You got one hour back. Now get years back.

3_Press Ad

To coincide with the clocks going back over the weekend in the UK, we’ve been running a campaign that encourages smokers to quit. The work, by the super talented Ben Stainlay and Brian Jefferson, is based on a really simple premise: while the clocks going back technically gives you an hour of your life back, if you quit smoking you’ll get years back. The idea comes from the fact that every cigarette you smoke takes time – on average about 11 minutes – off your life. Add all those sets of 11 minutes together and you have a meaningful amount of extra time to spend doing stuff you love with people you love. Instead of being, you know, dead.

Brutally simple work needs outstanding craft to bring it to life and this campaign has been lovingly crafted into beautiful press, outdoor and digital elements. The ads you see above direct people to the Quit website where smokers can input their details into an online calculator which tells you have much time you’d get back if you quit. Non-smokers can put in the details of family or friends that smoke. The tool is designed so that you can then easily share the stats across social media platforms.

Have a look, have a play with the calculator, pass it onto a smoker you know and spread the word: life’s great and smoking reduces life so quitting smoking is a proper no-brainer.


Just got this from Dave Trott’s blog…


“My experience is that when people come along with a good idea, in the beginning it is completely ignored. If they go on about it they are considered mad and possibly even dangerous. Then, when it is eventually recognised as a good idea, nobody can be found who does not claim to have thought of it in the first place.” – Tony Benn

As Dave T says in his blog – “He could have been talking about any truly original creative idea.”

Eau de bullshit

Perfume advertising, it’s a funny old game. Meaningless mood films packed with good-looking idiots spouting utter bollocks. No ideas or strategies, just beautifully executed silliness punctuated with evocative epigrams whispered in seductive French voices. I don’t know which agencies produce these ads (do they do them in-house?), but it must be a very different creative process to the one that takes place in most ad agencies around the world. While we bust our arses panning our clients’ business problems for creative gold, I imagine the uber-trendy plonkers who create these monuments to sexy stupidity simply pluck them out of the ether while taking a fag break on the set of their latest fashion shoot.

It’s almost a mandatory of the category that the ads be all style and no substance. I guess the thinking is, ‘Why bother with ideas when you have fit models?’ Which is fine. The genre’s been going for decades so it must be pretty effective. Fair enough. But what rubs me royally up the wrong way is when perfume brands try to add substance to the empty style-fest. When they try to imbue these celebrations of nonsense with layers of meaning. And a deep meaning at that. Although the regular perfumed model-fests are pretentious, they’re pretentious in an unintentionally funny, almost self-aware way – they’re not trying to be anything else other that what they are: semi-naked good-looking people spouting pseudo-philosophical gibberish. But some perfume ads aren’t satisfied with this, they want to be taken seriously; they see themselves as part advertising, part art.

The recent Baz Luhrman Chanel commercial with Gisele Bundchen and Sonny from Treme is a good example of the phenomenon of perfume brands strategically over-reaching. Although they’ve polished it up with several layers of spectacular executional sheen, all they’ve been left with is a shiny conceptual turd. The ad above is another classic of the fragrance-ads-trying-too-hard genre. Tragically, this was directed by Martin Scorcese. Yes, the genius who gave us Mean Streets, The King of Comedy, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull also gave us the execrable story of a man who clearly thinks he’s equal parts Eric Cantona, Muhammad Ali and Che Guevara but is in fact a nitwit himbo with silly hair. “I’m not going to be the person I’m expected to be anymore” he insists huffily, strutting off with a Blue Steel gaze as the walls of convention, conservatism and mediocrity tumble dramatically down. But all I wanted you to be was a good-looking model in a daft perfume ad, mate. Not a revolutionary seeker of the outer limits of human potential. And please don’t try to inspire me; I have writers, artists, musicians (like Roger Waters, see below), sportsmen and women, creators and inventors to do that. So either have a proper idea that properly makes me feel something, go brilliantly mental or stick to standing there with your top off, whispering the name of the perfume a few times and looking into the middle distance. Cheers fragrance-flogging fella.

“Can you free yourself enough to be able to experience the reality of life as it goes on before you and with you and as you go on as part of it?”

The older I get the more of a Pink Floyd fan I become. The notion of a band bringing ideas, intelligence and philosophical themes into popular music is deeply unpopular in these days of X Factor blandness, mindless Radio 1 bangerz and twee indie twats dedicating songs to David Cameron. Which makes me appreciate them all the more.

I love their utter Englishness, their fascinating and heart-breaking backstory and that they’ve pulled off the difficult trick of being both strange and popular. I’m big on the Syd Barrett stuff like Piper At The Gates of Dawn and I love the darkly political Waters-driven stuff like Animals and The Final Cut. I cherish the brilliance of Dark Side of the Moon as much as any right-thinking music fan and a little bit of wee comes out when I think about the forthcoming tribute-to-Rick Wright album, The Endless River. However, the one for me is the Wish You Were Here album. No matter how many times I hear the song Wish You Were Here, it always knocks the stuffing out of me. It’s the perfect example of two creative forces coming together from different directions, a transcendent blend of Gilmour’s poignant melody and Waters’ melancholy take on what it means to be human – a masterpiece in a minor key that’s somehow simultaneously downbeat and uplifting.

The reason I bring up Wish You Were Here is that I watched The Story of Wish You Were Here again the other day and was struck by what Roger Waters had to say about the song itself. I spend my days presenting creative ideas to clients, explaining the thinking behind concepts, discussing meaning and semiotics. Even with the simplest of ideas one of the hardest parts of the job is trying to get across what you mean with an idea, its logic, reasoning and purpose. How you believe it will effect people, motivate them to think, feel and act. If you’re not clear it’s easy to misrepresent the idea or confuse people and if you’re not careful these discussions can disappear off into the theoretical bullshitosphere. I find it’s always best to have ideas that are simple and to talk about them in a way that’s warm, easily-relatable, straightforward. Which is eminently do-able when you’re talking about an advertising concept but surely much harder when you’re talking about something as deep, rich and textured as Wish You Were Here. People think the song is specifically about Syd Barrett but it’s much broader than that.

The whole documentary is well worth watching but if you’re pushed for time, have a look at from around 51.00. Describing its meaning Roger Waters says: “I think most of the songs that I’ve ever written all pose similar questions. Can you free yourself enough to be able to experience the reality of life as it goes on before you and with you and as you go on as part of it? Or not? Because if you can’t, you stand on square one until you die. And I know that may sound like bullshit. But that’s what the song is about.” Which struck me as a phenomenally intelligent and articulate piece of thinking/speaking in response to an almost impossible question. And while on the surface it’s kind of a straightforward answer, the more I think about it, the more layers and levels there seem to be to his answer. Just like the song itself.

I love this…even though I’m an atheist

As good as the ‘Perfect Day’ ad from 1997? Maybe not, but beautifully crafted, wonderfully uplifting, with a lovely cameo from Brian Wilson. And although I don’t believe in a grey-bearded Man Upstairs, I don’t think ‘The Power Of Human Intelligence, Connection and Love In A Thrillingly Finite Existence Only Knows’ would’ve worked as a title…

This is what we’re up against

I know that 95% of the people who read this blog have seen this already. But I just wanted to post it as a reminder that if you’re making online content for brands, this is the level of quality you’re up against. Is your ad/microsite/online experience as good as or better than the Cassetteboy Cameron Conference rap? Would people rather spend a couple of minutes on the bus to work watching your piece of branded content than this? Would they be willing to watch your piece all the way to the end and then excitedly share and talk about it as much as they are about this? Would they watch your piece and then go actively looking for other work you’ve done for the brand? Basically, is it as kick-arse funny/provocative/intelligent/inspiring/entertaining as this? If so, well done, you have nothing to worry about. If it’s not you (well, we!) need to ask yourself how you (we) can do better. Sobering thought, eh?

Pablo The Flamingo

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 7.06.58 PM

This brilliantly silly digital thingy got sent around today. It made me smile (especially when I pressed pause on the speaker icon). And it got me thinking, how many emails, Facebook messages, tweets and so on do you get every day with links to a piece of content that the sender thinks you should check out? Shitloads, right? How do you work out which ones to click on and which ones get the immediate delete treatment? Admittedly we’re in First World problems territory here but how annoying is it to click on a link that ends up being long, boring, unfunny or some fatal combination of the three? Very annoying. Especially the ones with irritating click bait headlines. I somehow resent those wasted 14 seconds more than a hour wasted in a pointless meeting. This isn’t rocket science or an amazing new insight, but…it’s really good for advertising creatives to remind ourselves that everything we do is a value exchange. The viewer’s time in exchange for something interesting, funny, informative, helpful. Respect my time and create something I’ll want to spend time with, like Pablo The Flamingo. Instead of bombarding me with something I’ll go out of my way to avoid.