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Archive for November, 2006

The First Cattle Call…

The alarm goes off and you slap it till it shuts up. Bleary eyed and almost excited, you get up and stumble to the bathroom to start the day. Today is the day. No not your wedding day, MUCH more important than that. Today you have your first interview for grad training at an ad agency.

Before anyone asks there is no real right or wrong way to dress for these, we’ve been suited and booted and then had some ginger haired kid march in wearing a jumper as if from Worzel Gummidge…he didn’t out flank us but still, he was in the running….for a bit. The rule of safe thumb is guys wear a suit, shoes and a shirt but with no tie and ladies dress as smartly and as eclectic as they like.

Now the Brand Republic forums have been alight with questions like ‘I’ve got an interview at x, y, z, what will they ask me?!?!?!’. First off, I have a feeling they’ll ask you about ads, lots of questions. Just a hunch though.

In all seriousness most first interviews are pretty standard in terms of what they, the big bad agency are trying to figure out. They want to know if you, the esteemed applicant is what they thought your application was.

So what can you do? Here is the AdLads step by step checklist for interview bad-assness

1) Maybe the most important thing is read your application form. All of it. More than once. And not just on the day of the interview as you’re on the tube in.

2) Have 3 good ads and 3 bad ads in your mind.

3) Have a read of their website and the industry rags for mentions of current happenings, so if you they ask you ‘What do you know about us’ you actually have something to say.

4) Try and watch as much of their recent work you can, and think about whether you think it works / not.

5) Build a structure to how you critique an ad campaign. Quick easy steps are:

The Creative Rationale: Why does this work? Is it funny? Why is it funny? Is the target funny? Is it removed from competition in the same sector?

Is the idea campaign-able? i.e. does the overall idea work in different mediums other than just TV. E.g. Dr Pepper’s creative idea was ‘try it’ due to a consumer insight that everyone played it safe with just Pepsi. So this gave birth to the idea ‘Dr Pepper, What’s the worst that can happen’. That idea works on TV, Radio, Press, Print, Ambient and Digital.

The selling proposition: Where is the client’s business now? How will this build on the client’s business? Is itto steal market share, create market share, generate awareness or speak to an already loyal consumer base

The point here is that it’s quite hard to structure a critique of advertising unless someone hands you a structure. The above is used in the agency one of us works in and is quite a sound foundation to start talking about ads

As a footnote to any discussion about ads, there are certain specific things to talk about. Don’t say you don’t like it as you may not be the target. Always justify your opinions as deeply as you can.

So that covers the ad talk, what about the general getting to know you stuff? What do you do then? The easiest and most right answer is just be yourself. Seriously. It’s well known that individual agencies have individual cultures etc, but that by no means means (how many times can I use means in this sentence?) that you should try and conform to a type. Go in, be yourself, and do your best. Chances are if you’re well informed, enthusiastic about ads and able to back up your opinions you’ll get through. And if you don’t, it honestly is the agency’s loss. So don’t mope around, ring them up and ask for feedback, if it’s something wrong with you specifically you can fix it, if they come up with some fluffy ‘you’re not the right person for us’ crap then they don’t know what they want out of their grads, and you’re too driven for them (they wouldn’t be able to handle you). Before I go off on a rant, it’s blatantly obvious that some agencies are happy to have ‘yes’ people droning around, hiding under catch phrases that tell you nothing about anything. Don’t be a lemming. If you can stick to that, you’ll go far.

That’s the first careers related post done, comments as always are welcome. More career related posts are in the AdLads pipeline. Stay tuned…

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When I Grow Up…

…I want to work in advertising 🙂

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Colonel Sanders, My Homeboy

Ma dawg..the Colonel

Kentucky Fried Chicken, the artist formerly known as KFC and scourge of PETA campaigners worldwide, has recently blessed us with an updated logo. The ever-youthful (can I even say that in hyper age discrimination aware Britain?) Colonel Sanders has received a queer eye for the straight old guy style makeover and now sports a proper side parting and a *gasp* apron!!

And all this why? According to KFC’s own Gregg Dedrick the change “gives us a chance … to make sure we stay relevant.”

STOP!!!!!

Relevant? Now I have no right to claim the hippest hairstylee, but puhlease…changing his hair and giving him an apron makes him more relevant? To what? The obese Americans who make up a large percentage of KFC’s clientele? Of course!! I see it now, Billy-Bob / Barry is sitting in his council house/trailer after a long day and sees the brand spanking logo on the box and thinks ‘Yes, I can relate to that, the Colonel looks just like………’ Oh wait. He doesn’t relate.

Speaking of not relating, what the hell is going on with their latest TV spots? Stuck in an office? you obviously want KFC!! Oh right, I thought the girl in the ad just wanted a job she actually is stimulated by, and not that way you filthy beings 🙂

And as alluded to in the first line of my sweet prose, KFC is now re-adopting the full Kentucky Fried Chicken name, which the more aware of you may remember was dropped in order to try and hide the fact that the chspam (that’s chicken spam for y’all, bits of chicken covered in other worldly products) they sell is deep fried in vats of oil. So what are they saying now? We don’t care about our food making you fat? Or maybe, just maybe, the consumer is responsible for what they put in their bodies?!? Never!!

Perhaps they’re not trying to change anything, and just found a bunch of old stationary in a basement somewhere, and want to save some cash on printing.

Either way, next time head of corporate communications for KF..Kentucky Fried Chicken comes up in the industry rags, I’m first in line. My idea? Give the colonel a doo-rag, some Oakleys a little fake bling..for chizzle.

And on that note, the AdLads are outta here, for a value bucket.

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Wednesday’s Rant

Don’t you just hate how some people in agencies are so fckn Twee? Of course you can find these people all over the shop and in different industries but that doesn’t make it any easier when I have to sit there, listening with my spine curling in on itself.

We should unite as Adlads and ban any banter about diets, Thailand, gyms, typical Monday questions such as ‘how was your weekend?’ and anything associated with family. Urgh it’s sick man. Furthermore, anyone who has teeth that look like they’ve just been clinically cleaned is either A. Getting paid more than me or B. A soulless fool. Either way these people must be removed in a nasty and violent manner.

Don’t get me started on those who come in and start to discuss the status of London’s transport. Move somewhere else then you docile worm where you get 3 busses turning up back to back every 3 hours and nothing in between.

I’m just ranting due to my disillusion that I may be in an industry with kudos, sigh.

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Planning The Digits

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When you think of Digital Planning what springs to mind? The comprehension of band width, RSS feeds, online hits, page views, traffic stats, unique visitors vs registration figures, static banner ads vs a beautiful flash creation and all the rest of the complicated matter that just gets in the way of what is such a strong and simple area of planning. I’ll elaborate. In the beginning when ad agencies had media buying imbedded within the agency, agencies were able to talk to clients from the CEO down. Now that media pulled the ejector seat on ad agencies (i.e. the numerical promise media buying can make of investing X amount will give you a return of Y amount), no longer can an ATL agency get that senior management exposure, so what we are left with is straight discussions with a Marketing Director informing him/her that this print/TV execution will bring XYZ equity/image to the brand (a now fuzzy and cloudy promise). Whatever numbers/justifications are brought in to support this, are nine out of ten times weak. I mean where did they come from?

1. The reasons this will work came from research groups we commissioned

Okaaaaay, so that means that when you roll out my national/global campaign you’re basing its potential success on what 10 people said in an orchestrated environment…and that you orchestrated that environment. Get out

2. The reason this will work is from thorough competitive analysis

So what you’re telling me is that this campaign will work because you’ve looked at what everyone else is doing and we’re either going to be similar or so dramatically different that we become irrelevant. Get out

3. We are the creative agency, we know this will work

That’s what VCCP said about the new Coke Zero campaign. Get out!

So as you can see, ATL agencies are at a ceiling, okay, it’s not that bad but it could be soon. It’s the reality I’m afraid, it is soon and it’s time to smash the champagne flute and kick the life out of any idiot you see wearing a black turtle neck or a t-shirt and a suit jacket who mentions ‘brand equity’ and then has nothing else to say. Rocking in the free world is the potential of digital and interactive planning. Let me demonstrate the contrast. I’m working on a project for my agency right now outside of my usual tedious account handling role. I’m part of a planning team designing and building an online infrastructure for a well known passenger carrier. I request data such as call centre statistics, offer redemption figures, costs of tickets to all destinations and in which season. Now I’m no fan of numbers nor can I compute econometrics, regression etc….not without flipping into a rage and only finding release by drowning a puppy. However, it’s relatively easy to spot that it costs the client £6 per call from their call centre to a prospect and when broken down the acquisition of prospects taking up offers brings in an average of £4 per call. They are losing money with the current offer that is in place and with the data they are using for prospects. I show this to my Planning Director and he formulates it and presents it back to the client. Now we have access to the CEO and any part of the client’s organisation as we need to have that contact in order to build a new and efficient online/digital/interactive whatever infrastructure. It’s obvious when you think of it. A TV ad goes out…that’s it whereas you build an online environment that offers X Y and Z you need to think of.

1.Having the technology to support it being accessed/downloaded i.e. a voucher

2. In store staff being aware of it so they are on board to support offer redemption and the process behind it

3. A system in place to track redemption so that you can build up numerical evidence that supports your campaign

4. Which area does this benefit the client? Is it a simple ROI, is it an acquisition of new customers, is it retention of loyal customers and more times than not you’re also ‘branding’ at the same time – where, how etc?

I hope I’ve explained this well enough. The point I’m trying to illustrate is how as a digital planner you can have such a more fulfilling exposure to your client’s business by almost putting on a Management Consultancy hat on. It doesn’t take being gifted at number crunching, it doesn’t take being able to take a company’s balance sheet and give a Good Will Analysis (I googled that under ‘finance’ by the way and have no idea what it means). All it takes, in my humble opinion, is a deeper curiosity in how a business works than standard ATL Planners who are more than capable to think this way if they choose.

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Fallon you cheating…..

Umm, is it just me or does this footage found on YouTube taken from the Late Night show with David Letterman 10 YEARS AGO remind you of anything?!!!??!!

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A Blank Canvas..

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And so we begin. Yes we are the AdLads, and yes we are opinionated beyond belief. And yes we’re right. Most of the time.

This the diary of our journey to the top of ad land. Comments welcome. Most of the time.

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