Browsing Month July, 2010

Warm leatherette.

July 30th, 2010 // 12:23 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Guess what? Yes, that’s right. Today, as a Manchester copywriter, I find myself deeply troubled by a commercial on the telly. This time it’s the latest CSL sofa spot. I know, I know, why pick on one sofa company when sofa ads, as an entity, appear to be universally godawful? It’s simple really. Where most of the sofa barns focus solely on the latest in a seemingly endless cycle of sales, with unbeatable, unrepeatable, never to be seen again till next week easy credit offers, CSL has gone all ‘slice of life, passage of time, reality tv’ on us. In this mini docu-drama we follow Mr. and Mrs. Unbearable and young Master Unbearable from the early joys  and high hopes of sofa ownership to the cruel realities and shattered dreams of long-term soft furnishing commitment.

Here, have look.

Heart breaking isn’t it? Well, no actually. Maybe it would be if all the people involved weren’t so utterly repellent. Mr. and Mrs. Unbearable just look like the kind of people you  couldn’t spend more than 10 minutes with without wanting to punch one, or both, squarely in the face. He looks like one of those gits who got into beet mash futures at exactly the right moment, where she just looks like one of those girls you used to see at school discos who would, inevitably, go on to marry a man who got into beet mash futures at exactly the right moment. The child, sadly, will consequently never have any real friends and will doubtlessly descend into a spiral of drug dependency and self-harm. The divorce certainly won’t help.

What the ad fails to point out though, is that the root of all of The Unbearables’ problems and fundamental cause of the breakdown of their seemingly happy family unit was the purchase of a white leatherette sofa from CSL. Surely someone could have seen it coming? Isn’t there anyone at CSL who could have pulled them aside at point of purchase to quietly explain the folly of purchasing a white leatherette sofa at what is,after all, a very delicate stage in their realationship? Oh sure, in the first flush of young romance we’ve all dreamt of a future swathed in white leatherette. We’ve pictured ourselves sipping perfectly chilled dry martinis, exchanging our dreams and laughing gaily at ‘Animals do the funniest things’ showing on our 50″ plasma screen while the pebble effect living flame gas fire flickers in its chrome framed loveliness. But what happens when that first child comes along? Have you tried keeping white leatherette spotless while changing the nappy of your first-born or spoonfeeding mashed rusk? Well if you have, you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.

And it’s not just the kid. Imagine the scene, Mr.Unbearable has just returned from a demanding round of golf and networking. He grabs a bottle of room temperature Twuttleton’s Old Vernacular, flips off the cap and reclines on the CSL luxury seating unit to ponder the day’s events. In a flash, Mrs.U bursts in, ordering him to get his disgusting golfwear off the leatherette, just watch where he’s dribbling with that beer and why can’t he use a glass for god’s sake. He responds with bitter recriminations about the obvious Max Factor blemishes all over the cushions and shimmering cleavage enhancer smeared across the armrests since her bloody sister and all her bloody friends came over to watch bloody Mama Mia that Tuesday night when he was in Geneva on ‘beet mash business’.

And from there, it’s all downhill. Master U has got biro down the deep buttoning, that Tandoori Prawn Masala will never come out and Mr. U’s caused a burn with a Hamlet slim panatella. Again. Divorce is the only answer. He’s off with the new bird, ( who he met while in Geneva on ‘beet mash business’ ), she gets custody of the sofa and Master U’s bitter fate is sealed.

All I’m waiting for now is the next ad in the series.

The one where Mrs.U turns up at the new bird’s house and goes crazy apeshit mental with an assault rifle.  Those stains will never, ever shampoo away.

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in t’ Drum.

July 24th, 2010 // 7:17 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Yesterday I was rather thrilled to receive the latest issue of The Drum. I know it’s not really that exciting as a rule but this particular issue is big, big news in the White household. The reason being, of course that this issue has the ‘Recommended Freelancers Guide’ inside and I’m in it. Oh yes, it’s true. There I am, a recommended freelancer, shoulder to shoulder with some people that you’ve even heard of. And my photo’s in there and everything.

In fact I actually had to get a photo taken specifically for that purpose, as the only picture I had of myself was taken by me, holding a camera I bought from a car boot sale at arm’s length and blindly snapping away until I had a shot with my face in and not just my ear and the book case behind me. ( I did get some great shots of my books though so if I ever want to put them on ebay, I’m quids in. ). Anyway, the deeply wonderful and hugely talented Tim Sinclair took some proper ad man type photos for me. My only regret being that I wasn’t standing on a Fire Escape or something. Those Fire Escape photos always looked great in Campaign didn’t they?

Still, in the shots I’m standing against a brick wall and I’ve got a black top on so I look like a proper Manchester copywriter. A bit designy, a bit creative, a bit edgy and not all that startled so it’s a result, all in all.

I do have one small complaint for the people at The Drum though. Before the guide went to print, they sent me a set of questions about freelancing and I answered them all, clearly, concisely and with a great deal of thought. Yet they’ve only printed 2 of my replies. So, for the record and to share my wisdom with you, I’ve decided to reproduce them in full, here on the blog. Read and learn.

There. All sound advice for any freelance copywriter out to make his/her/whatever fortune in the crazy world we call advertising.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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Please advertise responsibly.

July 19th, 2010 // 1:34 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Over the past couple of days I’ve been thinking about drinking a lot. Hang on, let’s try that again. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about drinking. A lot. Or more specifically, drinking in advertising. And by that I don’t mean the grand tradition of loads of advertising people going getting pissed, having a ‘brainstorming’ session, creating the World’s best ad ever, going home, sobering up, feeling deeply ashamed of said ‘World’s best ad ever’ and starting again.

I mean advertising alcoholic drinks and how that fits into today’s brave new world.  You see, we’ve all got to be very responsible these days and, as we all know, alcohol isn’t there for getting drunk with. It’s all about socialising with similarly responsible types, hitting the wine bar and having sophisticated fun. ( Unless of course it’s WKD. Then it’s all about being a dick. )

The ad that actually set me thinking about the whole subject is the latest Schweppes TV spot.

‘Hold on’, I hear you say, ‘that’s not an alcoholic drink, that’s a mixer at best.’ Well yes, good point but keep your voice down a bit, I can’t really hear you, obviously. Anyway, take a look at the ad and it will all become clear.

See what I mean? It’s nice that isn’t it? But it doesn’t really work unless we assume that there’s already a copious amount of gin in that glass before the tonic glugs in. Come on. How often has a swig of anything other than extremely strong alcohol persuaded you that a palpably ridiculous idea is , in fact, a top plan?

For my money it’s lifted from ‘The Fast Show”s drunken family. And none the worse for that.

From here on in though, things turn a bit strange. There are loads of ads out there doing their best to attach some kind of glamour, mystique or out and out ‘quirk’ to a drinks brand without ever really talking about drinking, getting drunk and the good times, bad times, legal actions, unplanned pregnancies, unexplained injuries or happy ever afters that can follow. It’s all about applying an image, a feeling and an ‘ooh yeah, that’s me, that is!’ to a brand.

Of course some ads get it spectacularly wrong, ( Which, by the way is purely my own opinion as a Manchester copywriter so if I happen to hate some ads that you love, then I’m deeply sorrry. You’re entitled to your view, you’re just wrong, that’s all. ), one I’ve previously gone on about at length is the Smirnoff ‘Party in The Forest’ ad.

I won’t mention it again. Click here if you want to read my thoughts on it.

Another is this bloody Pimms ad.

Yes, I get it. All those people represent the individual elements that go into making the classic jug of Pimms. But would you really want to be present at any event where that bunch of unutterable tossers suddenly rocked up? ‘Mint’ is wearing a pair of shorts that a man of his years really shouldn’t, ‘Orange’ is obviously a woman with a very dubious past plus an addiction to surgery and prescription medication,  ‘Le’, ‘Mon’ and ‘Ade’ are fresh from a date with Dirk Diggler and ‘Cucumber’ walks like Max Wall for Christ’s sake. In fact, every one of them looks like they’ve had to sign a register of some kind before re-entering the community. How, exactly, that is meant to sell a bottle of Pimms No.1 is frankly beyond me.

I must be missing something though, the ad’s made by Mother, THE agency of the moment. Obviously I know nothing and I’ll never work in advertising again. Even as a Manchester copywriter.

I could go on and on, in fact I already have,but  there are countless other ads out there which demonstrate the point further. There’s that Brothers cider thing in which a bunch of blokes hilariously misunderstand a young lady’s desire for ’5 Brothers’ oh, sod it, here it is.

Now that really is grim isn’t it? It’s like those WKD things but worse. And that’s quite an achievement.

In fact, having watched that again, I think that WKD campaign is beginning to grow on me. See what I mean though? Every drinks brand, now that we can’t talk about getting drunk, has to have a ‘personality’ that we can buy into.

The problem is, finding a personality that isn’t completely repellent.

And, judging by what we’ve seen up to now, that’s going to require some very serious, clear minded and considered thought.

So, go on. Get ‘em in.

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sticky fingers.

July 14th, 2010 // 12:52 pm @ // 2 Comments

Hello there. A couple of weeks ago, in my capacity as a Manchester copywriter, I became embroiled in a fairly lengthy debate over what constituted ‘the greatest business card in the World… ever!’. If you’re a member of Linkedin, you may well have read some of it, possibly even joined in. If you aren’t and you didn’t, then you really should be and you should have. Honestly, if you’re not going to get involved in all this Social Networking stuff you’re just not with it. Daddio.

Anyway, back to the debate,  Julian Gratton of Red C Marketing had his ideas, I hadmine. Tim joined in, so did Steve, even Phil and Dave had something to say about it. So where were you eh? I rest my case.

This morning though, I saw something that raised the business card to a whole new level. It was this.

That’s brilliant isn’t it? It’s by the Japanese Model kit manufacturer Tamiya, obviously, and you can take the card to bits and make teeny, tiny models out of it while you’re planning a corporate takeover or browsing for sandals on ebay. Genius.

I’m actually in the process of designing one now for the Central Heating Engineer I called out last week. It will consist of roughly 78 pieces which will form a working model of a condenser boiler, perfect in every single, minute detail. The idea will be to place each piece on various different kitchen surfaces before you finally ascertain that one tiny, yet vital, component is missing. That piece will be have to be ordered separately and may or may not become available 3 -5 weeks after the arrival of the business card, at an  extra cost of around £135 plus vat.

And there won’t be one  in the sodding van either. Not. A. Sodding. Chance.

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Movie drone.

July 8th, 2010 // 7:59 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Today I’ve been thinking about how I can improve my efficiency, save time and get more out of each day. And I think I’ve hit upon an idea that’s approaching genius. Admittedly it’s approaching genius at a fairly oblique angle but genius nonetheless. Now, I like to spend time watching movies and I’ve often thought how time-effective it can be going seeing a couple of films together, back to back as a double bill. Two films but only one trip to the cinema, reduced journey time, only one shower required, no wasted minutes in queues or travelling.

Now here comes the genius bit. Instead of watching two films in succession, how about we combine two films into one? All the enjoyment and fulfilment, half the running time. I’ve already started working on it with a handful of DVDs, a little editing tool on my PC and a dash of creative thinking. And you know what? I think I’m really onto something this time. Something that’s going to change the world of cinema and be a whole lot more personally successful than that Mobile Golf Course I set up last year.

Here’s a list of just a few of the titles I’m giving the mix treatment to:-

The Unbearable Lightness of Being John Malkovich.

Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice in Wonderland.

The Empire Strikes Back to The Future.

2001 A Space Odessa Files.

I only wish I’d thought of it sooner. All those wasted hours in the Multiplex when, as a Manchester copywriter, I could have been working on award winning campaigns or writing flyers for Landscape Gardening Services. It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

I’m going to start working on my record collection next, who’s up for The Pet Shop Beach Boys?

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Dialemma.

July 1st, 2010 // 2:26 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Over the past week I’ve been thinking of treating myself to a new ‘phone. The one I’ve got is ok really but I’ve had it a while now and there are a couple of niggles with it. The main one being that there’s a great big crack right across the ‘O’ on the keypad and when you press it, which you often have to do unless you only call people already in the phone book or those without a ‘O’ in their number, it kind of half falls out and I have to catch it and sort of wiggle it back in. I’ve been managing ok but did you know that there are hardly any people out there without an ‘O’ in their number? And those who haven’t are getting frankly sick of me calling them and asking them to pass on messages to people who have got an ‘O’ in their number.

So obviously, as a high flying Manchester copywriter about town, I need a new one. Naturally the first one that springs to mind is the iPhone. I mean, there’s a brand spanking new one out that’s all thin and glossy and cool and it seems that all the hep cats, groovers, scenesters and designy type people snap them up like interesting shoes and dinky shoulder bags. There seems to be a problem with it though. I was doing a bit of reading up and apparently there’s an issue with it getting any reception at all if you hold it. In your hand. When you’re making a phone call.

Now I know I’m like super picky but that seems a fairly fundamental flaw in a phone. Sure it looks all slim and glossy and sexy and cool, the graphics are great and there are about 38 gazillion apps you can download to do all kinds of crazy stuff but just don’t expect to be doing any phoning with your phone.  You can play ‘psycho murder deathsquad racecar alien prostitute holocaust 7′ while enjoying a Latte in Starbucks. You can check your hair in its rear facing camera and get an update that tells you if your hair’s dropped out of fashion in the last 12 seconds ( probably ). You can do all kinds of fun stuff with your photos, you can surf the net, you can read a book, watch a movie, book a flight to Cannes, probably find yourself a partner of any sexual persuasion and look really slick while doing it. You just can’t rely on actually making a phone call to anyone at any given point. Or getting one.

I would imagine though that actually using the thing for something as basic as making and receiving phone calls came pretty low down on the list of iPhone priorities. ” You’re doing what with it? You’re making a freaking phone call? You’ve got that beautiful piece of glossy, slimline design and technology in your fat sweaty hand? Up against your fat sweaty face? And it’s not even in a 250 buck designer case? Jesus H Christ you moron. Put it on a glass desk and look at it. Haven’t you got 15 bucks to buy a goddam cellphone to call your fat sweaty friends with?”.

Apparently the highly portable iPad has a few ‘teething troubles’ too. Like the fact that if you take advantage of its highly portablenessability the chances are it won’t work. Its revolutionary built-in antenna being built-in to a point so deep within its designer loveliness that it can’t actually pick up any signals if there’s a grain of sugar between it and another antenna. ” You’re doing what with it? You’ve taken it freaking outside? And you want to use it for stuff? Put it inside a glass case on your glass desk, next your iPhone and look at it you freaking moron.”

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Apple have set up a website where you can now see lessons on how to hold your iPhone, ( very delicately it seems ), in order to make a call and how to position your iPad to stand a fighting chance of showing off with it in public. All done by a hugely attractive American person in a black turtleneck sweater. Probably.

For now, I reckon I’m going to stick with my slightly broken nokia and my laptop. But then I’m an old-fashioned kinda guy.

The kinda guy that can make phone calls. With his phone. In his hand.

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