An agency blog with news from Breakfast plus thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants on marketing, media, technology and culture. Basically anything too long for Twitter or too random for our website.

“The next station stop for this train is Daily Mail Island.”

January 10, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ve read a lot of tosh from people whose opinions I usually respect suggesting that Virgin’s decision to remove the Daily Mail from the very shortlist of newspapers it sells on its trains is censorship.

I work with brands. Brands are very keen on producing lists of their ‘Brand Values’. Often, these can be pretty banal statements of the obvious, usually with the word ‘Passion’ somewhere near the top, setting my teeth on edge and causing an imperceptible twitch at the corner of my left eye.

But equally often, they’ll talk about respect, equality and suchlike.

Very few brands espouse regularly fomenting hatred by continually spreading misinformation and prejudice, often based on factual inaccuracies, leading to the persecution and bullying of vulnerable, weak or disadvantaged people with the objective of making our country and the world less tolerant and kind. I’m assuming those are the Daily Mail’s values – or somewhere close.

I’m fairly certain they’re not Virgin’s.

If those values are diametrically opposed to your brand’s, you’d have a duty not to stock the shitrag.

2) Virgin operates a train service, not a newsagents. They’re not censoring the Daily Mail; they’re choosing not to stock it, just as they don’t stock the Guardian, the Sun or the Telegraph. That’s not censorship, either.

3) 99% of Virgin’s passengers have smartphones and, should the Wifi occasionally kick in, are able to read MailOnline on their phone, getting their regular dose of innuendo-laden photography of pubescent women and bullshit political opinion dressed up as news.

4) Virgin trains’ journeys involve train stations, where newsagents can often be found.

God knows it’s hard to take Richard Branson’s side in a fight, but in this one I’m firmly in the corner of the Necker Island-dwelling bearded totem.

 

 

 

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Blowing bubbles?

January 5, 2018 Leave a comment

If you follow this blog/ know me, you will be aware I’m a lifelong football obsessive who supports Spurs – currently one of the most attractive and compelling teams to watch in Europe. And yet… not only did I turn down the chance to go to last night’s (Jan 4th) game against West Ham at Wembley, I switched over at home ten minutes into the second half.

Why? Because having attended several ‘home’ games this season at our national stadium (which is a labour of love in itself as it’s a nightmare to get to and from), I have had the pleasure of watching every single opposing side line up inside their own half and sit there, like a petulant six-year-old refusing to come outside because their big brother won’t play the game they want.

park_the_bus1

Burnley, Swansea, West Brom and – most pointedly of all – Brighton have turned up and transformed what should be a sporting event into a footballing version of pinata: getting battered for ages before either crumbling (Brighton) or somehow escaping without being defeated (the others).

Newcastle’s extreme version of the tactic against Manchester City attracted the highest level of opprobrium, which, as they were playing at home is fair enough, but if you were at Wembley for Spurs v Brighton to watch a side refuse to chase the game at one and two-nil down you might have disagreed with that assessment. Brighton’s players did not seek to press or dispossess Spurs at any stage, even when losing. Is it possible to sue a club for breaching the Trade Descriptions Act?

Equally deplorable was Manchester United’s embarrassing showing at home to Manchester City, when despite fielding a forward line worth about a billion pounds they hoofed the ball out of defence for virtually the entire game. They are one of only a handful of teams with the attacking options to discomfit City’s potentially fragile central defence, yet they didn’t try. And lost. Top job, Mourinho.

Sitting deep and hitting your opponents on the break is an acceptable tactic. Sitting deep and hoping desperately to get a couple of free-kicks or corners in 90 minutes, from where you might nick a goal, is not.

I don’t care how anyone tries to justify it (it’s up to the attacking side to break the other team down… yawn), I will always be on the side of Danny Blanchflower, who famously said, “The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”

If the current trend persists, attendances will fall, TV revenue will dry up and the Premier League – arguably the most successful British product of the last thirty years – will wither and eventually die.

Grumpy post-match interviews from Jose Mourinho will be much less compelling if no one’s watching.

Categories: blogging for Britain

Fancy that!

December 13, 2017 Leave a comment

What with imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and plagiarism being legally dubious, we were delighted/ furious to see that the BBC’s graphics team have obviously started following our social posts for Moskovskaya.

Not massively dissimilar, we reckon. What do you think?

Moskovstakingpart

 

Feeling social?

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Social media isn’t necessarily right for all brands. Certainly, as my old mate* the Ad Contrarian has loudly proclaimed, many of the claims made on behalf of Facebook and its fellow data thieves a few years ago have turned out to be rather empty.

It transpires that social is a little more like old media than many people once thought. Maybe that’s why it’s taken this long for Breakfast to produce its first (a brief dalliance with the Phone Co-Op aside) fully-formed social campaign, for our favourite vodka, Moskovskaya.

In partnership with hungry upstarts Studio Appetite, we have been producing some ads (there’s no more appropriate term) for two or three months now, and having some fun while doing so.

(You’ll need to follow the brand on Facebook, Instagram or twitter to see the animated bits, links and accompanying text. Sorry.)

Having avoided being too vocal on the merits or otherwise of social media for building brands, I have now progressed from interested observer into an advocate of treating these channels as opportunities. Thye offer brands without big budgets (or even medium-sized budgets) to reach a potentially massive audience with a relatively small spend.

We’re not mistaking our ‘likes’ for customers, or expecting our audience to become evangelists (the world has more than enough of those at the moment). But we are (we think) producing good work for a genuinely distinctive, strong vodka brand. It might take us a while to conquer the world, and we might not achieve domination via social alone.

But we’re in the game. And enjoying it.

*He’s not a mate: I’ve never met him. But I’m pretty sure we’d get on.

Nice and normal food

November 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Last Monday, Neil asked me to curate a shortlist of restaurants for our Christmas meal. I still haven’t done it. Given that we’re based in London, this obviously isn’t due to a lack of choice – quite the opposite. And it certainly isn’t due to any organisational incompetence on my part…

I take food very seriously. My mother is Indonesian, and grew up there. She also lived in Italy with my (English) father for a period before moving to the UK. Now, she joyfully and successfully runs a catering business out of her little kitchen in Haslemere fusing the two cuisines, cooking for any number between 40 and 400 people at a time. Garlic, onion, lime, ginger, lemongrass, and chillies are the fresh ingredients I’ve learned to always have in the kitchen. And a very well-stacked spice cupboard.

I love preparing, eating, discussing, learning about, and sharing food. The spicier the better. And it’s hardly a secret that everyone at Breakfast shares my interest in gastronomy. At least in the eating part. But I’m struggling to put together suggestions for our dinner, because I’m being utterly pathetic and slow recommendations reflect the person giving them. So naturally, mine must be dazzling

Usually when I go out to eat, I want to:

  • Order a bunch of plates to share
  • Get my hands dirty
  • Sweat profusely from the spice
  • Not feel out of place in trainers
  • Talk at length about the meal
  • Drink quite a lot, affordably

…with people who aren’t afraid to do the same.

Some very good restaurants I’ve been to recently in London which have met most, if not all of these requirements:

  • Gunpowder
  • Smoking Goat
  • Kilis Kitchen
  • Honey & Co
  • Dishoom
  • Mangal Ocakbasi
  • Ember Yard

As for nice and normal establishments appropriate for a work Christmas dinner, however, I’m stumped. That’s not to say that the restaurants listed above aren’t nice, normal, or festive, just perhaps not in the traditional sense (whatever that means). And however familiar I’ve become with everyone at Breakfast over the past few months, I assume it’s not very professional to stick my fork and fingers frenziedly into other people’s plates (even if I were to courteously sling my dish across the table at them in return).

Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

A short-lived friendship

November 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Last year, I met a girl. I told her I was moving to Barcelona soon for a new role, at which she clasped her hands in delight and started gushing about the city – as people often do. She recommended a tapas spot – an old favourite of hers. As she described it, I became increasingly excited… And hungry. She spoke highly of the atmosphere, the price, the location, and most importantly, the food. So a few weeks later, and a mere few hours into my new life, I trotted faithfully down to the address she’d given, anticipating messaging her many emojis of thanks after the meal.

That never happened.

I found myself in a sticky, icky sports bar blasting utterly shite music. Outside, the evening sun was still gently bathing the characterful winding backstreets of Barcelona in a warm glow. Inside these walls it was dark and disgusting. The place was crawling with big, burly English men with mean eyes and swollen faces. They messily slurped up jarras of beer with slobbery, dog-like tongues, and made loud, grunting man-noises whilst shovelling handfuls of chips into their gaping gob holes. Their stinky, sweaty, steroid-infused upper bodies were adorned with such skimpy string vests that I don’t know why they bothered with them at all, given how much skin was on show.

Now, I wasn’t taken by the display of skin but rather the skin itself. It was remarkable! Nearly every man in there was imbued with the same dazzling shade of magenta from head to toe. I’ll never forget it: the sun blisters as crispy-looking as pork crackling; the bold punctuation of large, tender swathes of pink by poorly executed tribal tattoos; the aggressive cuts and bruises; the glistening sheen of perspiration. And the pink! Did I mention the pink?!

Remarkable, as I said.

It takes quite a lot to faze me, especially when I’m in an establishment that serves food. So I sat down. As I looked around I tried to remind myself that I’ve both eaten at and recommended incredible restaurants that are dirty-looking, noisy, cramped, hectic, uncomfortable – and the rest. Not everyone’s cup of tea – although I never mind it. As long as the food is great.  And the food that I recommend usually is.

It is never unseasoned. Nor bland. Nor lukewarm. Nor off. The food is never of such a catastrophically low standard as the sad, soggy pintxos presented to me here. As I drew the first one to my mouth, a strange thing happened. Em sap greuuu!* I heard. I looked around. There was nobody in particularly close proximity, and the music was far too loud for me to have been able to hear anyone at the next table. I stared at the pintxo in disbelief. And then shoved it in my mouth. As I forced myself to chew and swallow the thoroughly underwhelming combination of ingredients, I generously wondered if it was the less than pleasing setting throwing me off. And I was starving. So I selected a second pintxo from the platter, and braced myself for another go. I picked it up, closed my eyes, brought it slowly to my mouth, and heard the little wail again: eem saap greeeuuuuuu!!!!!!

As I said, it takes a lot to faze me. Even talking food. So I popped it in. Chewed for a split second… Spat it out in a napkin, and left.

I haven’t spoken to that girl since.

Which leads me to my next blog post…

 

 

 

*Em sap greu = Catalan for “I’m sorry”

Categories: Uncategorized

WTF?

November 13, 2017 2 comments

Making good advertising isn’t easy. The moment when you see the first cut from the editor and realise that the spot you’ve grafted on for three months is a dud, not a D&AD, is horrible. For that reason, I am loth to criticise ads for simply being, in my humble opinion, terrible. It can happen to anyone.

Some ads can be bad and still work: I’ve made a few of those. Others can be good and fail dismally to do their job, i.e. sell stuff. I’ve made a few of those too.

Fortunately for me (if not my clients), the clunkers were TV commercials – bad in a way that would have made them invisible rather than fist-bitingly awful – and endured by the audience in the comfort of their own homes. I never had to observe the public’s reaction.

That is not the case for this – a commercial that actually made me put my hands to my head in the cinema yesterday, while a fellow audience member uttered an audible “What the fuck?”.

Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the script stage. Maybe you’ll watch it and love it.

Then again, maybe not.