All around different faces I see, some are happy, some in misery. They express joy and pain No two faces are the weekend.

Library bars (thanks, T).

Kubrick Playboy interview (thanks, T).

The 20 best movie posters of 2014.

And the finest films of the year, all cut together in a jolly fun way:

Terrible marital name pairings (thanks, D).

Artist transforms old paintbrushes into lay-deez (thanks, J).

And these porcelain creatures are just amazing.

This kid making a case for cupcakes is sublime:

Badassadvertisingjobtitles.com (thanks, L).

How to talk comedy writing.

Brand fails 2014 (thanks, A).

How to keep a marriage together.

David Fincher: A Life In Pictures.

How to treat a treatment

I’ve been in advertising long enough to remember the days when treatments didn’t really exist.

You wrote ads, sent them to directors, had chats with the ones who said they were interested and chose the one you liked best.

There was no further stage where you then expected the possible choices to send you several pages of ‘reference’, along with a long, detailed explanation of how they intended to shoot your little effort in the same way Godard shot À Bout De Souffle.

But then someone, somewhere had the bright idea of giving that little extra and, as we’ve seen so many times in the recent past of the industry, when you give and inch, a yard is taken: do an ad in three days instead of a week and the client will then ask for the work in two days, then one; offer to cut your mark up ‘just this once’ and you’ll find yourself cutting it twice, then again and again until it becomes the norm and you are asked to cut it again; say fucking ‘ideation’ in a meeting and it’s a short slope to ‘brand synergy’ and ‘online conversations’.

When the person who came up with the idea of treatments did so he or she opened the doors to a right old Pandora’s Box. Of course, now every attempt to get a script includes a treatment, sometimes on really nice paper; sometimes on video. And often they’re not written by the actual directors (who may not list ‘writing about anamorphic lenses for the right to shoot a Persil ad’ in the things they learned at directing school), so you’re not getting a real indication of their exact thoughts anyway.

I’m all for going the extra distance to convince someone you’re the right person for a job, but that’s clearly not what treatments have become.

Do you enjoy them or believe them to be yet another pointless addition to the 21st Century?

Sexy Jesus

Here’s a delightful calendar from Anomaly London (interest declared: I’m friends with Alex and Oli, the ECDs, and Oli Kellett, the excellent photographer).

Hats off to the irreverent idea, but more than that, for taking it this far:

4 11   5

“But shouldn’t we be doing more with this great set of skills and talent?”

Here’s an article that suggests advertising creatives should be doing more to help the world.

One of the things he suggests is to ‘reimagine our mission as a profession’. By that he seems to mean that we should look at socially improving issues rather than the more corporate stuff we generally take on (he also says millennials are very keen to do jobs that make a difference, and that if we want to attract them then we should add in that aspect to what we offer).

It’s an interesting point. I think we, as an industry, generally do a lot of work that’s for the greater good, but I also think that, if we’re honest, it’s usually a thinly-veiled way of showing off, a chance to offset the extent to which we grease the wheels of capitalism, and a straight shot to winning awards (and getting paid more as a consequence). If it was baked in to the job and process, perhaps it wouldn’t be so mixed up in terms of its motives and rewards. Then again, maybe that doesn’t matter. If good is done, does it matter why?

But I wonder about the extent to which our socially conscious efforts actually ‘move the needle’. If the incentives included the alteration of the planet, perhaps we’d try harder, but perhaps it seems these problems are too difficult to solve. We all know that the planet is hurtling towards some kind of environmental oblivion; we all know that the gun culture in America is resulting in thousands of needless deaths every year; we all know that the reverse Robin Hood culture of making the poor pay for the rich to get richer is immensely fucked up. But what are we to do about it?

In all modesty I’d suggest that bigger brains than the ones that inhabit our industry are having a great deal of difficulty improving the above, so what chance do we have?

Well, I’d venture we all have a massive chance. There’s absolutely no reason why another Gandhi can’t appear gently to change life for millions. There’s absolutely no reason why one of us can’t reframe the argument for climate change so that doing anything to make the situation worse becomes anathema to all of us, including politicians. And there’s absolutely no reason why we should think any of that is impossible.

I’m as guilty of the paralysing apathy/intimidation by the seemingly impossible as everyone else, but I also believe that these are issues that can be solved by communication, and that’s supposed to be what we’re great at.

Go on, you have nothing to lose but a terrible world that’s a horrendous nightmare in which to exist!

All the love inside me has been slee-eeping, waiting till the right one came alo-ong. You can share the love that I’ve been keeping, baby You can put the music to the weekend.

Robo Tinder finger (thanks, J):

Sony’s crappy powerpoint sucks worse than their shitty movies.

And if you haven’t read this ‘How the Steve Jobs movie died’ email trail, you have yet to truly live.

The Internet, as seen in 1995 (thanks, L).

This Jimmy Fallon laughing and clapping compilation gets quite surreal (thanks, T):

Award-winning fake typing (thanks, J):

1940s Chicago through Kubrick’s lens.

It’s an amazing oral history of Boogie Nights (settle down at the back!).

The making of Purple Rain (thanks, J).

Career Q&A with Al Pacino:

Muppets as women of colour.

And US shows that surprisingly started in the UK (thanks, W).

Perfect trailer for what I assume will be a fairly perfect movie (thanks, J):

So wonderful: Stars In Their Eyes Christmas Special 1992 (thanks, J):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C6zIm4IfGs

The 20 most expensive photos of all time.

How utterly wonderful is Pes? (Thanks, D):

Bullet proof but don’t compromise

I’ve found myself using the phrase ‘bullet proof’ a lot recently.

The usual context involves something like, ‘We should make sure we add a chicken towards the end to make sure we bullet proof the script’ (that is not a real example).

I sometimes say it when I’m asking annoyingly thorough questions regarding someone’s work: ‘I just need to know why you’re choosing the colour blue so if anyone asks me then the ad is a little more bullet proof’.

99% of the time I’m just asking the person doing the work to think about why they’ve made each decision that’s led to what they’re showing me. If they can’t explain something then I could find myself in the same position somewhere down the line and the ad will become vulnerable to being killed (ie: not bulletproof). I think it’s a good exercise even if I never get asked the question. Everything should be added to a piece of work for a good reason, so lets make sure we’re aware what the reasons are. That helps to stress test the work and make it strong enough to repel any potential kicking it may receive on its way to production.

Ultimately it’s very hard to entirely bullet proof a piece of work because there will inevitably be subjective decisions that might or might not be liked by me or the next person, but since an ad is put under so much scrutiny during its creation, if you can give it some protection then that’s a GOOD THING.

Of course, one must avoid the pitfall of adding things that are unnecessary. By second guessing the wants of a client it’s easy to alter an ad in ways that don’t serve it. To continue the analogy, if you weigh it down with too much armour it becomes unwieldy and can stagger only as far as the nearby shit-filled bog, where it collapses and drowns like a hapless CIA torture victim.

So it’s a balance: making the ad solid enough to go unviolated but not so solid that its strengths become compromises.

Good luck with that…

Asia part 1: Shanghai

I’ve just returned from a trip to Asia. I visited Seoul, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala-Lumpur, Jakarta, Tokyo and Shanghai. I had never been to Asia before. If you’ve been to the above cities you might find these posts hopelessly naive. If you haven’t, you might find at least 3% of the following absolutely fascinating…

Some things I learned: China used more cement in the last three years than America used in the last 100, and it opens a new Starbucks every day. Clearly it’s growing fast, and that causes some pretty awful pollution, but did you know that the younger generation of Chinese are almost all only children thanks to the one child rule? Twenty five years, hundreds of millions of people, none of them having their lives affected by a sibling. How might that alter the personality of the country? Well, that younger generation in particular are the most go-getting, progressive, creative people China has produced since before Mao.

I don’t know what you currently think of China, especially if you’ve never been there, but I think you might be surprised by how normal it is (well, Shanghai at least; apparently it’s the most ‘westernised’ of all the cities). Far more of the people you might bump into each day (Starbucks guy, concierge, train station ticket collector etc.) speak English than their equivalents in Japan or Bangkok. There are lots of convenience stores to make day-to-day shopping a piece of piss, and someone kindly decided to make sure all the road signs are in English, but not all sides of a can of Diet Coke: Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 20.31.21 It took me a while to realise that the internet in my hotel wasn’t shit; it was just banned. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, Google etc. You can get it on your phone and route around the ban with VPN, but it’s kind of odd being in a country that doesn’t have access to pretty much all the sites I use most (they have Chinese equivalents and many of them are, for obvious reasons, much bigger than the western versions). It makes you very aware of the whole ‘lack of democracy’ thing (the people have no say who governs them), but then it’s difficult to get your head around a country of over a billion people being organised by a central body. One thing that did occur, though: in the US and UK we believe we have a democracy, but the lack of real choice in terms of the people you can vote for makes that something of a sham. And both Western governments would frown at the bribery in China, yet have lobbying systems in place where the rich have a pathway to controlling the government through money. Is it better to have no choice and lots of corruption up front, or very little real choice and corruption hidden away under a veil of pretence? (I’m oversimplifying to make a point, but it’s a very, very good point, I think you’ll agree.)

The architecture is a bit of a mix. It seems to be a mixture of oldish tower blocks with loads of washing hanging off the balconies, and very modern skyscrapers, with the odd Batman-esque effort thrown in: IMG_7654

One interesting thing is their attitude to privacy when it comes to drying their clothes. They literally just hang them up all over the streets, including pants:

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 20.30.13

My favourite thing was spotting odd signs. I have pictures of odd images and questionable English from all over the region:

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 20.33.15

  • Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 20.34.11

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 20.34.39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you been to China?

How did you find it?

I wander around in the twilight zone, a little baby Flintstone all on my own. I wander around in the twilight zone, a little baby Flintstone all on the weekend.

Interview with Billy Wilder.

Interesting pictures of domestic bliss (thanks, J).

Breaking Bad remix:

Long-ass Stewart Lee interview (thanks, J).

And a long-ass Chris Rock interview (both excellent).

Guys doing girls’ Instagram poses (thanks, V).

Stand By Me then and now (thanks, T).

The writer of The Wire on its HD re-release.

Never lose a fantasy football bet:

Every Saul Bass movie poster (thanks, J).

Screenplay stats (thanks, J).

8 things Bill Murray can teach you about how to live an amazing life (thanks, J).

The Christmas party season is upon us

So here are some useful Adland chat up lines.

Harvey Nix Christmas ad.

I didn’t like last year’s thing much (I can’t remember the line but it was something to do with spending it on myself).

No matter, though; it won every award going many times over.

So my taste is very poor.

Sorry.

This is quite boring.

Maybe it’ll win a Black Pencil at D&AD.