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Rhyme and reason

In the week that the NME finally gave up the ghost and scrapped its print edition, my Twitter feed was full of like-minded souls (most of whom used to write for it) mourning its demise.

Back in the day (from about 1983 to 1990-something), I loved the NME. It, along with John Peel and a couple of friends, shaped my musical tastes. Apart from being a huge fan of many of the bands it championed, I loved its worldview, and the certainty which accompanied it. At the age of 13, when a journo who clearly worships the same bands as you tells you that x is great and x is not, you don’t question it. At least I didn’t.

As a result, I have always possessed some rather firm opinions about music. Is it musical snobbery? Possibly. I will never be persuaded that the execrable Queen aren’t the worst band ever. I can’t think of any occasion when I would be more conflicted than having to endure ‘We Are The Champions’  should Spurs ever win, well, anything. It would be the ultimate mood-killer.

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It’s really not a kind of magic, fellas

Anyhow, snobbery takes many forms, and during my time in advertising I have encountered significant resistance to rhyme, and especially rhyming endlines.

Somehow, it’s considered cheap and easy to produce a brand line that captures the desired sentiment and also carries a built-in sonic mnemonic (tah-dah!). Let me tell you, it’s not. I can remember many occasions when my creative director heard one of my apologetically proffered rhymes and turned his nose up while sporting an expression that said, “Really, you little moron?”. At least that’s how I interpreted it at the time.

Why? I can only assume that one man’s rhyming genius sounds like hapless doggerel to another. And maybe that’s the case. But it sure helps people remember what you say.

As my own boss, I happily bought ‘AutoRestore. Repairs at your door’ for one of our founding clients, and would do the same again. And the strength of rhyme was reiterated last week, when everyone in the country said the phrase ‘Beast from the east’ at least twenty times in four days, and Dave Trott wrote this paean to rhyme in ads.

I’ll promise to set aside my musical snobbery if you’ll give me rhyming copy. Ok?

Ok. Just don’t get me started on puns…

 

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All mouth and no trousers

February 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Don’t be misled by the length of Aisha’s last blog post – we’re rather busy here at Breakfast. Indeed we’ve rarely been this busy during our nine-year existence. Unfortunately, we don’t have much to show for it – yet.

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Some of the Breakfast team acting out a familiar phrase or saying, yesterday

Having signed various NDAs and the like, all I’m at liberty to tell you is that we are three months into an extremely large and exciting brand building project (and much more) with a famous global company, have completed the renaming and rebranding of a leading London-based executive coaching business, have renamed and will shortly be launching an exciting new attraction at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, are designing and building a new website for the lovely people at Torque and have completed the branding of an e-money and payment company.

Only that last example is live, so be my guest and take a look at koinefinance.com Hopefully you’ll like the brand, and, more importantly, the business it’s attached to. If you have a spare million pounds, they’ll be happy to welcome you as a customer.

Other than that, it’s watch this space, I’m afraid. All I can say is that an agency that has evolved to become what we are now – brand builders – is getting on and building some brands.

“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.

 

 

 

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.

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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?

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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. They offer brands without big budgets (or even medium-sized budgets) the chance 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.

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.