Category Archives: Art Direction

MoneySuperMarket: Action Man

You all would have seen this great new ad by now – it’s ‘Action Man’ by ad agency Mother (London). The camp 60-spot aired last week, featuring a partnership with Licensor Hasbro to show how Action Man and his pals saved money on their bills. The UK’s leading price comparison website has created a series of iconic and creative ads featuring the line “I just saved with MoneySuperMarket and now I feel EPIC” . Although there have been 1 or 2 adaptations (particularly the breakdancing bodyguard) after their first ad that I didn’t like, MoneySuperMarket have come back with another winner! The “Epic” series, previously featured He-Man and Skeletor in a “Dirty Dancing” pastiche, and a businessman twerking in hotpants.

The vibe is very 80s/90s, featuring ‘Finally’ by CeCe Peniston, and some hilarious struts and dance-moves. Unfortunately this is the last campaign Mother will be doing for MoneySuperMarket as they have just announced their split – it will be interesting to see if they continue with this campaign or create something new with whichever ad agency they partner up with…
Pip Heywood, Brand Director at MoneySuperMarket, said:

Having shared great success, many awards and a lot of fun in developing the ‘save money, feel epic’ campaign with Mother, we acknowledge it’s time for a change.

After winning many awards and creating a viral buzz, I’m looking forward to seeing what MoneySuperMarket will do next. After creating so many memorable campaigns, I don’t quite understand why they decided to split from Mother! A mutual uncoupling perhaps?…

Their website even features the action figures:

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Squarespace: Make It | ManvsMachine

It’s very rate that I see a campaign that is visually and conceptually integrated seamlessly across all mediums of the campaign, but ManvsMachine has (once again) created something that has a strong and stunning visual identity.
Design and motion studio ManvsMachine are one of my favourite creative teams, and they were commissioned to work with Squarespace on the “Make It” campaign. They worked closely with the Squarespace team to create three commercials for their 2017 campaign: “each film is a tactile-take on the online experience —Blurring the lines between digital and physical, in a playful showcase of three iconic creatives & their worlds”.

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The short films feature fashion designer Sadie Williams, artist Daniel Arsham and chef, Danny Bowien. It’s rare that a TV ad produces such gorgeous stills that could be used across the rest of the campaign – it goes to show how great ManvsMachine’s creative process is.
This flows nicely into the campaign imagery for digital content featuring “still life” scenes, showcasing the brand’s platform within the context of its users. The brief focused on “Digital made Physical” and the visual narratives successfully convey the brand’s bespoke features.

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ManvsMachine’s iconic abstract and crafted style is so visually wonderful and is the perfect fit for a Squarespace campaign. The seamless aesthetic bridges the gap between reality and 3D (as their work always does) which was brought to life by using a wide range of software and hardware including Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya, ZBrush, Redshift, Agisoft Photoscan, After Effects, Nuke… I recommend looking at their design process – these are a few snapshots:

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It is very, VERY rare I see a banner and think “wow, I really like that”, especially after having to design hundreds of drab banners myself, but even the design for the banner ads are amazing! I’ve never thought a banner is amazing!

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Having complete creative control, ManvsMachine were in charge of concept, design and direction, which was rolled across digital, social, TV spots and OOH. I can’t emphasise how refreshing it is to see such a visually beautiful campaign. This is how its done!!!

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Fortnum & Mason: Adam & Steve | Valentine’s Day

In the last 5 years, as each February goes by I notice a gradual increase in the amount of same-sex Valentine’s Day cards being sold (in the UK). Last year Sainsbury’s sold its first range of Valentine’s Day cards aimed at same-sex couples, along with a very small range of independent and “quirky” gift shops selling same-sex Valentine’s gifts and cards.

I have always seen Fortnum & Mason as a store that is very much behind the times based on the fact that they continue to produce and sell foie gras, despite its barbaric and archaic production methods. Fortnum & Mason holds a royal warrant as a supplier of goods to the royal family, and has never showed any interest in changing their traditional custom despite criticism (and protests) for years. However, the brand has listened to its public in a different area of concern regarding the representation of gay and lesbian relationships, by creating a set of Valentine’s Day biscuits for gay, lesbian and straight couples:

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The Garden of Eden-style biscuits feature “Adam and Steve”, “Eve and Niamh” (pronounced “Neve”) and the traditional Biblical version, “Adam and Eve”. The “Adam and Steve” tin sold out almost immediately, and at £15 a tin with each biscuit delicately hand-iced I can certainly see why!

Fortnum’s has always been for everyone, with excellent taste, and we are delighted with the response to this collection. We can’t think of better biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea this Valentine’s Day.

This product launch could be in reference to the common phrase many Bible bashers use: “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” – something I was once told by a classmate at art college, can you believe!!! The phrase has often been used by religious, homophobic politicians in parliament when arguing against equal marriage. It’s nice that Fortnum & Mason have created a product to celebrate love and turn that awful phrase on its head into something positive.

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Tinder: Invention of Together

Production company Buck have worked with Tinder to create this adorable animation for the dating app. It’s a far cry from what I would expect from Tinder, but the “history of man and woman” concept works really well. It seems Tinder are trying to move away from being seen as a hookup app, and more about finding someone with a connection:

In this epic history of man and womankind’s eternal struggle to couple… and do other things, the good folks at Tinder let us get our art on to create a luscious world where people have wonderbutts… and the same face.

Will this animation help the apps reputation? I’m not so sure… but from a creative perspective it’s a fantastic narrative with strong connotations towards the evolution of man and woman both physically and emotionally. ‘Invention of Together’ shows how thousands of years ago choosing who you wanted to date or love wasn’t an option – the narrative explores forced marriages, religious and moral differences – but now with the freedom to date who we want, Tinder aims to make this even easier to build new connections. We see a nod to the struggles of having homophobic parents and the celebration of the legalisation of interracial marriage.

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I recommend looking at Buck’s development section on their website to see the process of the wonderful character design. Buck used physical sets with computer generated characters, which required a month of shooting and eight weeks of postproduction. They really committed to the idea of evolution of man and woman by making each of the characters from the same body: “One of the concepts that we had was that all of mankind is from the same place and I guess to make the characters feel like they were all one family. So if you watch, the caveman [bodies] are the same as the modern-day characters’ [bodies]”:

The film will be rolled out online globally, following its debut in South Korea in December 2017. You can also see some awesome BTS shoots here.

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OkCupid: DTF

Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy (New York) were commissioned by dating service OkCupid to create a new campaign. Online dating has created a whole new set of vocabulary for millenials, like “ghosting” (ignoring someone), “nudes” (sending unsolicited naked photos), “catfish” (creating fake profiles) and “DTF” (“down to f*ck”). Using these common problems that online daters experience, the concept focuses on trying to rid the stigma of “hookup sites” and the dehumanisation of modern dating.

OkCupid’s CMO Melissa Hobley said:

In the current political and social climate, we felt a responsibility and saw an opportunity to play a part in changing the conversation about dating culture and empowering each individual to reclaim the meaning of DTF and make it theirs.

With this as the aim of the campaign, W+K used the phrase “DTF” and turned it into “down to <insert activity or interest here>”, such as “DTFight over the president”, “DTFinish my novel” and “DTFoot the bill”:

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OkCupid’s change in approach towards online dating aims to achieve substance and depth through the app’s new features, as it recently rolled out OkCupid Discovery, which lets users search by passions and interests. Interestingly, one of these is adding a “Trump filter”, which directly correlates with this campaign’s brand voice, particularly with the political references in some of the ads (above).

The photography for the campaign was shot by artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, the creators of Toilet Paper magazine. Cattelan and Ferrari have a unique and recognisable aesthetic, always creating work that is brightly coloured and resembles old-school fashion advertisements. I absolutely love what they have created.
The playful nature of the art direction focuses on the fun and romantic sides of dating, rather than the historically misogynistic and disposable aspects that “DTF” dating apps (like Tinder and Grindr) have adopted. Each colourful ad is illustrated with an image against a flat, bright-hued background, making every image seem like a work of art.

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The ads will initially be rolled out in New York subways, and will eventually be displayed all over the USA. This is actually OkCupid’s first ever ad campaign which includes bus wraps, coffee sleeves, OOH posters and digital posts. The tagline “dating deserves better” is part of OkCupid’s efforts to market the service as one that can help you find a relationship, not just a hookup.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | Logic: 1-800-273-8255

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This creative mashup is a wonderful example of when music, film, advertising and a PSA come together to create a piece for such an important issue – suicide. The song was created in partnership with the federal government initiative and was named “1-800-273-8255” as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. The song was written and produced by American rapper Logic, alongside producers 6ix, and features guest vocals from singer-songwriters Alessia Cara and Khalid. The song was performed in August last year at the MTV Video Music Awards and received a well deserved nomination for Song of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. At the VMAs, Logic shared the stage with suicide attempt survivors and consequently the line received 5,041 calls following the emotional performance.

The song and video takes us through a narrative of a young man’s life feeling suicidal, considering suicide and eventually coming out on top as an older adult. The context itself explores a lot of issues that people of all ages, races and backgrounds have to face. I think it’s a very clever choice that the directors chose when casting the actors for the video, as suicide amongst young men is an epidemic of the 21st century. Additionally, there is a cultural representation explored as the main character comes from a family that racially, typically has traditions and values not associated with talking about emotions, sexuality and depression in men.
Although the video narrates serious themes, including racism, politics and Logic’s own biracial identity, ultimately, the song delivers a message of hope. I think this should be shown to young people in schools across the globe. It is incredible that someone in the music industry (who is nowhere near as popular as his other VMA performer counterparts) put so much time, effort and heart into a project. The results speak for themselves: on the day of the release, the lifeline received over 4,573 calls, and a 27% increase from the usual volume. Also, the NSPL website saw a monthly boost of 100,000 visits, from an average of 300,000 up to 400,000, in the two months after the song’s release. Google searches for the phone number doubled immediately after April, and they remain consistently 25% above the previous average today.

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Anomoly: Dear Satan

Amazing Christmas creatives don’t always come in the form of TV ads. Advertising agencies often create ‘holiday cards’ or animations to send to clients and post on social media. This year, ad agency Anomaly have created a hilarious 2D animation, with a holiday twist called Dear Satan:

The short film is narrated by the legendary Patrick Stewart, and was written, directed, animated and produced by Anomaly. The narrative focuses on what happens when you make a typo in an amusing tale about Satan’s frozen heart feeling compassion for the first time. I won’t ruin the rest of the film!

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Christmas Adverts 2017: Who is my number 1?

Well well well, this year is almost over and what better way for any creative to finish the year then to look forward to the competitive Christmas ads. Unfortunately though, this year I was thoroughly disappointed! John Lewis? Meh; Aldi, cute but the same as last year; Very, cute I guess; Debenhams, errr I didn’t get the hype; Very… cute I guess.

I had big expectations for John Lewis this year – I absolutely adored last year’s trampoline ad, but this year’s monster ad felt like a washed down version of the same vibe. I don’t know, it just didn’t do it for me. There wasn’t the same creative spark and humour.

There’s one ad that stands out from the rest by far, and that’s ASDA! Ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi created a Willy Wonka cross Wes Anderson style advert for ASDA called “Best Christmas Ever”. The ad depicts a magical tour around The Imaginarium where all of ASDA’s Christmas treats are created:

Sara Rose, CD at Saatchi & Saatchi (London) said:

Although the campaign has a fantastical element to it, our stories are firmly rooted in what Asda has to offer shoppers this Christmas, from old favourites to inventive new treats like gin infused chocolates and massive Christmas puddings. Our first thought was ‘how do they come up with these things?’ And the campaign just grew from there.
Earlier in the year we held sessions with our customers to get feedback on our Christmas range. As we talked to them about Christmas we could see how much joy and happiness planning their Christmas brought them—we knew we wanted to reflect that in our ad.

ASDA has gone full force on this campaign with the use of social by creating a Snapchat filter that turns users into the ad’s moustached weightlifters. Also, 2-second content and carousel ads feature on Facebook, and the use of Trueview videos for the first time. Trueview will connect audience search terms to relevant video content online via YouTube and Facebook.
The 60 second TV ad will be supported by 30 segments (focusing on gifting, home decorations, parties and gatherings, and “the big shop”) as well as :10s and :06 bumpers on YouTube. AND all of that will be joined by cinema, radio, print, digital OOH. And breathe.

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Chris Hughes for Mental Health Awareness: Top man | CALM

Yesterday, Love Island’s Chris Hughes released a bizarre video campaign for a collaboration with Topman called “L’eau de Chris”. The video posted on Instagram received a lot of criticism, labelling Chris a joke and a narcissist for selling the drink for £2. The post saw the 24-year-old star posing in his underwear with “Mineral water infused with a Chris Hughes tears”.

 

As an avid Love Island viewer (no shame here) I assumed that the ad was a parody and a p*ss-take – Chris is known for his dead-pan humour and providing many giggles to millions of viewers this summer. To my surprise the campaign was in fact real, but not for a self-absorbed product to build his brand. Chris has teamed up with mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to raise awareness about male mental health and the male suicide epidemic.

CALM launched the #Don’tBottleItUp campaign to urge men not to internalise their emotions after it was found in a poll for YouGov that 84% of UK men say they bottle up their emotions. Chris collaborated with world famous photographer RANKIN for this project.

L’eau de Chris? What’s really ludicrous is that suicide is still the single biggest killer of young men in the UK. We live in a culture that encourages men to “man up” and bottle things up. That’s why I’ve become an Ambassador for CALM and why together with TOPMAN we want to show men across the UK that it’s okay to open up instead of bottling it up.

Hughes is now proudly an ambassador for CALM, and broke down in tears at an event yesterday whilst explaining his own struggles with mental health. Whilst on Love Island, Chris was praised for being very open with his feelings, something which men and boys struggle with immensely. Whoever chose Chris as ambassador certainly hit the nail on the head when it comes to targeting young people, as his name is everywhere in the world of gossip and celebrity since stealing our hearts on ITV2.
The limited edition promotional run of L’Eau de Chris water bottles (yes they are real) created for Chris’s campaign launch will now be auctioned here, with all proceeds going to support the charity. Also, Topman will donate £2 from every pack of Topman boxers sold from 10th – 31st October to CALM, in support of the #DontBottleItUp campaign.

 

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Period Equity: Periods Are Not a Luxury

Just like here in the UK, 36 states in the US still collect sales tax on tampons and sanitary towels. In June 2017, the federal Senate in Australia voted down a motion by the greens to remove the GST from all female sanitary products, a tax which does not apply to condoms or lubricant. Absurd right?! So, ad agency J.Walter Thompson and The Sweet Shop created an absurd product to go with this tax law, along with a tongue-in-cheek campaign for Period Equity.
Along with the help of actress/model Amber Rose’s sultry voice, they point out that 36 US states have failed to classify menstrual products as a necessity, therefore taxing them as a luxury… just like a diamond necklace! The campaign actually launched at Amber Rose’s OPENed Women’s Conference and annual SlutWalk on September 30th in LA.

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This isn’t the first time I have blogged about Period Equity – the redesign by Pentagram’s Paula Scher caught my eye earlier this year.
Most people are not aware that the tax targets half of the US population, and I definitely think this issue should be raised (again) in the Houses of Parliament here too. What a fantastic campaign.

Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, co-founder of Period Equity said:

We were thrilled to collaborate on this project with JWT and Amber Rose. There’s a long road ahead in the fight for safe and accessible menstrual products for all, as well as instigating open, shame-free conversation around periods. This campaign, coupled with Amber’s unflinchingly strong voice on gender issues, is a smart approach to drumming up much needed discourse around menstrual equity, and calling for systemic change as well.

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