A free press? Really?

A Free Press? Really? from Larner C on Vimeo.

Apologies. I took the same attitude with my editing skills as News International do with their morals: shoddy.

Full of all good intentions today, a brief history of News International begs the question of just how sincere Mr. Murdoch is being here.

Crumbs... it's the tasty, fun side of copywriting...

... with a serious, buttery baseline...

I love food. Some cheeky monkeys may even say I have a passion for it. I love copywriting. Should go without saying, that one. And I have been known, on the odd... very odd... occasion... to love a bit of fun.

So when I came across this marvellous mix of the three I had to share it.

I could listen to Greg Wallace and John Torode talk about food all day long. I maybe couldn't listen to this all day long, but for two short minutes of wordplay magic, it tickles my funny bone as much as my taste buds.

But it's not just about wordplay. Copywriters could learn a lot from the way this video is edited. When trying to engage your audience, it's important to think about the pace of your copy.

Vary it.

Then draw them in again. Make your points then get your hooks in all the right places. Watch the film all the way through and hopefully you'll see what the heck I'm waffling on about.

Hmmm.... waffles...

It's from Swedemason and it was brought to my attention by Helen Reynolds or if you want to track her down on Twitter, @HelReynolds.

Thanks all round. Bring on the base. Or the bass... oh... pass me a choccy digestive will you.

4, 13, 15, 20 and 300 therapeutic reasons to be cheerful

Mic of Doom by Jon Eland (@strawbleu)
I've always had a real thing about speaking in public. Almost a phobia. Cold sweats; hot flushes - and that's before numerous trips to the loo.

This is not to be confused with presenting creative work to a panel of stony faced marketing bods or trying to persuade a city council to go with my branding for a major part of their beloved city.

Nope - they're two different things entirely. Like loo roll and sandpaper; like taking things at a canter or having the trots: totally different experiences.

When presenting creative work I'm responsible for, I know it inside out. I'll have assessed my audience. I'll have an inclination they'll be half-receptive to my ideas. And I get to move the slides on at my pace. So I'm calm, relaxed and relishing the challenge.

Public speaking for me has always been something far more daunting than an enjoyable challenge. It's been an inhospitable mountain to climb with hell fire at the bottom, vomit-inducing dizzy heights at the top and evil little trolls waiting to laugh at your every move all the way up.

Bettakultcha, with its automatic 15 second slide format, takes things out of your control to an extent. It's a bit like releasing the brake on a rickety old train carriage on 1 to 1 incline down a Klondyke gold mine.

Bettakultcha at The Corn Exchange by Tricky (@sovietuk)
But for me, Bettakultcha is a wonderful event for so many reasons. Started by two blokes in Leeds, Richard Michie and Ivor Tymchak, the first events took place in front of 50 or 60 people at the awesome Temple Works building in Leeds, lovingly curated by Phil Kirby. Bettakultcha has since been staged at various other venues, the last couple at the should-be world-famous Corn Exchange. Some have said that Bettakultcha is losing its rough, bohemian edge - I don't think so. You can still bring your own bottle, presentations can be about anything from online comic strips to the wonderful work that people do to help people with cystic fibrosis, to why Star Wars is based on the Mills & Boon format - and the fact that the Bettakultcha phenomenon can now involve far more people without losing its edge is worth it.

The format is simple: 13 speakers, 20 slides of 15 seconds each in front of a wonderfully eclectic crowd. Oh and 4 very brave random sliders to top off what is a brilliant evening. It's been described as a middle class variety show. I'd describe it as one of the best events not only that Leeds has to offer, but also that contributes to making Leeds a livelier, more creative, fulfilling place to be.

Presenting at Bettakultcha by Simon (@doggonwheels)
Bettakultcha VIII was held at The Corn Exchange on Tuesday the 12th April and I'd booked myself a slot to speak. It's part of my self-induced therapy. I guess I could seek professional help, but my view is that if I am going to tackle that mountain, I'm jumping in feet first, on my own. The audience at Bettakultcha is a huge help - I liken it to taking on The London Marathon for the first time: the crowd wants you to do well and adds an extra 10-20% to your performance. I did a 5 minute spell on viral marketing, a little tongue in cheek - but you can't really go too deep in in 300 seconds. I came off a little disappointed that I didn't get all my points across - some slides went faster than my addled mind would allow and the whole 300 seconds really did feel like 30.

But I'm glad I did it. I feel privileged to have been allowed to speak in such an amazing building. I'm extremely grateful to Richard and Ivor. And I'm very grateful to a forgiving audience. And I feel better for having done it. Now that's my kind of therapy.

Maria Millionaire by (@strawbleu)
Other great talks were on subjects including making lists, the link between comedy and magic, the history of drag, why Manchester is better than Leeds (controversial) and the madness of Kim Jong Il - not to pick anyone out in particular - every single presentation was hugely entertaining and you can find a list of the speakers here, along with previous events and speakers.

It's a great night. It's highly recommended by everyone here at Ouch (that'd be me) and it's something you should try at least once while you're in Leeds.

And talking of therapy, if you fancy a go at presenting at Bettakultcha (and so many of the audience seem to be inspired to do so) there's even some of that presentation therapy I've thus far avoided on offer, for free - the next one being on Friday 16th April.

Now I've climbed that mountain, I do actually fancy going to the class to find out how it's done properly!

Just doing some ideas work

There I was trying to hatch some un-hackneyed concepts for an Easter mailing for a client and something occurred to me: if the guy who invented the chocolate fountain machine had patented his idea, he'd have become a melty millionaire.

No question.

I can't bear to be bare.

Does that make me homophonic?

On the subject of Christmas ads...

... here's one knocked up to promote Ouch. It's dodgy, it's ropey, it's soapy but it does contain all you'll ever need. And not one present you'll never use.

Many thanks to all who read, carped and commented on Ouch this year.

Have a great Christmas and all the best for a great New Year.

Christmas is a time for... ads

Courtesy of the fine people at U Talk Marketing.Com, here's their list of the top 5 Christmas TV ads.

You won't be surprised to see the likes of Heineken and PG Tips in there but do you agree with the rest?

I do like the John Lewis example but I'm afraid my psyche has been out-psyched by their recent Always a Woman ad with Billy Joel's song of the same name sang by Fyfe Dangerfield. A brilliant song and an ad which millions loved. I still love the song but I'm afraid I found ad a tad depressing.

How do you feel when you watch it?

I find it depressing because, especially at this magical time of year for children, I don't want to be reminded of my own fleeting existence and the inevitable mortality that brings.

And on that note, have a great Christmas!

And give me knitted monkeys dressed up as Elizabeth Windsor every day of the week.

All work and no play...

I've just discovered a great blog to vent all those writing urges that'll never earn two bob. It's called 330 Words and as the name suggests, it lays down quite a challenge to anyone calling themselves a copywriter.

That's because you have to write a fictional story in 330 words or under and be brave/emboldened enough to stick it up in the public domain.

Not that easy. But great on a number of counts:

1. It really hones your editing skill. An invaluable arrow to have in your copy quiver. The quicker and more efficient your become at editing, the easier it is to deal with your own copy critiques and those of your colleagues and clients.

2. It provides a breath of valuable fresh air; prevents your keyboard from becoming a mill stone round your neck and you from becoming a money-making extension of your keyboard.

3. It opens up your writing/ your work/ your pleasure (if you like) to public critique which can provide you with a completely new view on your skills - and give you another layer of thick skin, which never goes amiss in a creative industry.

4. Writing fiction is a great way for a copywriter to improve his or her copy. It provides new constructions, different ways to pace prose and of course provide a new outlet for fun - especially if you're starting to see copywriting as merely a job (God forbid).

Whether you're a copywriter or not, I'd recommend giving it a go.

You'll find the blog here.

You can follow the 330 Words people on Twitter here.

You can find a couple of my efforts here and here.

Parental advice: you might find a couple of naughty words amongst all that lovely fiction.

Go on... see if you can do better. But that's really not the point. :)

The oxymoron of the fresh approach

For a fresh approach to your next ad or campaign, just add:
- some shiny looking fruit, preferably sliced and with a good few drops of water
- sometimes just a splash of water will do the trick
- any kind of cleaning product; soap, detergent, coca-cola, that sort of thing
- or, if you're really trying to be ca-rayzee, try the odd stylised dandelion - always synonymous with fresh stuff.

The 'fresh approach' gambit always comes in handy when the following has happened:
- your client has sold you short on what makes his or her product or service great 
- your account manager has sold you short on what makes his or her client's product or service great 
- neither of the two parties has ever heard of a proposition.

...In which case you can do one of the following:
- just go with it. Bang out the creative, artwork it up, send it off, go home and take two, preferably three showers followed by three stiff gins, knowing your work will join a kazillion other  ubiquitous fresh approaches in the same lame league
- refuse to even touch any so-called 'concept' with the remotest allusion to a fresh approach and ride out the 'creative strop' storm
- strongly advise the client of the irony of this tactic and the fact that not only does it probably not do their offer any justice but that it also treats the customer like a corn-fed automaton.

...Then sleep safe in the knowledge that there's only one kind of product or service owner who should be pleased with this kind of oxymoron:*

the marketing moron. 

* Yes, yes, for the pedants I realise 'fresh approach' is not an oxymoron in the true sense of the word, but the proposition of presenting 'fresh approach' as a new idea mostly definitely is!

57 campaign lines in one post? The answers.

As promised here are all the lines which appeared in this recent Drum post and their respective brands - possibly in a somewhat higgledypiggledy order:

01. Don’t leave home without it - American Express

02. Nothing acts faster – Anadin

03. Impossible is nothing – Adidas

04. Just do it – Nike

05. Good things come to those who wait – Guinness

06. Moving at the speed of business – UPS

07. I’m only here for the beer – Double Diamond

08. Any time, any place, any where – Martini

09. Eight of ten cats prefer it – Whiskas

10. The man from Del Monte says ‘Yes’ – Del Monte

11. Say it with flowers – Interflora

12. Empowering the internet generation – Cisco

13. It’s what your right arm’s for – Courage Beer

14. Drink Canada dry – Canada Dry

15. Liquid engineering – Castrol

16. Drink Camp – it’s the best – Camp

17. I’d love a Babycham – Babycham

18. It makes you feel like the man you are – Buick

19. Some of our best men are women – US Army

20. Have you ever had a bad time in Levi's? – Levi’s

21. Life’s good – LG

22. Make. Believe. - Sony

23. Every little helps – Tesco

24. WotalotIgot – Smarties

25. The listening bank – Midland Bank

26. Bread wi’ nowt taken out – Allinson’s

27. It’s good to talk – BT

28. Have you ever wished you were better informed? – The Times

29. Gee, I wish I had a nickel – Lifesaver’s Candy

30. Tide’s in, dirt’s out – Tide

31. make-up to make love in – Mary Quant

32. Beanz Meanz Heinz – Heinz

33. It could be you – National Lottery

34. It’s got to be Gordon’s - Gordon’s Gin

35. Just imagine – NEC

36. Saving you money every day – Asda

37. The true definition of luxury. Yours - Acura

38. Someone, somewhere wants a letter from you – Post Office

39. A lot less bovver than a hover – Qualcast

40. It’s everywhere you want to be – Visa

41. think local, act global – Accenture

42. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is – Alka Seltzer

43. Once you pop you just can’t stop – Pringles

44. The beauty of all wheel drive – Subaru

45. You’re going to like us – Trans World Airlines

46. I love what you do for me – Toyota

47. Come home to a real fire – Coal Board

48. probably the best beer in the world – Carlsberg

49. Nothing runs like a deere – John Deere

50. Reach out and touch someone – American Telephone & Telegraph

51. Because life’s complicated enough – Abbey National

52. You can trust your car to the man with the star – Texaco

53. Think big – IBM

54. Think small – VW

55. Think different - Apple

56. Take care – Garnier

57. Schhh - you know who - Schweppes

57 campaign lines in one post on messaging? Now that's variety!

A while back I posted on The Drum about getting the messaging right - especially as today's consumers are more savvy than ever before.

Here's the post, with 57 campaign lines hidden within. Can you spot them all? As promised on The Drum the answers will appear sometime soon.

Attitude. As one of today’s customers, I don’t leave home without it. And because I know the average person is exposed to somewhere over 1500 marketing messages a day, I make damned sure I’m anything but average. When it comes to rubbing me up the wrong way, nothing acts faster than an ill-timed pitch, or bland statement to make the prospect of a sale impossible. ‘Is nothing sacred any more?’ I ask myself as I try to get through the day without being labelled an A, B or C1. Don’t know why I feel like there’s a million marketeers with hands in my pockets, I just do. It’s one of the reasons I’m fickle, brand-disloyal and downright difficult to please.

I’m only here for the beer but I can get another one any time, any place, anywhere.

I know good things come to those who wait but I prefer moving at the speed of business.

I’m not into jazz but I understand why eight out of ten cats prefer it.

And when the man from Del Monte says ‘Yes’ I often prefer to say it with flowers.

That’s right – I’m no longer interested in whether it’s probably the best beer in the world; I want to know it definitely is, why it is and how you’re going to prove it.

It’s all well ‘n’ good empowering the Internet generation but stop sending me those infernal emails. I’ve heard of Viagra. It’s what your right arm’s for.

Isn’t it? I can’t quite make out the small point size on the instruction leaflet.

I’m high on multiple online reviews and I’ve got the lowdown on what’s best for me.

Yeah, I know a little dab’ll do ya, but sometimes I just want to splash it all over.

And when I’m on the go and thirsty, I could drink Canada dry – whatever they’re serving. Call it liquid engineering – and remember I’m running on a hybrid engine.

I could drink camp – it’s they best they say. And while I’d love a Babycham, I’ve heard it makes you feel like the man you are.

Oh yeah – we’re today’s hard-to-please consumers. And you know what, some of our best men are women. So watch it.

Someone once asked me, ‘Have you ever had a bad time in Levi’s?’ No, but I know life’s good – if not better – out of your Levi’s too.

So sell me jeans with a fluffy yellow puppet by all means, but I think you’re on the make. Believe me, I really do.

And while every little helps, I can’t help feeling smug at wotalotIgot.

I don’t want my bank to be the listening bank, I just want my bread wi’ nowt taken out.

There’s no doubt it’s good to talk but have you ever wished you were better informed?

I have. That’s why my media is super social. That’s why you’d better be as sociable as me – and millions of others like me. Because word on the street is there’s no hiding place anymore.

And they say that when the tide’s in, dirt’s out. If that means make-up to make love in is only good for half the day, I’m not that interested, thanks.

More interestingly, Beanz Meanz Heinz apparently – but if they’re over fifty pence a can, beans means own brand to me.

And sometimes, just sometimes I’d actually prefer my nice, relaxing massage on the go. After all, it’s a lot less bovver than a hover and a lot of small talk.

It could be you – it really could be down to you that I’m rebelling against this brand bashing – but it’s got to be Gordon’s fault, whoever the heck he is!

Whatever happens I’ll make, up my own mind, thanks.

Just imagine what you could achieve if you stopped treating me like a demographic and more like a person.

Yes, I’ll listen to people purporting to be saving you money every day, but because I’m also interested in the true definition of luxury, yours is no easy task these days.

In fact, someone, somewhere wants a letter from you. It says, ‘Sorry for disturbing you in such a grey, stagnant fashion.’

AB1? Yeah, that’s right, ‘Awkward Bugger that one’.

Advertising: it’s everywhere you want to be – so you marketing bods better think local, act global and be as relevant and timely as possible.

Crikey, with ads on a roll I’m even being sold to in the loo. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is just to pull the chain down, my pants up and get the hell out.

Yep, you’d better stay cool in the high-pressure world of meeting your targets and budgets. Because once you pop you just can’t stop.

And once those shiny new campaign alloys start coming off, you really will realise the beauty of all wheel drive.

Yup, I’m afraid we’re a truly unfathomable, fussy, crowd we consumers, but we’re sure you’re going to like us.


Oh yeah, I love what you do for me today, but tomorrow I’ll be cold as ice. That’s why I want to come home to a real fire – real benefits, real features sold in with zeal, truth and integrity.

You see, nothing runs like a deere old beloved campaign, but nowadays, you’ve got to really reach out and touch someone.

Because life’s complicated enough these days you, the marketer, have to be smarter, fitter, tougher than the next marketer and remember one thing: trust. Just as you can trust your car to the man with the star, chances are you can trust your creative to your agency – and the copywriter to get the messaging right.

Yes, I’m one of today’s modern punters and if you’re in marketing you’d be wise to think different. Think big, think small – but whatever you do, think customer.

Because once you take care of your customer they might… just might, start taking care of you.





Schhh – you know who put 57 kinds of strapline and campaign line in this post? Me neither, and as a modern consumer of blogs, I’m really not that bothered.




Oh, oh... Apple introduces Magic Launchpad, for a speedier connection to the real world

After a period of downtime this morning, the Apple store is now back, and as expected – it now carries refreshed, faster iMac and Mac Pro computers. However, earlier rumours have shown to be true, as Apple has also launched a completely new product, called the Magic Launchpad.

The Magic Launchpad is a 1m x 1m ramp, designed to work on your voracious appetite for buying anything remotely Mac related. Perfect for positioning at the edge of cliffs and very high buildings, it uses the same multitouch technology as the MacBook Pro and is fully capable of launching 4 to 5 Mac lemmings simultaneously.

It “supports a full set of gestures, including the two-fingered 'so long fan-boy sucker' and the one-fingered 'get yourself a life instead' thereby giving you a whole new way to control the way you jump off the consumer chasm” claims Apple’s product description. It connects with your Mac via Bluetooth, and it’s intended to be used either in the open countryside or in built-up areas, especially those with a high proportion of skyscrapers.

The Magic Launchpad comes as a standalone accessory and it costs roughly £35 to end your irrational addiction.