This is a genuine advert that ran in the US of A in the 1970s.
I know it’s easy to read into things with hindsight and all that, but still, the copy in this ad is almost prophetic.

Asbestos - big claims for such a dangerous product

Asbestos - big claims for such a dangerous product

I’ve reproduced the copy below, just in case you can’t read it in the image.

“The bigger the building, the more important fire-proofing becomes.
That’s why today’s buildings have asbestos-cement walls and even floors containing asbestos.
Asbestos contains fire, cannot burn and holds up after metal and glass have melted down, giving vital time for people to escape.
You’ll also find asbestos sealing plumbing joints, insulating heating pipes, electric motors and emergency generators.
Asbestos. We couldn’t live the way we do without it.”

It seems almost unbelievable that this ad was written before Sept 11th. There are a number of lines that seem ironic in the extreme.
“…and holds up after metal and glass have melted down, giving vital time for people to escape.”
And the sign-off line at the bottom “When life depends on it, you use asbestos.”

Asbestos, for all the harm it does, it a pretty interesting fibre. It’s been known since the time of the ancient Greeks. Their kings used it as a sort of magic cape that they could place into the fire and then put back on without and harm coming to the garment. They, unfortunately, didn’t discover that whilst it’s good at resisting fire it’s also first-class at destroying lungs. Learn more about the good and the bad by visiting Wikipedia here.

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Mike Rutzen – mentalist.
This is a bloke who swims with great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). He did freely admit that he never saw Jaws when he was a kid, which is a good reason that he didn’t have a prejudiced view of Roy Scheider’s mortal enemy.

Making himself small to attract a shark in towards him

Making himself small to attract a shark in towards him

He was brought up on a farm inland in South Africa, and only started diving when he was 20. He then skippered a charter boat that took tourists out to dive in cages and watch great whites feed.
He then decided that he had learned as much as he could from the safety of the boat, and started diving in the water without a cage.

A 'hypnotized' Great White

A 'hypnotized' Great White

And he’s made some fantastic discoveries. Like the body language and positions that sharks use to communicate. And he has the ability (see above) to stroke the sharks under their ‘chins’ and hypnotize them. And then they start to behave bizarrely, with their bodies going rigid and them appearing vertically in the water with their noses downwards.

I saw him featured on a BBC Natural World programme, which followed him as he dived with great whites. Then he progressed to diving with them whilst they fed on a dead Southern Right Whale. He was a bit worried because as soon as he entered the water he would be covered in the blubber from the whale shark and may be mistaken for food by the great whites. Not only were they easily able to tell that he wasn’t dinner, they behaved in a very controlled and regimented way. There was no feeding frenzy that common perception would expect. They ate in a strict hierarchical order.
And then he went swimming with them as they hunted seals in the Atlantic Ocean off the tip of South Africa.

Seal hunting - shark style

Seal hunting - shark style

Watching seals and sharks do battle is an amazing sight. They have a symbiotic relationship, where the sharks keep the seals fit by eating any that are weak or old, and the seals keep the sharks fed.

Mike Rutzen's unusual underwater transport

Mike Rutzen's unusual underwater transport

It’s truly awesome to watch. If you live in the UK try this link to watch it on the BBC iPlayer here, and see for yourself that swimming with sharks is not only possible it can be a thing of real beauty.

When people offer a service, and give you two prices for it (based on an arbitrary time), then it’s usual to offer some sort of incentive for buying the longer time.
So, for example, when you go to hire a power tool there is a daily charge and a slightly reduced charge if you hire it for a longer period. It’s a simple concept that even the supermarkets use (buy 1, get 2nd half price etc).
Which is why I love the sign below so much.

Alternatively, just learn the three-times table.

Alternatively, just learn the three-times table.

It appears to be for people who have trouble with their three-times table. And it’s a simple example of getting someone to check what you’re doing when you’re going to be using the work to publicise your business. Otherwise people (like me) might think you’re a little bit daft. And whilst I’m having a moan about the sign, I might as well point out the poor spacing too. It’s just as easy to get the spacing right as it is to get it wrong. All you have to do is think ahead. Which is a smart way to approach life. Think ahead and be prepared.
If anyone at the internet cafe where this sign is displayed fancies enlightening me, feel free.
Otherwise, I’ll continue to laugh at the strangeness of helping people out by multiplying 60 pence by 3.

ICE – A super cool idea.

February 5, 2009

ICE stands for In Case of Emergency, and is a great idea that should be as well known as 999 (or 911 in the US of A).
If you were involved in an accident, or taken ill, the people who come to your rescue will find your mobile but how will they know who to call? They will be faced with (possibly) hundreds of numbers, but which is the one to contact in the event of an emergency? And, given the demands on our emergency services, they almost certainly won’t have the time to scroll through all your contacts.
Well, that’s where the ICE campaign comes in. It is, simple, a number to be used In Case of Emergency. The problem of identifying the injured party is a common one faced by paramedics, and the ICE campaign is the result.

Make things child's play for the emergency services

Make things child's play for the emergency services

All you have to do is store the number of the person who should be contacted in the event of an emergency, and save it under ICE in your contacts. If you have more than one contact, the save them as ICE1, ICE2 etc.
Then make sure you tell as many people about the scheme as possible. The more widespread the idea becomes known, the more likely it is to become something everyone does automatically.
Make sure you do it. Because you never know when ICE could save your life.

Only in Scotland.
I play football on a Monday evening at a place called World of Soccer, and its unique selling point is that it is indoors. It’s not heated or anything like that, but it does have a roof that keeps out most of the bad weather (a few leaks excepted). So the pitch was never likely to end up looking like the image below.

giant-snow-football

Last night, however, my game was cancelled due to snow. Not on the pitch, but on the roads on the way to the pitch.
Out of 10 of us attempting to get there, only 3 of us looked like making it. So we cancelled.
Which is a pretty sad indictment of the way Edinburgh City Council is run. The whole day was cold and spoiling to snow. And yet I didn’t see a gritter on any roads until 6.30 in the evening. I realise that it’s an art to get the gritters to where they’re needed, when they’re needed, but to not have any out when the snow was thumping down is just plain daft.
And ended up with our indoor football game being cancelled due to snow. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.

Sheer naked enthusiasm.

February 2, 2009

Below you can see a press ad, looking to recruit people for the Leith Agency. This was done a good few years ago now, but it still has a great tone of voice and a great confidence about it.
It features, as its model and star, Mark Gorman. Mark is a fantastic strategic and creative thinker who has planned many of Scotland’s most famous advertising campaigns over the past 20 years. I love sitting with him and seeing how his mind attacks a problem. He’s never afraid to get his hands dirty (or any other parts, as you can see from his 15 minutes of fame below).
mark-copy-1
The scan is a little hard to read, so I’ve reproduced the copy here, for those of you who like a well-written ad.
The headline reads: “We need more account people like this.”
And the copy reads:
Mark ‘Bunter’ Gorman, Leith Agency Account Director. Didn’t just have the brains to plan the most original health club advertising in years. (Two Campaign Press Silvers. Got in the Book. Packed the club.) Also had the gut(s) to appear in it as pictured above.
Wanted: three people with his instinct and enthusiasm for good ads (Two Account Managers. One Account Executive. Sex irrelevant.) You’ll work for Scotland’s Agency of the Year. Rated best by Scottish clients for account handling and creativity. Doing ads you’ll have seen, like the Drambuie commercial with Robert Hardy. Or read good things about in Campaign’s vitriolic Private View columns, like our work for Tennent’s Lager or the Blood Transfusion Service. Ads which have won more awards in the past three years (including effectiveness awards) than any other agency outside London. You’ll help to plan new campaigns (you carry responsibility at Leith, not just bags). And like the account people who’ve already come here from Saatchis, CDP, DDB and Y&R, you’ll love the life in Edinburgh as much as the job. Please write, don’t phone, to Marion Law, Personnel Controller, The Leith Agency, 1-3 Canon Street, Edinburgh, EH 3 5HE, with a c.v. Then we’ll see how you measure up to Bunter.
Even though the ad is a little faded and rough around the edges, it seems to have aged a little better than the rest of us.
If you want to see what Mark has been up to a little more recently, visit his blog here.
I can’t promise that it’s all sheer, naked excitement, but, knowing Mark he’ll do his best.