Monthly Archives: December 2010

The lush green grasslands of…Iceland?

This is a great example of the power of a great brand.

I think the truly great brands make you turn off your brain. You see the brand and you surrender to it and what it means. Because you know it won’t let you down.

I can scarcely conceive of ever having a bad experience with the Apple brand for example. How weird is that?

I am Irish. So it’s not entirely unexpected that I like imported Irish butter.

Irish butter is better because the cows that produce graze on the lushest grass in the world. Because it rains all the bloody time the grass is especially rich.

The grass is green so the butter is golden. Literally.

So all other butter literally pales in comparison.

Lately I noticed that Whole Foods Market, who are a client, have replaced my native butter with butter from Iceland!

Now I studied Icelandic geography at school. It’s a volcanic rock in the ocean.

So consequently there is no way in hell their butter can be as good as ours.

But I trust Whole Foods to never let me down.

And they haven’t. The Icelandic butter is great.

Whole Foods have successfully over-ridden my brain.

To the point where I have started convincing myself there must a hidden meadow in Iceland where unicorns and dairy cows romp happily in the sunshine. In between squirting out milk that is the nectar of the gods apparently.

The power of a great brand.

I now believe in Icelandic butter.

Happy Winter Solstice!

I grew up in the west of Ireland.

Ireland is steeped in superstition. You are surrounded by reminders of the past. The recent past, the medieval past and the ancient past.

Growing up in this frankly idyllic setting I was frequently struck by how much of our pagan past protruded out from under the veneer of Roman Catholicism.

I remember once asking why everyone burned bonfires on June 21, the summer solstice. I was told it was because that was St. John’s day. Bullshit!

You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that if you live in northwest Europe and it’s late December you might need a bit of cheering up! Yeah, a colorful tree sounds good!

That’s going to sell to anyone.

Happy holidays y’all!

Best advertising of 2010

How can you deny the success of Old Spice?

A great piece of film that really impacted the culture followed by deft navigation of the social media rapids. A top job all around from Wieden and Kennedy. This very obviously revived a brand that was all but dead.

And 26 million views on YouTube? Can’t argue with that.

Whip off your lens caps people, because film is back baby!

Crystal clear communication

This is just perfect!

I couldn’t be more excited! OK, maybe I could be.

YouTube has released its list of most watched videos of 2010.

And guess what’s at number 4?

I remember the first time this idea was parodied/referenced. I was very excited. Less excited the tenth time. And much less so the 219th time.

It’s gotten to the point now where I literally feel nothing. I just smile and pretend i’m excited. A great problem to have, i hasten to add.

Anyway here it is. Annoying Orange Wazzup.

27.5 million views? Really?

Yes, really!

What can social media do for your brand?

Answer: nothing.

The real question is “What can your brand do for social media?”

And the answer to that is only limited by your imagination, and, to some degree, your budget.

You just have to actually do something exciting!

The Internet has always been both a social and a communicative medium.

It began with chat rooms and email.

Corporate websites were not the reason we got excited about the Internet.

The internet was great because it finally gave everyone the chance to express themselves. Potentially to a worldwide audience. And for free!

We all initially got excited about the Internet because for the very first time, the world was literally at our fingertips.

And now that the Internet has shrunk to handful of social media sites we all routinely frequent, what does that mean for advertisers trying to sell their wares?

We all still need to sell stuff right?

Well what it means is you have do what great advertising always had to do: seduce people who have far better things to be doing into loving your brand for some reason.

The context and the tools may change. But the mission remains the same: sell stuff.

And the fundamental problem remains the same: nobody cares.

There is a constant torrent of stuff more interesting than your brand to distract your audience from your message.

And advertising is a bore.

So all you have to do is be the exception.

Be the most exciting one in your category.

Unless of course you can afford to be boring. Blasting hundreds of millions of dollars in media will always work.

Do you have hundreds of millions of media dollars? Great. Good for you.

So, as ever, the brand that exploits the medium best wins.

Nothing has changed at all!

Arrrgh!!! (Bites self on arm)

This is an exploitation of social media we at The Escape Pod recently created for client What Thins. It works because it’s a fundamentally good use of social media. Twitter specifically. And in a very specific way.

The one thing you don’t expect is for your random twitter utterances to have actual real world repercussions. It’s just you tweeting away into the ether!

Well, what if that wasn’t the case? What if your random tweets about a brand somehow became national TV spots.

Wheat Thins did this idea first. I have a feeling we won’t be the last. But we were the first.

Any other major consumer brand could have conceivably done it.

Only they didn’t, did they.

They just sat around worrying and talking about social media and what they might possibly do.

Wheat Thins actually did something about it.

So they win.

It’s that simple.


I’m about to edit a freshly shot batch of promotional films.

I used to hate editing. I was impatient and just wanted it to be done and perfect. Like now!

But over the years I’ve come to quite enjoy it.

Editing is a bit like playing poker. You pick your best bits and then play them in the best possible combination to achieve the effect you want.

The toughest part, for me, is mentally digesting and absorbing all the best bits. You really have to internalize it all in order to edit with any authority. Otherwise it becomes a puzzle that you never quite understand.

Editing is writing. Never forget that.

It’s not the “final bit” of the film making process, it kind of IS the film making process. Everything else is simply a lead up to the edit.

It’s a highly concentrated and focused activity, like writing. But you have to have fun with the edit too.

The fun part usually comes when you realize that you haven’t fucked up the shoot and you actually do have all the pieces you need.

Your confidence picks up and the best story reveals itself.

And you show someone unfamiliar with your idea a rough cut. And they laugh. And gush about how awesome it is.

Then you order lunch!

This is just delightful.

got this via simon billing. AKA The Grumpy Brit. It’s a documentary about the planning of a swinging London ad agency’s Christmas party in 1970.

There’s a very potent flavour on display here. love it like Bisto!



The Wall by Roger Waters. A review.

I saw Mr. Waters perform his conceptual piece this past Sunday in LA.

I must confess to being a bit of a skeptic going in.

The whole thing reeked of the worst excesses of 70s prog rock to me.

For one there was a “concept”. It clearly wasn’t enough to just get on stage and play for Roger anymore.

Secondly, I’d never really been a Pink Floyd fan.

Thirdly, I wasn’t on acid. The traditional Floyd cure-all remedy. Or so I hear.

I’m very happy to report that my skepticism was wholly unjustified.

The Wall is a very big and dramatic idea executed flawlessly.

I did a bit of digging before going to the gig. It turns out Roger was an architecture student before joining Pink Floyd and that this remains an abiding interest.

So, no prizes for guessing which member of Pink Floyd was most likely to suggest building a wall then!

But the real motivation for the idea came from the alienation Roger Waters felt upon touring North America after the insanely successful Dark Side of The Moon album.

It should have been sheer bliss, right? Eighty thousand plus fans screaming love at you every night.

Well, it wasn’t for Roger. He hated that dynamic with a vengeance. He didn’t feel it (stadium gigs) encouraged an engaged audience. Which of course it didn’t.

It encouraged a disconnected audience of intoxicated yahoos waiting for their favorite Floyd song to be played.

So Roger had the idea of literally creating a wall between the performers and the audience. To make them FEEL something. And to make them think about what was actually going on.

All of which sounds very grand and operatic. And it is. The Wall is, in essence, a musical drama. Performance art.

But it also sounds poncey and affected in the extreme. Which it very much isn’t.

Roger Waters really meant this. It was the Floyd album where his creative energy and drive really asserted itself. The whole thing was his idea!

It forces the viewer/audience member to really think about what’s going on in ways they (and I include myself in this) can only really appreciate later on.

The Wall is deep man!

See it for yourself and you’ll understand why. I won’t pretend to do it justice here.

There’s a great clip in a Pink Floyd documentary where an American journalist asks a young Roger Waters to explain his concept on TV. Roger says to him “You’re kidding me man. I can’t explain The Wall on TV!”

Well I can’t explain The Wall on a blog either.

I’m off to see Roger Waters do THE WALL on sunday

He’s playing at the Staples Center here in LA. I’m looking forward to it.

I was never a Floyd fan until I moved to the USA.

Here are the three monsters of USA radio that are not from the USA: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and U2.

I never cared about Pink Floyd when i was a teenager. They were old.

So it’s a bit like a hippie going to see Frank Sinatra.

I have watched lots of Pink Floyd documentary stuff in anticipation of this.

Pink Floyd, unlike The Beatles, were English middle class. And Roger very clearly is.

He’s a very, very, smart guy. And a big thinker. He was the brains of Pink Floyd.

So I’m going to my very first prog-rock gig in LA in 2010.