Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Make-up is better for business

'Woman who wear make-up do better in business'. Yes! After a few years at University being one of the few make-up addicts, I now feel vindicated!

Friday, 30 November 2007


Lateness. I've been thinking about it a lot recently, but it all came to head this morning.

I arrived for a meeting at an agency, which shall remain nameless, on time and raring to go. I was greeted hospitably and offered a drink. I said, "yes please, a cup of tea would be lovely". Quarter of an hour later, I was beginning to get restless and thirsty. Half an hour later, I was rapidly sinking into a bad mood and extremely thirsty.

After three quarters of an hour (and numerous discussions with the receptionist), I was finally ushered into a small room and the meeting began.

"So, you are X from Leeds".

"No" I said.

Cue all looking extremely confused.

"Actually, I'm Y, from the IPA".

Cue red faces from the agency and a hasty dash to grab the right set of papers. I spent the next hour trying to look cheerful and contribute interesting ideas, all the while thinking what an absolute shambles they were.

The cup of tea never arrived either!

Christmas Tree

The IPA Christmas Tree has been delivered.
I immediately feel more festive!

Friday, 23 November 2007

Fostering Creativity and Diversity

It has been one of those weeks when I have learnt a lot. A nice week. I went to a seminar at The Work Foundation about fostering creativity and diversity with Herman Gyr. It was excellent.

I thought I'd share one of the particularly interesting things I learnt. The content is not new, but I really liked the new way of approaching it.

To cope with the future, companies need to think about their audience and consumers. There are four types of personality, or parts of personality.

Ana Analogue wants to be enriched, is passive and reflective. To fulfill her needs a company needs to provide quality content. Andi is enabled and wants to interact and be playful. A company needs to provide him with interactive experiences and choice. DJ Digital is empowered, creative and wants to make an impact, therefore he needs tools to engage with content. Finally, Syndi Synthesised wants to connect, participate and be part of a community therefore she needs an interactive platform.

I think this model to think about consumer wants and needs now and in the future is helpful. My personal opinion is that we all have elements of each of those personalities within us, but the younger we are, the more we move away from Ana and towards Syndi.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Marketing Society Conference

I went to The Marketing Society Conference yesterday and really enjoyed myself. It was held at the Royal Opera House, which was a beautiful venue. Even the continual rain pouring onto the roof of the Floral Hall could not dampen my spirits as I listened to some really interesting speeches.

The first public appearance of Blake Chandlee as Commercial Director of Facebook UK was informative in itself, but a talk on private equity by David Mansfield was also surprisingly enjoyable.

I often leave conferences feeling sleepy (no natural light) and none the wiser. Yesterday, however, I felt that I had learnt a lot. The mini apple and pear crumbles at lunchtime were also scrumptious!

Friday, 16 November 2007

IPA Effectiveness Awards 2007

MCBD and MediaCom won the IPA Grand Prix for Trident, the Metropolitan Police operation to curb black community gun crime in London. The campaign, which also won a Gold Award, lead to an 86% rise in calls providing intelligence on gun crime, and a reduction of 15% on actual gun crime.

Unfortunately, this morning there was another headline about gun crime and death. A 17 year old footballer shot in Stoke Newington. In the last year, there have been three or four shootings in the area and streets where I live. It never ceases to shock and scare me. It is so incomprehensible.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Truth

In the course of researching foreign advertising, there were some real howlers. However, there were also some gems. Here is one of them:

However, while watching it, I found it difficult to stop wondering why it was in English; isn't Argentina a Spanish speaking country? Is it therefore genuine? I don't know, but I still think it is very powerful.

Thursday, 8 November 2007


London is often a lonely and mean spirited place, but I was pleasantly surprised last night.

I squeezed onto the bus on my way home, but it set off with such a jerk that I, and several other people, went flying. This trip proved too much for my book bag (my advice is to be suspicious of IPA carrier bags!) and the bottom split, my books flying everywhere.

The next five minutes proved quite interesting. The bus pitched and tossed while I scrabbled around on the floor to retrieve everything. Finally, all poise completely lost, I sat down.

After examining my pile of belongings and my useless bag in dismay, I looked up to find a stranger opposite offering me a spare bag, having rearranged her shopping to do so. How lovely!

Small, everyday events like that really make me happy.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Heather Mills McCartney

Headlines like 'Heather Mills McCartney's GMTV meltdown' were all over the papers this morning. Ouch.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs, the truths and the lies of the situation, I really do think this woman is her own worst enemy. The media is not the forum to protest about media intrusion, it just makes you look, at best, silly.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


If the way you dress, the way you speak and the way you act are all part of your personal brand, just what are cheerleaders thinking?

Watching the NFL game, played at Wembley on Sunday, I was quite horrified to see these doll-like females waving their pom poms. Frankly, I found it embarrassing that supposedly intelligent, independent, athletic women could be satisfied wearing very little and looking pretty whilst the men get on with the real game.

Maybe it is because I grew up as part of the Spice Girl/Girl Power generation, or maybe I don't understand American culture, but cheerleaders really should set their sights higher than just being decorations on the sidelines of a 'man's sport'.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

The Cult of the Amateur

Andrew Keen’s book ‘The Cult of the Amateur’, about the growth of blogging and social networking, claims that ‘the democratisation of the digital world is destroying our economy, our culture and our values’. I would argue against these opinions strongly.

First, the internet is actually stimulating our economy in a hugely exciting way. This Christmas will be a record year for spending online, with £13.6bn predicted to be spent online between October 1st and Christmas Day (The Forrester Report). The UK is now the largest market in Europe for online shopping. Online businesses are being set up every day. The online revolution is actively contributing to our economy. Keen uses the example of the music industry’s decline to support his argument. In fact, the music industry's reticence in embracing the digital age and new business models was the cause of its downfall. Experiments such as Radiohead’s ‘honesty box’ approach for downloading their new album seem to be paying off, music industry executives were just too short sighted to see it.

Secondly, the internet is adding to our culture, not detracting from it. Keen argues the lack of control over the internet is allowing our culture to be diluted by mediocre amateurs. Culture is not like fruit squash, it cannot be diluted. The most successful blogs are a phenomenon and add to our culture, by allowing publishing companies to discover new talent cheaply e.g. ‘Wife in the North’.

Finally, Keen argues our values are being compromised. He says the internet is undermining truth. Truth has always been a slippery concept and traditional media are no less immune to accusations of lies and deceit than the internet. The internet gives people choices; the choice to form their own opinions, to contribute to the debate and to criticise. This is not undermining our values in anyway, just exploring them.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Sony Bunnies

I just had to put this up...! I think it's great.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Black Sheep

One uncanny coincidence that I kept thinking about while at BBH was their logo and my upbringing.

Black Sheep Beer was a large part of my childhood. Not in the drinking it sense, I hasten to add (I will never like beer I'm afraid), but in a brand sense. It was the local brewery. I went to school with members of the family. All the men in my family drink nothing else. The thing that has always particularly interested me though is the story behind the name.

Paul Theakston, part of the Theakston brewing dynasty, disagreed with his family over the selling of Theakston's in the early 1990s to Scottish and Newcastle. He left the fold to set up a rival brewery, in the same town. Awkward. Originally called 'Sheep', Paul's wife suggested, 'Black Sheep' as an appropriate name, given the tension and disagreements within the family.

It could be a Catherine Cookson plot...

So when I marched up to the Black Sheep above the door of BBH, I felt curiously at home. A familiar landmark in a way. I've just got to remember that, when everyone else zigs, to make sure I zag. Very Black Sheep.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty

I have returned to the IPA after my week at BBH. I had a fantastic, if slightly exhausting, time. It was a real insight into agency life, planning in particular. Unlike most work experience placements I have done, I felt I was being vaguely useful! Funnily enough, pages 12, 17 and 29 of Marketing this week have shown me that the project I was working on was even more topical than I suspected. I'm resisting the temptation to email the articles over - it would just be too keen.

Overall, the agency were incredibly kind to me, although, unfortunately, I did not meet Sir John Hegarty, but his PA and office were very nice when I walked past!

I had a very steep learning curve while I was there, but it really confirmed that 'plannerish' ambitions are the right kind of ambition to have, for me anyway.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Pictures and Publishers

I (and the excellent Claire and Martin) have been gathering images for Hamish's book for the last year now. We have a large stock pile of ads from 'Persil Washes Whiter' and 'Smash Martians' to 'Skoda Fabia - Bakers'.

Initial instructions were for 'high resolution' images, 300 dpi. So, for the last year, we have been asking for exactly that from agencies and clients.

Last week, I received an e mail from our otherwise excellent publishers explaining that they actually needed black and white images at 600 dpi resolution. Oh dear. So this week, I have had the unenviable task of writing to the 50+ people who kindly supplied us with images in the first place, asking for an ultra high resolution image. It became increasingly clear that most images are just not stored at that quality, nor have any need to be.

So the result is that I now have about three images which, amazingly, are the required resolution, and a lot more that are not. The one thing I just don't understand is why, when 300 dpi is good enough for A3 ads, is it not good enough for a 100mm by 80mm book plate?

Friday, 21 September 2007


I've been thinking a lot about networks over the past week. Reading the trade press, you would think networks were a terribly new thing, invented circa 2004 and called Facebook.

Actually, networks have been part of the human condition for a long, long time. I imagine stories, tales and sagas were passed on from person to person through networks, long before the written word. Footpaths and roads have always existed, latticing the country in a network.

I think, given the current topicality of digital networks, it is important to remember that the word 'network' has a wider meaning that just Bebo, My Space and Facebook. The really interesting thing is not that digital networks exist, but how they differ (or otherwise) from more traditional networks.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007


My visit to see Atonement was quite eventful. We settled down into our seats at Odeon Tottenham Court Road, just as the film was starting. The room was completely quiet. Too completely quiet, it soon became clear. There was no sound for the first 20 minutes. The whole cinema revolted, led by a fabulous Australian girl. The manager was apologetic, but no, he couldn't start the film again. He explained this was because of the digital technology. I would like to believe him, but my cynical side suspects it may have been more to do with the fact they didn't want to spoil their schedule. To make a long story shorter, we eventually got our money back and some complimentary tickets; which I felt was the only appropriate course of action for the manager after our Friday night had been a bit of a disaster.

On Sunday, we decided to try again. We also decided that, as we had guest passes, we would go to the huge Odeon in Leicester Square. We got fabulous seats and the film was fantastic in my humble opinion (although it would seem Cosmo from The Times is a harder man to please). Keira Knightly's acting was much better and the cinematography was stunning. Odeon made amends for Friday night's fiasco; their brand equity is now higher in my eyes!

Friday, 7 September 2007

The Battle of Big Thinking

I have a flyer for the 3rd Annual Branded Content Forum on my desk. It looks really interesting. So I am going to go.

In my time at the IPA, I've been lucky enough to go to loads of interesting conferences and seminars. Not only have they helped me do my present job, but have filled my head with all sorts of random facts and ideas, which will hopefully be useful in the future.

The one conference which I'd love to go to is 'The Battle of Big Thinking'. I've heard it was great last year, but I haven't managed to get hold of a ticket for it yet go there will be one of my New Year 2008 resolutions, I think.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Planning Books

I love books. I am regarded as bizarre by my friends as I probably read more than I watch T.V.

One of my many favourite books is Atonement by Ian McEwan. This is mainly because it is stunningly, beautifully written. I like the plot as well, but if I could ever frame a sentence as perfectly as Ian McEwan, I would be a very happy girl.

When discussing the film and Ian McEwan generally in the office, it became increasingly clear that not everyone shares my high opinion. 'Pretentious b******!' was one of the more extreme responses. I am sure he probably is; great writers are not known for being likable human beings in general, but I'm still going to wax lyrical about Atonement.

I am going to see the film tomorrow, which I am quite intrigued by. I usually find Keira Knightly wooden, so I hope she raises her game.

On the subject of books, I have decided to read a few about planning, in preparation for my secondment at BBH. I've already read a few, but manged to miss 'Truth, Lies and Advertising', which is apparently essential reading. I will be curling up with that tonight.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Everyone loves a story

"Everyone hates ads, everyone loves a story."

This quote is from someone we interviewed for Hamish's book.

This opinion is also popular outside marketing and in advertsing.

Perhaps agencies need to be hiring journalists and storytellers, copywriters should go on creative writing courses and planners should find the story, rather than (or as well as) the insight?

I'm back!

After a fabulous holiday, I am back!

I like to try something new each time I go away, to stop myself being accused of being boring. This year it was exploring caves. Given my claustrophobia and hatred of all small spaces (particularly lifts), this was no small thing.

However, once walking the 1.7km underground, I needn't have worried. These caves were more like caverns the size of the Albert Hall. We walked along, guided only by torches and an excitable Frenchman (stupidly, we thought our 'we can get buy relatively well' French would cope with cave lingo - it was interesting) until we were ordered to turn our torches off. Apprehensively I did so, grabbing onto some poor man's arm. The electric spot lights then flickered and, suddenly, I was staring at the most wonderful prehistoric doodles. The excitable Frenchman explained that the horses and bison were believed to have religious or sexual symbolism.

I maintain that some poor caveman/woman, 1.7km into the Earth, had looked out at the miserable Pyrenean weather that morning and decided to stay in. When bored of staring at the fire, s/he decided to decorate his/her cave with pretty pictures. Or maybe it was advertising the menu for dinner? Or maybe I'm being flippant?!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Advertising quotes

I have spent far too much time this afternoon looking for positive quotes about advertising. You wouldn't think it would be that difficult.. and it isn't, if you want something negative!

The only remotely interesting ones I have found are:

"Advertising is the foot on the accelerator, the hands on the throttle, the spur on the flank that keeps our economy surging forward."

And my personal favourite:

"Advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on."

I wish someone important would say something nice about advertising. Go on, surprise me.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone (...actually someone in his office) wants a copy of the report I am writing about 'London as a Global Advertising Centre'. Gulp.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

MFI advert

The new MFI adverts have been causing furore, and quite rightly in my opinion. In general, that kind of aggression is just not acceptable in families, and nor should it be portrayed as normal. The first time I saw it, I was left feeling very uncomfortable.

That said, I am consistently amazed on the bus how aggressive children seem to be in London. Where do they get it from, this anger? The most trivial things escalate to 'I am going to kill you' fury in seconds. This is new and worrying. However, the MFI advert should not be portraying this as normal and even acceptable.

The offending advert:

Monday, 30 July 2007

An advertising factoid...

The advertising industry is bigger than the UK film industry by £800m.

Friday, 20 July 2007


Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 20 October 2005.

I went to Oxbridge. Not the kind of statement I usually bring into conversations.
What kind of image or reaction does that arose in most people? A shrug of the shoulders, a sneer, a smile? With a select few, that makes me a member of an exclusive club; with the rest of the world it usually evokes a sneer...and that makes me embarrassed and therefore annoyed at myself for being embarrassed.

Take today, when someone looked rather piercingly at me and said, "you don't have any of the usual arrogance of Oxbridge types". I didn't know what to say. In the end I settled for:
"No, I don't. I was fortunate to go there and having done so doesn't make me any better than anyone else, just luckier."
I then realised I might have come across as having confidence issues (I don't, for the record!) so I qualified it with: "There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and I have always wanted to be on the right side". The gentleman nodded, but continued to look at me in a puzzled way.

Unfortunately, the stereotypes are occasionally true, but much less so than you would think. Perhaps I should start a word of mouth campaign with my blog "Oxbridge graduates are not all arrogant". But really there is no business problem for marketing to solve, Oxbridge has no problem attracting applicants.

My real feelings about the whole Oxbridge thing is that I had some of the most amazing experiences of my life there. It is something to be proud of and it is an institution which shaped me in more ways than I care to count, but I hope in a good way.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Cracked Heels

Something disturbing happened to me yesterday evening.

I was watching T.V. and an advert for Scholl Cracked Heel Cream came on. Before I could stop myself, I automatically reached for my feet and checked what state my heels were in.

How can anyone say advertising doesn't work?

Thursday, 12 July 2007

UK Advertising

UK advertising is a global creative powerhouse. I read this in the press every week at the moment. Despite a disappointing performance at this year's Cannes, it is fair to say that British advertising is the test tube and the envy of the world.

Simon Marquis argued in his column last week that the government interferes with advertising at is peril. "Advertising needs to be allowed to flourish with little or no interference from government."

I'm not sure that's right. Advertising has been a success story in spite of government neglect. Advertising has had none of the government funds invested in it as the design industry has had. This is a testament to the industry. However, with investment and attention from government, surely advertising in the UK could be even better? The film industry tax incentive scheme has done wonders for British films. I think something like that could work for advertising.

If you were in a room with James Purnell, what would you ask him? What should the government do to help advertising, if anything? Tax incentives like in the film industry, an understanding that there will be less legislation of advertising, higher salaries to attract the best new graduates?

What do you think?

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Food advertising

I was in serious trouble this weekend. Previous driving disasters meant that I was given the 'safer' job of map reading our way to Leeds Castle, rather than driving.

I sat quietly and diligently, glued to the map...until a debate about advertising junk food to children erupted. I have quite a lot of opinions about this, so we discussed it in a spirited way for about half an hour, until I was asked which junction we needed to turn off at.

Oh dear. I had no idea. One thing I did know was that we had been driving for an hour and a half. The journey should only have taken three quarters of an hour. Should I speak up and confess? I decided to keep quiet until we saw the next road sign and my incompetence could no longer be denied.

Unfortunately for me, the next sign we saw was in French, 'remember to drive on the left'.

'We're halfway to bloody France! Give me that map!'

Moral: Don't debate the rights and wrongs of advertising junk food to children while navigating. You'll get into trouble.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Images for a book

Despite doing a law degree, I was blissfully ignorant before starting this job on the nuances of obtaining permission to reproduce images.

Hamish is very keen to include lots of images in his book, including several full colour plates. I completely agree. A picture says a thousand words and all that...

The New Zealand Rugby Football Club were fantastic, and sent over an image, complete with written permission, within a few hours of request. Other UK-based companies, who shall remain nameless, have been an absolute nightmare, wanting us to contact the photographer and everyone who appears in the photo individually, charging the earth for usage, taking eons to reply to any enquiries and generally being obstructive.

My advice for anyone seeking images to include in a book: have lots of alternatives up your sleeve!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Jonathan Durden Part Deux

So, Jonathan has left the Big Brother.

It caused a bit of a debate in my house last night, with Boyf maintaining that if you go into Big Brother, you choose to stay cut off from the world. According to him, there should be no half-way house.

I maintained that if someone close to you dies, you should be told and then allowed to make the decision yourself. Given the furore in Australia, when the programme chose not to tell a housemate her father had died, I think most of the public are probably with me.

However, it is an interesting question.

In this case, I think Jonathan did exactly the right thing and he appeared much more human and likable as a resut.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Thwarted Terrorist Plots

I saw the most fantastic interview on BBC News last night. A journalist was talking to people in London about the recently thwarted terrorist plot.

Journalist: How have these events affected you?

Man: They haven't affected me at all, I'm not going to change my plans to fit in with them!

Makes me quite proud.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Bartle Bogle Hegarty

A secondment in the Planning department at BBH has been arranged for me. I'm quite excited! Having visited many advertising agencies on my travels, BBH has one of the nicest atmospheres, in my opinion. DDB London and Walker Media are other favourites of mine.

You can judge an agency like a doctor's surgery I find: by the receptionists.

Monday, 25 June 2007


I blame my Dad for my taste in music. Meatloaf, Deep Purple, The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jethro Tull. Occasionally, I throw a bit of Britney into the mix to convince myself I am a twenty-something girl, not Jeremy Clarkson in drag.

Whilst listening to Bat out of Hell, on the 6.30pm to York last Friday, I found myself wondered whether sales of Harleys went up when that album was released. It certainly must have pushed brand awareness into the stratosphere.

Maybe Google has the answer...

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

London Logo 2012 Olympics

I have tried to resist commenting on the new Olympic logo. I generally find people who just have negative comments and no solutions very annoying, so I decided silence would be the consistent and moral course to take.

However, after a random conversation with a complete stranger about it on the tube last night, I can no longer resist.

My honest opinion is that the logo looks very dated, like graffiti on Italian trains circa 1995. It says nothing about London or Britain in 2007, let alone 2012. I appreciate that the logo is flexible, and admire the idea that it will evolve but, despite this, I am still unconvinced.

I was urged by a supporter of the logo to wait until I had seen the animated version until I judged. I did. I thought it looked even more dated when animated. Sorry.

The stranger on the train ended our conversation by sighing, staring into space and saying "I suppose we just have to hope it will grow on us".

Monday, 18 June 2007

Jonathan Durden

Jonathan Durden of PHD has gone into the Big Brother house, despite saying he has never watched it (surprising for a media man?). I think he will be entertaining to watch...

'Would you go into the Big Brother house?' This old chestnut of a question usually crops up after half a bottle of wine. My answer? No way.

Trapped in one place, with no books, for several weeks/months? Horrific. I can quite understand why Vanessa Feltz went slightly crazy.

Fundamentally though, I just don't want to be scrutinised like a lab rat.

Fantastic Four

When my brother and two of his friends descended on me this weekend, there was one thing I had to show them - the London Eye. I love it and they loved it. We managed to see the Trooping of the Colour from 450 ft...

I had read about the promotion of the latest 'Fantastic Four' film on the wheel, but not actually seen it. I thought it was quite impressive, and it certainly had everyone in my pod, especially the children, talking about the film.

The London Eye is a very powerful space in terms of advertising if used sensitively and intelligently. Red Nose Day, with the Eye lit up in red, was a particularly successful example.

One concern I do have is, will charity messages be as strong if Hollywood blockbusters can also use the Eye? Does this argument fall down when the BA brand association with the Eye is taken into consideration?

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Missing deadlines

I think we are going to miss the June deadline for Hamish's book. This will be the second time. Kogan Page have been very understanding thus far...

I'm hoping I am just having a pessimistic day, but a miracle would have to happen in the next two weeks for us to finish on time!

I wonder whether this happens to everyone writing books?

Friday, 1 June 2007

"This is the night that either makes me, or for does me quite"

Tonight, I am going to see Othello at the Globe. I am concerned about the dark skies.

I was considering bringing my beautifully branded Abbey umbrella to protect me from the dubious June weather, until Boyfriend pointed out the people stood behind me would probably not be very pleased.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

All about cars

Can someone other than the automotive industry do some inspiring advertising, please?

Night Driving

Dylan Thomas. Poet.

His magnus opus, Under Milk Wood was performed for the first time two months before he died. This "play for voices" displays Dylan's innate grasp for radio as a medium.

Interestingly, DDB London have adapted this for a television commercial, the first time Under Milk Wood has been used in this way.

The results, in my opinion, are superb.

Richard Burton's voice gives me the shivers.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Brand Disaster

Our information centre have just finished trawling through Lexis Nexis for my search 'Biggest Brand Disasters'. I think they quite enjoyed it.

Among the classics, I have spent my morning chuckling over Persil Power and Coca Cola Dasani.

Ratner's clanger in 1991 is my personal favourite - brand suicide. When asked at a major business conference how his products could be so cheap, he cheerfully explained that it was because they were 'total crap'!

I presume he was not so cheerful as his stores started closing. I heard a rumour that he is now trying to buy back H Samuel stores. You've got to admire his tenacity!

If anyone reading this has any other favourite brand disasters, it would brighten my afternoon to read about them...

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Forbidden Corner

I have purchased my tickets to visit Forbidden Corner this weekend. I can barely contain my excitement! Call me a big kid, but fairy tales, riddles and secret caverns thrill me. I think that makes Forbidden Corner my spirtual home.

Goblins, talking statues, waterfalls and mice help you solve puzzles and, if you need any encouragement, make you six years old again. It is a perfect world with danger, mystery and trials, but you can carry the comforting thought around with you that, in the end, good will win over evil and you will be home in time for tea.

I noticed a striking modern fairy tale, arguably without the talking statues though, in the papers yesterday - the renaissance of Marks & Spencer. The Financial Times noted, however, some nervousness in the City over whether Rose could maintain sales. I think higher interest rates are bound to have an effect on consumer spending, but if M&S continue to strike the right balance between quality, value and fashion, I am sure they will all live happily ever after!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Food, Glorious Food!

Yummy! Have you ever wanted to lick the television while watching an advert? I guarantee this one will make you want to!

Food is one of the great loves of my life, along with black Labradors and hard-backed books. So I am sure you can imagine my delight when, at my creative writing class, the tutor walked in with a bag of food. Maryland cookies, Tunnock's Caramels and Walker's Sensations. An eclectic mix, but I didn't mind.

Our task was to describe how it feels to eat, to describe taste and texture. Obviously, research was required. As I munched my way through my Tunnock's Caramel bar, it occurred to me that, despite it being hard to describe, food is one of the most evocative things possible...each stage of my life can be identified by a particular dish. Mango for university, Skittles for sunny afternoons in June and Fish Pie reminds me of my Grandad, who explained seriously once, to my five year old self, that I'd be brainy if I ate my fish.

Thursday, 17 May 2007


Don't have too many monkeys in your office. That is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given.

People often come to others with their problems, their monkeys.

When a person comes to you with their monkey, listen, advise, but on no account let them leave their monkey with you. It is their monkey and therefore should not stay in your office, but be given back to its rightful owner.


Friday, 11 May 2007


How will publishing cope with the digital future? It is a question I find interesting, always having loved books. As I spend most of my working life involved with them in one way or another, it seems a logical questions to ask.

I listened to John Makinson speak a few months ago. He pointed to the wiki novel, 'A Million Penguins' as a sign that publishing was ready to face web 3.0. This was at the same time as his company were suing Google, due to an online library plan. I'm raising my eyebrows.

I appreciate that online libraries would be a copyright nightmare, but a nightmare worth tackling I think. Although there will always be a place for the tactile experience of reading for pleasure, in my future at least, it is time publishers accepted that business books and textbooks would be far better in digital format. Might not be so popular with chiropractors though.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Gym Bunny

Gyms. I don't really know how I feel about them. My reservations include price, cleanliness and the country bumpkin snobbishness that exercise isn't exercise unless it is in the fresh air.

However, I have often felt like a social outcast when my friends wax lyrical about their homes away from home. By not belonging to a gym in London, you miss out on a modern social network as important as Facebook. I was completely left out of the 'gym' conversations (almost as socially debilitating as not owning a TV).

So, yesterday, I succumbed and joined a gym (in the hope of toning up for the summer). The fact I get a discounted rate through Prudential health insurance is an incentive, I'll happily admit.

I wonder how long the novelty will last? Probably as long as my delight at discovering the gym has significantly better hairdryers than my own!

p.s. If I go to the gym, maybe one day I could throw a hammer like this:

Friday, 4 May 2007

Simple Life

Role plays. Always interesting, if slightly false, I think. Yesterday, in an excellent course ran by Kevin Duncan, I played a client eager for new ideas from my agency. They took it well and agreed to produce a new, exciting media plan. In exchange, I was very benevolent (I could afford to be, time wasn't an issue in my brief) and gave them 12 days rather than 5 to produce it.

As the negotiation drew to a close after only 10 minutes, we all agreed to go out for an amiable drink afterwards. If only real life was so simple...

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Newspapers and Creativity

I went to the NMA Newspapers and Creativity event yesterday. The sun was shining, The Mall was its most picturesque and London and I were best friends...until I began sneezing incessantly. Tree pollen. Rather spoilt the moment.

Once my sneezing fit had passed, I entered the ICA and enjoyed the afternoon. The results of the NMA's research were impressive and very positive for newspapers.

However, I had one reservation and, had I been brave enough to speak out, I would have pointed out that the study appears to be based on full page, full colour newspaper ads.

Can the client, who can only afford the "blink and you'll miss it" small print at the bottom of page 30 expect the same results? I'm sceptical.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Advertising musings...

Our visit to Tesco also raised another interesting point I have been pondering over. It was clear that this gentleman’s position on advertising was that it was a tiny part of his overall job.

Would it be fair to say that sometimes agencies forget this?

I think they forget it at their peril.

Thursday, 26 April 2007


I trudged to Tesco HQ in the rain. It is grey. Everything about Tescoville is grey. Or maybe it was just my mood.

I left the station and turned the corner, expecting the ubiquitous glass tower that seems to be the bastion of British business in the 21st century. What I am confronted with is definitely not glass, not even grey glass.

Tesco HQ is the ugliest, most run-down looking, set of buildings I have ever had the pleasure to visit due to work. In a strange way, this is quite refreshing and certainly grabs my attention in a way more pleasing architecture would not. It was also brown, not grey.

When asked about the ‘low-key’ buildings, as we diplomatically put it, this marketing director’s answer was interesting. Tesco is not a flashy brand, and therefore, rather than have a flashy new building, they would rather spend that money on the consumer.

Standard marketing patter, the more cynical among us would say. Normally, as a cynic going by the name of disillusioned idealist, I would agree.

However, there was a small part of me that believed him.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

The Pigalle Club

Brand experiences. How often can you say you have had a positive brand experience? Not often, I would submit.

When being interviewed for the book, the marketing director of Motorola mentioned his visit to Dolce and Gabbana, “those guys really understand branding”. This gentleman was so impressed with his experience of Dolce, from packaging to attitude, that he allied his own brand with them, to create the Dolce and Gabbana Razr.

A recent brand experience of my own was at The Pigalle Club. I waltzed in, in my new shoes, expecting a good evening. What I had was, actually, an amazing evening.

The logo glinting above the dance floor, the music, the branded plates, waiters who smiled and danced as they made their way to your table, the old timers (whom I suspected were paid to motivate the clientele) on the dance floor before anyone else. All of these little touches were staged to perfection; all imbedded with something unique to The Pigalle Club, adding up to at least one very satisfied customer.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Researcher Required

As a researcher for Hamish’s book, I am responsible for general project management, content research and sourcing charts. Sourcing images, it was decided, was a big enough job to merit a full-time pair of hands. We, therefore, arranged a series of graduates to do work experience; helping source electronic images and obtain permission to reproduce these images. It is not the most interesting job in the world, but great experience for any wannabe adlander, in my humble opinion.

As the last person had moved on to a job with the JJ Group, our new lady arrived yesterday. She seemed perfectly nice, albeit lacking slightly in enthusiasm. However, this I was perfectly prepared to overlook, given I had spent the last hour talking at her. Overwhelming for any man, woman or beast…

I found her a comfortable chair, got her some stationary and, once the computer had gurgled into life, I left her to read the draft manuscript, agreeing to return at 4pm to see how she was getting on.

At 3.30pm, I had a phone call. “Have you seen X?”
“No, although I am due to meet her at 4.”
“I’ll ring back in a minute.”
Ten minutes later.
“X went for lunch and hasn’t come back…”

I had tried my best to be nice.

Work experience anyone??

Monday, 16 April 2007


There are not many advertisements I really dislike, but this is one of them:

I was always taught it was extremely bad manners to threaten violence with cutlery.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

The Results...

The IPA Foundation Certificate results arrived in my inbox this morning. Last night, I had been re-analysing the exam in my head, and found that, actually, it wasn’t in my head anymore! I’d completely forgotten most of the questions. So I decided there was absolutely no point worrying about it!

I’ve sat a lot of exams in my life, more that I care to think about or remember really. I also feel, quite strongly, that a lot of them were pointless. No one is ever going to ask me exactly what GCSEs I managed to get – I can barely remember them myself. Each stage was merely a hoop to jump through to the next set of exams, in turn to that mythical, elusive creature, a good job. Ever felt like a hamster in a wheel? I did.

However, I am also pragmatic enough to realise they are a necessary evil, no one having thought of a better way to put people in neat little boxes (usually marked A, B or C). I also know that, without passing a few of those pesky exams, I would not be sat here, in beautiful Belgravia, now.

Despite myself – I’m almost ashamed to admit – I quite like taking exams. It is almost a cathartic experience, getting all that revision off your chest. Revision is the stuff that is really miserable, sat on your bed staring at the tort of negligence ‘til you’re cross-eyed, when everyone else is at barbeques. Luckily for me, I found the content of the Foundation Certificate pretty engaging back in February, which is more than I can say about my law exams!

So my revision days are over for a while, until I decide to put myself through it again, because I actually did pretty well in the Foundation Certificate. So well, in fact, that I think a visit to the pub is required on the way home tonight!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Ride a White Horse

A white horse on the hillside, 300 ft by 300 ft. Romantic explanations for the phenomenon have been batted around over the centuries – tribal symbols, religious images, icons, gods…

The modern explanation for these chalk cuttings is simple; the genuine, bronze age, white horse is an advertisement to passing travellers, pointing the way to farriers. In an ironic twist of fate, these white landmarks were covered up millennia later to prevent them advertising navigation points to Luftwaffe bombers. It seems they did their job rather too well.

From apparently very pragmatic beginnings, these advertisements have become symbolic landmarks and art. I wonder how many adverts today will stand the test of time in the same way?

Friday, 30 March 2007

As Old As My Tongue...

It is my birthday today. How old am I? Well, I suppose a lady should never reveal her true age, so let’s just say early twenties.

When I was small, I was fascinated with the age of my grandparents. When asked how old she was, Grandma, without fail, would say “I’m as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth”. That would leave me puzzled for days. I wonder whether Grandma ever noticed me staring in bewilderment at her mouth, trying to find clues.

Another ritual I had when I was small, as well as asking annoying questions of my elders, was visiting Newby Hall. There is a miniature train there which I loved. Some of my first memories are of the sound of the train changing in tone as it crossed over the brook and compelling, in fact generally blackmailing, my parents to let me stay on for ‘one more ride’.

So tomorrow, I am going to go to Newby Hall to ride again! One way of justifying my childish desire to go on the train again, that I think it will be interesting to do some background research for the second book in Hamish's planned series, has occurred to me.
Two weeks ago, Newby Hall was the backdrop for the BBC drama, Mansfield Park. I am going to find out whether visitor numbers or enquiries have been noticeably affected by the programme, as it was superb product placement. I'll be surprised if there has not been a positive effect, so it could be a nice anecdote for the book.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Faustian Pact

Or viewed in another light, did Matt sell his soul?

A Digital Fairy Tale

Let me tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, a boy called Matt sat talking amongst friends. It was his last night with them before heading off into the world. He was apprehensive but excited, anticipating the dragons he would have to fight and the fair damsels he would rescue.

His friends, ever innovative, suggested he send them videos rather than postcards, to record his adventures. Matt thought this was a good idea, but had one reservation – what would he video? His friends exclaimed “Why, you in exotic places, of course!”
“But I’ll look silly, just stood in a strange place in a video,” replied Matt.
“Then do a dance,” counteracted his friends.
Matt thought about this and decided it was a good idea. And thenceforth, wherever he went, Matt sent his friends video clips of his dances from the north, the west, the south and the east.

The gentlemen at Stride gum happened upon these videos one day whilst browsing YouTube. “There is a man who engenders our brand values,” they said to themselves. They offered Matt a devilishly good deal - continuing his travels while they paid. In return, they asked just to associate their brand with the spirit of adventure and innovation that Matt stood for.

And they all lived happily ever after...

Monday, 26 March 2007

Flaubert's French Roast

Flaubert once said that anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough. I imagine that was the insight a weary ad man was clinging to, as he suggested putting adverts on Costa Coffee tables.

Friday, 23 March 2007

24 Hours With...

One of the most intriguing sections of Campaign for me is ‘24 Hours With…’. You could put this down to natural curiosity, nosiness or just plain voyeurism. As it is unlikely I will have the honour of being invited to contribute to that column in the near future, adapting it here seems like an interesting, if slightly self indulgent, experiment. So here I go:

Name: That would be telling…
Job: Marketing and Research
Professional mission: To be a name, but not a face
Personal Mantra: To be interesting

7.20am Leap out of bed...[really]
7.30am Wish I had more clothes.
7.45am Select tube reading material.
8.00am Lock house and sprint to bus stop.
8.10am Bus late, forehead wrinkles deepening visably.
8.20am The joy of the central line fills my soul.
9.00am Arrive at a beautiful building, check emails, wake up.
10.00am Meeting with Hamish and Peter about the book. Feel dynamic and motivated.
12.00pm Glued to Google in the name of research.
1.00pm Lunch and a walk around Hyde Park in search of fresh air - I don’t find any.
3.00pm Minutes. Shoot me now.
4.00pm Try to think of some interesting ideas. Varied success.
4.30pm Interview eminent Tesco person with Peter for Hamish’s book. One of the best bits of my job. Fascinating.
7.30pm Arrive home, perverse bin men have left the bin on our flowers…again. More wrinkles.
11.00am Bedtime.

I'm beginning to doubt whether my personal mantra is appropriate…!

Monday, 19 March 2007

Rare Creature

I am a rare creature, a former state school pupil who studied Latin. I should probably have done something more sensible and, dare I say it, useful, like German. However, the romance, the brutality and the logic of Latin appealed to me (read into that what you will!).

Natalie Haynes expressed the appeal of Classics beautifully in The Times this morning: “I ran straight into the welcoming folds of A-level Latin and Greek, where I was reasonably certain to be reading about people killing their mothers (Electra), embarking on an elephantine alpine excursion (Livy XXI) or committing big, messy suicide (all classical literature).”

One beautiful day in early spring, in a little town of no consequence except to those fortunate enough to have lived in it, we began translating Orpheus and Eurydice. To this day, the description of Hades and the Underworld fills my head as I trot down the steps into the tube. “Then Orpheus held a torch as he entered a pitch-black region where horrible sounds echoed through a cavernous landscape, and buried ghosts and phantom dwellers floated by.” One question that occupies my thoughts as I stand, phantom-like, in the train is whether there were any advertisements for hair loss treatments in the Underworld? Ixion’s Wheel strikes me as prime advertising space.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Media Week

I read in Media Week recently that they were going to offer Hamish’s next book as a prize to someone. Cue a wry smile from myself. I suspect they will have to wait a while yet…

Monday, 12 March 2007

Spot the Product Placement

I went to see ‘Freedom Writers’ a few nights ago and I really enjoyed it, being something of a sucker for those 'inspirational teacher' films. I was also at BAFTA, which I am sure enhanced my viewing experience - no popcorn fights there!

However, I couldn't help but notice the cunning Borders product placement in it, although it certainly wasn't as crass as in Casino Royale . Everytime the camera panned a car park full of Fords, I could barely contain a groan - much to the irritation of my friends (who I had already put through the 'guess the ad' game).

Despite this, I would not want to give the impression I'm not in favour of product placement or advertisier funded programming, quite the opposite in fact. However, I am also a firm believer in subtlety and respect; qualities I think will have an uneasy relationship with product placement in the future.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Thinkbox Conference

At the Thinkbox conference, the inevitable happened – they showed Sony Balls.

I remembered the time I first saw Balls. The whole bar was silent. It was eerie. I also know the only advert recently that has shut my entire household up – myself, Boyfriend, housemate, dead plants and ball of dust in the corner we never quite get rid of – was the new VW Golf advert ‘The Great Pretender’.

We all turned to each other afterwards and said ‘wow!’. Having spent my first few weeks in this job chained to the IPA Effectiveness case studies, I have had lots of time to think about what makes good advertisements. In my house, it appears to be the power to silence. I wonder whether there is a formula for that?!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

North of Pizza Hut

I have just had to send a parcel to Costa Rica. The address was very strange. ‘Norte de Pizza Hut’. Spanish is not a language I have learnt, but I suspected that meant ‘north of Pizza Hut’. What a ridiculous address! However, just as I was preparing to mock this to various colleagues, I stopped.

I had a vivid recollection of me, having just moved to the big, bad city, missing the exit for sunny Stratford on the A12 for about the tenth time. Boyfriend was rapidly losing patience with my general driving incompetence. Holding back the tears, I shouted, “there are no landmarks! The whole bloody place looks the same…!’ To which, Boyfriend calmly pointed out a massive McDonald's, stating that that was a perfectly good landmark. I curled my lip.

The next time I was tootling along the A12 in my Renault Clio with a disconcerting creak, I spotted the golden arches and got off the A12 without batting an eyelid. Boyfriend sensibly kept quiet.

So who am I to ridicule an address ‘north of Pizza Hut’? As I am never going to be able to afford to live ‘just north of Buckingham Palace’, perhaps I just have to settle for ‘right at the massive McDonalds in Bow’ as my landmark…but at least it is not part of my address…!

Monday, 5 March 2007

My entry into the blogosphere

Musing about how, or indeed why, my entry into the blogosphere should begin has not been very successful. Usually an accomplished and focused thinker [perhaps that should read daydreamer?!], of late, I just have not been able to concentrate on it. Actually, I’m a little unsettled.

The lovely Jossy, with whom I have worked for a year, has left. She has moved to an agency, the excellent Profero to be precise. I hope she’ll be very happy there, but when I look around at my empty room and spare desk in it, I can’t help but feel a little abandoned. However, I am sure the feeling will pass! In the meantime, I have decided to start this blog to replace the banter; fill the silence a little.