Tuesday, 29 October 2013

a decent little transport video from Centro

It's not very often you come across advertising that is honest in its content.

Something that doesn't try and dress the proposition up as something it's not and actively tackles perception of a product head on. For me, this video goes a long way in doing that.

Do people bump in to you on the bus? Of course they do. Do you have to sit next to people you don't like on the bus? Of course you do. But where there are negatives about something, there are often positives and the video captures them nicely in both idea and execution

Granted the acting and voice over is a bit dodgy but that's the trade off for using real people rather than actors. Overall though, the whole thing is refreshing to see so kudos to the team at Centro for developing it.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

classic Guinness Extra Cold posters

Some ads are better left to do their own talking - as this work from the early 2000s is testimony.

Pint anyone?

Monday, 21 October 2013

why did Tesco go belly up in America?

Six years ago Tesco launched their Fresh & Easy stores in America.

They had done their research; asked their questions, looked at the numbers, and got their answers. Americans wanted fresh, convenient, organic, quality products at a good price from a store that was socially and environmentally responsible.

So that's what they provided, building 200 Fresh & Easy stores in just five years - giving the Americans everything they asked for, right down to a sparse design, solar roofing and hybrid car parking.

Six years later, the company was losing $22m a month and had to file for bankruptcy. So what went wrong for the company that can do no... wrong?

On a nutshell, Tesco failed because they used their mountain of research as hard and fast answers rather than a springboard for creative risk taking. They took what people told them literally and failed to apply any context.

As a wise man once said "Testing is a great way to kill magic or approve mediocrity, whichever you are going for".

You can read the full extent of Tesco's mistakes here.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

the train company that advertises on bus rears

We've got many clients who are fans of utilising rear space on their own buses for advertising purposes.

click to enlarge
It's their own product and it's invariably free so I can see their thinking. Local companies also seem to be fans too, which is probably more a reflection on price rather than suitability of medium.

But I don't think I've ever seen a train company take advantage of a bus rear. So step forward, and congratulations Dutch Railways.

Great idea, even better execution.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

our simple advertising process

Every so often a client comes along with and asks about the process by which we produce our work.

Maybe next time we should just show them this.

Pretty flexible if I say so myself.

Monday, 7 October 2013

the bus cove ads with a sense of humour

We were recently asked to come up with some coving panel designs for First's new service 7 bus in Southampton.

They had decided not to sell the space for advertising, instead using it to promote their own services and give valuable travel information.

Luckily First were keen not to use the standard, and quite frankly boring, service messages commonly seen on buses up and down the country. Which was music to our ears!

We had some fun in the hope passengers would too. Here's what we came up with...

Friday, 4 October 2013

do you really need a call to action?

Found this over on the Sell! Sell! blog and agreed with it 100% so though it was worth a share.

The more you think about the logic of their argument, the more it make sense.

"Call to action.

It's one of those phrases that have become such a part of the business of advertising, that they're said and heard often without realising how weird they are. Apart from when people are arguing about whether an ad should include one or not, that is. It's a silly argument really, when you think about it.

If someone desperately thinks an ad is lacking a call to action, it's because the ad itself is wrong, or not doing the job properly – or there is a tacit difference of opinion about what the ad is meant to be doing.

Or they don't know what they're doing. If your intention is for someone to do something specific as a result of seeing a piece of communication, then that should be the actual job of the ad – it shouldn't be relegated to a line of copy or VO thrown in at the end.

I am utterly convinced that your typical one-line call to acton makes absolutely no fucking difference to whether someone does that thing or not.

Say I'm watching an ad for, say, a burger. If the ad doesn't make me want to try that burger when I'm next in the market for a burger, then adding "Try our burger" at the end, is not going to make any difference. And the even greater stupidity of adding "Try our burger - Now!" will not convince me to try it Now! either.

It's as if nothing has been learned over the last hundred years of marketing. People aren't stupid. If you compellingly show them how something will be good for them, if you explain why something would be in their interests, or convincingly make them desire something, the chances are, you will have successful advertising.

Just adding "Do it, do now! Now! NOW I tell thee!" won't. It is marketing stupidity of the highest order. People do things – download an app, buy a burger, test drive a car – if they feel it is in their interests do so. They do not do it because you tell them to.

Stop it.
Stop it NOW!"

You can read more of the Sell! Sell! blog here.

is your advertising science or religion?

Advertising is part science, part religion and has two purposes.

Firstly, the science. A company runs an ad with an off peak ticket offer - four tickets for the price of two, this weekend only. The company knows how much the ad costs and they know how much the discount costs them. They know how much revenue would normally be generated without the offer so it's simple maths to work out the ROI.

Secondly, the religion. A company put up a 48 sheet billboard for a specific service. They know how many will see the site, but have no idea whether or not it really made an impression. As there is no offer, there is little, if anything, to measure.

So why do companies do advertising that can't be measured? 

Largely because they believe that in the fullness of time those who advertise do better than those who don't. They can't prove that any given "brand" message leads to any given product sale, but they still believe it does.

What follows science and religion is sales and insurance.

The short term purpose of advertising is sales - which is what the ticket offer ad does. The long term purpose is insurance - which is what the cross country 48 sheet does.

The sales part is science - we measure what we put out and what we take in.

The insurance part is religion - we have faith that our efforts today will be rewarded tomorrow.

Much thanks to Bob Hoffman for this story.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Boston get their subway map redesigned for free

Over in the USA, Boston's public transport authority recently launched a competition to redesign the city's subway map.

For two months until the end of April this year, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) was accepting submissions to transform the map's cramped layout (below) into a more user-friendly design.

The competition proved controversial due to the terms and conditions of entry stating that the transit authority owns the entire copyright of all submissions, which I'm sure many professional designers would have been chuffed to hear.

Entries to the competition are to be judged on their creativity, aesthetic quality, clarity and usefulness, and the winning designs were due to be announced as part of National Transportation Week.

A panel of MBTA employees, urban planners and mapping experts narrowed the submitted entries down to 6 maps they felt good enough be the next official MBTA guide. 

The six shortlisted entries can be seen here, while the penniless winner due to be announced anytime now.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

looks like Virgin have always done that little bit extra

It seems that Virgin Trains have always had customer service high on their priority list, as this story from 2007 is testimony.

Arthur Leathley, then Communications Director at the company, recalls how staff dealt with passengers involved in the Grayrigg incident.

He talks about one gentleman who lost a Parker pen which he'd had 50 years, and was irreplaceable. A member of staff got in touch with Parker in the US, managed to find an exact replica of that particular pen and ordered it. No waiting for a purchase order to be signed off, no red tape to go through. It only cost the company £100 but to the passenger it was priceless.

A nice touch that really epitomises everything the Virgin brand stands for, and no doubt will have a lasting impact on the customer.

Thomas Cook think their new logo can do everything

Thomas Cook have come up with a shiny new logo and ditched their famous "Don’t just book it. Thomas Cook it" strapline at the same time.

I'm not sure how much influence they expect the new branding to have but according to Marketing and e-commerce director Mike Hoban, it's going to be a lot.

According to Mr Hoban, the new identity "better reflects Thomas Cook’s new, digitally-focused business plan. The three key elements are a heart, a mark and the words ‘let’s go’. The heart shows that what we bring to the market is expertise and experience; that holidays are what people look forward to and it is golden because the sun is critical to holidays.

"The metallic grey represents our move to digital and mobile, and ‘let’s go’ is about the requirement from us to make sure deliver on our promises to customers as well as working as a message to our people, making sure we meet customer demand and expectations," he said.

Exactly how does metallic grey represent digital and mobile? And how does a heart represent a company having expertise and experience?

PR guff I'm afraid. No logo can do that, only the staff, the service and the product can.