Friday 28 October 2011

A Good Gestalt

I'm probably a bit slow on the uptake for this one as far as Germany goes, but thought my UK and US friends might like to see a lovely example of branding done right.

I love it when every bit of a brand - the idea, the product, the name and the packaging - is outstanding in itself, but when it all fits together so beautifully, you get an extra dimension to the wow!

These drinks are both organic and Fair Trade and the names are knockout - LemonAid and ChariTea. Apparently this stroke of genius in nomenclature came to one of the young founders of the LemonAid company in a 3-in-the-morning Eureka! moment.

More about the drinks can be found on the company website here under the slogan "The Liquid Revolution."

Hope that the company continues to push its boundaries and, meanwhile, cheers to the two social entrepreneurs behind it!

Sunday 23 October 2011

Blistering Brandbuilders!

I'm all a-gog for the new Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson film of Tintin, which opens here this week. It's a project that's been in the offing ever since Spielberg first laid eyes on the Tintin comics thirty years ago (what a deprived childhood the poor man must have led.)

Apart from the film living up to its expectations, my main hope is that Tintin does not become brand/blandified, in the way that other children's characters have. I'm talking about the process by which a once quirky character has all its edges filed down to a uniform "soft play" surface which then takes over the world via pyjamas, rucksacks, reduced-sugar yoghurts and "sleepover" nappies. Thomas the Tank Engine and friends are one major culprit, but the prize for the most successful blandification must surely go to Winnie the Pooh. For a Bear of Very Little Brain, he certainly knows how to make money.

But with Tintin, I feel that there are just too many edges, nooks and crannies for comfort. Too many bits which probably don't warrant much digging and delving. Too much of an un-PC, non-bland nature.

In the end, my advice to Tintin is this - don't let them cut off your quiff, young man!

Thursday 13 October 2011

Planning and Propaganda

Years back, reading through the awards for Planning, you were rarely treated to a story more world-changing than a cheeky competitor knocking the brand leader for birdseed off its perch. Of course, this is what our job is all about and what keeps us and our clients happy. And there's nothing much wrong with that.

But occasionally, when reading through an award paper for a charity, say, we might be tempted to feel that our talents could be put to better use for the greater good of humanity than pushing birdseed.

This year, the Grand Prix in the APG Creative Strategy Awards has been won by Colombia-based Lowe-SSPS for their work with the Colombian Ministry of Defence entitled Operation Christmas - a campaign to encourage guerillas to demobilise.

The insight was that even hardcore guerillas, like all human beings, are most susceptible to a message to lay down their arms at Christmas - and an amazing campaign that resulted in 331 guerillas demobilising was created.

A great achievement, without doubt, but probably worth a pause for thought. Propaganda became a dirty word in the course of the 20th century, largely through its very effective use by those on the "wrong side."

It's doubtful that a recruiting campaign for the guerillas, however effective, would win any prizes.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Beautifully simple thinking - inside the box

There's a new book out about the Saatchi driving philosophy: "Brutal Simplicity of Thought."

As Maurice Saatchi says, "(to achieve the impossible) will need a deep distaste for waffle, vagueness, platitudes and flimflam - a strong preference to get to the point."

I'm definitely with that, but I've often wondered about whether the phrase is "brutal simplicity" or "beautiful simplicity." OK, "brutal" is a better word for a copywriter. But one of the examples he gives, of the Central Park blind man whose takings are much improved as he changes his hand-scrawled sign from "I am blind" to "It is spring and I am blind" shows a transformation from the brutally obvious to the beautifully human.

On that note, I've discovered a clever new brand, Scandango. They can take a shoebox full of your old photos and scan them, for 50 GBP. The idea, the logo and the website are simple, fun, human and practical.

Everything fits beautifully.

Thursday 6 October 2011

If social media were really such a revolution, wouldn't we be making a song and dance of it?

In the last week, I've noticed more than a little social media fatigue. Not only have a couple of bloggers that I read written about "disciplining" their social media behaviour, but I've also seen the phenomenon of "Facebook Suicide" - in dubious taste, but complete with note.

Of course, it's people of my sort of age doing all this. As far as I can tell, younger people just get on with it and use social media as an everyday part of their lives. A teenager hasn't known a world without Facebook, so they are not going to make a song and dance about it. Which leads me on to my theory that, if you want to know what's really important in the lives of young people, listen to their music.

Going back to the days when a career in account planning wasn't even a twinkle in my eye, there were a few songs about that made references to media or means of communication. Hanging on the Telephone, Video killed the Radio Star or that awful thing with the guy whose girlfriend is killed in a car crash and he calls her answerphone to hear her voice one last time.

And these days, although the artists may have risen to fame via MySpace (what was that?) or use a bit of textspeak in their lyrics, I haven't heard any of these songs:
Digital killed the Video Star
Facebook Love
I'm in love with a German blogger
Every breath you take, I'll be following your Twitter stream

No, rather predictably, the songs are about the joy and pain of love or partying on Saturday night.

Just as they were when communication involved a handful of 2p pieces and a phone box that stank something rotten.