Category Archives: Strategy

There is no cavalry couture is here!

I’m not much of a DIY person per se, but t’other day, I found myself pottering about in the shed* looking for a bottle of meths**, when I came across an old t-shirt that I’d been using as a fuse for a Molotov cocktail***.

Well, it put me in a mind to set up a There is no Cavalry fashion label.

The idea was to take everyday warnings that you might find on clothing, food, medicines or cleaning products, and apply them to humans.

Recently ordered colour variant.

Recently ordered colour variant.

Another courtesy of Mr Mannion.

funny t-shirt designs


From a gag in Steve Martin’s classic movie – The Jerk

funny t-shirt designs



Funny t-shirt design


Funny t-shirt designs


Funny t-shirt design


Funny t-shirt design


Funny t-shirt design


Type detail. Lovingly kerned Gothic 821. 48/42pt.

Recently purchased colour variants.

Funny t-shirt design


Funny t-shirt design


You might not wear one or two of them to meet the in-laws. But they might just be a conversation starter in Ibiza.

If anyone would like one, drop me a line, and I’ll get you one made up.

Having looked at a few t-shirt printing websites, we’re probably looking in the region of £15 plus postage for a good quality one.


Available colours

Colours: Black, White, Navy Blue, Royal Blue, Red, Heather Grey, Sky Blue, Maroon, Yellow and Bottle Green.

Headlines are interchangeable on different coloured t-shirts. So if there’s a combo you want that isn’t here just let me know and I’ll do you your own version and email it to you for sign off before going to print.

Email me at: if you’re interested.

As orders are coming in thick and fast I’ve added a Paypal button. But please DON’T pay anything until you’ve contacted me by email. Just so we can confirm sizes, colours, destination etc. This is also because I don’t know what the additional postage charge will be until I come to send them off to you.



Size guide

*I don’t have a shed.
**I don’t drink meths.
***I don’t make Molotov cocktails. (Well, not anymore.)


Filed under Advertising, Art, Brand, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Economy, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Strategy, TINCa-Ts, Writing

Pitching for Garbage.

I never watch fictional programmes about the ad industry.

They’re usually filled with more obnoxious caricatures than a Gerald Scarfe annual.

But I stumbled across a documentary / reality show on Sky Atlantic called ‘Pitch’.

The concept is very simple: A film crew follows two rival ad agencies round as they prepare to pitch for the same piece of business. They only have a week to conceive and produce the work, so the deadline is tighter than Janet Dickinson’s forehead.

It starts off with the two agencies getting a brief from the client. In this episode, a Waste Management company that turns garbage into renewable energy. And they tasked the agencies with raising awareness of this fact.

Nice brief. I’d like to work on it myself.

One agency was based in NY, called the Ad Store, run by Paul Cappelli, a seasoned veteran with a wheelbarrow full of awards. A small shop whose USP was creativity. The other agency was based in Vegas called SK+G whose main source of clients, surprisingly enough, came from the entertainment sector.

After much chewing of the cud, the Ad Store vet came up with a cracking idea:

Trash Can

What’s so great about that? I hear you cajole.

Well, when you put it with the creative executions it all becomes clear:

What can power a million homes?
Trash Can.

What can save 20 million barrels of oil a year?
Trash Can.

You can see that it has more legs than a LA model agency.

Love it. Very simple. Very clear and very memorable.

Next up, SK+G.

They had Joint Group Creative Directors, one of whom made it his mission to belittle his partner throughout the entire documentary. Not only that, he contradicted his creative partner’s presentation in front of the client.

He even took the opportunity to grass-up his partner to the MD when he’d nipped home to kiss his kids goodnight. (He hadn’t seen his kids all week and was actually coming back to the office.)

I have two kids. And I work in advertising. So I know what it’s like trying to juggle meeting client deadlines and trying to be a good father. Mr Hentges, (the nice GCD), came across as not only a diligent creative director, but a caring father too. Whereas his colleague came across as a self-obsessed, odious cliché.

If political rivalry in front of a client isn’t bad enough, the work was pretty mediocre too: Waste into Wow!

Did I say ‘mediocre’? I meant shit.

They did have some decent individual executions such as: This garbage truck runs on garbage. Very sweet. But the big idea – Waste is Wow. Well, it just isn’t ‘Wow’.

To me, it was a no-brainer. The Ad Store’s “Trash Can” was the clear winner.

After a brief sojourn, the client decided to award the business to SK+G for their Waste is Wow campaign.

Hang on, let me rewind that. Did you say SK+G?

As a creative, you always want to do the best work you possibly can. Not so you can decorate your book or take the long walk at the awards ceremonies, but because you think it’s right. Right for the brief and right for the client. You’re passionate about it.

But what you can’t legislate for, is a client mistaking a smart phone app for a big idea.

That’s just like saying the billboard is the idea rather that what goes inside it.

Still, it made for entertaining viewing. (For me anyway.)

If you’re in the ad industry you probably will too. The Pitch is on Sky Atlantic, Wednesdays at 8.00 p.m.

If you’re not in the ad industry, it will probably confirm your already preconceived notions of what a bunch of dicks ad people really are.

Right, I’m off to vacuum the stairs. Livin’ the dream, people. Livin’ the dream.


Filed under Advertising, Brand, Digital, Ideas, Strategy

Why England won’t win the Euros

I wrote the exact same headline before the 2010 world cup. Except it said World Cup instead of Euros, of course.

I remember thinking when Capello was brought in, that if he couldn’t win the world cup with that squad of players then no one could.

Then I started getting a bit worried when our best goalkeeper, Joe Hart, couldn’t get in the team. On the plus side, it did make me realise I was a better manager than Fabio Capello. Which is nice.

I just hope Roy Hodgson doesn’t make the same mistakes as his predecessor and realises that he needs to make a fresh start.

Let’s rid our national team of these egotistical Premiership players who, quite frankly, are not nearly as good as they think they are.

The most encouraging England performance I have seen in many a year was our one nil victory over world and European champions, Spain.

Admittedly, any neutral, (or Spaniard), will quite rightly testify that England just put eleven men behind the ball and got a right footballing pummeling.

You don’t beat a team like Spain by playing football. They’ll annihilate you. You beat them by tactics. Or tic tacs. Whichever works best.

What I admired about the performance was that it featured quite a lot of lesser-known premiership players who played out of their skins. And, more importantly, for their shirt.

Players like: Phil Jones; Phil Jagielka; Joleon Lescott, (who was man-of-the-match by a long chalk); Scott Parker; Kyle Walker; Danny Wellbeck and Jack Rodwell.

The squad also featured the likes of: Milner; Adam Johnson; Leighton Baines; Gary Cahill and Daniel Sturridge.

Of course, some of the aforementioned players are more household names now than they were two years ago. But they’re still not dead-certs for a first team spot in the England team.

There’s been a lot of talk in the press about Hodgson trying to mend bridges between Terry and Ferdinand. Why?

Dump them. We have better centre backs in Jagielka, Lescott, Jones and Cahill. Contrary to what Terry and Rio might say to get a place in the squad, it will split the dressing room. It would be suicide to take them.

Ashley Cole may well be considered one of the best left backs in the world, but he’s a petulant, gun-toting imbecile who has the permanent expression of someone who’s just smelled something unpleasant. Get Leighton Baines in. (Who is deadly from a dead ball.) And Micah Richards has got to be the best right back in the Premiership this season.

Wayne Rooney may be the Premiership’s leading English striker, but do we want a player who is banned for the first two games and can be a temperamental liability if things aren’t going his way? Do you ever see Lionel Messi sulking like Rooney?

Most people were expecting Harry Redknapp to get the England job. And, I put Spurs’ recent dip in form down to the shambolic way in which the FA dealt with the sacking of Fabio Capello.

Of course, the media were partially responsible too. But perhaps they might not have been quite so definite in their predictions about the future England manager had the FA come out immediately and said they wouldn’t be talking to any possible replacements until the end of April.

Instead, they said nothing and let the whole circus gather momentum until it was almost plausible that Redknapp was already in charge.

This media spotlight had such a distracting and damaging effect on Spurs’ season that I wouldn’t blame them for suing the FA for loss of future revenue, should they not get into the Champions League.

Only time will tell whether Roy Hodgson was an inspired appointment. But, if I were him, I’d take a leaf out of Republic of Ireland’s Italia ’90 squad and pick a team rather than a group of individuals.

Ireland got to the quarter-finals that year by playing to their strengths. Greece won it in 2004. Did they have a squad of household names? Of course not. They played their game.

And we should play ours. We have some decent footballers but we can’t play football like Spain or Holland. We don’t have that kind of class.

But what these younger, lesser-known players have, is True Grit.

Could England win Euro 2012?

They might have a chance if Hodgson goes with the less fashionable and predictable names. After all, they have already beaten the world and European champions.

Unfortunately, I think Mr Hodgson will probably bow to public and media pressure and pick the same olds, same olds.

Take note, Roy, Capello didn’t listen to me and look what happened to him.

Here’s my team:

Attacking, isn’t it?

And here are my subs:

Okay, where’s Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney, I hear you ask. Well, they’ve had a go. And they’ve failed.

And, whilst Peter Crouch may play for unfashionable Stoke City, he has scored the goal of the season in the Premiership and continually pops them in for his country.

I haven’t included Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere because he’s out injured for the rest of the season. (Is that the case for Chelsea’s Gary Cahill?) If so, then Phil Jones would be my next choice.

And while we’re on the subject of local elections, Stuart Downing couldn’t put a cross in a ballot box let alone a penalty box. So don’t go there.

Good luck, Roy. I like the cut of your jib.

And please, media – will you stop making juvenile jokes about his speech impediment? It’s embarrassing. Do you really think so little of the English public that we think it’s funny?

Hmm, I know I’m being a bit of a ‘Tinkerman’, but I like the look of this team too.

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Filed under community, Football, Ideas, Inspiration, Strategy

The Antagonistic Protagonist

I was reading a rather excellent blog on ‘The roots determining the structure of your novel’, by Sara Toole Miller.

It talks about ‘left brain’ planning and ‘right brain’ writing. But before I’d made it halfway through the post, I had to pause to write a little poem.

So, thank you, Sara. It might not be an 80,000 word novel, but it’s a start.


By David Milligan-Croft

I am the protagonist of my story.
(As you are in yours.)
But in my story,
What you have to decide,
Is whether you are an ally,
Or an antagonist.

Before you decide,
You should know that,
As it is my story,
Rest assured,
I shall prevail.

Anyone who knows me, might say I’m actually the Antagonist in, not only my own story, but theirs too!

Even if you’re not planning on writing a novel, but do enjoy writing, it’s good advice.


Filed under Art, Books, Comedy, Contemporary Arts, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, Poetry, Screenplays, Short stories, Strategy, Writing

Republic of Scotland – Two Nations Divided

There’s been a lot of talk of late about a referendum on Scottish independence.

Let ’em ‘ave it! is what I say.

By that, I don’t mean open up on ’em with a battery of Gatling guns. I mean, it’s their country, it’s up to them.

If it was me, I’d vote yes.

Some people say it will result in England, Wales, NornIrn and Scotland having less muscle in Europe.

Is that what independence is about – political and economic might?

I thought it was about being able to determine your own destiny.

Being Free.

But it did get me thinking about England and the proverbial divide between north and south and whether it was time for a referendum on whether we should split the country in half.

Below is a rough border of where I think England should be divided.

North / Saarf divide

Then I was wondering about what we should call these two ‘new’ countries. And I couldn’t help getting my hackles up about when the glorious House of York was duped off the throne by that pesky Henry Tudor, (who was Welsh, by the way), and his turncoat ally, Lord Stanley.

So to redress the balance, and to give Yorkshire back its rightful inheritance, I thought this might be a suitable name for the new Motherland:

The Democratic Republic of Yorkshireland

Then I started to get a bit giddy. I don’t know if it was the power going to my head, or my formative years being filled with “Guess the pink bit” on the map of the world, but I thought this iteration was a marked improvement.

The Commonwealth of Yorkshireland

Of course, we’d need a new flag as well. I was thinking of something simple…

White Rose

Anyhoo, I think it’d be a great idea. So, I’m nominating myself as the inaugural President of Yorkshireland.

All those in favour say: Aye, ‘appen as mebby.


Filed under Comedy, community, Cross of Iron, Economy, Ideas, Inspiration, Inventions, Politics, Strategy

How’d you like 40 grand towards your debts?

Bail out the people, not the banks.

The govt has spent almost £1.2 trillion in bank bailouts. That includes money given, money lent, underwriting and subsidies. If you divide that by the number of UK people of working age (approx 30 million), that equates to around 40 grand each.

Yes. £40,000 big ones. Each.

Now, I don’t know about you, but mortgages aside, I’m sure forty grand would go a long way to clearing most people’s debts with a little bit leftover for injecting back into the economy in the way of purchasing power.

Obviously, banks would still get a huge percentage of this money, because it would be used to pay down debt.

Unfortunately, the banks don’t really want you to be debt free as that would lose them billions in extortionate interest rates.

However, there is something to smile about for the banks, because those who do have money left over might even be tempted to put it back into the banks either as investments or savings. Just not triple-A rated derivatives, thank you very much.

Alternatively, we can keep giving it to the banks to use on big, fat, juicy bonuses.

If you like the thought of this universal windfall, I’d appreciate it if you could take a minute to sign my #ResetTheDebt petition:

Just pop your name and location in the box on the left hand side and share with as many people as possible. Thanks.

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Filed under community, Economy, Ideas, Politics, Strategy

Reset the Debt – Global Economist agrees with Batley lad.

A few months ago now, I came up with a rather radical idea to get us out of this financial pickle we’ve found ourselves in.

That idea was catchily called: Reset the Debt.

(I know, I know, I should get paid for this sort of stuff.)

Anyways, it wasn’t just a catchy slogan, the idea was to reset everybody’s debts to zero so we can start spending again. Yippee!

A bit like winding back the milometer on your car. Not that I’ve ever done that, you understand.

I posted it on TED and got pilloried for it as being economically naive. I might not be a global economist, but I am in the business of coming up with ideas to solve business problems.

And most radical ideas can be a bit frightening.

Well now, (he says, blowing onto his fingernails and polishing them on his lapel), Steve Keen is a global economist, and he’s advocating exactly the same thing.

Basically, the reason people aren’t spending is because they’re paying off their debts.

The government is giving money to the banks who aren’t passing it on to their customers. Presumably because they don’t want oiks like us getting into even more debt. They’d rather give it to their employees in the form of big fat tax free bonuses.

Mr Keen’s point is: Get the government to invest the money by paying off its citizens’ debts to kick-start the economy. [Obviously measures would have to be put in place to prevent people from getting back into debt and living within their means.]

The economy won’t grow if people don’t buy anything.

Otherwise, Mr Keen argues, the way the government is handling the Great Depression at the moment, it could take us 20 years to get out of it.

Who’d a thunk it? A Batley lad solving the world’s economic crisis.

Reset the Debt. I can see the placards now!

Hang on a sec. Just let me stick one of them © thingys on it.

Reset the Debt!©

Economist Steve Keen, Hardtalk

Economist Steve Keen on Hardtalk.

I’ve decided to set up an e-petition to garner some support for this idea. I need 100k signatures to get the Govt to discuss it in the House of Commons. If you think it’s an idea worthy of discussion, please add your name and share to as many people as possible.


Filed under community, Ideas, Inspiration, Inventions, Politics, Strategy

Will work for food…

…And a six figure salary.

Okay, make it a high five figure salary, chuck in an iPhone, MacBook Pro, accommodation (if more than a 50 mile radius from sunny Manchester), health insurance, a car allowance, share options, a seat at the top table, and we’ve got a deal.

Anyone and everyone in the ad industry will be familiar with the concept of pitching for a client’s business.

Nothing wrong with that. Personally, I get a buzz out of it.

But more and more frequently ad agencies are asking creatives to pitch for jobs.

Not satisfied with the contents of your portfolio and character, they are asking suitors to work on fictitious briefs.

Essentially: Try before they buy.

It has happened to me on four occasions.

Twice I’ve been offered the position, once I wasn’t and once I declined to take part.

So a 66.6% success rate in this new form of interview probably isn’t a bad statistic.

But why put anyone through it in the first place?

Do they think I have stolen the entire contents of my portfolio over the past twenty (ahem) years in the industry and that this test will either prove or disprove this fact?

Agencies continually bemoan the fact they have to pitch for business due to the amount of money and resources they consume, so why put potential employees through the same rigmarole?

Let’s look at it from a practical point of view:

If you’re already in a job, where are you going to find the time to spend on this spec brief?

A prospective employer might say that someone hungry for the job will work late into the night. Well, most creatives I know are already doing that in their present jobs.

There’s a world of difference between a Copy Test and producing a full-blown creative presentation across multiple media channels, (the same process and quantity you would produce for an agency pitch) – but single-handed.

(It’s slightly different if you’re a freelancer and can juggle your workload around a tad.)

On the pitch / interview where I didn’t get the job, I reckon I spent a full week over a three week period working on my presentation. Of course, the subconscious is also working on it over the full three weeks.

On the two that I was successful, it was probably about the same. A day’s research, couple of day’s concepts and a couple of day’s pulling it together. (More concepts arriving on the ‘putting it together’ days.)

Typical media tactics were: TV; Posters; Press; DM; Online banners / Pop ups; Microsite; Collateral; Ambient / Guerilla; oh, and of course – an App.

And, to be honest, I quite enjoyed the process. As I said, I love doing pitches. But that’s not the point.

I’ve made a few hires in my time and I didn’t have to get them to answer a brief before I offered them a job. And I haven’t regretted a single one. (In Chris Miller’s case, I offered him the job before he could finish his cup of tea.)

If the CDs / MDs in question are such a poor judge of creativity and character why are they in the job in the first place?

You may say, if I’m that against it, why take part? And you’d be right. I think in the first instance, I needed a job. And second, I think it’s a buyer’s market. There are too many candidates applying for too few positions.

Would I do it again?

I would rather not, but it would depend on who the job was with.

I’d be interested to get other people’s views on this practice. I’m sure there are some CDs and MDs out there who think it’s a great idea.

Now, if it’s dressed up as a freelance gig and money changes hands, that’s a whole different story.

I charge £350 per day, or £1,500 for the full week. That’s a massive £250 discount!

Now, if anyone’s popping out for a sarnie, I’ll have a pastie from Gregg’s.

An Ideal World


Filed under Advertising, Brand, Ideas, Strategy

Me, the thief.

Where do you get your ideas from?

I get asked this all the time in my job.

I usually reply that the ideas come from the information I am supplied with to do the job.

All you have to do is jizz it up a bit in your creative cocktail shaker and see what comes out.

Sometimes it tastes like piss.

Other times it tastes like a Mojito mixed by Mr Hemingway himself.

But there are a few other ingredients that go into the creative cocktail shaker that aren’t in the brief.

These are taken from all the stuff you soak up in your daily life: art; literature; music; ads; news; gossip; film; blogs; tabloids; soaps; comedy, et cetera, et cetera.

What turns your cocktail from being piss into ambrosia is what bits of your own inspiration you put in there.

I came across this quote on the Gutenberg Press II:

I read something similar by Picasso a few years back. But in the spirit of the quote – he probably pinched it from someone else in the first place.

Here are a few bits of graffiti that you may have seen before, but what I like about these are how they integrate their art with the environment, rather than the environment being purely a canvas.

Whilst out for a saunter with my two girls, the eldest, who’s 5, said: Daddy! That looks like a cup!

This is what she was looking at…

Kids get it.

It’s adults who unlearn it.

Inspiration lurks everywhere, if you want to be inspired.

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Filed under Advertising, Art, Books, Brand, Children, Comedy, community, Design, Digital, Film, Games, Haiku, Ideas, Illustration, Inspiration, Literature, Music, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Radio, Science, Screenplays, Sculpture, Short stories, Strategy, Writing

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