History 101

If it’s not on Facebook, you can’t expect kids to know about it. So when it comes to lessons of Marie Antoinette, Bruce Lee, Napoleon, Darth Vader, Jesus and even Michael Jackson, there’s no doubt that generation-now needs arresting ways to get it into their heads.

Enter Agency H-57, Milan, with these entertaining summaries of those historical figures. They may not help you pass your exams, but grasp the gist of it and it will be easier to fill in the blanks.

Creativity is on

Frank Capra said that a hunch is your creativity trying to tell you something. More often than not, doubt outweighs confidence and we go with neither. I’m no trained psychologist but I can tell you that we do this time and time again because of our own preconceived notions on how creativity should be allowed to be… well… creative.

Using your creativity is not defined by the agency you get to work at or the type of accounts the executives can score. It’s how you approach the message you are tasked to communicate. It’s about finding what connects you to the product or brand, and then being able to successfully sell that idea to all the others in the agency-client food chain.

Those allegedly ‘cool’ clients are few and far between. And even then, the creatives that get to work on those brands will probably tell you different. There are far more clients in the middle arena supplying everyday goods to a range of income-earners, personalities and gender types. Coming up with a solution for a client’s product that doesn’t hand funky to you on a silver platter makes you better at your job than the guy in the corner office with an expense account.

Case in point: Phonak – one of the world’s leaders in hearing technology. Cooler (and smaller) than a hearing aid, this significantly advanced instrument senses and selectively suppresses multiple noise sources in 20 separate channels. So no matter the setting, you can keep up without missing the goss or the boss’s snide remarks. But, on a scale of one-to-Coca-Cola for creativity? Probably a two or three… As exciting as a brochure for garden sheers, isn’t it?

It isn’t. Not when you take this work for Phonak by Wunderman in Zurich, Switzerland as an example. You are looking at interpretations of what their brainstorm produced as tangible experiences to our ears that shouldn’t be missed – and what they would look like if you dressed them up and allowed them to dance. A trickle of water, the whoosh of fireworks, the laughter of a child, the rustle of paper, the swish of fabric and the twitter of birds. Hear it. Even in the most challenging of listening environments.

We all fall far too easily into the imagine-if headspace; imagine-if I worked on BMW, or imagine-if I had to write website content for the Plaza Hotel in New York City. I’d have to stay there first – naturally. Then… my life would be complete and I would be happy for forever. Try again. The BMW specs you would get closest to would be on a PDF document sent from Germany and the somewhat luckier person tasked with handling the Plaza’s website revamp would send you endless, uncoordinated attachments about the hotel, a sitemap and follow that up with an email five minutes later asking: “Are you done yet?”

This work for Phonak isn’t the only proof that life is on. It is. And if you want to work in this industry, so should your creativity be.

© Dylan Balkind

Credits: Advertising Agency: Wunderman, Zurich, Switzerland; Copywriters: Samuel Textor, Florian Tillmann; Art Directors: Michael Gallmann, Silke Heinzelmann; Photographer: Ted Sabarese; Graphic Designers: Nora Angstmann, Christoph Krummenacher; Chief Creative Officer: Markus Gut; Executive Creative Director: Roger Rüegger; Consultants: Renato Di Rubbo, Rahel Güttler, Sonja Wyss; Strategy: Benedikt Bitzi; Costumes: Ami Goodheart.

Beyond the noise of the media

This work by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, UAE is most appropriate globally, though the irony and timing is surely not lost on us South Africans considering how our Government pledged on the Protection of State Information Bill on 22 November, 2011.

Censorship tells the wrong story – no matter which way you look at it. And now while discussions are deemed necessary beyond the noise of the media, it is exactly that that the 7 billion global citizens should be frightened of.

Nice concept. Great work.

Reporters Without Borders. Advertising Agency: Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, UAE; Executive Creative Director: Steve Hough
Creative Director: Ramzi Moutran; Art Directors: Leonardo Borges, Rafael Rizuto; Copywriter: Sascha Kuntze; Photographer: Atp.

The absence of war

Global conflict is something that armchair activists from all around the world are so disillusioned with. Yet that’s where they sit, complaining about the state of nations north and south while living in some derisory hope that one day they will wake up and all of these problems will have gone away. Just like that. Governments are like personalities though – you’re not going to like all of them all of the time. And if you’ve got a lot to say and nothing to do – try figuring out away to swap those two things around.

Inspiring then when a brand makes such a bold statement as seen in this work by agency Fabrica Italy for Benetton. Putting these bold, mesmerizing images in the spotlight to highlight the Unhate Foundation by drawing attention to the conflict between the Vatican and Al Azhar, North and South Korea, China and the USA, Germany and France, Venezuela and the USA, and Palestine and Isreal – makes you think about what could be possible with a little more kindness in the world.

The juxtaposition of such different imagery is not an entirely new idea but considering the context, I don’t think it’s a problem. A certain unstoppable talent once said that peace is much deeper than the absence of war. Imagine we could all just get along…

Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Imagine all the people. Living life in peace.

© Dylan Balkind

Cool for Coca Cola

I like it because it’s clever and doesn’t shove logos and branding down your throat. Sure, there may be a brand manager somewhere that has wet her panties because the cool side is blue – not red – but that’s how a temperature switch works in a car, see? And, not everything has to be retail porn that spoon-feeds the consumer. The font is unmistakeable and the shape of the bottle says it all. Coca Cola, enjoy.

Nice bold move.
© Dylan Balkind


Simulating creativity

It has been said that talent borrows and genius steals. Sure, we are all in this industry to give our wild ideas a chance to escape the realm of only our imagination and ideally see the light of day. But what normally happens when we do is that half-a-dozen other agency people you work with have the same plan, so they scoff at yours and push for theirs. Something of the collective gets the go-ahead before being completely moderated and thinned by the client into what they believe acceptable for their brand and – Bob’s your uncle – campaign’s done. All in a days work really.

I digress. The point is, as stated in Ecclesiastes 1:19, there is nothing new under the sun. No. I am not a Bible punching Nazi. I am committed to the cohort ilk of my fellow industry creatives and am equally inquisitive as to how they feel about statements like these.

Are we all done and simply here to help things evolve again and again and again and again? To say there is no such thing as a new idea is a fairly bold statement to make and many would like to argue, but is it worth it?

It has been said that these Greenpeace executions by Ogilvy, Johannesburg may be an evolution of something done by Colenso BBDO, Auckland, New Zealand for SPCA. So what? Is it a blatant rip-off? No. Is it effective? Yes. It’s a smart, hard-working campaign that addresses a very different issue to that of the SPCA with a slightly similar execution. I see no problem. Have a closer look. Read the copy. Decide for yourself.

I am not advocating the stealing of work. But perhaps we all need to be a little kinder to one another and celebrate the collective genius proffered by our industry. After all, there is no bigger compliment than imitation.

© Dylan Balkind


It’s so clever it’s Lego

Did you know? More than 400 billion LEGO bricks have been produced since 1949. If you placed these all one on top of one another, your Lego creation would connect the Earth and the Moon ten times over!

Lego is an amazing part of most people’s youth – where your imagination station could go wild. Straightforward fun limited by only your own creativity and I guess the number of pieces you had in your set.

It’s great to see that TBWA\Costa Rica has used their client’s product literally to communicate the endless fun available with their products. I think these executions are artful, intelligent and memorable. Conversations about your advertising will go a long way in converting browsing to buying.

Clever. Clean. Smart.

Nice one

© Dylan Balkind

Copywriters and Designers, sitting in a tree…

Q. How many Copywriters does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Change! I’m not changing crap! This is bullshit – who said to change it?

Q. How many art directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Does it have to be a light bulb?

Agency mechanics and politics. Always on. Not always funny. You’d think that, what with being on the same ‘team’ and all, there would be a little more collaboration. Is there a lack of willingness between Copywriters and Designers to leverage each other’s work?  Absolutely. Too many Designers just drop the Copywriters text into a print ad. Why not actually treat the text and create memorable work for both your portfolios?

These guys on the other hand, got it so right! It’s great to see when the text in an image actually plays a role in creating the story.

There could be a lot more of this in the industry today.

Passion is magnetic

Life in 2011 makes every day a gamble. There’s nothing safe about much anymore, though most of us are still up for the challenge. Gambling has a bad rep for the most part because we assume it has set out to prey on the needs of the desperate. A debate around that subject would be painfully long and boring or, worse still, start a war. It’s all about self control – so they say – of which I have none, so who am I to judge? What works for me is that one of these money-guzzling institutions can spend some of their fortune on art; a beautifully crafted execution like this 90 second commercial by Halo Advertising for Monte Casino.

More than just a script, this is an experience. It reinforces just what a big business the whole casino industry is, revealed through an exquisitely memorable story for all shapes and sizes that reminds us that the casino world is more than just its slot machines, and that there are people just like you and I that like to hang out there. It makes the casino look prettier than it is which is not entirely inexcusable; it’s no different to what all of us do before we leave the house each day.

So, what happens when you put creatives in the same room as the client, each with their own interpretation of what needs to happen? Well, it’s a gamble, isn’t it? And as they say, there is no such thing as a typical gambler. Passion is magnetic and this commercial is proof of that. That when the right minds come together with the same sense of commitment to the project, you can finish your final edit with something vivid like this.

The filmed execution was then expertly translated into this synergistically-sound print / billboard execution.

Credits: Advertising Agency: Halo Advertising, Johannesburg, South Africa; Creative Director: Dean Oelschig; Art Director: Greg Harrison; Copywriters: Michael Oelschig, Clayton Bond.


© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

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