Even losers can be cool at the High School Reunion


Most people would rather read the phone book to their incontinent grandmother than go to their high school reunion looking like the loo-hoo, ze-her that hasn’t made-good since graduation. There are options however; you could say you invented post-its, or you could let your ride talk for you by making sure you pull up in something swank. Lucky for some, Avis will give you that leg up (to get your leg over) with a tidy ride from their rental-for-show-off’s range.

Ireland/Davenport is no stranger to making car-communication look cooler than cool. Their work for BMW is nothing short of flawless, so the choice couldn’t have been hard for this account. The Luxury Car Rental print ad for Avis shows how it’s not only an 1100 Yaris or silly Atos (toasters on wheels) to choose from when renting a hire car – and if you haven’t made bank by the time Reunion rolls around, you can always pretend you have.

Nicely shot, styled and treated, the Class of 2001 Reunion print ad for Avis says what it needs to without having to say too much.

I like! Do you?

Credits: Creative Directors: John Davenport, Philip Ireland; Art Director: Lida Fourie; Copywriter: Anthea Weber; Photographer: Clive Stewart; Retoucher: Marko Mandusic.

Do anything (with anything)

Getting some things into odd spaces can pose some very different problems to different people. Whatever the reason – necessity or passion – you made find you need a little artificial help. This is exactly what JWT Paris, France was getting at with their print campaign for this “intimacy assistant” – TRY lubricant.

I’m not judging, but, if you ask me, a bowling skittle, a telescope and / or a dog bone is more on the side of passion-killer rather than a passion-maker. Though who cares if you have TRY lubricant right? With it you can do anything (with anything).

I like these print ads because they are easy-going and somewhat (even expectedly) amusing. It’s sexual lubricant after all. What else can you say about the stuff? The market has at least half a brain and the time and place for it begs a sense of humour to say the least (even if you don’t think so at the time). And after all is said and done, I’m sure that to some people these objects aren’t the furthest thing from what’s needed lubricant before…

What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard of?

Credits: Creative Director: Ghislain de Villoutreys; Art Director: Jean-Baptiste Berthelom; Copywriter: Thomas Sabatier.

Only entertain the best or nothing

Whether debunked as a theory or not, I know that everybody (or almost) agrees to the theory of left brain / right brain thinking. You agree because you know you are one or the other. Whether you like it or not, there are traits about who you are and how you do things that posit you on either side of the fence. And if you are sitting there shaking your head and professing to be equally proficient with both set of talents and attributes, well then you are probably an over-achiever and should get out more often (once you’ve finished reading my blog, of course).

Y&R Tel Aviv, Israel, recently created this print campaign for Mercedes. Creative Director Gideon Amichay has definitely lead a stalwart team and the Music, Paint and Passion incarnations are undoubtedly proud, credible works for the individuals and teams that converged to create them.

I believe these because I buy what I am reading and seeing. The campaign has been thought about. It has gone through options and alternatives, has been looked at, talked about, negotiated, argued for, argued against – and that is just within the agency. Whether you are rational or intuitive, or look at parts or look at wholes, you see yourself in one (or all) of these. They are clear that it takes all types to create these finely-tuned machines and that Mercedes only entertain the best or nothing.

PS: I’m right-side. Which side are you?

Hot designs: cheaper than therapy

Your designer is the guy whose accountant friends all think he has the coolest job in the world because he gets to play around with pictures all day. He also gets to go to work in his slippers without having brushed his hair and is usually at the bar by 3pm on a Friday. His friends moan because they have it so hard; they have to file paperwork to Doris, the frigid, grumpy office administrator. They have to back up their totals with figures, cross-references, ledgers, credits and debits – and God-forbid they don’t balance. So the designer’s life is super-chilled and easy then, isn’t it?

It isn’t. Like any job, the designer has good days and bad ones, good briefs and bad briefs. Sure, we would all like free range for the work we do, but in the pecking order that puts half a dozen interpretations between the brand and the creative, coupled with an audience that can never sit still, it’s often hard to have his initial concept ever see the light of day. That’s why effective designs are memorable and effective designers even more so.

Your designer has to deliver on-the-spot creative brilliance twelve times a day – and back up those choices with a strategically-sound rationale. Not always fun. Always high-pressured and as accountable for the message in his work as any accountant out there. No wonder he’s at the bar at 3pm on a Friday.

It’s easy to tell when a designer has had a good day at the office, because they produce work like these examples for the Batelco Directory by agency FP7/BAH in Bahrain. Both conceptually and the design for these print ads are strong. It is clear that, as a team, happiness was achieved and the designer got to get to work. Print ads offer vast scope because you can do a lot with them. You can morph images and play with depth, perspective and use poetic license with illusion to your designer’s heart’s content.

For the Batelco Directory, the entire city has been morphed into the pages for the directory, highlighting that whatever you are looking for is both included and will stand out. The flipside of this execution is that they are intrepid enough to offer no copy to back them up. This implies that the target audience is an intelligent one. If not, the group behind this concept run the risk of having the message lost altogether and that would be a pity. All the same, I like them and I think the designer and the creative team involved surely had a great time bringing them to life.

They might have been at the bar a little later that day, but worth a drink to celebrate all the same. What do you think?

Credits: Advertising Agency: FP7/BAH, Bahrain | Creative Director: Fadi Yaish | Art Director: Supparat Thepparat | Agency Integrated producer: Mar Wai May | Photographer: Surachai Puthikulangkura | Illustrators: Surachai Puthikulangkura, Supachai U-Rairat | Producer: Anotai Panmongkol | Production House: Illusion.

It’s not about not-drinking

On a cold rainy night, Josh meets Kay for their second date. He has been lonely for a while now and is more than thrilled to have a second chance in these lovelorn-interviews of life. Two drinks later and a catch-up on their week, the second date has gone well and ends with a harmless peck on the cheek. He then calls his friends to find out where they are and heads off to meet them because, well, good news is shared news, right? Beaming and excited, it feels like his insides have woken up and he loves it – he hasn’t felt this good in years. A couple more drinks later, Josh decides to call it night. Glowing, he feels he’s had enough new interactions for the day and should sleep soundly. Little does he know… he won’t be getting much sleep at all.

Screaming, disbelief, red-and-blue lights and the exchange of questions-and-answers as lives are torn forever is what follows for Josh’s evening. Not what he had planned. Not what anybody in these situations would have planned. You could be Josh and this story could be yours. This is exactly what agencies like Mercury 360 in Bucharest and Agency Filadélfia, Belo Horizonte in Brazil are communicating with their latest offerings in the plight to highlight awareness around the repercussions of over indulgence (and then some).

With alcohol being the third leading cause of death in the USA, it is no surprise that the need for awareness around this topic may never let up. In South Africa, they say that for every seven cars you share the road with at night, one driver is drunk. Hence the global need for communications like these – powerful in their own right and with a focus that draws attention to the reality of what happens in the aftermath. There has to be better ways to meet new people – a message from the Bucharest Traffic Police. This is a hard-hitting reminder that no amount of fun can be worth the unfolding drama that may follow an accident caused by alcohol consumption.

Agency Filadélfia, Belo Horizonte’s execution for the AA is a chilling reality-check that alcohol addiction isn’t fussy: it can happen to – and affect anybody. It’s about who bears the scars other than the obvious culprit. People who have families, homes and love – things that can be lost in a moment.

I don’t think that these ads can be argued in a ‘for’ or ‘against’ manner. That’s not the point. And, come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever seen a weak execution of a public service announcement in this category. If you aren’t sold on the image then the copy is the clincher. And in terms of television commercials, there are plenty out there to grab you by the bootstraps and make you see.

For the most part, the overarching theme that any of us can connect with is what works. You may know somebody, be somebody or fear somebody that abuses alcohol. It’s never fun and the after effects almost always live longer than the abuse and over-use does.

It’s not about not-drinking. It’s about knowing the difference between wanting and needing.

Do you think the war will ever be won?

Beyond Smart

BMW Advertising has always seemed effortlessly elegant; the perfect combination of haughty confidence and alluring charm – the boys club you always wanted to belong to. The latest print execution by Ireland/Davenport exemplifies my theory in one perfect image while offering an honourable salutation to their Television Commercial from over two decades ago. With it, the agency has been able to capture the attention of both an old and a new audience in one clean-cut execution.

Kids will look at the mouse on the steering wheel and grasp the concept immediately. Anyone who grew up in the 80s will know that this reincarnation is a nod to the Television Commercial that announced power steering in the BMW 318i – by way of a memorable performance from one little mouse. Directed by Keith Rose of Velocity Films, the TV ad shook the industry at the time, drawing attention to the ingenuous importance of what it is you put in front of the camera – despite what may be going on behind it. Less is more and this too was beyond smart!

They say you can now book opera tickets, order for your latest book-fad from Amazon.com and do just about whatever else you may like to do online – all in the comfort of your own car. This worldwide first is definitely a coup for German driving giant BMW, and what better way to say it than through a clean, clever and sharpshooting print ad that tells you what it needs to – just like that.

(Even Implied) Sex Sells

Axe Deodorant proves that sex sells time and time again. And it does. Whether you are gay, straight, bisexual or even just ‘easy’, provided you have been through puberty – imagery that responds to the source of your attraction is going to have a positive effect on how you relate to the brand’s image. Sure, this is a target market that is an easy reach; it is very definitely easier when you have a product like deodorant that appeals to – and is used by (hopefully) a wide scope of people. And by wide scope I mean men, women or anyone with a pulse!

What makes this print campaign for Axe Deodorant even hotter is that they have taken all the abovementioned hormone-driven ‘theory’ and represented it without all the skin, thighs, cleavages, biceps and six packs. They are leveraging the fact that you are a human being with some sort of drive, and that you know, play, participate or at the very least understand the dynamics between – in this case – men and women. Above all that – they make you think. It’s not a long shot because you get it quickly, but they inevitably made me smile, nod and all in all I think these print ads work well. I don’t think they are trying to win new customers; they are doing what Nike and Coca Cola do so well: they remind their brand-loyal customers that they are part of something cool, current and edgy.

With an execution like this, you also don’t have to argue morals or negotiate territories where showing skin is taboo (like the agency who had to create this set). It’s a straight-forward play on a tic-tac-toe game and, for the guy who uses Axe? Well, he always gets the girl(s).

Other ads (Volvo, Lavazza and PS2) have taken it further and pose a different argument. These go straight for the… let’s call it “heart strings” for the purpose of this family-friendly blog, and appeal to a whole different sense of physical attraction and sexual drive.

How do you feel about these different ads? Which do you prefer?

Credits for Axe Deodorant: Advertising Agency: Lowe Mena, Dubai, UAE | Creative Directors: Mark Lewis, Marwan Saab | CGH / Art Director: Mansoor A. Bhatti | Group Account Director: Tej Desai |Senior Account Manager: Prashob Ravi

Pigs can’t fly. Purina Puppies can!

Clever Ads are clever because, without trying too hard, they make you step back, have an ‘ah’ moment and with a bit of extra luck, start conversations about themselves that last long after the ad itself does. Publicis Montreal does exactly this with this print execution for Purina; a puppy so happy with his food that he is about to take flight. Because what do happy puppies do? They wag their tales! So enough said!

It’s clever without trying too hard. There is no copy because conceptually it is strong enough without any and, for any pet owner looking for a new brand for man’s best friend, you are going to remember this one and no doubt be convinced to spend some money on it.

Advertising effective: ka ching!

Credits:  Creative Directors: Nicolas Massey, Carl Robichaud | Art Director: Julien Thiry | Copywriter: Florence Majérus | Photographer: Alain Desjean |

I like! What do you think?

Pets get stressed too

Euro RSCGs print campaign works – I can definitely believe pets get stressed. We had friends when I was growing up that owned a German Shepherd named Bonnie. Bonnie believed that everything was an emergency, until her tail pushed an automatic BMW into gear and she drove it through closed gates and into a garage door. Then of course she was nowhere to be seen. So Euro RSCGs print campaign for ‘nurtureline calmdog’ makes perfect sense to me. Even if it means Bonnie (the dog) and Granny here trade driver’s seats – stress is stress. Why shouldn’t we get the buzz we need?

Click image to enlarge. Advertising Agency: Euro RSCG, Johannesburg, South Africa; Creative Director: James Daniels; Art Director: Romy Lunz; Copywriter: Balekane Mokoditoa; Photographer: Michael Meyersfeld; Retoucher: Rob Frew; Published: 2010

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