The Diet Coke Bloke

I did love those ’90s ads where the office girls take a break from their work to drink a Diet Coke and admire the finely honed six-pack of a hunky workman nearby…

But the new version leaves me cold.

The camera pans up the lift engineer’s lovely torso, but what a disappointment when it gets to his face!

He’s just too young and skinny looking.

Oh dear, I must be getting old.


“You’ve been Tango-ed!”

Do you remember those ads with the orange man who used to run up and slap people in the face when they sipped their Tango? It was changed to a kiss when kids started to copy him.

Oh, the power of advertising!

It was hardly subtle. But then again…

In my corporate life I had to design some cheques to include all sorts of security features. One feature is called ‘copysafe’, which means a design is printed in two inks. The human eye can’t easily see the difference, but if the cheque is photocopied, one ink spells out the word ‘VOID’ and renders the fake unusable.

Britvic took this idea, went one step further and advertised to the fraudsters.

If a crook photocopied one of their cheques, the copy read: ‘Sorry, you’ve been Tango-ed!’



Arty Farty

I got a postcard through the door the other day, with a colour image on the front, and an invitation to an ‘art open evening’ on the back.

It breaks some of the cardinal rules of advertising.

Rule 1. Decide on the objective of your communication. Is it to get people to visit the exhibition / buy a painting / go to the website / remember your name / contact you to make an appointment /something else.

Rule 2. Remember who your audience is. Think about what they know already. Don’t assume anything. Tell them what they need to know to achieve your objective.

Headline: ‘XYZ Open Studios’.

Desired reaction: “Wow, must book that in the diary, and remember to take my cheque book!”

Actual reaction: “So what?”

The headline should be something where the answer can be “Yes!” e.g. ‘Do you like art? Believe in supporting local artists? Fancy visiting a FREE open exhibition of contemporary works?’

Image: dark green landscape

Desired reaction; “Mmm, that’s nice, I’d like that hanging on my wall, how big is it, wonder how much it costs, please can I see more paintings like that.”

Actual reaction: “That green’s a bit dark.”

The front image needs to be absolutely stunning (while being typical of the artist’s work) OR include more than 1 image (e.g. as a main shot + insets), to illustrate (geddit) the artist’s range and appeal to the maximum number of potential buyers.

The front could also include the title of the painting (to give it more meaning), and/or some key words to give an idea of the artist’s main themes. Gushy, arty words such as:

Light…Colour…Texture…Snapshots of a moment in time

The back of the postcard could include more images (impactful in black-and-white) as well as the date, venue, time and contact details.

A testimonial would be good too. Viewing the artist’s website I find he’s had good media reviews, won awards and been commissioned by some high level clients – but the postcard doesn’t mention any of this. It could be from a student with no experience at all.

Poor artist. He might be good at painting, but he’s not so good at selling himself.

I do hope it results in some business for him. Especially after he’s tramped the streets delivering all those postcards.


Very punny

I love those signs you sometimes see outside churches, trying to encourage people to come in.

One of my favourites:

Prevent truth decay, brush up on your bible.

Who said God doesn’t have a sense of humour?


Too much choice?

There just one supermarket on La Isla Bonita (Ambergris Caye, Belize).

It’s called ‘Island Supermaket’ and it’s pink (although that’s not relevant to this story). It stocks just about everything you need, but of course all stock has to be imported from the mainland.

If you are looking for shampoo, you’ll find shampoo. There will probably only be one brand of shampoo, for one type of hair, but it will be there and you can wash your hair with it.

And if you are looking for cheese, you’ll find cheese. There might be only one type of cheese, and it could be a bit sweaty and past its ‘use by’ date, but it will be there and you can eat it.

Back in the UK, the choice can be quite overwhelming. You can spend minutes, hours, perhaps days, looking at all the different shampoos and cheeses on the supermarket shelves, before deciding which one is right for you.

We’re living in a lucky, rich, country and they’re on a lovely, Caribbean island.

Yesterday, I heard an ad on the radio for Holiday Inn, saying that now they offer a ‘pillow menu’ – your choice of six pillows for a good night’s sleep.

Very nice, I’m sure. But is it really necessary?


Celebrity endorsements (a.k.a. name dropping)

Less than 4 hours after my last blog post, I was amazed to receive an email purportedly from Richard E. Grant.

Wow! Is it possible that a little-known copywriter could inspire a response from a world-famous actor?

Soon afterwards, I happened to meet Jenny Agutter at a charity function, so I asked her if it was likely to be from the man himself.

“He’s utterly charming,” she told me. “Was the reply intelligent?”

I confirmed that it was.

“And was it funny?”

I agreed.

She said: “Actors do sometimes feel like replying to people who criticise them, so maybe it was. Why don’t you reply and arrange to meet him?”

Thinks: Hmm, perhaps I should start writing about Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise

Naturally I can’t publish the content of Richard E. Grant’s private message, but he did say that next time I produce a creative masterpiece, he looks forward to blogging it!

Well, Richard E., you might not have too long to wait as my new book is well underway and will be out soon*. I’ll let you know when it’s ready to review…

*Regular readers will know I’ve said that before, but I really do mean it this time!


Possibly the worst movie ever made!!!

(Read this bit in a deep, growly voice.)

Tonight. On Film 4. At 11.05pm.

Richard E Grant … IS … Denis the stressed-out advertising executive … who develops a boil on his neck … which grows into a second head … and … starts talking to him.

(Read this bit in a chirpy voice.)

Industry satire? Cult comedy? Or just a pile of poo?

(Read this bit in a sardonic voice.)

I know what I think.


World’s greatest ad?

That’s what some people are saying about this ad.

Entertaining yes.

I am obsessed with chocolate.

And I always drum my fingers on the steering wheel when I hear that track on the radio while I’m driving.

But effective? I’m not so sure.

I think this ad promotes the brand much better.


All together now, aah!

Watch the Andrex Puppy outtakes on YouTube here.

Every sheet of toilet paper is recognisable now they emboss the puppies on the roll.

And people don’t even call those puppies ‘labradors’ any more!

Now that’s what I call a successful brand.


Not so much bad, as boring :-(

In one ad break during The Princess Bride last night, I watched 12 ads (plus two by the film sponsor), and can hardly find anything interesting to say about any of them.

1. Dior Midnight Poison: Ah, the cryptic drama of perfume advertising. Perhaps inspired by the Baz Luhrmann and Nicole Kidman Chanel ad that’s more like a (Moulin Rouge-style) film?

2. Andrex: that famous puppy trailing miles of toilet paper behind a car. Would it really flow like that around the mountain roads? Or would it litter the lay-bys and tangle in the trees?

3. CocoPops Creations: With an ‘if you can’t say it, sing it’ jingle.

4. Recycle: With the delightful Eddie Izzard doing the voiceover.

5. Trailer for the film Superbad. Nope, doesn’t look like my sort of movie.

6. Brittania ‘Fair Play': another take on the building society versus bank debate.

7. Challenge Churchill



9. Love Calculator: what???

10. Pot Noodle


11. Robinsons Smooth Juice

12. Trailer for the programme The Sweetest Thing: Nope, don’t fancy that.