John Lewis Christmas ad 2017

This one is slightly formulaic.

Cute kid?  Check.

Moving song?  Yup, Guy Garvey covering the Beatles.

Ethnic diversity?  Oh yes.

Affordable gifting?  Very.

Online potential?  Yup.  Sally Phillips reading the story.

Merchandisable?  Indeed, money going to Barnardos.

Social Conscience?  See above.

Experiential potential.  Yes.  Farting and snoring Oxford Street window.

Is it any good though?  Of course it is, it was created by Adam and Eve and directed by Michel Goundry no less, it has a nice story and it looks lovely.

Will it make me cry?  I didn’t but you might.  It certainly has the potential.

Job done.  Here it is.




Recent Work: Progressive Partnership.

Progressive-Mockup copy.jpgDoug Cook and I worked on this new website for Progressive Partnership.

It’s the main outcome of an overall positioning research project and a revamp of the entire suite of Progressive’s marketing and presentation collateral.

We slightly tweaked (updated) the branding and designed, wrote, built, filmed, photographed and marketed the new site.

We feel it’s a clean crisp, professional representation of a clean, crisp, professional outfit that has punched well above its weight in Scotland for many years.

Here’s to as succesful a future for Sarah, Diane, Carole and the gang as the past has been.

Becoming Beckham. Another Adam &Eve Campaign Gold winner for H&M.

This is actually hilarious in parts.  Great demonstration of David Beckham joining his wife in the world of fashion and effortlessly showcasing H&Ms Beckham range with great wit and humour.

Kevin Hart becomes Beckham.


Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB
Chief creative officer: Ben Priest
Executive creative directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
Creative directors: Feargal Ballance, Patrick McClelland
Director: Fredrik Bond
Production company: Sonny London
Production company producer: Alicia Richards

Campaign Big Awards – Gold Winner for Harvey Nicols

I love this quirky wee ad for Harvey Nicholls using real footage of shoplifters in their store and with a magical sound track and great animation.

Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB
Chief creative officer: Ben Priest
Executive creative directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
Writer: Ben Stilitz
Art director: Colin Booth
Business director: Paul Billingsley
Director: Layzell Bros
Production company: Blinkink

Google RankBrain. What it means. (I think.)

I was reading a post today about RankBrain, the artificial intelligence (AI) tool that Google engineers have been training since last October to process user-search results in such a way that it makes them more relevant to users.

It’s essentially a new tweak to Google’s already highly complex Hummingbird algorithm to make search (i.e. advertising) more effective/intuitive/human.  (Slightly ironic then that they don’t use humans to actually train the algorithm.)

It’s got the SEO community in a palaver and it’s scaring some SEO practitioners because if it works it will make PageRank, which assesses inbound links, less effective. (Link building is the current top dollar methodology for increasing a website’s prominence and authority on Google.) And that will mean genuinely good websites will beat wolves in sheep’s clothing in site ranking.

That’s good for those of us who value quality over quantity.


Well the boffins can’t really agree on anything in SEO – which suits them.  As the more black magic associated with it the better.

They make it singularly as complex as they can, although five minutes spent perusing this outstanding infographic by Column Five Media might help you get see the full(ish) picture  because it gives an, at-a-glance, perspective on the factors that influence search.

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What’s gratifying about this, from my personal perspective is the things we mere humans can influence, situated prominently and with authority, at the top left of the table are Content, Words, Research and Freshness.  RankBrain is going to like these a lot and further move the dial away from link-building as the most effective means of getting people to read your website.


But if you want a boffin or two’s view; help yourself and maybe you could explain to me what they mean.

…it’s merely a switch from user-intermediated algo-tweaks to mostly automated algo-tweaks to arrive at the same end result

or this

 …also think they will include the fact element they patented – the number of facts a page has about a keyword set – latent semantics meets encyclopedic data.

How to get round protesting when protesting is banned: Create a hologram.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 13.31.22.png

This is a remarkable communications idea from DDB Spain.  In March 2015 Spain banned any form of physical protest under a new ‘Gag Law’ but DDB found a way around this by creating  ‘virtual’ protest right outside the Spanish Congress by allowing people to upload protest images of themselves online that were then turned into a massive hologram.

The effect was huge and reached 800 million internationally, not bad for a law that had been criticsed by the UN and 80% of the Spanish population.

Here’s how they did it.


I love it when Dave Trott nails stuff. Ideas versus execution and the role of planning today.


Why should ideas not have a role in today’s communications industry?

Is it because digital marketing is taking over and merely becoming about reaching people in the right place at the right time? (As Trott alludes to in this recent blog post in Campaign.  He  cites Marshall McLuhan to make that point.)

Or is it because ideas are harder than executions to create, to consider, to nurture because the breakneck pace of briefing (if that even happens) to delivery no longer leaves any room for ideas?

I read a lot about 21st century advertising being all about the ‘execution’.

But I’m with Dave Trott here.  It’s utter bollocks.

Here are Trotty’s words in full

Recently, I heard about a talk given by one of the most respected planners in London.

He is retired now but, apparently, he said he realised his job had never been about ideas.

It had only ever been about execution.

In fact, he realised that advertising isn’t about ideas at all.

It’s only ever about execution.

Wait a minute, have I got this right?

The idea is unimportant; all that’s important is the execution.

That’s from one of the most respected heads of one of the most respected strategic departments.

If so, I’m confused. 

I thought the “idea” was what we communicated and the “execution” was how we communicated it.

Surely, what we communicate is the “strategy” and how we communicate is “tactics”.

I thought the planning department did the strategy.

I thought the creative department did the tactics.

But, apparently, that’s dinosaur thinking.

Is he saying planning has abandoned strategy to concentrate on tactics?

That execution is all there is, so planning concentrates on execution?

Which presumably means marketing, account men and clients also concentrate on execution.

Hopefully, creatives are still allowed some input into execution.

If so, that means no-one is doing ideas.

So advertising has no ideas.

Isn’t this exactly what Stephen King warned against?

Stephen King was the man who invented planning.

He invented it to provide exactly the strategic thinking that no-one else in advertising could provide.

He wanted planners to be about the big picture, to distance themselves from the detail.

He had one main warning for future planners: “Don’t become mere ad-fiddlers.”

He knew it was tempting for them to offer an opinion on the execution: the script, the editing, the casting, the actors’ facial expressions, the soundtrack, the props, the dialogue, the typeface.

But he warned that this was execution and would detract attention away from the strategy, away from the idea.

I wasn’t there when the distinguished planning director spoke.

But I’m guessing he would say that, nowadays, we realise emotion is more important than logic.

I’m guessing he would quote Daniel Kahneman on Type 1 and Type 2 thinking.

I’m guessing he would say that, nowadays, the execution is the idea.

The how is the what.

And no doubt that’s a very seductive intellectual argument.

The only problem is, of course, intellectual argument doesn’t work on ordinary consumers.

But that’s the place where advertising has to work.

And what works on simple consumers is simple common sense.

“The medium is the message” may be a seductive intellectual argument, but “don’t become mere ad-fiddlers” is simple common sense.

And that is what we are short of in advertising.