Friday, 28 June 2013

getting hit by a train is a dumb way to die

"Dumb Ways to Die" is a public service campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne promoting rail safety.

Devised by advertising agency McCann Melbourne, the campaign appeared in newspapers, local radio, outdoor advertising, throughout the Metro Trains network and on Tumblr. Executive creative director at the agency, John Mescall, said "The aim of this campaign is to engage an audience that really doesn’t want to hear any kind of safety message." A difficult audience then.

The campaign also included a video which features "a variety of cute characters killing themselves in increasingly idiotic ways" (surely a pre-requisite for any safety awareness work?!). For reasons that are pretty self-evident to me, the film went viral pretty quickly and within two weeks of uploading on YouTube had been viewed over 28 million times. It's even load lots of advertising awards from people in the know.

But has it actually done the job for which it was created?

Well, according to Metro Trains (who obviously has a vested interest in promoting it's effectiveness) yes it has. The campaign has apparently contributed to a more than 30% reduction in "near-miss" accidents - from 13.29 per million kilometres between November 2011 and January 2012, to 9.17 between November 2012 and January 2013.

Just goes to show that even a boring subject can be can be made enjoyable (and successful).

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

selling the bus - Danish style

This is a Danish TV commercial trying to convince you to get the bus.

I can see where they are coming from (sort of) but I'm hoping that, despite the subtitles, the whole thing has got lost in translation and is an example of Danish humour at its best. I'm not convinced though.

Either way I'm never moaning about advertising in this country again.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

how would you package a waterproof watch?

There's nothing better than seeing an idea and raving about its simplicity and effectiveness.

German watch-maker Festina is so confident of its waterproof divers' watch that it is selling it in a bag of water.

Designed by Berlin-based designer Ralf Schroeder, this ingenious packaging not only markets the product but also demonstrate what it can do in a simple but impressive way.

Consisting of nothing more than a transparent bag of distilled water, the packaging is eye-catching and proves the quality of the watch suspended in it without the need for words.

“Featuring only the company logo and slogan, this packaging thus submits the product to quality control directly at the point of sale and serves as a mark of confidence at the same time. By being subjected to this visible test of endurance, the watch is able to immediately convince the customers of its particularly high quality.”

An idea that takes it's one main selling point and very cleverly shouts it from the POS rooftops.

Story from

Monday, 24 June 2013

what do you think of the new Virgin Trains tv ad?

Virgin Trains are back in the land of TV advertising with yet another really well done piece.

Great story, superbly shot and a sound track that is spot-on, the ad tells a tale of man's misguided, romantic affection to a female traveller on the journey from London to Manchester.

At the end of the day all Virgin are doing is getting people from A to B in a large metal box, creating competition with the car along the way.

They just happen to be good at selling you the fact you might rather enjoy it.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Apple's latest TV ad goes all 'brand'

By and large Apple have built their advertising portfolio highlighting product benefits.

Despite the fact that mentioning product benefits seems like a simple yet effective ad strategy, very few companies manage to do it at all - let alone do it as stylishly as Apple.

They went against the grain near enough from the start. And even when they didn't do product benefits and did 'brand' (Think Different springs to mind) it was still, well, different. It still stood out against all the other instantly forgettable brand messages on TV.

But that was back when Steve Jobs, master marketer, was at the helm. In the two years since Jobs passed, its is fair to say that Apple's advertising hasn't lived up to the precedent he'd set.

And now they have produced this 'stick a different logo at the end and it could be anybody' piece of branding work.

Much as I love a bit of Apple in my life, this ad is getting it wrong on too many levels.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Virgin Trains were the exception rather than the rule

Earlier this week I travelled to Manchester for a meeting, via the M5 and M6 (the train was too expensive at 48 hours notice).

Just before the junction for West Bromwich, there is a section of motorway that has more than its fair share of advertising hoardings. The things are literally hitting you in the face left, right and centre for about a mile. Now I'm sure most people probably ignored them and concentrated on the more important things of the moment (travelling at 70mph in three lanes of car traffic) but I was actively interested in what was on view.

And what struck me more than anything - was that I could hardly read any of them*. Too much text, text too small, inappropriate fonts, you name why I couldn't read it, and it was there.

For me this is a classic case of laziness on behalf of both client and agency alike. Using the one creative execution across all mediums irrespective of how the potential customer is viewing it.

Yes, it is more difficult to spend the time and effort thinking about the particulars of each medium where your message will appear, but that investment also gives the best chance of that message being read and understood.

People don't have the opportunity to spend the same amount of time looking at a press ad as they do when driving past a 48 sheet - so why would you put the same amount of copy on it?

Just a little thought about how the customer is reading your communication goes a long way to helping its effectiveness.

*Virgin Trains, with their 'Fly by Train' site (one image and one single, readable message) were a notable exception. Not that that surprised me.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

why I can empathise with estate agents

Much as it pains me to say it, I think selling creative work to clients has a lot in common with the estate agency world.

Both disciplines receive briefs from clients, both have to present their findings back and both are often ignored.

First the estate agent;

You tell them you really want a 3 bed Victorian semi in a certain area, and within an agreed price bracket. You are willing to accept absolutely nothing else. Two weeks later the agent calls. He's found your perfect property - it has everything on your wish list - and he's certain it's the right property for you.

On visiting the property there is one major problem. Despite it being from the right period, in the right area and at the right price, you simply don't have that emotional 'love at first sight' connection. You just don't like it. Despite the agent's best efforts to convince you the house is the right one, you've made your mind up and it's back to the drawing board. With the same brief.

And now the ad agency;

You tell them you want an ad campaign that shouts about the new £5 'travel anywhere on our network ticket'. It must have those exact words prominently placed, must use the brand's current illustrative style and simply must have the logo in the bottom right. Apart from those few restrictions, you give them creative freedom.

Two weeks later the agency come back to you, convinced their ideas have nailed the brief. Prominent headline? Check. Style on-brand? Check. Logo in the right place? Check. Yet soon after the big reveal, you can see disappointment etched on faces around the boardroom. They dont' like it. Despite the agency's best efforts to convince you the idea is the right one, you've made your mind up and it's back to the drawing board. With the same brief.

In both instances it is ni-on impossible for both parties to be 'sold' the goods if they simply don't 'like' them in the first place. If you don't like the house, you can never see yourself living in it and if you don't like the agency's work, you can never see it working for your brand.

Is there a client out there who has bought work they don't like because they put their brand first or will heart rule head every time?