Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monday Morning Memento Mori (DFW Edition)

I've decided to go for less of a stats based approach today, in favour of a 3000-word-essay-on-David-Foster-Wallace-and-Suicide approach. Variety is the spice of weekly death fixated mnemonic rituals, as they say.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lionel 'meta' Richie

There's something deeply weird going on here in terms of the normal music video convention of people not being aware of popstars around them singing and blind people not being aware of Lionel Richie mooning around creepily everywhere they go, despite the fact that he's singing the whole time, the one thing that would allow a blind person to really zero in on his location.

Along with the smell of sour milk.

Also, that dance teacher is taking the piss, vis-a-vis gropy physical contact with a blind student. But then that was the eighties for you, any disability was a seen as an open invitation to frotage in those days.

Sometimes I would argue with The Art Director about whether it was important for ideas to totally make sense within the terms of their own internal logic. But there's a lot to be said for just butching it out, sometimes the audacity of what you force people to accept is the creative leap. Personally I think, with the twist at the end, this is a big idea video.

I've always loved the Robert Johnson lyric:

The blue light was my blues/And the red light was my mind

It's not really a simile, it's just telling you how it is.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Too busy to blog

GC is freelancing for the best two agencies in London whose names contain the word 'and'. I can't be more specific than that, I've signed an agreement.

Since my identity remains shrouded in secrecy I can move amongst you unnoticed. I could be seated right next to you tomorrow morning. I could even be you.

Also, I went to Manchester today and can confirm that, although very depressing, it's marginally less depressing than Belfast. Here's a picture I tried to take of the massive queue outside Gregg's.

As you can see I bottled it, fearing that the Mancunians could sense that I was taking pictures of them so I could say sneering things about pie-eating Northerners on my blog. Plus I was dressed for an interview, and having just had an article published about how creatives dress I'd been overcome by self-consciousness whilst dressing myself and gone out looking like a public school chaplain. The interview was not for the chaplaincy of a public school I might add.

Obviously I only placed the look at about 4pm, which was splendid.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bank Holiday Monday Morning Memento Mori (Dog walking edition)

Around 25 people are killed by dogs in the US every year. Getting stats on a global figure is proving more difficult, but one web site asserted that the chances of being fatally attacked by a dog, or a pack of dogs, are around one in ten million. I suspect the risk goes up if you're in the habit of taking a tiny but highly aggressive dog to parks in the W12 area, where most people own at least three Staffordshire Bull Terriers, bred for their extreme spitefulness.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

And lose my heart on the burning sand

Someone has lent me this dog to look after.

I've been considering getting a dog, to stop me from going stark staring mad, working on my own like this.

That seems to me to be the main purpose of having a dog, to introduce another consciousness into your immediate vicinity, to distract you from black thoughts about the many thousands of hours you will spend alone with your own black thoughts about the thousands of hours of you will spend alone.

Dogs are self-willed, and answering to their will is a form of self-forgetting. They are also, crucially, inarticulate, because if they could speak they would certainly be so boring that it would cancel out any existential isolation mitigation value. They'd just go on and on about their dietary requirements and guilt-trip you about what it's like having your balls surgically removed in childhood at the behest of the only person you ever really trusted.

Since they can't speak, you can just imagine them agreeing with everything you're thinking, but in an incredibly silent and intuitive way.

Why none of this has ever featured in pet-food advertising is beyond me.

At one agency I worked at, they had a special creative director for the pet food account. One brand of high-end cat food (the really creepy stuff that's made to look like human food, with whole peeled prawns in jelly and eggs) required that the copy be written as though spoken by the cat pictured – the spokescat having a tone-of-voice rather like a gourmand Stephen Fry. There was something really heroic about this creative director, I always thought, and his totally unironic approach to his job. You could actually engage him in an earnest conversation about whether the cat would say this or that. Although it was cruel to do so.

As you can see this dog is a Miniature Pinscher, which is Doberman Pinscher but miniaturised, and obviously immediately has you thinking about dressing dwarves or children up as Waffen SS officers doesn't it?

I've also discovered that if you have a tiny dog like this rudeboys will openly mock you on the streets of W12, saying things like "Rer, that dog is so big ykna." Irony is the main mode of comedy for rudeboys, vide playing shit bashment out-loud on your mobile and then looking round the top deck of the bus going "What? What?"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Putting the sex back in sectarianism

So for complex reasons, which I have no intention of sharing with you, I went to Belfast.

I found it gritty, and I say that as a long-term resident of W12. If you were thinking "Hey, but they're not fighting any more, what have they got to be gritty about?" think again:

1. No-one is pleased with the peace agreement. No-one has won, they all still hate one another and they're liable to start throwing rocks at any moment. All their elected officials are inveterate rock-throwers with no experience of or interest in peace time governance. Something people kept talking about was "finding someone who it was ok to lose to." I thought that this was an interesting idea. I reckon I probably lose more battles than I need to, personally, because of my notorious predilection for grinding my jackbooted heel into the face of the conquered.

2. Ulster Unionists consider themselves to be patriots who owe direct allegiance to the Queen. It's properly weird.

3. The Protestants were terrified that Scotland would become a real country and then there would be 0 argument for England hanging on to Ulster. Obviously since we bought Scotland's major bank off them that's looking increasingly unlikely but...

4. ... they're vulnerable to whatever change in the fragile political gestalt this massive recession produces, and let's face it, it'll probably be shit.

5. The Troubles attracted loads of sympathy money, particularly off the EU, which is demeaning for everyone because it's a totally transparent attempt to hide the complete lack of justice or resolution. If you had a relative killed then you automatically get £12,000 off the government irrespective of whether that relative was a civilian, a member of the security services or a terrorist of either stripe.

6. It rains all the time. They're the only people in the world ever to have envied the Mancunians for having somewhere less dangerous and rainy to live.

7. Their advertising is all shit.

So don't think about going over there all cheerful, they'll slap that right out of your stupid smiling face.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Morning Memento Mori

According to Wikipedia there were 3,263 prisoners on death row in the USA in 2008.

You might have thought that the main advantage of being condemned to death would at least be knowing when one was going to die - however Jack Alderman had been on death row for 33 years before the United States penal system kicked into gear and had him lethally injected last year. The oldest prisoner in the United States is Leroy Nash, who at aged 93 is considered by US legal experts to be "too old to die."

Even working at a fairly low grade DM agency is probably substantially more fun than being on death row, but you are only slightly less likely to die.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gone to Ireland

So obviously I thought I'd post this long copy ad I wrote and never submitted for Scamp's atheist advertising competition last year. The style owes something to Dave Trott.

UPDATE: I've been getting stick, online and off, for typos and have now overhauled the above, which I did in a hurry and then posted after an interval of several months. If you spot typos on this blog, pleased don't be afraid to point them out, I won't poke fun at you for being a miserable pedant or anything.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Evening Standard not shit!

I picked up my free copy of The Evening Standard on Monday ("It's only free today," shouted the bloke who gave it to me, "it's not shit or anything!") and was pleased to see that although they'd ignored my advice and gone for a relaunch campaign that looked like it had been brainstormed by David Cameron on a train, it still ran a massive story on a disgustingly rich banker's disgusting divorce as its front page, with an article that hit that special tone of prurience and moral censure that Londoners know and love.

Unless you've just come off a really apocalyptic bender and need to buy a paper to work out where you are, I can't see any good reason to have the word 'London' in the masthead. I don't know about you but I find the London branding round here pretty omnipresent. Why not hang a big sign off Nelson's Column that says 'London', just to make it really fucking emphatic. Does Lebedev just want his Russian friends to be in no doubt that he hasn't bought the Manchester Evening Standard? If there was 'Only Fools and Horses but with Oligarchs' would he be Rodneyvich? That's got to be the question on everyone's lips right now.

Apart from a few cosmetic changes the main difference between this new Evening Standard and the old one seems to be the advertising, of which there is an awful lot more, and is now comprised of a uniquely oligarchical mixture of very high-end luggage and arms dealers.

I really love this advert.

As regular readers of Prison Suicide Supplement will know, I think patriotism in advertising is always (I mean always) fraudulent in the extreme. Of course, this isn't an advert as such, they're not trying to sell you anything that you haven't already bought. BAE Systems doesn't have to advertise, as it mainly sells arms to the Saudis under the auspices of the Defence Export Services Organisation (or DESO) a branch of the MoD paid for by you and me dear reader.

A friend of mine spent a year working for DESO, which I found took the heat off me somewhat, profession-justification-wise, at parties.

What this ad fails to mention is that, unless they've radically overhauled their product line, the £2.4 billion BAE contributed to the economy were profits from the sales of things like missiles and warplanes and therefore exactly proportionate to the need for arms in the increasingly unstable world we live in – something we can all be proud of.

In fact the whole military industrial loop is blackly comic and was described to me by this same insider thus:

1. Britain must have an arms industry in order that it can maintain the capability to defend itself in times of war.
2. In order to maintain an arms industry there must be war.
3. Britain must be at war somewhere all the time.
4. -> 1.

Does anyone know who wrote the copy on this ad? It doesn't look in-house. The visual says Euros to me.

Did you write it?

I might just give up with the written content and just post wacky vids from YouTube

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Morning Memento Mori (Influenza Special)

The 1918 flu pandemic spread to nearly every part of the world. It was caused by an unusually virulent and deadly Influenza A virus strain of subtype H1N1. Most of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or otherwise weakened patients.

The pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. It is estimated that anywhere from 50 to 100 million people were killed worldwide, or the approximate equivalent of one third of the population of Europe, more than double the number killed in World War I. An estimated one third of the world (500 million people) became infected.

From Wikipedia.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I don't normally post stuff I've been straight PR'd with

But I'll make an exception for this for obvious reasons.

I wonder if the anonymous tipster was Dave Waters himself?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Apple Über Alles

GC is plenty busy. Busy writing headlines.

This is fine, in fact I like it.

When I signed up to be a copywriter, all I wanted to do was write headlines, so I was annoyed to discover that I'd arrived on the scene 20 years too late and that advertising had been taken over by French-Brazilian art directors and you just had to film someone spraying strawberry jam into a poodle's teeth and then play it in high-definition-slow-motion and there, that's an ad.

No-one wanted facetiousness, which was, if not my only asset, then at least the dominant feature of my personality. The vocabulary too, I'd thought they'd like that, but no, put it away they said, no-one wants to see that, never get it out in public ever again.

That's why I have this blog you see. It's like I've lured you into the photocopying room with bacon and locked the door and now I'm saying things like coprolalia and abomasum and opiomane and heterozygotic and syntagmatic and oh, GOD, IT'S HORRIBLE.

So the great thing about headlines is the way that they almost but not quite arrive at a truth. That there's a possibility that for any given brief in any given language there is a perfect headline, one that comes closest to exactly expressing what the brief has asked for in as few words as possible. I'm talking about straight 1970s style headlines that sit alongside a picture of a product. The people who seem to come closest to doing this, reliably, are Apple's copywriters.

These are not clever, they are simple. They are so simple that they are clever. It's like they were written by God using maths. "Nanochromatic" is better than "Small talk" (for the new shuffle, which has no screen, but reads out the track names), but even "Small talk" has that kind of burnished feeling that you get if you try loads and loads of lines and end up going back to the second one you wrote because it came out like a turd that you could tell even before you looked was just perfect in every way.

I got these off the web obviously, but they're so good they can use them anywhere, in windows, online, print, you fucking name it.

And this very strict word-count message-delivery ratio ends up having a form-function beauty about it which is quite like their product design.

Apple are clearly fascists though, with an Aryan/Untermenschen dynamic running through all their advertising which you'd have to be a fucking idiot to miss frankly.

Everybody Hurts (but for some people it's basically SOP)

I got loads of hits yesterday from Leagas Delaney, an agency that, as a huge fan of sadism, I particularly admire.

It's the banjo in that one I find especially cruel and unusual. How do they do it?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Installation 5/135 - Camera phone, blog, digital advertising site

Back by, would you believe it, popular demand, this is the fifth in my series of 135 relational art installations, created using just my camera phone, existing advertising media and this blog. We're really whizzing through these aren't we?

This one is called "I didn't come here to be insulted."

It flashed up on one of the super-futuristic-hi-tech advertising pods that are scattered all over the massive echoing spaces of The Westfield. I'm spending a lot of time in the Westfield in fact I've secretly started to think of myself as "the poet of the Westfield." Not just one of the unemployed, wandering zombie-like through a shopping mall as though I still had money to buy things. Not. at. all.

So the headline is for Timberland and looks to me like the handiwork of one of adland's most feared writers, Tim Delaney, author of some of advertising's most abrasive headlines including "Table for two? Certainly you old trout."(Berlitz, 1991), "It's a Philips, Phucker" (Philips, 1985) and also "We took their buffallo, their land and their women. Then we went back for their shoes." (Timberland, 1992).

There's something delicious about an ultramodern high-tech media display being used to flash snide abuse at shoppers in a recently opened and totally deserted shopping mall at the beginning of what's shaping up to be a major-recession-shaped recession.

The installation is now open, go along, contemplate your inadequate pension provision and maybe don't buy any hiking boots. They're only worn by closeted homosexuals anyway.

PS: First time readers, I suggest you click the tag below for the entire series. Then at least you'll have some idea what's going on. Maybe email me, if you work it out.

UPDATE: My Dad (who is also acting sub-editor) pointed out that the "closeted homosexuals" remark might be interpreted as homophobic. I'd like point out that all my best friends are closeted homosexuals.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Did I ever mention how much I love Eminem?

Update: has it occurred to anyone else that Eminem seems to have started writing lyrics to go with his videos, rather than making videos to go with his lyrics? I can't think of anyone else who does this. But given the way the music industry works these days, and provided you've got the talent to do it, it sort of makes sense.

Also nice to see that he's looking trim, since the last I'd heard about him was his Mum saying that he was holed up in his mansion, like Howard Hughes, and fat like Elvis.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bank Holiday Monday Morning Memento Mori

You know parachuting out of a plane into the rotor blades of a helicopter? Well that has definitely happened.