along the way.

This ad from Thailand made me pause for a moment.

It made me remember that some of the happiest people I’ve known were poor, many had large families and enjoyed simple pleasures.  They laughed regularly, celebrated small successes and relied on their faith in the rough patches.

I wonder if this ad, from Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok, would work to sell life insurance in the Western World?

What do you think?

Why Didn’t They Buy It? Tips For Pitching And Presenting

Your work was brilliant but the client didn’t get it… what happened?

I’ve been working with a lot of creative teams on selling their ideas.

You’ll recognize their struggle if you do any kind of presenting where you are trying to convince someone to try something new.

You work hard on your concepts, put it together in the way that makes sense to you and give it your full voltage enthusiasm.

But you don’t get wild applause. You get doubt, confusion or disappointment.

It may not be your work, it may simply be the way you presented it.

Two ways into information
There are two different ways people prefer to receive and share their information.

1. Some like real, actual, factual information, tangible things they can touch, see and feel.

2. Others like the intangible, the possibilities and the connections they can imagine.

Myers Briggs statistics show that over 70% of the general population prefer that first approach. They like to deal with reality and base their decisions on the concrete things that they can observe and discuss.

However, jobs in creative industries naturally attract people in the second group, people that are excited by possibilities and enjoy the challenge of solving something that isn’t obvious or clear.

If you work in a creative industry, you may be surrounded by people who like big ideas and trust themselves to figure out the details later.

Consequently, you might think your clients feel the same, that you can explain your overall concepts to them first and explain exactly how it will work later.

That approach could be a problem, if that isn’t how your client takes in information.

Continue reading

Is It The Brief Or The Brand?

Advertising consistency is a difficult game built through briefs and brand identities.

We have extensive brand guidelines, charts on tone of voice, lists of what the brand should and shouldn’t be. All in hopes that the communications will be a matched set and consumers will remember the product.

If consistency is the end goal, Coca-Cola are the masters in their field.

Their advertising displays the feel good factor across countries and agencies. Continue reading

How To Give Feedback To Almost Anyone

“It’s going to be a difficult conversation”… it makes you cringe just reading the words.

We all have to have those discussions.  You’ve got something to say to someone and it isn’t all positive and glowing.

You know you need to address it but you don’t want things to get ugly.

With a bit of thought, giving feedback doesn’t have to be painful.

Whether you need to offer feedback on someone’s behaviour or you’re offering feedback on creative work, you can do it in a way that is open, inclusive and productive.

Is it Feedback or is it Criticism
Consider the difference between these two words. Continue reading

Sex, Brands And Winter Olympics

Brands love to associate themselves with the prowess, discipline and sheer brilliance of Olympic athletes.

Big brands sponsor the games, showing their respect for the best in their field and borrowing a bit of their glory by association.

Other brands try to jump on board using athletic images in their advertising and cheering on their country’s teams.

This year, some brand ads have taken a turn that seems to me to be completely off piste.

The Olympic Games themselves seem to be running unscathed by Russia’s rejection of Gay Rights. However several brands have chosen that particular trail to hurl down in their own brand-defining luge.

Below are two ads that try to use humour to offer support to gay athletes.  I don’t see how they help the cause.

Where is the celebration of athletic feats that astonish us?  Where is the respect for the years of training, endurance and drive to be the best?  Where in these ads do the brands make the point that personal sexual preference is not an issue?

Last year Channel 4 did an outstanding job of raising awareness of Paralympians as Super Humans.  If you missed their promotion click here to watch it.

They helped redefine disability and put their athletic achievement first and foremost in our minds.  They helped shift our perceptions.

These two ads don’t do anything so noble.  They use gay stereo types to get a laugh and do little to help build respect for alternative lifestyles.

Have a look and let me know what you think, does this humour do the job?

Managing Your Appraisal, Stonkin’ Objectives And Decent Feedback

I’ve been doing some fun training this month at a UK broadcaster. It involved a campfire, coloured pens and a hard look at managing your own annual appraisal.

Fun? I hear you asking, how can that be fun?

It’s fun to help change people’s perspective.

Moving them from dread to recognising that their appraisal is an opportunity to control their destiny and improve their lot– that’s an interesting proposition.

If you manage your own appraisal well, it will mean more than just a quick review of what your boss thinks you’ve been doing all year.

Then if you put some thought into this coming year, about projects that would motivate you, be interesting and challenging to work on – you’ll be shaping your job in a new way.

This could be the most important thing you write all year. Everything else you write will be about work, this is about you and your future.

So let’s see if I can help you change your perspective, then you can shake up your own annual appraisal.

Don’t just wing it
Great appraisals start with some solid prep work. This isn’t the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Here are a few things to prepare. Continue reading

Start Something New

Out with the old, in with the new, it’s a fresh start.

There’s a short window at the beginning of January where we look at the year in front of us and see all its possibilities.

With the whole year ahead we have everything to play for. We can put last year behind us and look forward to the things we daydream about.

This year, we will chase what we want and grasp it with both hands.

We’ll find new challenges and as the year unfolds we’ll feel the satisfaction of a job well done.

This is the time to start something new. Continue reading

Merry Christmas to all

I want to wish you a very happy Christmas break filled with laughter, good food and people you enjoy.

I know this is a crazy time of year, office parties, school plays and stolen moments for some quick online shopping.

Then suddenly it’s here. Christmas sails by and we are celebrating the new year.

In keeping with the season, I want to share an ad I think captured the spirit of Christmas.

I love this because there isn’t any  hype and yet Sainsbury’s definitely own it. Continue reading

Just Like Sports, A Coach Can Up Your Game In Advertising

Being in media, broadcast or advertising is a crazy job.  It’s stress filled, panic driven and a wild, exciting ride if you can hang on.

It’s difficult to focus on your own performance or improve your ability because there is never enough time.

That’s where a turbo boost from a coach can help.

The goal of your coach is to help you build on your success, look at ways of maximising your potential and help you stay at the top of your game.

How can you keep the excitement and lower the stress?
A coach will help you eliminate the things that you keep batting away; things that cause you doubts, problems that aren’t creative, issues managing up or managing your team, things that gobble your time. Continue reading

Mercedes Benz – An Entertaining Ad With A Level Head

Guest Post By Milly Chu, Account Director
I love a great ad. Its ability to entertain you and impart a persuasive brand message is a unique fusion of business and creativity.

This ad feels too simple to be true; it’s funny and stayed in my head because it’s so brave.

Mercedes ‘Magic Body Control’ has clocked up nearly 4m views online in the last week. It embodies a simple creative thought coupled with an artful execution. It stands out because it’s wholly entertaining. Continue reading

Saving The Best For Last – Does It Work In Creative Presentations?

There is a long held agency belief that saving your best work for last makes the strongest creative presentation.

The hope is to build anticipation through the presentation so when you get to the highlight, they’ll buy it.

Then the meeting will finish on a high and your client will skip away feeling like they got their money’s worth.

If that’s your agency’s approach, it might be worth challenging tradition.

Why it doesn’t work
When you’re presenting, if your first piece misses on some element of the message, if they think it isn’t quite on brand or it lacks entertainment value, your client’s internal chatter starts immediately. Continue reading

Rules Or No Rules – Messages In Car Advertising

These two ads take totally different approaches to shout about their technology.

One says trust us because we think creatively, work hard and nothing will get in our way. They use the end line “New Rules.” The other says we’re bringing you something unique because we won’t accept the rules.

They couldn’t be more different.

The first one is for Toyota Auris, The Alternative, who rejects the rules.

It’s a big production, full of pomp and circumstance. Some Big Wig (literally in a wig) is telling the masses that they have no choice. Then the voice over says “In a world where you think you only have one choice, we introducing the alternative.”

The problem is credibility of the build-up.

They compare the choice we have in music, phones, and pets for the family, with the relatively few choices we have had in a car engine.

Even the timing feels off, the Hybrid engine they are flaunting launched years ago, the fact that it is being offered in a new model feels a bit flat. Saatchi and Saatchi in Milan developed this one.

Moving on to Chrysler’s “How to change cars forever” approach. Continue reading

What Inspires Original Thinking?

Original thinking is that flash behind inventions, breakthroughs and discoveries. That moment you come up with an idea that is really new, not an adaptation of something you already know.

We might get there occasionally, but what inspires that moment? Why is it so rare and elusive to be an original thinker?

Nancy Kline, Founder of Time To Think, believes she has the answer.

I heard Nancy speak recently about original thinking. She’s a wonderful storyteller, has an eclectic vocabulary and she plays your emotions like a violin.

She says the quality of our work depends on the quality of the thinking we’ve done before hand. She asks if most of our thinking is recycled or repeated ideas, how good can our work be?

I hear you moan as you read this.

In creative industries we want unique work, but we never have the luxury of being allowed time to think.

Getting stuck with the obvious… Continue reading

Stereotypes Can Be A Laugh In Advertising

I love it when someone can take a stereo types about their own culture and have the confidence to say the joke is on us.

Every country has idiosyncrasies. Recognizing some home truths with a humorous spin lets us all be included in the joke.

These two ads have done that beautifully.

The first is a web film for Tennents Lager ad, made by Newhaven in Edinburgh.
The animation is simple, the poetry is not sublime, but it sums up Scotland from a point of pride and relates everything back to Tennents.

My favourite part is the midges.

The second is for the Canadian Film Festival made at JWT. They offer us an insular view of the world where Canada is at the big end of the telescope.

It’s a moody film with a twist, where the Canadians are “a bit too Canadian.”

Drop a line in the box below about what you’d say if you were having a laugh at your own culture.

Does Everyone Love The Big Reveal? Why a surprise may lose you the pitch

The word surprise is usually looked at positively, some great thing that is going to happen that you will love.

Creative people have been using the big reveal in pitches for years.  They love the idea of a build-up and a big surprise when they’re pitching work to a client.  “Ta-da!  Here is our big idea.”

The reality is different; we don’t generally like to be caught off guard or taken by surprise.   More…

10 Ways To Get The Most From Using A Coach

Potential is such a great word. It is full of promise and possibilities. Potential sums up all the success we could have in our career and hints at the amazing things we could do.

The fastest line from potential to success is a coach.

There are all kinds of coaches in life, sports coaches, teachers, great bosses or mentors. They might inspire you, challenge you, support or encourage you. All of them share the same desire to unlock your possibilities and help you jump forward on the game board of life.

If you have the chance to work with a coach, of any kind, take some steps to insure you get the most out of that opportunity.

You can make life changing progress working with a coach.

To do that it takes an open mind and a desire to change. What you gain from that coach is totally up to you. Continue reading

Launching A Comedy Channel Is A Laugh

Launching a television channel is no easy feat.

You have a load of programmes your audience won’t recognize.  You need to create a personality, explain the type of shows you’ll carry, build name recognition and drag people away from their habitual channels, all in 60 seconds.

To complicate things, if your channel carries a lot of originated programming, or shows in foreign languages, there may not be much material to work with.

It boils down to the essence of what you want people to imagine your shows will be like, and creating a curiosity that will get them to check it out.

This ad for the Comedy Channel Launch in Brazil does the whole package, and has a laugh at its own culture on the way.

This one was created by Wieden and Kennedy in Sao Paulo, what do you think?

Laughing With You– Advertising That Makes Fun Of Its Consumer

I love a brand that is brave enough to have a laugh at its target audience.

Schneider Beer
This ad for Schneider Beer, is chock full of men behaving badly. Then it rounds up those same men at the end, unashamed and celebrating with a cold one.

There’s a nice bit of product placement throughout and the women’s reactions tell it all. The ad’s from Argentina, so apparently behaving badly is universal.

I didn’t take away this line from the brief: “The taste and quality of a Schneider Beer could be summarized in its big secret: maturation time,” but I don’t think that would make a difference to its sales.

It’s fun, well shot and shows guys being guys.


Sprite Zero
The second ad is for Sprite Zero, also from Argentina. Continue reading

Re-invent Your Job And Get Motivated Again

If humans had a keyboard, I’m sure there would be a Respond button.

Everyone would punch it, our clients, our bosses, our staff, our families – Respond, Deadline’s tomorrow, ASAP, Important…

Most of us feel like the button’s jammed.

We live in constant response mode – time to think? Who has time for that?

The problem with that constant fire fighting is it leaves you dealing with the same kind of things over and over.

Take meetings, for example. People send you invitations, if you’re free, you reply that you’ll attend, then you promptly move on to the next thing.

How many times have you started your day, glanced at the calendar and groaned that you are in meetings for seven hours, leaving very few hours left for the real work.

Look across your week – I bet it doesn’t get any better. It’s a meeting culture these days and a lot of managers are stuck in the web. Continue reading