• Trust matters to marketers. And that means Trump matters too.

    The easy option for marketers is to avoid politics. Brands never want to get too involved in the political sphere, because you can be certain that if you please one group of customers, you’ll alienate another. Best to keep schtum. Donald J Trump, I would argue, is different. He’s an earthquake that just can’t be ignored. Notice ...
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  • Copywriting training: five ways in which large businesses benefit

    Larger businesses often have the most sophisticated of marketing operations and they can also call upon the support of countless agencies to assist them in their communications. At first glance, you’d think they’d be the companies least likely to need training in copywriting craft skills. In my experience though, the more expansive the business, the ...
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  • Advertising in 2015: the view from Asia

    One of the key themes in advertising over the past couple of decades has been the rapid shift away from the dominance of traditional centres, such as London and New York. The Asian market place is not only hugely significant in terms of its spend, but increasingly as a hub for exciting creative work. 108th Street ...
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  • Reflections on the advertising mirror

    The recent news that Tiffany has featured a same-sex couple in its advertising for the first time demonstrates an important truth about the industry. Creatively, ads hold a mirror up to the society around them. Sometimes, of course, that mirror is distorted – a little like the ones found in those travelling fairs of yore. ...
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  • Ad creatives find themselves in deep water

    How hard can you make it to shoot a commercial? Well, how about filming a club environment five metres underwater? That’s exactly what Brazil’s F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi did for their client Skol to promote the new Beats Senses beer. Impressive stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIM3fcgrg9Y Making a splash: a brave idea for beer brand Skol
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  • Rodney Fitch

    Sad to hear of the death of Rodney Fitch, founder of the eponymous agency and a truly influential figure in British design. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for a magazine article last year and found him to be one of those rare people who is able to express frank and forthright opinions in a ...
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  • Copywriting: inspiration or perspiration?

    Is it really possible to teach people to write better advertising and marketing copy? It’s perhaps easy to think of copywriting as an inherent or innate skill. Some people have a natural flair with words and others don’t. While there’s a clear element of truth in this (and people who work as writers would certainly love ...
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  • The whiskey talking

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt924kp8a5A#t=35 A great campaign from the iconic Jack Daniel’s brand. Well worth checking out the website.
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  • The copywriter as chameleon

    I’m often asked for advice by aspiring copywriters who come along to training courses. Some are young and perhaps starting out with agencies. Others are a little older and thinking about a career change. Freelance copywriting is often a good option if you have family commitments, for instance, as it’s something you can do from ...
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  • Behind the scenes of long-running Irish soap

    I was delighted to travel to the Republic of Ireland recently to work with representatives of TG4 – a channel which provides a wide range of programming for Gaelic speakers. The trip also involved a visit to the set of soap opera Ros na Rún, which is celebrating its 18th year on the small screen.
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  • LEGO and the building blocks of digital transformation

    There’s no doubt that LEGO is flavour of the month among marketers, following the launch of their movie and the innovative ad break to promote it. That’s probably why Conny Kalcher was so much in demand at the Brand Republic broadcast on Digital Transformation held on 27th February. The toy brand’s Vice President for Marketing ...
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  • Perfect delivery

    Save the Children’s latest ad showing the birth of a real child in Liberia does what any commercial should. It grips you from the start and leaves you remembering a simple, straightforward message: in this case, that a million kids die every year around the world on the day that they’re born. Yes, we feel slightly ...
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  • Groupe INSEEC

    For the past few years, I’ve been working with the French business school INSEEC – lecturing in brand advertising, British advertising and creative teamwork. Here’s a short video we put together recently.
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  • The advertising time machine

    I’ve recently been pondering two competing trends that come out of the digital revolution. The first is the pressure on marketers and advertisers to create realtime content. Rather than having an approvals process which lasts weeks or months for new digital marketing communications, advertising campaigns and printed brochures, we’ve increasingly been sucked into a world in ...
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  • Does Bitcoin add up for brands?

    Interesting article here in Marketing magazine about so-called ‘cryptocurrencies’ and their implications for brands. Bitcoin is the most celebrated example of a phenomenon which transcends our expectations about what a currency actually is. Uncontrolled by any government, it raises the kind of issues that could keep economists, sociologists and business school professors occupied for years. But what ...
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  • Clever guys and their dolls

    Mother London should be commended on their provocative Christmas campaign to raise awareness of homophobia in Russia. The much-admired agency has produced a set of Russian dolls in the form of gay icons such as Elton John and George Michael. Not only are they selling them for charity, but they’re cheekily sending them to the Kremlin ...
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  • A chance to cover the essentials of copywriting

    I frequently run courses in copywriting for the Chartered Institute of Marketing and we always get a fascinating mix of people from different backgrounds and organisations coming along. Here’s the view of a delegate who attended a workshop in Manchester recently. We also run sessions in Birmingham, Edinburgh and – most frequently – London. Visit http://www.cim.co.uk/training/CourseDetails.aspx?course=1201 ...
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  • What a feline: cats get an aerobic workout to remember

    http://youtu.be/rL82YimQVFI Just caught up with this work by DDB Chicago for Temptations. Loving the 80s vibe and inventive cat exercises. A great example of how a very ordinary proposition can come to life with a lateral side step.
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  • Come on you Hotspurs! NYC’s The Brooklyn Brothers find an ingenious way to promote UK premier league soccer to American audiences on behalf of NBC

    http://youtu.be/6KeG_i8CWE8 Come on you Hotspurs! NYC’s The Brooklyn Brothers find an ingenious way to promote UK premier league soccer to American audiences on behalf of NBC.
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  • Time to prepare for the mass market of one

    No one wants to get left behind in the world of digital marketing. But it’s probably best not to get too far ahead either. One contributor from the floor of CIM’s Digital Summit in London today recounted how his agency had stopped talking about old-fashioned things like websites and opted instead for the vogue term of ...
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  • The superhuman face of the Paralympics

    Having done work in the past with promo producers at Channel 4 and MTV, I appreciate how hard it can be for creatives to break out of a narrow genre. That’s why the recognition at Cannes for 4Creative’s ‘Meet the Superhumans’ trailer for the London 2012 Paralympics is so well deserved. The work has a ...
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  • Now this is what I call going to town…

    Flying high: what you can do with a brochure when money’s no object.
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  • CIM/Bloomberg 2013 Digital Summit

    With trends in digital and social media continuing to move at a spectacular pace, it’s important to keep up to date with the latest insights and developments. The UK’s Chartered Institute of Marketing is holding a summit in London on 28th June, in which experts from businesses as diverse as Google, LinkedIn, EE and Deloitte ...
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  • Have yourself a schmaltzy little adfest

    Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman posed a very good question last week. When exactly did Christmas ads become such a big deal in the UK? She was referring specifically to the much-awaited and over-hyped commercial for retailer John Lewis from adam&eveddb (“so soppy eyed it makes the Werther’s Originals advert look like a gritty Ken Loach ...
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  • Can ads really reinvent brands? Or just reinforce them?

    Two ad campaigns have been troubling me lately. The first is the one created by Karmarama for the British high-street chain Costa Coffee and features a bunch of disembodied heads singing in a sea of coffee beans. I think it would be fair to describe the commercial as enjoyable, knockabout, surreal and quite entertaining. In ...
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  • Footage of a seminar at Unilever’s London HQ about the engagement of employees and prospective employees through social media. My own contribution starts at about 56:00, although there were plenty of other interesting speakers if it’s a subject that’s important to you.
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  • I’ll be speaking at a seminar at Unilever’s London headquarters on the afternoon of Tuesday 25th September. The theme is how to engage employees – and prospective employees – via social media. It’s a topic which is obviously particularly relevant to those working in HR and internal communication, but there are wider implications for marketers ...
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  • A store of ideas in East London

    Communications agencies are known for their unusual and inspirational working environments, but Canoe Inc – a London-based PR business – has gone a stage further than most. Just around the back of Brick Lane, they’ve converted their offices into a store, showcasing many of the fashion and sporting brands they work with. My students from ...
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  • The meaning behind the message

    Advertising and branding are, at one level, fairly obviously about getting people to part with money. At the same time, however, they play an important part in wider culture – reflecting the values, myths and ideals of different societies and often helping to shape them. If businesses can understand the symbolism of communication ...
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  • When TV advertises itself

    Creative inspiration: Emanuela Denti helps to drive Viacom’s European trailer output for MTV and other brands On a couple of occasions over recent years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Viacom team in Milan which creates promos for world-famous brands such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. As part of a new series of ...
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  • Short plays the long game

    Harvest time: Indium Corporation’s Rick Short has been ahead of the curve with B2B social media and is reaping the rewards. Running training courses with marketers on a regular basis, one of the most frustrating misconceptions I encounter is the idea that social media doesn’t have much application in the B2B environment. Blogging, tweeting and Facebooking ...
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  • Are brand manuals toast?

    Fit for a Queen: Allied Bakeries rename their Kingsmill brand in honour of Elizabeth II Many marketers in recent decades have found themselves employed as ‘brand guardians’ – responsible for policing the dangerous felony of inconsistency. Armed with bibles that feature big red crosses through badly stretched logos, they watch out for any errant employee ...
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  • A creative campaign which really delivers

    I’ve seen some other nice promotions for the TV show Alcatraz – including the creation of dummy cells in a pop-up prison in London – but this elaborate exercise by Leo Burnett in Spain is particularly inspiring. The attention to detail with the art direction is very nice, right down the trays on which the ...
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  • No grizzling about this bear: ingenious creative for Tipp Ex from Buzzman The creative in this campaign is truly breathtaking. It’s hard to know where to start in terms of the number of boxes it ticks. First of all, there’s the sheer breadth of ambition. So many different videos set in so many different timezones. Second, we ...
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  • Advertisers follow the money. But at what cost?

    I’ve lectured a fair bit on the growth of the advertising markets in the so-called BRIC economies. One thing I’m always keen to impress on students is that there are potential brakes on development in the emerging giants, despite the massive investment major advertising groups have made in recent years. Some of the obstacles are ...
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  • How to take the plunge with social media One of the advantages of running workshops in marketing communications is that I get to meet a very wide range of interesting people from a diverse range of sectors. There’s no doubt that the sessions are always a learning curve for me, as well as for the people ...
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  • The death of the QR code Who needs QR codes when augmented reality is advancing like this?
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  • With friends like this… Businesses are usually delighted when we endorse their products and only too happy if we provide them with free publicity via our social networks. It seems somewhat strange, therefore, that French fashion brand Lacoste and the iconic American brand Abercrombie & Fitch have both recently been in the news for trying to ...
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  • Lovely ambient ad for BlackBerry PlayBook captured in Manchester, UK, last month.
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  • Tweet, watch TV and play your Xbox. While you read this blog. The future of advertising in a morning. It’s a big ask, but I guess time is money for a lot of the leading executives who attended the seminar organised by the Westminster Media Forum on 31st May 2011 in London. We had a good ...
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  • Watch out for commentary on 108th Street from the Westminster Media Forum’s seminar on The Future of Advertising. I’ll be attending the meeting next week in central London, which will bring together speakers and commentators from leading brands and agencies with key policy makers.
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  • Great piece of ambient advertising for a company which doesn’t allow its chicken to arrive on people’s doorsteps cold. Simple, visually striking and effective. McCann Erickson, New Delhi.
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  • Props to the old skool guerrillas I’m looking forward to giving a couple of evening lectures this week at Chelsea College of Art & Design to students from University of the Arts London and French advertising school Sup de Pub. The topic is guerrilla and ambient advertising and I’ll be making the point that we’re actually ...
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  • Chinese trainers sold to a suspicious American market. Nice creative work and an interesting commentary on the shifting balance of power between the US and a nascent superpower.
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  • Interesting approach to financial services marketing from British high street retailer, M&S. The overtly feminised creative is designed to demystify insurance, credit and investment products for the typical shopper. But when does cleverly targeted and imaginative communication become patronising?
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  • Interesting ideas from Dentsu and design gurus, Berg.
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  • How would the French save Gordon Brown? I’m a great believer in giving my students some difficult tasks. It helps to separate the men from the boys or, very often, the women from the girls. Or, in this particular instance, les dames from les filles, as the class in question came from Sup de Pub – ...
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  • Very much liking the current LG campaign in the US which is built around those text messages we ought to think twice before sending. I was discussing it this week in London with students from Maryland’s Towson University and making the point that it’s beautifully integrated across a number of different media. Traditional TV commercials ...
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  • A great deal has been written about the way in which charities, campaigns and political movements have borrowed the techniques of commercial marketers and advertisers. Very often, however, the marketing profession would do well to look at the ideas that evolve spontaneously as part of political protests. Many are simple, but ingenious. Mass movements – particularly ...
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  • In the past, we’d distinguish between traditional forms of advertising aimed at mass audiences and direct marketing techniques which targeted groups or individuals directly. One of the interesting things about the brave new world of Web 2.0 is that these distinctions are becoming blurred. It’s no longer TV campaigns, billboards and press advertising versus direct ...
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  • A number of my clients and delegates on training courses often wonder whether Twitter can truly be used as an effective marketing platform. Too often, we think of it as a vehicle for conveying a message, whereas actually it’s an instantaneous method of anyone conveying a message on our behalf. US space agency NASA recently invited ...
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  • A fine example of German-style ‘buzz’ marketing. I wonder what viral messages these flies could carry in the future?
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  • Everything’s 4-star, except the hotel… Earlier this year, budget hotel chain Premier Inn claimed in its UK newspaper advertisements that it offered “everything you’d expect from a 4* hotel”. Having worked in the ad industry, I know there’s inevitably a certain amount of poetic licence in the promotion of products and services. Sometimes, however, boundaries get ...
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  • Driving Fatigue advert from Driving Fatigue on Vimeo. This film has been put together by two recent graduates of Kingston University. Works very well, I think, at a conceptual level. Also has high production values for a portfolio piece. Hope these guys get some agency work.
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  • Can we turn back the tide of greenwash? Advertisers have long been accused of brainwashing the public. Over fifty years ago, when Vance Packard published his famous book The Hidden Persuaders, people were already worried about the extent to which we’re manipulated by subliminal messages. Today, the worry is that we’re peddled a load of soft ...
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  • You don’t have to be mad to use Twitter, but it helps… On the courses I run for the Chartered Institute of Marketing and University of the Arts London, there’s inevitably more and more discussion of so-called ‘social’ media such as networking and microblogging sites. Twitter has grown hugely in recent months thanks to high-profile ...
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  • Although this is a blog about advertising creativity, the world of marketing communications has been moving at a phenomenal speed in the past few years. If you’re interested in exploring some of the newer forms of social and viral marketing, why not sign up for my new online forum?
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  • Follow me on Twitter… …where I’m posting a selection of corporate taglines and slogans from around the English-speaking world. Some well known, others less so. Every tweat’s a treat: http://twitter.com/Tagspotter
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  • On the ‘ead, son: a simple, but striking poster execution for ITV1. A belated mention for the ITV1 campaign which broke at Christmas, in advance of the new year FA Cup fixtures. The Cup, of course, is where the part-time, non-league Davids can take on the superannuated Goliaths of the Premiership. It’s “where all men ...
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  • Proof that TV commercials haven’t lost their sparkle. The 25th anniversary of Virgin Atlantic.
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  • Wake me in 100 years: the English National Ballet proves that the best ideas are often the simplest. The flier promoting their Sleeping Beauty tour comes in the form of a do-not-disturb sign. Click to enlarge.
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  • Trouble in the Balkans needn’t be painful Spreadbetting company Capital Spreads provides some evidence that the age of intelligent and witty copywriting isn’t necessarily over. In the company’s current campaign on the London Underground, they pose a series of questions to readers. “The Chinese wrap up mineral rights throughout West Africa,” reads one ad. ...
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  • Winging it with the creativeI’m not sure I can make head or tail of the current British Airways advertising campaign. One poster shows a street vendor rustling up some food on hot plates and runs with the headline “You can’t smell a city from a coach”. Quite why this is an argument in ...
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  • Sometimes it pays to keep your creative ideas under wraps I recently spent two days with a group of design students at a London university and set them a challenging brief. Could they come up with an advertising campaign that would reverse the fortunes of US Presidential candidate, John McCain? I asked them to set aside ...
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  • The credit crunch needn’t be a creative crunch Not a lot of blog activity this year, I’m afraid, due to pressure of work. Exactly how long the work will keep flowing though is something that’s quite difficult to predict. We’re clearly entering a significant period of recession and one of the first industries to feel the ...
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  • Why social advertising may not be good for your social lifeOne of my best friends at the age of about ten was a guy called Tom Hodgkinson. We lost touch sometime in our teens, but I kept track of his career from afar. Not only did Hodgkinson follow in his parents’ footsteps and ...
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  • Creative with real biteLove the posters announcing the new season of ITV1’s wacky, time-travelling dinosaur drama Primeval. We simply see a picture of a nasty looking critter with big teeth and a three-word headline that says it all: “Back for seconds.”
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  • The challenge of selling death and serious injuryHaving spent a good chunk of my career in the niche area of recruitment marketing and employee communication – and still often working for agencies in this market place – I read with interest the recent press commentary regarding David Gee’s report on British army recruitment for the ...
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  • When it all goes badly wrongSome campaigns will always be stronger than others, but I think we still ought to highlight the true pups. Two concepts currently running on the London Underground have particularly caught my eye.The first is for a product that fights fungal toe infections, called Curanail. In a wordplay car crash, the ...
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  • A lovely piece of creative for The History Channel, executed here in a platform poster on the London Underground. It’s promoting a new show called “Just Another Day”, in which presenter Adam Hart-Davis investigates the history of everyday objects. The copy – which parodies a long-running Gillette campaign – is as sharp ...
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  • Smashing read: Sam Delaney captures the spirit of London’s adworld in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Back to the 70s for Life on Mars If you’d arrived from another planet and were hovering above London’s Soho sometime during the mid 1970s, you might have been surprised to see a group of young, drunken and immensely ...
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  • Word up Who’s the daddy? The copywriter or the art director? It’s a battle familiar to anyone who’s worked in an agency environment. Designers are notoriously frustrated by the inability of their writing partners to contain their purple prose and horrified when 50 words of lorem ipsum in a dummy press ad become 150 a week ...
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  • If your brand were a person, what would the upshot be?Later this week, I’ll be hosting a workshop for the Chartered Institute of Marketing in London on the ways in which marketing communication is changing. It’s a chance to give professionals in the field an overview of new media and techniques. Everything, in fact, from ...
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  • Manx marketing: Phil Woodford speaks at a meeting in Douglas, Isle of Man last month. The theme was the promotion of the island to investors.How Sir Geoff Hurst scores for Germany in the world of location brandingDavid Ogilvy once observed that “people don’t go half way round the world to see things they can equally ...
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  • Don’t panic! Don’t panic! Unless you’re a creative who’s run out of steam…
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  • Leesten vay carefully, I shall say zees only wurnce: your World War II gags are becoming tired.
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  • They do mention the war. And I don’t think they get away with it.The latest campaign from brewer Shepherd Neame for Spitfire Beer continues the well-worked Second World War theme. There is, however, now a topical twist. A relatively low-key sporting competition – which I believe the Americans describe as “The Soccer World Cup” – ...
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  • More power to you: 4-wd dm letta from BT is lolThe first sentence in a sales letter is important. Especially when it’s the only one.I’m launching a brand new course tomorrow at the London College of Communication that focuses on the mysterious world of direct mail. I cut my copywriting teeth creating direct-response ads and ...
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  • Why Bodyform’s advertising strategy isn’t working. I obviously wasn’t the only person to notice this poster opposite Kingston train station in the suburbs of London. It’s a bizarre execution for Bodyform, which parodies a Conservative Party election poster from 1979. Think about it for a moment. The 2006 ad is pretty lame if you don’t ...
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  • The hired gun can’t fire blanksOnce in a while, I’m going to use these pages for a little reflection on the whole process of creativity. Perhaps it’s a little self-indulgent, but the more that I teach copywriting and creative writing, the more I find myself pondering some of the fundamentals. My recent move into self-employment ...
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  • Breaking the language barrier: Alex Woodruff and Vanessa Cisz in englishtalk’s Stuttgart offices.Interesting discussions in the land of wild boar What separates true entrepreneurs from the wannabes? I suspect it’s an uncanny ability to spot an opportunity or niche in the market and act quickly to fill it. That’s exactly what marketing consultant Alex Woodruff ...
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  • Where’s the proposition? How cars, fries and bras have been defying conventionI was preparing a lecture recently on the theme of propaganda and advertising for the University of Westminster in London and it got me thinking about the way in which major corporations have become wary of traditional approaches to ad campaigns. I’ve ...
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  • Phil Woodford

    Phil WoodfordOriginally uploaded by sdwpw. Ideas for this site? E-mail me at 108th@philwoodford.com
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  • Trained by Jerry. Banned by train bosses. Advertising creatives usually love to shock. And there’s no better way to prove you’ve shocked people than to have one of your ads banned. That’s why I was a little surprised that one of the younger members of our agency creative team seemed to endorse the censorship of a ...
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  • Go MK? I’d rather go to L.Can cities become brands? It’s a question a colleague placed in my mind recently when she told me about the efforts of Milton Keynes to promote itself as a “thriving, cosmopolitan city”. For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure, Milton Keynes is a British ...
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  • Channel 4’s Nathan Barley Campaign: it’s well weapon If you’re a regular user of the London Underground, you will probably have seen the recent poster campaign for an unlikely mobile device called the Wasp T12. I was particularly intrigued by the headline. Apparently, the phone or gaming machine or whatever the hell is featured in the ...
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  • Suits you, Sir: the wonderful world of Mr Raja Daswani Hong Kong tailor, Raja Daswani, always makes for an interesting discussion point at my copywriting seminars. I treasure an advertisement I found a year or two ago, in which he announces a visit to the UK and reassures lady readers that the men in their lives ...
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  • Advertising creativity and the things that happen in supermarket aisles “What if…?” It’s the question that all good advertising creatives have to be able to answer. When confronted with a selling proposition for a product or service, they ask themselves what would happen if they took the idea to extremes. It’s in this zone that agency copywriters ...
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  • Corporate giant kicks ass Any good salesman knows that the trick to securing a purchase is the small talk. I’ve been out on the road with reps in my time and it’s the idle chit-chat with the customer that often makes all the difference. When the sales pitch isn’t obvious, we tend to be ...
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  • Look who’s stalking: cheeky Jaguar campaign uses anonymous letters According to the BBC last month, luxury car manufacturer Jaguar issued an apology for a direct mail campaign that provoked 37 complaints to the British Advertising Standards Authority. Anonymous letters – arriving in what appeared to be personal, stamped envelopes – contained suggestive messages and the ...
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  • Super Thursday looms. But how super are the ads? Although London’s forthcoming Mayoral election is no doubt a pushover for Ken Livingstone in political terms, the competition’s a little more intense when it comes to presentation. I recently received a booklet from the Greater London Returning Officer containing the manifestos of all the ten ...
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  • The Mystery of Carlos Soto: how the Dutch put Dalarö on the map At first it seemed like just another ordinary day on a small Scandinavian island. But something very strange was afoot. According to witnesses, no fewer than 32 residents of an otherwise normal Swedish town made their way to their nearest Volvo ...
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  • Next time you visit the seaside, make it Koksijde One of the hardest parts of writing a blog about advertising creativity is the fact that you have to take the rough with the smooth. Or, to put it another way, you can’t always define creative excellence unless you’re prepared to look at some examples of ...
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  • Time travel and TV sponsorship A number of news sources reported this week the decision of the Omnicom Group to employ Robert Riesenberg as Chief Executive of ‘Branded Entertainment’. In a nutshell, this business is all about media organisations and clients working with agencies to produce TV shows that promote a product or brand. ...
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  • Lone Ranger leads fight against junk mail Gerry Ranger has stacked up more direct mail than most people. According to the BBC, the pensioner from Gloucestershire, England collected over 700 mailshots in the course of a year in order to demonstrate the amount of resources that are wasted through this particular form of advertising. If I ...
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  • Here’s your change, sir. And a free advertising message… According to Newsstream, a highly innovative guerrilla campaign has been launched to promote the new American mini-series Traffic. The show, which is set to reach television screens at the end of January 2004, is concerned with the trafficking of drugs, guns and human beings. ...
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  • Why Bush is a bad man in 30 seconds or less An American online advocacy group has invited members of the public to create their own home-made, 30-second commercials that put the boot into President George W Bush. The MoveOn.org Voter Fund wants to air anti-Bush commercials in swing states during 2004 and has ...
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  • Tomfoolery in the Netherlands Should we feel sorry for Mr Johan de Boer? According to press reports in December 2003, the Dutch jeweller planned a highly innovative direct mail campaign, only to find that it had rather spectacularly backfired. The story goes something like this. To mark the tenth anniversary of his ...
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