Thursday, 26 August 2010

Why I Hate Wieden + Kennedy

You'll be glad to know it's not a complicated argument this. As simple as a hiccuping infant in fact. But the reason I absolutely HATE Wieden's, with a pair of tiny, impotent fists and gnashing jaws, is because they are SO fucking good, and I, frankly, am not.

At one stage I loved them. Respected them. I'd get all nervous and shy just commenting on their blog, blushing like an awkward teenager walking past the sixth form girls changing room. Not because I was a pervert or anything (honestly sir) I just didn't want them to laugh at me. Because their work was so much better than any of the shit, nasty, cynical, ugly, childish advertising I was used to. Their's was how advertising should be and what I aspired to. Not just in terms of the creative, but in the strategy, and businessy bits too. The bits creatives aren't meant to be interested in. Those killer propositions, hammered-out, worked up, re-worked and refined into elegant, ruthlessly simple strategies, backed-up by perfectly pitched, lovingly crafted creative. You just can't bloody argue with Wieden's. Look, even their rabbits have got cool fucking headphones on!

Of course, you might put some of their success down to the hippie, "optimist" ethics they seduce their clients with, or maybe all of their clients are already hippie optimists in the first place. Even so, it takes a damn sight more than optimism and a shared interest in vegan food or fixed gear bicylces to produce work as (apparently) effortless and uncompromised as theirs. Because whilst Wieden's have always had a very clear fucking idea of what they're about, the only people they seem to know even better than themselves, are their clients.

And that, Mr & Mrs Reader, is why I am shit. Or at least, by comparison. Because as Wieden's are enjoying fruitful, loving, long-term relationships with their clients, the agencies I (tend to) work for are all drunk and abusive, having dirty, unfulfilling sex with their clients behind the Biffa bins at end of the night.

So as much as I do hate Wieden's nowadays, it's possible I don't quite hate them as much as I hate myself.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to embrace my failure even further... Reckon if I spike her drink she'll let me squeeze her tits too.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

10 Things To Include in Your Retail Ad

1. The cheapest, nastiest stock photography you can muster. That way eveything "must be seen to be believed!"

2. A massive number in the middle of the page

3. Exclamation marks after everything! Everything! Cos when we say everyhing! we mean holy fucking shit EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!! Like we're insane.

4. Literally anything that could be contrued as a benefit. For example, "4 recently re-pointed walls full of bargains", or "Come and see our photocopier!"

5. A sun, snowflake, leaf, or chicken depending on the time of year...

6. ...And a headline relating to it. For example, "Nailing down prices this Easter", "The Christmassive Sale!" etc.

7. Mention the time. "NOW ON!", "Starts Friday", "Please God, Must End Soon"

8. A weird/pretentious positioning line that doesn't really work - "Sentimental about prices", "Good things come to those who save", "Valuing your life".

9. If possible try and squash a coupon in there somewhere. Next to the map and the 6inches of T&Cs

10. A logo that's at least 25 years old

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

New Adventures in Wi-Fi

So, a shit headline after an average album by an over-rated band.

Indeed, welcome to the lazily connected, reference heavy world of the internet. A world the more observant and/or connected of you will have noticed me thrashing around in (like a deranged toddler in a therapy pool) quite a bit more than usual. Yep, I've taken the plunge -properly this time- into Twitter, so apologies upfront to anyone I might have inadvertantly splashed, sprayed or drenched in the process. I got a bit carried away at first. Though you'll be glad to know I'm over the intitial hysteria and can now appraise the whole experience like an adult. Without armbands.

Here's the 4 things I've found Twitter to be really, really good for then.

1) Fucking about
Saying random bollocks in the hope of amusing people as bored as you are is the Soup De Jour here at Content Flavoured Trousers, so being able to do it quickly and discreetly in an even less refined/attractive form is like the crack cocaine of blogging. You don't need a private corner, or bog cubicle to do it. Just an iPhone.

2) Bragging
If you're ambitious, egotistical, or just a humble sociopath then Twitter is right up your private self-named boulevard. "I'm doing this," "Just doing that," "Oh, it's amazing," "I'm here right now in fact," "Me, me, ruddy ME," you can go all day long, name dropping and ballooning. And the best thing is - you can say what the shitting hell you like: "Got my hand in the Queen's lap. What will Phillip say?", "Base Jumping with Rory Bremner this afternoon", "Accepted into Goldsmiths, La Sorbonne, AND the Freemasons IN THE SAME DAY. Clever me!" No one will EVER know the truth. Ever ever ever. At all. Twitter could make a tapeworm sound cool.

3) Sort of meeting people
Hell, I mean Twitter's just -like- this massive global party, yeah. One where no one really knows each other and they all OMG HAHAHAHAHAHA ROFL a bit too hard to make up for it, whilst absolutely hammering the white wine and being sick on each other before they even relax. Meanwhile, the ones who have been there the longest are all tired and hungover so don't really say a lot.

4) Whistling in the dark
Finally, being able to blurt things out to a silent, faceless crowd is a brilliant way to taunt Death. Spitting into the abyss every now and then with a little life-affirming "I'm still here" tweet really keeps those existential horrors at bay.
Almost as much as the cocaine, alcohol and lies.

I'm hooked.

Eat, Slay, and Die

Somewhere on my hard disk there's an abandoned project of mine called The Alphabet of Advertising. Maybe these will spur me on.

(From the particularly bloody ace Ptak Science Books)

Monday, 16 August 2010

10 things I'd do to Fiona Bruce apropos of blokes always saying they'd "do" her

1. Fatten her up

2. Make her do Antiques Roadshow in a MASSIVE clanking suit of armour

3. Take a good foot or so off her

4. Use as voiceover for erectile disfunction clinic ad

5. Project silhouette on to blind as burglar deterrent

6. Make her and Nigella Lawson sprint round a cake

7. Airbrush face on to truck

8. Use face as Japanese opera mask

9. Dress up as Jill Dando

10. Make her and the BBC News team do a Comic Relief version of "Saw" with Huw Edwards wearing the skin of George Alagiah next to Fiona who's handcuffed to a radiator, whilst Bill Turnbull and the rest of 'em are systematically executed in "hilariously" apposite ways, for example stung to death by bees, or turned upon by an actual bull, you get the idea, and now for the weather etc.

Friday, 13 August 2010

10 Modern Rugby Songs

1. Tag the bitch

2. Mr. Banker Wanker Man

3. Groom Ye Fair Maiden

4. Sweet Cecelia Celiac

5. No Symptoms

6. ATM Machine (She's An...)

7. Bi-Curiosity Killed The Cat

8. Old Enough to Say No

9. Milf Is Murder

10. I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Pay That)

Some bile I don't have time to do justice to. By which I mean, shape, like a wax figurine, into a towering homunculus of satire


I'm Tom. I'm an art director who loves skateboarding and great ideas.

And I'm Tim. I'm a copywriter who loves great ideas but not so much the skateboarding.

Together we make up the creative team, TimTom.

Cute, huh.

And no wonder. Because we recently graduated from Stirling Moss University with 1st Class Honours in Cute Communication and Conceptual Conceit.

And before all that we were lucky enough to be voted "Ones To Smirk At" at D&AD Cute Student Awards, as well as a bunch of other stuff we're too knowingly self-deprecating to mention here.

We'd rather just display our accolades in the top right corner of our website.

Which leads us, in a cute and so totally NOT contrived way, to our online portfolio.

Here you'll find some cute examples of the following:

- Some nicely scamped ads for a well known brand that hasn't needed to advertise for 20years or so, but which we've tried to re-invent with a cute concept and some knowing Dan Germain-style copy.

- A protracted concept for a well known, but slightly naff brand, (possibly Argos) that involves Facebook and to all the world looks like we've just stuck the logo on to an iPhone app.

- Multiple executions of a particularly smug idea for a public sector campaign, like we just didn't know when to stop.

- A totally unlikely ambient idea that isn't even cynical enough to inlcude in the Chip Shops, let alone have anything to do with the brand or what it might normally be saying.

Finally, here's some gushing, humble sounding bullshit about us wanting a placement and how awfully nice we are and don't mind making the tea which, if we're honest, is as close to real work either of us could bare.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

FREE in The Drum this month!

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In Next Months Issue: The 100 Tallest Account Handlers

Friday, 6 August 2010

Please, God. Something Other than Advertising

Please. Take off your checked shirt, stop talking about design and fashion shoots and your collaborative cenceptual art project for a fucking sports brand, and listen very carefully to me for just. One. Moment. Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but...

Working in the "creative industries" isn't really that interesting, exciting, or remarkable. It's certainly not creative ('clue's in the "inudstries" bit), and writing inevitably ugly, insincere garbage for shit, sanctimonious businesses all day just isn't a sufficiently stimulating endeavour for someone of my, not inconsiderable, intellect to waste even more of my time talking about it to a load of people with equally obscure, marginal and insignificant media careers as my own.

So. Today I'm not going to write about clients, art directors, suits, planners, or any of that bumwash. I'm not even going to namedrop my cool ex-girlfriend who runs a record label in New York in a crass attempt to look more creative than I really am.

No sirree.

Today I'm going to write about something else entirely for a change. Something I actually like:

Dmitri Shostakovich. Arguably the greatest composer of the 20th century.

This is him:

Like a knackered Harry Potter isn't he. But don't let that fool you. Old Four-Eyes there wrote 15 of the greatest symphonies the world has ever heard, the first when he was just 19 (and really did look like Harry Potter). If you like your music mean, complex, thrilling, playful and devasatatingly beautiful, then look no further than this man. Granted, it's not always easy listening, but then, that's kind of the point. When you work in an industry as solipsistic as advertising it's important to stretch yourself, ok.

So, why Shostakovich then Mr. John?

Well, for a start he was a child prodigy. After enrolling in Hogwart- I mean, the Petrograd Conservatory, he learned to smoke, and became a decadant young bastard along with a whole new generation of experimental Russian artists, writers, film makers and laa-dee-dahs. Life was great. Or at least, not bad until the stumpy-armed despotic ballet lover, Stalin, came to power in the 20s and buggered things up for a few million people.

As a trained practitioner of the "bourgeois" avant garde, Shostakovich spent the majority of his creative life embroiled in a deadly cat-and-mouse game with the higher echelons of the politburo. Loved by the public but denounced in Pravda as a kind of degenerate intellectual anarchist effectively for not writing anything Stalin could dance to, he had to whore himself writing film scores and ditties, suppressing his work and, ultimately, his personality at a time when less compliant artists were being executed for treachery. With Koba breathing down his neck, Shostakovich was forced to find a new kind of voice or perish.

Which is exactly what he did. With fiendish intelligence.

Firstly Shostakovich took the relatively unsophisticated, pan-nationalistic music of the Party to absurd, and at times hilarious, lengths. His rousing anthems become bloated caricatures under the weight of their own self-importance, while ferocious, posturing choruses splinter into sarcastic ballerina pastiche. Epic, volatile, and a wee bit jazzy just for good measure, Shostakovich became the undisputed master of what you might call The Art of the Straight Face. Like a sort of musical Derren Brown, he was able to convince the entire establishment that everything was above board while performing the ultimate transgression right under their noses.

He also lived in constant fear of being found out. A fear which almost killed him.

Now, as I live in constant fear of boring people to death talking about Shostakovich, I'm guessing anyone still reading this either shares my penchant for difficult Russian composers, or you're wondering what the fucking hell my point is.
Well, I kind of lied when I said I wasn't going to talk about advertising. (This is an advertising blog, after all). Or rather, I intended not to talk about it, but then realised there was something particularly germaine about Shostakovich's story us Advertising Party conformists could learn from. Which is: even if your client is as thick, nasty, unreasonable and tasteless a dwarf bastard as Stalin was, it's still just about possible to create something outstanding.

You just need to keep a straight face.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Advertising Feature

Love the internet? Love to chat? Then join me, Michael Parkinson, for the very best in online chat with my very own app from Facebook.

The Parky App from Facebook lets you and your friends wax lyrical about your life and times in a relaxed and informal atmosphere before a live audience of millions. Dispense your very own wit and wisdom in response to some of the most famous questions from my 40 odd year career. Questions like:

"What kind of a man was Muhammed Ali? - or Cassius Clay as he was known then."

"You've always been frank about your struggle with drink over the years, but is that something you now regret?"

"Tell us about your new book."

Ask friends to rate your raconteurmanship on a celebrity scale of 1-5:

1. Meg Ryan
2. Jamie Cullum
3. Sean Connery
4. Billy Connelly
5. Peter Ustinov

Create memorable line-ups and witty banter by inviting up to three other guests to you "in the studio". Choose friends from your social network or from a stock of charming A-List celebrities, including:

Roger Moore
Goldie Hawn
Tony Curtis
Kenneth Williams
Clive James

Why not take light-hearted detours into a range of my favourite subjects, including:

Yorkshire cricket
Jazz music
1960s Fleet Street

The humorous interjections, sparkling repostes, and bon homie just never ends with the new Parky App from Facebook.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

10 Social Networking Disasters

1. Putting your willy on the screen

2. Anything involving role play, hobbies, shared interests, that kind of thing is bound to end badly

3. Tagging victims

5. Updating status to "Fantasising about strangling boss with penis"

6. Seeding your castration self-help videos

7. Revealing location on Twitter amidst the excitement

8. Your "Ulcer Diary"

9. Poking relatives

10. Being Raoul Moat

The Agony and the Ecstacy

Thanks Pieman.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Cut-Up and Beg

We are a copywriter struggling to provide innovative creative solutions to a wide range of clients because of a variety of arbitrary bloody conventions and assumptions about writing and design.

Our cause began years ago when I was banging on about experimental writers like BS Johnson right here on this here blog in an effort to promote some sort of progressive thinking about writing for design. Meanwhile, this superficial but well meaning article appeared in "The Observian" newspaper only yesterday promoting the importance of avant garde literature and reminded me to bang on about the subject all over again, not least as I had a run in with a particularly illiterate designer only the other week which made me right grrrrr angry, ok? I said OK!?

It was William Burroughs who once said that narrative writing is trapped within the "representational straightjacket of the novel". Similarly then, any kind of long form copy is just as bound and buggered by the awkward, insincere and stultifying formality of the corporate brochure. Therefore, we (I) believe it's high time we dragged long copy out of the doldrums and embraced the experimental techniques of Johnson, Cortazar - Christ, even Burroughs if we have to, to create innovative, immersive, and dynamic texts that are fit for the 21st century. Because let's face it, in 5 years time no one's gonna want a leather bound coffee table brand book to show they're customers, cos they'll all be watching interactive movies on their iFrot mediabungs and feeding the data back to you you tedious old shit.

So. Sorry to be the one to tell you Mr. Client, but frankly those six pages of quality assurance statements in your brochure aren't gonna lend themselves to an amusing internet mash-up.