Tag Archives: advertising

Marketing = meaning

3 Aug

A while ago, @shackletonjones tweeted:

GemStGem twitter Gemma Critchley marketing learning innovation nick shackleton-jones


I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. The ‘somehow’ in that tweet has been under my skin for weeks. I agree wholeheartedly with Nick that marketing is the bridge, but how? Why?

I’ve seen it work. I’ve put marketing in place for ‘performance support‘ or ‘informal learning solutions’ (otherwise known as useful stuff that helps people do their jobs better). I’ve seen the things our team creates illuminated when cast in the glow of a clever campaign, but for ages I couldn’t articulate why.

It recently became crystal clear.

I’ve worked on quite a few projects to deliver performance support using our ‘resources not courses’ approach over the last few years.

A chap that I worked with recently on one of these projects said that very few people in our audience understood what performance support is and how it works, or what’s in it for them. Fair point, I thought.

All of a sudden, the answer was so clear: we needed to translate what we were doing in a way that would be meaningful to the audience.

We knew the resources that we were creating would be useful (thanks to the 5Di process), but if people weren’t into what we were doing – if they didn’t see what was in it for them and choose to pull on the things we created, then we would have only done half a job.

So we decided to tell a story, to show the benefits of what we’re doing, to share some examples and to give a strong call to action for people to find out more. In essence, we decided to do a marketing campaign.

The penny dropped.

Beautifully simple, blindingly obvious and laced with common sense in the way that most decent ideas usually are.

GemStGem twitter Gemma Critchley marketing learning innovationGemStGem twitter Gemma Critchley marketing learning innovation


By putting what we call ‘performance support’ into a marketing frame that speaks directly to the audience in a way that matters to them, we translate what we’re doing. It makes sense.

Marketing is tailoring.

Marketing is translation.

Marketing is sense-making.

Marketing = meaning.


Through marketing, the audience can easily engage with something that seemed foreign before. Heck, never mind just being able to engage with it; they might even actually want to.

Life, death & dishes

22 Jul

I haven’t been watching a lot of ‘proper’ telly since the advent of Netflix, but finding myself with a bit of extra time on my hands in the evening of late, and being obsessed with househunting right now, I’ve been watching a lot of Location, Location, Location on All4.

And lo, it came to pass that I was subject to many adverts thanks to this. One of which is the most creative and captivating TV spot I’ve seen in a while: the new Finish Dishwasher tablets ad by those purveyors of creative wonder at Wieden+Kennedy:

There’s a whiff of Guinness and IKEA about the treatment. The voiceover in particular is reminiscent of the ‘tick follows tock’ in the iconic surfer campaign by AMV-BBDO:


It’s not a bad thing, though: it’s pretty hypnotic and the “Dishes” refrain gives the ad a compelling momentum.

I love the creative execution, the fact that you get the dishwasher’s point of view and narration, and that bizarre, Alice In Wonderland-esque, slightly nightmarish vision of the upside-down dishes being paired with milestone moments. It’s almost a reflection on how those occasions that are often the ‘biggest days of our lives’ aren’t even worth differentiating in the eyes of others.

Yes, I’m fully aware that a dishwasher tablet advert with existential aspirations is making me question how important everything in life really is. Sorry, not sorry. That’s what good advertising should have the power to do.

I’ll be interested to see how the concept plays out as a campaign. Potential, but it takes a bold agency and an even bolder client to not dilute the message as it flows through the channels.

All in all: powerful, playful stuff.

Heck, I don’t even have a dishwasher but this ad has made me wish I did so I could buy Finish for it!

Advertising: Marks and Spencer Christmas TV ad 2011

6 Nov

I saw the 2011 Marks and Spencer Christmas TV ad tonight for the first time.

x factor marks and spencer christmas ad advert 2011 metro fashion blog celebrity style

Even when I didn’t work in advertising, I always looked forward to the annual ‘fabulous-off’ from the big brands, and of course I always anticipate the Christmas Coca-Cola TV ad featuring those wonderful red trucks. When you hear ‘holidays are coming’, you know that holidays are actually here.

So, in the ads of tonight’s X Factor, I saw the new M&S Christmas ad:

Now, whilst I don’t particularly rate the idea of using the, ahem, stars of this year’s X Factor as I think it’s severely limiting the amount of people they’ll appeal to, I do think the ad is beautifully shot and the styling is pretty decent given that they had to dress such a wide specturm of people spanning several different ages and styles. Although I suppose that’s the whole point of the advert, really. I can imagine them writing the brief:

“Key message: Marks and Spencer offers a wide range of clothing and accessories to suit all age ranges, tastes and styles.”

Which kind of makes me think that whilst the advert does convey its point, is it a little bit too obvious? Am I the only one who doesn’t want ads to be too literal, that a degree of subtlety gives a bit of credit to the imagination of the audience?

That aside; it gets things right of the aesthetic front. The lighting and those lense flares look lovely, and I adore Mischa B’s eye makeup at the end. It probably won’t make me shop at M&S but it’s different, at least.

I think M&S have probably taken the celebrity style thing about as far as they can, to be honest. It’s wearing thin not only for advertisers, but for retailers too. Where people once looked to Heat Magazine to analyse Cheryl Cole’s latest outfit, I think the advent of Twitter and the narrowing of the gap between celebrities and ‘normal people’ means that people are finding their style inspiration elsewhere, either from each other or from blogs. And let’s face it, X Factor contestants probably sit closer to the ‘normal’ side of the fence than to the celebrity one. No one really looks to Kitty Brucknell or Frankie Cocozza for fashion tips, surely?

What do you think? Is celeb style over? Have M&S got it right this year or does this latest ad fall flat? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Google #Firestarters

3 Oct

Today I’ve been particularly fascinated by Google Firestarters, a project aimed at generating discussion in agencies about the ways that agencies operate and the ways in which they could change for the better.


It’s primarily aimed at the planning community but I think anyone who works for or with a marketing/advertising/creative agency will find the coverage of this event compelling.

only dead fish google firestarters agency OS BBH GlueIsobar agencies clients slideshare October 2011

Image from neilperkin.typepad.com - be nice and visit his page

The event includes the usual inspiring slides from the nice folks at BBH and GlueIsobar (and these are always interesting anyway) but anyone who

Pulp – different class?

17 Jun

I adore Pulp, they’re pretty much my favourite band of all time. I like how they sound and what they’re about. I don’t much care for the political/social undertones that people pin on them, I just like the honest and poetic storytelling that Pulp so excel at. Which is why I found this article in The Guardian a bit irksome.

And then I saw this ad on Facebook:

Jarvis Cocker pulp barclaycard banking guardian society class divide

Despite being strongly opposed to the concept of selling out (I don’t believe it exists), using someone so cynically to sell something so cynical seems a bit, well, base.

I wonder what our Jarvis thinks about this?

#oneaday 150: Sell out with me tonight

8 Jun

I got into a conversation yesterday about something that always riles me: selling out. This post from A Little Bird Told Me, one of my fave local fashion blogs, explores the tip of the selling out iceberg in relation to blogging for the love of it and being paid to blog. It’s not very often that I get ranty, but this one really gets me…

I’ve blogged on both sides of the fence – blogging for a living as part of my role working for a fashion website and blogging in my spare time just because I love to write. I’ve guest-blogged for designers and I’ve recruited guest bloggers to write for the site I used to run in my last job. Prior to The One A Day project, I blogged via LJ from 2004 – 2010, so I’m not exactly new to it. However, I always, always find blogging for myself more rewarding than being paid to pimp a product – once you’re being bankrolled or sponsored (even if it’s not in monetary terms) by a brand, you take on an allegience to that brand and have to conform to certain guidelines. It becomes a job, rather than a hobby and you lose some of the freedom and delight that comes with having your own blog.

selling out sell out blogging fashion blog press day PR new media comment  selling out is the new keeping it real

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely loved the blogging and writing bits of my career. I am a writer at heart. But I don’t think you should mix personal blogs with work ones if you’re not prepared to comply with the way that the media/press industry works. If you can make money off the back of your blog, Great. But with a great backhander comes great responsibility and you’re subject to swaying your content to be biased towards the hand that feeds.

I think ‘selling out’ in blogging terms completely depends on your outlook and what you want from blogging.

One of the things that irks me is this ‘we cannot be bought’ or ‘we should be able to operate outside of normal media rules’ blogging mentality combined with a desire to be included in certain industries. If bloggers (particularly in the fashion world) do not want to be ‘courted’ by brands, or expected to provide content in return for invites to shows and press days, then why aspire to attend them?

Press days and shows are designed for one reason only: to generate positive publicity. You can bet your bottom dollar that if a blogger was invited along to an event then produced a negative post about the brand hosting that event, they wouldn’t be invited to many others. Why else do you think fashion events are teeming with cupcakes, nail bars and goodie bags? It’s not because the brands are nice – they simply want to wow you into being nice about them. By attending, bloggers are saying they are available for courting and are willing to write in exchange for blog visitors/samples/etc. Brands love bloggers because it adds a layer of authenticity to their proposition. Advocacy is a million times more valuable than advertising in this overly-social world of content creation and curation that we live in.

fashion cupcakes high snobiety louis vuitton chanel fashion cup cake press day PR blogger blog

Like I said on Twitter yesterday, it’s a two way street. The brand gets ‘credible’ advocacy, the blogger gets publicity and traffic. We are all editors and curators of our own magazines now, but just because the media landscape is changing doesn’t mean that industry rules will or should.

Selling out is always going to be a massively subjective issue. Bands, writers, artists, bloggers – we all face that ‘sell out?’ fork in the road at some point. The path you take is up to you. Being commercially-minded doesn’t make someone a bad person or make their blog any less credible in my eyes. But imagining that blogging for a brand without conforming to that brand’s ideals is possible is rather naive and idealistic.

There are some amazing bloggers out there who work really hard to make their blogs a success and I think it’s fantastic that we’re in the thick of a real DIY-success ethic where you get out what you put in. If reaching a wide audience, engaging people in conversation, provoking thought, getting recognition and being successful is selling out, then I’m all for it.

As long as you’re happy in what you’re doing and it’s right in your eyes, that’s the best way to play it. I could bang on about selling out all day but in the end, the concept only really exists if you believe it does – shape your own idea of integrity and as long as you stick with that, what others think shouldn’t matter.

#oneaday 127: Best TV ad I’ve seen in a while… For Aldi

23 May

I just saw this TV ad for Aldi in the ads of The Gadget Show and actually laughed out loud for a good long while to my empty flat:

Aldi TV ad I don't like tea I like gin

I totally didn’t see that coming. It really tickled me. Plus it is made up of the three most prevalent items in my life right now.

Advertising, tea and gin.

What more could you want?

#oneaday 121: Rockstar Treatment

10 May

This new ad for Virgin Holidays is brilliant. Everything about it is so well done, from that one line about everyone getting Rockstar Treatment to the super straight-faced way that the band, The Danke Schöns, play it (the rose petals/leaves bit makes me laugh every time I see this, and the ‘3 slices of bread, one for each album’ is amazing too, See for yourself:

Although, it does remind me an awful lot of the late, great Du Jour from Josie and The Pussycats:

Maybe it’s meant to? I don’t know. My brain is fried from a hard day’s advertising and so I’ll leave the ad insight and analysis to Ciaran Watkins and his blogs on advertising for the One a Day Project.

Also, if you haven’t donated to Cancer Research yet for the project, you can chuck us a quid via our Just Giving page. Go on. Be nice.

#oneaday 86: Limitlessness

27 Mar

Just got back from watching Limitless at the cinema. I have to say, it was pretty entertaining, if a little on the obvious side. I’ve seen it slated in a few places but I wouldn’t say it deserves that. I think the idea of the film is probably more engaging than the film itself – if you could take a drug to make you brilliant, would you? But it felt like what could have simply been a really gripping story about morals and power got heavily laced with a ‘drugs are bad’ message. Yes, we all know that drugs are bad. That wasn’t really the point of the story though, was it? I think the underlying message about the fact that we all have choices and these choices define us was much more engaging. The idea that we are all in control of our own destiny as long as we realise our own potential. When we stop realising our potential, that’s when we start to get rubbish, right?

There was a bit of gratuitous violence, an extra antagonist for no real reason and a couple of characters whose presence added no real value at all (Friel, DeNiro?) and there seemed to be a few bits in the film that seemed to fizzle out or become loose ends, but other than that it was a nice, easy-going, entertaining film. Limitless also had some quite clever viral marketing behind it, which made me like the film a lot. Plus, Bradley Cooper is bang tidy.

bradley cooper limitless NZT movie drug pill hot

I won’t harp on about it as I’m sleepy as anything due to the clocks changing (I’ve got jetlag now) and the epic spring clean that we gave to our flat earlier, not to mention the 13K I ran/cycled at the gym earlier. In fact, who needs NZT? I’ve been pretty productive without it today.

#oneaday 46: This is not your life

15 Feb

Inspiring stuff from Swedish ad agency DDB.

This is not your life advertising copywriting ad copy fuck yeah ads

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