Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Commercial: Live action drawbacks

I'm loath to disagree with the wildly accurate judgements of Nick. But I'm not sure that Honda's live action experiment tonight was a resounding success. Three reasons:

1. Placement - yes, it's an iconic ad from a great company. But would you expect to see its most daring work in 'Come Dine With Me'? Really?

2. Clarity - my partner, who was watching with me, got to about halfway through and said, 'What's it for?'. She had blinked and missed the 'O'. The end frame resolved things, but she was only staying because of the pre-publicity which leads to:

3. The context of 'live' - the ad only worked *because* of the pre pub. If you happened to turn on C4 tonight, and not known about the ad, you'd have been discombobulated. When you see content tagged as 'live' on TV you generally expect some sort of verbal commentary to guide you through. Not having that pre-supposed that everyone watching knew what was going on, which I'm not sure everyone will have.

Still, good work. Now, who's really going to exploit the idea?


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

26 recommendations for May

can be found here.

As irony would have it, a week away will be followed by a week of pitching, so don't expect much traffic here for the next week or so.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Another web 2.0 literary endeavour

This time coming out of the ITP at NYU. Called 'Penultimater', it's all about writing a novel one text at a time. First read suggests that it's not too bad a tale.

You can read the chapters so far, and sign up to write a sentence yourself here.


Commerical: Not dead

Not dead
Originally uploaded by SgtRock333

You may have been under the impression that Polaroids were about to come to the end of their life as useful, accessible technology.

Apparently the memo didn't get through to adidas or Red Bull. What does it say about a brand trying to use almost dead technology (or indeed a simulcra of one) to communicate?


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Commercial: 48 hour sci-fi film challenge

So, a few weeks ago, clurr asked me to give a hand on a project she was helping Jools and Si out on, which was to create, shoot and edit a five minute film in 48 hours, as part of the Sci-Fi London film festival. I wrote a brief treatment for an ad that was meant to be used in the film, as well as the brand at the heart of it - it ended being the main locus of the film.

There were a couple of restrictions: the given title was 'Bleak corridor', we had a prop action to incorporate - a circuit board being snapped; and a line of dialogue. But other than that we had a free hand.

You can see the resulting effort here (if it's not loaded, click on the 'Bleak corridor' link on the right). Although it wasn't a finalist in the competition, I think it's a fun five minutes. All kudos to Jools, Si and everyone else.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Commercial: Should Shell be saying 'clicky'?

in their current banner executions? It doesn't feel right; they're trying too hard for the cutesy tone of voice.

They're an oil company, FFS. Grow up.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Listorama: The Salvation Army

As sourced from the programme for Major Barbara, currently playing at the National Theatre.


Articles of War: a statement of beliefs and promises signed by all Salvationists

‘Blood and Fire’: the motto of The Salvation Army referring to the blood of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit

Cadet: someone – male or female – in training to become a full-time officer in The Salvation Army

Citadel: a hall used for worship

Colours: the flag of The Salvation Army – blue for the purity of God, red for the blood of Christ, yellow for the fire of the Holy Spirit

a document conferring authority upon officers and local leaders

Corps: a ministering unit of The Salvation Army

‘Fire a volley’: an instruction to shout Hallelujah or Glory

Firing a cartridge: paying a tithe in the weekly collection

General: the international leader of The Salvation Army

Junior Soldier: a young person who has been converted and has signed a promise but not yet the Articles of War

Knee Drill: early morning prayer meeting

Officer: a Salvationist who has left secular employment and has been ‘commissioned’ to serve within The Salvation Army – comparable to an ordained minister

Mercy Seat:
a bench that serves as a place of prayer placed at the front of the worship space

Promotion to Glory: description for the death of a Salvationist

Pub Booming: ministry in public houses, bars, and clubs

Rank: based on years of service or special appointment, officers in The Salvation Army may be Captains, Majors, Colonels, and Commissioners

Soldier: an enrolled member of a Salvation Army who has signed the Articles of War

Swearing in: the public enrolment of a Salvation Army soldier

War Cry:
the weekly evangelical publication of the Salvation Army


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Commercial: Naughty

It takes a special skill to go from this:

to this:

and in the process, not just rip the idea off, but make it worse. Oh dear.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Commercial: Witty keywords

One of the banes of the life of a copywriter who writes for online as well as off are keywords.

Well, not so much them per se, but more the limitations that they and their metadata bretheren place upon us. I've lost count of the times that I've read these phrases in briefs or received them in feedback on copy:

- Keywords for search optimisation need to be more prominent
- Keywords for search optimisation need to be more frequent in copy
- Why aren't page titles and navigation the same?
- Why aren't there more of your metadata terms in your copy?
- Why is there so much copy?

Oh, ok, that last one isn't strictly keyword related, but the wider point still stands. We've reached a stage where the gods of usability and searchability are trumping creative possibilities and good writing more generally in too many commercially focussed sites.

Of course, if you think hard enough, you can achieve all the keyword optimisation you want. And have a bit of fun at the same time. The above example can be found at online t-shirt shop Sackwear, and it's brilliant because it achieves the functional aim while being human and funny.

So please, IAs, producers, usability gurus and SEO specialists - give us some leeway, and we can create Google-friendly magic for you.

(Sackwear hat tip: Copybot)


Monday, May 12, 2008

Commercial: A handy tone of voice

There's a new mobile-based social network in beta. It's called aka-aki, and it's based in Berlin.

What I love is the tone of voice when it's translated into English. It's commercial blank poetry:

mobile new people
never met before
lots of fun suddenly
make it so


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Shop bad design

Here's something to get stuck into if you've been enraged by bad design recently.

Drop the guys at the Experimental Letterpress Workshop a line for some of these admonitory stickers; find the offending articles, and then take a photo of them and post them to Flickr.

And together, bad design can be stopped!


Friday, May 09, 2008

The best fart joke in the world ever

So, have raced through Julian Barnes' Before She Met Me in the last few days. Delicious, as ever, but also disturbingly odd. But it does have a fart joke that almost had me in tears on the Victoria line t'other morning. To whit:

Once, Jack had rung up and insisted that he help him choose a squash racquet. Graham protested that he’d only ever played squash three times – once with Jack, when he’d been sent scurrying around the court towards a heart attack – but Jack refused to accept his disclaimers of authority. They met in the sports department of Selfridges, and though Graham could quite plainly see the squash and tennis racquets over to their left, Jack dragged him off on a tour of the whole floor. After about ten yards, though, he suddenly stopped, did his pre-fart pivot so that his back was slanting towards a row of cricket bats, and sounded off. As they walked on, he muttered sideways to Graham,
‘The Wind in The Willows.’


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hip to some new talent

A couple of weeks ago, we were joined on placement by Laura Harrington and Mandy Gould from Bucks. They were very good. As their video above will also prove.

You heard of them here first etc etc.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Commercial: The race for talent

So the thing that has been keeping me away from here over the last few weeks has gone live.

New Blood is the show for graduating creatives, organised by D&AD. Come and see the best young talent, all under one roof. This year it's at Brompton Hall at Earls Court, and we want everyone in the industry to race down there as quick as they can, to try and snap up the best creative teams before it's too late.

Have a look around the site, and any feedback is much appreciated.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Design: Copy as interface

A really great presentation from Erika Hall of Mule Design, about how to write copy in these web 2.0 times.

(Hat tip: Peter Parkes)