Category Archives: Creative

Fight FOMO of YOLO with JFDI.

I just read a great article on the use of  grammar in marketing. I know, it sounds like a contradiction in terms. But Lisa Gerber made some great points about tone, flow and how it’s sometimes better to use fewer letters and say “less”. But this got me thinking. If grammar rules are ours for the breaking, does that mean it’s okay to use the serious slang of acronyms du jour?

There’s plenty to LOL about.

If you were chatting online in the mid-nineties, chances are you LOL’d a lot. It was the easy way to abbreviate an emotional response and show appreciation for the other persons’ wit. Of course, few people actually laughed out loud. And if they did they’d probably ROFL or LMAO. But twenty years later, LOL is in the lexicon – although most of us cringe when our Mum’s hit us with LOL in Facebook.

The corporate FOMO of yoof.

The tricky thing with any of this is authenticity. If Mums aren’t allowed to LOL, can a corporate? Obviously it’s all about brand voice, but there’s a fine line between connecting and trying too hard. “Uber Lolz at the Comedy Fest” is one thing. But “Fight FOMO with a great new way to save” is a very different story. And as corporates struggle to connect with the vagaries and fashions of kids, it’s easy to think we should ‘talk their language’. But that’s way more art than science – and often more miss than hit.

The secret to sales is YOLO.

Click here. Buy now. Why wouldn’t you? The underlying urgency of just about any sale is powered by the fact that you only live once. Never been to Africa? You haven’t lived. Still thinking about that astonishing new four-door? Get behind the wheel today. Turning every product into the silver bullet of self-actualisation is what we do as marketers. But surely there’s more to life than surrounding ourselves with new stuff?

The tedious reality is JFDI.

This is the acronym I like the least. Most of us do. But it’s also the most important. JFDI  is about getting things done. Don’t question, don’t procrastinate, just make it happen. In the old days they called it ‘work’. But in our fast-paced, get there tomorrow, FOMO world it so isn’t something you’d Tweet about.

So how do we turn grind into great? How do we make stuff fun? There’s no big secret. Simply turn “just” into “happily” and HFDI instead. Mary Poppins did it with a spoonful of sugar. Others take knocks with a pinch of salt. However you make it work, there’s truth in YOLO. So its best to love the journey while you’re on it.

And ‘Grammar’ becomes ‘The Secret’ – WTF?

Yes, I fell off course. It’s a writer’s prerogative. And Lisa’s post is a much better read. But if you’re looking for a nugget in either, the answer is “Whatever”. Sometimes it’s okay to break Grammar rules. And sometimes it’s okay to speak Yoof. But rather than debate the niceties of starting a sentence with “but”, why not make sure it tells the story you’re telling and JFDI? At the end of the day: YOLO.

That’s what I reckon, what do you think?

Same old ideas: incredible execution.

“But I had that idea.”

Spend any time in an agency creative department and you’ll hear that a lot. It’s usually true. In fact, if I think back a decade to adschool (and communications theory before that) there’s a well-founded, pointy-head theory that there are only seven creative territories. And, just like the seven musical notes, true creativity is about the song you choose to write.

What better place to explore that theory than through the winners of this year’s Film Lions? I spotted six of the seven core thoughts – same old ideas: incredible craft. Or, to mis-quote Edison, 1% inspiration, 99% execution.

1. Product Demonstration

The oldest technique in the book is showing people how your product works. You don’t see many product demonstrations in award annuals. This one deserves its place.

2. Slice of life

The Toyota school of advertising: create a gorgeous story and weave in your product where you can. This one’s a little odd (and it’s essentially an engagement promo). But it’s beautifully shot and makes you want to play.

3. Borrowed Interest

The art of borrowing from popular culture to help people connect with your product. With all those mix-ups and mashups and virals and whatnot, you see this a lot. But rarely is it executed as beautifully as this.

4. Absurdity

Being completely random is a great way to get attention. It certainly worked for the Cadbury Gorilla. But making it work with your product is the genius. This bear is also a genius, apparently.

5. Hyperbole

Up there with absurdity, there’s always fun to be had by making your product the centre of the universe in an unbelievably believable way. Use Lynx, get laid. Or in this case, sign up for DirecTV or else.

6. Life without.

When it’s too painful to tell stories about the benefits of your product, you can always paint a picture of life without it. This campaign certainly paints that picture.

7. Spokesperson

Another popular angle is the 2degrees, Goldstein technique of using a spokesperson to talk about your stuff. I didn’t really spot one of these. So here’s something different. It’s a sponsorship ad showing the heroes behind the heroes of the Olympics. I love it.

Or a combination of the above.

While those are the core territories, the best ideas combine a few. The Guardian spot works because of the absurdity of the characters and borrowed interest from everyone’s childhood. But I think the most exciting thing about this observation is that just about anyone can have those ideas. The challenge is selling them – and finding the best talent in the world to bring them to life.

That’s what I reckon, what do you think?

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Insource? Outsource? The secret sauce of resource.

Once you get past the Dr Seuss headline, there’s a serious question here. It’s also a hot topic right now. When big business are scouring every budget line to trim a little fat, many of them ask, “Can I save money with an in-house studio?”.

I reckon the answer is “maybe.” Having worked in big agencies, smaller ones, digital shops and in-house, here’s why I think the answer is “horses for courses.”

1. Not all apples are apples.

There’s more to driving a mac than finding the mouse. Design is a craft and needs talent. But not all talent is equal. Some designers can look at a job, understand the brand and make anything sing like a canary – others, not so much. But if a job is all about attention to detail, it’s likely your creative designer will over-think it. So the secret is knowing who to use on what. With a big enough talent pool and quality managers, an in-house studio can do this as well as anyone.  – Insource: 1 Outsource: 1

2. Apples grow best in orchards.

Creativity is fostered magic. Creative people are like sponges who suck up their environment, juggle it, re-dream it and spit it out in the right way at the right time. That’s why agencies spend so much time (and money) developing a ‘creative culture’. It’s like fertilizer and it’s vital. Good in-house studios understand this. But none that I’ve visited have pinball… yet.  – Insource: 0 Outsource: 1

3. Chinese walls and Chinese whispers.

Many agencies shelter creative people from clients to maintain the mystery and magic of the creativity. It works. But it also makes the briefing process longer and a whole lot harder. How often is it easier to sit down with the person doing your job, knock it around and leave them for crafting? Agencies don’t do that. – Insource: 1 Outsource: 0

4. Thinking outside the box you work in.

The biggest advantage of an agency is that they don’t understand their clients’ business. They’ll say they do. And mean it. But it’s better when they have fewer clues so they’re not derailed by detail or lost at the lake fishing for red herrings. That clean sheet of paper, customer-centred thinking is difficult – maybe impossible in house. Problem. Clarify. Simplify. Sell: agencies win hands down. – Insource: 0 Outsource: 1

5. Money can’t buy you love.

Any business, agency or client is only as good as its talent. And there’s no question that the best agencies attract best. It’s self-fulfilling and cyclical. But funky furniture, award opportunities and an open bar can often be offset by work/life balance and a few extra perks – I reckon this comes out even. – Insource: 1  Outsource: 1

6 When something costs nothing, it’s worth less.

A big challenge for internal studios is perception and reality around value. When you buy from an agency the ‘product’ has value before it’s even briefed. The brief gets more love, the work more respect and the end result is usually judged as ‘better’. By comparison the SISO nature of internal studios gives them a handicap before the gun goes off. – Outsource: 1  Outsource: 0


Agencies are winning, just. But the bottom line is the bottom line.

Agencies are expensive. There’s no getting away from that. But building in-house resource to deliver at the right level is certainly not cheap. Some businesses are doing it well: SkyCity and Telecom are two great examples. But neither just bought macs and thew them into a room with some artists. Instead they bit-the-bullet, hired agency consultants and structured their in-house shops like agencies.

Not every business can do that, which is good news if you’re working with smaller clients. But corporates can and many of them are – and that has the big boys scrambling.

That’s why I reckon anyway. What do you think?


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