Category Archives: Advertising

It Really Is More Fun in the Philippines

Whenever I travel to different parts of the world I ask people for examples of great local advertising campaigns. I’ve just returned from the Philippines and one of the most talked about campaigns was for the Department of Tourism entitled ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’. Everyone loved it. It helped that several members of the classroom were from BBDO, the agency that created it.

Launched a couple of years ago it was based on 3 key points of difference
(a) compared to competitor campaigns, such as ‘Amazing Thailand’ or ‘Incredible India’ it’s energetic rather than passive. There was a clear call to action
(b) it was rooted in the friendly, hospitable and good-humoured character of the Filipino people
(c) It had a competitive edge: the Filipino people are very proud and like to win! It’s not just fun, it’s more fun!

Here’s the ad

If you want to find out more, here’s their website

At the end of the training course the friendly, funny and generous team gave me a couple of presents, including this book, which I read on the flight home.
Written by Tony Harris, a key figure behind the Campaign it’s a really nice personal story of the life of a Brit in Manila, what happens behind the scenes in the advertising world and how the campaign came to fruition.

I was in Manila for a week and had a great time. I can certainly vouch for the fact that it really is more fun in the Philippines.


Yet Another Depressed Cat on the Internet

The latest Young’s Seafood ad features a cat called Malcolm who’s tormented by the delicious  gastronomic fishy ready meals that his owners have prepared.

This ad has clearly been inspired by another miserable cat – the French existentialist, Henri. He’s so popular he got his own Youtube Channel – HenriLechatNoir. Here’s my favourite Henri video

There’s 2 points I want to make about this. (the first, serious, the second, less so)

Firstly, Imitating what you admire is perfectly normal and indeed essential in every creative activity. My favourite quote on creativity is by Voltaire

“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation”

It’s so true. To come up with a new idea you need to keep your ears and eyes open and imitate what inspires you. That’s what musicians do. That’s what artists do. And clearly it’s what ad agencies do. So to kickstart your creativity, fill your brain with external stimulation and steal shamelessly.

Secondly, our obsession with cats never ceases to amaze me. Where would the Internet be without cat videos? Probably about half the size. If you’re a fan, there’s a series of Internet Cat Video Festivals in 2015. It originated in 2012 in the USA, but now it’s gone global. For example there’s an event in Perth this weekend and in Glasgow in February. So if you’ve got a cool, entertaining cat – it’s not too late to enter.

My Favourite Christmas Ads 2014

The Christmas ads are in full flow now as all the big retailers encourage us to part with our hard earned cash. Here are the ones that have stood out for me.


Although it’s the John Lewis Christmas ad that gets all the publicity, I much prefer the one from Waitrose which picks up on our obsession with baking. (I was a bit disappointed by Monty the Penguin). I like it because it hones it on the key point of difference for the brand – the fact that the staff own the business and deliver outstanding customer service.



Sainsburys’ recreation of the Christmas Eve World War 1 ceasefire football match is probably the most talked about Christmas ad this year and has divided opinion. I can understand why some commentators criticise the attempt to make commercial gain from such a poignant event. Plus the connection with Sainsburys is fairly tenuous. However, I think the Christmas football match was such a remarkable event that it’s worthy of being re-told, particularly as it’s the 100th anniversary. Last weekend it was celebrated at football grounds all over the UK. Plus, the fact that it was supported by the British Legion gives it credibility and it was beautifully shot. So, on balance, a thumbs up from me.



As a kid, a bike was the ultimate Christmas present. I never did get my Mercian, but I still dream of owning one. I love this Halfords ad. It really speaks to me.I love the way it’s shot in the Christmas sunlight with a gang of happy kids cycling their new bikes, with the jealous kids watching. Do kids still dream of getting a bike for Christmas? Probably not, but it’s nice to think they do.



Overall though, Boots wins my vote for the best ad of the year, which tells the story of a family recreating Christmas day for their mum who has to work on Christmas day. I always feel sorry for people whose work separates them from their families at Christmas and its great that Boot’s have recognised this.

Emotion in Advertising

A remarkable thing happened at a training session I was running last week. There were about 50 people in the audience, many of whom were female, and I played ‘Sketches’, an execution of the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign (see below). At the end of it at least 3 people were in tears. This completely took me by surprise because

(a) being a marketing department, I thought they would have been more analytical and detached from marketing messages and able to take a more objective, less involved perspective
(b) I couldn’t quite see what was so moving or touching about the video. Sure, I understood it, but didn’t get how impactful it would be

I guess the key learning for me from this experience is that it’s hard to control the emotional impact of advertising. If it moves you, it moves you and there’s nothing you can really do about it, which I guess is what makes emotional advertising so powerful. Secondly, always look at the impact of the ad from the perspective of the target audience. I – like many people – think I’m pretty good at judging creative work. However, be careful. It’s not what you think, it’s what they – your intended audience think.

Evian’s baby&me – Not a Bad Follow Up

It’s really hard to create a viral hit. It’s even rarer to create 2 of them

4 years ago, Evian brought out it’s Roller Babies ad, which last time I looked had over 73 million Youtube views. I’m sure you’ve seen it

Last year, they bought out a follow up – baby&me which is still riding high in the viral charts and looks to be equally successful.

Some people claim to have packaged up the secret to creating a viral hit, but of course there is no magic formula. Cadbury’s have never created a follow up anywhere near as successful as its  Gorilla ad.

So – bravo to Evian for creating 2 viral hits. It seems we can’t enough of computer generated babies