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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. 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.

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So long, solar

October 20, 2015 Leave a comment

I receive at least three emails a week asking me to add my signature to another worthy cause, and because I’m a predictably opinionated member of the liberal media elite (or if not elite, the Championship), the only surprise is that I don’t receive more of them. As Morrissey (almost) sang, Some Causes Are Bigger Than Others, and today’s inbox was illuminated – in an environmentally friendly way – by a request from Greenpeace that I object to the government’s batshit proposals to reduce the Feed-in Tariff for solar energy even more.

“Ordinary hard-working British people shouldn’t have to pay more on their energy bills to subsidise solar…blah blah blah”, prattled the latest minister too browbeaten by the Treasury to show some vision and leadership.

Oh yeah? Well, I have worked with people from the nuclear industry, some fossil fuel types and some budding biomassers over the past few years, and am fully cognisant of the minefield that is the electricity strike price, the EDF nuclear subsidy etc. etc. I get it. It’s complicated.

But the simple truth is this. More of us need to use renewable energy. (And by us, let’s restrict this to British people for now.) If we can generate it, we should. And if we can’t, well, because, as the government often tell us, “We’re all in this together,” we might just have to pay a few extra pennies to encourage those who can to do so. Via a subsidy. A subsidy that, I know very well, favours middle class homeowners in the south of the UK: a demographic that’s already holding several winning tickets in the lottery of UK life.

We have one planet. We’re frying it. Because we’re generally hardwired to avoid self-sacrifice, we aren’t going to give up our cars, our flights or our meat and two veg every night. If we are to maintain this planet for our children, we need to do something. And if that something also provides employment for thousands of people while reducing CO2 emissions, that has to be good, right? Right. So sign the petition.

https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/speakout/save-solar-power

“We need a viral”

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

My friend Jon has been taking photographs for a few years now. He takes them because he enjoys doing so, and posts them on his blog (babycakesromero.com). Some of them he’s turned into pieces of art, which he’s sold; others have disappeared without trace (they’re still online, but were maybe viewed by 10 people, or thereabouts).

And then he published these:

http://www.boredpanda.com/the-death-of-conversation/

I’ve used the Bored Panda link as they were the first to pick up on Jonny’s blog but the photos have also appeared in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the Daily Telegraph, Buzzfeed…there are more. He’s subsequently been interviewed on Sky, the BBC, Canadian radio and other media outlets. He’s been addressed as Babyface on Sky News. He now has a syndication agency for his photography, and the shots have been seen by several million people. And he has no idea why any of this has happened.

The moral of the story? It’s at the end of the previous paragraph.

I’m no Mike Smash

September 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Mike, as Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse fans will recall, did a lot of great work for charity, but didn’t like to talk about it. As the millionth ice bucket challenge appears on Facebook (rapidly followed by the millionth opinion on whether this is a good or bad thing), I find myself having to confront my own rather complex feelings about philanthropy.

ice-bucket

                     An ice bucket yesterday

More specifically, I am worried that my visceral reaction to these viral charity stunts is a little uncharitable.

I’m not the only one. In the last couple of weeks, I have heard lots of people groan as another friend appears on Facebook and tips a bucket of water over their head. And lots of the objections to the ice bucket challenge (IBC) have had as much attention as the challenge itself.

But this isn’t about the IBC’s merits: I’m all in favour of people chucking a few quid at a worthy cause. My observation is simply that the proliferation of these requests seems to be in danger of biting the hand that’s feeding it.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect most of us are receiving an increasing number of pleas to support the charitable pursuits of friends and acquaintances. Each request comes with a link to donate, and most of the time I will. But it’s surely obvious that for every IBC that becomes a global phenomenon, there will be an onslaught of similar campaigns as other charities seek the elusive social media gold that sees their coffers overflowing.

The worst part of this is (and I feel terrible even typing this) that I find myself judging the merits of the request according to the relevance of that particular charity to me or the person asking for the cash.

Maybe that’s what we all do: I don’t know. I can’t believe I am alone in creating a private mental checklist that determines the size of my donation. And there are other issues too. Last year I must have had 15 people ask me to support their efforts for Movember. I donated once, but then probably mildly offended 14 other people by ignoring them. Awks!

Anyway, back to the point: it feels like we are approaching the point of diminishing returns. I suspect charities might have to open up a new front to persuade us to stick our hands in our collective pockets. It will be interesting to see how Movember fares this year, as it feels like that particular campaign might have peaked. That doesn’t make testicular cancer any less worthy of public support in 2014, but growing a moustache? That’s so 2012…

Finally – and again, this feels like some sort of confessional – I find the idea of asking people for money makes me extremely uncomfortable, no matter how laudable the cause. I’ve signed up for a charity event in October and the prospect of sending an email requesting donations has made me question whether I can take part. I’m not sure I’d support my cause, so how can I ask for others’ money in good faith?

See what you’ve done, ice bucket challenge? See what you’ve gone and done…?

 

 

 

 

Last of the true believers?

As I filed in to the Jayhawks‘ gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire last Friday, someone handed me a flier advertising an indie festival taking place in September. Indie Daze gathers many of the undisputed superstars of that long-lamented scene (Jesus Jones, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, others) under one roof, hopefully with the intention of interring them so none of them can make any more music.

The aforementioned Jayhawks (who weren’t an indie band, by any definition) were fantastic; playing songs from their incomparable Sound of Lies record to restrained applause while the crowd went mad for their more celebrated, and to my ears, inferior songs. (The fact that the Jayhawks’ primary songwriter shares my opinion of his back catalogue cheered me up no end.) But quite why I was identified as someone who might like Ned’s troubled me greatly. Must have been the fact that I went alone.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the gig but am increasingly wary of my music tastes – certainly in terms of the bands I go to see live – getting stuck in the past. The current glut of bands reforming to play their old songs without daring to create anything new is possibly attributable to the ease of discovering music online, but if the average age of the audience at the Jayhawks is anything to go by, there aren’t many new listeners jostling for space at the front among the ageing hip-replacement-sters. If the Indie Daze crowd is full of youngsters it will only be because natural selection has seen off the original audience.

That’s why the evolution of one of my favourite bands, That Petrol Emotion, has cheered me up no end. The Petrols were themselves formed from the remnants of the Undertones, replacing Feargal Sharkey’s tremulous new wave yelp with the energetic Seattle babble of Steve Mack. If I’d ever appeared on Stars In Their Eyes, Steve would have been my chosen star. (That sentence may contain several obvious flights of fancy.)

I am such an advocate for my enthusiasms that by the time the Petrols called it a day, I was taking a bunch of friends to see them each time they played. Indeed I bought 12 tickets to watch them at the Clapham Grand in 1994 as my birthday present, and had no trouble finding willing attendees. Steve Mack obliged by stage diving into the arms of my pal Phil, who uttered a nonplussed “Hello” into the singer’s mic; possibly the only occasion in Phil’s life when he hasn’t been able to come up with something funny at short notice. You could dance to them, pogo to them, sing along to them, and once you’d finished doing that, play air guitar as they pulled another hook-laden, riff heavy gem from their catalogue. To say they didn’t get the attention they deserved is understating it (although compared to House of Freaks, another band I worshipped, they were practically the Beatles).

Anyway, back to the now. In another sign that I am possibly getting on a bit, talented musicians with a superb back catalogue are now having to ask for support from their fans before they release a record. Four fifths of That Petrol Emotion have reinvented themselves as The Everlasting Yeah, and if their track record is anything to go by, their debut album will be a) great; b) loud, and c) definitely worth playing air guitar to.

In order to get it made, they’ve launched a Pledge which I have just contributed to. Listen to this, this and this, and tell me it’s not worth the price of three caffe lattes to help these guys get their record out there.

That_Petrol_Emotion

 

Coffee for Breakfast

We’re beavering away on a number of exciting creative projects at the moment, one of which has gone live in the past couple of days.

Caffe Nero have just opened their first US store, in the heart of Boston, and they already have punters queueing down the street. Much of that will be down to their superior coffee, but it’s possible we might be able to take some of the credit for the copy we have written on their new US website (go to caffenero.com and choose your territory).

If you like coffee that actually tastes like coffee, go to Nero (here or in the States). Meanwhile for copy that actually reads like copy…write your own punchline.

Bodyform viral magic

October 17, 2012 1 comment

I remember the fuss when they started showing panty liner absorption demonstrations in TV ads using blue-dyed water – fuss probably generated by hysterical journos at the Daily Male Mail.  It marked the end of ads made up entirely of shots with active women enjoying their periods while cart-wheeling and skydiving.  (Apparently roller-blading girls was never Bodyform, that was a Tampax thing, according to Neil our Creative Director who was responsible for some of the “WHOOOHAH BODYFORM” ads.)

Anyway, some poor chap called Richard Neill decided to take Bodyform to task with a witty rant about their unique style of advertising on their Facebook page.  Let’s just suspend disbelief that he’s a fake profile set up specifically for this or someone paid to post and just enjoy how things turned out.  (BTW Richard you probably want to make your profile private.)

His post:

Their response:

The video:

Of course now we have gratuitous shots of women flashing their knickers so we are clear that Tena Lights incontinence panty liners don’t make it look like you’re carrying an extra Y chromosome should some guy deliberately drop papers on the floor so he can try to sneak a look up your skirt.

Tena ad:

But how do we make the momentous leap of turning the blue water into blood?  Panty liners being used as wound dressings in the battlefield with a “Be all you can be… join the Bodyform army” line.

UPDATE: Turns out this was on page 3 of this morning’s Metro, so it’s not really new news to many people with nothing else to do on the morning’s commute.