Kramer versus Kessels

I was approached the other day by a man in a donkey jacket and no trousers.

No hang on a minute. That was a nightmare I had.

I was approached by a writer at KesselsKramer, where they are writing a book called “Advertising For People Who Don’t Like Advertising”.

Now, I may well be slap bang in the middle of that demographic, because I’m very ambivalent about adland.

As was the very charismatic Gustav Von Sydow (CEO of Swedish software agency Burt) who I saw speaking last week.  He said that 90% of online advertising fails -  in fact he said that “online advertising sucks” – and challenged the audience to come up with 10 great digital campaigns from the last 15 years.

He said a lot more very provocative stuff, which can be found on http://www.albionlondon.com/society/.

I love a persuasive sceptic.

But I also love KesselsKramer, one of the few creative hot shops the industry still has.

For a start, they once had the best Reception area of any agency in the world. Behind the desk was a wall of Polaroids, each featuring a nipple. Anyone who visited the agency was “invited” to use the Polaroid camera.

And if you didn’t, you didn’t get past Reception.

It was what is known technically as “a t*tty bar”.

Now Reception areas aren’t everything (obviously), but they can be quite a useful guide. I loved Mother’s gallery of mothers – and HHCL’s ploy of putting the Reception area in the middle of the agency was strikingly disorienting.

So anything KK do is fine by me.

And the writer had a lot of punchy questions to ask me.

For instance – “Is advertising “immoral” or does it only become that way when applied to dodgy products and messages ?”

But he started with a deceptively easy one – “define advertising”. That’s actually a tricky one these days, but I like the definition given by an American CEO recently – “the cost-plus cowboys”.

How about “What the devil keeps under his bed” ?

Or “Someone interrupting something you like, to tell you something you aren’t interested in” ?

I like “Advertising is the answer to a question nobody asked”, from Richard Stacey.

How about “One up from PR” ?

I love George Orwell’s “the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket”, because that’s how the pigs get summoned to dinner.

How about “a meeting in a hot sweaty room near Wales where the client has the small fan pointed exclusively at his head for the whole 80 minutes” ?

How about “something to do while you write your film script” ?

How about “hairdressing for brands” ?

How about “the binding agent in the cream bun that is capitalism” ?

How about “the wasps at the picnic” ?

Or “the looney on the bus, who’s telling you to buy dog food when you don’t have a dog” ?

How about “the intersection where creativity meets commerce”.

If you buy that last one, and appreciate what advertising could achieve, you’ll understand the emotion in all the others.

  • Chris Worsley

    Advertising is the Devil’s work according to Bill Hicks who also maintained that by using more pornography you could sell more of pretty much anything.

    T*ts sell stuff I think was his adage so the t*tty bar in your article is on the right track.

  • Stevie Mitchell

    Hi Steve
    I am a advertising student from UCA Farnham, we are doing a project on the d&ad ad set in the market that you appeared in. The ad was created by John Carver from cunning, we have already interviewed him, we would just like some comments on the idea, what it means to win a D&ad pencil and you views on D&ad. We would be very grateful if you could post just a couple of lines on here or send to smsteviemitchell@googlemail.com.

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