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.

November 28, 2014

Tomorrow’s (retail) World

While eCommerce continues to rule the world there is still a desire for a physical shopping experience. A lot of innovation is going on in this space too and we can expect to see more physical retail spaces merging with the digital to make everything feel much more personal.

As reported in Wired Magazine, eBay is expanding its reach into the physical world with an experiment at the Rebecca Minkoff flagship store. In the report about the new Rebecca Minkoff store in San Francisco, the article says how “The mirrors come alive. Walk into the fitting room with, say, a blouse and a jacket, and the dark glass lights up with a suggested handbag to match. You can browse the racks at the upscale fashion boutique or swipe through “looks” on massive touchscreens. If you see something you like, you tap in your phone number, and you’ll get a text when it’s ready to try on”. Check out the demo below and read the full article here.

Over at PSFK we can see how Starbucks has been re-imagined by creative agency Bulldog Drummond. They explore how technology can help enable a faster, more efficient and more personalized coffee experience. Also, how to make Starbucks feel more local and be part of the community. We see how they are redefining the “third place” that is not work and not home but somewhere that blends the two. Read the article here.

Meanwhile, Down Under you can now order gourmet burgers at McDonald’s thanks to a unique touchscreen experience. As reported on Digital Buzz Blog, “he Kiosk is extremely easy to use, and focuses on up-selling by tapping into a growing customisation trend that sees increase basket sizes by allowing customers to add seemingly unlimited extras to their burgers. But these also aren’t just any McDonald’s burger, they come served on a wooden plate, with the chips in a mini deep fryer basket too… All delivered to the seat that you select”.

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.

November 27, 2009

Augmented November

Augemented reality shows no sign of going away anytime soon. This month has seen a number of brands using the technique to different degrees of success. Esquire Magazine made the biggest noise with their AR cover.

It generated a lot of debate and although impressive to see did require the download of special software. That’s a major barrier. But as print magazines face serious issues (no pun intended) they are looking for new ways to attract an audience. This Mashable blog post from the end of last month explains Esquire’s strategy.

Meanwhile, at Disney Orlando the toy store took AR in an interesting direction by providing an in-store screen allowing kids to hold up Lego boxes and see what their model would look like in 3D.

OK, this didn’t appear in November but caught my attention this month. After sharing it on the Blogilvy site one reader made this interesting comment.

“We were in Orlando for vacation a couple of weeks ago. Spent 3+ hours in the Lego store looking at EVERYTHING. The reaction of my son (7yo) to the 3D screens was “Daddy, I’d rather look at the box. You can see more from the pictures than you can on the screen”. it reminded me of the old line – just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it”.

A light-speed trip to France reveals that McDonalds are offering an augmented reality game for kids via their Star Wars themed Happy Meal.


On his blog, Nick Burcher provides a few screen shots and a description of the promo. So far I haven’t found a video of the game play. If anyone finds one please let me know.

Using a webcam and screen as an augmented mirror of reality is one way to use the technique but we are seeing more uses for mobile devices. This AR Firefighter game for the iPhone 3Gs uses the phone camera as a viewfinder then overlays (rather ugly) graphics. Personally I don’t like it but there definitely is potential for the right brand and audience.

Done well, augmented reality can create a lot of buzz. But just like flash mob videos, there comes a point where you just don’t want to see another one. Will this happen to AR? Some articles are very optimistic about the technology. report that AR will be worth US$732 million by 2014. But today things fall out of fashion faster than ever (did someone say Second Life?) so let’s just watch and see.