Author Archive | Jackie

Fancy an e?

I’ve just been re-reading e by Matt Beaumont – ‘the novel of liars, lunch and lost knickers’.

Via a series of emails, it tells the inside workings of an ad agency. As it says on the back cover, ‘a tapestry of insincerity, backstabbing and bare-faced bitchiness – just everyday office politics.’

Brilliant book! Unputdownable!

It reminds me of when I was 19, and was accepted at Watford College to do a copywriting course. The letter they sent me said, ‘Although you might be too diffident for the advertising industry, you clearly have talent so we are offering you a place.’

I chose to train as a journalist instead, and ended up as a marketing copywriter. Reading this book makes me glad I did!

You can get it here.


“I like pumping”

I like to watch Loose Women during my lunch break – it’s sponsored by Café Switch. Trouble is, I don’t know what that is! And the ad doesn’t make it clear.

It features fingertips with painted nails and added hairpieces, pumping on a pair of plastic pods.

Very strange.

To me, it’s important to write from the point of view of the customer. So I hate it when an ad assumes a level of knowledge which I don’t have!

Unless it’s a deliberate ‘tease’ to make me find out more…

So I Googled their website. Turns out it’s a coffee drink which you make frothy by first pumping the squishy pods with your thumbs then tearing open the lid and folding the pods in half to pour the contents into a drinking vessel before adding water.

Sounds complicated?

Even more reason for the ad to be simpler.


I Love Dove

Many women compare themselves with the images they see in the media, and feel bad if they can’t live up to the level of ‘beauty’ that is commonly presented.

But one company is challenging the trend, by using ‘real’ women in their ads.

I showed the Dove ‘Evolution’ film to a couple of teenagers, to prove that all is not what it seems. Their jaws dropped! And they demanded to watch it again and again (and again).

I’m on a mission to share the film with as many people as possible. So if you haven’t already seen it, click the link below and prepare to be amazed.


Oh, and buy some Dove products too. They deserve it.


What’s in a name?

I have an IT client whose company name comprises 4 initials. It’s hard to remember as it’s hard to connect any meaning
to them. I solved the problem by designing a logo using each initial as a 3D ‘key’ from a keyboard, and by writing a range of quirky headlines starting with those 4 letters.

The HSA is currently running a series of ads that address the same problem in a similar way.

Scene 1: Woman stroking donkey
Copy: ‘Housewife Shakes Ass’

Scene 2: HSA Logo
Copy: Healthplans Simple Affordable

A great example of How to Sell with Acronyms!


How to p*ss off your most loyal customers, in one easy lesson.

Have you seen the latest Mitchell and Webb ads for Apple Mac computers?

Most of them are, well, quite cool I suppose. Amusing. Irreverant. And no doubt that’s the effect Apple was aiming for.

But there is one ad that states, ‘PC for the office, Apple for the home’.

Now, while less than 10% of the world’s computers may be Apples, it’s over 90% in the design industry. And we design professionals don’t like being taken less seriously than other businesses!

Apple: that ad is rotten.


“Don’t worry, you have not got cancer.”

That was in a doctor’s letter sent to me some years ago after a routine test.


I didn’t even know they were testing for cancer!!! Suddenly, I was worried about something that I hadn’t been worrying about at all before.

The current slogan being used in the ad campaign for Dolland & Aitchison opticians reminds me of that letter.

They state, “We promise to treat you like a person, not a sausage”.

Until I saw that, I didn’t know that other opticicans do treat people like sausages. Presumably that’s what D&A research uncovered, but I must admit, it’s not been my experience. In fact, I left them a while ago for a local optician who gives a more personal service than they did!

Now I’m worried about D&A. Surely that can’t be the best thing they can find to say about themselves?


Turn it on its head

The other day, one of my clients asked my advice about an ad they’d designed for a local magazine. It had their logo at the top, then a picture and some text, then their phone number. It looked nice, but it was upside-down.

First it needed a headline at the top that answered ‘What’s In It For Me?’ for their potential customers.

Then the picture and the copy.

Then the phone number. Big. As a call to action.

And finally, their logo.

Why does it have to be this way up? Because no-one cares who you are until they know what you can do for them.


What a let down

I remember an ad I saw when I was a child, with a Scalextric car that whizzed through the air with sparks flying and fireworks exploding all around it.

I told my parents, ‘I want one of those’.

They said, ‘It doesn’t really do that, you know.’

But how could they show a car that flew with fireworks if it didn’t really happen? I wanted to see for myself.

I pestered my parents. They bought me the car. And of course it didn’t.


Food porn

There is an M&S ad with a lovingly shot close-up of a double chocolate pudding … lush, dark sponge … smooth, melted filling … dribble of thick rich cream … Santana’s sexy Samba Pa Ti or Fleetwood Mac’s The Albatross playing in the background … and the slow female voiceover: ‘This is not just food. It’s M&S food’.

I was watching it with my 13-year-old ‘sort of’ step-daughter, and she said: ‘I don’t like these ads – what are they all about?’

Luckily for M&S, she’s not their target market. But I am. And I think they’re delicious!

P.S. You know an ad’s made an impression when it gets spoofed on YouTube, here!


Definition of a bad ad

I really don’t like those shampoo ads with the strapline: ‘A Totally Organic Experience’. You know the ones, where the girl is washing her hair in the shower (or under a waterfall) and moaning: ‘Yes, Yes, YES!’.

They say that sex sells. And it does! But these ads are not sexy. Not funny. And not clever.

In fact, they put me off soooo much, that I absolutely refuse to buy the product.