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Me the Musical

Despite generating $54 billion in revenue and having over 100,000 employees, multinational computing company Intel likes to get very personal with its online ad campaigns. Last year, they invited Facebook fans to create a museum of themselves based on Facebook photos, friends and related online statistics. This year, at the click of a button they will transform your Facebook profile into ‘Me the Musical’, using information such as your birthday, your tagged photos and your recent comments to create a personalised video timeline of your life.
These two projects show how much both Intel and digital media in general have evolved in the past year. Intel claims the new “global social film project” is designed to show that computing is “entering a new era”. I suspect it’s more accurately designed to access my personal details and try to sell me a new laptop/mobile phone. Nonetheless, I was curious, so I granted the Intel app free rein of my profile and watched my life unfold before me.
First I was born (a good start), then some jelly-like figures danced to MC Hammer (it was the 90s), walked across a “ GravesendGrammar School for Girls” yearbook for a while and finally I was pictured, in 2012, with my nearest and dearest (or, more accurately, a random selection of people from my friends list). It’s predictable, and hardly moves any advertising mountains, but still pretty fun.

Five Things I Love about Gallop

There are dozens of refreshing things about Multiple Sclerosis charity shift.msand their newest ad campaign, Gallop – but here’s five to get you started. 
Five things I love about Gallop
1. It’s a short film
      At Macmillan we’re no strangers to the lasting effects of a raw, honest film. If professional (or deliberately not so), punchy and seamlessly edited, video ad campaigns can make a huge mark on their viewers – and Gallop does exactly that.  
      2. It’s clever
      Some of the camera edits and tricks of the eye are stunning. Everything from the camera angles and the everyday setting to the spots of sunlight on the lens were planned to perfection. Sound has been used cleverly, too, shifting the mood of each scene from comfortable to uncomfortable and back again. Shift.ms haven’t just tried to make a film about MS, they’ve also tried to make a good film, awareness-raising aside.
      3. It’s not all about MS
      Gallop documents a young couple’s blossoming relationship. That’s the focus. You’re pulled in long before you realise that one of them has Multiple Sclerosis. This is really important, because it’s not all about the disease. People are just as worried about how an illness will affect their life and their relationships as they are about treatments, symptoms and side effects.
      4. It’s not predictable 
      MS affects twice as many women as it does men, yet in this film the man is diagnosed. This allowed Shift.ms to make away with stereotypical depictions of a woman being unwell and a man looking after her. Of course, in millions of families and partnerships this is the case, but in millions of others it’s not. Often the woman takes on the role of carer, or a brother and sister, or indeed a child or young adult in the family. It’s clear that director Michael Pearce worked hard to create a film that’s far from predictable and contrived, but still resonates with everyone.  
      5. It’s not the end of the road
      At Macmillan we say: ‘Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. But you don’t have to go through it alone’. The final word on our marketing is one of support, just as the closing scene of Gallop shows that a life-changing diagnosis will never be reason for your loved ones to turn away. 
Watch the film here

President of the Beard Owner’s Society

Have you ever wondered what the Tooth Fairy’s business card would look like? How about Christopher Columbus?
Every month printing company Moo.com invite their Twitter, blog and Facebook followers to not only imagine the business cards of these famous names but design and create them, too. King of the Gods Zeus was a recent chosen subject and Manchester-based graphic designer and typographer Mike Molloy took the first prize.  
What a great way to raise the profile of both designers and Moo.com (you can see plenty more of Mike’s fantastic work on his Flickr account), and what a great way to get the creative juices flowing on a Monday morning.
It’s always useful to see what other people are doing to combine brilliant design with copy that really packs a punch.

Warning: do not read before lunch

In view of the good weather we should be experiencing, butter brand Lurpak is launching a new summer ad campaign on their Facebook page. As part of it, they’re giving away some snazzy aprons (adorned with great typography – have a look at them here), which give you all sorts of tips and tricks for cooking delicious seasonal foods.

When it comes to Lurpak, what particularly catches my eye is the brand’s use of colour. When this advert graced my television screen it was one of the only ones that I didn’t mind watching; in fact, I almost couldn’t turn away. Lurpak’s Facebook and Twitter pages make similarly effective use of colour, each featuring a rainbow of cleverly ordered food that makes you want to run headlong towards the nearest fruit and veg market.   
Actually, I quite like their Kitchen Odyssey adverts too. Oh gosh, I’ve never actually thought about it until now. This is why there’s Lurpak in my fridge – I’ve been a sucker for their ad campaigns since day one.

Colour is something hugely important to advertising and hugely important to Macmillan. As it says on our website, ‘when people think “green”, we want them to think “Macmillan” – or vice versa, it doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s green.’  Green has a strong correspondence with safety and signifies stability, endurance and relaxation. It’s also the easiest colour for the eye to read, making us the easiest place to go if you have questions about cancer.

If the summer never comes, perhaps I’ll send off for my Lurpak apron, and bake some cakes for floor 14. That’ll definitely brighten things up a bit.   

50 Shades of…

You would have to have been living somewhere dark, cold and cave-like not to notice that the literary world has been frantic with the release of E L James’ debut novel 50 Shades of Grey, some 500 pages of erotica with little redeeming merit (critics have commented that Twilight “looks like Shakespeare by comparison”). As a budding writer and, hopefully, future author myself, 50 Shades of Grey and its massive success presents me with a moral dilemma. Should I admire her or resent her for turning shameless fan fiction into a seven-figure contract with Vintage Books?

Whether we like it or not, the 50 Shades trilogy (yes, she’s written more) is certainly an example of faultless marketing. James originally self-published her work as an e-book before sales skyrocketed and she was taken up by publishers. Her use of social media was extensive. Not only is she making an incomprehensible amount, but many other companies are also experiencing a boom in business, such as hotels and restaurants featured in the book. This also includes Ruta Sepetys, author of the young adult novel Between Shades of Gray which, a little more admirably, documents the life of a Lithuanian teenager in one of Stalin’s work camps (though I suppose this particular success is bittersweet).

Openforum.com has published an article stating that we can all learn 6 valuable business lessons from 50 Shades of Grey. Most of them are heartbreaking. Stealing other people’s ideas is absolutely fine, apparently, and your book doesn’t need to be perfect before you publish it and make millions (which is at least reassuring).

Much as making millions would be lovely, the writer and perfectionist deep inside me doth still protest. Maybe we should leave the erotica to James and stick with creating good quality copy and images for causes such as Macmillan. In other news, while 50 Shades of Grey flies from the shelves, publishing house GraphicDesign& has invited 70 designers to re-interpret the first page of Dickens’ Great Expectations. Now that’s more like it. 

It’s How You Conquer It

As a lover of fancy fonts and such like, I was captivated by the paper brand Conqueror’s recent Typography Games Competition (and slightly miffed I hadn’t seen it early enough to enter). Inspired by the fast-approaching 2012 London Olympic Games, participants were invited to create their own typographic poster containing the phrase ‘It’s not what you win, but how you conquer it’. The so-called gold medalist would get the chance to travel to London and see an Olympic event for themselves.


Of course, lots of entries incorporated fairly predictable imagery – medals, athletes, and London landmarks (mainly Big Ben) – but others were far more innovative, using (to name but two) vintage Olympic photographs and a very different London Underground map. The winning entry, pictured, was created by South African participant Graeme Gauld and features twenty-two cute little guards in their bear-skinned hats performing various Olympic activities.

All medal-winning entries are well worth a look, showcasing the immense power of words and graphics when they work together seamlessly.

A Pinteresting idea

The Queen’s Jubilee is so close that you can smell it. As a result, we get a stonking long weekend, but we also get the pleasure of seeing lots of brands trying to capitalise on the most tenuous of royal tie-ins.

However, one brand that’s bucked this trend and done a cracking job of coming up with an innovative Jubilee-based social media campaign is Harrods. They ran a competition on Pinterest for people to design a Jubilee display for one of the store’s world-famous windows. Entrants created Pinterest moodboards with images that they felt represented the right royal celebration, then submitted them via Twitter, using the hashtag #HarrodsWindows. Fans of the Harrods Facebook page then voted for the winner. It created a real buzz on all three social platforms.

Not only was a great way of involving their customers in their brand and trusting them to pick the best entry, but it was also a really creative use of Pinterest – a social platform that, so far, very few brands have known what to do with.

And the winning window? Well, it looks fit for a queen.

Raise your game

Help beat cancer while you play video games is the idea behind Cancer Research UK and the Citizen Science Alliance’s new endeavor.

Launching last week, The Science Museum played host to ‘creative collaboration’ organisers, Good For Nothing’s project, Open Labs. Calling on developers, designers, all-rounders and citizen scientists, the venture asks attendees to pull together their skills, producing a digital game which will help those affected by cancer. Fostering an every-man community, the project cleverly taps into volunteering, allowing people to donate to a cause by doing what they enjoy and specialise in.
With the hope that this game will appeal to  hundreds of thousands of people, they’re looking for it to be as addictive as possible; giving the gamer and cause, maximum results.

Hoping to unlock cancer information data that will lead to breakthroughs and results, we’re looking forward to its arrival. You’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

A new chapter for the natural world?

On 20 June, global leaders will come together to discuss the state of the planet in the United Nations earth Summit in Rio. In the run up to the event, WWF have launched Earth Book 2012, an ambitious digital campaign which aims to stand up for the planet and makes nature-lovers’ voices heard.

Earth Book is essentially one big, collaborative online story book encouraging people to share their experiences of the natural world. The charity hopes that contributors will fill the book with stories of the things we all take for granted in the natural world, the things we cherish and the things we desperately want to protect for generations to come. Up until 20 June you can write in it, draw in it or upload your fave wildlife snaps in it and celebrate everything from biodiversity to baboons and even Bill Oddie (the legendary twitcher has a blog on there).

While it’s a much more time-consuming for supporters to get involved than, say, tweeting something or ‘liking’ something on Facebook, it’s a really fantastic way to make them truly engaged and valued. It’s also beautifully designed and easy to navigate, so why not take a look?

Stop and listen

We love this campaign for the Agency for Health and Social Services. It’s a very clever way to teach people what a heart in distress actually sounds like – allowing them to plug their headphones in and listen while they wait for the bus.
The ad transforms people’s headphones into a stethoscope and allows them to listen to the story of Kevin, who has an irregular heartbeat. It finishes by asking people to make a difference and choose a career in health and social services.
Getting people to interact when they have time to kill can really boost engagement, even with the relatively ‘dry’ topic of health and social services. In a way you have a captive audience who you can talk to.
Check out the video below:

PLUG ALERT. Remember you can now follow the creative team on Twitter. Just click here.

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