Category: Uncategorized

Somebody once told me the world was gonna roll me. I ain’t the sharpest tool in the weekend.

What Steven Soderbergh watched last year.

Global subway typography.

Have you ever gone against the teachings of the Bible?

Best drone shots of last year.

World’s fastest talking man does Michael Jackson’s Bad in 20 seconds:

The Clock:



Irony alert: initiative to increase digital transparency lacks transparency.

I was reading this article the other day.

It’s titled ‘Raising the bar for brand safety‘, and subtitled ‘Premium publishers must commit to higher standards for online advertising, not only to safeguard brand safety but also minimise ad fraud and maximise viewability‘. The author is Richard Reeves, Managing Director of the Association for Online Publishing.

I 100% appreciate the intention, but I can’t help feeling it doesn’t exactly practice what it preaches:

As the voice of premium digital publishers and a founder member of the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS), the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) is committed to securing the long-term success of the digital ecosystem.

This really starts as it means to go on: with a lack of specificity that leads to the very lack of transparency it professes to want to stamp out. Who are ‘premium digital publishers’? In what way are you their ‘voice’? Is JICWEBS a big deal? What do you mean by ‘success’? And isn’t the digital eco-system the entire internet? Can you really secure anything for such a massive entity? If so, how?

However, this goal is only achievable if the industry works together to create a more sustainable, accountable and reliable future, by adopting universal standards that go above and beyond minimum requirements.

‘More sustainable, accountable and reliable’ than what? What are these universal standards? Who defines them? What are ‘minimum requirements’ and how far ‘above and beyond’ them do you intend to go? 1%? 18% How will we know?

As such, the AOP’s innovative Ad Quality Charter, launched at its recent Inside Out Digital Publishing Convention, aims to commit itself and its members to ethical trading standards and better media verification.

Aiming to commit yourself to something? Why not just commit? How long will the aiming last?  And what are these ‘ethical trading standards’ to which you are aiming to commit? Can you commit to what those might be? Can you aim to commit to what those might be? And ‘better’ media verification than what, exactly? And how much better etc. etc.

The new charter – currently a draft – recognises that the industry must take greater collective responsibility for providing advertisers and agencies with access to quality inventory and verified audiences through a transparent supply chain. It will require the AOP and its members to adhere to stringent quality requirements relating to the contentious issues of brand safety, fraud and viewability.

‘Providing advertisers and agencies with access to quality inventory and verified audiences through a transparent supply chain’ doesn’t specify what ‘quality’ means (high quality? Low quality?), nor does it specify what ‘verified’ or ‘transparent’ mean. I’m sure Mr. Reeves is aware that there are degrees of transparency, verification, responsibility and quality, but his lack of specificity makes him look as if his entire premise is built on rather weak foundations.

It goes on for another few paragraphs, which contain the following undefined words and phrases:

minimise the risk

exploit the industry,

fraud detection and non-human traffic tools

a metric that will exceed the current industry standards.

deliver bespoke viewability metrics

optimise on-page placement based on user behaviour and content consumption

commit to reducing unacceptable ad clutter.

address the root causes of latency and the subsequent impact on viewability performance.

premium consumer experience

ensuring the healthy future of the digital advertising industry.

raise the bar for digital advertising standards,

cleansing and protecting the supply chain

allowing the ecosystem to flourish.

If you want to create better standards and practices in digital advertising, more power to you – God knows the industry needs them. But if the official bodies dedicated to this set their stall out with such indistinct vaguery it doesn’t bode well for the future.

If you stand for transparency, clarity and accountability you need to prove it in your own practices.

After all, if you aren’t going to do it, why should anyone else?



Realignment in the Creative Dept

I don’t know if this the case in your neck of the woods, but where I’m from there are a lot of jobs where you place an initial before C and D.

We have ACDs (Associate Creative Directors), GCDs (Group Creative Directors), ECDs (Executive Creative Directors), the plain old CDs, and the grand poobahs, who are now called CCOs (Chief Creative Officers). We also still have juniors, plain old copywriters and art directors, and senior copywriters and art directors.

I might have missed a few (I have heard tell of the RCD – Regional Creative Director), but if you add in placements (or their equivalent), you have at least nine levels of seniority in the creative department. When I were but a nipper there were only creatives (with an occasional informal use of junior/middleweight/senior) and a CD. Some agencies had Group Heads, but until the early 2000s that was it.

In fact, here’s a handy guide to what your current job title would have been in a 1995 UK agency:

2018                                               1995

Junior Copywriter/Art Director        Copywriter/Art Director

Copywriter/Art Director                   Copywriter/Art Director

Senior Copywriter/Art Director       Copywriter/Art Director

ACD                                                Copywriter/Art Director

CD                                                  Copywriter/Art Director

GCD                                               Copywriter/Art Director

ECD                                               CD

CCO                                               CD

So how did things change, and is the new situation better?

I think the answers to both questions might be related:

  1. Promotions are free, and therefore easier to hand out than raises. Even though, in this time of 9 levels, promotions have become less significant, they still give people a nice fuzzy feeling inside and a new level at which to join a new agency. So, in these straitened times, they’ve become a cheap way to make disgruntled people a little happier.
  2. I think America has had these layers for longer. With the globalisation of agencies via holding companies, the practices of other countries have spread faster and harder, especially as the US office is often the mothership, imposing its ways on the rest of the world.
  3. With the fragmentation of accounts and disciplines, more people are in charge of smaller and more diverse parts of a campaign’s creation. Job titles help to differentiate them, although having four CDs on a job must get quite confusing. Then again, having fifteen copywriters, twelve art directors and three CDs would probably be even worse.
  4. People can’t help loving this shit. If you grew up thinking the CD was the cappo di tutti cappi, there’s a going to be a little voice somewhere in the back of your mind telling you that it’s still a big deal to become one, even though it now means you’re basically the equivalent of a 1997 ‘senior copywriter’.

Aside from it all feeling a little silly, I can’t see much of a downside. Enjoy your new titles if they make you happy, and if the dude from the social engagement agency now knows he should respect your authority then that can only smooth things along.

 



They only gift they’ll get this year is the weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Merry Christmas!

Lots of love,

Bx

NYT Year in Pictures.

60 years of logos:

Amusing ad memes.

Black Thought of The Roots on a mad freestyle session (thanks, A):

Supposedly the best movie posters of 2017.

A year of voice commands from a 5-year-old (thanks, D):

JCB hot dog:

Starlings taking off at 200 fps (thanks, D):



Give a Crit for Christmas

Here’s a delightful guest post from Father Critmas:

People are always asking me, Father Critmas, how can I be more like you? How can I be the World’s Best Creative Director™. And I always tell them the same thing. “How dare you talk to me.”

When Ben Kay wanted me to write a guest blog post, initially I refused. But then he offered to give me a big bag full of money, and I said yes. It turns out, you can put a price on insights.
 
But Christmas isn’t about being greedy, it’s a time to give something back. That’s why for the second year I’m running my campaign, Merry Critmas. You’ve obviously heard of it, but I’ll elaborate because I’m charging by the word.
Merry Critmas is a collaborative, international campaign encouraging those working in the creatives industries to make a pledge in December to give a book crit. (A book crit is slang for portfolio critique, it means to review someone’s creative work and offer feedback).
For undiscovered talent trying to break into advertising, it’s the perfect gift. And for established creatives (like Mr. Kay) it’s a nice way of giving something back. Just half an hour can make a life changing difference.
My job in all this is to make the all-important matches; but let’s talk real for a moment.
 
Merry Critmas is about so much more than a bombastic asshole of a mascot.
 
It’s about mentoring, networking, guidance, and creating actual opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have got them.
 
You know, as opposed to your agency putting on some navel-gazing conference and charging people to listen to some charlatan speaker. Who does that help? No one. It helps speakers pay their mortgages, but that’s about it.

If making Critmas Miracles sounds like something you’d like to be part of, please get involved over at www.merrycritmas.com.
 
Meanwhile I can be found over on twitter dishing out sarcasm and verbal abuse in equal measure.
 
Together, let’s make this the best Critmas ever.
Thanks, FC.
I am indeed doing a crit. Why not head over to the MC site and sign up to do the same. It might offset all the Weinsteining you’ve been doing around the mistletoe.


The horse was lean and lank, misfortune seemed his lot. We ran into a drifted bank and there we got upsot. “Upsot”? Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the weekend.

The best films of the year?

How rubber bands are made (thanks, T):

David Bowie’s top 10 tips:

And Prince’s:

And Tarantino’s:

And David Lynch’s:

And Maya Angelou’s”

Christmas reputation management (thanks, R).



Guillermo Del Toro on creativity

Last night I went to a screening of this wonderful movie:

Due to an interesting quirk of people from the movie business generally going to one particular LA cinema (the Arclight in Hollywood. The sound and picture are always brilliant) they’ve started having Q&A screenings so that Academy voters and their friends can see the stars/directors and ask them about the movie (a couple of weeks ago we went to see Murder on the Orient Express, topped off by an interview with the very affable Kenneth Branagh; Al Gore showed up for the Inconvenient Truth sequel; Margot Robbie, Justin Timberlake and Kate Winslet have also popped by).

So this showing of The Shape of Water ended with an interview with the director, Guillermo Del Toro, and two of the stars: Octavia Spencer and Doug Jones.

(I love GDT. He makes horror films with heart and humour, as well as blockbusters that have more brains than most. And he’s had an interesting life – for example, his dad was kidnapped and James Cameron gave him the money to pay the ransom.)

Here are three things Señor Del Toro said that could be applied to stuff you’re working on:

  1. The relationship with an audience is like a game of tennis: you express part of the story, but for that to work, you need the audience’s response, so they hit it back, you reach that expectation and hit it over the net again. But the real trick is not to hit the ball straight at them. You need to give it something interesting and unexpected so they have to stretch a little to make the return. If you see TSOW you’ll notice yourself constantly reappraising the situation and how you’re responding to it. That’s the fun.
  2. Along similar lines, you have to give the audience what they’re expecting, but not in the way they’re expecting it. So this film has a beast that’s a hero, a damsel who’s in charge rather than in distress, a leading man who’s an arsehole and a villain who’s a good guy. That helps the ball spin over the net in very satisfying ways.
  3. When he was six, GDT saw The Creature from the Black Lagoon but he was disappointed that the creature and the girl didn’t get together. So he spent ages drawing them as a couple, going on bike rides together etc. Cut to 52 years later and he finally made the version of the movie he really wanted to. So never, never give up on your dream, even if it takes 52 years.

 



It was christmas eve babe, in the drunk tank. An old man said to me: won’t see another one. And then they sang a song – the rare old mountain dew. I turned my face away and dreamed about the weekend.

Which tech era did you grow up in? (Great charts; thanks, D.)

Privacy or pizza? Pizza.

How matches are made:

How well do you know your Christmas ads? (Thanks, G.)

Pick a country and a decade, then enjoy (thanks, J).

Cray cray video (thanks, J):



ITIAPTWC Episode 49 – The Client

Last week I had the idea to interview a client.

Come on. Haven’t you always wanted to know what they hell they’re all thinking?

So I put the word out and found one: an automotive client for a big brand that works with a good agency, so he knows what good ads are and has been somewhat responsible for bringing them into the world (he also wanted to remain anonymous).

I actually found this to be one of the most revealing chats I’ve had, possibly because it was a window into a world I knew much less about.

We discussed…

How he became a client.

How things have changed (money/digital).

You need a big idea! And know what your brand stands for!

How they measure what the hell they’re doing and what the agency is responsible for.

Who gets to choose the overall idea, and how does it please everyone?

How well do the different agencies collaborate?

Giant power point decks suck.

His learning curve.

Why digital isn’t bollocks.

Responsibility for surveillance.

How do they decide what to spend their money on?

Outthink rather than outshout.

Giving feedback.

Face-to-face client contact is good.

Is ‘creativity’ important?

How do you judge an idea before it’s made?

Pitches!

Not choosing creatives to work on your account.

Research vs gut.

Disaster vs Success.

Do you care about directors etc.?

General client perspective on the agency.

Here’s the chat, the iTunes link and the Soundcloud link:

 



Did you ever stop to notice all the blood we’ve shed before? Did you ever stop to notice the weekend?

Life on London’s first AIDS ward.

Kubrick’s cameras:

Timelapse construction of The Louvre Abu Dhabi (thanks, D):

Lots of screams replaced with Tom Cruise’s weird scream from The Mummy:

Every story is the same:

Beautiful art made from rubbish (thanks, D).

Great mashups of yesteryear (thanks, T).

Great Jay-Z interview.