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If it isn’t about the ideas, what is it about ?



Went down to Buck college last week. Gave the students 2 briefs.

Warburtons Bread.

The Problem is : Packaged bread is boring, and (weirdly) branded bread is less aspirational than the un-branded stuff which you can buy fresh in a supermarket.

The brief – Warburtons want to remind us, in fresh ways, that bread is fantastic.

Some ideas:

1. Set up a daily delivery service that brings fresh bread to your door.

2. Make a room-spray with the smell of freshly baked bread. Even bodysprays and deodorants …

3. Create a “variety” loaf that has different slices in it – wholemeal, rye, white. Even different “flavours”, like cheese flavour or marmite. (Crisps originally started out as just plain salted …)

4. Create a “mystery slice” in each loaf which is heat-sensitive. It reacts to being toasted – it might have a funny face on it, or it might have a motto on it, or it might tell you you’ve won ÂŁ1,000. Like the old toy in the cornflake packet.

5. Set up toast vending machines – on railway stations or outside clubs. Cheap, filling, hot, tasty.

6. Make furniture in bread-related shapes – beds like pieces of toast, etc. Bread is very … comforting.

7. Give out sandwich recipes, in fold-outs in magazines, so that all the layers can be revealed one by one.

8. Make tins that look like the packaging and which can be used to bake bread yourself at home.

9. Sell wheat as a new healing super-food. For instance, sell “wheat bags” which can be used to help people chill out, because the smell is inherently relaxing.

10. Eating the crust is supposed to make your hair curly – sell the loaves in the shampoo section, making Warburtons a part of your haircare regime.

11. The Warburtons Cook Book. Like Delia Smith telling people how to boil an egg, this is a guide to making the PERFECT bit of toast and butter. The book could also coincide with a campaign to put a toaster in every workplace and re-introduce the tea-break at 4 o’clock.

12. Adopt ducks as mascots. But unfortunately, ducks are very happy with stale bread. Maybe we could start a nationwide campaign to educate ducks’ palates.


The problem – all handset brands, with the single exception of Apple, are indistinguishable and boring. None of them carry any loyalty at all.

The brief – Motorola care. They’re not “cool” like Apple, they just believe in real people and the real world.Their view is that machines are nothing, it’s people who matter.

1. Create a community of film-makers who bring this message out, by making films on their Motorolas. Films about how corporations are sick, but also films about how great people can be.

2. With a smart-phone, you’re always accessible to your boss at work. So on a Motorola there is a default email message which kicks in at 6 and at weekends which says “I’m not at work right now. If that’s a problem for you, you may need to think about your values a bit more”.

3. Smartphones make people anti-social. So if anybody breaks off from talking to you, to do anything on their smartphone, smack them.

4. No logo … Take the logo off phones. Why be an advertisement  for your handset manufacturer – they’re nearly all crap brands ?

5. Set up free wall-phones, like cash machines, allowing free 1 minute conversations. “Talk to the wall”.

6. Set up a game of chat roulette. Make new friends.

7. Motoroaming – make disposable 2nd phones you take on holiday (or out clubbing) which you don’t mind losing. The travel ones have unbeatable cheap international rates – maybe linking to Skype. Don’t let the contractors rip you off.

8. Lose the idea of a handset completely, just make a Motorola antenna which you can attach to any object (eg a banana) and make that a phone.

9. Give old handsets to the 50% of the world who currently don’t have mobile phones. Motorola could be on a mission to make the world really connect.

10. Motorola is ‘the rebound phone’ brand. The phone that you have in between other phones as a temporary phone.

11. Make a “phone for life”. You buy one Motorola handset and it constantly updates itself. Only fashion victims need new handsets .

12. Admit that Motorola handsets are ugly. But so (by media standards) are most people. That’s ok. We’re cool with that. Ugly means nobody’s going to nick it, and it’s cool not to care about looks.

Read more on If it isn’t about the ideas, what is it about ?…

Bleedin’ genius

In 1756 Edward Burke described  the “sublime” as coming from something “capable of exciting pain or danger”.

And just the other day, France’s ex-justice minister Rachida Dati told Canal Plus: “I see some [foreign investment funds] looking for returns of 20 or 25% at a time when fellatio is close to zero.”

I think those two quotes sum up the state of the nation right now.

(Incidentally, some commentators think the French politician meant to say “inflation”, but I’m not convinced.)

Or let’s approach this from another angle.

How many geniuses have you met in advertising ?

And what are they doing now ?

I remember reading a piece in Campaign once, about the late Geoff Seymour, a guy who at one stage seemed to epitomise everything that was cool and glamorous about advertising. He’d written the line “The World’s Favourite Airline” for British Airways; he wrote the original Hovis ads and “Reassuringly expensive” for Stella, and tons of other brilliant stuff. He was also the first copywriter to earn a salary of ÂŁ100,000 pa – a feat which meant that his name passed into common usage as adfolk told you they were on “three-quarters of a Seymour”.

He was good-looking and super-confident, but in a  “Where are they now ?” article from a few years ago, he was portrayed as a sad loser, with a permanent residency on a bar-stool at the Chelsea Arts Club.

Now I’m not saying he was a genius, but he was clearly a very gifted creative. However, like a lot of creatives, he didn’t manage the route to his pension very well.

Now this isn’t a plea for some kind of home for retired advertising creatives – that exists already, and it’s called the local pub.

Or, Wales.

But it is a question – which is, how seriously does advertising take its core resource of creative talent ?

I was talking to a creative the other day who is working at Fallon. We both raved about what that agency had created in its short London history.

For me, there aren’t many transcendent moments in marketing, but arguably Fallon came up with three – the Skoda cake, Sony balls and the Cadbury gorilla.

And I can tell you, because HHCL had a similar track record in the previous decade,  that peaks like this don’t come about as flukes. They don’t come out of thin air, or because you make a lucky hiring. They come out of an agency that builds its creative vision consistently and persistently.

They come out of a vision that is adhered to through thick and thin, through often painful years of growth and fighting.

If the people at the top of advertising, the big holding company swinging dicks, really cared about this industry, they’d be asking – what factors led Fallon and HHCL and CDP to create decade-defining work ?

But all they’re thinking is – let’s hope those buggers fail, it makes a flatter field for the rest of us.

And right now I don’t see many agencies that put creativity first, that will defend and stand up for their creative work … that – ultimately – even believe it’s important.

I see a massive over-supply of agencies of all descriptions, who will tip up and show a client a bunch of ideas and, when those are blown out, will say “fine, see you next Tuesday, we’ll bring some new ones.”

That kind of approach doesn’t add value to anybody or anything – and isn’t sustainable.

Anyway – I’m off to chat to a bunch of students at Bucks College to see if they’ve got any answers.

The first question I’m going to ask them is – why are you joining this industry  ?

Speaking for myself, I love the intersection of business and creativity.

But I want to hear what they say.


Read more on Bleedin’ genius…

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