Tag Archives: London

HSBC: Global Citizen | Together We Thrive

Richard Ayoade and loads of dogs? Yes please! This new advert for HSBC by ad agency J Walter Thompson (London) is what we all need in the lead up to Brexit. The narrative explores the thoughts of many liberal, pro-EU folk by naming international everyday brands, services and products that Brits use, from Colombian coffee; to French bulldogs; to Swedish flat-pack furniture; to Indian takeaways. This is exactly what I’ve thought about after reading depressing tweets from key-board warriors defending blatantly discriminatory, anti-culture-blending “British principals”. Despite our country taking full advantage of global innovation, many Brits still express an archaic distain for “people coming into our country” (the worst phrase of all) whilst simultaneously utilising ubiquitous imported products… Ayoade wonderfully highlights this irony:

We live on a wonderful lump of land in the middle of the sea. But we are not an island. We are part of something far, far bigger.

“Together We Thrive” is the bank’s newest tagline since “The World’s Local Bank” from 2011. The 60-second TV ad is set to the soundtrack of Edward Elgar’s Nimrod, and is accompanied by print, outdoor and digital ads (which also features Ayoade, one of my favourite British comedians) to promote the bank’s sponsorship of British Cycling, its £10bn Small Business Fund and its support of The Prince’s Trust.

Adverts for banks in the UK have rarely been praised amongst creatives, because they tend to follow little to no creativity or uniqueness. I think the only time I’ve ever blogged about a UK bank is the NatWest rebrand, and that was about design, not a creative TV ad. I think this is because advertising for banks tends to focus on a service (which is understandable) rather than venturing into alternative ways to market themselves and stand out from the crowd. When banks try to create ads that speak to “the people”, they can came across as incredibly disingenuous and cringey, like NatWest’s ‘We are what we do’. With this in mind, some people may believe that HSBC and JWT have taken advantage of a currently strained political climate where a lot of brands are jumping on the “social-change” bandwagon. However, I think JWT have tackled problems with division and racism within the UK in a really clever way – by using humour and fact, mixed with core principles from HSBC’s brand background:

We have been connecting the world through trade for 152 years. Our new ad campaign reflects our proud international heritage and our commitment to helping people, businesses and communities in the UK to thrive.

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Patrons of Pride: Mr President

Ad agency Mr President celebrated pride by creating illustrations to honor 4 iconic LGBT+ icons. Immortalised in the style of stained glass windows, Ellen DeGeneres, George Michael, Nicola Adams, and Laverne Cox were chosen as representatives of love, tolerance and inspiration.


The agency explained the reason behind the project:

Here at Mr. President we celebrate diversity in all its forms. We don’t care about your gender or sexuality, we think you’re awesome. … Together we talked, laughed, debated and swapped stories before creating our Patrons of Pride campaign honouring four incredible people from the LGBT communities (one from each) – Ellen DeGeneres; George Michael; Nicola Adams and Laverne Cox.


It’s nice to see a campaign that has no link to a brand/client or marketing campaign – sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between genuine support for the LGBT+ community or just a marketing ploy.
The illustrations were displayed on windows overlooking Soho Square for Pride in London on Saturday 8th July:


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#FreeTheFeed: Mother London

Ad Agency Mother created a Mother’s Day project for the UK’s holiday (Sunday 26th March), to make a statement against the judgement placed upon mothers who breast feed in public:

A celebration of every woman’s right to decide how and where they feed their children without feeling guilty or embarrassed about their parenting choices.

So, Mother created a giant inflatable breast and placed it on top of a building in Shoreditch on Sunday. The very detailed and very large breast boldly designed by the creative team aims to spark conversation about the attitudes towards the most natural form of feeding. Alongside the outdoor installation, Mother created a series of posters displaying the hashtag “#FreeTheFeed” and the reasons behind the project.


I’ve always found it bizarre how people are happy to drink milk from a cow, but heaven forbid another human! This is a fantastic in-your-face, no-f*cks-given approach to a campaign, showing that social design is what we need to ignite conversations about outdated stigmas.



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Grab Them By The P…Hateboards

Hateboards hired B-Reel Films to create a film for the skateboard company called ‘Women Against Trump‘, directed by The Rig Out.

London-based company Hateboards, launching this week, sells a series of skatedecks whose undersides are covered in an image of the faces of celebrities and politicians we all love to hate. The ‘Despicable Donald Trump‘ line has come out just in time for the US election! So when you skateboard, your celeb target get bashed and scuffed.

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Exterion & TFL: London is Open

Earlier on in the year the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, asked creatives to submit their ideas for the #LondonIsOpen campaign, which was commissioned by Art on the Underground to demonstrate that London is still open to people of all backgrounds despite the awful aftermath of the EU referendum.

The campaign ran across all 270 London Tube stations, including work from Gillian Wearing, Tania Bruguera and Mark Titchner, amongst many others. The posters appeared as both print and digital, with a running theme of inclusivity and diversity.

Sadiq Khan said:

This campaign is about what kind of city we want to live in – and I’m proud to be working with the mayor to get across the message that our capital is a place where everyone is welcome.



Now, Canary Wharf station has been given the largest ever Tube advertising screens (7.2m x 4m each). The artwork called “No them only us” was created by Mark Titchner for the #LondonIsOpen campaign, in collaboration with the station’s architects Foster & Partners, which greets tube users in the main ticket hall.

Whilst this campaign cost £1.1bn (that is ridiculous!) the message is really important at a time when xenophobic and racist attacks are on a rise after the EU referendum debate. I’m not sure how long the ads are running for, but I hope they stay up for a long time.


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Liberty Human Rights | Show Me Yours…

Ad agency Don’t Panic stages a scenario in an amusing video for Liberty Human Rights where a complete stranger who walks up to pedestrians on the street, asking to access to all the personal data on their phones.

The PSA is designed to raise awareness of the sweeping nature of Britain’s Investigatory Powers Bill. Derisively known as the Snoopers’ Charter, the controversial legislation would allow the government to intercept all manner of digital communications and information.

I love this kind of campaign – I’ve always had an interest in how people react differently when faced with circumstances/problems in real life. Sort of like face-to-face pranking to make people question themselves/their actions.

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Saatchi Gallery Visit

A few weeks ago when the weather was hot, I went shopping in Sloane Square and ended up in the Saatchi Gallery. I hadn’t been there in a while, and was far more impressed this time than I was on my previous visits. I took photographs of pieces that particularly interested me.



“The title of Gerald Davis’ triptych Fagboy 1986 announces its autobiographical basis right from the start. As a young adolescent, Davis dreamed of becoming an animator in the vein of Walt Disney, and his extended time alone, drawing, seemed weird to his brother and his friends, and the name stuck (“fag” being code for “outsider” in the slang of a 12- year old boy in 1986). Recounting the narrative from the perspective of the adult artist, Davis infuses the easily slighted sensitivities of early teenagerdom with the wry detachment of hindsight. The drawings’ washed-out palette of delicate pink evokes the muzzy glow of the Hollywood flashback, as well as the perceived oddness (and suggested effeminacy) of Davis’ obsession with drawing, both then and now.
Sprawled happily on the bedroom floor, the young Davis copies an image of a cartoon character as a threatening foot appears as the door; then, pinioned in the kitchen, the phrase FAG BOY is scrawled on his chest; and finally, we see pages of his sketchbook with drawings of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, along with a scrap of paper that reads “Animation is not faggitty!!”, followed by many hysterical exclamation marks. The narrative is one of martyr-like persecution, and there is a sly allusion to religious images of the suffering saint here – both in the triptych format and the image of Davis’ body receiving the humiliation, like St Sebastian. Yet Davis’ detachment is such that his suffering younger self is looked on from afar, distorted and exaggeratedly spindly, an alien who used your name, as our younger selves can sometimes seem.”



“Paul Westcombe’s work was, like so much great art, born of boredom. Working as a car park attendant on a twelve hour shift, Westcombe started drawing on whatever material came to hand – London Underground receipts, toilet plungers, mop handles – and, especially, the paper coffee cups he’d just drained in an attempt to stay awake.

These cups became the ideal surface for Westcombe’s wildly carnivalesque drawings of the sort of neurotic thoughts that plague the mind in solitary moments, their titles – Sex is Boring with Me, You’re Hardly Ever Here And When You’re Here You’re Bored – forming a self deprecating running commentary on the drawings’ own unbridled visions.”



“Ry Fyan’s dystopian architectural fantasies have all the complexity and meticulous visual invention of, as the artist puts it, “drawings on a notebook from childhood.” Improvisational in method, yet drawn from a number of remembered sources, Fyan’s drawings represent a bleak vision of American power. In The Metropolitan Meth Silo, a many-turreted castle, US flags flapping from its pinnacles, crouches on the horizon against a sickly sky. Small human figures scuttle in its shadow, but there’s no sense of the building being enterable; its grand arches seem bricked-up, a vision of authority at odds with the world around it. The drawing’s title makes some unnervingly jarring references to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the epidemic of methamphetamine abuse in America, the juxtaposition calling upon different structures of power in its feverish collision of signs.

The image’s original source, a 1903 photograph of a ‘Corn Palace’ in North Dakota – a huge temporary structure built annually of dried corn, made to celebrate agricultural abundance – gives the image its densely worked patterning and alarming swastika (actually a Native American symbol, but its resonances would be hard to miss). As in Fyan’s Hood Rich, the iconography of American power appears to have created its own enclosure – it’s both fortress and prison. A stack of Sudafed boxes (their contents the raw material for making meth) epitomize Fyan’s vision of the rotten heart of corporate America; the drawings’ dreamlike specificity and imaginative glee saves them from dogma.”


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“The tension between old hat associations of two traditional modes – the provisional glimpse against the measured analysis, let’s say – create the stage for Tharp’s cast of sometimes grotesque, often sympathetic characters. Each face’s appearance is pitched between the seen and the glimpsed. As though mimicking the act of forgetting, faces blur and disappear in a cloud of marks: the act of description erases them. Ink is sucked backwards into the blankness of the paper (what was his name again?); the medium’s wetness makes nostrils and eye sockets splay madly (no, I don’t think we’ve met).

Tharp, inspired by the technique of Japanese calligraphy, uses the application of ink as a parallel of the mind’s movements, its unexpected focuses and elisions. As with any portrait, Tharp’s works are signs pointing to a void: the subject itself, physically absent, disappearing before our very eyes.”



“Kleckner’s descriptive line – both realistic and excessively so, with a focus on textures of hair, fur and grass – gives the image its air of amplified realism, which tips over into the graphic arabesques of Art Nouveau. These are characters disappearing into pattern. In another, untitled work, a decomposing human face deems either vomiting or being invaded by a sea of swirling textures: leaf-like, lava-like. The matter of the world itself, with all its complex internal patterns, seems bent on dissolution and decay; nature is an unbridled thing, teeming with destructive beauty, as in the clambering insects dismembering the title animal in Untitled (Dead Bird).”


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“The detritus of urban life has long provided material solutions for artists; in Yuken Teruya’s work, the discarded becomes the site of poetic transformation. Shopping bags – in some ways the emblematic item of rampant consumerism, one-use receptacles quickly ditched – are placed within the gallery at a ninety-degree angle, their ends to the wall, becoming peepholes for one viewer at a time. Their dark interiors are speckled with light from holes cut into the bag’s paper surface; the shape of the hole is that of a full-grown tree, so the bag becomes both stage (with its own lighting) and source of imagery.”

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