May 23, 2016

Sharpen your pencils


Imagine if the Oscars and the Golden Globes had almost the same trophy, a bald nude muscled man standing on a plinth holding a sword. Like Jason Stratham in a homo-erotic King Arthur movie. Wouldn’t it be confusing? Well in the past week both the One Show and D&AD handed out pencil trophies to the advertising and design industry. Which pencil is more coveted than the other? Is one sharper than the other in terms of reputation? Let’s have a duel to the death as I take a look at what these two award  festivals recognised as some of the best work.


Round 1 – It’s a virtual world

Virtual reality is the buzzword of the moment. Until recently everyone talked about “transmedia storytelling” until the word trans came to mean something quite different. So what did the these rival pencil select from all the innovative VR submissions this year?

Y&R New Zealand picked up a Wood Pencil from D&AD in the Branding/Brand Experience & Environments category. But it’s not VR as we know it. With a real twist, customers thought they were in a driving simulator, only to find out they were experiencing the real deal.

In the One Show corner we have a different approach with this Gold Pencil winner in the mobile category. VR doesn’t have always mean wearing an anti-social headset. McCann Paris developed a mobile app for L’Oreal which let’s anyone apply makeup virtually. D&AD just gave this one a Graphite pencil 🙁

Round 1 winner – Hard to compare such different uses of virtual reality from two very different categories but I would go for One Show’s choice with the Make Up genius. A more useful and smart way to use VR that drives buzz and sales.


Round 2 – Advertising isn’t dead

Yes, there is so much talk about how traditional advertising is dying because everyone is too busy watching cat videos on their mobile phones. But even if the TVC doesn’t have the same power it once had when the whole family would sit around the goggle box for hours each evening, there is still nothing quite as brilliant as a highly-creative, well-crafted piece of film. Both One Show and D&AD celebrate this art and each has given pencils to what they think is the very best of the bunch.

adam&eveDDB continue to produce outstanding work for Harvey Nichols and this film using CCTV footage of real shoplifters continues that tradition. D&AD gave out a coveted Yellow pencil for this. One Show gave it gold but it seems just that bit harder to get the Yellow pencil.

As for One Show, my pick of the gold winners has to be this spot for Old Spice. They continue putting a splash of humour on everything and “Rocket Car” from Wieden+Kennedy is a worthy successor of the previous (legendary) Old Spice films.

Round 2 winner – I have to hand it to D&AD for choosing a worthy winner.


Round 3 – Let’s make a change

It’s still the hottest trend in award shows, brands trying to do good by showing the world how they should live, think, feel, act etc. Maybe I’m being a little cynical but we do live in a hyper politically correct world these days. Brands have to walk the talk or be slammed for not doing the right thing. So what stood out in these two rival award shows?

One Show gave a Best in Show Award to a brand that said no to consumerism. You might have seen videos of shoppers on America’s Black Friday fighting in the aisles for discounted biscuits. Outdoor retailer REI decided to live by its beliefs and close their stores on that day and encourage people to go outside instead. D&AD only gave a Wood pencil for this project – that’s harsh.

But there was one project that ruled both pencils…

It’s Y&R New Zealand that strike again with a winner that was recognised by both sides of the pencil war. It’s only fair to make peace and declare round two a draw as both the One Show and D&AD gave out lots of pencils for the McWhopper Peace Day project. Even if McDonald’s didn’t accept to pool their resources (and ingredients), the public took it upon themselves to unilaterally unite the Big Mac and the Whopper.

Round 3 (and overall) winner – In the spirit of peace we’ll bring the pencil war to a close, bringing these rival award shows together and declaring the final winner One&AD.

September 14, 2015

Spike of creativity

Spikes Asia just announced the winners of it’s 2015 awards. It’s part of the group that also runs Cannes Lions and usually we see the Cannes winners dominate Spikes. This year there seems to be a bit more local flavour. Let’s take a look…

The Mobile Grand Prix went to a project from South Korea. Samsung’s “Look at me” campaign by Cheil was designed to show how mobile devices could be used for good, not just sharing food selfies. The project helped autistic children connect with people around them. It also won the PR Grand Prix and several golds.

Australia and New Zealand always perform well at Spikes being two of the strongest APAC countries when it comes to creativity. This Grand Prix for the Promo & Activation category was produced for BMW by DDB Auckland. It’s a simple April Fool’s stunt that made a lot of noise…

A project for India produced by Grey Singapore picked up the Innovation Grand Prix. The Life Saving Dot turned the traditional bindi, that almost every woman in India wears on her forehead, into a life-saving tool for delivering iodine to women in rural areas. A brilliantly simple yet clever idea.

Japan has traditionally been a strong performer at international awards and this year we saw Hakuhodo Kettle Tokyo win an Innovation Gold for another project that aims to help people in need. Working with the University of Tsukuba’s Special Need School they used technology to allow handicapped children to play the piano by just using their eyes…

Check out all the Spikes winners here >

June 28, 2014

Cannes wrap-up

So another year comes and goes. Dashed hopes or dreams fulfilled. Many beers drunk and backs slapped. I wasn’t there to witness it this year but I know how it goes. Now we have another pride of Lions to show us what it takes to be a winner in this business we (used to) call advertising. Let’s look at some of the big winners…

Harvey Nichols stole the show this year with a campaign that bucked the trend for tear inducing Christmas campaigns. For the past few years John Lewis has dominated Christmas in the UK with soppy commercials that tap into the sentimentality of the season. This time Harvey Nichols said what everyone was really thinking – that people would rather spend the money on themselves. This picked up Grand Prix in Film, Promo, Press and Titanium to name just a few. Well done DDB Adam&Eve UK.

Another campaign that made me smile this year was for Newcastle Brown Ale. They decided to hijack the Superbowl with a slice of British humor and underdog attitude. The campaign they would have made, from Droga 5 NY, won a Cyber Gold.

Next is a project where most creative people would have said “trucks? not sexy!”. But the team at Forsman & Bodenfors in Sweden decided to go all out and the result was spectacular. Next time you are given a brief for a product you think is boring look at this case video. It won a Cyber Grand Prix along with gold in Titanium, Promo, PR and Direct.

Sometimes, when technology is invisible it feels like magic. That’s the case with this project for British Airways by OgilvyOne London. It’s a billboard that points out BA flights in a surprising way. It won a Direct Grand Prix along with gold in Media, Cyber and Outdoor.

From something beautiful let’s look at something ugly. There were a lot of award winning projects from France this year but this one stood out for me by using humor to tackle a real problem. So much fruit and vegetable gets thrown away by producers because it is ugly. What a waste. This project from Marcel Paris won a Direct Gold.

There are loads more award winners to choose from, whether it’s the 24 hours of Happy from Pharrell or The Sound of Honda. But I thought that I’d end with something totally and brilliantly stupid. Why advertise when you can get your competitors to do it for you? An win a Promo Gold along the way.

May 4, 2012

Big winners in the Big Apple

The awards season is in full swing now and next off the block are the New York Festivals. In the Interactive category the big winner (Gold World Medal) was DDB Paris for their Greenpeace project “A New Warrior”. It has been around for a while but still doing well in the award festivals.

DDB are on a roll with a second Gold World Medal for their “State of Chaos” project for State Farm Insurance in the US. The campaign invites you to create your own personalized blockbuster film, starring your house and the surrounding neighborhood.  Go to and enter your last name and street address to unleash the chaos!  Through Google Street View, you experience a pretty realistic scene of a giant robot busting up your neighborhood and blowing up your house.

BBDO New York won a Bronze for their project for AT&T. The “Up All Night” fan montage video was a crowdsourced concept featuring punk band Blink 182. To launch their first single in eight years, AT&T helped search YouTube for every instance of fans using their music without permission. Then they rewarded them for it. The film was made out of clips from all those videos.

Take a look at all the other winners and finalists here.

June 22, 2011

Musical Fitting Rooms

So we are in the middle of Cannes craziness and even if you can’t be there (like myself) it is easy to follow what’s happening on their website. Already we have seen some interesting digital winners in categories outside the Cyber Lions. Like this one from DDB Singapore which won Gold for ‘Best temporary in-store displays in a promotional campaign’ and silver for ‘Best use of ambient in a promotional campaign’. It also took home a Bronze Lion in the Direct awards category for ‘Direct response digital: other digital platforms’. Using RFID chips on clothes labels they were able to play songs associated with that style to promote the music download store StarHub. Nice idea!

May 17, 2011

One Show Interactive 2011

So the winners are in and they are worthy. Here are some of this year’s gold award winners. No doubt we’ll be seeing much more if these projects as the awards season continues…

Google Chrome Fastball

To promote a fast browser to an audience that’s immune to banners and doesn’t even know what a browser is, BBH created Chrome FastBall, a race across the Internet. This first YouTube game of its kind demonstrated how your web experience is faster and easier when using Google Chrome.

Uniqlo Lucky Line

To get people excited about a new store opening Dentsu invented the “Lucky Line” where people could join the queue via Facebook and Twitter to get discounts when the store opened.

VW True Life Costs

To address the misconception that the car brand is expensive DDB UK created a website that provided an engaging, easy to understand analogy of Volkswagen’s impressive ‘whole life costs’ affordability.

IKEA Unbox the banner

As part of the spring campaign for discounted products from IKEA, Grabarz & Partners developed an online promotion that was true to the IKEA philosophy: save money by assembling it yourself. Check it out here.

Nike + GPS App

Five years ago, Nike put a chip in a shoe and changed the sport of running. Today, they’re doing it again. Introducing the Nike+ GPS app: Now, runners can join the world’s largest running club by simply downloading the app, whether laced in Nike shoes or not. Nike+ is in your pocket, ready for a run anytime. Running outdoors, GPS tracks your run—indoors, the accelerometer detects movement. Any friend who “likes” or comments on your Facebook status gives you an audible “cheer” via your headphones. Developed by R/GA of course.

There are lots more gold winners (if you can get the One Show website to scroll – I couldn’t) plus don’t forget to check out the silvers and bronzes too. Lots of inspiring stuff there.

April 11, 2011

Month of tweets #3

The month of March slid by in a blink of an eye. Let’s take a look back at some of the things I tweeted and retweeted that are worth a second glance…

Cool YouTube takeover for Schick Hydro by JWT Sydney…

  • I’m sure these things cost a bucketload of money. Cool to look at but do they deliver results. Would love to know.

Brands do good… RT @annaloop: Kellog digital campaign: “Photograph your Breakfast & give a meal to a poor Child”

  • After Pepsi Refresh here is another example of a brand using cause marketing to attract more customers.

Looks great RT @fastcompany: Personalized iPad Magazine Zite Learns As You Read, Challenges @Flipboard in the process:

  • I’m sure we’ll see more of these as time passes. Is personalisation the way to go or will people want to be surprised by things that maybe were not for them but are new discoveries?

Mercedes-Benz: Transparent Walls – very smart idea…

  • By Ad Agency Jung von Matt in Germany. Love this kind of thing – useful, innovative and clever.

Exciting stuff… RT @fastcompany: Augmented Reality May Be the iPad 2’s Secret Killer App

  • People have been bitching about the camera on the back (and front) of the iPad 2. So it won’t replace your camera anytime soon but it could provide some other cool functions.

Adidas All In Projection Mapping in Paris. Very Cool…

  • Will we get bored of seeing this kind of thing? By the looks on the faces of the spectators we might soon be asking when it will be over.

Cool project… RT @Sergethew: Sweet car reveal by Hyundai, mixing light sculpture & interactivity –

  • Would love to do a project like this. Inspiring stuff.

If your agency can’t afford to send you to Cannes – find a creative solution…

  • The silly season is soon approaching and people are trying to find all sorts of ways to get a ticket to go. Just get a nomination and that might help.

Kraft campaign for Mac & Cheese – best tweets turned into TVCs…

  • They did it once with Old Spice guy. Why waste a good idea on one client?

As usual a little something to end with a smile…

Ashamed to say one is mine 🙁 RT @alleyinsider: The 22 Most Hilarious, Unfortunately Placed Ads Ever by @shontelaylay

August 27, 2010

Effies down under

The Australian Effie Awards ceremony last night revealed some great winners. Even though we live in a connected world too often we focus on great work coming out of the USA or Europe. There is some amazing work being done in countries like Australia or in Asia. So let’s take a look at some of the Effie winners.

I really liked this gold winner from Naked Communications and Frank PR where they encouraged people to pressure Richard Branson into giving community radio station FBi a million dollars. FBi Radio is an iconic, independent, Australian radio station based in Sydney. The financial crisis forced the station to the brink of closure. They needed over $500,000 to save the station, they had a $0.00 budget. Richard Branson had nothing to do with the station. He was just one rich person that the agency felt would appreciate the humour of being targeted this way. Branson became aware of the campaign, and Twittered to say he’d be calling in. Live on air he donated a massive prize pool, and his involvement generated more PR and social media activity. Check out the case video here.

Another gold winner from DDB Sydney was for McDonald’s Australia and Ronald McDonald House Charities. They needed to find a big idea for McHappy Day that would cut through charity fatigue so they developed a powerful message that all children, especially seriously ill ones, had the right to happiness. This helped them create a campaign where people felt they were contributing to the emotional well-being of sick children rather than just donating money. With a TVC, campaign website, digital in-store and packaging they were able to break the record for previous years with over AU$2 million donated. An amazing result.

Check out all the winners here.

June 24, 2010

Digital roars at Cannes Lions

It has been an exciting week at Cannes for anyone who has been slogging away in the digital space for many years. Finally it has taken its true position as the driver of 21st century marketing communications. Digital has extended its reach into direct, promo and activation in an unprecedented way this year. What is clear however, both in the Cyber Lions and the other categories, it is that digital combined with the physical is where the magic happens. Let’s see some of the winners:

A gold winner in Promo and Activation from Ester Stockholm. To help prevent aids they developed a campaign where unique numbers were put on condoms given out. People could then go online to tell their story of how the condom was used. “By printing 100 000 condoms with numbers we gave every condom a story to be told by whoever got lucky with it. Every condom-package contained a uniquely numbered condom and a text that encouraged the recipient to share the condoms fate, by uploading his or her story at the blog The 100 000 condoms became the message, the media and also the solution”.

Also in Promo & Activation, BBDO New York won gold for their HBO Imagine campaign in the category Best Use of Internet/Online Advertising in a Promotional Campaign. The video speaks for itself – it shows how creative ambition can now be fullfilled online if you have the ideas and the budget to match.

In the Direct category the Grand Prix went to a campaign that could not have been possible without the power of digital. Special Group in Auckland developed a campaign for ORCON Broadband that “created a world-first event, a chance to re-record ‘The Passenger’, live online, with Iggy Pop. Our direct response objective was two-fold: Attract a large enough pool of talented auditions to ensure we could select our virtual band. Maximise the country’s engagement with the auditioning process. The call for auditions went out first to Orcon’s customer base, to its facebook friends, and via online advertising. This was then extended by 15” TVCs and street posters calling for people to Play live with Iggy Pop. Entrants then uploaded auditions directly to a specially built facebook application, where they could be browsed”.

Gold in Direct also went to BBDO and Ester for the two campaigns already featured here. Meanwhile, in the Cyber Lions, the Grand Prix went to the Nike Chalkbot from Wieden + Kennedy featured on this blog a few times and the Volkswagen FUN THEORY campaign from DDB Stockholm.

As they say on their entry, “Volkswagen asked us to create a campaign that would generate interest around BlueMotion Technologies. A series of cars and innovations that help reduce environmental impact without compromising on performance or the joy of driving. Our insight was that VW made it easier to choose an eco car by making them more fun to drive. Our solution was a theory, focusing on the thinking behind the cars; that the easiest way to change human behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do”.

We’re back to sex again, this time with a Gold winner from TBWA Paris in the category Banners and Other Rich Media: Charities, Public Health & Safety, Public Awareness. Rather than just stick with the simple video in a banner, they “took Willy, a young potential stud, in an expandable banner, to deliver the message in an interactive and playful way. Never moralising. Always fun. So, the story line, the actors and the location are the same… now discover a (more) hands on user experience. Don’t be shy, grab Willy (he wont mind) and celebrate happy safe sex.”

Lots of other Gold winners have already won awards this year so they are the obvious (but still worthy) choices. We choose the Moon, IKEA Facebook Showroom, and Monopoly City Streets to name but a few. Check out all the Cyber Lion winners here.

Just a final thought. While I was there I took a look at all the Titanium Integrated entries being shown in various screenings. Socially conscious campaigns driven by social media seem to be the flavour du jour. It all became one big blur. You could have switched brands and never have noticed. In the attempt to be “of the moment” many campaigns came across as being too “try hard” or bandwagon jumping. The real creative challenge is to stand out in all of this white noise. My bet for next year? Social media may be seen by many as “so yesterday” and the baby will be thrown out with the bath water.

March 8, 2010

Something strange in adland – episode 1

upside-down-houseYou know there’s something strange in adland when…

You don’t needs ads.

An iPhone app for VW is downloaded four million times generating an “80% increase in leads, test drive and quote requests without a print ad, banner or broadcast spot in sight”. AKQA have a track record for zigging instead of zagging. See the video case study here >

You don’t need agencies.

Clients like Doritos now ask consumers to create their ad campaigns (only they don’t know that advertising folks are the ones submitting the best ideas!)

tunickIn this New York Times article Stuart Elliot writes “BE afraid, Madison Avenue. Be very afraid”. He mentions various campaigns where “consumers” developed the ideas. But on the flipside, this blog post from ADLAB reveals a different story.

You don’t need a budget.

One agency got a year’s worth of media for only $500 by taking advantage of people with poor eyesight. See the story from McCann Erickson Israel…

You don’t need TV.

The 2009 Cannes Film Grand Prix goes to an interactive movie you can only see on the internet. Watch the DDB case study video…

Keep your eyes open – the strangeness isn’t over yet.