Browsing Category Advertising

The dog’s bollocks.

June 17th, 2011 // 3:24 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. God, it’s been ages hasn’t it? How are things with you? Still wearing that shirt/dress/cardigan/gimp mask I see. Well, if it works for you, who am I to knock it? You’re right, I’m no-one. Especially while I’ve been wearing the same T-shirt since last we met.

Anyway, let’s get on with it shall we? ‘On with what?’, you may well ask. Well I’ll tell you. On with the usual small-minded, grumpy, resentful old twaddle you’ve come to expect. Yes, I’m going to have a go at an advertisement currently polluting your telly box. Possibly more than one, we’ll see how we go on. First offender has to be the new(ish) Wall’s sausages ad.

Right then. I know many of you will be thinking, ‘What’s wrong with that, Andy. You curmudgeonly old copywriter you?’ (  curmudgeon cur·mudg·eon/kərˈməjən/ Noun: A bad-tempered or surly person.). Well I’ll tell you. Maybe it’s cute, in it’s own way but it gets right up my nose. I can almost picture the scene in the Ad agency that made it. ( Saatchi’s London, since you ask ).

Ad chap 1. ‘I’ve got this brilliant idea, yeah? It’s a talking dog!’

Ad chap 2. ‘Hold on mate. We’ve done the talking dog. In fact, the talking dog has been done to death.’

Ad chap 1. ‘ Aaah yes, but get this! It’s a tiny talking dog!’

Ad chap 2. ‘Hmmmmmmm.’

Ad chap 1. ‘ no, wait, wait, it’s a teeny weeny talking dog. With a teeny tiny electronic keyboard!.

Ad chap 2. ( more interested ) Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Ad. chap 1. ‘ It’s, it’s a teeny weeny talking dog with a teeny tiny electronic keyboard IN A RING BOX! RAPPING!

Ad chap 2. ‘Jeeeeeesus Juilian, you’re a genius. A GENIUS, that’s what you are! What’s the actual idea though?

Ad chap 1. ‘What?’

Ad chap 2. ‘ You know, the idea. We’ve got the teeny weeny talking dog with the teeny tiny electronic keyboard in the ring box, rapping. But what’s he rapping about?’

Ad chap 1. ( rifles through bin ) ‘Got it! You know the one where the bloke couldn’t say soft stuff because he was a bloke?’

Ad chap 2. ‘ Yeah. Hated it.’

Ad chap 1. ‘ Well, we nail that on to the tiny dog idea!’

Ad chap 2. ‘ But what’s the teeny weeny talking dog with the teeny tiny electronic keyboard in a ring box, rapping, got to do with the bloke not being able to express himself?

Ad chap 1. ‘He uses the talking dog to express his feelings for him. SEE?

Ad chap 2. ‘Well yes. But why is it a teeny weeny talking dog with a teeny tiny electronic keyboard in a ring box, rapping?’

Ad chap 1 ‘ Because that’s the IDEA, that’s the IDEA!’

Ad chap 2. ‘But I thought that the bloke not being able to express himself was the idea?’

Ad chap 1. ‘ Oh fuck off, Simon.’

Later that same day, Ad chap 1 is making a telephone call.

Ad chap 1. ‘ Nigel, hi! You know you brought your showreel in the other day with all those ideas on? Yeah? I want you to make an ad for me based on that.

Which idea? Which idea Nigel? All of them Nigel.  ALL OF THEM!

( searches desk/manbag for ad awards entry forms )



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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

Say it ain’t seo, Joe.

May 25th, 2011 // 6:18 pm @ // 2 Comments

Hello there. How are you doing today then? Everything ok? Life going well? No grey clouds, ( volcanic ash notwithstanding ), on the horizon? Everything just tickety boo? Well bully for you, you smug git.

I’ve had a couple of days of nightmarish techno-fear. Well, I say techno-fear. It’s probably a walk in the park for loads of you out there but for me it was a nightmare. My website went down on me you see, ( which is nothing like as pleasurable as it might sound by the way. Just imagine my disappointment ), and with it my email address. For me, such events are nothing less than terrifying as they mean I have to get involved with the dark arts and wizardry that make the World Wide Web work. And that’s just not me at all. I know, as a copywriter of some repute, ( please don’t snigger, you just look stupid with that stupid sniggery stupid face of yours ), I probably should know the ins and outs of the internet but I’d really rather not. I have quite enough useless rubbish tumbling around in my head without having  http, html, coding and all that malarkey jostling for elbow room. So, as I always do in these circumstances, I phoned someone who does know about such matters. In this case Gary at Mediaburst. Gary’s ace Gary is and he knows this stuff so it all got sorted out in a matter of moments. Turns out these ‘Web hosts’ need paying from time to time. Who knew?

Anyway, while all this was being cleared up, Gary decided to check out how my site was performing SEO wise. Now I’ve never claimed to be the World’s leading authority on SEO but it turns out I’ve not really paid the kind of attention I give to clients’ websites in that area to my own. You see, having done one of those ‘Keyword density’ test things it turns out that, according to Google, I’m not a Manchester copywriter at all. I am in fact Stockport’s leading Radio Art Director. Now that would be simply lovely if I was in fact a Radio Art Director, better still if there were such a thing as a Radio Art Director. But there isn’t. You see that would be a bit like being Radio’s leading make-up artist, set designer, juggler or fire-eater. So saying, there was a ventriloquist with his own radio show some years back. That’s a great gig isn’t it? He must have had a terrific agent, in fact I think he’s still in the business, working closely with the Commissioning Director of ITV 3.

So, having taken some SEO advice on board and with a view to increasing my ‘hits’, I’ve spent some time this afternoon shoehorning the words ‘copywriter’, ‘copy’, ‘writer’, ‘Manchester’ and ‘Stockport’ into the home page of The Whitewriting website. Which leads me neatly to a subject close to my heart. And that  subject is, copy written specifically to work for SEO.  I hate it and it is, by and large, bloody awful. Just clunky and clumsy and horrible. Ok, it may appeal to the spiders that run the search engines but once you click a link, arrive and start reading, you pretty quickly want to stop reading. I wrote a post about it a while ago, if you didn’t read it then, you can have a look by clicking here.  The problem as I see it is, once you start to rely on on keyword heavy copy to reel in the search engines, it destroys what I like to think of as ‘real’ copywriting. Words that flow, pulling the reader along for a pleasant ride, sometimes meandering to take in an interesting thought or two, occasionally stopping off at a particular idea. Hopefully providing a little entertainment along the way.

I’m not going to go though it all again here because it would just get repetitive and slightly dull, wouldn’t it? Very much like SEO copywriting in fact. However, I suppose I’ll have to face up to it and try to make my site just that bit more SEO friendly.

Either that or remain Stockport’s leading Radio Art Director.




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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

Golden Greats – 6 Sensational Songs from the Telly Ads.

May 12th, 2011 // 4:23 pm @ // One Comment

Hello there. Well it’s that time again isn’t it? Time for me to run through the apologies for the non-appearance of a new post, time to make excuses for my tardiness, time for that same sorry round of self pity and flagellation. Well no. No it’s not actually. Henceforth there shall be no apologies, no remorse. For today I have turned over a new leaf. Leaves in fact. You see, life shouldn’t be about guilt, shame and remorse should it? For god’s sake if it were I’d be on my knees begging forgiveness so much I’d get nothing else done. And don’t you sit there nodding. Yes, YOU. You’re far from blameless aren’t you? Pervert.

Anyway, I have no real excuse for being away from the blog so long, even if I were in the business of apologising. Which I’m not. New leaves remember? For Christ’s sake keep up. It’s not like I’ve been up to anything in particular. I’ve had a fairly quiet couple of weeks actually. Not much work on, no wild parties, nothing. In fact, it’s been so quiet that I’ve caught a bit of daytime TV. That’s grim isn’t it? ( Not the quiet bit, that’s been quite nice. The daytime TV bit, That’s bloody grim ). This morning I saw The Jeremy Kyle Show. And that’s what inspired me to write today’s post. Golden Greats – 6 Sensational Songs from the Telly ads. ( I know it’s taken a while but we’re there now. Relax )

Right. It wasn’t so much The Jeremy Kyle Show that inspired me, it was actually the little ident thing that goes in the ad breaks. It’s a bingo company that sponsors the show and they’ve chosen a Cyndi Lauper type of song, the lyrics of which would appear to communicate with their chosen audience. Now, I can’t actually find out which particular Cyndi Lauper song it is ( if it is indeed her ) so I’ve had to just listen to it on the telly and transcribe the lyrics myself. And they go like this.

‘ IIIII know weeere alldigiirlsgoooooo. Yip yip yip allwigetagethuh wepwebwepamanaporrageee. Allmoddahdigiiiiiirls guuurangedagetha. Waddleplehplehplehpleh,plehhhdadeeeeh.’

They do. Honestly. Look.

Now you can’t deny that’s a cracker can you? I may have misspelt a phrase or two in there but I don’t feel it detracts from the overall message of the piece.

Now that little gem got me thinking about some truly great songs in TV advertising and there have been some absolute belters written specifically for the ad, not just picked out of the Guinness Book Of Hit Singles and bastardised for advertising purposes. I’ve been guilty of that myself, I have to admit. I’ve made total bastards of Dion’s The Wanderer and Frank Sinatra’s Nice ‘n’ Easy to name but two.

First of all who remembers Mr. Cadbury’s Parrot? It’s a few years old now but completely wonderful. Here, have a look. And a listen.

That was written and performed by the mighty Viv Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band and based on their own ‘Mr Slater’s Parrot’ Great, isn’t it?

Actually, while we’re with Cadburys, who could forget the Fruit ‘n’ Nut ads?  ( I’m talking about the classic Frank Muir ones from the 70s by the way, not that terrible updated one they did with the singing bar of Fruit n Nut, that one was bollocks ) . Come on, let’s have a bit of Frank Muir too.

Make ’em up as they go along eh? If only.

After all that chocolate, let’s have a couple of soft drinks to wash it down with eh? How about a Kia Ora? Ooooh, we all adore a Kia Ora, don’t we?

Now, I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t get made today. Possibly due to accusations of racism, probably because no-one seems capable of making stuff this good anymore.  Next,  UmBongo. Some cracking lyrics in this rascal.

Lovely isn’t it? No strategy to speak of, no big plan, just a great big silly song. I’m not sure if the drink even exists anymore but ask anyone of a certain age and they’ll sing that song back at you. I guarantee it. That, to me, is pretty good advertising.

Here’s another great ad song. Universally loathed for many years but firmly nailed into the heads of several million reluctant grimy carpet owners.

Makes you cringe doesn’t it? But ask someone to name a carpet freshener and they’ll say Shake n Vac. ( come to think of it, I’m not sure there is another named carpet freshener so that may not be a fair comment. However, stuff it. I don’t care ). They’ve tried to revamp this campaign a couple of times. Most forgettably with that Jedward thing. No joy though. You can’t improve on perfection.

You may well have noticed that all the examples I’ve been putting on here are years old. Well there’s a good reason for that. I can’t think of a single new one that’s stuck in my mind for any reason other than it being completely shite. There’s that Richmond Pork Sausages one and, if you read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll know my opinion on that. If not you can read about it here.

Can you think of a good recent one? Can you? CAN YOU?

Well if you can, please mention it in the comments section on here. If you’re right and I’ve overlooked something wonderful, I’ll be happy to write a new post, aplogising for my crass stupidity and giving you full credit. If you send me one that’s crap, I’ll be equally happy to humiliate you mercilessly.

That’s got to be a deal, hasn’t it?


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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

Think BIG

April 28th, 2011 // 3:30 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Lovely day isn’t it? ( Unless of course you’re reading this on a less than lovely day in which case, sorry. It was lovely when I was writing it so if it’s not now, try not to worry about it. Stay in. Maybe you could tidy out that cupboard or something? Make the most of it, it’s an ill wind and all that. ) Anyway, back to the blog. Lately I’ve been watching the ads on the telly and I’ve come to something of a conclusion. Speaking as a Manchester copywriter, I believe that a great many advertisers are sorely underestimating our ambitions and desires. I think the feeling first came to me while I was watching an ad for Glade’s latest range of air-fresheners. I can’t actually find it online to show you but, bear with me, I’m sure you’ll have seen it. In the ad a lovely housewife is rearranging her shelves, ( that’s not a euphemism, she’s rearranging her shelves ), to make room for her new air-freshening device while the voice-over states. ‘If you could design your own air-freshener, it would probably look like this…’ at which point, Ms.Housewife whips out what looks like a little stone vase of some type but is, in fact, her new Glade air-freshener. The voice-over then suggests that it , ” would probably work like this…”, at which point the ubiquitous gormless ad husband walks past and the cunningly disguised Glade thing goes ‘pfft’ and issues a little puff of scent into the air. ( Gormless ad husband must really pong, those rascals go off like a 21 gun salute whenever he makes an appearance ).

Well I’m very sorry Glade but, if I could redesign my air freshener it would look more like this – a solid gold effigy of myself wearing some form of military uniform, ( General, Admiral, Field Marshall, something like that ), brandishing a huge diamond encrusted scimitar whilst astride a rampant, bejewelled unicorn. Possibly in the style of Jeff Koons’ Michael Jackson and Bubbles statuettes only not quite as subtle.

And what’s more, it wouldn’t go ‘pfft’. When anyone passed, the unicorn’s tail would rise and a cloud of rose petals, lilacs and pixie dust would appear, accompanied by the swirling strings of a harp. That’s what mine would look like. Come on Glade, show some ambition. And it’s not just Glade. What about Coca Cola? Now here’s a huge global concern, currently celebrating some anniversary or other and they’ve rolled out that old thing about wanting to ‘teach the world to sing’.

Well sod that. I want to teach the world to perform an enormously complex dance routine that involves people of every race, creed and colour taking part in a kind of massive Busby Berkeley meets that bloke out of Shalamar piece of choreography in every major landmark across the globe. Naked. Except for roller-boots. Now that’d be more like it wouldn’t it? I mean, practically everyone already knows how to sing. They may not be great at it but they all grasp the basic principles don’t they? Now a dance routine, that’s a different matter. So get with it Coca Cola, If you’re going to teach the world to do something, think bigger for God’s sake.

The next ad that popped up while I was pondering this lack of ambition was for ‘Simply Be’. It’s a catalogue. I get the impression it’s for the bigger-boned lass but that’s not the important bit. Simply Be claim that they’ve ‘got all the looks. ‘ Well have they? Have they really? What about the ‘Intergalactic sex leopard’ look? You know the kind of thing. Fur, space helmets, pvc, 15 inch rubber platform boots, oxygen tanks, crisps. Whereabouts in the Simply Be catalogue am I going to find that ‘look’? Nowhere, that’s bloody where. So is that ‘All the looks’? Is it? No. It very much isn’t.

Meanwhile, back with Air-Fresheners, ( I hadn’t realised just how many air-fresheners were around to be honest. Christ, we must stink ), Airwick claim to be able to make your home ‘smell just the way you want it’. Now I’ve been through every single Airwick on the shelves of my local Tesco and nowhere is the fragrance of a party on P.Diddy’s yacht, featuring the smell of naked girls, diamonds, champagne, Cuban cigars and the aroma of bundles of freshly produced banknotes. Nor is there an ‘Eau de Lamborghini et kebab’. So, again I say, show some bloody ambition people.

If the best you can come up with is a poxy pretend stone vase, singing lessons, a size 18 cardigan and the smell of Spring Flowers then you’re just not making the effort.

So come on people, think outside the telly box. Think BIG.

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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

whiskers on kittens.

April 18th, 2011 // 2:15 pm @ // 2 Comments

Hello there. Yes, yes, I know, bloody ages. What can I say? What can I do to make things right? Well how about this? I’ve spent ages ranting about things lately haven’t I? The Chip Shop Awards, Crap ad campaigns, rubbish bars, dodgy facial hair, foursquare, self-publicising, characterless, pointless, pretentiously twittering narcissists. They’ve all come in for some stick. So, for today, just for today, shall we just have some jolly fun? Shall we? Shall we? Yes, let’s.

Today I’m just going to stick some random nonsense on here. A few of my favourite things, if you like. Things that make me happy, things that run their metaphorical fingers down my spine and give me a tickle in sensitive, ( occasionally erogenous ), bits and generally give me a smile. Please try to join in. Particularly you. Yes, you. Miserable git that you are.

Right. Let’s start off gently, just to get in the mood. First, how about an owl in a hat? Can’t fail with an owl in a hat can we?

See? Brilliant eh? What shall we have next?  I know, a link to another blog where you can play about with some little squares and make up little tunes. Go on, no-one’s looking, click through here and play around for a bit.

That is fun, isn’t it? A friend of mine spelt out the word ‘BUM’ in the squares and she assures me that it sounds quite lovely.

Having fun? Good. I think this is all going rather well don’t you? The thing is, I just haven’t seen any advertising that’s stirred any kind of feeling within me, good or bad, for weeks so my usual inspiration for the blog is sadly lacking.

What now? Fancy Stewart Lee doing a fairly long and convoluted joke about Joe Pasquale nicking material from proper comics? Me too! Let’s have a look shall we? ( If you’re at work, you may want to view this later. It goes on for a while and tea/ coffee/ mineral water/ gin may come out of your nose.)

I really like Stewart Lee. Have a little browse through youtube later, there’s quite a lot of his stuff on there.

Oooooh, what now then? I know, a Tea Robot!


That’s ace, isn’t it? Want one? I know I do. If you do, you can buy one here. You could even buy me one while you’re there. I’d love you for it.


There. That’s my post for today over and done with. Sorry it hasn’t really been about anything in particular, sorry there wasn’t a Manchester copywriter based rant, sorry it wasn’t funny in any way, I just felt like a bit of a change and it is a Monday, after all.

So, thanks for reading, hope you liked some of the things that I like today. Let’s finish with a song shall we?

All together now.

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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

Bloody minded.

April 1st, 2011 // 12:47 pm @ // 4 Comments

Hello there. How you doing? Everything ok with you? Nothing bothering you today? Feeling cool? All chilled out and relaxed? Yes? Good, because I’m bloody not. Today you find me completely seething. I’m all annoyed and generally all over the place. And guess what’s caused it. It’s only another Chip Shop awards thing isn’t it? Now look, I’m sorry. I know it seems like I’ve become a bit obsessed with the Chippies this year but, honestly, I’m not. Today’s impotent rage isn’t directed at the awards itself, its organisers or its overall pointlessness but primarily at some of the wankers who enter it. In fact, today it’s aimed squarely at one particular bunch of wankers. A bunch of wankers who go by the name of Toast London, a part of the Haygarth Group. Now, I’m fairly sure that there must be some thoroughly lovely people at Toast London. Probably the sort of lovely people who are kind to children and animals, who buy lovely Mother’s Day presents for their lovely mums and are all round lovely, lovely people.

However, in the midst of those lovely people, there is obviously a right bunch of complete and utter wankers. How else could you explain this Chip Shop entry?

Sorry it’s a link, I was going to put the ad on here but, having given it some thought, decided that I couldn’t possibly put such an appalling piece of detritus on my lovely, lovely blog. At first I thought it must be some kind of April Fool’s gag but, as it’s been on the Chip Shop’s site for quite some time now, there’s not even that excuse.
I’m sure it’s not just me, a Manchester copywriter, who finds that offensive on just about every possible level is it? Am I missing the point somewhere or does that lack any kind of wit, talent, creativity and charm? I find it almost impossible to believe that anyone would actually put that level of thinking onto paper, let alone accept it as an entry into a competition that’s supposed to represent the finest creative thinking around. I’m fairly sure I could never be accused of being prudish or narrow minded. Ask anyone who knows me and I’m sure they’ll confirm that hardened dockers, vietnam veterans, sex workers and Frankie Boyle sometimes find my language a little beyond the pale. I found ‘A Serbian Film‘ a laugh riot, ‘The Human Catepillar’ a sure-fire winner for any Children’s party and I’ve often suppressed a giggle at the work of Jerry Sadowitz. This piece of crap, however, I find beyond salvation. It’s the kind of gag, that were it to spill from the mouth of a friend on a particularly sordid ‘lads’ night out’, that would make that person an ex-friend and cause me to wonder how I ever thought that person to be acceptable company.
Just look at the words for Christ’s sake. Who thought that was funny? Take the time to read it and consider what it’s actually saying. ‘No-one likes a b_____ c___’. So we’re saying Nick Griffin is a c__t are we? So far, so said, done, repeated ad nauseam and so obvious. But what else are we saying? Is there a literal meaning? Because that, in its witless, charmless writing is what the ad says. Even the screamer at the end of the line somehow makes the whole sad enterprise even worse. It’s entered in ‘The Most Shocking use of copy’ category in the Chip Shops but, honestly, the only shocking thing about it is that it’s considered copy and not merely some drunken, mysoginistic bile that would be better spewed into a gutter and left there.

I’m sorry. I know this has been just one long rant but every now and then something hits me in the face and makes me almost ashamed to be in this business.

And that really is saying something, isn’t it?

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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

Cockles and mumbles.

March 21st, 2011 // 4:06 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Well, first of all let’s do the customary apologies for tardiness shall we? Shall we? Of course we shall, we always do. Right then, first of all I’ve been a bit busy with work type stuff, secondly I have a stinking bloody cold and thirdly, I’ve been in London for a few days. Shallow excuses I know but cut me some slack eh? I’m not well for God’s sake.

‘What were you doing in London, Andy?’, I hear you ask. ‘Working on some cutting edge Advertising for those lacklustre London Agencies? Were you, as a Manchester copywriter, down there showing them soft Southern jessies how it’s done?’. Well no, sadly not. I actually went daaaarn Saaaaaarf to see a mate performing his music type stuff in a hip and happening club in London’s glamorous Denmark Street. More of which later. This is him.

And so’s this.

Good, isn’t he? His name’s Andy J Gallagher, ( as you no doubt saw on the videos ) and he’s got a couple of CDs out, which you can buy from here, if you so wish.

Anyway, got there, gig at hip and happening club on London’s glamorous Denmark Street cancelled so I had a couple of days in Leigh On Sea instead. Did all kinds of London based stuff. Got on tubes, got off tubes, looked at buildings, got ripped off. Even had cockles, which are completely despicable and should be avoided by all civilised*, ( *Northern ), people at all costs, at all times.

Still, I’m fairly sure that you’re not really all that interested in my London travelogue so lets get back down to some advertising things. You may have noticed that in the last post I had a bit of a go at The Chip Shop Awards. Last week I happened to mention it on Twitter too, which provoked a rather sarky response from the organisers of the awards, or someone. It’s hard to tell as their Twitter tag thing is just #chipshopawards rather than a name or anything. Unsurprisingly their comment was neither funny, nor original, ( they’re nothing if not consistent those Chip Shop chaps ), and went like this, ‘Are you entering your brilliant idea then this year?’.

Crushing that isn’t it? It was like being slapped in the face by an ineffectual student. Who can’t write. The ‘then’ would have been better placed at the end of the sentence, wouldn’t it really? Try it. See?

I had to reply that, having seen the standard of this ( and most ) year’s entries, I probably wouldn’t as I have earmarked the price of the entry fee for something more worthwhile. Like a hat. Or a tattoo. Or some pies.

Oddly enough, this year Saatchi’s* have placed an entry poking fun at another agency for using an idea they entered a couple of years ago. Which is a bit rich really, as last year Saatchi’s* won a prize for a gag that’s been doing the rounds for roughly 25 years to my knowledge. ( I was going to put the entries in here but I can’t find them. The ‘copied’ one was an ‘Every Lidl Helps’ idea. Geddit? Brilliant eh? The 25 year old gag one was ‘You’ve tried the cowboys now try the Indians – Singh Builders’. Even brillianter eh? And also a wee bit racist. Gifted. ) If I find the links I’ll put them in later. Don’t worry though, you’re not missing much.

So, that’s about it for today as I must away to catch up on a bit of work and drink some Lemsips. I’ll probably do a bit of coughing and swearing too. That’s the way I roll. Sorry it’s all been a bit brief, more next time. And sooner. Promise.

* If it wasn’t Saatchi’s, I apologise unreservedly. All the Chip Shop stuff blurs into each other after a while. Which is part of the problem really.

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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

The weak and the chaff

February 28th, 2011 // 4:15 pm @ // One Comment

Hello there. God, it’s been ages hasn’t it? Are you ok? You look well. No, really you do. Have you done something to your hair? No? Well maybe you should. There, I’ve said it.

So, where were we? Oh yes, hello there. Sorry it’s been so long but I’ve been all busy lately. Work to do, a new phone to figure out, new pc to struggle with. It’s been all go. Anyway, what shall we talk about today? I know. Crap ads. There are loads of them about at the moment. Some on the telly, some in the press and some even being trotted out in the name of so-called excellence for the bloody Chip Shop awards. I’ll get to them later though.

First on the list are these bleeding Quaker Oats ‘Thank you’ things. You must have seen them. It’s where a bunch of unbearably twee, caring, parka’d up middle-class knobs decide to reward those selfless members of the community who apparently ‘make more of their mornings’ via the complimenary mediums of generally sticking their big fat noses in and Quaker Oats. Here’s one to have a look at.

Bloody awful that, isn’t it? Where did this crack Quaker Oats Strike Force come from anyway? What compelled them to gather together in some aircraft hangar somewhere weighing up who to storm off and patronise in their fleet of bloody Land Rovers, trailers and pop-up Quaker cabins? I’m not so sure they really contributed much to the play in any case. I quite liked the minimalist set they had going on. Those skeletal trees looked pretty good in my opinion, whereas that great big huge massive oak, complete with foilage and fairy lights dominates the stage potentially to the detriment of the performances. Still, it’s good to see Sean Bean taking time out of his busy schedule to support community theatre isn’t it? I suspect he needed a good lie-down after that series of Sharpe and prolonged domestic abuse. Shame Danny Dyer wasn’t available though. There’s another one, where they man the Land Rovers and go do a bit of unnecessary tarting up of a boxing club too but you get the point don’t you? It’s people who make more of their mornings. And, presumably that’s what they have in common with Quaker Oats. Or something.

Next on the list is the new ‘webuyanycardotcom’ ad. Now there’s been an exciting new development with ‘webuyanycardotcom’. They now have a new advertising agency and, naturally that new agency made the bold step of moving on from ‘webuyanycardotcom’s massively irritating TV ads to produce this. An even more massively irritating TV ad.

Spectacularly awful, I’m sure you’ll agree. And, credit where it’s due, it’s a rare talent that can take an irredeemably dire ad campaign and make it even worse. A bad jingle, bad casting, bad production and the old jingle nailed on to the end in such a way that it makes you nostalgic for the old ads where the salesman started breakdancing or that saleslady played a bit of footy. Grim.

This, of course brings me neatly to The Chip Shop Awards, ( told you I’d get to them didn’t I? I’m nothing if not a man of my word, me. ) Now here’s the thing with The Chip Shop Awards. It proclaims itself to be an awards event for ‘creativity with no limits’ or some such advertising self-aggrandising puffery, yet every year it just seems to get worse and worse.

Last year’s winners were largely pitiful and, from the examples ‘The Drum’ are releasing weekly on the net, this year looks set to continue the downward spiral. Now I know that could sound like sour grapes from a Manchester copywriter who’s never won one but, as I’ve never felt inclined to enter The Chip Shops, that isn’t really a point is it?

Here’s how The Chip Shop Awards work. Take any client, any product, any service and make up an ad or campaign for it. Any media you like, any budget and no concerns about whether the ad could ever run. In fact, the more outrageous the better, ( there’s a bad taste category and everything ). Then send that ad, together with £100 per entry to the judges, ( any clues there as to why I’ve never entered? ), and await advertising glory.

Great eh? Well no. Have a look at what’s being entered and what’s won in previous years and you’ll see the same themes revisited time and time again. Viagra and impotence cures are usually a great opportunity for the boys in creative to pull off, ( ooer missus ), some student knob gags, sanitary towel ads are normally inserted somewhere and this week’s celebrity scandal can normally be relied upon for a really blistering ‘Should’ve Gone To Specsavers’, ‘I’ll Bet He Drinks Carling Black Label’, or suchlike campaign. All really rather depressing.

So, sorry everyone for what I suppose is slightly negative post. Maybe I’m feeling particularly jaundiced this week but it seems that once again, the ads I’ve seen lately have been mediocre at best, gut-wrenchingly dreadful at worst.

If you work in advertising though, or even if you don’t for that matter, how about taking that ‘Creativity With No Limits’ line and having a think about what it really suggests?

Maybe between us we could scrape together £100 and enter something into The Chip Shops that’s actually worth an award.

Please, no knob gags though.


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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

Clash struggle.

February 13th, 2011 // 2:27 pm @ // 6 Comments

Hello there. Today we’re having a bit of a change from all these proper advertising based blog posts I’ve been writing lately. No. Don’t try to stop me. I’m going off on a slight tangent and you’re all coming with me. Ready? Right, strap on your bondage pants and we’ll be off.

Now, as many of you regular readers, ( yes, you two ), will be aware, I have been fully embracing my ongoing mid-life crisis of late. This has, of course, taken on many forms. There’s the band, a slightly unhealthy obsession with recording every single bloody car and motorbike I’ve had throughout my life, poring over old photos and, currently, tracking down and finding all my old vinyl records. ( yes, vinyl. Oh, ask your dad. Ok, your grandad. Smartarse. ). Sadly, many of these old records have been lost along the way. House moves, separations, hand to hand combat and DJing in Wolverhampton, ( Oh the glamour ). So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw an online ad, ( actually, advertising is going to creep into this post. Sue me already. ), offering ‘All 19 of The Clash‘s singles in their original sleeves’. Naturally my aging punk’s heart skipped a beat and I decided, there and then, that I must have them. Of course I’d end up with a couple of duplicates but as the old sleeves were a little rough round the edges, the vinyl a tad battle-scarred, they had to be bought, didn’t they? So I read the ad a few times to make sure I knew what I was getting, checked the ad’s credentials, ( you’ve got to watch these advertising people you know, slimy bastards ),  and discovered that it was from ‘Pop Market’, a subsidiary of the Sony Group. Can’t go wrong can you?

So I bought them. Filled in the online form, stuck my card details in there and waited. And waited. And waited. Not that waiting was a problem of course. I knew that  they’d take a while, they were coming all the way from America and I’m not a fool, ( Yes, I’m talking to you Juliemead ). A couple of weeks later I reached the first hurdle. A card from Royal Mail telling me that I’d need to pay a £13.00 customs charge to have the package released. Fair enough. An unexpected extra cost but, what the hell. It’s a boxset of ‘All 19 0f The Clash’s singles in their original sleeves’, got to be worth it, hasn’t it? Paid it. Settled down for another wait.

Two days later The Royal Mail got me again. They despatched their legendary ninja postman. Chances are you’ve heard of the ninja postman but never, ever seen him. He’s the one who can reach your house, come down your path and slip a ‘Sorry you were out’ card through your letterbox while you are clearly very much bloody ‘in’ and have, in fact, been looking through your bloody window at regular bloody intervals and the very slightest bloody sound lest you miss the bleeding postman. The man ( or woman. No-one knows ), is a genius.

So, another two days pass and this time the package arrives. Of course I have spent the last two nights sitting on my doorstep pumped full of caffeine and pro-plus ready to pounce at the slightest provocation. Now the second I held the parcel in my hot little hands I knew there was a problem. It was just too small, too light to be ‘All 19 of The Clash’s singles in their original sleeves.’ Bollocks.

I gingerly opened it and what did I find? All 19 of The Clash’s singles alright – but in teeny weeny cd form. All 19 in teeny weeny facsimile sleeves, perfect in every teeny weeny detail. They’ve even got pretend teeny weeny grooves and teeny weeny labels on the teeny weeny black cds for Christ’s sake. Now, as a highly skilled and experienced copywriter, ( stop giggling at the back. I can hear you ), You’d think I’d know better wouldn’t you? But I’d read the ad over and over and, when I ordered ‘All 19 of The Clash’s singles in their original sleeves’, I kind of expected to get ‘All 19 of The Clash’s singles in their original sleeves.’ Call me old-fashioned but that’d be 19, 7″ vinyl singles in 7″ paper sleeves. Wouldn’t it?  Apparently not. And according to a friend who lives in The United States, ( Thanks Tracey ), there is no Trade Descriptions Act in the USA and you can pretty much call anything, anything over there. So it looks like I’m stuck with them.

Anyway, it’s not a total loss. I’ve discovered that they’re almost the perfect size as accessories to my daughter’s collection of cuddly toys so they’re currently having a tea party with all 19 of The Clash’s singles in their original sleeves spread out all over the floor.

And I’m looking for a copywriting job in America. It must be a piece of piss.

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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized

The future is, um, written.

February 8th, 2011 // 2:26 pm @ // 2 Comments

Hello there. You may have seen this post a few weeks ago but I had to remove it till the lastest issue of Eight:48 came out. Anyway, it’s out now so here’s the post again. Deja Vu eh? Over the new year I was asked by Eight:48, a rather swish design magazine, to write a piece for their ‘Future of design’ issue. No, really, I was. No, me neither, not a clue but they did so I did. Anyoldhoo, it occurred to me that some of you may not be regular subscribers to Eight:48 and thus may miss out on my pearls of wisdom. And, at £6.00 a copy, I can’t really expect you to rush out and buy it. So, in a spirit of sharing, ( and in no way as a cheap, tawdry way of sticking content onto the blog without writing anything new ), I’m putting it on here today. Have look, see what you think and if you agree, disagree or really couldn’t give a monkey’s one way or another, feel free to leave a comment.

The future of design. What’s copy got to do with it?
Hello there. My name’s andy white and I’m a copywriter, have been for about 25 years all in all. Now what, you may be asking, is a copywriter doing writing an article in Eight:48, essentially a design publication full of the thoughts of designers? It’s a fair question and in all honesty one I’ve been asking myself right from the point I was asked to write it, to the point where I now find myself sitting at what should really be a macbook pro but isn’t, to write it.
It’s like this. Maybe a copywriter really does have an observation or two about design that may be worth listening to. Personally, I did a degree course in ‘Graphic Design and Communication’ at Wolverhampton Poly, ( or, as it’s now more impressively known, ‘The University of Wolverhampton’ ), so perhaps that gives me the right to stick my metaphorical oar in. Admittedly I spent a lot of the three years it lasted well off campus but I was there when it mattered, sometimes even staying long enough to learn a thing or two about Typography, Photography, Printmaking, Illustration and all the other stuff the course covered. More than that though, I like to feel that I’ve always been aware of the role that good design plays in just about every aspect of our lives.
Maybe it’s in the road signs that direct us to where we want to be, the posters that make us want to visit a gallery, a cinema, a gig. The signage on a pub, club or restaurant that draws us inside. And it’s probably here that design affects me most. As a copywriter you see, I’m primarily an advertising writer. I’m in the persuasion business. My role is to write all the spectacularly clever words that convince people to do what my clients, and me, want them to do. It’s not always sinister, money grabbing thought control by the way. I write quite a lot of stuff for a few charities too, ( naturally I don’t like to talk about it ), so maybe my soul will be saved after all. But, getting back to the point I was in fact trying to make, there’s an area of my life in which design and copywriting collide and when it’s done right, it’s a thing of beauty. In my opinion, ( and in a cunning, if contrived, way to link to the theme of this issue ), the future of design, and of copywriting, is when the two come together to create a piece that is as effective as it is visually appealing.
One of the agencies I feel consistently gets this right is Manchester Agency LOVE. Now, before you call me biased, I’d like to point out that I don’t work for LOVE, never have, ( Ok, one of it’s founders, Phil Skegg, is a mate from way back but don’t hold that against him ). I simply mention them because I admire the way in which they make the words complement the design, the design enhance the words. Let me give you some examples.

Now they’re lovely aren’t they? Some great words, some great visuals. But what really makes them all work is that the copywriter and the designer have obviously worked together. Ideas have been passed back and forth, jokes have been made, maybe arguments have been had and conciliations reached. But what’s clear is that the end results are both beautiful and effective. Each one makes me feel good about the product and they do that by combining the right copy with images that make you want to stop and look. And really, who’s to say that the copywriter didn’t come up with some of the visuals, the designer with some of the words?
That’s how it always used to work in the agencies where I started my career. Places like McCann Erickson and Publicis, where an Art Director and Copywriter worked as a team to take a brief and create an ad or design. In my time I’ve been unlucky enough to work with Art Directors who thought that the two disciplines were completely unattached, lucky enough to team up with one or two who realised that both parties have something to bring to the table. I’ve even heard of Ad agencies where ‘creatives’ and ‘copywriters’ are considered to be two completely different entities.
But look at it this way. Have you ever read something that didn’t bring some kind of a picture to your mind? Ever looked at a picture that didn’t inspire the words to describe it? It’s impossible to separate the two or, to my mind, it should be.
So lets not get too bogged down with who does what in the future. Lets not say that the designer draws, sculpts, paints and creates while the copywriter brings along some words. It’s entirely possible that the copywriter may have some beautiful images to share, the designer be in possession of the greatest headline of all time.
It’s not that important who does what really, is it?

So there you are then, I hope you enjoyed a Manchester copywriter‘s views. If you didn’t, at least you can console yourself with the fact that you didn’t spend six quid on it. I spoil you, don’t I?

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Category : Advertising &Blog &humour &Uncategorized


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

Steve Byrne, MD, The Gate Films

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