Wednesday, 24 June 2015

All together, now?

When Mr Gates decreed that there was now a Global Village and that no matter where we thought we lived we were all fully paid up citizens, no one really understood the consequences. In the ensuing melee Globalisation has become many things, from the White Knight of the finance markets to the devil incarnate of conservation groups.

In adland it has caused its own brand of chaos as clients stumble about trying to create global messages that are as relevant in Reykjavik as they are in Mombasa. The majority have taken the easy way out, dismantling their core Brand ethos to a simplistic series of words and images that are hopefully recognisable wherever the consumer is viewing them. It’s hit and miss stuff, to put it nicely.

Global world is as brim full of smiley happy people as a crap REM song. They jump and sing and bounce around like a land full of Irish red setters, all playfully bouncing into the furniture and being improbably giddy. Ford World in 2006, for instance was bumper to bumper waving families and fawning lovers woven together with an irritating Charlotte Church ditty, it’s all most too much to watch especially when you reflect upon where it was all headed. Still if you like them big and bouncy park your brain at:

Global is now a bad word in many parts of the planet, especially the parts that are feeling the heat. Warming and warnings thereof are quite the rage at the moment, which naturally makes them perfect for adland to get up and shout about. Even the Ad Council has a crisis ad of their own floating in the stratosphere, and it’s ok, I mean, not earth shattering or anything, but fine. Have a look at:

Combating melting ice-bergs and the like has become the responsibility of every one of us, including, rather improbably, the makers of Vogorsol Gum who employed several penguins and that well-known arctic squirrel to help solve the problem. It’s a tad odd, no it’s weird, but thank god there’s still a place in the world for this type of ad. Look on in amazement at:

More annoyingly the backlash to Bill’s Global Village has lead to a resurgence of the lunacy of jingoism that parades around the world in the emperor’s clothes of patriotism and national pride.
Indignation at being preached to by foreigners about how we should behave at home often seems to reach xenophobic proportions since those rather gentile days of the Polish sci-fi writer Stanislaw Lem. Enveloped in her red, silk wrap-around sarong dress and waving her Soviet leather handbag in my direction, my own ex-art director often throws a handy quote from him in my direction.
“You will always find, some Eskimo willing to instruct, the Congolese on how to cope, with heat waves,”
Twee, but to the point, as she so often is.
Then again maybe a little international criticism might save us from stuff like the Castle love-in where everyone is best mates and brothers, take a sip at:, it has a nice pack shot at the end of a bouncing bottle cap.

In the future things will be different, for a start we won’t have a planet to mess up and we’ll live in a very bright post-nuclear Winter. Maybe. Either way at least we won’t have to hear sing-a-long predictions of the ilk produced by Pat and Barbara MacDonald, aka: Timbuk3, back in the crazy days of 1986 in their classic, ”The future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades.” Listen, hopefully for the last time at:

When we fail, the earth, of course, according to all good sci-fi geeks the world will be run by robots who will take turns persecuting the remains of mankind with devilish tin-brained schemes. As with a lot of sci-fi, yesterday’s nightmare futures have already begun to form before our eyes, in this case with the ASIMO humanoid robot. First introduced to humans in 2000AD the ASIMO has since grown in its abilities and can now walk and run after unsuspecting people-kind, albeit only our Japanese cousins for the moment. If you’re the type of person who likes to watch their fellow man tormented by non-organic life-forms then the Honda commercial starring ASIMO won’t seem alien to you, see it at:

Laugh all you want, it may seem like an improbable and unlikely future, then just a few years ago a desktop was somewhere you sat your typewriter and glass of Jamesons.

"Who knows where the time goes..."

1546 AD Somewhere in Rome, Italy.

Pope Paul III, “Look lads, what we need is a really big church, something that says “we’re here to stay” maybe with some kind of freestanding dome, but like, the biggest in all Christendom.”
Cardinal 1, “Good idea your holiness, but who can we get to design such a glory?”
Pope Paul III, “Well, there’s only one man for the job really, let’s get Michelangelo he did a nice job on that chapel ceiling.”
Cardinal 2. “You mean Michelangelo Buonnaroti sire? But he’s 70… “
Pope Paul III, “A mere whipper-snapper around here then, he’s still the best around when it comes to new ideas, to say nothing of being a dab hand at a bit of painting and decorating, go drag his Zimmer frame over here.”

Age and experience have long been venerated across civilisations. Shamans, medicine men and oracles, our spiritual and political leaders have come from those who have lived long enough to garner wisdom and experience. Even in an age when 40 is the new 20 we still turn to our elders for their received wisdoms. As Barrack Obama lowers his much-heralded backside into the Oval office chair he’s being lauded as a youngster but in reality he’s closer to 50 than 40.
There are, of course, exceptions that prove the rule. Adland for instance has its own take on the idea.

“Top creative agency with Blue Chip clients is looking for a Senior
Team. Four years + experience.

Requirements: Professional, very strong conceptual skills,
producing outstanding award-winning creative work. Must have
Diploma Art Directing/Graphic Design and great track record.
Details: Remuneration: R25k CTC
Please submit CV and portfolio.”

Notice anything unusual? No? That, unfortunately, is because there isn’t anything. For several years now local adland has laboured under the ridiculous belief that someone who has been in the business for “four years +” can be classed as “Senior”. Which effectively means that someone who leaves college at 20 is a “Senior” at 24+. Senior is, of course, Latin for elder

The underlying problem here is that advertising is projected as a “young person’s game”. This has been a fallacy perpetuated by managements who seek to control their staff and believe that “keeping them hungry,” sometimes quite literally, is the way to make them push harder and throw themselves into every new project.
There are agencies out there that resemble kindergartens. Specially geared to the young, with beanbags, bean bags I ask you?
Obviously It's deliberately difficult, if not downright dangerous, for anyone over 30 to try to get up from these things.

They use the out dated argument that young people know how to talk to young people. A great idea when your core consumer base is young, but as we all know we have an ever-aging population that is continuing to spend as it grows. Yet still agencies cling to this facile concept that young brains think up fresher ideas. Something that would have surprised Goethe and Simone de Beauvoir until their last scribble and I dare say Mr De Bono will still be thinking laterally until he’s finally horizontal.

Luckily there may be light in the middle of the tunnel. In the U.K. leading creative agency Bartle Bogle & Hegarty, (BBH), have joined forces with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, (IPA), to launch a campaign highlighting ageism in adland.
Based upon an extensive qualitative and quantative report instituted by the IPA and carried out across the UK business the campaign was created to react to the feeling amongst many advertising employees that the current age bias is strongly detrimental to the industry.
The report highlights the view that "older people are not always as technologically astute as younger people, nor are they so willing to put in the extra hours in the evenings and at weekends".
However this is easily counteracted by “the breadth of experience and emotional intelligence of older staff.”
The results show that 72% of respondents to the survey agree that agencies risk becoming out of touch to what appeals to older consumers.

Hamish Pringle, IPA director general, said: "Adland is way out of line in terms of age. For a range of reasons; burnout, work and life balance, and increasingly commonly, pressure on agency payrolls, agencies shed the over 40s relentlessly. This results in a massive loss of valuable experience and is a real cost to clients."

The IPA's Agency Census 2005, published in January, found that 48.1% of employees were aged 30 or under, with another 33.4% in the 31-40 age bracket -- meaning more than four out of every five agency staff are aged 40 or under. The average age for agency employees is 33; only 13.6% are 41 to 50, with a mere 5% over 50.

There are very few places in which age is so obviously used against us in society as in adland, although the actor Rupert Everett believes he has a similar problem with ageism. Now he’s 47 the gay actor is worried he may never find a long-term boyfriend because he thinks nobody would want to date a man his age and no longer wants to meet potential partners in bars.
He says, "Unfortunately, I am single. But I'm too exhausted for anything else and being gay is a young man's game. Now no one wants me. Being gay and being a woman has one big thing in common, which is that we both become invisible after the age of 42.

"Who wants a gay 50-year-old? No one, let me tell you. I could set myself on fire in a gay bar, and people would just light their cigarettes from me. I don't want to be carried out of a club wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and a cap on the wrong way round when I'm 70, but I would like to settle down a bit. Maybe with a partner."

I should say I mentioned this to a few of my gay acquaintances down the Red Room last week and they were collectively of the opinion that if I could get hold of the address where Mr Everett sups then they’d be right along to help dissuade him of beliefs.

Personally, although I’ve been loitering in the corridors of adland for a fair while now, and I’m looking forward another couple of laps around the block yet, as George Bernard Shaw once put it “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die.”
Ian franks; CV ~ age 19 ¼

Don't I know You?

Napoleon once said "no man is a hero to his valet". And he should know, because it was his valet who sold his penis to a museum after he died.

To put it another way, “Familiarity”, as someone else once said rather pithily, “breeds contempt,” and nowhere are these sentiments more apparent than in adland relationships.

Year after year the bias of these relationships has swung from the agency to the client, gone are the days when clients would ply us with drinks and beg us to make their Brands famous, now it’s our knees in the dust scratching at percentages. And truthfully it’s our own fault. Too many agencies have effectively sold out, and cheaply at that, too often we say “maybe”, or “of course we can”, when we should be saying “no”, or at least “why?”

We used to have faith in our own abilities, but we gave it away for focus groups, brainstorms and the belief that an idea had en masse was somehow stronger than something that flowed from the brains of a couple of guys who spent too much time in the pub or from an inspired corridor chat. We lost the spine-tingling, head turning magic we were creating, forgetting it was the only true currency no red-blooded client could pass by.
There’s no wonder we lost their respect and no wonder that ultimately it’s lead to clients believing they can do our jobs better than us.

Take the inimitable, and now according to the Christian lobby, festering in hell, Mr. Lolly Jackson owner and purveyor of the rumpy-pumpy, flesh-pots of Rivonia and other local suburbs. His latest poster on Rivonia Road stars a young buxom lass grabbing her assets and smiling winsomely into camera, a headline covers a few parts of her shiny body and reads, “No need for gender testing.”
The ad has caused a minor storm in the media because of the heavy-handed allusion to the Semenya affair, something that the usually candid client denied vehemently. In a quote which made my post-binge bleary art director spit out her coffee tequila, he claimed, “the ad is self-explanatory” and, “I do not want anyone coming here with the idea that we don’t have women, we have 100% women here, I did a test on them, I’m a professional and they are 100% wo-men.” This, you see, is what happens when we let clients write their own stuff.
More examples of the rot in adland were on show at The Loeries in Cape Town last year, but there was also some pretty good stuff, some pretty pictures and lots of pretty crap stuff dressed up as advertising. In other words it was a typical year. With no elegant Allen Gray commercial to light up the juries TV was a tad bland, but there was some cool illustration in the magazine stuff.

Mr Lolly Jackson’s titillating poster probably will never be attractive to birds especially of the Loerie variety, but at least it was topical, but it was also crap, unlike the rather good, if locally biased, poster for the anti-gun initiative, from an original concept by one, Richard van Zyl.

Taking our Presidents favourite fireside sing-along tune and changing the words ever so slightly he produced a powerful poster for the anti-gun lobby reading “Awu Leth’ Umishini Wakho” it further encourages the people to “Nikela isibhamu sakho esingekho emthethweni ku polisteshi eseduze nawe.” A case for once of familiarity breeding content, maybe.

and so that was christmas...

Friends from the YooK arrived with schooners of Christmas cheer to prop up the bar down Molly Malone’s. As always there was much to catch up on including the wonderment of festive offerings from adland on the sceptred isle.

Amid the shimmering tinsel and gargling egg-nog a few ideas sparkled.
For a while now the famous PG Tips tea Brand has used a stuffed monkey to promote itself, appearing alongside Al (comedian Johnny Vegas), the commercials have a cult following amongst the English TV viewing public. For Christmas they launched a parody of the Queen’s Speech with Monkey as the Queen trying to tell the world about his and Al’s Christmas day special, but one too many sips of bubbly played havoc with his performance.
See it at:
Monkey’s message, voiced by Ben Miller, gets more and more convoluted with every toast to the past year. Luckily the super at the end tells us what we need to know. “There should be one thing on one’s telly that one shouldn’t miss this Christmas. It’s Monkey’s Christmas Sketch, shown on ITV1, Channel 4, Five, Sky1, Sky3, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, E4, More4, Film4, Virgin1, Gold, Dave, MTV One, TMF, 4 Music, Nickelodeon, Jetix and Many More.”
Go to and catch Al and Monkey’s 90 second remake of the classic Morecambe and Wise breakfast sketch from the late 70’s, using the same music (The Stripper) and some of the same moves, ending of course with a great cup of tea.
Developed at AKQA by executive creative director James Hilton, creative directors/copywriters Colin Byrne and James Capp, copywriters Ben Oliver and Leo Thom, Shot by director Chris Balmond via Red Bee and AKQA.Film.
It’s fun, in a slightly quirky, good old-fashioned romp kinda way.

M&C Saatchi London entered into the spirit of Boxing Day with a charity-focused Christmas promotion. Boxing Day, December 26th, a public holiday in the United Kingdom, is based on the tradition of giving gifts to the less fortunate members of society.
Staff at the agency this year filled 400 boxes to be given to the UK charity Action for Children and delivered in time for Christmas. Because even the simplest piece of corporate responsibility deserves to be preserved for posterity, the agency shot a stop frame animation film showing how the idea came together in their reception area. It’s ok , if a tad dull, in a typically MC Saatchi stark, clean lined way.
The M&C Saatchi team included creatives Nick O’Brien and Paloma Reed and agency producer Charlie MacPearson.
Filming was shot by director Dan Lumb via th2ng with producer Mark Farrington. Post production was done at “th1ng.”
Music was provided by composer Lorenzo Piggici at Felt Music with executive producer Dominic Buttimore.
See the whole thing at :

New year, of course, is a time of reflection, a time to review our time on this wonderful planet. The new Audi commercial by BBH reminds me of many things, the simple pursuit of origami perhaps, that ads don’t have to look expensive to be interesting and most of all, why Woodie Guthrie remains a cult figure after all these years rather than a mainstream artist.
Created by Maja Fernqvist and Joakim Saul and put together by Aaron Duffy and Russell Brooke of Passion Pictures and 1st Ave Machine it’s a simple little idea about unboxing the box that is the Audi Q5 accompanied by the enigmatically named “Car Song” by Mr Guthrie. It’s on show at:

Flying into 2009 with a “Flock of seagulls” haircut, an Asteroids arcade game, a Rubik's Cube, a yuppie banker with a cell-phone bigger than his briefcase and a newspaper headline shouting about the miner's strike. It can only be the 80’s, again. 1984, in fact.
The commercial celebrating the launch of Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airline 25 years ago this year was put together by Y&R/RKCR in London. Looking like a sey from Dynasty It’s crammed full of 80’s iconography and some slinky flight crew in bright red gear. If nothing else it’s a timely reminder that even in times of trouble a good idea can really take off.

Speaking of good ideas, I must admit the concept of “Guitar Hero” sounded a tad lame to me, after all what can it achieve that I can’t get out of an old tennis racquet and Led Zep III on vinyl?
The new commercial for the latest Guitar Hero World Tour game, however, did change my mind a bit. It’s a homage to Tom Cruise’s scene in “Risky Business” but instead of the couch-bouncing Christian scientist we’re offered Ubermodel Heidi Klum in lacy black lingerie for our viewing pleasure., it certainly had me banging my head against the wall.

To round off the festive season, one of the younger guys hovering around the bar the other day was muttering darkly about how he’d “gone large” over Christmas, presumably building himself up for a bit of a new year’s gym resolution. Anyway, looking for health tips myself, somewhere between the turkey and chips of Boxing Day and the suspicious turkey curry of two days later I came across a commercial for the British Food Standards created to remind us to watch out for food poisoning.
There’s no other way of putting it, it really is a fart-laden online offering. The video, complete with retro colour grading and 70’s typefaces, is designed to make us think twice about how we use the turkey leftovers, and includes the rather frothy line, “A fabulously festive feast of faeces.” Marvellous.

The Safe Christmas campaign was developed at Farm London, by creative director Gary Robinson, art director Raymond Chan, and writer Simon Cenamor.
Shot by director Mark Denton via Coy! Communications with producer Sara Cummins. Catch a whiff of it at:
I’m off for a little well deserved cold turkey.

"Let there be light"

In the 60’s John Lennon claimed the Beatles were bigger than God, God retaliated by having the pop stars banned from Israel and Mr Lennon became the unwilling recipient of numerous death threats.

In December the swaggering self-publicity machine that is Simon Cowell was voted the most famous person in the world in a poll of under 10’s, beating The Queen, Harry Potter and God. (Whether God was a person was not debated).
Now, however, it appears God is back in the news again.
A major new billboard campaign, which broke first in the UK but has spread across Spain, Canada, the USA and is picking up speed elsewhere, exalts the beauty of being a non-believer using quotes from famous people.

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” Douglas Adams

“I’m an atheist and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.” Katherine Hepburn.

And from the man who reputedly had a thing about God the gambler:
“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” Albert Einstein.

Rather tamely, given their usual robust approach to headlines, our Australian cousins have their own take on the ungodly with posters reading:

“Beware of Dogma.”
Freedom From Religion Foundation. (www.FFRF.ORG.)


“Imagine No Religion.” (An interesting cross reference to Mr. Lennon’s words creeping in again there).

The land of Obama rejoined with:

“Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”

And a special festive one:
“Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness sake.

It’s strange that even these strict non-believers use a capital “G” to spell his (or her) name.

As you’d expect from some of the richest corporations in the world, the churches have hardly been silent over the years.
Just recently, for instance, the producers of a TV documentary asked international ad agency Fallon to come up with a campaign to re-ignite interest in the Church of England. Simple black and white ads carried headlines like:
"Church. It isn't as churchy as you think."
"More dances are held in church halls than dance halls. And yes, the lord
does move in mysterious ways."
"Apparently there's stuff going on here all week. Even Sundays."
"Why go to India to find yourself? You might be just round the corner."
"The church educates millions of children. 'And not in a what does Psalm
17 tell us' kind of way."
Harmless stuff, and I must confess they’re hardly likely to drag me out of bed and to my knees on a Sunday morning.

The First Baptist Church in Snellville, Georgia takes a rather more direct route to encouraging the growth of their flock.
In front of the church’s large campus is a sign proclaiming “Free Gasoline!.” The church is raffling off two $500 petrol cards, giving free raffle tickets to every attendee of a church event between Sundays and Wednesdays.
“We don’t know how far it will go with these soaring prices,” Senior Pastor Rusty Newman said. “But it will make someone’s night.”

Across the world churches have stepped out of the dark ages and seen the light, learning how to manipulate the newer types of media and communication. Many now offer elaborate websites crammed with sermons and Christian sayings for the day, some even proclaim their messages through youtube trying to catch a younger audience at play. For an interesting take on this tyou can catch a parody of the Mac vs PC commercials called “I’m a Christ Follower” at:

For congregations languishing by the sea there’s the chance to indulge in the art of “Sand advertising,” creating sand billboards with inspirational messages crafted by the sandals of the faithful.

Try-vertising, as championed by Nike is also being touted to help spread the word. (Nike used “trial vans,” each containing more than 1,000 pairs of shoes. Reps took the vans to strategic spots (popular running paths and athletic events and let people try out their shoes, allowing consumers to make up their minds based on their own personal experience).

“What if churches had trial vans?” asks Kent Shaffer, writer and founder of Shaffer concludes that “a church could feed its live or pre-recorded services to trial vans with big-screen TVs, and then show up at strategic places on Sunday mornings where lots of non-churchgoers gather. They could experience church and decide for themselves.”

Unfortunately the need to proselytize comes all too naturally to those on both sides of the fence of devotion often leading to repetition of old, tired and trite stances. The Sandown Free Presbyterian Church in Belfast, for example, was recently slapped by the UK Advertising Standards Authority for using strong biblical references to campaign against homosexuality, with a press ad reading:
“Thou shalt not lie down with mankind, as with womankind;
it is an abomination.”

For true believers however, returning to the home of Mr. Lennon and his fellow Merseybeaters, as you drive into the hallowed land of Liverpool there’s a concrete bridge over the motorway made famous because some evangelical tagger once sprayed “JESUS SAVES!” on it; to which some scouse wit added “RUSH SCORES ON THE REBOUND.” Amen to that.

do do. do do, do do, do do...

“My name is Ian Franks. I had an accident and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever's happened, it's like I've landed on a different planet. Now, maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home.”

The first thing I notice in this alternative world is an ad for Cadbury’s. Reassuringly it’s the usual montage of runny chocolate being poured over a saccharine soundtrack and lots of purple foil type colours. And odd response to the genius that was the Gorilla ad. Ahhhhh but the 70’s are a great time to be alive and advertising.
Then a Tiger Wheel & Tyre commercial crammed with an end to end super fast voice-over bounces on and whips off with a frisky jingle ShowaddyWaddy would have been proud of.

Adland sure is a simple place, nice big product shots, some of them even in focus, lively voice-overs peppered with soothing, often vaguely illegal sounding, promises,
A Sunlight Washing up liquid commercial pops up, mam and other family members are still racing to see whether an “alternative” detergent will wash as many plates as our hero. I wonder if they’d be as keen and smiley if they knew that in 30 years time they would still be washing the same pile of plates, adlands’ own Groundhog Day.

Like Michael J Fox in his DeLorean, I race back to the future in time to catch the new Guinness ad from Saatchi’s Capetown, created by Tim Hearn, Anton Crone, Alice Gnodde and Larissa Elliot and directed by Martin Krejci of Stink London, it’s an epic. Well, it’s quite big.
The effects are quite good, the shot list is mostly Twister and other leaving the road to chase big windy things films, but it’s ok. The link to the guys in the bar is odd but once you’ve read the publicity blurb about a modern African storyteller you kinda get the idea. Catch it at:

The commercial for Neotel called “No Restrictions” goes on, and on. It’s one half-arsed technique stretched over 60 seconds with those annoying little symbol guys turning up everywhere. It’s ok but if this is the challenge to Telkom’s Do It stuff then I fear it’s hardly going to scare the competition.
If you’ve been away on Mars and missed the massive media spend take a look at:

Great ads come from great ideas. Simple? You can’t get any simpler than the new Harley Davidson Cologne commercial by Fran Luckin and Tetteh Botchway of Ogilvy Johannesburg. It’s well shot, beautifully timed and very, very funny. And for those parochial idiots who warble on about “local content” all the time, the joke is as local as the shop in “The League of Gentlemen.” Catch a sniff of it at:

If local is indeed lekker then the DDB Vancouver spot for Midas tyres is a perfect example of why. Set in a Canadian high street it’s a car chase in deep snow that goes nowhere fast. It’s a daft joke that makes its point quickly and effectively without a special effect in sight.

At the other end of the scale there’s the new Barclaycard commercial out of BBH London, created by Pete Bradly, Gary McCreadie and Wesley Hawes and directed by Peter Thwaites of Gorgeous Enterprises. To that well-loved classic tune “Let your love flow” by The Bellamy Brothers.
We see a young guy in an open plan office as his mates are all heading for the door home. He strips off his clothes and walks through the office in some very fetching under-wear, his work mates smile knowingly at him.
He opens a store cupboard and we see an opening to a waterslide,
He slides down and we cut to the outside of the office skyscraper and see the chute runs down the side of it at a hair-raising angle before shooting off across the city taking our guy with it.
The waterslide takes him through other offices and and across the cityscape, before he shoots through several stores, swiping goods from shelves then swiping his card as he goes.
It’s all about some new “contactless technology” that Barclaycard have introduced to make payments simpler evidently. What it really is, however, is a water-sliders dream and a bit of a laugh to boot.
Make contact with it at:

With the recession lumbering around us there’s the usual panic in adland that clients will be hacking away at budgets to save their pennies. As always we will respond by citing studies and reports that show why this is short-sighted and how it’s the companies with the foresight to maintain and even increase their ad-spend in difficult times that are the ones who are left standing afterwards. New media pundits will punt their wears as the final solution and traditional media will circle the wagons and shoot protectionist arrows at all comers. And as always it will come out sounding something like The Emperor’s clothes meets Chicken Little.

Those who’ve seen it all before will nod sagely and keep their heads down muttering how they’ve seen it all before. But this is a new world, brave or not, and there’s a lot of new stuff to consider this time.
Many of the things in this 2009 world I find confusing, the fakeness of Reality TV, the popularity Paris Hilton most of all why is the Dakar Rally racing across South America?
All I know is they never had these worries in the 70’s.

bowled over, or not

“Whatisit?” hisses the girl behind the bar as all heads are swivelled towards the large flat screen TV glued to the wall. “Superbowl 2009,” someone whispers back.

Indeed, it’s that time again, a time to gather our friends and colleagues together to pay homage to that most Yankee of affairs the Superbowl. There was a time, when the invasion of burgers and fries were new to the world at large, that we would sit up all night to catch every throw and dive of never-ending rows of guys dressed in what looked like Sumo suits.
Now, of course we just record the action and watch it the next night down the Keg & Minstrel.
Not the actual game you understand, in what may be seen by civilians as a perverse reversal of the use of PVR recorders we have all the commercials spliced together and dump the game, revealing a glorious celebration of American life.
At an average of $3 million just for a 30 second media slot at Super Bowl XLIII it was interesting to see how the economic downturn had affected this advertisers’ haven.

Kicking off with an ad nodding to the worries besetting workers across the world, the Wieden & Kennedy commercial begins with the statement;

“It can be hard to know when you need a new job…

as a rule if you hate going to work every day…”
[woman in car screaming and banging head against steering wheel]

“and your co-workers don’t respect you…”
{Guy walks past and says “Hey dummy]

“and you always wish you were somewhere else…”
[guy sitting on back of a leaping dolphin]

“and you cry constantly…”
[large bloke at bus stop crying inconsolably]

“and you daydream of punching small animals…”
[stuffed koala has it’s glasses knocked off]

“and you sit next to this guy…”
[half-naked geek picking his toe-nails]

“if you make loads of money it may not be time.”
[ guy in smoking jacket is handed a large glass of gold liquid as his man servant feeds gold bars into a blender]

But if you make loads of money…It can be hard to know when you need a new job as a rule if you hate going to work every day, and your co-workers don’t respect you, and you always wish you were somewhere else, and you cry constantly, and you daydream of punching small animals, and you sit next to this guy…it’s probably time…as a rule.”

Get a look at it at:

Better still go to; where allows you to send useful tips to your co-workers regarding such delights as personal hygiene, work ethics and toupee wearing.

As usual the Superbowl ads attracted more than a fair smattering of famous faces, this year we were treated to the versatile visages of Tiger Woods, Ray Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Alec Baldwin, Bob Dylan, MC Hammer, Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, Ed McMahon, Danica Patrick,Troy Polamalu,, Serena Williams and Conan O’Brien.

Mr O’Brien’s spot for Bud Light was as good a use of celebrity as you’ll see. It’s a commercial playing upon the habits of famous people to star in commercials in foreign countries to protect their image at home while quietly raking in the cash. Created by DDB it contains the spoof pay-off line “Vroom, vroom, part starter,” something that may well come back to haunt the star for quite a while.
Watch it sail into the end zone at:

Celebs also pop up throughout TBWA/Chiat Day’s Pepsi-Cola commercial. In “Refresh” we are treated to an onslaught of split screen images reflecting a now and then scenario contrasting 2009 with 1969. It’s all very interesting and not a little amusing, worth a look if only for the brief clip of John Belushi and Jack Black arsing about side by side. Under scored by Bob Dylan’s anthem “Forever Young,” sung by rap star, the commercial suggests there was a close link between the fizzy drink and the laid back, hippy beatnik counter culture of the 60’s. An interesting historical rewrite given that at the time PepsiCo was run by Donald Kendall, a close mate of Tricky Dickie Nixon, and was regarded as the drink to quench neo-Republican thirsts as they led baton charges.
Sing along at:

Probably the best way to use celebrity with any force is to take a well-known character from a popular programme and transpose their personality onto a product. It’s a notoriously hit and miss game.
Hulu,com offers computer users the chance to see an array of programmes from NBC and the News Corp. The ad, by Crispin Porter & Bogusky, stars Alec Baldwin in his persona from the award winning 30 Rock series. He explains how “TV doesn’t rot your brain, it only softens it, like a ripe banana. To take it all the way we’ve created” The often bizarre sense of humour from the TV series translates perfectly to this commercial peppering it with phrases like “celebral gelatinising shows” and “Hulu, an evil plot to destroy the world.” It’s just silly. Which is why is works so well.

On a slightly more bizarre note a cable television provider has apologized to Tucson-area customers over a 30-second porn interruption during the Super Bowl. Philadelphia-based Comcast issued a brief statement Monday saying the company is "mortified" and is conducting a thorough investigation. See it all at:
This should finally put Ms Jackson and Mr Timberlake to bed, as it were.

One sign of the parsimonious times is that most of the commercials aired during the Big Game were for once not created specifically for the day. Hardly any make even an oblique reference to Superbowl or indeed any football game, the majority of large corporations seemingly happy to just air their latest offerings on the biggest stage available.
Billed as “airing in 27 top markets during Superbowl,” the media has often become the only message as this years’ selection of over 50 different ads failed to deliver the once-off punch and humour of previous years.
It’s all a tad disheartening really, if the world’s biggest consumers of advertising have stopped throwing their considerable weight behind their favourite Brands in such purpose built arenas then where does that leave the rest of us?
I mention it to the young bar maid, her tongue-piercing glistening disturbingly in the light of the bar taps she considers my concerns, “Yeh, but whatisit?.”
Exactly, I think.