Wednesday, 24 June 2015

"Can You hear me...Mother?"

Looking out of the plastic curtain that surrounds the Brazen Head’s drinking arena a guy catches my eye and smiles uncertainly. He’s neither old nor young, just beaten up by life. He ambles over holding up a paint roller and a sign that says, “SID THE PAYNTER, ALL TIPES OF WORK.” It’s bright yellow on cardboard, with lots of drips and splodges. Even though you know it’s probably not representative of his window-frame and corner work, nor his Dado-rail filigree finesse, it does rather give one pause for thought.

So often, it seems, we undersell ourselves. The career changing interview where we forget our most famous triumphs, the babbled list of achievements to the prospective father-in-law, or the poorly remembered raison d’etre behind a wild, but possibly highly successful, campaign.
Let’s face it, most of us are crap at selling ourselves.

When broadcasting companies chose to advertise themselves they often start with the misguided idea that they know the medium because they are intrinsically involved in it. Luckily there are a few enlightened guys out there, like Shizuoka Broadcasting who turned to Dentsu Advertising for their self-promotional commercials the best of which is situated in a Sumo locker room.
Two body builders are talking after a competition, one is looking very dejected, the other is trying to talk him around. As they talk they start to flex their torsos.
1st guy: “Don’t be disappointed,
…you’ll win next time.
Well, I saw on TV…
Capybara also goes to Spa…”
(Here we cut to a shot of said super-rodent climbing into a pool of water)
2nd Guy: “I saw it too…”
1st Guy: “Isn’t he cute?”
2nd Guy: “I love him.”
1st Guy: “Very cute.”
Super up endline: “Very helpful programmes. Shizuoka Broadcasting”
Catch this inscrutable offering at:
A nice cheap ad with a bit of a laugh in it, it’s one of a series of excellent little ideas that sell the whole that is Shizuoka Broadcasting.

It’s also about as far away as you can get from something that stars; Lou Reed, Bono, Skye Edwards (from Morcheeba), David Bowie, Suzanne Vega, Elton John, Sir Andrew Davis, Boyzone, Lesley Garrett, Lou Reed, Burning Spear, Bono, Sir Thomas Allen, Brodsky Quartet, Heather Small (from M People), Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, Shane McGowan, Sheona White (tenor horn player), Dr. John, Robert Cray, Huey (from Fun Lovin' Criminals), Ian Broudie (from The Lightning Seeds), Gabrielle, Evan Dando (from The Lemonheads), Emmylou Harris, Courtney Pine (soprano saxophone player), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis, Brett Anderson from Suede), Visual Ministry Choir, Joan Armatrading, Laurie Anderson, and even that Welsh warbler, Tom Jones.

The BBC accosted this rather curious cross section of performers to appear in their commercial punting their music programmes and reminding the great British public that their licence fee is being well spent.
Between them they sing, play and talk their way through what is certainly the best rendition of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” since his original on the perilously old “Transformer” album. It’s all rather magical and makes me fancy a nice cup of tea and a digestive biscuit or two. Be charmed at:

Closer to home the DStv Fire station Pole dancing Commercial, part of the
“Guess who’s been watching DSTV?” campaign is a rare delight. If you haven’t seen it, a fireman sweeping floor, checks he’s alone then performs his own private pole dance show before getting a deserving kick in the bollocks from his mates sliding down the pole.
It’s as good as the History channel ad where the little girl builds the sphinx in the sand-pit and far better than the irksome girl-child receiving the award with a predictably long thank you speech. Slide over and catch the show at:

It’s not only the mighty TV companies that need a little awareness raising.
The memorable campaign for Radio Scotland, created by Scottish agency Mightysmall, (nee 1576), is a dazzling display of what can be done with a small budget and a willing client.

To quote their own website, from I suspect the ever erudite pen of Adrian Jeffery, “When you watch TV, 70% of what you remember is visual and 30% audio. So how do you create a TV campaign for a radio station and make the viewer remember what they hear? What we did was to source real, emotive audio from the Radio Scotland archives. Then commission the world's best typographers to use that audio as their brief for the visuals, so, the words became the pictures.”

If it sounds ambitious check out the final ads, I think they’re excellent and deliver brilliantly on the promise, as did every awards jury in the world making them the most awarded ads in Scotland’s flamboyant history, (including 2 D&AD Silvers and 8 nominations). Tune into them at:
Flirting with the concept of self-publicity, of late, I’ve come to realise it isn’t only a tough game for corporations.
Have you ever sat in a bar and looked up to find yourself making eye contact with a total stranger? And enjoyed it?
Wandering through the ultimate in putting yourself out there horrors, the colourful world of on-line dating, I dropped in on my current favourite created by a spooky if oddly engaging guy called Michael Ellsberg.

Eye-gazing, which has taken off like snogging at a teenage party, has become New York’s hottest dating trend. Similar to speed dating but different in one fundamental respect, there’s no speaking permitted.
As Ellsberg himself puts it, “After a fun mini-lesson in the art of eye contact, the group splits into pairs, and each pair spends two minutes looking into each other's eyes, silently, just soaking in each other's essence through the windows to their soul.” Interesting, if a tad 60’s San Francisco.

These sessions are perfect for the easily tongue-tied, be warned though, most people are very uncomfortable holding eye contact for any length of time. I tried it on young Emily in the office only to be greeted by the cry of “Freak,” the flash of a dodgy tattoo and a certain stony silence around the percolator.
Next time I’ll just try it in the mirror, at least I know what reaction I’ll get.

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