Category Archives: Cross of Iron

One of the most coveted awards for creativity above and beyond the call of duty.

Enter the Dragon – Kris Kuksi

Welcome to There Is No Cavalry 2012, everyone.

I know I’m a bit late off the mark with my salutations but, what with Chinese zodiacs, Julian, Gregorian and Hijri calendars, (not to mention about 50 others), I didn’t think a couple of days hither or tither would be of consequence.

2012 Year of the Dragon

Of course, we are entering the Chinese Year of the Dragon. As you may or may not know, I too, am a dragon. So I’m expecting some pretty extraordinary things from 2012.

First of all, I don’t want to see another episode of the shambolic Heinz Beans & Sausage debacle where, to my horror of horrors, there were only three frankfurters lurking beneath the beans rather than the requisite four.

For that alone, 2011 could be classed as an absolute shocker.

But I’m nothing if not an optimist. So am looking forward to sharing with you all manner of manna from my creative cassoulet.

First up, for your delectation is Kris Kuksi.

Incredibly intricate sculptures on a biblical scale.

The Emperor, by Kuksi

I urge you to click on the images and visit his website. There you will find a veritable smorgasbord of sculptures that you can zoom in and out of to really appreciate the delicate and painstaking detail that you just can’t see from my screen grabs.

For me, they are reminiscent of the Chapman Brothers and, to a lesser extent, Grayson Perry. I don’t mean that in a bad way, as Kuksi’s work appears infinitely more complex. But I haven’t seen them in the flesh like I have with the aforementioned.

What I find extraordinary about Kuksi’s work is the juxtaposition of religious symbolism and iconography with 21st century western greed, imperialism and materialism. (I know, I can’t believe I said that either.)

Below is a detail of The Retreat of Daphne.

The Retreat of Daphne

You can also see drawings and paintings on his site too. But, to be honest, whilst he is obviously a very gifted draughtsman, they don’t really arrest me in the same way his sculptures do.

Right, that’s all you’re getting for today, it’s time for my dinner – All Day Breakfast in a tin. And woe betide anyone at Heinz if these shriveled up sausages aren’t actually handmade by a master butcher from Cumberland.

Keep reading. More posts to follow shortly. (If my ticker holds out.)

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Filed under Advertising, Art, Brand, Contemporary Arts, Cross of Iron, Ideas, Inspiration, Sculpture

Kagemu a Paris

Take a look at this incredible art/dance piece by Artist Nobuyuki Hanabusa and dancer Katsumi Sakakura, together known as Kagemu.

It uses a combination of traditional and contemporary Japanese dance/martial arts combined with exquisitely choreographed motiongraphics.

You won’t be disappointed.

And if your creative juices have been whetted, you can read an interview of the dynamic duo by Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg here.

Thanks to Alastair O Liathain for sharing it.

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Filed under Art, Contemporary Arts, Cross of Iron, Dance, Digital, Film, Ideas, Inspiration, Music

Droga5 – That’s the Creative Spirit.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Droga5.

They really do try to do different work.

Not just advertising, but work that helps humanity too.

Droga5 NY’s original work for the UNICEF Tap Project; getting New York restaurant goers to donate a dollar for every glass of free tap water they received.

Then I came across this amazing initiative by Droga5, Sydney called Creative Spirit.

Their goal is to get every one of Australia’s 32,000 registered creative companies to trial a person with a disability by 2021.

With the aim of making the creative industry the largest employer of disabled people in Australia.

What a fantastic, life-changing idea.

Watch this short film to see the (working) life of one such disabled person. I wish I loved working as much as he does!

Beautifully touching film. The scene at the beginning when he kisses his mother’s hands as she bathes his eyes will melt your heart.

This has got to be a bare minimum of a Cross of Iron Platinum Grand Prix inlaid with diamonds, rubies and gummy bears.

But ultimately, this initiative doesn’t just benefit Lloyd, but the entire morale of Droga5 Sydney.

We should do this here in the UK and Ireland now. It doesn’t take an initiative, just a desire to do the right thing.

Perhaps someone should have a word with those lovely chaps and chapeens at Nobel and put a word in for Dave, (and his colleagues of course).

After watching this film over a dozen times, I’ve shamefully neglected to also give credit to Break Thru People Solutions who helped make it all happen.


Filed under Advertising, Art, community, Cross of Iron, Disability, Ideas, Inspiration, Politics

Thought Different – RIP Steve Jobs

Bill Bernbach revolutionized the ad industry from the inside back in the 60s.

Steve Jobs revolutionized it from the outside in the 90s. (Depending on where in the globe you were plying your trade.) In Scotland, they think an Apple Mac is a new dessert at McDonald’s.

Admittedly, Bernbach changed the way we think, Jobs changed the way we do.

But our industry has never been the same since. I doubt there are many art directors and writers, (not to mention designers), who don’t have a Mac on their desk or in their bag.

Ask anyone who owns a Mac and they’ll tell you they’ll never touch a PC again.

They just work, better.

Not content with revolutionizing the advertising and design industry, he also set about working his magic on the music and telecommunications industries too.

Tell me, how did we live without our iPhones?

Here are a couple of ads paying homage to Steve Jobs. I’ve selected these because they are my favourites. But you can see more here:

Agency: Bang In The Middle, Guraon, India.

Agency: DDB Dubai, UAE.

If you’re not in the ad industry and you’re reading this, then you might not ‘get’ the ‘Thought Different’ homage to Jobs. It is based on an ad campaign which was about “crazy people” who thought differently.

Interestingly, if they made this TV ad today, Steve Jobs would be in it.

Apparently, Steve Jobs is doing the VO in this version. (Later to be revoiced by Richard Dreyfuss.)

I don’t know Steve Jobs, so I’m pretty sure, like the rest of us, he has a few skeletons in the cupboard. Some scarier than others. And I’m also pretty sure that there are quite a lot of other unsung people at Apple who have contributed to the company’s meteoric rise to world domination. But… let’s let the poor fella go cold before we start vilifying him.

Like it or not, Steve Jobs was a visionary.


Filed under Advertising, Brand, Cross of Iron, Design, Digital, Ideas, Inspiration, Music

Durex Ad

Okay, so I’m juvenile. But you’ve got to admit, it is funny.

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Filed under Advertising, Brand, Comedy, Cross of Iron, Ideas, Inspiration, Strategy

The Art of the 48 sheet poster

Addendum bit:

The original post is below, but here is the proof I’ve been searching for. The offending VW ad. This is a DPS version rather than the 48 sheet I was banging on about. The only difference between the two is the addition of some body copy.

Cross of Iron? Most definitely not.
Creative Court Martial? Get the blindfolds out.

What were they thinking? Obviously not a lot.

Original post:

I’ve been searching Google for a pic I wanted to show you of an ad I abhor. But I haven’t come up trumps.

Then I thought, it doesn’t really matter if I don’t have a copy of it as it is so mind-numbingly dull, I could describe it to you.

The only problem I’ve been wrestling with is that it was done by one of the greatest ad agencies in the world for one of the greatest brands in the world.

Agency: DDB
Client: Volkswagen
Brand: New Golf Cabriolet

Now let’s start by saying: I love DDB.
I also love Volkswagen.

And I count myself extremely fortunate to have worked on the latter while I was at the former.

The reason this execution has got me so vexed is that I think both brands deserve better.

VW = Great advertising.
DDB = The pioneers of modern day advertising.

In fact, DDB pioneered the industry on brands like Volkswagen in the 60s.

So, what is this blot on the landscape that has offended me so?

Imagine an oblong. (Or rectangle, if you’re so inclined.)
Imagine said oblong in a landscape format.
Imagine this oblong is outside.
Beside a road.
It is made up of 48 sheets of paper. (Actually, it isn’t, it’s 12 what with better printing technology and all that, but the name has just stuck.)
On these 48 (12) pieces of paper is a photograph of a red Golf Cabriolet in front of a nondescript piece of modern architecture.
It’s the sort of picture you might find in a brochure for a new Golf Cabriolet.
It has some words written on it.
We call them: a headline.

Headline: The New Golf Cabriolet.

And that’s it.

Someone had better call in MI6 as I think Al Qaeda are holding the entire planning and creative dept of DDB hostage.

Who, at the agency and client, thought: Yes! You’ve cracked it. That’s just what we’ve been looking for – A picture of the car with the headline: The new Golf Cabriolet.

This execution beggars belief.

Where’s the dialogue?
Where’s the insight?
Where’s the smile in the mind?
Where’s the unique VW TOV?
Where’s the originality we come to expect from VW?

This ad is banal in the extreme and I would love to know how, and why, it ever made it up onto a 48 sheet poster.

Volkswagen deserve better.
And I know DDB can do better.

Here’s one I did a few years back while I was at Chemistry in Dublin. Same brief, different client.

To me, the poster is the Holy Grail of advertising. There is nowhere to hide.

Your thought has to be pure and simple. And above all, it has to be engaging.

Here are a few more examples I’ve done over the years.

There is one other thing that bothers me though. And that is this post is just completely negative.

And I don’t like that.

It’s bad for my karma.

So, in the interest of ending on a more positive note, I thought I’d show you some examples of a master in the art of making posters.

And I’m not talking about Messrs Hegarty, Abbott or Dye.


Filed under Advertising, Art, Brand, Comedy, Cross of Iron, Design, Ideas, Inspiration, Photography, Strategy, Writing


Computer games hadn’t been invented when I were a lad.

Come to think of it, neither had computers.

I used to while away the hours playing with my toy soldiers and model aeroplanes.

I had hundreds, if not thousands, of centimeter-high military figurines all vying for supremacy on the living room carpet: Paras; commandos; stormtroopers; gurkhas; chindits… you name it, they all fought on the beaches [rug] of Normandy [sofa].

Now, I know things have moved on a bit since then what with all the incredibly sophisticated graphics on computer games, that I suppose pretending your sister’s dolls’ house is an impregnable German fortress seems positively kid’s stuff.

But my point is, that whilst computer games have incredible cgi and complex storylines, they do spoon-feed the player. The player may think they’re in control of an elite squad of navy seals, but they are, in fact, just being lead down a labyrinth of computer code like lambs to the slaughter.

Playing with soldiers on the rug required imagination. You were in control. You made up the story. You decide what happens. Are computer games actually stifling kids’ imaginations?

Obviously, the super-intense scenarios weren’t there – or were they?

You see, when I played, I didn’t see a cushion or a sideboard, I saw a hill and a bunker. My imagination filled in the gaps.

So it got me thinking about whether I could do an ad campaign to resurrect these tiny little plastic armies to appeal to today’s kids.

Not to replace computer games, just to be an alternative.

(This is where some mums and dads object to promoting toys that encourage violent behaviour. Well I say: Come down ‘ere and say that yer shandy-drinking tree huggers! Never did me any harm.)

I digress.

Whilst my idea isn’t based on research of the target audience, it is based on the insights of someone who’s played both.

I love the illustrations on the packaging as this, to me, accurately depicts what the child imagines. While the headlines juxtapose the dramatic imagery with the real-life environment the game would actually be played in such as a bedroom, living room etc.

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Filed under Advertising, Brand, Children, Cross of Iron, Design, Digital, Ideas, Illustration, My Portfolio

Cat wrangling

Sometimes you don’t actually have a point to make, but you still want to share something with the class.

I suppose the only thing I could say about this brilliant ad is that the idea has since become a euphemism for trying to do something tricky.

Well, I use ‘it’s like trying to wrangle cats’ all the time. Particularly when trying to organise my two younglings.

It’s an oldie, but a goody. Definitely a Cross of Iron.



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Filed under Advertising, Comedy, Cross of Iron, Film, Ideas, Inspiration, Writing

There’s a soldier in all of us…

Really like this TVC for Call of Duty Black Ops.

Seems a bit obvious, but I haven’t seen it done before.

I’m sure ‘There’s a soldier in all of us’ is bang on strategy for the TA and judging by the comments on YouTube they seem to like it. Even down to the players names on their guns. Good bit of research.

My only criticism would be the depiction of the TA in the ad. I know we’re in adland and if we took everything literally, Diet Coke ads would be bulging with fat birds, but a couple of them are stretching it a bit. Even in a game nerd’s fantasy.

That said, it’s an entertaining watch. And I might even stretch to a Cross of Iron if there’s nothing else out there like it.

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Filed under Advertising, Cross of Iron, Film, Ideas