Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Our second, and hopefully last, placement

So an absence of posts can only mean one thing, we’ve been busy beyond imagination; which is a good thing. We’re on placement once again, and have been since August 23rd, at Archibald Ingall Stretton. Even better news is that they’ve asked us to stay a little longer, initially ‘til mid-November.

The story of how we’ve ended up at AIS is pretty strange. Whilst in our 3rd year, I was heavily procrastinating on Facebook and Twitter, don’t know if you’ve heard of them? I came across a competition AIS were running through Twitter; their 1000th follower would receive an hour with Steve Stretton and Matt Morley-Brown, Creative Partner and Creative Director respectively. Well the winner turned out to be Ollie so we went and met both Steve and Matt and hit it off instantly. We stayed in contact with them and after we’d finished at Dare we thought we’d go back to AIS and see if we could get a placement there. The rest, as they say, is history.

I must say, we love it here. We get to work on a mixture of briefs and with a great bunch of people. We’ve even turned out for the agency 5-a-side team B.O.B (stats fans Pollie are on 2 goals from 3 games). We’ve worked on digital campaigns, DM, stunts/ambient, advertorials, posters, iPhone apps, it’s been a steep learning curve but a lot of fun at the same time.

There are two things I judge a placement by, are we learning anything and are we getting any work out? At AIS, the answer to both is yes so hopefully we can stay here for as long as possible. We’ve also recently developed a healthy rivalry with digital Creative Director, Geoff Gower, on FIFA 10 (PS2), so there’s an ever so slightly more important reason to stay.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

People have a habit of complicating things. I do it all the time. Over-analysing, over-thinking, over-working. When really, all you need is a good truth. Great advertising always engages with the audience and there’s no better way of doing that than to find a human insight. Something that is universally true and we all do, if you can pair that to a product with a simple idea then you can’t lose, why? Because it’s the truth, you can’t argue against it. In this context I’m talking about advertising but the same applies to other things.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of the best films, the ones that really strike a chord, are based on true stories? Or that the best comedians make you laugh by simply talking about things we all do day to day. It’s human, it’s real, and it’s believable.

"It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator's skill. For whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen." Bill Bernbach

So whenever we try to communicate to humans (quite a lot of the time), we should try to find common ground, a truth they can relate to. That’s one of the best things we learnt at university and hopefully we can continue to accumulate human truths on our adventures around London.

I’ll leave you with a couple of the human truths on my list (yes, I have a list, get over it):

1) Whenever you leave school or college etc, they’ll always build a brand new playground or get a whole new suite of computers the year you leave.


2) Dad’s piss for ages.

As Budweiser said “True”.

I wouldn’t Dare do a pun about…oh shit

You may or may not know, but recently Ollie and I had a placement at Dare, “Campaign Digital Agency of the Decade” don’t you know.

I can’t speak highly enough of the people at Dare, everybody was friendly and welcoming and all the rest of it but the most important thing was we really felt they wanted to help us and go above and beyond, which we really appreciated.

Our first day included nervously introducing ourselves to every person on the creative floor…individually! Sweaty palms to say the least; it was our first placement after all. After the awkward hello’s, we were briefed and immediately began scribbling down ideas. Throughout the 2 weeks, we worked on 3 briefs and even had some work approved by the client so we should see our very first ad out soon.

We took all the advice of our lecturers. We were first in, last out and worked extremely hard. It was tough to get up to pace but by the end of the placement we felt we could handle it and do this for a career.

Now the reason for this post is mostly to let our fellow Lincoln graduates know the wonders of digital. I’m a big traditional advertising fan, there’s nothing I love more than a great poster campaign but whether you like it or not, times are changing and as we’re the next generation coming through we need to be thinking digitally. That doesn’t mean a fancy banner ad, or a fun iPhone app, it means a great idea executed digitally. It’s exactly the same as above the line advertising, an insight, a strategy, an idea, all these things are needed. If anything, we found digital to be more fun. Endless possibilities and the thing I found the most intriguing was that with a good digital campaign, you can reach your target audience and get them to really engage with the brand you’re advertising rather than switching the channel or turning the page.

We’re happy to say we’ve been asked to go back to Dare once the ECD has time to see our book and hopefully we can learn even more and get some more ads out.

What a load of Bankers

As I’m such a cool guy, I wrote my dissertation about how the recession affected the advertising of banks…like I said, cool.

But believe it or not, it turned out to be pretty interesting so I’ve [tried to] distilled it down for your reading pleasures (don’t worry, deep down I know nobody is really going to read this but if you do, get comfy).

There seems to have been noticeable shifts in the approach the banks and their respective agencies have taken in representing themselves to the masses. The financial services sector is a typical low-interest category; people would rather think about which car they’re going to buy or where they’re going to go on holiday, not which ISA or savings account they should choose. Another point to note is that the differentiation between the services banks offer is very hard to pin point, services on offer are incredibly similar.

Essentially the products and services banks provide are more or less the same. Therefore the advertising and marketing of these brands is of massive importance hence the reason for so much change in their communications recently. Brands such as Halifax, Nationwide and Barclays have made massive changes to their advertising due to the recession. Big strategic and creative changes can be seen as an advantage but there is much to be said for brands that have stuck to their core message and brand values.

HSBC is famous for being a global brand. Their market positioning has been “The Worlds Local Bank” way before the recent recession and has continued to be after it. The recession has affected the whole world not jus the financial capitals of London and New York. HSBC have recognised this and have targeted everybody, rather than narrowing their target audience. By being consistent they portray an image of security and being an intelligent organization that doesn’t change its message every time something goes wrong economically. Although many firms have been communicating in the area of trust, HSBC has taken a different approach. While the notion of trust may relieve some internal pressures, and provide a short-term solution it won’t stand up as a long-term brand position. In addition, what’s more trustworthy than a bank that is consistently saying the same thing? Chopping and changing a core message suggests uncertainty. While others are floundering, if not failing, in this economic gloom, HSBC have stayed strong and by being consistent have not had to waste money on additional marketing and advertising. A very clever approach indeed.

Have you ever wondered why banks tend to have really traditional and expensive buildings? The reason is that the buildings are adverts in themselves. It states to the consumer “We’re here to stay. We’re not going to run off with your money”. It’s a mark of performance. The consumer can have confidence in the bank because they’ve obviously spent a lot of money and time on building a reputation. The banks have a lot to lose if they don’t follow through with their promises to consumers. As well as being the basis of a good brand, this idea of communicating to the consumer in a more subconscious way is called behavioural economics. Behavioural economics has a role in analysing the thought process of consumers in a recession, especially when their own money is at stake. In this current economic climate, consumers may be tempted to find short-term solutions to their money problems. Banks that have changed their advertising due to the recession can lure in consumers who are in search of a short-term solution. Consumers feel better if they react now rather than taking the better long-term solution. And this pursue of short-term gratification could be why some banks have decided to sell themselves as responding to the credit crunch.

Another notion is that of Loss Aversion. People tend to naturally display greater sensitivity to losses than to equivalent gains when making decisions i.e. people are more annoyed about losing £5 than they are happy about finding £10. This theory ties in with the advertising of banks. If the theory of loss aversion is applied then people will be anxious to prevent losing money and will therefore be more responsive to advertising that places an emphasis on safety and security.

Another argument raised in this study was; is it better for banks and consumers to search for a short-term or long-term solution? There are arguments for both cases but banks can tackle the recession with a long-term solution, which can also benefit them in the future. So to some extent, the banks shouldn’t let the recession affect their advertising at all.

Humor featured highly in the financial services advertising sector before the recession and nearly all brands have decided to produce more serious advertising. This begs the question, when the recession has passed, will banks revert back to a more humorous tone of voice? Halifax has produced a brand new TV advert (first appeared 17.01.10), which is dramatically more upbeat and light-hearted. Whether or not this is the correct decision and if others will follow, only time will tell. If banks do revert back to a more humorous approach, when is it appropriate to do so? Have Halifax been slightly premature? The fact that Halifax had comical adverts then more mature and are slowly heading back towards comical adverts is proof that the recession did have an affect on their advertising at least.

I feel, however, that the biggest impact of the credit crunch on the advertising of banks comes back to the consumer. It’s unlikely that you will change your bank account very often, it’s one of only few products or services whereby your first choice is normally your last. Although now, because of the recession, people are starting to look into the different brands and offers more closely and consequently the advertising has had to address this issue. So, in conclusion, the recession has had an affect on the advertising of banks but over time we’ll then be able to see to what extent.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Two free bars, a shelf and an agency party...

Right, now that the previous post has achieved its desired effect (venting my anger) I can now return to being a nice person.

There are high hopes for the graduates of Lincoln this year, and quite rightly, they’re a talented bunch. So it was no surprise that we had two teams shortlisted for The Shelf awards. Ollie and I went along to show our support to Neil & Stefan and Charley & James and naturally took advantage of the free bar along with Dando & Dodd. It was a great evening and gave us a chance to have a look at some of the work being produced by other courses. The standard was very high which makes the results something to be even more proud of. A Lincoln 1st and 2nd (C&J 1st, N&S 2nd)! Massive congratulations to both those teams who are doing more than their fair share of flying the Lincoln flag.

Ollie and I were lucky enough to secure a placement at industry leaders Dare Digital before we finished the course at Lincoln and their 10th anniversary party coincided with The Shelf awards. The party was invite only but well we were in the area…ish and working there the following Monday and thought it would be a good idea to show our faces and wanted to meet some people and it was only for the last half hour. That’s how we justified it to ourselves anyway. We turned up for the last half hour and managed to find a mildly (very) drunk Sean who was one of the first graduates from the Lincoln advertising course. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody so excited to hear someone say, “We’re from Lincoln too”. All in all, it was a great night, with lots of booze and lots of fun. Good times.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Degree Results

Firstly, I'd like to apologise for the photo, it's not me and my course mates, I just looked for a wanky photo of graduates. Yes, I said wanky, I'm in that type of mood.

Right back to more pressing issues, Results have been and gone. Ollie and I both got a 2:1. Hold the applause. I’m livid. I was 0.2% away from a 1st. “We’ve got to draw the line somewhere”. Fuck your line, or move it back, I don’t care what you do but sort it out. I haven’t sacrificed 3 years (OK 2 years, 1st year was a massive piss-up) of my life and £18,000 for a slightly above average degree. You could say it doesn’t matter to employers in advertising, but to be honest with you, it matters to me. I’m a competitive person, and to be perfectly frank 2:1 is an epic fail. I don’t even want to go to graduation.

By the way, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate my peers on their results, regardless of their grade, I’m just being a wanker but it’s fun to write so I’m going to keep going. Besides, it’s good that I’m letting all this out now as it could come out in later life in the form of a murder spree and that wouldn’t be good for anyone.

So to conclude the topic of results, I’d like to use the phrase “Fuck it”.

You’re entitled to an apology

I’ve literally been inundated with emails, letters, texts, phone calls, skype messages, tweets, smoke signals, everything, asking why I haven’t been posting on the blog recently. The truth is guys (all 5 of you), I’ve been busy and lazy. A dangerous combination in the blogging world.

Well all that is in the past and I’m feeling energetic now. So let’s start with finishing uni.

It was an exceptionally large show this year (55 people, normally around 20), which meant a lot of work needed doing to get ready to unveil our ideas to the public, or in reality just our parents. In we all went to clear the studio, prep the boards, put them up, paint them and eventually hang the work up. I think it looked smashing, don’t you agree?

And there Ollie and I are, looking like melons as usual. Next stop, London.

(We're actually already in London and have had a placement but I'm that far behind with the old blogging, forgive me).