Monthly Archives: January 2011

R.I.P John Barry

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Really sad to hear the news that legendary film composer John Barry has died. His work will live long in the memory including soundtracks to the likes of Midnight Cowboy, click Born Free and the scores to 11 Bond movies (the James Bond theme itself at least contractually must be credited to one Monty Norman).

Barry’s last two outings on Bond before David Arnold took the reins produced two classic fusions of pop sensibility and Barry’s unique trademark orchestral arrangements. Both A-Ha’s Living Daylights and the theme to View to a Kill by Duran Duran feature heavily on my iPod. Rest in Peace.

Cirque Soleil; a ray of hope in an austere world

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At the Albert Hall this week I was privileged to witness Cirque Soleil’s amazing touring production of Totem Hall.

It is a masterful combination of the very best circus performers in the world, incredible set design and more AV tech than the latest Kylie concert and I’ve chosen that analogy carefully because make no mistake this was a stadium event and a far cry from the companies roots as street performers. But that is the point really of this little blog. I can see a beacon of hope for any small business that has creativity at it’s core when you look at what an awful lot of talent and hard work can achieve in just 25 years.

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Be careful with our pop culture

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For very different reasons Flash Gordon and the Shawshank Redemption are two of my favourite films. And they have both been the influence, at least in part, for two very high profile recent TV campaigns. Now although I love both films I’ve also worked in advertising for 11 years so I don’t usually have too big a reaction to pop culture being utilised in this way. But this time I did have big reactions, big opinions, each one the polar opposite to the other. Love and hate.

So why is it that I love the Innocent ad so much? Why does it work? From the off it feels like they understand the source material, the whole things stays firmly tongue in cheek and they do their own thing with it. And then they top it all off by throwing in Hawkman Brian Blessed to seal the deal. It takes something camp and overflowing with nostalgia (first film I saw in the cinema, first “date”, first movie tie in t-shirt from M&S) and keeps it that way. Really speaking I should be a tough crowd for this campaign, I’m a dyed in the wool geek who still owns a Flash t-shirt (not the same one) as well as the movie soundtrack. But I love it and more than anything it’s because the tone is the same as the source material, it makes me feel like I do when I think about the film. And it definitely makes me want to stick Flash Gordon in the DVD player when I get home.

The More Than campaign, or should I say the More Than Freeman campaign, on the other hand has a very different effect on me. It’s not just the lazy similar words approach that apes Compare the Meerkat. It’s everything about it. When I see a rooftop and hear a Morgan Freeman style voice I want to think about liberty, the human spirit, triumph over oppression and adversity. I don’t want to think about insurance. Shawshank sits alongside Twelve Angry Men and One Flew over the cuckoo’s nest as mainstream films that have made me think and feel things about life and the human condition. I don’t want them to be repackaged to sell me stuff accompanied by a so cheap it’s almost non existent gag. The advertising professional in me switches off and the movie fan in me turns over the TV the second it starts. And I usually tweet about how much I hate it too. “But you’ve remembered it though haven’t you”? Yes, but for all the wrong reasons. I won’t be using More Than (totally irrationally especially as an ad creative myself) and I’m not sure Shawshank will get its yearly airing in my house either, double fail. If you haven’t seen it I think I’ll spare you as it really would not be fair.

So like I say be careful with our pop culture and make sure your tone matches the source.

Android winning battle of the smartphones?

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So it looks like the Android operating system has overtaken the iPhone in the US and quicker than expected. My more techy anti Apple friends are rubbing their hands with mobile glee mainly due to this article.

But aren’t they really comparing apples to oranges? Android is available on numerous handsets on multiple carriers so compared to the iphone it will always have the total sales advantage. And from the look of it this isn’t people leaving Apple to choose their Google owned rival in fact increases for both companies seem to be from eating into Blackberry and others.

Hurrah for diversity, hurrah for choice and make sure that if you’re making an app it’s both android and iphone ready. (Still wish I could have found a way to call this “Blackberry and Apple crumble”?)

Android versus Apple

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