My God, the craft of this ad…

Particularly (obviously) the editing.

I don’t think I’ve seen editing that brilliant before.

That is damn, damn, damn fine editing.

But I feel sorry for the poor cunt who had to do it.

Good stuff for HBO Go

Smart insight, completely true problem solved perfectly by product, and good direction.

That’s what you want out of an ad.

Have the doors of perception been gently but firmly closed?

I was reading an interview with Damon Albarn the other day where he mentioned the extent to which heroin improved his creative output:

‘For me it was incredibly creative. It freed me up. If you’re talking about an odyssey, that was definitely an odyssey… I can only say (heroin) was incredibly productive for me. Hand on heart.’

Then I read an interview with Jeremy Thomas, Oscar-winning producer of The Last Emperor, Sexy Beast and The Naked Lunch. He lamented the change in the way films were made because it used to be de rigeur to provide beer at the end of a day’s shooting, whereas this was now very much frowned upon:

‘I’m not condoning drunkenness. I’m just saying that that part of the creative process is no longer there… There are many constraints on (freedom and creativity) now and my best films were made in an era of wildness.’

This left me wondering what we might now be missing that could be enhancing creativity. The possibly apocryphal stories of yesteryear agency boozing and drugging are legion, and only a myopic prick would try to argue that the work wasn’t commensurately gargantuan in quality. So did the booze and biftas bring on the brilliance, or was it somewhat coincidental?

It’s easy to see a connection between the looseness of mind that comes with inebriation and the random leaps and collisions that bring on the most original ideas. However much the sensible part of my brain would like to dismiss the relationship, the part that’s now two large glasses of delicious Summerland Chardonnay to the good/bad can only see a brick-hard logic in suggesting that one can certainly lead to the other, after all, the work of Hemingway, Huxley and Lennon does seem pretty persuasive here. But does more drinking bring on more creativity? Harder to argue, and besides, one then has to deal with the attendant problems a greater ingestion of alcohol often creates. In addition, we have those pesky tee-totallers, Carty and Campbell and their peerless creative output, proving that A doesn’t necessarily lead to B.

Of course, many other factors have repressed advertising creativity over the years, but I do recall a suggestion from the aforementioned Walter Campbell, who told me years ago that he sometimes liked to come to work at 2am because the mind worked in a completely different way at that time of night (I once tried this theory out and discovered that he was right, but then I was too knackered to continue the experiment and unlike Walt I couldn’t just fail to turn up to work during daylight hours in the service of a thought experiment). So the altering of the brain’s conventional workings, whether conventionally, illegally, or otherwise, has been consistently proven to bring on the good stuff that makes the great stuff.

But how do your own experiences bear this theory out? Does Courvoisier equal Cannes Lions? Can a bit of ketamine bring you a Kinsale Shark? Or is a messy mind entirely unrelated to the creative process?

Answers on a forthright caramel tree house.

I just got your message baby, so sad to see you fade away. What in the world is this feeling, catch a breath and leave me reeling? It’ll get you in the end, its the weekend.

Animals stuck in odd places but don’t seem to mind (thanks, J).

The human condition, perfectly captured in photos (thanks, J).

Romantic pictures from Russian dating sites (thanks, L).

The world as 100 people.

Cool optical illusion (thanks, D):

The futility of existence (thanks, J):

How to contemporary dance (thanks, B):

Chop tomatoes easily (thanks, B):

The best muso insults (thanks, T).

If classic footballers made albums (thanks, T).


Are you a basic bitch?

35 most amazing restaurant views (thanks, T).

Nietzsche writes Upworthy headlines (thanks, T).

London: The Modern Babylon

I saw a truly great documentary last year:

It’s an incredible journey through the life of London from the time of the earliest film footage to the present day. No voiceover; just the people on camera and a lot of great music.

I kept bringing it up with friends and family, and discovered that those who had seen it loved it just as much as I did.

Then I started buying copies on DVD and sending them to anyone who hadn’t seen it.

And now, dear reader, I bring it to your attention.

Buy it now and watch it twice.

A Time of waste

When I was watching the Droga/Henry/Hegarty/Trott talk last week I was struck by an unsettling notion. It was during Dave Trott’s section where he said that it takes a lot of work to be brave, and if you don’t think (your work) is going to run, oftentimes you can’t be bothered. He then mentioned this mug:



Which got me thinking: how many jobs are there where the vast majority of your output is destined for the dustbin? And what are the consequences of that?

In the early part of my career I worked at an agency where several teams were put on each brief, so you knew that unless you won the client’s favour (often by doing the work that was easiest to buy rather than the work that was most original/different/exciting) your efforts would be for nothing (I explored this somewhat in last Monday’s post). Then I moved to another agency (AMV BBDO), where it was pretty much one brief, one team, so it was far more likely your work would run, partly because of the lack of competition and partly because, in those early days, the work was almost always sold first time. God, it was great working like that.

Then as more clients required more work the lottery re-emerged and the cannon fodder system gradually took over.

But what does that do to the working mentality of the ad creative? I think that in the beginning you accept that the odds are against you, particularly on a big brief where you might be up against a senior team who know how to play the game a bit more and might get their work closer to the front of the queue by fair means or foul. Then you get to the middle point of your career, where you accept as normal the fact that your work is likely to die, leaving you with a thicker skin and a greater capacity to roll with the punches. Then you might get into the senior ‘know how to play the game’ position, where your work could well be better, but you might also be able to position it in such a way that it’s more likely to be what the client chooses. But equally you could well be a bit jaded by that stage, with a couple of decades of crapshoots weighing down your poor, delicate soul.

18 years in I definitely find myself to be more sanguine about the longer odds of getting work made (partly because I’m a CD, so the work tends not to be ‘mine’, although I certainly invest myself greatly in the hoped-for success of anything I approve), but having Mr. Trott put it so bluntly does make me wonder if the effects of the expendable reality are more substantial and insidious than I realised.

Doesn’t it seem to make sense that you will put less effort into something you think has a greater chance of dying? Isn’t that just human nature? Whether you’re aware of it or not, isn’t there a likelihood that you’ll ease off the throttle just a little bit? Go to the pub just a little earlier? Live through some version of the message on the mug?

Then again, as Kate Moss so perceptively put it, that’s the job. The screenwriting book I read a couple of weeks ago was bursting at the seams with similar tales of burning the midnight oil in the production of thousands of bons mots, only for them to be read by no more than five people before dying in a slush pile somewhere. They are playing far worse odds than advertising creatives, with thousands of scripts vying to be one of the hundred or so that get made each year. They also go though the same seemingly arbitrary changes of heart that kill a piece of work they were sure was going to win that Oscar, but for them the hopes are higher, as are the stakes. On any produced film there will have been many different and discarded versions of the script that finally got made, each one 100 pages of crushed dreams. If we think we’ve got it bad, there are worse situations out there.

The same goes for novelists. How many millions of words sit rejected and unread in the trash cans of callous and tasteless agents and publishers? And musicians, with their hours of hopeful demos cast aside by unfeeling record company philistines. Lord knows how many unwanted works of art sit unseen and unloved in studios across the world.

But, y’know, you can let it get to you, or you can listen to Young MC, get back on that layout pad and tell yourself that tomorrow is indeed another day:

My love, tell me what it’s all about. You’ve go something that I can’t live without. Happiness is so hard to find. Hey baby, tell me what is the weekend.

Really compelling and impressive drawing of a city (thanks, D):

And, as a companion piece, the growth of LA:

The alphabet sandwich (thanks, J).

Profanity in rap, analysed (thanks, A).

Under Pressure, just the vocals (thanks, T):

Strangely satisfying footage of a man painting a road sign (thanks, J):

Behind the scenes of 2001 (thanks, R).

101 kick-ass music magazine covers (thanks, M).

And more great magazine covers (thanks, V).

Excellent film reviews (thanks, T).

The technical reasons behind the success of Get Lucky (thanks, T).

Great infographic (thanks, D).

The strangely compelling Jeans and Sheux (thanks, C).

Supercut full of spoilers (YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED):

Awful haircuts (thanks, J):

33 amazing places to visit.

Have hours of surreal fun with Baseball Card Vandals (thanks, J).

The brilliant rear sides of famous album covers (thanks, M).

How a Michael Jackson CD is made:

Man, how does lurpak keep making the same ad so differently and beautifully?

Dir: Dougal Wilson.

Ad: fucking brilliant. As usual.

Listen to Droga, Trott, Hegarty and Henry chat about bravery in advertising

On this link.

And as a special bonus, here is the very lovely Bob Hoffman, AKA The Ad Contrarian, on The Golden Age Of Bullshit:


Fuck the poor

Interesting angle.

Reminds me of Die Hard 3:

Let’s base more ads on parts of the Die Hard films.