Which hat tonight at The Nods awards?

To celebrate the first ever NODS Awards I’ve launched a unique promotion.

Enter my ‘Get Ahead, Get a Hat’ promotion TODAY ONLY to receive a FREE HAT when you commission a day or more of Think Hard consuiltancy.

But first, which hat would you choose?

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Free Promotion FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY: Exclusively for attendees of The Nods 2018.

I will be attending the Nods tonight.  To celebrate the launch of this exciting new creative awards initiative I will be offering all new commissions a FREE HAT with every commission.  LARGE or SMALL.

There’s only two commonly used words that can sum that up…

Blimey!

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You know what they say.  Get ahead.  Get a hat!

To avail yourself of this offer simply stop me at The Nods Awards tonight and say. “Hoy, take this work commission Mark and I claim a free hat.”

Please help me raise money for sufferers of the deadly and horrific Mesothelioma.

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Last November my Uncle Willie (Vidler) passed away.  The cause of his death was the horrific cancer known as Mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs (known as the mesothelium). The most common area affected is the lining of the lungs and chest wall.  It’s commonly associated with asbestos inhalation and as an electrician working on the construction of Cockenzie Power Station in the 1960’s, which he also saw demolished in his lifetime, Willie was aware of his asbestos inhalation – “we all were” he said.

The disease is the subject of considerable legal action but, more to the point, it’s a horrible way to die and is often described as drowning extremely slowly.  In some ways I guess Willie was lucky insofar as his death was relatively quick compared to some.

At his funeral his amazing family (and my extended family of cousins, partners and a few friends) decided we would immortalise Willie and raise some money for Clydeside Action on Asbestos.

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Action is necessary because, at the time Willie was in contact with asbestos, although there was knowledge of the dangers of asbestos exposure, employers did nothing to warn their workers of the hazards or provide personal protective clothing.

This is not acceptable as many men (mainly) have gone through terrible suffering as a result and their rights need to be upheld.

And so, 19 of us Vidlers’ and Co, are taking part in the Edinburgh Marathon on May 27th 2018 (exactly 245 years after I completed the London Marathon).

It’s fitting because the route passes the site of the former power station.  (A few vickies will be flicked, I’m sure.)

I’m doing the middle leg in my team of four (8.3 miles to be precise) and, as a fat bastard, this represents something of a challenge.

On December 25th I can’t say I was feeling ‘match fit’ although I could still dance brilliantly as evidenced below.

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However, I dusted off my running shoes in February and ran my first tentative steps in over 20 years.

Today I hit a landmark.  Exactly 8.3 miles (and 84 minutes) on the treadmill at Norton House Hotel. (The exact distance I have to run).

The effort is fairly graphically demonstrated through my T shirt, which was only orange and white before my nipples took a tanking.

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So, I now feel the time has come to ask for your support in the knowledge that by hook or by crook I can, and will, l get round the course.

Please give whatever you can.  We’re doing this as a team effort and at the time of writing we are 3/4 of the way to our £3,000 target.  But I think we should be seeing the target at £5k plus.  Just click on the link below.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mesorunners

 

How ‘pulling the rug’ creates truly great advertising communication.

This post starts with a ‘free’ social media campaign that got France thinking about the insidiousness of alcoholism in its national identity.

Betc France created this ingenious social media campaign that is better told through this short case study video than I can do justice.

Suffice it to say it demonstrates beautifully that alcoholism is a social disease that surrounds us and we cannot necessarily spot without stepping back and questioning behaviour.

That was Betc’s brief from its client Addict Aide France and the solution is quite brilliant.

I call this ‘Rug pull’ advertising in which you are led to believe one thing before a twist completely turns the story on its head. It’s exceptionally hard to pull off but is all the more rewarding for it.

The real genius of this campaign isn’t so much the gathering of 50,000 followers for this ‘;fake’ 25 year old but the final post and how that was then turned into a shareable # campaign. All at no cost (other than production – which included loads of champagne and a few yacht hires admittedly).

It reminds me of how superbly the rug was pulled by Troy library in its book burning campaign…

…and the equally brilliant Transport For London, Think Cycle Safety, campaign .

Pull the rug. Discombobulation sells ideas.

The Fearless Girl Phenomenon. A non-traditional advertising concept that even the Ad Contrarian would have to applaud.

State Street Capital commissioned McCann Erickson, New York to create a campaign to celebrate their innovative Index fund which comprises gender-diverse companies that have a higher percentage of women among their senior leadership.

That in itself is a great idea.

But the idea was even greater.  It’s not really advertising, it’s not really PR.

It’s a bronze statue of a fearless Girl staring down the world famous “Wall Street Bull” in Manhattan’s financial district.

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It was intended to be in place for one week only to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017 but remains in place after public demand.  Indeed Mayor Bill di Blasio commissioned its residence as part of the city’s transportation art program [sic]. Many want it to become permanent.

Rather than me run through the PHENOMENAL stats on its success, watch this video.

Bravo!

Creative Edinburgh Awarded Major Funding Package.

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I’ve been Chair of Creative Edinburgh since 2012, and introduced the fledgling organisation to a large audience alongside Fiona Hyslop in 2011 at The Hub in Leith Street.

It was a grand night with lots of dreams (wandering around the room I heard mutterings of cynicism.  “Another (another) creative organisation for Edinburgh, that’s all we need.”) I paraphrase of course.  But for a while that was a prevailing attitude that we had to overcome.

However,  Janine and Lynsey (our directors) were tough as old boots, rolled their sleeves up, donned creative curatorial hats and said “Stuff ’em, we’re gonna make this work.” (Again, I paraphrase.)

Jim Galloway, of the City Council’s Economic Development team, was not one of the cynics.  far from it.

He saw the light.

He had a modest budget from which to draw, and for six years now he has convinced his colleagues not just to fund us, but to celebrate us, endorse us and commission us for consultancy projects (when appropriate).

We’ve never let him down.  He’s never let us down.

The cynics slowly dropped away (but let’s never kid ourselves, no organisation is free from its critics, though few in our case are particularly ‘open’ with their criticism).

We’ve done a good job.  Of that I am in no doubt.  And when I say ‘we’, I principally mean the executive team of directors (Janine, Lynsey and now Claire) ably abetted by their own teams; currently Anna and Rachel but also Jenny, Holly, Catriona and several more.

We’ve drawn on our members to help us in lots of areas and we’ve created an excellent Steering Group who soon put us right when our ideas go a bit off track.

Our board (past and present) has been brilliant.  An eclectic, multi-skilled bunch of proper personalities with a grounding in good governance (thanks especilly to Mike Davidson for that).

Our members’ jams, meet ups and surveys have kept us informed.

And so we’ve grown.

One, two, three, soon four thousand (I hope) members.

We’ve travelled, literally, the world – all over Europe, North America and Asia so far.

But it’s been tight; very, very tight – financially.

Each year has seen a couple of stale biscuits and a half bottle of red wine line the cupboard.  Half a box of Dairylee in the fridge.

But our funders, and sponsors have grown in variety and commitment.  Each year that Dairlyee has looked more likely to be there on April the 6th, and not snaffled by the bailiffs.

And so, yesterday, it was with a mixture of relief and joy that we found out Creative Scotland (who I also have to say have been an increasingly amazing source of support and vision) announced that we, and our great friends and partners at Creative Dundee, had been granted Regularly Funded Organisation (RFO) status along with 114 others.

This is a game changer.  Our funding will now be greater than ever before, and ‘guaranteed’ (so long as we deliver) for three years.

It doesn’t mean we don’t need Jim and the other supporters we have taken on over the years, quite the opposite.  And hopefully some of this recognition will rub off on them.  I particularly have to single out Anderson Strathern, Codebase, FreeAgent, CGI, Chris Stewart Group, Federation of Small Businesses, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Whitespace,The Skinny and others.  Thank you all.  Please continue to support us as we grow.

We wil be doing more, but not haphazardly.  We have a plan to help develop, educate, meet, grow, focus and spotlight the creative industries in Edinburgh.

We’ll work closely with our friends in Dundee.  Gillian Easson has done an amazing job there and she too has been recognised as an RFO.

My heart goes out to those organisations that lost RFO funding (and those that were reduced).  Sadly in this habitat there are always winners and losers.  May you live on and return renewed and invigorated to the fray.

For me, this is a bit of a career highlight.

I’ve known, since I met Janine and Lynsey, that this could, and would, work.  They leave a great legacy and are both still heavily involved (formally and informally).

We have a strong, committed, enthusiastic executive and governance team.  We have committed members.  We now have more robust funding to underpin our vision.

As Jeff Bezos says. “This remains day one.”

 

 

How to become a creative director for a week.

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Studio Something is an agency with a difference.

I’d like to think my own agency, 1576 Advertising Limited, had a similar sure-footedness in its early days but I fear that would be bigging us up too much.  The landscape is different now and their advocacy of pure creativity is a harder course to steer in this rocky world of creative algorithms and Big Data than it was in 1994 when your TV screen still contained delights between programmes.

Creativity lies squarely at Studio Something’s core (square core? – Ed) which, obviously, appeals to me and they’re not afraid to break the rules.

As little babies they surprised the orthodoxy in Scotland by winning the Tennents Lager advertising account and running a multi-execution (online and cinema) animated campaign; a kind of soap opera about the life of Wellpark (site of the Tennents brewery).  Part slice of Scottish Life, part League of Gentlemen with dogs, it was a bold experiment that reaped great rewards.

That was the start.  Since then they’ve continued to surprise with interesting work for See Me and Innes and Gunn, amongst others.

And this post caught my eye on Medium this morning.

It’s essentially a job ad.  An ad for an internship, a creative internship.  But they’ve pulled a great stunt with it.  It’s not unpaid, it’s not minimum wage.  It’s (for one week only) paying the wage of the average Creative Director in the UK –  £45k (or (£865.38) to be precise.

But what makes this unashamed stunt much more interesting is the back story.

I don’t know if it’s written by Ian or Jordan, but it doesn’t matter.  It tells the tale of their damascene moment when Gerry Farrell offered them their own first PAID internship at The Leith Agency (or placement which sounds far more bearable) in the face of their impending personal bankruptcy.

It’s a minor chin wobbler but it also beautifully illustrates their culture.

Indeed (to brutally capitalise on their creativity for, frankly, my own gain) it’s a perfect illustration of EMPLOYER BRANDING, – like we’re doing at Inside Out, but with a boldness and joi de vivre that few could match.

You get a strong sense of values, culture and vision without using any of these words.  And most of all, if I was a 22 year old creative starting out on this rocky journey I’d want to work there.

£865.38 or otherwise.