Time: 100 Photographs

I love this project from Time, which aims to choose the 100 Most Influential Images of All Time. Partly just because I love great photographs, but also because they've gone behind the scenes of each shot and give the context and background stories, films and some interviews with the photographers. I'm sure everyone will have specific shots that they feel are missing from the list (my own is the Pale Blue Dot taken by the Voyager 1 space probe in 1990) but hey, what a task to choose just a hundred – I'm sure we'd all choose a slightly different 100. A small, random selection of the shots is below, but do check out the whole thing, as it's a great project and the background stuff really is fantastic. Check it out here. Incredible work...

A Man On The Moon, Neil Armstrong, 1969

Tank Man, Jeff Widener, 1989

Black Power Salute, John Dominis, 1968

99 Cent, Adreas Gursky, 1999

Demi Moore, Annie Leibovitz, 1991

The Burning Monk, Malcolm Browne, 1963

Happy New Year!

Morning all. Well we've just carefully packed all the Christmas emojis back up in their old suitcase in the loft, and we're ready to take on the new year. 

Here's to another year fighting the good fight for creative work to be proud of and smart advertising that treats people with intelligence. 

Godspeed to everyone trying to rise above the average and pushing hard to do great work. Let's make 2017 the beginning of the time when creative people took advertising back from the accountants...

Happy New Year!


Alan Waldie's Passing Reminds Us Of Everything That Advertising Today Is Not

We'd like to mark the sad passing of one of the UK's advertising giants, Alan Waldie. We never knew him personally, but one of us Sell! Sellers worked at Lowe Howard-Spink while Alan was there, his influence still huge.

One thing is certain, and that is if you're over 30 you'll know his work, because it represents the best of UK advertising. It's the work that made a lot of us want to get into advertising in the first place.

(If you're under 30 and you haven't heard of Alan or his work, please take the time to get to know it, I guarantee you'll be better off for it.)

It's fair to say he was a well-regarded maverick, two things that you might not see in the same sentence in advertising today.

There's something about the passing of another advertising great that casts a very bright light on advertising today – in that it reminds us that we are lacking the people and work to step into these (admittedly huge) shoes.

It's easy to accuse those who say this of having rose-tinted spectacles, but before you do, just look at his work. There is nothing out there, or that has been out there in the last 15 years, that gets anywhere near this (this is just a small selection)...

Thanks Alan.


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There's an excellent post about the B&H campaign on Dave Dye's blog (from where I pilfered those last two images) here.

More from Campaign on Alan here.

Tumblogweed

Blimey it's been a bit quiet on here lately hasn't it? Sorry about that. And don't think we're back with some brilliantly thought-through in-depth piece that we've been beavering away on either.

We aren't. The reason (Yes reason not excuse. What? Shut it) is that we're thigh-deep in a couple of very interesting but rather hefty projects. Yes, you heard - doing work. Actual creative work. I know!

People writing things, thinking of ideas, designing (sorry, art directing) stuff, shooting stuff, reviewing stuff. Crazy talk eh?

So there. Sorry about no new blog posts though. We do enjoy doing them. We will be back, normal service will be resumed at some point soon, so please do keep checking in.

Anyway, it would be nice to hear from you – what do you think of this year's Christmas ads? I know our readers are very opinionated, brutal but even-handed, so we'd love to know what you think.

I'm particularly pleased with the title of this post, by the way. Put it in the work as we always say.

Everyday Objects Reavealed To People As If They Are Sacred Artifacts

So it has started, comrades.

The yearly snoozefest of Christmas ads, that is.

The trade press seem to love it, probably because it gives them something to write about other than big data and diversity. I wonder if they realise there other, extremely meaty issues in this industry to interrogate? I would say probably they do, but why bite the hand that feeds you eh?

Anyway, every new Christmas ad is revealed by the trade press as if it is the latest canvas from Da Vinci, and this morning Campaign bring to us these efforts by Morrisons.

Now, I'm not going to lay into these. After all, what's the point? They are so completely middle of the road, it would be like beating a labrador. Cruel and unnecessary. A family, doing family stuff, people in supermarkets looking happy being helped by happy staff whilst happily buying products from abundant shelves. Is this real-life or what? These could be for any supermarket, and they could have been made at any time in the last 50 years.

No, the reason I'm posting these is because of two shots, one in each ad. These shots have me perplexed a little. Now we all know how much preparation and interrogation goes into making a TV ad these days, how much every single shot, every decision, every piece of casting, wardrobe, action, is pored over. So we have to assume that, especially as this is the supermarket's Christmas advertising, every shot is very deliberate, more than deliberate, calculated.

So these shots have me interested. I think there is some foul play at work. Someone is trying to fuck with us. Both shots occur at exactly 20 seconds, exactly halfway through the ads.

In this first ad (below) we see a normal-looking lady, possibly in her fifties, being shown a bag of carrots, as if she has gone up to a member of staff and said "Excuse me, very sorry to bother you I know you're busy, but I've been told of something called 'carrots' - do you know of these?" They walk over to the veg aisle, and the assistant takes a bag of carrots from the top of a giant pile of bags of carrots "These are carrots" says the assistant. The woman looks in wonder at the bag of carrots, and then we are whisked away from this scene, left to wonder.

Who is this lady, who looks as if she has seen a bit of the world, but who doesn't know what carrots are, or where one would find them? She looks like one of us, a normal person, but her actions betray her. Is she some sort of facsimile or artificial intelligence? Or perhaps an infiltrator from another civilisation, here to investigate earth and our human ways? One things is certain, we are left pondering this question way past the endline.



(We need to talk about the endline though, don't we? Christmas. Morrisons Makes It - that's just not true is it? Morrisons don't make Christmas do they? Christmas without Morrisons would be exactly the same as Christmas with Morrisons, the only exception being if you work for Morrisons. This is just a bog-standard lazy lie that makes the client feel good, keeps the agency in the good books, and is completely pointless.)

And the same thing plays out in the second ad, exactly halfway through. Only this time with a bag of satsumas. (This ad seems to have been removed from YouTube by Morrisons so I can't play it here, but you can still watch it on Campaign, here.) A different lady, this one younger, maybe in her thirties, is shown a bag of satsumas as if she is being presented with the Antikythera Mechanism. "Yes" she says "I have heard much of these satsumas, but to actually hold them in my own hands..." And then again we are whisked away, left to wonder on these people. Who are they?

I don't know exactly what to take from these adverts, other than if you are new to planet earth, or new to human culture, the assistants at Morrisons will be happy to introduce you to some of the basic foods eaten by humans. And for that, at least, I think we can be glad that these adverts exist.

ESPN SportsCentre Commercials

Ben Kay is doing these great podcasts interviewing creatives and directors, it's well worth a listen if you haven't already.

His latest chat is with the great Jeff Labbe, an American creative and director who's responsible for some great ads, and some of the ones that we looked up to when we were starting out in the business.

Jeff wrote the Beware Of Things Made In October campaign for Fox Sports, which blew our minds at the time, such simple, funny spots.

Have a look at his work on Ben's blog, here.

Americans seem to have always been to able to write commercials for sport and in particular their sports, baseball, basketball and (Amercian) football, in a brilliant way that we seem to struggle to match over here. Don't get me wrong, there have been exceptions, but in general we don't seem to have that ability to write the great, funny stuff about our sport and sports heroes that the yanks do about theirs. (I have my own tinpot ideas about why that might be, but that's not for this post.)

Anyway, all this reminded me of that great era of US commercials that we feasted on when we were starting out. At that time the only way of getting hold of them was on a Umatic sent over from a production company. We'd crowd round a monitor to watch the latest thing someone had got hold of.

This particular campaign stands out in my memory - the superb ESPN SportsCentre stuff directed by Bryan Buckley and Frank Todaro when they were a directorial duo at Radical, and written by Hank Perlman and Daryl McDonald...



Fantastic stuff. You can see a compilation of ESPN SportsCentre commercials here (these are from over a range of time and I don't think they all share the same directing and writing credits)...



After Bryan Buckley and Frank Todaro went their own ways and each became hugely successful in their own right, we were lucky enough to work with Frank on a couple of our projects. He directed our commercial for Travelocity and a series of ads we did as part of the Clarks New Shoes campaign,. It was real pleasure to work with one of these master US craftsmen, and we learned a lot along the way.

Donald Trump Sings Mahna Mahna

Good old Donald, eh? He's a constant source of amusement isn't he? It would be more funny if the idea of him becoming president of the US wasn't so scary. But anyway, as an entertaining diversion here he is, singing the famous Muppets' song Mahna Mahna (yes, I checked, that's the correct spelling)...