Browsing Month March, 2010

it’s the little things…

March 28th, 2010 // 2:06 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Yesterday I went to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Yes, I know it’s been out ages and it’s frankly a bit old hat (ter) by now but I’d been resisting it until my daughter forced me to take her. The reason for my reluctance was simply that I’m a bit Tim Burtoned out lately. You must know the feeling, from Edward Scissorhands on, you kind of know what you’re going to get. Johnny Depp will be Depping about the place all quirky and fey while Helena Bonham Carter gets all Helena Bonham Carter everywhere. In mad dresses. ( Although, in fairness this time she’s doing Queenie out of Blackadder. With a big head. )

Well yesterday I bit the bullet, got the tickets, bought the popcorn, sold my house to get some slush, popped on my 3D spectacles and took my seat with Harriet to sullenly sit through a film I was bound to hate, purely to make my child love me. Here, however, things took an unexpected turn. I really loved the film. ( Well for now, I’ll get to the bad bit later ) It was funny in places, exciting,  ( it helps having a eight year old next to you reacting to stuff of course ), the 3D effects were pretty spectacular and the story was good enough to keep you fairly interested throughout. I did find Johnny’s wandering accent a bit unsettling at first, until I got the point that it was all symbolic of the Hatter’s  descent into madness and schizophrenia. I get stuff like that. I’ve seen films, read books, I can dig nuance. All the same, I couldn’t help but think of that bloody Nature Valley bar ad for a bit though. You know the one. Where those city types fall into haystacks while a farmer goes on about “the rodent race” in an accent that goes from Caerphilly to Carlisle via Cameroon.

However, I digress. The point I was going to make is what I was saying in the headline. Little things can completely screw up a great big thing. A thing that was potentially both big and great. And for me, the little thing was the Futterwacken. From early in the film it was hinted that the Mad Hatter, on the frabjous day when the Jabberwock was slain and the Red Queen vanquished, would dance the Futterwacken. A dance he hadn’t performed since the Red Queen acted like a right bitch and messed everything up in Underland.  ( Yes, it’s Underland not Wonderland. Don’t look at me. Email Tim Burton. )

Anyway I’m sure that, like me, you’re already excited about The Futterwacken and can’t wait to see the Hatter perform it. What will it be? A highland reel ( to go with the Scottish accent )? A mad jig ( to go with the mad )?

No. It’s a bloody “streetdance” like those things you get on Britain’s got talent or X factor or somesuch, complete with a big bassy Citroen Saxo with black windows and maxpower exhaust thing soundtrack. Where did that come from? Why? There’s nothing even remotely like that in the rest of the movie and it just jars horribly. Maybe it was a good idea at the time but it really, really affects everything like a deep scratch on the final track of an album you’ve just been playing. ( sorry, that’s a vinyl reference. Cast your minds back or just think of a cd going ddddddddddddddddddum at a crucial moment. Or mo mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ent )

Anyway, here it is.  Have a look and see what you think.

See? See? Complete and futter wacken.

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what's my name?

March 25th, 2010 // 12:02 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. If you’re thinking of putting a new product on the market, it’s absolutely essential that you get that product’s name just right. Take some time over the name, research it. Check out its positive or negative connotation, make completely sure that it’s utterly perfect.  It’s really important that you don’t overlook even the smallest detail.

Like,  really, really, really important.

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Photographs. Handled with care.

March 22nd, 2010 // 12:34 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. It occurred to me recently that I spend a lot of time on this blog criticising bad ads and not much praising good ones. The, very good, reason for this is that I haven’t seen many really good ads lately. That’s why I thought I should give due praise to this, the latest Sony Cyber-shot ad.

The first thing I saw in this ad, apart from the beautiful location of course, is the care taken over the casting. Every single person looks somehow ‘right’. It’s not an easy thing to put your finger on but it works in just the same way as when you look at, say, a Cash My Gold or Envirofone or DFS commercial and every  single person looks somehow  ‘wrong‘.  ( I know that’s a little unfair considering the relative budgets but you get my point. )  So, the location’s great, the casting’s great, the music’s great and the whole thing makes me feel good about the Sony Cyber-shot, makes me want one. Which is what we’re all here for really.

I know there’s not much copy involved but I’m absolutely convinced that it all came from the mind of a copywriter.

Why? Because it’s smart, considered and beautiful. Just like a copywriter.

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the old ones…

March 20th, 2010 // 1:51 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. I got an email today from one of those companies that gives us freelancers the opportunity to “bid” for work. You know the idea, it’s like an X-factor style “talent” competition with none of the glamour but all the self-loathing. Anyway, this particular one involves writing captions or, as the email put it “slogans” for a bunch of greetings cards with the theme “Grumpy old men”.  While I don’t fancy doing that whole, “will perform sexual favours for work” thing, I found myself thinking of a couple so I thought I’d run them past you instead.

Two World Wars and one false hip.

Papa’s got a brand new colostomy bag.

Born to be riled.

Ok, they need some work but I’ve had a go haven’t I?

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everything's gone green.

March 17th, 2010 // 4:35 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. As it’s St. Patrick’s day today, I’ve decided not to do any work at all. Not even writing the blog. Instead here’s a Guinness ad, followed by The Pogues with The Dubliners. No stereotypes on this blog. No siree bob.


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24 hour party pooper.

March 15th, 2010 // 11:54 am @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. This week I have found myself intensely irritated by an awful lot of awful tv advertising. Currently at the top of my teeth clenchingly awful chart is that Smirnoff ad, where what seems to be a group of massively overprivileged youth have raided mummy and daddy’s country house to furnish a party in the forest. Louis XIV sofas rub shapely legs with crystal chandeliers while our heroes, dressed in what is apparently great grandpapa’s campaign dress, a few of Marie Antoinette‘s left over gowns and some fancy dress costumes borrowed from their last visit to Glyndebourne, artfully arrange the ice buckets before getting down to getting merde faced on bottles of chilled Smirnoff, ( presumably half-inched from the regency cocktail cabinets of the aforementioned country house. )

What puzzles me is, who exactly is this ad aimed at? Obviously it’s a younger crowd but who in the world would want to share, ( admittedly perfectly chilled and beautifully presented ), vodka with that shower of unspeakable gits? Perhaps it’s just me but the ad seems completely out of synch with the times. More the kind of thing that may have gone down well in the 80’s while Duran Duran hung off yachts in the Caribbean and Rio danced on the sand.

Whatever, I hate it. It’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it. Although I have to admit it may have had some influence round my area. Only last night I saw an almost identical scene played out on the park just down the road. Admittedly it was more a blazing tyre than chandelier, there was little or no fancy dress, the Smirnoff was replaced by White cider and, rather than Louis XIV, the sofa was more DFS and had seemingly been fly-tipped long before the party started. All the elements were there though.

And, to be honest, the guests looked more appealing.

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I wouldn't normally…

March 14th, 2010 // 5:37 pm @ // One Comment

Hello there. Today I’ve spent a few hours amusing myself with that “xtranormal” thing. Yes , yes I know it’s old news now and that absolutely everyone’s moved onto some kind of 3D movie that 12 year olds are making on their Nintendo DS things. In fact you’ve probably already made an xtranormal Brothers Karamazov or Gone with the Wind with a cast of robots, teddy bears and those kind of half lego person, half animal things while I’ve been fannying about –  but to me it’s all new and exciting.

Just to get started, I’ve made an old blog post into an animated featurette. I used that “Independent Northern Creatives” one, mainly because it’s fairly short and it’s the first one that sprang to mind. I’m sure that at some point I’ll find something useful to do with it, I may even eventually learn to use it in such a way that I get further than a talking head and produce my own little Avatar or Hurt Locker. Or something. Anyway, have a look and then try writing something and making your own movie. It’s fun.

Here’s one where there’s a bear type thing saying it…

And here’s a robot.

I’ve got far too much time on my hands.

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you don’t say.

March 11th, 2010 // 1:17 pm @ // 2 Comments

Hello there. I’ve had a slightly odd few days this week. Jobs starting, then stopping. Madly urgent projects being put on hold. Plans suddenly changing. All in all most unsatisfactory. However, this has led to more time spent browsing the net,  ( andy don’t surf. ), doing a bit of reading and, inevitably, watching the telly. All of these activities have brought me to the same conclusion. People everywhere are writing dialogue which includes things that people just don’t say anymore, anywhere, ever.  Maybe it’s just me but I just don’t recall anyone saying such things to me in real life. Try these.

A soap staple seems to be the ” Slap up meal” If you’re a loveable cockernee Eastender apparently you go for these often. In fact, even on the cobbles of Weatherfield, the “slap up meal” is a right treat. Now the only people I can ever remember having a “slap up meal” or “feed”, ( We’ll leave out “nosh” ), are Billy Bunter the fat owl of the of the remove and Dennis the Menace and Gnasher. ( whose slap up meals were enjoyed at the Hotel de Posh ).

Another which grates, features in the ” Circulation Booster” TV ad, ( it does just what it says on the box you know, in a fine example of advertising eating itself ).  Admittedly you need to be watching obscure digital channels in the wee small hours to catch this one but it’s there. Here, a woman refers to her mother, ( without a hint of irony ), as her “dear old mum“. Surely no-one calls their mum “dear old mum” these days. Well not while she’s alive anyway. Or is it just me? Do you call your mother “dear old mum”? If so, please let me know. You freak.

There are loads more I’ve seen that, for the moment, have escaped me.  Probably because they’re things that I never say and nor does anyone else I’ve ever known. Is there perhaps a book of phrases that writers just dip into while preparing scripts? A kind of  thesaurus of cliche to relate to the dumbed down society that an awful lot of writers  seem to insist on catering for?  If so, please don’t ever use it.

Maybe, just maybe, we’re not quite as dumb as they think we are.

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presence dear.

March 8th, 2010 // 4:13 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Lately it seems that whenever I put the tv on, I see that new Mercedes ad. You know the one. It’s got that bloke who looks a bit like Chris Isaak but isn’t, sitting moodily in a moodily lit diner, then appearing all moody in some seriously moody rain.

Throughout all this wanton moodiness, another bloke, ( who probably looks equally like Chris Isaak but equally isn’t ), moodily monotones some stuff about “presence” and how, if you have to prove that you’ve got “presence” then you haven’t got “presence”.  However, in my opinion, if the Chris Isaak lookylikey bloke actually had that much “presence” then whoever’s driving that Merc about would’ve remembered to pick him up. Apparently, again according to monotone man, someone also once said that the whisper is louder than the shout. Well it isn’t. I looked it up and everything and can categorically say that a shout is louder than a whisper every time. Even if you try whispering really, really loudly. Because at some point it stops being a whisper and becomes the shout it was meant to be louder than. Simple as.

So, I’m very sorry Mercedes but I just find the ad wrong on many, many levels. Not only that but whenever I watch it I keep thinking of the line,

“Mercedes. When you don’t know enough to come in out of the rain.”

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March 5th, 2010 // 12:36 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Last night I went along to a meeting of the Independent Northern Creatives at The Old Monkey in town. And there I made what I consider to be an important discovery. If you ever go along to a meeting of people who are both northern and creative and don’t know anyone at all at said meeting, there are some key points in recognising your prey.

Start by looking around the pub. Instantly discount people drinking draught beer and look for bottles, preferably with a chunk of fruit jammed in the neck,  ( of the bottle, not the drinker ).  Next, cast your eyes to the floor. Don’t worry, you’re not ashamed. you’re looking for shoes. Don’t worry about your own, presumably you’re wearing some so, so far so good. What you’re looking for is interesting shoes, quirky shoes, shoes that say ” sure, I wear shoes but look at my shoes, they say I don’t just protect my feet, I celebrate them and all they do. Look at my feet and dig them. ” If you’ve spotted some shoes that fit the bill, let your gaze drift upwards. You’re looking for a shoulder bag now. Not just any old shoulder bag though, a shoulder bag with flair, with finesse, a shoulder bag with a certain devil may care joie de vivre that tells you there’s more than a cheese sandwich inside. If you’ve found all three, the chances are you found a “creative”.

Next, casually amble to the bar, timing it to arrive at the same moment as your chosen creative and strike up conversation. I tend to use, ” Excuse me. I can’t help noticing that you are both Northern and creative. Nice shoes. ”

You’re in.

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"I was just saying how good it was to work with someone who I knew would nail it. Thanks, Andy"

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