I came across this spectacular show of exceptional skill and audaciousness again the other day and I can’t believe how good all three goals are.

The hat-trick in question was scored by Rivaldo on June 17th, 2001. It was the final game of the La Liga season, and Barcelona’s opponents were Valencia. Going into the final games Valencia sat 4th in La Liga, ahead of Barca. All Valencia had to do to hold 4th place and qualify for the Champions League was to not lose to Barca.

So, Rivaldo scored the first from a free kick 25 yards out. Then, as the first half draws to a close, he manages to smash one in from 25 yards again. It moves so viciously that the keeper doesn’t even get close to it (and it’s Canizares in goals, and he’s no slouch). Then the moment that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

The game has 2 minutes left. It’s 2-2 and Barca are looking down the barrel of a humiliating result that will cost them millions of Euros by missing out on the lucrative Champions League. And up steps one of the most under-rated players of his day. Rivaldo gets the ball 20 yards out with his back to goal. And he takes a touch on his chest and then pulls off an overhead kick, with the ball at head-height, that arrows into the corner. Cue celebrations. And my nomination for the greatest hat-trick of all time.

If you’ve got a minute or two try searching for goals by Rivaldo on You Tube. You’ll be amazed and delighted. And if you know of a better hat-trick please do let me know.

I was in the centre of Edinburgh on Sunday night, about 10pm. I was wandering up a street just off Princes Street and was passing some chain link fencing. It was up to protect people from the major roadworks that are currently messing up everyone’s lives.

Across the street I saw a bloke, who must have been proper-pissed, walk straight into the fence. And it was absolutely genius. First off, he was checking his watch when it happened. He had to pull his sleeve up so he could see his watch, a task that appeared almost beyond him. So he was paying no attention to where he was going. He looked up from his watch a nano-second before he collided with the fence.

Which is why it was so spectacular. Because when he hit the fence, he gave that brilliant pissed person expression of utter confusion. Like the fence had no right on earth to be there. And that’s what most actors seem to miss when they’re acting pissed. The “I’m not really sure what’s going on” aspect. Not just staggering and incoherent, but the belief that their view of things will be right, and that anyone who doesn’t share these views is a simpleton for not understanding.

One person who I’ve seen being a pretty good drunk is Timothy Stack in the My Name Is Earl series. He plays a local celebrity who’s always hammered. And he’s brilliant in his absolute randomness. Especially when he’s been stopped by the local constabulary.

But back to the guy I saw walk into the fence. It was so spectacular that I laughed out loud. And not just a little bit. I was still laughing 50 yards up the road. So if you decide to have a night out this Christmas that doesn’t involve lashings of alcohol, never fear. Just spend the night being entertained by the people who are drinking. There’s always one who manages to excel themselves and bring laughter to your life. See if you can go one better than me and film it. I’d pay good money to see CCTV of the bloke colliding with the fence.

There’s so much more to see if you know where to look.

Like this excellent piece that I first saw on BoingBoing. It’s an art project that placed a movable ‘eye’ on the roof of a gallery, and it appeared to follow people’s movements as they approached the gallery. You can see a still below:

Who is watching you?

Who is watching you?

The reaction of people is brilliant. From those who don’t even notice it, to those who see it and run about interacting with it. Watch the video at the Flong site, here.

It shows that my theory of looking up as you walk about town is not such a bad way to do things. You see things from a different perspective. Imagine being a child again. You’d see everything from waist height. Think of the difference that makes to your world.

I quite often spend time looking up at roof height. I often pass bus journeys by seeing views of the city that not many people bother to see. Nowadays, with our cheap, basic housing design, there’s less to see. But in a city as historically stunning as Edinburgh there’s an amazing amount to see. And sometimes you see astounding things in the most unusual of places.
Like, for example, the dome in the centre of the roof of the Lothian Bus depot on Annandale Street. They even light it up blue at night.

Or the hand-carved relief detail on the outside of the Corn Exchange building on Constitution Street. The design company NavyBlue are resident in the building, so I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that their building is well cared for. The inside of their office space is stunning, too. They’ve used the huge height of the building to retain an open feel, whilst maximising the space and light to allow their people to work. Check out some of their stuff on the NavyBlue site here.

In the video I like how the little kids, about half way through, realise that it is reacting to them. They play with it, but keep moving. They are so used to things interacting with them that they treat it as normal. Which I love. I think the fact that kids just get on with things without worrying about how they look is great. That’s how I try to live life. You’ve only got one shot at it, so make sure you try as many things as you can. As Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Try to see things differently. If you approach things from a different angle you normally get a different outcome. The ordinary can become extraordinary. You’ve just got to give it the chance.

Make today’s new thing to go home tonight looking up (obviously I wouldn’t advise this if you drive to work). Give it a go. Who knows what you’ll see.

Packaging done to a tea.

November 3, 2008

I recently worked on a project with Nevis Design to re-brand Pekoe Tea. The brand was a joy to work on. They wanted the copy to be about how the tea came to being. They wanted a short story to make the tea interesting and memorable to their potential audience, and to show how important the way they look after the tea is.

I worked on three of the tea flavours, and loved working on the job. It was refreshing to be allowed as much freedom as I was. There were literally no limits, other than make it interesting. So I researched the tea and discovered some amazing things. Like the fact that Sir Winston Churchill was a big fan of Tarry Lapsang Souchong, and insisted upon it. And this fact became the nugget that I used to write the copy about Pekoe Tarry Lapsang Souchong tea. The copy was as follows:

“This strong, honey-coloured tea is grown high in the Wu Yi Mountains. The thick pine forests provide the White Fir wood over which the tea is smoked. This creates the unique deep, pungent, smoky aroma for which the tea is famed. Legend has it that this was Churchill’s favourite tea. So you can enjoy it on the beach, on landing grounds, and in fields. And even, if the fancy takes you, in your own kitchen. Never surrender to an inferior taste.”

And the design element was stunning. David Huckell at Nevis did the designing, and we found out last week that someone else thought it was excellent work too. It was nominated under Packaging Design at the Roses Design Awards. So congratulations to Nevis for that. And congratulations to the client, Pekoe Tea. It proves that the stronger the trust between agency and client (and all the people within this relationship), the stronger the work will ultimately be. Here’s a look at what the judges liked so much.


So let’s raise a mug to celebrate. Cheers.

The name’s mud.

November 3, 2008

The name should be Bond. James Bond.

Unfortunately the name seems to be whoever has the biggest wallet to place their merchandise in the film. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how things work. I understand that they are in it to make money.

A good film? Or just a marketing opportunity?

A good film? Or just a marketing opportunity?

But here’s the problem. People think of short term solutions. They will pull and tear at the brand and ask it to carry anything they think will pay handsomely enough. I understand the cross-over marketing opportunity for fancy watches and the like. But a Ford Mondeo? And a bottle of Coke Zero? Come on. Please. Bond’s a borderline alcoholic in the superb Fleming novels, not some sugar-free pin-up boy. I can just see the thought process. “You see we’re Coke Zero. And he’s double Oh 7. We’ll just use a Zero Zero 7 end frame and it’ll all be great.” Or perhaps not.

And then there’s Sony HD. What a great waste of an excellent technique. I realise that Sony are saying you see more detail, but what an absuolutely dull way to do it. The way they’ve slowed down explosions is not unusual, or new, or even that interesting. Why not go to town and have the additional detail on the Sony HD system saving the day? Or just spend 5 minutes thinking about “more detail” and Bond and I’ll bet you that my 5-year-old daughter could come up with a more interesting execution.

And, in the long run, once you damage a brand and people lose confidence in it, you’re in real trouble. The cash-cow dies, as it were. And you’re left with a word that is your bond, but that doesn’t actually stand for anything.

The new Energy Efficient Lightbulbs ad for the Scottish Executive is another ad that makes me think “Does anyone actually care any more?” The ad shows an image of the world (complete with smiley face) holding an energy efficient lightbulb. And dispensing advice.

Energy Efficiency?

Energy Efficiency?

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m giving the ad a kicking, but I’m so disappointed in the missed opportunity that I have to say something. I’m long enough in the tooth to know that the ad smacks of many hands interfering with the final ad. But it’s so predictable. There’s no warmth, no wry smile.

And at the risk of sounding cavalier, what difference will saving £60 from changing your bulbs over to energy efficient ones really make to peoples’ lives? Is it a strong enough motivator to change an ingrained habit? I doubt it. Why not go to town? What not have Princes Street under water? Or the earth burnt to a frazzle? Or someone with the sun shining out of their behinds? I don’t know. Anything that is slightly engaging.

I’m afraid I reckon that people will just ignore the poster. And more money will have been spent managing to achieve nothing, because somewhere someone’s more intersted in covering their arse than doing advertising that really makes a difference.

And that’s a sad fact of the market we now operate in. Where are the risk takers? Where are the brave leaps that lead us to new and exciting territory? They’re way over on the horizon, and they’re disappearing fast. It’s not too late, but we do need to give the industry a kick in the pants and try to make it relevant again.

In the defence of the campaign, I’ve been told that the TV work is good, but I’ve not managed to see it yet. But I’ll update this once I’ve seen it. Or, if you’ve seen it already, let me know what you think.
And that moves me on to the Scottish Executive’s Drink Awareness week ads. Again, I’m not meaning to have a go at the creatives who worked on this project. But what a disappointing result. The ads, which were heavy weight and seen many, many times, were little more than the brief written large on the page. There was no engagament. No intrigue. Nothing to make me care.

Here are three of the ads. See what you think of them.

Alcohol Awareness Diary

Alcohol Awareness Diary

Alcohol Free Days

Alcohol Free Days

Lower Alcohol Beer

Lower Alcohol Beer

And the idea of a drinks diary? The very people that need this message to resonate with them are not the sort of people who I imagine will be too happy about writing down their alcohol intake in a diary. And there’s evidence from doctors that people always lie about their alcohol intake when asked, anyway. The doctors rule, apparently, is that they double what you tell them you drink. triple what you tell them you smoke and divide the number of times you tell them you have sex by four. So if they realise that their patients are lying, what hope do we have when we’re trying to self-police.

Again, I’ve not seen the brief, and maybe the brief is to talk to middle-class people and discourage them from drinking. But if this is the target market, I’d ask why? There are many, many other sections of society that could benefit from drinking less. So why waste money and effort on something that is doomed to failure. Sure the messages are very clear on the posters. But I wonder if people will really read them and engage with them and change a hugely ingrained habit?

If this campaign wins an IPA award for effectiveness next year, I’ll be clamouring for a steward’s enquiry (as I make my way through a bottle of Scotch).