Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

New blog


I've started a film blog, called Ten Point Review. You should really read it.

I write a post about a film or a book in ten points, in an hour. I'm going to do one or two a week.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

D&AD New Blood Greatest Hits

So I'm doing a talk at New Blood tomorrow, and I thought I'd want to direct them to the blog which I no longer write.

So here are the greatest hits kids, from back when I was a blogger:

1. The Placement Tradition: nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash
2. Dave Trott writes
3. DM, the medium's medium
4. Proximity
5. 5 Tips that will help you win all the awards
6. My first ad
7. Beauty is exuberance
8. Innocence
9. Mood film
10. Fail better

Monday, March 28, 2011

Brother Alex writes

One of Brother Alex's art therapy exercises
My good buddy, Brother Alex, the clinically depressed ninja, sends this. I thought it deserved a wider audience:

I'm so fucking bored I thought I'd join Guardian Soulmates after all. Here's my profile, what do you reckon?

I am an extremely attractive male, alluring and mysterious. Everything you could ever dream. And more. I am like a wolf that you want to tame but deep down know that you can’t, and you are ok with that. I am also gentle and sensitive. I am very comfortable with my (hetero)sexuality. My personal hygiene is second to none. I enjoy the music of Michael Bolton, rearing jungle cats and I have a motorcycle. If your application proves unsuccessful and you do not hear from me please don’t be bummed. It’s not you, it’s me. I just have high standards. Soz :( In the words of Jay Z, and later Cher Lloyd from X Factor, “it’s the hard-knock life, for us. It’s the hard-knock life, for us”.

You are an extremely attractive female (at least a 9) who is shorter than me but has a smoking bod. You are not a smoker. You are beautiful on the inside, but more beautiful on the outside. You are from Spain or Italy or Sweden (well spoken English preferred) with a hint of asian that makes you totally hot. You’re like a cross between Virginie Ledoyen when she was in The Beach and Penelope Cruz (in Vanilla Sky) and an asian chick if they merged their genes in a three-way and had a baby and then the baby grew up to be 24 years old. You can be French, but without the attitude, if you are the Nicole type from the Renault ads (come to papa). Also contact me if you are that girl from the Zovirax cold sore cream ad who does aerobics and swimming in her motorcycle helmet, although only if you have never had herpes and you don’t wear a helmet apart from when you are on the back of my motorcycle (I have a motorcycle). But I only have one helmet and I need that one so ironically you probably won’t even wear one then. You keep yourself super tight you do yoga and kickboxing but you are no threat to me at all. Your personal hygiene is second to none. You don’t have any body hair and you love to wear my underwear and also your underwear which is pants with little hearts and bears on and stuff because that is cute and there is no issues there at all. I do not wear yours except on your birthday. You love cooking and also cleaning but you are not obsessive about it. God you dig me so much and you are a good communicator and you never play stupid games or say “do I look fat in this?” or ask me which jeans to wear and then when I pick one pair accuse me of saying you look fat in the other one, and when you’re upset and I ask you what the problem is you never, EVER say “nothing”, you just tell me straight up what the fucking deal is. Above all you understand the difference between me being perfectly fine not spending every waking fucking second with you, and me “not being bothered about seeing you”. You don’t know what PMT is, why would you? You like to call me “daddy” in bed. For a virgin actually you are incredible in bed. You are 24.

Is this you? Call me. No Guardian readers.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Andrew Landsley rap

Ok, ok, this a weird idea. But as an answer to 'How do you inform a disinterested youth audience about the fine print of NHS reform' brief it's a pretty good hit.

You can pack a lot of information into a rap. This would be an immensely boring long copy ad for instance.

I wonder who made it all rhyme though? Did they brief the MC?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Design update

Friend of mine showed me what the blog looked like on Safari, and it looked horrible. So I've finally bitten the bullet and updated the layout.

It's one of the cheesy blogger templates, and I don't like the narrow masthead, but this will have to do. Ok?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fitting in and not fitting in

That's me in the corner

I started this blog in 2008 because at the time I was working in an agency that I didn't like, and it seemed like a good way to let off steam. That's why I wrote it anonymously. It gave me a good feeling, the feeling you get from reclaiming the truthful part of your personality that you have to suppress when you're doing work that you don't like for people that you don't like. When I eventually got made redundant it was a blessed relief.

So, after a stint at Shepherds Bush job centre, nearly two years as freelancer, and some more higher education, I got this full-time job. I don't want to go on and on about it, but I like the place I work.

I know I know: 'You've changed GC. Shilling for the man GC. Just another happy, ordinary stiff huh? Bet you're thinking about moving to Hackney and getting a mortgage on some sort of warehouse conversion so you can ride home on your fixie bike for organic soup at lunch time.''

Well maybe I am right? And maybe I don't have to take that kind of shit from you. You're not the boss of me. No, not you or anyone.
But this, this is why I haven't been blogging.

I always think about the impulse to make things in economic terms.

It's like you have a budget and all of it always gets spent.

You have a degree of choice about what it's spent on, but there are certain things you can do that mean you have to surrender that choice. Also, if you don't choose where you're going to spend it, it ends up getting spent for you.

So, for instance, you're a writer and you decide that writing fiction is too boring and difficult and no one reads any more anyway so you stop doing it. Only then you find you start writing yourself notes, lists of things to do, shopping lists, diary entries and as time goes by you  write more and more of them, and their tone becomes increasingly hectoring and unforgiving. Until eventually you start thinking that maybe you should have another go at writing a book, that perhaps that actually is the least painful option.

If you're not tapping it off, it comes out sideways.

I've written for the Modern Scoutmaster, scathingly, about agencies that have toys in them. I think  I got this wrong.

What a good agency does, or should do, is to make you feel like it's ok to bring all of yourself into work. And what the dodgems, the meadow-grass lined conference call room and the space hoppers signify is that there's room for everything. It's the only way to domesticate a lot of sociopaths, so that they'll stop cutting themselves for fun and start selling mobile phone call plans for you.

So, what I'm saying, is that yeah I haven't been blogging, but that that's good, and that if you were my real friends you'd be pleased for me ok.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Library of Babel

Coffee, sharp pencil, Rhodia pad - that's how I roll
One of the only good things to come out of Argentina, apart from barbed wire and the biro, is the writer Jorge Luis Borges. He was, by most accounts, a shit poet, but he mastered a peculiar kind of short story, based on the extrapolation of a single mad idea. He's one of the fathers of speculative fiction, and smartass-conceit stories by people like Martin Amis and Will Self.

Here's how some of his stories work:
  • A man who remembers absolutely everything as though it were both current and real. Therefore is trapped in his own past as though it were the present.
  • A country where cartography is the most prized of all the arts. A king plans to make the most wonderfully detailed map in the world, its scale is 1:1
  • A country in which absolutely everything, including social status, is decided by lottery.
  • A library, which is also the universe.
That last one is my favourite, it's called the Library of Babel you can read it, in its entirety, here.

"The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable. Twenty shelves, five long shelves per side, cover all the sides except two; their height, which is the distance from floor to ceiling, scarcely exceeds that of a normal bookcase. "

The shelves are full of books which contain a random selection of the 26 letters in the roman alphabet, punctuation and spaces. Most of the books are gibberish. Only, since the library is infinite a great many of the books aren't - in fact they contain not just all the works of literature ever written, but the life stories of everyone who lives in the library.

The library of Babel is a metaphor for language then - and what it shows is that all ideas are nascent in language already. It's just a question of digging them out.
 In the Naked Lunch William Burroughs, writing about getting ideas, says that 'Americans want to jump into their stomachs and digest the food and shovel it out again'. The implication is that the brain is an organ, like the stomach, and stuff goes in, stuff comes out. Just like you can't force food through your stomach, you can't force ideas from your brain. I used to try to write adverts by sitting around talking to the art director for days and days, on the principle that most of the creative process was done in the backrooms of the brain, so really it was just a question of entertaining one another, until the machine belched out the answer.

And maybe, some kinds of ideas do come about like this.

But these days, I don't really have a partner. And when I want to come up with ideas, I just write a column of numbers in the left hand margin and then start writing lines, one after another. I used to only use this technique for tricksy headlines, and found that I'd start getting good ones, usually after about 40th or so.

But I've started to think it's just as good for getting conceptual stuff going. Just like rooting around in the library.

When you think about really great advertising ideas - for instance, 'Just Do It', aren't actually separable from the words which they're expressed in.

So yeah, all a bit serious.

In other news, I've got a new tattoo, bright young designer Michael Bow did my new banner (nice huh?) and I'm fighting in a second boxing match in March.

Good times. Wooh.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Murdoch's continence pad

Doesn't apply to me: I've spent the day masturbating over news footage of refugee orphans

Everyone wants an iPad - you can even sell them by writing stupid headlines like this.

I don't know if you've noticed, but when you open any newspaper at the moment 99% of the advertising looks like the above. Picture of gizmo, headline, price.

I'd say this was a symptom of the  panic that's gripping advertising now that more and more of the things we sell don't really exist. The iPad has a special place as a fetish object that mediates between the consumer and the spirit world of the internet. Consumers like them because it's a hard object that they that can cling on to as their personality and wordly possessions evaporate into cyberspace.

Rupert Murdoch wants you to buy an iPad, so you can download his newspaper The Daily. The Guardian ran the launch story with the headline 'The future of news or dead on arrival?' which I think may be rather wishful thinking on their part.

Murdoch gives the killer angle on The Daily, the one you'd probably only get from a newspaper owner: 'No paper, no mutil-million dollar presses, no trucks.' As John Lanchester pointed out in this very interesting article in the LRB, the things that costs loads of money are the physical logistics of printing a newspaper. In fact, according to Lanchester, if the New York Times were to abandon its presses it would have enough spare cash to give all of its readers a Kindle, twice.

What Murdoch has always been good at doing is selling the same stuff for more money. His media empire is based on a subscription model - Sky sells you the same kind of stuff that you can get for free, with ads, and for money.

He does this, in the case of Sky, using a combination of exclusive content and advertising. That's really the winning combo.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lunch, Leon, lions, lezzers

I've always found lunch to be a rather depressing meal.

Just the relentless tedium of deciding what I'm going to post into my horrible mouth, chew up and swallow at the same time every single fucking day makes me want to cut myself. Recently I've take to going to Leon, because it was founded by and is often staffed by lesbians (and like Larry David I'm a friend o' the lesbians) and because it serves exactly the kind of low calorie balsa wood pabulum that hot, semi-anorexic girls eat for lunch. Just going in there makes me feel like a hungry African lion stalking bow-legged gazelles at a dusty savanna watering hole.



Oh yeah, and the branding is great. Take note, brand managers everywhere.

So standard Leon type is this very tasteful Sans Serif:

I think typographers like to call this a 'grotesque', but they only do that to trick you into saying 'but I thought it was quite nice actually'

But then look, here's a cup. And the type, right, is totally different, and what the fuck is that, if not a full point on the end of the logo?

Bagaguagio indeed

And then when you look around the place you notice that they've done things like sew the name into quilts. Look, they haven't even tried to copy the type they use in the regular logo - they've just done their own thing. 

Digging the revival of quiltwork amongst new wave feminists. The bald man is also a nice touch.
So, being relaxed about the branding like this has at least two excellent effects, one direct, one inadvertent:

1) it makes you look relaxed about the branding. Like you've got better things to do, like cooking sweet potato fritatas and keeping hot semi-anorexic girls from growing white fur all over their bodies.

2)  it makes it look like the brand has heritage. People are really good at reading this stuff, and they do it totally intuitively - seeing more than one extant version of the logo makes you believe that it's gone through many iterations, it's a bit like the way they put pictures of kids from the 70s on the walls - it provides an artificial aura of nostalgia, and creates a sense of trustworthiness.

Consumers have been around branding for nearly a hundred years now - or longer if you count things like flags and crucifixes - I think they can handle this kind of thing. Marketing managers like brand guidelines, but it's quite possible that customers don't give that much of a shit.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A deeply scary animation

Tajazzle your vajazzle

I had lunch with this dude I know yesterday, he's running a company that helps chronic insomniacs get back to sleep - but without using drugs. They've  packaged a load of proper CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, not Cock and Ball Torture, Gaydar fans) with a load of modern jiggery-pokery like iPhone apps and online sleep diaries. The clinical trials show what he's doing to be extremely effective, which is not surprising given that it's the NHS prescribed therapy for insomnia, but getting people to pay for it takes a bit of doing. The problem is that he's not selling a tangible thing.

This is a really modern problem.

Over the last hundred years you and I have spent our working lives trying to convince people that objects will make them happy. Physical things that they can run their hands over, line up in rows, fill shelves or rails with, polish and clean and otherwise interact with on thoroughly tangible level.

You might remember this exchange from Jurassic Park, which, sadly I can't find on the interwebs as a video. Geoff Goldblum's character warning the kid off his Buffallo Bill nightvision goggles:

Donald Gennaro: Hey, where'd you find that?
Tim: In a box under my seat.
Donald Gennaro: Are they heavy?
Tim: Yeah.
Donald Gennaro: Then they're expensive, put 'em back.

Increasingly though things that aren't heavy, are, or should be, expensive. Things like information, music, books lose value as soon as they become digital, because they've lost their object.

There are lots of good arguments for why these things should cost money - but, importantly, they are arguments. Ironically argument the one thing that modern good advertising does not deign to engage in.

So basically, we all better get good at making Tajazzle infomercials.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fail Better

Haven't posted for a while.

If you're bored, I suppose you could read this article about failure that some bloke at Wiedens wrote.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

It's a fine line between reassuring and threatening

One that George Irvin's funfair doesn't walk entirely successfully IMHO. Does make for a very compelling tone of voice tho. Shepherds Bush Green isn't all that safe at the best of times, but when there's a fair on it, you might as well just stab yourself before you head out.
Proper cockney use of the word 'levied'

All faiths will be respected right? Or your knees will be broken due to my use of this hammer

All profits from this, once we've paid the new system, who we call Harry the Hammer

And 16 years porridge is no picnic, Sunshine. Just ask Harry