Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Why does a video go viral?

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

On Wednesday January 15, during the Melbourne heatwave, my son Evan posted a video on Vimeo.

It was a simple time lapse shot of a Lindt Chocolate Ball melting in the 42°C heat.

In just 3 days over 150,000 people have viewed it and it has been syndicated by news agencies around the world.

It was even aired on the Channel 7 News here in Melbourne.

For years advertising agencies have been trying to identify the formula that makes videos go viral. There are many theories but no real answers.

It simply comes down to the right idea at the right time, viewed by the right people.

But that’s easier said than done.


The best way to position a brand
is to reposition the opposition.

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Last year I worked on an advertising campaign for MAN Trucks .

MAN (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg) are market leaders in Europe but are trailing behind in Australia.

Through desktop research and general observation we discovered that many Australian buyers chose MAN because of its fuel efficiency. As fuel is the single biggest expense in operating a long-haul truck in Australia, it wasn’t surprising.

Fuel efficiency is taken for granted in Europe, where diesel prices are high and MAN are regarded as leaders in fuel efficient technology.

This is understandable considering that in 1893 Rudolf Diesel worked with MAN to develop the first diesel engine – with fuel efficiency being a primary objective.

We developed five ads in the campaign, all with the express purpose of promoting the MAN fuel efficiency story.

By simply talking about fuel consumption we challenged the consumer, and the industry, to reassess their thinking.

This simultaneously repositioned the others manufactures as being less fuel efficient.

The madmen behind Mad Men.

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Since our return from Europe and more recently South Korea and Japan, we have decided to catch up on some of the TV series we missed in 2012.

Not surprisingly one series I have always enjoyed is Mad Men, a period drama about the New York advertising industry in the 1960s’.

New York was at the centre of what was called the Creative Revolution during these halcyon years.

The ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) developed ground breaking campaigns for clients like Volkswagen and Avis during this time.

Mad Men was created and produced by Matthew Weiner, an exceptional screen writer who was also involved in the highly acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos.

Having been inducted into advertising at the end of that amazing era and being a student of the ads of that period, I was intrigued as to how Weiner got his material.

It turns out that one of his main consultants was Bob Levenson, a veteran ad man from DDB. Levenson, together with Bill Bernbach and art director Helmet Krone produced some of the most well know and enduring campaigns of this golden age.

It’s not surprising that Mad Men has become such a hit, as it offers the viewer a real insight into the lives, work, frustrations, faults and foibles of the men and women of Madison Avenue in the 1960s.



Le Tour. There’s only one winner.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

It’s been another 3 weeks of staying up late watching the Tour de France.

This is its 100th anniversary.

The countryside was constantly changing, as they moved from Corsica, through the Riviera, the Pyrenees, Brittany, the Alps and then on to Paris.

Unfortunately the ads, unlike the views, all had a boring similarity.

Except for one charminmg little spot for H&R Block, Tax Accountants.

It was simple. Two guys on their bikes.

It was relevant. Two guys on their bikes.

And it dramatised the proposition. Two guys on their bike with one making complex stuff look really simple.

My bertet goes off to Us Sydney, who created the spot and Plaza Films who produced it.

The death of the written word.

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

I no longer buy a hard copy of newspapers but prefer to read them online. They’re portable, easy to read and have high quality resolution for the graphics and photos.

In many ways they’re far superior to the printed versions.

However many of the online news and editorial articles are increasingly containing video. In fact one of our local Melbourne newspapers, The Age, is becoming more of a TV station than a newspaper.

Audio books are also on the increase and now Google has announced that their primary mode of search will be voice activated not written.

The result of this visualisation of content is that many people will prefer to have their news and information read to them rather than reading it for themselves.

When I was a kid I loved having books read to me but I only got to really appreciate the joy of literature when I started to read them for myself.

It was my voice, in my head, interpreting the words and filling in the gaps.

My voice was painting the pictures and creating ’The World’ of a particular story or author.

Advertising used to be a combined craft of the visual and the verbal, with quality pictures complementing excellent writing. Now most ads consist of an average picture, headline and a short, boring, piece of copy.

Long copy ads, that involved the reader in a journey of discovery about a product or service, have vanished. They’ve been replaced by a fast grab of visual and verbal cliches.

The beauty of the written word is that it involves you in a two way communication. You read the words, interpret them and are subsequently rewarded by that creative act of interpretation.

I loved reading the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein. Through his craft he was able to described a world that was beyond our creation. Yet because of our imagination we were able to see that world, in our mind’s eye and visualise it for ourselves.

Seeing Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the Hobbit was exciting but no more so than creating my own vision of The Shire, Gollum and Middle Earth.

If we lose the written word we will lose the ability to create visions of our own.

And what a loss that would be.

Would you buy a ‘Gonski’?

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

If it was a fleet of the new Gonski Stealth Jet Fighters, then security and border protection would be the benefit.

If it was the Gonski High Speed Rail Link, running up the east coast, between Melbourne and Brisbane, then we would benefit from the convenience.

A Gonski Dam on the Ord River, would open up vast areas for cultivation and the subsequent benefit of increased food production.

Most Australians would see the value in paying 14.5 Billion Dollars for one of these Gonskis. That’s because we all understand what an fighter jet, rail network or a dam can deliver.

History has etched that in our minds.

Now the Gonski school funding reforms are different. It’s a complex issue to understand, let alone sell to the average punter.

There have been a number of newspaper articles written recently trying to articulate what a Gonski is. Here is the most recent one from SBS.

‘Selling’ has never been the strong point of the current government. They follow the polls when making policy decisions but don’t listen to the consumer when it comes to articulating their benefits.

They need a good advertising agency.

When the late, and very divicive, Maggy Thatcher came to power in 1979 she used the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi to sell her agenda. They came up with the ‘Labour isn’t working’ poster.’ This very quickly and simply articulated the Tory message.

I think Julia could take a leaf out of Maggie’s book and hire a good ad agency to help sell the Gonski.


French posters.

Monday, October 8th, 2012

The French have a history of producing excellent posters.

Many are a strange combination of art, design, sales and humour.

I found this one, with a peculiar Australian perspective, in Chauffeur Les Bonnièreres.


Sunday, September 9th, 2012

The Osborne Sherry Company was founded in 1772 by Thomas Osborne Mann.

In fact it’s the second oldest company in Spain.

In 1956 they started to erect posters, featuring their logo of a large black bull, designed by Manolo Prieto and the words ‘Brandy of Jerez’ painted in red over the bull.

The original posters were smaller but were later enlarged, to their current height of 14 meters, to comply with new laws prohibiting outdoor advertising to within 150 meters of a major road.

In 1994 another law was passed banning all outdoor advertising.

The Osborne bull was doomed.

However public response was so strong that they were allowed to remain, so long as they were painted completely black and the original brand name was removed.

I remember seeing these large, almost surreal, silhouettes in 1972, 2007 and then again in 2008.

The Osborne brand has always remained embedded in my subconscious.

Even without the product name they epitomise great branding.

The Osborne bull has risen beyond advertising and marketing to become the unofficial symbol of Spain.

He is seen on the backs of cars, on flags, stickers and key rings.

There are still over 90 Osborne bull silhouettes dotted all over Spain.

We drove nearly 600km to get some snaps of two of them.


Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

We cancelled our contract with Vodafone in Australia because of their poor performance and inability to deliver on their promises.

Vodafone consistently spend large media dollars in hyping up their services. They have adopted the approach that if you continually promote a fallacy, it will become fact.

Their inability to deliver has lead to a class action in Australia and a mass exodus of their clients.

They have now suspended their considerable media spend, while they attempt to improve their coverage and services.

We stupidly selected Vodafone to purchase a broadband ‘Módem USB Stick’ for coverage in Spain.

Apparently this corporate leopard doesn’t easily change its spots.

The connection was poor and there were problems in recharging our account online.

So much so that we had to drive back to where we purchased the key and get it manually recharged there.

Their explanation was that the online service wasn’t working today but would be ok, ‘mañana’.

It still isn’t working.

Marketing works well when the delivery lives up to the promise.

Vodafone in Spain are following the Australian or more possibly the international strategy of promise first then try and deliver later.

Advertising will only work when it’s based on truth, anything else is phoney.



Monday, February 13th, 2012

I will be away for the next twelve months, living and traveling in countries that don’t have English as a first language.

Also countries that have very different cultural and commercial values to what I have been used to.

Firstly North Africa, Jordan and Turkey, then the Balkans, Eastern Europe and finally into Western Europe.

Well that’s the plan.

This will be a challenge for my blog as I usually write about communication.

And, as I believe that most good communication involves both visual imagery and the written word, I think that I will be dealing with half a deck of cards.

It will be interesting to see if the contemporary approach to advertising, of more visual than verbal solutions, has really become global.

Will I just gravitate to visual solutions, because language will no longer play a part, or will there be genuinely good work that transcend language?