Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Perhaps the name Live was too ambitious

After spending much of my day unable to access my Hotmail account (with seemingly most of the UK and America in the same boat), now was perhaps not the best time to receive a promotional email telling me to entrust all my internet needs to Windows Live...

Friday, 22 February 2008

Long way down

Ewan Mcgregor.

For a while now, his name has created a feeling of admiration among people my age. Most students have or plan to go travelling before starting the 9-5 for the rest of their life, so his epic travels round the world on his bike has made him a bit of a young person's hero, in my experience.

Which makes it all the more sad that now whenever I watch TV with my friends, he gets ridiculed. A once once quietly dignified and respected personality, dropped back down to the level of common celebrity.

On the face of it having a man so well travelled become the face of Davidoff Adventure makes sense. In fact, I'm fairly certain it could have worked, if it had just been done with a bit more subtlety.

If the advert needs to explain why he is adventurous in such detail, then he obviously isn't well known enough to be the face of an aftershave. By trying to condense his whole journey into an advert, while discussing the smells of a life changing experience, it takes all the authenticity out of his once admirable trip. It makes his journey of discovery look like a corporate sponsored day out.

I've not yet sat through a viewing of the advert where no one has commented how bad it is. I'd like to put it down to overkill on trying to link Ewan to adventure this time, and hopefully the advert will be cut down soon, so we don't get hit over the head with the rational anymore.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

With a little understanding...

The time has come. After nearly a year of blogging, I cannot hold it off any longer. I'm going to talk about Neighbours.

Five have been making a big song and dance about being 'the new home of neighbours', but despite saying all the right things about how they understand what makes neighbours good and that the only thing changing is the channel, they've lost one of its biggest selling points.

I can cope with the adverts, I can even cope with the ridiculous fact that Weightwatchers have started to sponsor it right in the middle of a 'the dangers of slimming' storyline.

No, what really damages the experience is the fact that they've tried to make it look like it's film quality. This basically seems to be achieved by making the screen darker and dropping the frames per second.

The trouble is, Neighbours should never be film quality. It's not a gritty drama, it's a place where the sun always shines, and Five seem to have forgotten that.

In an age of media neutral ideas and all that, it strikes me as odd how they can advertise the show as being the sunny, happy slice of Australian life, then decide to make it look darker and grittier.

One of the things that annoys me most is when there's a great idea behind a product or brand, but somewhere along the line, either laziness or fear stops them from taking that idea and running with it.

One of the things I enjoy most about advertising is coming up with ways of taking an idea and injecting it into every part of a brand, turning the ordinary, everyday stuff into something that identifiably belongs to that company. That to me is how brands build character.

I'll still watch Neighbours though, just as long as they don't start dealing with real issues.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Things with which I have done in New York

About a week before I went to New York with my course, I was given a brief by the Bandujo advertising agency. This was to be worked on in a group of three, including a member from each year of the course, and was based around the New York Conservatory for Drama - School of Film and Television.

Our task was to advertise the 2 year acting course that it offered through a print ad, which would help to distinguish it from the other, better known acting schools in New Nork. To do this, we would have to make the SFT seem like the best education and training an actor can get. The target market was 18-25 year olds who had just left school, or were struggling young actors.

We started by looking at what made it different to the competition, which included it being a two year course, so students can become professionals in a short space of time and that they require auditions to get on the course and they even dismiss those who don't show any improvement once they are on it.

Our execution would emphasise the speed at which the course can turn you into a professional by using the before and after style imigary. Due to the subject of the course however, we decided to reverse the images, to provide shock and interest in the poster and emphasise the range of emotions actors must show.

Once we had been able to catch the attention of passers by, we could then put through the message that SFT is 'New York's most serious acting school'. We would do this by focusing on their strict quality control of students. Images of distress in the 'After' box, mixed with taglines like 'Audition Required' help to not only show the quality of acting achieved by the students, but also emphasise that fact that it is a school reserved only for the very best actors.

Other executions would then use recognisable acting imigary and past successful students to make it imidiately clear what the SFT offered.

We presented our concept to the agency in New York and they seemed to like our ideas, with our focus on the auditions actually being quite close to their own work on the project.

The tight week long deadline and the need to stick to a poster format limited what we could achieve with the brief, which is a shame, as we had some good ideas for how to take it further, such as a 'spot the bad acting' Facebook application.

I worked on this project with Esme Burford and Adam Lowe.