Thursday, 28 June 2007

Those bloody Mac adverts again....

If I get Mitchell and Webb sanctimoniously telling me how Macs are 'for the fun stuff' one more time, I'm taking a machete to wherever they're filming series five of Peep Show and removing some heads. Macs are Fisher-Price activity centres for adults. I don't want one, thankyou.

Some excellent reading:,,2006031,00.html

Monday, 18 June 2007

What a shambles.

Recently an unsuspecting British public was exposed to something horrible. Something really horrible. And the cock-up in question? Wolff Olins' brand new identity for the London 2012 Olympic games.

Here it is in all it's hideousness:

It doesn't work. It looks amateurish. It's confusing. It's just poor. I'd like to know what on earth they were thinking when they designed this.

Here's Lord Coe talking some marketing rubbish he's being fed from an autocue:

"London 2012 will be Everyone's Games, everyone's 2012. This is the vision at the very heart of our brand. It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world."

And Tony Blair:

"When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life."

The focus behind the logo seems to be aimed at young people, as the Olympic board feels that young people don't do enough sport etc. etc. (which is something we've been told for years and years). So they've got honourable intentions, at least. But I just don't see why it has to be so bad. Wolf Ollins are a world-famous branding agancy, responsible for Orange and 3, two great-looking brands. And then they come up with this. Have a look at other youth-orientated brands; Adidas, Nike etc, and you'll see they look slick, modern and the epitome of 'cool' - the failure here is that the logo tries too hard to look cool.

Remember that kid in the playground that always tried to look cool but never did? Well that's who the London 2012 logo is. And I should know, I was one of those kids.

If Tony Blair is indeed serious about wanting it to inspire people to positive change, he's been successful; there's been an enormous public backlash, and the BBC website has literally dozens of alternative designs sent in by readers (here: and reams of derision (here: It's amazing to see ordinary people become so worked up about design; it's something we rarely see, and it's great to be vindicated by Joe Public.

Sometimes I wonder if design isn't just all a big con; a fallacy designed by those more visually-literate as a warped kind of elitism. But this has put my faith back in the founding principles of aesthetic beauty once again; they DO matter, which is why it's all so much more painful when those responsible for setting visual benchmarks fail so spectacularly.

Only time will tell if this logo makes it to the finish line, but either way, we're going to learn something along the way; all of us, not just the designers in the room. And for that, Wolf Ollins should be applauded.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

A Nice Advert From Nike

There's been a pretty cool advert on TV lately - the "I Am Addicted" Nike Plus advert featuring a voiceover from Edward Norton. I really like this because everything fits really well to create a piece of work that melds together and really flows. Here's the copy:

"I am addicted, I've collected footsteps before dawn, Seen places I never knew existed, Run to the moon and back, Been a rabbit for the neighbourhood dogs, Obeyed the voice in my head, Let music carry me when I couldn't, Raced against yesterday, Let the world be my witness, Measured myself in metres, Kilometres, And finally character, I've plugged into a higher purpose, Left this world and come back changed. I am addicted."

I love the sign-off: "I Am Addicted" and then the music kicks in's a great example of selling the 'taste' of a company rather than simply one of its products.

Agency: W+K/Amsterdam
Soundtrack: A-Bomb

The voiceover and music are really key here as well. They contribute to the slowly building prose, with Norton's flat tone making you appreciate the words themselves and what they mean. A-Bomb have actually had so many requests for the soundtrack they're considering releasing it professionally. With an average soundtrack, the advert would have been alright, but it wouldn't have communicated the slick image that Nike wants, and it would have quickly faded away.

I really like Edward Norton's voice. Fight Club is one of my favourite films, and I find his incessant narration quite enjoyable. Maybe I'm strange, but as Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message". I just think it adds a lot to the film and this advert.

Derivative T.V. Advertising Does Not Float My Boat

So, the other day I was watching "Dog The Bounty Hunter" (or somesuch daytime nonsense) and an advert for came on. I tend to blank out most television adverts because they usually bore me rigid, but something in this one felt strangely familiar. I couldn't put my finger on it until I realised; it's a rip-off of the 'Construct' scene in the original Matrix film.

In this scene, the character 'Trinity' enters the basis of the Matrix computer program in order to familiarise the protagonist, 'Neo', with it. In's advert, the camera angles, the way that the objects in the advert rush towards the viewer, and even the costumes of the actors, are all exactly the same. It's all kinda dripping with a 1999-esque "Hey guys, we just saw the Matrix for the first time, and DAMN, is that film cool!" sentiment.

Check it out here:

Clearly, the work experience boy was ill that week, and the designers didn't get their coffee. What a lazy concept for an ad! "Let's nick this idea, because the film came out ages ago, and no-one's going to notice we're too dumb to think up our own concepts!"

But wait! There's more! Fiat's new "Italian Job Remixed" is guilty of this apparent trend of film parodies/clumsy rip-offs, albeit to a lesser extent (looks like there was some coffee available here). In this advert, red, green and white Puntos nail it around somewhere foreign-looking (Italy presumably), going down escalators and all manner of crazy things that you can('t) do when you get your own Punto. The advert ends with the tagline; "The Italian Job Remixed".

This is actually quite a good advert - I like the sounds that the ignition and the doors closing contribute to the soundtrack, and snappily shot which is always a good thing. It holds your attention well, and the concept isn't as lazy as the first advert. At least they've tried to do something different.

But I still dislike it for not being 100% original. Maybe I'm just a perfectionist, but I prefer to see creativity I haven't seen before. It just seems lazy to copy someone else, unless you're going to parody it in an amusing way. If you're doing a funny parody, you're adding an element of your own creativity that is sufficiently different and removed from the original to show you're using it as just a starting point for creative exploration.