He just wouldn’t let it lie.

September 29, 2008

Before I start to take his latest advert apart, I should point out that I am a huge fan of Vic Reeves.

What he and Bob Mortimer achieved was nothing short of genius. They, for me, were like a modern equivalent of Morecambe and Wise. That’s how good I think they were. They ripped up the rule book and made their own brand of comedy. They took risks with their laughs and showed a huge amount of intelligence as they did so.

But what on earth is Vic playing at? Surely he’s not so skint that he’ll just agree to any old tosh that an advertiser throws his way? Although the fact that Vic was the voice of Churchill Insurance’s dog for a number of years (until his drink-drive conviction got in the road) should have been a bit of a warning that perhaps Vic’s standards are not set particularly high. Maybe he just doesn’t care. Show me the money, and then I’m off.

The 888 Ladies Bingo advert is a lame idea to start with (the man dressed badly as lady idea). What about the Bounty toilet tissue ads? They’ve owned this area of advertising cliche for some time. I would have thought that Vic might have tweaked the script himself, to make it at least mildly amusing. I’ve worked with a number of comedians over the years, and every single one of them has brought their own ideas to the script. Especially Frankie Boyle who I had the great pleasure to record an anti-racism advert with. He ad-libbed outrageously and made the finished advert better than I could have ever made it on my own.

But, unfortunately, this Bingo ad just layers cliche on top of cliche. There are no wry smiles, no clever insights that make you feel any warmth towards the product. Just Vic in a dress. Looking awkward and uncomfortable. As you can see below.

What's on the end of your lip-stick, Vic?


On the other hand, I love the new Ford Fiesta advert. It uses boxes, like flatscreen TVs, to follow a journey through a city. It has very little to do with the product, but it looks fantastic. This is the sort of fresh thinking that all agencies should approach their work with. They’ve found a technique that they can own, and I hope that their campaign continues to do it justice.

Ford Fiesta 08 Ad

Otherwise you end up with something that isn’t so much Shooting Stars as Plumbing the Depths.

I’m posting this as I can’t work out what this KitKat ad is trying to say.

Here’s the offending ad:

Italian KitKat ad from JWT Milan

Italian KitKat ad from JWT Milan

And whilst I might appear daft for not getting this ad, there’s a strong message to be taken from this. And it is: make sure everyone who is in your target audience understands your ad. Nothing distances consumers quite like publishing work that they don’t ‘get’.

I’ve asked a few colleagues about this ad, too. And they’re as baffled as I am. So if anyone can throw some light upon it, please let me know. I can hardly wait to learn what the ad is trying to say.

How much does it cost to run for the US presidential nomination?
Conservative estimates say $175 million. Which should be enough to get the alarm bells ringing. It’s pretty simple to see that the candidates might be compromised by this excessive financial burden.
How many people do you have to promise favours to before they give you the money to fight for presidency? By the time you get to the point of even standing you must owe more favours to people than you can remember. So, once one of these idiots has won the election, is it any surprise these massive corporations turn up and start asking for these favours to be cashed in? If we’re not careful, we’ll end up with this sort of muppet in the White House.

How far are we from this happening?

How far are we from this happening?

If you want to see how murky the links are between government and hugely profitable corporations, try typing ‘Halliburton’ into Google. And then be amazed as you see the former government officials who leave office and then join Halliburton. The company who just so happen to be one of the most major beneficiaries of the post-Iraq bun-feast of construction contracts and oil.
Back to the presidential candidates. They shouldn’t be allowed to run up campaigns that cost a country’s national debt.
And they seem to have got even worse since 9/11. Don’t get me wrong, I was, and am, appalled that human beings can be so de-sensitized (and brain-washed by extremists; the Koran preaches love, not hate; I’m still not a fan as it is a religion and is, therefore, used to control people) that they can kill and maim without any thought for the victims, their families and their friends. It was a truly horrific act that seems to have redefined America’s supposed place in the world.
Now (and, again, this is not linked to the Twin Towers atrocity) but the US government should perhaps look at its foreign policies for a clue as to why the world seems to be against it. On a very simple level it’s sad that it has taken such a horrific event to awaken a nation against the scourge of terrorism. The very same nation that spent 30 years financing the ‘troubles’ in Ireland. A little sub-note: ‘The Troubles’ is the biggest euphemism in quite some time. It’s like calling the Middle East a slight hiccough (that’s hiccup for the Yanks). I find it truly unbelievable that a nation that knew what was going on in Ireland found that they could still drop some money in a box ‘to aid our boys’. And that they didn’t have the foresight to see that they were responsible for killing and maiming hundreds of people. I hope these idiots now realise what they have done, and make some attempt to redress the balance by volunteering to help people less fortunate than themselves. It reminds me of when Clinton arrived saying he was going to stop the violence in Ireland. And the cynics amongst us wondered if he just meant that the Americans were going to stop financing both sides.
And it’s not like the US doesn’t have a history of this sort of thing. Vietnam, the US armed them and then decided to fight them. Afghanistan, they armed the Mujahedin and then changed their minds after the Soviets had left. And let’s not forget Iraq, where they armed them to the teeth in an attempt to defeat Iran (who America obviously saw as an even bigger threat). They then promptly changed their minds again after they’d seen Iran defeated.
And we all know how well these campaigns have gone. Vietnam – a stunning coup de grace where the US kicked ass. Iraq – we’ve got that one well sewn up boys (or at least we’ve got basic control while we pump out all the oil). And Afghanistan, another war which bogged down the troops and has led to a prolonged and (increasingly pointless) occupation.
I’m absolutely not trying to disrespect the memories of the poor souls who died in the World Trade Centre outrage. I think the loss of life was pointless, stupid, crass and inhumane.
I am, however, trying to point out that the US might want to have a look at itself and try to be a little less ‘playgroung bully’ and slightly more inclusive in the way it thinks the world should be run. I have no inside knowledge, but I’d be amazed if Iran doesn’t find the heat continually turned up. Which will, almost certainly, lead to a US-led attack on Iran. Just because they don’t believe in the same god as most Yanks do isn’t a good enough reason to attack them. It’s called a fear of the unknown. Why not try talking to them? You’d see that they are just people. With lives and families and hopes and dreams and aspirations. They are not ‘bad’ because they aren’t white and christian.
I’m not really very white (my skin is almost a light blue, as I’m Scottish) and I don’t believe in any god. I have some cooking oil stored in my kitchen. Should I be worried? (I think the answer is ‘I doubt it’ as I’m sure ‘W’ has no idea where Scotland is. If you’re reading this George then we’re just next to Texas.)

Just after I had posted this, Scotty read it and then he happened across this image (see below). Which sums up the presidential insanity pretty nicely. Thanks Scotty. He’s an art director that I’ve worked with in a few agencies over the years. He’s started freelancing, so you can get his skills working on your marketing whenever you want. Visit his site here and see what he’s up to.

Who wants to punch a president?

Who wants to punch a president?

South Africa’s latest fashion range is, sadly, not something to be proud of.
A businessman has started importing a range of bullet-proof clothing from Columbia. Which is, in itself, a pretty scary thing. What’s worse is that the man importing them is quoted as saying that the clothes were “very expensive” and “were out of reach for the ordinary person”. So, if you’re rich you can survive, if you’re poor, tough luck.
Read the whole story here on the BBC site.

South Africa has a bad reputation, and I know that violence does occur, and that people might feel scared. And I’m sure they know the situation and the areas of the country well enough to know what’s what.
I’ve been to South Africa and never had a problem. Not one tiny incident. And that’s not because I just saw the sanitised version. I went to the townships. Sure, I kept my wits about me (only because of what I’d heard). But everyone was brilliant. Friendly, approachable, warm and as far from threatening as you could get.
So don’t be put off by the stories. Everywhere can be dangerous if you don’t follow some basic rules. Whether you live in Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool or London there are almost certainly areas where you wouldn’t go for a stroll carrying a video camera. It’s the same in South Africa. I can’t guarantee your safety, but I can guarantee that you’ll experience a holiday like no other. The country is amazing.

Table Mountain - the views are spectacular.

Table Mountain - the views are spectacular.

It’s jam-packed full of things to do. From safari, to driving the Garden Route, to seeing the African penguins at Boulders beach, to the long-straight motorways, to the ‘Robots’ (traffic lights), the vineyards, the great people and the fabulous beaches, you can’t really go wrong. Cape Town offers a beach holiday, with vineyards surrounding the city and an imposing mountain with spectacular views from the top. Johannesburg, Durban and Trafalgar are all places I’ve been to and had a great time.
So head for South Africa. Just don’t bother with the stupid fashion accessories.

I’ve been lucky enough to manage to sell my house recently. Well, I say lucky. What I mean is that, although Fi and I have split up, we’ve been lucky enough to sell our flat in the current market. So I’ve been trying to buy another flat. This new one is a little smaller, but it has good potential and is nice and local for my daughter’s school. The only problem has been the tricky matter of the price. I’ve put in a few bids and they have been rejected. Sometimes they haven’t been rejected for almost a week. Apparently this is normal behaviour for property sales. I just find it a little rude.
But things reached a new level of baffled-ness for me when my solicitor told me that my latest offer “hadn’t been accepted, but nor had it been rejected”. Talk about having your cake and eating it.
I’m assured that this development means that we’re getting closer to a deal.
I really do hope so. Because I’m getting bored of the number of ways that solicitors can find to say “no”.
Why can’t they just behave like the rest of us? Can you imagine if buying other commodities were more like buying a house? I reckon there would be multiple incidents of shop-rage on every high street, every day.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that tomorrow may bring a “yes” rather than another kick in the proverbials.