As part of the wonderful stupor of being a new dad I’ve ended up watching too much daytime TV. And as a result seeing too many daytime TV ads.
I have learned much.
National Geographic have whored themselves out to co-brand some air fresheners. Bloody disgraceful.
There’s this horrific BUY ONE GET ONE FREE advert for windows – I can’t find the actual ad online. But Safestyle UK does have a bunch of promotional videos on their YouTube channel. And you can glimpse the ad at the start and end of this clip. It’s real brain-rape stuff that would shake you out of your deepest pastel-coloured ‘This Morning’ haze.
The fact that this company has a YouTube channel and a blog and all that stuff makes me feel really queer inside.
Here’s another ad that makes me feel like renouncing everything I believed in. It makes me want to tell everyone that integrated campaigns are a product of a sick and twisted satanic messenger.
I’m just bursting with a whole bunch of confessions about bread. What on earth are they expecting? If you’re dying to let your sandwich secrets out, head to kingsmillconfessions.com. Actually, you know that bit in American Pie, how about a ‘British Butty’ remake?
Oh and there’s a Dettol ad that makes you believe that you ought to spray every surface in your house with chemicals or you and your children will die of flu within 48 hours. Thankfully that doesn’t seem to exist on the Internet.
Strangely I was rescued by a McDonald’s ad. Jesus, things must be low, or I’ve tired myself into full-scale brain damage. Seriously though, I actually really like these ads. I love the fact they’ve got proper writing in them. The voiceover is nice. The music works. The observations are sweet. And it feels appropriate, yet different enough.
And thankfully I don’t have to visit the ‘passing-by-o-matic’ to upload my buttocks onto a McDonald’s chair and become poem-a-lized.
It’s a simple full-page 2-frame animation. It’s for a good-cause-style-website. But that doesn’t make it any better. It’s vile interruptive advertising of the worst sort. What really bugs me is that it’ll show loads of impressions and probably get a whole bunch of clickthroughs in the short term. But that doesn’t make it right.
Just say no!
Interestingly if you visit the same page on the web and click the read more link there’s no such ad…
I really don’t want to have to write this post. But when even the Cyber Lions Jury Chairman is posting things like this, what’s a guy to do ;-)
There are traditional agencies (although they’re the least traditional of the traditional agencies obviously) who are doing incredibly well in awards like Cannes. But let’s not forget one simple thing. THESE ARE ADVERTISING AWARDS!!! Therefore it would seem totally outrageous to suggest that companies whose business is advertising won’t be able to do incredible work in that space. Of course they will. They can apply a bunch of the same principles you’ve always used. Add some executional smarts hired in from a production company and whomp, there it is. Awesome online advertising!
And that’s not to suggest that agencies like CP+B don’t have the capacity to do interesting things beyond traditional online advertising. Things like Whopper Sacrifice prove that they do with bloody bells on.
It’s obvious that the language of the past isn’t going to be the language of the future. And as everything becomes more digital these stupid old distinctions become pointless. And hey, perhaps pure-play digital agencies will become a thing of the past?
But I thought it was advertising that was meant to be fucked? So doesn’t that mean winning lots of advertising awards mean that you’re the most fucked of the fucked?
Sorry that’s my best playground insult battle-weapon launched ;-)
I wouldn’t write off the digital specialists just yet. There’s a bunch of things that we can make and do that are pretty damn exciting. And the fact that they’re increasingly not ‘advertising’ has to be interesting to some folks. Surely?
[Edit: just to clarify – I called Cannes an ‘advertising’ award because that’s how it’s perceived by most people – it’s entered by companies that do advertising for clients. Many of them are advertising agencies, no? It just so happens that a lot of stuff that’s getting awarded is progressive advertising.]
[Edit2: was also interesting to see how different juries would perceive work differently – because everyone has their own agenda. The same work would fare quite differently if it was entered in Design / Titanium / Cyber, for example Fiat Ecodrive appeals to some people in the Cyber Jury because they like to think they can design automobile functionality.]
I’ve been a bit down on the internet since I got back from holiday. It’s been as if someone deleted all the good stuff ;-)
Then I accidentally stumbled on this site through a Google image search. It’s one of those sites that’s just bloody fantastic. It’s got archives of adverts, magazines, packaging and loads more beginning at 1900. If you’ve been touched by Mad Men it’s a great spot to check out some of the real deal from that era too.
In my continued judging of the One Show Interactive awards there’s one thing that’s really starting to stand out. Japanese agencies are doing some outstanding work right now.
Every year that I’ve been fortunate enough to judge international awards there’s always a couple of great examples of Japanese work. But the majority of the work that I’m painfully jealous of this year comes from Japan. Of course there’s great US, Swedish, British and Brazilian stuff – as usual. But there’s something noticeably special and standout about some of the Japanese stuff.
And here’s why I think that is…
Disclaimer: I’m making a bunch of assumptions and cultural generalisations here, sorry for any that are crude and inaccurate.
1. The work is polite
– Japanese stuff doesn’t shove itself on the Internet going: POW. LOOK AT ME. I AM THE BEST THING EVER! Culturally it’s subtle. It’s reserved. It’s aware of status and hierarchy. But at the same time it’s not all about the big ‘i am’.I’m sure I’ve whanged on about it before. But in a networked environment where we all have the same access to pixels and characters assuming that yours are somehow better than others’ is wrong wrong wrong. Your stuff has to earn its place in peoples eye-holes. It doesn’t have a god given right to be there. It feels like a lot of the Japanese work I love gets this.
2. The work isn’t driven by TV advertising
I’m not sure why. Hopefully someone can fill me in on this. But almost none of the great work feels like it’s tied in with TV campaigns. The awesome stuff has been considered digital-out. Rather than TV-in.That’s not to say that you can’t get awesome stuff starting with TV. It’s just that when the digital stuff feels like a follow-on rather than a lead there’s a quality about it you can really feel.
3. The work draws from a culture of games, comics and technology
Rather than drawing on cues from TV advertising it feels like Japanese designers are pulling from their really advanced cultures of:
Gaming – which gives the work a sense of fun, progressive engagement, hookiness, atmosphere, character development (and importantly not necessarily of human characters).
Comics – which drives oddness, playfulness and escape from reality.
Technology – obviously having a culture that’s proud of and excited by technology is going to put you in an interesting place when you’re developing for the digital space. Certainly it’s going to lead to more advanced stuff than a culture of basket-weavers. I think tied in with this is their ability to code amazing sites. Sites that are driven by technological wizardry but without feeling overly geeky. Or sometimes that do feel very geeky.
4. Advanced mobile and blogging cultures
It’s hard to pin down the exact numbers and percentages (I had a go but my researching skills are weak), but Japan undoubtedly has a hugely vibrant blogging scene with some surveys suggesting that there are more Japanese language blogs than English ones. And it’s always had a particularly strong mobile Internet for lots of reasons.
Both of these things have led to a particularly strong sense of personal media space. Something which I think a lot of agencies struggle with. They’re not thinking about peoples spaces they’re thinking about their sites, or media owners sites. And the rules are quite different.
Probably connected to point 4. But the notion of widgets (or blog parts as they’re called in Japan) is really strong and central to lots of the work. Many of the campaigns don’t feel like they have a big heavy base, they exist in lots of places that all connect together in a logical way. Which makes things feel progressive and smart as the world stands today.
There’s an attention to detail and a crispness about the digital craft that shines through in a lot of the work. I think this might be massively linked into (2) – so rather than trying to make everything look like TV ads it can look like brilliant and interesting digital stuff instead. I don’t think it’s a co-incidence that the incidence of bad green screen presenters is low…
7. Some of it is a bit strange
Often this makes it feel really fresh and it makes you work a bit harder, in a good way. The sense that there’s a little something that you don’t quite ‘get’ is something that I think has a peculiar attraction. A bit of Especially for geeks.
this is just cheating really. But it is something that I think helps Japanese work to win awards. It’s a strange combo of being slightly culturally exotic and the fact that their character set looks slightly exotic (and to a lot of peoples’ eyes quite beautiful). But this is only a supporting factor in the whole picture – otherwise the Chinese / Korean / Malaysian work would be shining through in the same way. And this year it isn’t.
9. They’re having fun with it
Simple as that. It feels like there’s a love for the work that’s going on. Like people are enjoying doing awesome stuff. And there’s no way you can fake that.
What’s the downside?
Their stuff can take a very long time to load outside of Japan.
Here’s some links to some of my favourite campaigns (again not saying that any of this is going to win – it’s just some incredible Japanese stuff that I’ve liked along the way)…
Some Standout Work From Japan
Here’s some stuff that illustrates some of the points above. Most of these links are to awards entry pages where you’ll get a bit of an introduction to the campaigns (although some of them are very much in Engrish)…
It’s a really deep and multi layered campaign that involves getting people creating things. I’m not sure I quite get all of it. But there’s something very cool about chunks of it.
Axe Chocoman Hunter
Axe Chocoman hunter. Takes the chocoman that we know from the ads and ramps it up into a massive promotion involving a character that travels from phone to phone. With a contest where the winner gets 1% of all Axe profits. It’s bonkers.
Tokyu Hands Mushi Battle
A kind of creative beetle battle for a craft / department store called Tokyu Hands. It’s not as crazily engaging as some of the other things it just feels very very cool.
Honda Edit Screen. This culminates in a screensaver – which I know is listed as one of my old 7 Deadly Sins of Digital. But I don’t care. This site is just super-cute and shows the extreme craft skills of some of the Japanese agencies. Even though most of the site is in a language I don’t understand the interface is straightforward, slick and amazing. It’s basically a massive multi-user artwork generator.
The Last Guy
It’s a campaign a bit like the Balloon Race we did for Orange, but it’s for a Playstation Game and it’s got Zombies in it roaming over the web. It’s kind of different because a lot of the interaction with the individual sites is done using screen grabs. But even so it knows how to lay out the game-space so the right bits of the page are walls, etc.
Click the switch below to turn Crackunit into a zombie game. Go on. Go on. I dare you…
Because of the big header graphic playing it here isn’t the best experience. But the game has had 6.6m plays. Which is totally insane.
Adidas Hello! Runners Map
And I think my favourite of all is this campaign for Adidas Running. They’ve got a tough challenge given the Nike+ thing that’s gone down. But they’ve pulled something amazing out of the bag. You create your running maps, so far so good. Then it uses Google Street View to show your run inside a widget which is FANTASTIC. Also what they’ve done with the whole mapping interface and Flash is a joy to behold.
So that’s some of the stuff that’s been making me excited about the scene in Japan. I hope you like some of it too.
There’s this campaign right, it’s called Compare The Meerkat, it’s for an insurance comparison website called Compare The Market, the ad is a bit funny. I could try and describe it, but it’s easier to show you:
Yes it’s all about a word gag. But it works. It’s embedded itself in my head. Ask me to think of a comparison website right now and I know what I’ll think of first. Well not actually right now, because I’m writing about it so I’d obviously think about it first, but generally I think it’s done a good job of using a weird device to get me to think about meerkats when I think about comparing. So psychologically they’ve done a smart thing – I think.
The numbers raise a load of questions…
On YouTube the ad’s not had loads of views. Does that matter?
No idea of traffic to: http://www.comparethemeerkat.com/ – it’s a pretty basic site, but there’s no point in spending any more on it really, it does it’s job as a spoof.
And there are over 1,000 wall posts – that’s pretty phenomenal in my book – given the fact that it’s just a novelty thing
But here’s where it gets a bit fishy…
Aleksandr Orlov (the Meerkat) started following me on Twitter a while ago. And if you go and look at his Twitter page he’s following a huge number of very well-followed people… Dave Winer, Biz Stone, Om Malik, Tom Coates, Evan Williams, Jason Calacanis, etc. etc. etc. And he’s following 2,000 people with 1,800 followers which just isn’t natural, is it?
I’m not sure what the ethics of this kind of thing are. Or why it bothers me so much. All I know is that it makes me feel a bit yucky. And stops me from liking Meerkats.
Whoever is playing the part of Aleksandr is working it pretty hard. And doing lots of @replies. Which isn’t a bad thing when you’ve got a character that people like. It’s just the follower-spamming I find a bit scary.
In retrospect. Looking at the comments. With the benefit of hindsight. And having chatted with Sophie (and others). I think the long post from yesterday was perhaps too long and too connected. I think maybe it should have been 3 shorter posts instead.
I fear I’ve developed a kind of addiction to joining things up. A blogging symptom I think.
The 3 shorter posts should have been:
“Look, there’s lots of ads around with lots of people doing stuff together in a similar way”. Isn’t that a funny thing. Personally I like some of them. End post 1.
That T-Mobile ad. It’s everywhere. I’m not a hater. I don’t love it from a personal point of view. But I think it’s a good ‘big ad’ and my guess is that it works well against it’s target audience. End post 2. I’ve tried to set the record straight over at Adliterate. Where the rest of the comments prove that, if nothing else, the T-Mobile ad generates talk (in a good way).
I’m of the opinion that, in some cases, you can communicate connection and collaboration in a different, more engaged way. Something less showing and more doing. Less manufactured and more real. And that requires a different approach. And the people who are experts at doing the two approaches may well be different people. The skills required are very different. They should collaborate more. End post 3.