Think Hard

Taboos smashed to bits by Bodyform.

In this spot by AMV for Bodyform decades of taboos are booted right into touch.

A splendid and brave production,.  Well done all.

As Jason Stone says in his David Reviews piece on the spot it actually follows what is essentially the convention in the category by showing a bunch of women being active during their periods; the difference being that this is real, gritty and shows the red stuff.

Of course Bodyform has previous in this category with this hilarious spoof…

Brand Trump.

OK, so the Republican race isn’t over yet but Donald Trump is now three to one ON in the betting to win the Republican nomination, with Ted Cruz now 4/1.

Now, I’m not saying Cruz is an angel, because he sure is not, but it says an awful lot about the state of the American electorate that Donald Trump has been able to muster such a remarkable following under the auspices of a brand that I could only describe as toxic.

Most certainly it is toxic in the UK.

And for liberal America it too repulses commentators most notably in this MSNBC report by a visibly shocked Rachel Maddow. In the broadcast above Maddow creates a timeline of Trump speeches (you’ll have seen many of these snippets before so it’s not clever editing at play here) of the escalating call for an end to the toleration of protesters at Trump rallies and an increasing call for violence that led to the riots in Chicago.

It’s only one aspect of ‘Brand Trump’ that is so much the antithesis of Obama’s winning campaigns, that it makes me wonder if it can be the same electorate that is being addressed.

Now, sure, Obama’s dream is far from realised, but the quiet dignity with which he has presided over his office is a lesson in diplomacy for many leaders.

The tone adopted by Trump on the other (small) hand threatens to drive the US political system into farce.

But, like all good brands, the tone of voice is consistent.

One might also describe it as disruptive because it’s taking US politics and entirely reframing it.

In that respect it is as masterful as Obama’s Hope campaign.

But people, ultimately, are frightened of disruption.

Brand owners particularly so.

So, we can only hope that ‘Brand Republican’ sees, in time, that sub-brand Trump is about to kill its parent.

Perhaps forever.

I mean, is this how you’d like your brand satirised on national TV and global internet?




Advertising ideas are “Non Working Spend” for marketers.
February 3, 2016, 7:54 am
Filed under: advertising, brands, business, creativity, design, marketing, politics | Tags: , ,


I honestly thought I’d seen it all until I woke this morning to an email from a company called Percolate who have published a “White Paper”.

“Ooh, a White Paper – must be important and true because David Cameron has signed it off, what incredible words of wisdom does it hold within its shimmering virginal covers?”


“As the pressure to demonstrate the value of marketing grows, one overlooked metric for return on investment (ROI) analysis is on the rise.  Non working spend [my emboldening]  is the cost of producing marketing content, as opposed to media spend distributing it.”

Here it is in more detail. In case you think I made a dreadfully stupid assumption.

Yes, it really does say “Non working [spend) is EVERYTHING ELSE [my caps].”

So, my thirty year career, not to mention that of my planning friends, my creative buddies, my TV producers, digital content creators, print buyers, secretaries (back in the day), studio managers and those scary guys that work for them but deliver such great work…they’re all “non working spend.”

A necessary evil.

Expensive grist to the media mill owners.

Jeezo.  I’m gonna have to take a little minute here.

I’m a little shaken, I admit.

I mean it’s a fucking White Paper.  Not just any old made up shit.

Sorry Mum.

Sorry I let you down.  Remember I told you I worked in a reputable industry where I made a difference – along with Charlie, and Smudger and Jimbo and Will?

Yeah.  That’s them.

And Gerry too and Raymond, and Roger.

Yeah, yes Victoria and Ruth.

All just “Non Working Spend.”

That guy at the government. Remember I told you about him?

The guy you liked off the telly?

No, not George Osborne, he’s a bad man.

The Scottish guy.

Remember I came home and told you he said advertising people were like “leeches’?

Yup, that’s him.

Well, he was right, ‘cos it’s in a White Paper.

We’re all just “Non Working Spend.”

You don’t believe me?

Read it here.

Think Hard in the press again

Interesting piece I contributed to in yesterday’s Times.

times copy

It’s pretty accurate except for the piece where I say the headline is going to be laughed out of court.

The headline I was referring to was one that claimed that Scotland would be one of the world’s wealthiest nations after independence.

I stand by that as it’s way too extreme a claim to make (true or otherwise) .

The ad in the article is actually more benefit driven and works well (IMHO) and, consequently, is much more believable.



She had a dream
January 11, 2014, 9:12 am
Filed under: politics | Tags: , , , ,

Margaret Thatcher loathed the benfit driven leeches that she perceived Scotland to be.

But, we never elected her, just like we never elected David Cameron and his cronies.

Cameron is too scared to even debate independence with Alex Salmond because he realises AS OUR LEADER he a) has no mandate b) we loathe him c)In his own admissions he is too posh.

It’s interesting then, that in between the 70’s and teenies Independence pushes, Thatcher was an unwitting advocate of the outcome of independence.

By paraphrasing the quote below she was saying “We don’t want this lot.  We want to break them.  We want rid of them.”

Well, let’s grant her her wish posthumously; shall we?

I am indebted to James Mclaughlin for the inspiration for this poster idea, but please forgive the shocking art direction and general cobbled togetherness.

It’s the thought that counts.


The Troy Library Yes vote campaign


Fahrenheit 451 is a sci fi book (Ray Bradbury) and movie, made by Francois Truffaut as part of the French New Wave in 1966.  It shocked the world with its highly controversial theme; the burning of books because the fictitious totalitarian government saw them as the root of all evil.

This must have been the inspiration for a campaign in Troy, Michigan to encourage local voters to approve a 0.7% local tax increase to save its town library.

The backdrop to this was an aggressive no vote by the Tea Party who were angered by the proposed tax rise and had both money and influence to vocalise their anger.

The Yes vote was being drowned out because the Tea Party were relentlessly highlighting the hole this would burn in people’s pockets with no real emotional engagement.

It feels a bit like the vote for Scottish Independence which has no heart or soul, just political rhetoric.  Tit for  tat squabbling about tax and revenues, legal implications of constitutional issues, arguments about whether or not Scotland can, or will, enter the Euro.

Consequently the No Vote will win because people are fundamentally averse to change.

What the Troy Yes vote did was change the entire axis of the conversation.  Instead of trying to outshout the No vote with big and bloody Yes messages it subverted the whole thing.

It ran a mock No campaign by asking the citizens of Troy to attend a celebratory Book Burning Party because, after all, in the wake of the library closing there would be books aplenty to fuel the bonfire.

The townsfolk were outraged.

The fake campaign had touched an emotional nerve much deeper than that of their wallets; this got deep down in Maslowe territory and  completely overwhelmed the No vote’s clumsy blustering.

Using social media and good old fashioned pamphleting and street postering it drove the community into a social media frenzy; only when the rug was pulled, on the approach to polling day, did people see the audacity of the approach for what it was and the emotional power of their argument.

What was an 0.7% increase in tax compared to the loss of civil dignity, freedom of expression and cultural integrity?

The Yes vote won.

By a mile.

Watch the story unfold here.

Wouldn’t it be great if Scotland’s Yes vote could rise above tit for tat politicising and reframe the argument emotionally in such a way that people actually engaged and felt strongly enough to make it a movement not a box crossing exercise.

Tess Alps talking sense.


Tess Alps is smart.

Here she talks about the government’s pathetic defence of slashing public service advertising because they claim there are more (cost) effective ways to change behaviour.

A 26% increase in drink driving deaths last year.  In the wake of an advertising embargo.  What did they expect? 

This sort of behaviour needs more than nudging.  It needs full spotlight disdain and only TV can do that.

Trying to get junkies off heroin.  That’s a different matter but this sort of behaviour needs social antipathy and TV’s the best way to galvanise that.

I agree 100% that broadcast TV advertising is not the only way to change behaviour.

But let’s get this straight. 

If you have the money there is STILL nothing that can replicate a great big dollop of TV advertising. 




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