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.

Windows ’19

After 10 years cohabiting with the lovely people at Live & Breathe, Team Breakfast have finally discarded the stabilisers and pedalled all the way to our very own office in Carlisle. Or Carlisle Street, in Soho, to be exact.

The gentrification of Soho: an argument against.

That’s us (or some of us) in our new gaff. It has windows and assorted other mod cons.

If you find yourself in the neighbourhood, please come and knock on our door. If it’s answered by a small, sarcastic and slightly smug balding person, you’ll have accidentally knocked on Private Eye’s office next door – we’re number 7.

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Lads lads lads… part two

April 30, 2019 Leave a comment

I blogged a little while ago about the Ladbrokes ad featuring the fella from the In Betweeners. It isn’t a very good ad, but it has now – thankfully – been replaced by some new executions that, while polarising, are significantly less lazy and annoying (I may be in a minority here if you’re not a Kriss Akabusi fan).

Anyhow, while the whys and wherefores of betting ads on TV continue to be debated, the blog piece is getting a fair few hits, so I would like to revisit my original position.

Although the Ladbrokes spots are irritating, they are hard to ignore, which, as well as delivering the primary requirement of any piece of advertising, these days puts them in a minority. And the more I see Betfair’s risible commercial, which combines unbearable smugness with possibly the worst example of printing the proposition I’ve ever seen, the more I think I picked the wrong target.

“Where gut instinct meets smarts” manages to be immediately forgettable and hugely irritating, as anyone thinking “hell, yes – I have smarts!” should be banned from possessing money, let alone gambling with it.

Betfair’s exchange has a USP that is hard to unpack in a 30 second TV spot – and they have tried – but this is the worst of all worlds in that it doesn’t explain it and doesn’t make it compelling. Must do better next season.


Google: not half as clever as they think they are

March 13, 2019 Leave a comment

There’s a lot I don’t understand about data and privacy (although I know enough to have deleted my Facebook account). And I’m pretty certain I’m not alone. Sometimes it feels like Google knows me better than I know myself – which, as someone who is getting increasingly forgetful, is actually quite convenient.

However, there are still some reassuring gaps in the picture Google thinks it has of my day-to-day perception of my world. For example, being fundamentally an American company means that Google refuses to recognise the possibility that anyone ever walks anywhere. When I plan a trip using Google maps, it occasionally tells me that the first train I can catch is in about 45 minutes because I will have to wait 30 minutes for a bus to the station (it’s a 12 minute walk). This is annoying, but I think I can, at least, understand why the mistake occurs: Omission by obesity.

One glitch, though, continues to baffle me. For a few years now, when I get into my car and navigate with Google maps, they continue to tell me how long it will take me to get to O’Neills in Leytonstone.

O’Neills, Leytonstone, back in the day

I’ve never visited O’Neills in Leytonstone. I’m not an O’Neills kind of guy. I believe, like Wetherspoons, it’s a homeless refuge that sells alcohol and horsemeat-themed microwave meals (National Hunter’s Chicken? Novice Steaks?). But without fail, Google maps lets me know how traffic conditions are looking en route.

This took on an altogether more surreal edge this week when my hungry colleague Aisha added a meeting invitation to my calendar but omitted to stipulate a venue. Google’s suggestion? O’Neills. I was assuming it would be the small meeting room in the office, but there you are.

I’ve scoured the settings on my iPhone but I can’t find for the life of me where this assumption that I would like nothing more than to hold my next agency status meeting in an Irish theme pub comes from. I think my football team once played a game near the Leytonstone O’Neills, but I’m clutching at straws.

If anyone can explain this to me, please do. Or are Google just doing this for the craic?


Lads, lads lads… and everybody

February 5, 2019 Leave a comment

Betting ads. On the one hand, a symbol of Britain’s decline: our last growth industry is a small-scale metaphor for the debt-fuelled hedonism that underpins our entire bloody economy. And on the other hand, a symbol of advertising’s decline: in any given ad break (or in the ones I watch, anyhow), bookmakers’ commercials make up about 75% of all the ads. And the other 25% are for Domino’s.

I think I’ve written about Ladbrokes before, but their hapless efforts to reclaim some of the market share they’ve ceded to newcomers such as betfair, Betway, Bet365, Bet Twat, Bet Lynch and Betfred (I may have invented one or two of these) is tragic to behold.

Their latest spot (and there is only one, which means it’s repeated about 30 times in two hours when there’s live football on) is the advertising equivalent of your grandad trying to explain Vloggers.

My son – an Inbetweeners fan and keen football gambler (he’s 18 now so he’s grown up with the concept) – finds the ad so toe curling he has to mute it when it’s on.

“It’s just someone thinking that putting him in an ad will automatically make it funny, and it doesn’t” was his analysis. Now a bad ad can be forgiven if it manages to communicate its USP clearly. But the USP here appears to be “We do betting too”. I believe you can just see the director slitting his wrists in the corner of one scene.

The endline has just changed – after six months – from “For the bettors of Britain” to something else, about fun. And I wouldn’t bother blogging about this if it wasn’t for the fact that this is just about the only industry in the UK putting any money at all behind its TV advertising. IS THIS REALLY THE BEST WE CAN DO?

What’s particularly sad about this fiasco (from Ladbrokes’ perspective) is that with Paddy Power’s previously strong marketing having fallen off a cliff, Bet365 watching Ray Winstone literally shrink in front of our eyes (his head is no longer the size of a planet), and betfair putting their brief on air, the competitive bar is awfully low. And yet…this is arguably the worst of the lot.

Will nobody think of the children? How are they expected to decide which brand they should fritter away their financial future with when these ads are all they have to go on?



See it, say it, sorted

January 22, 2019 Leave a comment

If you’re a London commuter, you will be in little doubt what to do on the tube, train or bus should you notice “something unusual” en route to or from work.

For the past two years (although it feels a lot, lot longer), TFL staff have, via an amusingly diverse collection of pre-recorded messages, implored everyone to take action to prevent any more horrific terrorist attacks; memories of which linger, still, just below the surface as we struggle in and out of the capital each day.

“See it, say it, sorted” has wormed its way into my daily life; sometimes read with little regard for punctuation (I’m pretty sure some stations awarded the job to the person whose rendition would amuse the rest of the staff the most), but it’s there, daily.

I’ve read articles saying how annoying it is (it is), and others complaining that the line should really end “sort it” to work, which would put an awful lot of pressure on the untrained commuter who’d spotted “it”.

What it must be like for station staff having to hear this hundreds of times a day, I dread to imagine – a bit like US troops repeating ‘Enter Sandman’ at ear-splitting volume to disorientate prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, I suspect – but it’s preferable to the alternative, that’s for sure.

I’ve mused over the effectiveness of the slogan for a while now (while punching my own ears, softly), but it was only this morning that I paid attention to the line that precedes the awkwardly-delivered alliterative payoff.

“Talk to station staff or text British Transport Police on…..” is, unquestionably, the most important part of the message. Most of us, I hope, would report “something unusual” if we saw it, although that’s not to say that the reminder to “Be alert” (another old London Underground classic) is unnecessary, but I have heard the message a couple of thousand times now and, if pressed, I wouldn’t have been able to remember who I should “say it” to should I “see it”.

See it, say it, sorted is memorable. But like too much advertising these days, it loses sight of the point, in that if you’re none the wiser what to do when you do “see it”, all those minutes of in-station irritation have been wasted.

It reminds me a little of this:

The answer, if you’re wondering, is to text British Transport Police on 61016. Because if finding station staff during rush hour is the solution, you’d better hope the “something unusual” is someone’s gym kit.


High vis, high value, high fibre brand building…take a bow Greggs

January 14, 2019 Leave a comment

How is your ‘Veganuary’ going? Pretty well in some quarters it would seem. Hard on the heels of Nestle’s Shreddies co-opting the vegan banner, vegan Happy Meals from McDonald’s, vegan pizza everywhere, and All Bar One leading their New Year comms with a specific vegan menu, comes the darling of the ‘hard hat, high vis jackets’, brigade – Greggs.

Wow…I wasn’t expecting that one. So popular are the new vegan sausage rolls apparently that it’s impossible to find one. I thought I had better check this out at our newly launched, balloon festooned, local Greggs on Kingsway today and, sure enough…SOLD OUT! What with a cool £200m added to the value of the business as a result, this has to be the front runner of the Marketing Magic Moves of 2019. ‘Scarcity’…one of the oldest tricks in the marketers book has worked its urgent, insistent, magic again.

I seem to remember Wispa pulled this trick back in the 80’s… “The new product has been so popular we are having to build a new factory – bear with us!” Caffrey’s also did something similar when they launched…restricting access to Nottingham to build some student (and sales team) folklore and rate of sale momentum.

Now it is entirely possible that the swift out of stock status across the land was a planning oversight by the operations team. I tend to think not. With Piers Morgan jumping in to castigate Gregg’s vegan credentials on Breakfast TV (…if the doyen of good taste hates then it must be worth trying!) then the magic circle of marketing chutzpah was complete.

screen shot 2019-01-10 at 16.29.34

Genuine consumer insight; great market entry timing; great product placement in Hi-Res media with high visibility PR; great product ‘disappearance’ in Hi-Vis media via high visibility PR…and maybe even a great product ( …at time of writing we were unable to find one) Greggs have pulled all the marketing levers available. Indeed, the only thing not high visibility about Greggs, and their brilliant marketing programme, is the star of the show… I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Categories: Uncategorized

Equine update

January 7, 2019 Leave a comment

Regular readers of this blog will know that all Breakfast employees are forced to endure a humiliating, surely-this-kind-of-thing-is-outlawed-by-now initiation ordeal.

So it was with trembling wrist that our new Senior Account Director, Olivia Schiavi, was told that she had to draw a horse, or else. No notice or visual aides memoire are provided. The whole team watches. The tension is, as you can imagine, unbearable.

And then Olivia went and drew this:

There’s neigh mistaking that

It transpires that from the age of three, as she grew up in Provence, Olivia was a keen rider and obsessed with horses.

Ed, however, wasn’t. Here’s his effort (we realised he’d never drawn his).

This started life as a Venn diagram

Not necessarily as elegant as Olivia’s, but much like Ed himself, this creature has a sense of innate joie de vivre and optimism. And it’s running in the wrong direction.


Categories: Breakfast news