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.



A classic from the archives (part 1)


The Volkswagen missed the boat.

The chrome strip on the glove compartment is blemished and must be replaced. Chances are you wouldn’t have noticed it; Inspector Kurt Kroner did.

There are 3,389 men of our Wolfsburg factory with only one job; to inspect Volkswagens at each stage of production. (3,00 Volkswagens are produced daily; there are more inspectors than cars.)

Every shock absorber is tested (spot checking won’t do), every windshield is scanned. VWs have been rejected for surface scratches barely visible to the eye.

Final inspection is really something! VW inspectors run each car off the line onto the Funktionsprüfstand (car test stand), tote up 189 check points, gun ahead to the automatic brake stand and say “no” to one VW out of fifty.

This preoccupation with detail means the VW lasts longer and requires less maintenance, by and large, than other cars. (It also means a used VW depreciates less than any other car.)

We pluck the lemons; you get the plums.


Very handy

In a recent blog post I mentioned three ‘rainy’ ads that all came along at once.

And before that I posted about three ‘boxy’ ads that ran in sequence.

Now I’ve seen two ads close together, that both use human hands to make objects, shapes and letters.

The first is from the Learning Skills Council: ‘Our Future. It’s In Our Hands.’

The second is Vaseline Intensive Rescue Lotion.

I remember reading an interview with Jennifer Connelly, who played Sarah in Jim (Muppet) Henson’s Labyrinth movie with David Bowie. There is a famous scene with the ‘Helping Hands’. They catch her as she falls, forming faces out of palms and fingers, and talk to her. It seems her son refused to watch the film because he hated that scene so much.

I know what he means. The effects are very clever, but also slightly creepy.

Despite that, things often come in threes (there’s even a ‘Rule of 3′ in marketing), so I’m now waiting for another ‘hands’ ad. Handy Andies anyone?


Weasel Words

Have you noticed how advertisers and marketeers pay clever copywriters (like wot I am) to write words that sound good but don’t mean much.

My favourite example is:

Nothing works faster than Anadin

(So take nothing. Coz it works faster.)

Your task is to listen out for such meaningless slogans, and unravel them. Don’t be taken in by clever copywriting!