Shake things up

There once was a wretched idiot that – on a discussion board for this series of billboards for McDonald’s – said they were a driving hazard. First of all “desttE”, have you fallen and bumped your little head? Second of all, slow down before you hurt yourself. If you can’t do two things at once, the exact website you were browsing is already lost on you. Sadly, it didn’t end there. “Hahalexander” committed his genius to share that he thought this series was a waste of the client’s money and that any decent creative should have been able to convey the message with one billboard.

Negatory. In advertising, we have the opportunity to execute ideas that embrace a moment – or many – that prompts the desired audience to feel enough to connect with the brand. If you think that Adams Outdoor Advertising should have simply responded to the need of a thirsty driver by communicating that McDonald’s now offers a strawberry lemonade on one billboard alone – then you and anyone who agrees should go as far away from a creative career as possible. It’s some corporate marketing managers and people like you who kill the industry, watering it down to the tepid executions that fill magazines, TVCs and billboards (like the examples you may have preferred).

If you had things your way ‘Hahalexander’, should Nike have used only one billboard to tell this story?

And what about this one? Still only one execution?

No. Because then they would have been boring, so why bother?

Sure, blogs and forums are all for the sharing of perspective. But an uneducated rant or ill-informed statement is not a perspective. Create clever dialogue and shake things up, or go away. Thanks.

Credits: Advertising Agency: Adams Outdoor Advertising, USA; Art Director: Todd Turner; Copywriters: Todd Turner, Laura Sanders, Chad Hutchison; Explosion Consultant: Chad Hutchison; Published: May 2011.


© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

Online: Provoking thought across the planet

Online is a captivating space to create hype. We search, read, watch, learn, like and share what we find. Work. Play. Listen. Click. Connect. It’s how we are now. The argument that this reinvented way of life is anti-social doesn’t consider how social – and socially conscious – this online medium can be.

Unicef is on a mission to give 93 million children access to education – the cost of which cannot be billed to their home address. So to get you involved, some clever minds sat down with Google Chrome and conceptualised, created and implemented a plan to seize your online attention, win you over and ultimately have you wanting to donate some of what’s in your bank account to what they need in theirs.

To raise donations, Unicef capitalised on what you do all day to get you involved: searching for information online. Not everyone is a walking dictionary (no, not even a Copywriter), so the chance that you may need Google or Word to suggest a correction was utilised to get you to donate, turning misspelled words into bottom-line results through Donate a Word. With a prompt to their website, Unicef is pretty much guaranteed an impressed browser in the right frame of mind. Five characters cost you fifty cents – not much to you but important to them. And with Google search, Unicef gets to spread its message even further.

The innovative and artistic genius that is Lady Gaga (and the team that helps her be so) snatched up the opportunity to reel in audiences while partaking in one of their other obsessions: Facebook’s FarmVille. GagaVille gave ‘farmers’ a week’s head’s-up on listening to the new album from the empress of eccentricity. Love her and what she has to say, or loathe it and be left behind, there is credit due for revolutionising the way in which she connects with her fans – another prowess of online. Crystals, unicorns and sheep on motorcycles (why not, right?) partnered the Born This Way experience on FarmVille, with the focus steadfast on positivity and self-expression. Nothing says self expression quite like a FarmVille unicorn.

When you think about Gaga and Farmville’s original partnership that raised $3million for Japan, it’s clear that her online leverage and Unicef’s is not so different after all. It’s where we spend most of our time, so it makes sense, right? Just think what it can do for your brand.

© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

Stupid is just stupid

Diesel’s Be Stupid campaign (Anomaly London) must resonate with Shoreditch twats and their local Greenside counterparts. It may have even gone far enough to create a talking point among all 184 of them. It’s kind of an ode to the anti-hero which must have made a lot of sense in the brainstorm…

To follow up this creative genius, they released this dog show of a TVC / viral (who cares?). It puts its back out trying to be eccentric but, just like their campaign, it’s also stupid.

And stupid is just stupid.

That’s all.

Disagree? Try some angrier further reading then.


© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

Conversations with a 9 year old girl

‘It’s only words’, but they have the power to leave children Marked for Life. Divorce or disagreement, it is only a staggering, self-important, warped sense of reality that makes a parent feel their child’s childhood is ready to be littered with adult-issues.

Divorce is damaging: To the couple who thought they knew each other but have to admit they are only starting to do so – there is no separation that doesn’t scar. Adults are as unexcused from pain as the children involved will be; the difference is that they have a life full of lessons to help them to cope with it. Conversations, heated or hauntingly quiet, should be considerate – and the ears they fall on should be counted.

180 Amsterdam is a Netherlands based agency that brings this sentiment to life for SIRE in Marked for Life. This delicate execution of a very real, raw issue shows the damage done to kids in a powerful and impactful message aimed at parents. Divorce or none, the things that manipulative, emotionally-immature people will do and say around their children can be frightening. Conversations with a 9 year old girl about things she shouldn’t have to worry about are unforgivable. The consequences, ignored by the parents inside of their own haze of anger, will live long in that child’s memory. That 9 year old’s biggest issues should be simpler, lighter, cleaner and just beautifully naïve.

A tattoo is ground on living skin. Its removal is a bigger deal than anyone who hasn’t ever had to do it has ever considered. These loaded words live long after they should and the mark that is left is, without doubt, eventually unattractive. Watching this Public Service Announcement, I hope that parents can learn to clean up after themselves. Conversations with a 9 year old girl should be just that – 9 year old-relevant. Like, for example, what she will be doing at horse riding on the weekend.

Be moved by this and pass it on.

Credits: Advertising Agency: 180 Amsterdam, Netherlands; Executive Creative Director: Andy Fackrell. Copywriters: Marianne Riphagen, Jessica Hartley; Art Director: Andy Fackrell; Senior TV Producer: Chayenne de Witte; Print Producer / Art buyer: Maren Hermans; Senior Digital Producer: Anna Stolyarova; Account Manager: Jessica Hartley; Planner: Simon Neate; Digital Planner: Mandy Graham; Post Print Producer: Marlon Lee; Retoucher: Jan-Willem Dijkstra; Head of Studio: Mark Kenny; Graphic Designer: Markus Sabatlik; Project Manager: Anne-Marie van Overveld; Digital Art Directors: Nadege DeCastro, Matthew Steenburg; Digital Producer: Colin Pueschner; User Experience Director: Jonathan Conaty; Digital Copywriters: Jessica Hartley, Marianne Riphagen; Digital Copywriter: Sophie Top; Business Affairs Directors: Chris Barrand, Emilie Douque, Justine Young.


© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

Grow up and vote

It is the eve before important local elections in South Africa. A full moon is slung in the dark night sky and, looking at it, I wonder if this is the Universe’s way of giving this eve her quiet blessing; a hopeful sign of new and inspiring things to come.

Elections and the hype around them have become a germane part of our lives in South Africa, now today as much as they are a part of the history that brought us here. The long lines of voters in the first free and fair elections are as recognizable an image locally as the man who brought it all about himself – Nelson Mandela.

So with all the rumblings out of the mouths of people in offices and the places we choose to hang out in, you have to wonder why, when it comes to crunch time, people are so tediously ambivalent. In 1994, 86.87% of the population voted in the National Elections. In 1999, 89.3% turned out, dropping horribly to 76.73% in 2004, and barely any better with a dismal 77.30% in 2009.

It’s not only South Africa that has this problem. Voter-psychology all over the world will surprise us time and time again. Perhaps it is smarter-hitting campaigning that we need from our politicians, with more dynamic and relevant messaging that addresses the symptoms as well as the problems. Maybe it’s time that our local political parties got savvy and sat down with energetic, pulse-driven communications agencies and worked together with them to do what they do for any other brand; put the ‘product’ in the line-of-site of its target consumer by way of the right communication, pitched at the right level, in order to ultimately accelerate buy-in.

Turkey has clearly suffered a similar national lethargy, resulting in Publicis BOLD, Istanbul creating this engaging print campaign. Rather than taking the option of regurgitated statements and promises from campaigns gone before, the agency used the forum to tell Turkey nationals that far too many people have been keeping their silence for far too long, and the time has come to grow up and vote! Now we’re talking. The power of thought-provoking media and politics meeting on the same playground the nation plays on.

Now it is time the local political melee for airtime took a step back and considered what their message is, who they are trying to reach and how they are going to best put it into the hearts and minds of the people they want to elect them back into their jobs. Cardboard photographs on street poles aren’t doing it for me. It takes a true leader to change a nation. Why not start with how you talk to them?

Sure, a slight deviation from the regular content here, but what part of a blog is not political? It’s all opinion anyway, and when we are lost of that, what do we have left? Martin Luther King Junior said that our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that matter. Who can we blame if we choose this?

© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

Annoyingly believable

If you don’t forward this on to thirty seven of your closest friends before the big hand on the clock strikes 19 minutes to, your second uncle twice removed on your step brother’s side of the family will come back from the land he farms sheep on and you will not be sent the crate of champers by Moët. For reals.

This wasn’t made for the sake of it. The viral offers meaning and works for what they are selling. I think the lead’s annoyingly believable performance is flawless – and you wanting to continue watching will have more to do with your sense of humour than it will with your curiosity to see it through. It’s not brand new, but it is novel and it resonates with me because if I get one more drivel-pathetic email warning me of a plague upon all our houses should I not forward it, I will put a cigarette out in my eye.

What’s the worst ball of twaddle you’ve ever been expected to believe from an email?


© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

Start the day your way

Work life balance is all the rage right now. With the arrival of the BlackBerry and similar, we start working the minute we open our eyes. You read the boss’s feedback email sent at half-passed-unsociable and your mind starts working – no matter how hard you will it not to. It’s no small wonder Google designed their offices in a way that employees feel comfortable enough to think of it as home. For most of those techies, it probably is.

Passat has launched its Pleasure before business campaign that brings this sentiment to life. Led by a beautifully shot, tender TVC, the campaign highlights what some people will sacrifice in order to get their hobby-fix in before the work day has begun: a comfortable dressing room.

DDB Sydney introduces us to these professionals in settings they no doubt prefer, and we watch like voyeurs as they then transition into their day-job attire. Supported by a series of print work, the campaign is a jovial reminder that there’s more to life than what happens from nine-to-five (if you’re lucky), and hey, it could be a helluva lot cooler if you involve the new Passat.

Guided by ECD Dylan Harrison, I believe the creative team succeeded in inviting us in with quality allure so that we stay long enough to receive the whole message. That way we can ultimately understand and relate to the concept. Pretty. And pretty cool.

I like. Do you?

Credits: Advertising Agency: DDB, Sydney, Australia; Executive Creative Director: Dylan Harrison; Creative Director: Steve Wakelam; Art Directors: Steve Wakelam, Adam Ledbury; Copywriter: Karen Ferry; Planning Director: Nick Andrews; Managing Partner: Nicole Taylor; Senior Business Manager: Dave Murphy; Photography: Alan McFetridge; Art buyer: Bryson Holt; Photography Production House: The Kitchen; Retouching: Cream.


© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

Y&R Paris drops the ball for Etap Hotels

Tourism can be such a special space to advertise within. People love to travel and they love to do it comfortably. Sure, that means different things to different people because comfortable to each, is his own.

Fine example is this: Recently in the line to summit the Eiffel Tower, we met two fellow South Africans – a daughter and her mother. Daughter lives and works in London as an Attorney while mom travels the African continent in a converted bakkie (pick up truck) that would rival most 4-star accommodation offerings. Her face lit up as she described the way she and her camping buddies travel in style. They want for nothing and mother of London-living Advocate even bakes bread on the back of her bakkie on a whim. Of course she does. Why wouldn’t she? She has developed a finely tuned machine that supports her interests while keeping her in the comfort she has become accustomed to; fine food and a good night’s sleep, if not anything else.

Why then do some hotel advertisers get it so wrong when communicating their accommodation invite? The idea that your hotel room is this finely designed final-destination after a long day of sight-seeing or business done, should not be the hardest concept to conquer and achieve. No matter where we are from or what our preferences are, there is surely an international standard for acceptable levels of comfort that can place the hotel you are staying at, as close as second-best as dammit to your own bed.

Cue Y&R Paris’ work for Etap Hotels. Fail, if you ask me. A computer generated space you are expected to hang your hat after what is implied was a ‘hard day at the office’. Why not accentuate real images of crisp Egyptian-cotton linen, puffed pillows, a high-pressure shower, a decent broadband connection, an expert concierge service, a… wait a minute… this is the work you Y&R guys should have done…

You have a (lame) comical interpretation of what some guy has had to endure to finally be where he needs to be to unwind. The rest does nothing for customer interest, nor does it come close to wanting to make me convert browsing to booking. When this is where I will be spending time after the kind of day that some of these jokers have obviously had to endure, I want to know what it really looks like.

Try harder I say. And if there aren’t actual quality hotel rooms to photograph, then that’s where the client should be spending their money. Not on an account with a global agency that will simply imply that they have same.

I say bin it and try again.

What do you think?

Credits: Advertising Agency: Young and Rubicam, Paris, France; Creative Director: Laurent Bodson / Les SIX; Art Director: Daniel Fattorini; Copywriter: Cécile Carrette; Art Buyers: Claire Nicaise-Shindler, Amélie Crion; Photographer: Fabrice Robin; Retoucher: Fred Witzgall.


© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

Looking to curb an addiction?

People will go to all lengths to curb their vices. You might ask your significant other to hide the TV remote to help you quit that dastardly awful Bold and the Beautiful addiction, give your crochet’d cardigan to the Salvation Army or destroy the Richard Marx CD collection that prompts you to write really sorry poetry about your 11th grade crush.

But then there are more serious addictions. Ones where you have to stretch and mould the truth to convince others that things aren’t as bad as they may appear. Worse are the occasions where you do the same to convince yourself. Whether yours are as serious as the latter or light-hearted as the former, they may need a little help on their way out nonetheless.

Fujiterapia Acupuncture understands this and communicates their help with these brilliantly executed and Art-Directed print ads by Agency Dim`Canzian`Facci of São Paulo, Brazil. Swift, smart idea with in-and-out execution, stitched up and extinguished. Problem solved.  I think the campaign did the same.

I like these because they cover both the serious and the not-so-serious. They communicate the necessary without treading on the awful which would no doubt alienate an audience still in denial.

You agree?

Credits: Advertising Agency: Dim`Canzian`Facci, São Paulo, Brazil; Creative Directors: Guilherme Facci, Michele Dim D’ Ippolito; Art Director: Thiago Martinhão; Copywriter: Paulo Marcussi; Photographer: Eduardo Fragata.


© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

You’ve got something in your teeth

Popcorn, apples, meat, spinach, sesame seeds, kiwis and strawberries – the list is long! Having something stuck in your teeth is never fun, while someone else having something stuck in theirs is even less so. Watching some toothpick-less sap contort their tongue in stupidly annoying ways is hard enough. Having to listen to them sucking on their teeth is worse. It is after all quite possibly the worst sound in the world.

Y&R Panama gets and understands the situation and offers these simply phenomenal print ads for Colgate dental floss. As much as I am an advocate for the power of words, I am in respectful admiration for an image that doesn’t need any.

Brilliantly crafted, these visuals present problem-solution in a crisp, straightforward and memorable campaign.

You like?

Credits: Advertising Agency: Cerebro Y&R, Panama; Creative Director: Jorge Heilbron; Art Directors: Francisco Bernal and Alberto Weand Ortiz; Photographer: Carlos Villarreal.

Ballsy advertising makes a comeback

Here’s hoping the (predominantly) coma-inducing bore of television commercials that have monopolised our flat screens of late will die off in the upswing of talent and daring that ads like this show.

Not so long ago, you would have had every Bert and Betty at their local tribunal, punching fists in the air about the supposed violence that a commercial like this one (may) insight. Truth is, no one is likely to buy a Dodge, get dressed in corset and haul ass through the desert from a man who proposes spending the rest of his life with your daughter. God knows, men are all trying way too hard to do the opposite. So off to Bingo with you Bert’s and Betty’s. People in Advertising have personalities and a pulse and work like this is why most of us get up everyday. Oh, and it suitably resonates with its audience who the ad happens to be aimed at. Which is not you, we promise.

From casting to performance and chase sequences to stunt work, Steve Rogers from Biscuit Filmworks knows what he’s doing when it comes to what he puts in front of the camera. Creatives and Director were clearly all on the same page here and what you have is something memorable for Dodge Charger.

I was going to go to Bingo now, but I think I’ll stay and watch this some more.

What do you think?

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