Category Archives: Brand

Are you anti-advertising?


It really hacks me off when people spout on about despising advertising. To be anti-advertising is to be anti-choice.

More than that, it is to be anti the industrial revolution. Anti mass production, anti working class and anti democracy.

It is to deny people the right to possess things that were hitherto just the privilege of the middle and upper classes.

Someone close to me used to hate advertising. It didn’t stop her wearing the interlocking diamante ‘c’s on the side of her sunglasses.

Perhaps my hackles being raised is something to do with having spent the past 30 years plying my trade in the aforementioned ad industry.

Have I ever lied for a client? Not that I can recall.

Have I ever embellished a client’s product or service? Of course I have. That’s my job. But no more than the average person does on a dating website. After all, isn’t it natural to present one’s best side?

Of course, some advertising is misleading. But the clients, and their ad agencies, are invariably hauled over the coals for it. Not to mention alienating the very people they are trying to sell to.

But some advertising is just irritating?

You’re not wrong. I reckon about 95%+ of advertising is rubbish. Then again, 95% of most things are rubbish.

But that shouldn’t stop people trying to earn their corn promoting the toils of their clients’ endeavour.

What we need to do is come up with strategies to cut down on waste. Whether that be packaging, over-consumption or new energies to produce things.

I know one thing for sure; with the advent of the emerging Chinese and Indian economies, consumerism isn’t about to disappear anytime soon. Or would you rather the people of those countries be deprived of the luxuries you and I take for granted?

So, the next time a Chorlton treehugger feels like bleating about their moral high-ground, just remember, you’re only reading your copy of The Guardian because you have the choice to do so.

Oh, and here are some brilliant ads selling us stuff we don’t need. (Like I don’t need beer. Tsk.):

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Cognitio, Sapientia, Humanitas.


That’s Knowledge, Wisdom, Humanity to the rest of us.

Which is the motto of The University of Manchester.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I’ve been very remiss of late with regard to updating my blog. And the reason being is that I have recently taken up a position, at the aforementioned University, as their Head of Creative.

And, why should you give two hoots about this?

Well, you shouldn’t.

But I do have the privilege of working in a gloriously inspiring campus which I just had to share with the class because it is so beautiful.

I feel very fortunate to be treading the same cobblestones as 25 Nobel prizewinners.

Unfortunately, I don’t think they give Nobel prizes for graphic design.

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Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

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The Boating Party – with Denis Goodbody


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many people view artists as rebels to society.

To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?

This week, I’m delighted to welcome radio broadcaster, children’s author, lyricist and all-round communications expert, Denis Goodbody.

Denis Goodbody

What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?

My greatest achievements have all been to do with communicating ideas. We take communication for granted in our society – we assume that all the verbal conversations, physical gestures and expressions we send out every day are understood. When they are not understood, as often as not, we blame the other party.

I help people communicate their messages for a living and I think that has helped me realize the fragility of a ‘message’. When we communicate we are transmitting ideas, the most precious of all commodities on earth. Once upon a time the ‘wheel’ was an idea. “Will you marry me” is an idea. In my day-to-day life I see beautiful, wonderful, precious ideas go up in flames or sink without trace because the people gifted with those ideas failed to communicate it successfully.

On a personal level my proudest achievement is, somehow, communicating to my wife that I’d be a suitable husband. On a professional level my proudest achievement is to have sustained myself and my family doing something I love – having ideas and communicating them.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

God I’m fortunate. I could be pompous and say it’s an aspect of my philosophy on life, to say that I don’t look back or I avoid regret but that would be tosh. I’m one very lucky guy. Like everyone, I have reached the sign post and had to choose between busy thoroughfares and roads less traveled and I have usually taken the latter. I have never known what lay through the traffic jams on the busy thoroughfares because I’ve been too busy with the twists and turns on the less traveled ones. Did I sacrifice going out to expensive restaurants and drinking too much in favor of having kids? No sacrifice. Did I sacrifice my dream of the Parisian garret and the great novel? No sacrifice, my attention deficit and wayward ways would have left me starving in the garret with no important unpublished masterpiece left beside by gaunt corpse. The only thing I can think of that I could classify as a sacrifice was selling my extraordinarily beautiful first house but that wasn’t really a sacrifice. It was a groovy bachelor pad and it worked – the honey-trap helped win me a honey. Anything else I miss or regret would be loss, rather than sacrifice, and among those I would count the loss of my father’s life and my mother’s memory but what they have given me far outweighs their loss.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

Well I’ve just mentioned my parents so let’s take that as read. I have also mentioned my good fortune. It was my parents who chose the strange and archaic private education I received and it was my good fortune to have had the most incredible teachers. Nowadays half of them probably wouldn’t be allowed to teach because of insufficient qualifications, inability to speak Irish or whatever. I find it hard to think of one it wasn’t a privilege to learn from and that’s not just a rose tinted rear-view mirror. Oh, they were strict and sometimes sarcastic. One could hit your ear lob with a piece of chalk from thirty feet but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use the skills, techniques and disciplines he taught me. One was a baronet and a racing driver. Another had his face badly burned rescuing a comrade from a tank at El Alamein. Yet another had mysteriously distorted finger nails which, we were led to believe, were the result of being tortured. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of those teachers, among whom I include my parents. As I observe the development of education I worry increasingly that it is becoming merely an ‘information-downloading exercise’ instead of the eye-opening, horizon lifting experience it should and can be.

Who and what inspire you?

Music, visual art, literature and children inspire me because they provide me with ideas and they stimulate the creation of more. Children inspire me because they embody possibility and hope. Seeing children observe things for the first time, trying to see those things as they see them, is a way for the rest of us to rediscover the world for ourselves. The notion that children should be seen and not heard is criminal. Music can speak truth without words, as can visual art. They speak truths in ways that leave everyone to witness their own version of that truth, free of argument or dissent. While I can’t say that of literature, as words are more self-evident, I will say this: fiction often contains more truth than fact. History has to be written from one standpoint from which it tries to recreate events. Fiction, on the other hand, makes no bones about its standpoint and is free to make its point subjectively and clearly without trying to be all things to all people.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

My wife’s singing inspires me, and has done for a good while now, so the last thing? I think The Illustrated Beatles exhibition in Dublin. 42 illustrators digging under the surface of 42 Beatles’ songs and presenting their findings in 42 incredible pictures. As a body of work it combines all of the things that inspire me: Music, visual art and literate lyrics, plus the fact that I heard the songs when I was a child and they helped form my worldview.

What makes you unhappy?

Hatred, war and cruelty and, for the most part, all of those things are borne out of bad communication. If the money that was spent by governments on the development of weapons was spent on finding away to avoid wars, we would have had a solution long ago. The problem is that there is profit in dissent which is why the really evil people in the world are those who foment discord, dividing and conquering for financial gain.

What makes you happy?

As well as music, art, literature and children? Family. When, as adolescents, we distance ourselves from our parents – an evolutionary necessity – we don’t realize how important it is to comeback. I married and bred late compared to many and no day passes without me going dewy eyed at the fact someone as incredible as my wife agreed to marry me, have a child with me and allow me to call the kids she already had ‘family’.

What’s your favourite smell?

Well it’s not napalm in the morning. In fact, the opposite. I love the smell of fresh air in the countryside. It can be a fragrant summer woodland or a winter storm on a beach. If it’s mingled with my wife’s perfume as we stroll together, that pretty much completes the olfactory picture.

What are you reading?

I’m just finishing a book about The Beatles’ visit to Dublin in 1963, a nice context to The Illustrated Beatles Exhibition. My literary weakness? Thomas Hardy. His books conjour the smells I’ve just describe and I think he could have been the world’s greatest cinematographer.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

As well as Carmen Browne? I’m listening to a lot more jazz than I used to but my listening-week is usually ruled by whatever topic I choose for my weekly radio show ‘Roots Musings’. You caught me on a bad week, it was a novelty show about Halloween.

What’s your favourite sound?

Silence. Silence is a canvas and when you have it, you can choose how to fill it. I’m funny that way.

What’s your favourite film?

God that’s hard. Chinatown, probably.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

The beginning.

What frightens you?

Like any parent the thing that frightens me most is the prospect of any harm coming to one of the children and, by extension, to any children or animals. Intentional harm or cruelty to animals and children is the basest and most perverse human behavior.

What’s your favourite sense of touch?

I don’t want to be to graphic about it but having the skin of someone you love touch yours can’t be beaten in my book. And I don’t mean exclusively carnal contact either. I go to the nursing home to see my mother each week and I hold her hand. With her diminished memory there’s very little room for meaningful conversation but that touch says everything we need to say.

What do you do to relax?

Music, literature, visual art and breathing in that fresh country air, with birdsong spattering the silent canvas.

What do you do when you’re angry?

A lot of internalizing goes on which is unhealthy but it does mean I process stuff rather than let go on reflex. I do shout a bit which isn’t pretty as I have a very loud voice to begin with.

What can’t you live without?

We’ve already got music, literature, art, family and fresh air. To that you could add chilli and red wine, preferably consumed Langkawi restaurant on Baggot Street in Dublin. How are you fixed? [You’re on. Next time I’m over!]

What’s your motto?

“Live and let love”.

What’s your Utopia?

I always have to remind people that in Thomas Moore’s original Utopia, they had slaves. This tarnishes the whole concept for me though it does teach me one important lesson. Living your life fairly and without exploiting others, means an element of hard work. To answer the question free of pontification, I would say my Utopia is somewhere in the west of Ireland with all of the things mentioned under the question “What can’t you live without?”

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

I would conquer my attention deficit and finish the novel I didn’t finish in question Two.

What sends your taste buds into overdrive?

Chilli – especially prawns. And I meant that about Langkawi! Mine’s a ‘Sambal Udang’.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

If I were the rocket-suppository-inserting type – and I don’t believe I am – it would have to be Mitt Romney or some other American Tea Party Type. They have no concept or care of the world around them. They are phenomenally selfish. They are racist and intolerant. They embody just about everything the American Constitution – as I understand it – set out to avoid. I know it’s not my country but it is my world they are setting out to destroy. They are no better than the fundamentalists and terrorists they claim to oppose.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Would it be too obvious to say my wife? I have no desire to meet any of my heroes as I wouldn’t want that status diminished by reality. I guess I’d settle for Barrack Obama or Ang San Suu Kyi, both of whom I believe are incredible people.

What are you working on at the moment?

I should be working on a book I’m writing and a couple of advertising projects already overdue.

What is your ambition?

Right now, my ambition is to complete the answers to question 25. Beyond that, my ambition is threefold: finish the novel I started (not the one mentioned above), promote and expand my radio shows listenership, to write more songs with Carmen Browne. Before all of that, however, I’d have to say my ambition is to be the best Dad in the known universe beside which the other ambitions are a piece of cake.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Thomas Hardy, Guy Clarke, Joni Mitchell, Carmen Browne, Barack and Michelle Obama.

What would be on the menu?

Sambal Udang, Sushi and lamb tagine and metzes. We’ll have a couple of bottles of the Chateau Kefraya – failing that, anything else from the Beka Valley.

What question would you liked me to have asked?

Other than what date we’re having that meal in Langkawi? I think I’d like to have been asked to define my concept of God. I am inundated with scientists, atheists, agnostics, fundamentalists and dogmatists telling me that God either does or doesn’t exist. None of them, as far as I can see, have taken the time to describe the God believe does or doesn’t exist. There’s almost 7 billion different concepts of God on this planet alone and I’m not arrogant enough to say that all of them are wrong. In the Judeo-Christian bible there is, I believe, a misprint. Where it says “God Created man in his own image”. The reality is the other way round – we create God in our image.

Thank you, Denis.

My two rascals enjoying Denis' "How the Elk got to the Games".

My two rascals seal of approval of Denis’ “How the Elk got to the Games”.

Denis Goodbody – Biography:

Denis is a writer and broadcaster living in Dublin. The bulk of his career has been spent conceiving, writing and producing advertising. In recent years he has expanded his love of having ideas producing and presenting 2 weekly radio shows, co-writing jazz songs and writing books.

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I have a dream too, you know.


True, it may not be as ambitious and world-changing as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. But it’s a dream nonetheless.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to post about it until I felt I was in more of a position to realise this dream. But short of winning the Euro Millions Lottery, it aint going to happen without some serious philanthropic backer.

So, what is my dream?

Well, it’s to build a School of Arts for under-privileged kids.

Kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds in large inner-city estates. Kids who might not ordinarily get the opportunity to explore the more creative aspects of their nature.

What good would that do society? We’re in a depression, don’t you know!

Problems in every field of human endeavour are virtually always solved by creative thinking. Even the great Albert Einstein said so himself. Creativity allows us to look at problems from different angles and apply new thinking to solve problems.

Moreover, I don’t see it as a school that produces an unprecedented amount of artists. But an unprecedented amount of creative thinkers – whichever vocation they choose to pursue later in life. Whether it be mathematics, science, business, computers, product design, or economics.

And yes, a few more more artists too. And what’s wrong with that? Art is seen as a dirty word in this country. If I tell people I write poetry, they shift uneasily in their seats. If I said I write poetry in Ireland the response would be a polite smile and a nod toward the back of the queue.

Do you think the first rocket flight to the moon was dreamed up by a scientist?

Sure, scientists and engineers made it a reality. But it is creative people who come up with the ideas and the original solutions of how they can be achieved.

What will the kids do?

The school will develop and encourage creative thinking and self-expression.

It will foster, nurture and encourage exploration of the arts in all its many and varied forms including: painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, poetry, literature, screenplays, theatre, drama, dance, music, design, digital arts, film, photography, humanities, languages, and the classics.

Where is this school?

I quite fancy the idea of transforming a derelict Victorian mill. There’s something quite ironic about that. Though it certainly wouldn’t be a prerequisite. (Salts Mill in Bradford is a good example.)

Initially, an inner-city campus close to urban populations that have a high level of low socioeconomic families. Basically, anywhere across the Manchester – Huddersfield – Halifax – Leeds belt. It’s also sufficiently ‘central’ enough to accommodate children from further afield.

It would also be good to have a rural retreat – somewhere like the Lake District, Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, where children can attend week-long courses/classes which double up as a holiday.

I would also like to open an international sister school in India or Sri Lanka where people from distinctly different cultures can share ideas. These schools could also participate in exchange programmes. (Then subsequently, even further afield: China, South America, South Asia.)

What about science subjects?

This school wouldn’t be a replacement for existing schools and their curricula – more of an extension to them.

Would it exclude people from non low socioeconomic backgrounds?

Not at all. But opportunities for middle-class families in other schools are much more accessible, regardless of ability.

Intake for low income kids would be based as much on desire and enthusiasm to participate rather than ability. There would be a limited number of places for more affluent children. Sort of like Eton – in reverse.

What kind of courses will it run?

Day-long workshops for visiting schools.

After-school classes.

Week-long courses. (Which would include accommodation for traveling students.)

Weekend classes.

Full-time sixth form courses. (A-levels.)

Masters and PhD courses.

What ages are we talking about?

Key Stage 2, up to, and including, sixth form.

Undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses.

What else does the school have?

Apart from studios and classrooms?

There’d be accommodation for students who are visiting from further afield.

Cafe / restaurant.

Gallery to promote and sell students’ work.

Gallery featuring independent contemporary and traditional art.

Masterclasses from guest lecturers.

State of the art library. (Both on and off-line.)

Book shop.

Art-house cinema.

Who will pay for it?

Well, that’s the biggest question of all.

A like-minded philanthropist would be nice.

Arts Council grant.

Lottery funding.

A percentage of Masters and PhD students’ tuition fees could go towards funding.

Sales from restaurant and galleries.

Fundraising / donations.

An Ideal World School of Arts.

Salts Mill, Bradford.

David Hockney at Salts Mill.

Salts Mill interior.

Studio space?

Any constructive criticism and advice about how to get something like this funded and off the ground would be greatly appreciated.

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World to turn black and white as Cadbury begin global race to own colours


Apparently, Cadbury now own this colour.

Or, more accurately – Kraft Foods do. As they own Cadbury.

It’s Pantone 2685 c.

A particular shade of purple that they’ve been using on their Dairy Milk packaging for about 100 years.

Which means you and I are now forbidden to use it, lest we face the wrath of the Kraft legal team.

Who’s next?

Vodafone and red?

Lloyds and green?

Orange and, er… orange?

In a legal precedent, Kraft are allegedly filing a class action suit against Mother Nature for having the audacity to give birth to certain species of flower.

No more purple pansies by order of Kraft.

And, just in case you were thinking of redecorating your downstairs lavvy in that lovely shade of pale yellow, think again. As you’ll have Heinz Alphabetti Spaghetti lawyers battering down the door to your privy.

You can read the absurd article here:

http://www.designweek.co.uk/news/cadbury-wins-exclusive-use-of-pantone-2685c-purple/3035336.article

For what it’s worth, here’s my tuppence worth…

God help us if Newcastle Utd get in on the act.

Then we’ll all be up shit-creek. (Which, incidentally, is a particular shade of brown UPS have pats-pending on.)

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Andy Warhol in the soup again


Campbell’s Soup are celebrating fifty years since Andy Warhol immortalised their can of tomato soup by bringing out a range of limited edition labels.

If you’re in The States you can pick up one of these collectibles for a paltry 75 cents. (Bet they’ll be going for a damn sight more than on Ebay in years to come.)

Campbell’s own design team, in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, created the cans which will be on sale later this month.

50 years of Campbell’s.

The original Tomato Soup can, 1962. By Andy Warhol.

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Made from Beer


Just a quickie today.

A lovely little TVC for Carlton Draught.

Parodying a bank heist, it’s choc full of all the usual car chase clichés you’d find in a blockbuster.

Watch out for it at the awards festivals.

I’ll give it a coveted Cross of Iron for starters.

Great fun. I wish I’d done it.

Credits:
Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne
Creative Chairman: James McGrath
Executive Creative Director: Ant Keogh
Copywriter: Richard Williams
Art Director: Anthony Phillips
Executive Producer: Sonia von Bibra
Production Company: The Sweet Shop
Director: Steve Ayson
Production company Executive Producer – Wilf Sweetland
Production company Producer: Cindy Kavanagh
Cinematographer: Greig Fraser
Production Designer: Robbie Freed
Offline Editor: Jack Hutchings – The Butchery
Final Grade – Edel Rafferty – Method
Online Editor – Nicholas Ponzoni – Fin Design & Effects
Sound Design/Music arranger – Byron Scullin & Cornel Wilczek
Music Supervision – Karl Richter – Level Two Music
Music track – “Thunder in your Heart”
Planning Director: Michael Derepas
Planner: Sam Mackisack
Managing Partner: Paul McMillan
Account Director: Nick Cohen
Account Manager: Brendan Taylor

Carlton Draught
Chief Marketing Officer: Andy Gibson
General Manager of Marketing: Andrew Meldrum
Senior Brand Manager: Alastair McCausland
Assistant Brand Manager: Kirt Daunt
Assistant Brand Manager: Laura King

Mediacom
Media Agency: Mediacom
Director Client Communication Planning: Brett Elliot
Client Communication Planner: Michael Bradley

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I’m lovin’ war


I came across this artist who wanted to remain anonymous for legal reasons.

They are very provocative pieces that challenge people’s perceptions about the real reasons why the west are engaged in conflicts around the globe.

The “I’m lovin’ war” series aim to make the statement that the real power and influence about who the west wages war against are large corporations and their profit margins.

Not intended to criticise the men and women of the armed forces – whose bravery is without question – the works are designed to illustrate how they are being duped by their governments and being used as private security forces for large corporations.

The idea proposes that, in the future, armies might go into battle sponsored by brands in the same way that sports are.

McDonald's, I'm lovin te

“i’m lovin’ war”, Artist Unknown. Click to enlarge.

Shell, Shell Oil, art, modern art

Click to enlarge

Goldman Sachs, art, modern art, war,

Click to enlarge.

Personally, I’m more of a Burger King man.

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Meet the Superhumans


If you don’t live in London, but you do live somewhere else in England, you might be a bit fed up of hearing the media banging on about what legacies London 2012 will leave for the rest of Britain.

Well, the clue’s in the name, people!

I live in sunny Stockport, in the northwest of England, and I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what kind of legacy London 2012 will leave for Manchester.

We had the Empire Games back in 2002. And we still have loads of lovely legacies such as the Etihad Stadium, where Man City play. Then there’s the velodrome, where people can ride their bikes… I get a bit stuck after that.

You don’t hear Londoners whingeing about the Commonwealth games not leaving a legacy in t’ Big Smoke.

They’re not our games.

It’s a non-question. It’s non-news.

To be honest, the Olympics don’t do a lot for me in terms of sporting excitement.

I’m more of a turn on a sixpence put it in the back of the onion sack kind of bloke.

What does excite me though, is this ad for the Paralympics by those lovely people at Channel 4.

It really makes me want to watch the Paralympics much, much more than the Olympics because of their Superhuman attitudes and abilities.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for one second that Olympians are any less motivated or hard working than Paralympians.

But, because I’m not that interested in the Olympics, it would have to take something superdooper special to get me interested. And this does.

Yes, it’s a little bit predictably shot, but it does get the hairs on the back of my neck standing, so job done. Not all ads are aimed at the head.

Not only is it a great ad. But I’m really looking forward to seeing some of these gladiators in action.

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