Monday, 29 April 2013

Charity ads you'd swear by

It's safe to say that there are many great charities in the world, pulling together for massive causes that could help millions of people. However it's just not possible to give money to them all, which is why charities have to go the extra mile with ads showing us the worst possible scenes; a beaten woman, a cat with no limbs or a child covered in flies. I think it is also safe to say that, as a viewer, we have become immune to these kinds of images. We all know what horror goes on in the world, but it's shown so regularly in the same ways that unfortunately it isn't as hard hitting any more. These ads rarely make us reach for the phone and act.

A year or so ago I wrote a post about the first charity ad that had my full attention, NSPCC's -'The Shit Kids Say'. Now I have been moved by Breast Cancer's Race for Life ad, 'Up Yours, Cancer'. Instead of the usual plee and sadness, it focuses on the strength of women and their fight for life. 

When I interned at The Good Agency last year, Breast Cancer was one of their clients and they were working on the Race for Life campaigns. The focus was on the fun of the run; how you can jog, skip or dance all the way to the finish line. It was about the joy and happiness of achieving the run and raising money for cancer. 
In one of the creative meetings there were images on the wall; women in fancy dress, laughing and smiling. Amongst these happy faces, I remember seeing one photo of a woman who looked really tired and emotional. Her eyes watery, her face red... she didn't look happy. She looked like she'd been through something, that she had a story. It was a far more personal photo and I put forward to the team that this was far more hard hitting and would have more of an effect on me than the happy images.

This year, Mother London came up with this completely different campaign. No more sympathy, no pleas for money or help. These women are strong, independent and out for revenge. With women spitting out lines such as 'Cancer, you prat', and 'Up Yours, Cancer', along with the flash of an X-ray of a two finger salute - this definitely gets your attention. I ran the Race for Life a couple of years ago and you feel really empowered when running with an army of women, even if you're doing it alone.

There is no doubt that the public need a new kind of hard-hitting and I think this particular campaign does the job. Even if it doesn't make you sign up, it still sparks conversation and brings attention to the subject which can only be a positive thing.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Social media outbursts following Thatcher's death

So Margaret Thatcher died and I never realised how strongly everyone felt about her. For the entirety of my life, no one I knew ever spoke of her. No one spoke of their hatred of her or their feelings about her impact on Britain. No one felt the need to bring up their seemingly extreme views on Thatcherism and 1980's politics. Yet, last week when Thatcher died, everyone suddenly exploded with opinion and became quite aggressive about it.

I'm sure most of you have experienced some passionate updates in the past week, either for or against Maggie's death ('Ding Dong the witch is dead' springs to mind). I was seeing mainly pro-death ones; outbursts of joy, celebration, revelling in the death of an old woman who has been off the radar for 20 years. I didn't see even half as many raging statuses about Mick Phillpot, who recently got life for murdering six of his children. I was shocked to say the least, reading angry and hateful posts mainly from people who weren't even under Thatchers premiership and who usually block up my feed with their 'got soooo pissed last nite lol neva drinking again!!!!' statuses. If you are someone who feels like you need to be part of what everyone else is talking about, don't just write mindless words that could offend others.

If you are someone who genuinely cares about a subject, then why are you just writing a status on Facebook? Since when did a Facebook status mean you're changing anything about the world? If you were an activist or were involved in rallies to protest against an issue then I would at least have some respect for you - but it's words on a computer that only friends will see. I have no doubt that people care about different causes and problems in the world, but changing a profile picture or updating a status does nothing. The only way it ends is by knowing several people are sitting at their computers, arguing on their keyboards. Not very productive...

Everyone has an opinion and that's great, but I believe there is a time and a place. Twitter is a highly controversial platform when talking about death, politics or taboo subjects, much worse than Facebook because most of your followers won't be your friends so they can troll the hell out of you for it. When celebrities die, you'll always get the controversial bunch, tweeting family members of the deceased and taking delight in a death. Those who went crazy over Thatcher's death, in my opinion, are just as bad. I am not at all knowledgable on the specifics of politics, hence why I don't pretend that I am, but if all the Twitter-activists are so dead set against the government and how things are run, then why don't they move? Why don't they take action?

Although I love social media and feel it has changed our communication for the better, I feel like it also encourages people to frivolously say challenging and potentially hurtful things, all whilst being behind the safety of their computer screen.

If I'm not planning on changing an issue then I won't rant on about it and force my views on others via social media. People need to be more aware of the message they send about themselves when expressing views on public forums and, like my granny always told me, 'if you can't say anything nice, it's probably best you don't say anything at all (online).'


Four days ago, YouTube saw the release of PSY's new single, 'Gentlemen'. 

Much like 'Gangnam Style', it has a simple beat, a simple computerised tune, and lyrics that no one understands. I watched this for the first time and wasn't very impressed, yet found myself clicking the replay..?! What do you think?

You kind of want to listen to it again right? It's like you have been hypnotised by the repetitive electronic beat. Like you want to mumble more of the verse just to get to the four words of chorus you actually know. Like you wanna swing your ponytail and casually thrust your hips to the beat like a gentleman.

'Gangnam Style' was the first video on YouTube to reach a billion views and, with 'Gentlemen' reaching 122,175,143 views after a mere four days, I have no doubt that it is well on it's way to beating that record. But why? Why is it that the songwriters who sit for days, weeks, years, creating harmonies and melodies with lyrics that are taken from real life experience, get shot down and over taken by Asian pop drivel that is created on a computer?

I came to the highly analytical and scientific conclusion that the answer is most likely to be... 'fun'. You don't have to remember the words, you don't have to be cool and you don't have to dance well. When PSY comes on, it gives you license to act like a complete twat on the dancefloor. Fancy galloping like a horse around the bar? Thrusting your pelvis at your work party? Throwing your legs out like a maniac with your parents? Anything is possible. No one judges you because everyone is doing exactly the same.

So yes, he may be a musical embarrassment, but PSY lets us release our inner Napoleon Dynamite - something I think that we should have been doing years ago.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Oxo 4eva

Whenever I see a good or bad ad, I immediately put it into my iPhone notes so I remember to write a blog post about it. Unfortuntely there are times I forget and the moment passes - doesn't make me look very ad savvy writing about something that was aired 6 months ago! However, an ad that I loved and forgot to write about was last month's Oxo's Magic Cube. Well, better late than never!

Oxo stock cube ads are something I think of as being really British. The cubes themself have been around since the mid 19th Century, and the ads have always stuck in my head. I'm sure you all recognise this one:

Maybe it's the family banter around the table, maybe it's the nostalgia of being a kid, or maybe it's the memory of the smell of mum's roast filling the house - whatever it is, Oxo ads will stay with me forever. But as you can see, I speak about Oxo being a part of my past, not the present, and I'd guess I'm not the only person who sees the Oxo stock cube as something fairly old fashioned.

This is why I was delighted to see this new ad with a new angle

JWT London worked with the animator PES and directors Conkerco to create a more modern take on the famous brand. The ad highlights how a sprinkle of an Oxo cube can transform any combination of ingredients into a delicious meal. Focusing on the veggies rather than the meat, reminds us that Oxo can be used to liven up a wider variety of foods other than beef. What also intrigues me is that there are no people in the ad, no family or girlfriend to cook for. Oxo are wholly focusing on the food; your cooking and your taste.

With this fun and eye catching ad, Oxo has been brought to our attention again whilst still keeping the core message of the brand that it instilled decades ago:

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Chelsea FC's stunning new kit ad

Thanks to my dad and sister being hardcore Chelsea fans, I was introduced to a football advert which I doubt I would have come across on my own. (As you read on, please excuse my ignorance about football!)

Each year the Premiership teams have their kit redesigned and these new kits are advertised to the public at the end of each season (May). However, the ads for the new kits are always a mysterious and blurry teaser; a partial revealing that gets footie fans already reaching for their wallets.
I'm going to talk about Chelsea's in particular, not just because I have to support them (or I will be disowned), but also because it's actually a great ad!

The Adidas ad shows Juan Mata, David Luiz, Gary Cahill and club captain John Terry all being drenched in thick blue paint that is seeping from lockers, creeping across the floor, and exploding in their faces. The whole process is beautiful to watch, as the paint movement in slow motion looks brilliant. The players look totally immersed in the process; they look powerful, passionate and dedicated... you can see they live and breathe Chelsea.

The tagline: 'It's Blue, What Else Matters?', sums it up perfectly. Any true supporter of his team wouldn't care if the new kit was a bin bag as long as it represented the spirit of the team and, since Chelsea preach that 'Blue is the colour' in their most popular song, blue seems to be fundamental to the team and their kit. 

I found out that the changes to the kits are actually very small, perhaps a new stripe or a different shaped collar - which seems a bit pointless to a non footie fan like me - but then again, customers are going to buy the new merchandise without question despite the minor changes... Just like Apple! 

Anyway, here is the ad in it's full glory. I think it's fantastic and makes me like Chelsea a lot more. (Watch it in full screen!)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Winning entry into The Climb - need a team!

A couple of weeks ago I entered a competition for free participation into The Climb.

The Climb is a competition in itself, with the task being to solve a creative brief with your team whilst racing to the top of Mt. Snowdon, then pitching your idea when you get to the top. The competition I entered, for free participation and a bottle of Jaeger and Patron, was to come up with a quick ad for The Climb.

This was my entry:

Pretty simple and basic, but hey I won. I'm not sure if there were many entries at all.. but who cares. I won.

So The Climb takes place on Saturday 20th April and I hope I can go (money/fellow team members/travel permitting), because I think it would be a great experience.

If anyone is interested in joining my team of... me.... then give me a shout at or @lauracripps on Twitter, and I'll try and get a good team together before I commit to anything. 

NB: The Climb has now been moved to June 1st. So if anyone is up for it, there is still time!!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hardcore Corn

I played the classic 'If you had 3 foods to take to a desert island...' game a few months ago and my friends were appalled when I revealed mine; ciabatta, steak and popcorn. I often have to defend my choices in life, but with popcorn I don't think I should have to. Pop, (my upbeat nickname for it), is a food that I will never get sick of, a food that I could easily eat endlessly forever and never be full. So imagine my joy and surprise when I heard of 'Pop', a new shop in Notting Hill that sells many different weird and wonderful Heston-style flavours of popcorn. At last, the mothership.

I imagined this place to be like the Willy Wonka's Factory of pop with a river of corn, pop flowers, pop lightbulbs, pop volcano eruptions where people have to dive and catch pop with their mouths. I visited yesterday and I was trembling with excitement. Is my phone charged to take photos? Will there be queues? How expensive will this place be? Well I ended up walking into a small room that could probably fit 10 people maximum, with 7 tester cups of pop on the counter. Okay so it wasn't the equivalent of M&M World, but that's not what I was here for.

I ended up spending £12 on four flavours of pop: English Toffee and Sea Salt (their bestseller and by far the tastiest), Chilli and Cheese, Cheddar and Spring Onion, and Bloody Mary - these were all weird but amazing!!

There were several I didn't buy; Sweet Crisp (I'm not a fan of sweet pop), Olive Oil and Salt (tasted just just salted pop), and Chocolate Orange (which was lovely but could imagine it getting quite sickly - not ideal for someone who wants to shovel pop endlessly). The pop was served by a lovely girl and came in neat Chinese takeaway boxes

I was disappointed to not see the Maple Bacon pop which I'd heard about but I know they change around their flavours every couple of months or so, so I will definitely be returning to try out the new flavours. If you're like me and are a hardcore corn fan, then you MUST visit this place. Their website is delightful but I think there are certain things that would make their shop look more interesting; like perhaps a big cinema-style popcorn machine, or popart of pop, or a gumball machine that dispenses pop. Either way, this empire will definitely grow and I look forward to sampling more pop experiments.

Wha gwan, popcaan?

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

No more degrees of Kevin Bacon, please...

It's time I talk about an ad that has been bothering me for a while now - The EE ads with Kevin Bacon from Saatchi&Saatchi. I'm sure you have all seen them; where he plays 6 Degrees of Separation of Kevin Bacon but with British familiars such as TV shows and slang. When I saw the first one where he babbled on about how he was connected to 'Ken Barlow' and 'The Rovers', it slightly annoyed me because there is no way that Kevin Bacon knew what those things were.

I decided to break my silence and make it blog post-worthy when I saw the 'Spray Tan' ad:

Firstly, he is not even playing the game right. How does 'Tango' lead to 'Amy Childs'? There are no proper connections between any of the subjects he brings up, they seem vague and weak. EE are trying to show that they are connected across the globe - a concept that is well portrayed in the advert and understood by the audience. However, I feel because the British are proud and protective of their ways, watching an old American actor talk about our nation's favourite soaps or lifestyle as if he is 'one of us' is slightly irritating and, instead of feeling like we've connected with him and ready to take him under our nation's wing, we just want to give him a smack.

The idea of 'Everything Everywhere' is great, but I don't think the final result has done it justice. The main aim of connecting with the British public has ended up looking forced and odd. If Kevin Bacon was swapped with an iconic British actor, say, Michael Caine, then I believe that would have gone down better. Another way to improve it would be the script, because whichever writer attempted to be hip by putting 'ledge' and 'totes amazeballs' clearly has no genuine knowledge on what's current, otherwise they'd know that no self respecting person would ever say those words. EVER.

Here's one I made earlier: