Don’t let anything stop you from having a voice in this world

We live in a world where our opinion is communicated to a global audience through social media. Sometimes what we are trying to say and what is interpreted can be taken in the wrong way, but that starts a conversation which is a key aspect to building relationships, whether as an individual or as a brand.

What brands are looking for when posting online is to engage with customers. But triggering conversation depends on the brand personality of the company. Some are approachable and friendly, others can be irreverent and opinionated. It all depends on what the strategy is for that brand. The worse thing any brand can be is stuck in the middle or what is often called vanilla, just plain and uninteresting.

Having an opinion as an individual is what defines you and helps shape your own personal brand. No matter what you believe in just say the truth because as they say, it will set you free. Having ideas, thoughts and opinions is something we all internalise but not everyone is able to articulate them in the way they would like.

Take Seth Godin for example, the man can communicate powerful strategies and thoughts in very few words. But the key thing about this is it takes time. Seth didn’t start out being able to direct everything in front of him and communicate his ideas as clearly as he does now, no one does. It takes time to formulate ideas into simple language or explanations. I’m pretty sure the words he posts are not the first ones he writes either!

In advertising most of the work you see which is beautifully art directed and crafted has gone through countless rounds of shortening, sharpening and development to get the communication down to a core truth or promise. Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, once wrote a letter and at the end wrote, “I apologise for the length of this letter, if I had more time I would have made it shorter.”

I love that quote because today we do things at a hundred miles an hour but this shouldn’t deter you from giving your opinion and letting your voice be heard. Even if you are criticised by someone, keep going. Everyone has been criticised or attached at some point in their life, the trick is the ones you listen to and respect now ignored those comments and continued to work on getting their voice heard.

You have a voice in this world and there are people who want to hear your opinions. You may even help someone that is going through an experience you once faced. Fear stops us doing so many things, but you you need to start somewhere and every great journey starts with a single step forward. Have faith in yourself and start crafting your voice, no matter how long it takes, you will get to a point that it comes easier and articulated sharper, but remember to enjoy the journey you have as it will be exhilarating whilst lightening the load of thoughts that often weigh heavily on our mind when left unspoken.

 

 

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Always do the things you are afraid to do

When I first started work I was extremely shy and the thought of speaking in front of people scared the living daylights out of me. When I was forced to present a few times I turned into a sweaty mess. In fact one time I got so nervous that I ended up having a coughing fit in the middle of a presentation forcing the client to leave the room in order to get me a glass of water. Once I had stopped coughing and choking all over the client I stood red-faced, sweat coming through not only my shirt but also my suit jacket! I could see my boss and colleagues sat wide-eyed wondering if I was going to keel over or finish the presentation.

I looked at the client and just said, ‘See, you have to hire us because we are even prepared to die to get your business!’ The client laughed, nervously, and we eventually won the business.

The only thing I could do at that stage was make a joke out of this surreal experience. But this taught me very quickly that if I can recover from what I was always in fear of experiencing, why did I get myself into this mess?

The truth is presenting to a client can be intimidating and sometimes the stakes are high if you do not win the business. I have gone to presentations knowing if we don’t win the business people in the agency will lose their jobs, that’s pressure! But I pushed myself to present at every opportunity because I knew it was a challenge that I had to get over, not because I enjoy talking in front of people but because it was a fear entrenched in my psyche that stemmed from being afraid of making a mistake.

I have had bad presentations since then, not quite like the first one but they didn’t go well. But the more I did it the more I realised there was nothing to be afraid of. In fact I have gone on to present at conferences around the world with thousands of people and I really do enjoy it. I found a passion that allows me to reach and connect with people all over the world, exchanging ideas, helping people with things I have learned or am passionate about.

I found joy in something because I did something that terrified me and I didn’t allow it to beat me. I faced my fear and it was not that I overcame anything, in truth there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place other than what I had built up in my head. Fear can be paralysing and I am not saying it is easy, it’s not. But I guarantee if I can do it, anyone can.

Technology can remove the clutter from our world

People talk about how technology is getting in the way of social contact, when in fact I personally feel it is opening doors to people who have spent a lifetime in the shadows. I don’t agree with people on phones and blackberry’s in clubs or bars, as I witness every time I go out, but it is bringing the world closer every single day.

Recently on Google Plus I had a conversation with someone who believed Augmented Reality was something of a fad and would soon be left behind with the likes of virtual reality. I disagreed and I mentioned that if Augmented Reality was to be used properly in our world then it could be a much more beautiful place. Imagine a world where the streets are not plastered at every corner with advertising messages, where a few signs are visible just in unique and specific places. But when you hold up your smartphone the place comes alive with the messages you want to see, with the ability for the user to select the type and frequency of what they see.

You should be able to have a little more control over the messages you see. I work in the advertising world but it still infuriates me when you see awful work that just makes the city look ugly. I have long believed that advertising, when done right, is the art of the city. It shows the character, personality and style of a city, but it should inspire individuals not only to buy things but also to do better in their day or life.

Augmented Reality can really bring the power to the consumer where they can select the messages they want to see when they hold up their smartphones. whether it’s fashion, information about the city or whatever it is your world to have fun in. Yet the real world remains a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy. That is a reality I can see catching on.

 

Take a look at this course that is currently being run. Augmented Reality

The campaign for real beauty

Take a look behind the lens of the fashion industry and see what defines real beauty. Take a look at the misconception our children are being forced to live up to, a reality that doesn’t exist. Pressure that is heaped upon young girls, and boys, to live up to impossible proportions when the truth of the matter is that no one looks like that anyway.

Not even the top models or the movie stars, but with every page turn of a fashion magazine comes the abuse and insults that you do not live up to a a standard that doesn’t exist. Understand that most of the writers, photographers and computer wizards who create these images bare no resemblance to the image they portray.

Understand there is not thing as perfect, you are perfect the way you are. There is no need for diets, unless for health reasons, or cosmetic surgery purely to fulfill a level vanity that our world seems intent on pursuing. I love this campaign from Dove because it celebrates real people. It’s name, the campaign for real beauty. This video says it all…..

Keep it simple stupid

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this statement in the halls and corridors in the advertising agencies I have been in all over the world, I could retire, easily, today.

It is a statement you start hearing at university/college and it never seems to lose momentum at all. It is possibly the most guiding principle of advertising. Consumers do not have time to figure out a complicated story line or concept that is so deep you would need a submarine to understand it. So, Keep it simple is the motto. But as advertising is a place where creativity loves to play with words or phrases and just in case the three thousand times you hear it is not enough the word stupid is added on to embed the message.

But only in advertising would you find such a cutting sentence turned into a loving and emotional acronym. As the acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid is simple KISS! Have a creative day.

People ignore design that ignores people

I believe this line is very true. Look at apple products for example and remember the first time you used one or just picked it up. It has a sense of feeling that it just fits perfectly. Or it works in a way that just feels comfortable and natural. That’s great design and often we take it for granted, but we very quickly will voice an opinion about something that doesn’t work. Things that do however are the ones that slip into our lives, our consciousness and become part of our routine, part of who we are.

Advertising is very similar. When an idea is based on a truth the work is believable and works. t speaks to us like an old friend, a mentor or the funny guy down the pub, depending on which brand it is. Bad advertising however, and lets face it there is a lot of it, is usually an idea that is contrived and unbelievable. I am not talking about exaggeration because a good idea exaggerated makes for a very compelling piece of work that is often memorable for the consumer as well as our peers within our industry. No, a contrived idea is one that is just not true. Try and look at a piece of advertising next time you are on the street or flicking through a magazine and see if you think the idea is based on a truth or is contrived. Have a creative day.

Brands connect with people on an emotional level

When creating or communicating a brand things have changed drastically over the last twenty years. It used to be that a brand, or product, would need to communicate a difference in quality that was available when purchased. With a lack of parity across many categories the world of brands have moved into defining lifestyles that the brand creates or is included into. Buying a coca cola is no longer about a refreshing drink, it is a statement of all goodness and tradition, a brighter side of life or the coke side of life whereas Pepsi are, and always have been, about the now generation.

Brands now look to create a way of life for you, almost a philosophy of empowerment to achieve greater things. The obvious issue will be when all brands associate themselves this way will be the need for one unique brand to do something different. Ying whilst all the other followers Yang. As it stands now any brad that is just a product gets left on the shelf whilst products like Dove, with it’s campaign for real beauty, connect with people on an emotional level that truly drives brand association and love. A wonderful campaign that taps into feelings of men and women all over the world about the perpetuation of the fashion industry to reach unrealistic goals of beauty. Where brands go from here is the multi million dollar question but this is what makes the communication, design and brand industries so interesting is the competitive nature that drives every individual within. For a brand that is not top of mind becomes tomorrows history. Have a creative day.

OREO TV Commercial, take two!

The first TV Commercial you see above was something I did for Kraft Oreo a few years ago. Oreo was a brand I worked on for a few years and really enjoyed it. None more so than when shooting this TV commercial. We always worked closely with the global team in New York and London due to the account being a global account of FCB. The reason I chose this of the many commercials we made is because we were lucky to have the Global Creative Director on the Oreo brand. His name is Bob Neuman and he is still a very close friend today. I am showing this today because also it illustrates what we do behind the scenes. Not the commercial itself but the second video you see below. What happened was during the filming of the commercial Bob mentioned that they used to create spoof or joke versions of the commercial they worked on when he was young.

So, as all creative people will do, we decided there and then to create our own. Filming had wrapped up and we approached the director, Mr Steve Campbell, a genius child director and told him what we wanted to do. He told us we only had one chance to do a single take so did we know what we wanted to do. We told him we would sort this out and would be ready when he was even though we didn’t actually have any idea of what to do. Steve got ready behind the camera and we walked into the Kitchen where the kids had been filming all day. As we sat down behind the kitchen worktop I told Bob what I thought we could do. He looked at me and laughed but said, “Are you sure?” I told him the fact he laughed convinced me it was the only way to go.

So this below is the one single take we made, no one else other than me and Bob knew what was going to happen and some people even asked me later if I knew what Bob was going to do. Hope you enjoy it. Have a creative day.

A campaign to make a real difference

Advertising gets criticism sometimes for the way it acts by people who see the business in one perspective. But for me the industry is one I love and enjoy every day I go into the office. Every day is different and the challenge of competition that comes from within the agency but also against yourself is one that makes it extremely exciting for me. I work for Y&R in the Middle East, and have nothing personally to do with this idea, but feel passionate enough about it to do what I can to help. The idea is that they created a #hastag (# a hashtag is a way of creating a single topic, or trend as it’s called on Twitter, and allowing people to insert this # symbol to group all the comments about that topic) The # was called #warmupcamden. They have created a website where you see a few warm hearted folk knitting scarves.

These are not just ordinary scarves though. The scarves are created by selecting the best phrases on Twitter that are written with #warmupcamden. These scarves will be given away to the people on the streets who are facing the toughest winter in England for some time. A wonderful idea to help homeless people in a small way. The website where you can see the live cam of people making the scarves and a constant stream of twitter phrases is called Twitter Knitter. Please have a look and if you are on Twitter do all you can to help, who knows maybe your message will appear on a scarf.

Comic Sans walks into a bar and the barman says, “We don’t serve your type here.”

This made me chuckle and I often think laughter can be just as powerful as an inspirational quote. In todays collection I am in love with the painting (fourth row on the left) I think it is because within all the chaos and power that each strikes obviously provides this piece of art but there is serenity in the face of the girl which makes for a captivating contrast. The minimal color palette is also something that appeals to me. I really do like this painting!

The Harvey Nichols ad is not by my agency Y&R but rather DDB in London. It is really nice with the women being depicted as a lightbulb and the men are ‘moths to the flame!’ is a wonderful insight. The other ad in this campaign was the women being a very sharp pin and the men balloons. Have a creative day.