News & Views

Born in ’54

What do false nails, love hearts and Elvis Costello have in common? They’re all celebrating their 60th birthday this year, along with yours truly.

Here’s a list of 60th birthday celebrants.

World Cuppling!

It’s a new phrase but a long-established practice. Get the low-down over at!

Things you don’t see in Canary Wharf

Here’s the latest blog post from my alter ego,  BraveNewMalden. It’s a handy A-Z list of things you don’t (or rarely) come across in London’s Canary Wharf.

Christmas cliches

Some time in the 1980s, I had to come up with a few ideas to help sell phones for BT. The phone market had just been deregulated, and suddenly people were able to buy new-fangled phones as opposed to the old-fangled phones that had been the norm for decades. BT wanted to capitalise on this and were running a Christmas campaign with outdoor as the chosen medium.

One of the 48-sheet poster ideas I came up with featured a boring old brown phone on the left, accompanied by the line ‘Christmas past’, and a shiny new push-button one on the right with the line – and I know you’re ahead of me here – ‘Christmas present’. I never knowingly rip-off or recycle other people’s ideas, so I must honestly have believed that this was the first time anyone had ever used this idea for an ad.

The following year’s crop of Christmas ads disabused me of this notion. And the following year’s.

Advertising Annuals

It’s clear now that in 1988 or whenever it simply became my turn to use the Christmas Past Christmas Present line. Once it had worked its festive magic it went back in the box along with all the other Christmassy lines, only to be dusted off again the following November. They’re like Xmas decorations.

Newspapers do it too, of course. The Daily Mirror was ahead of the game this year with a front page ‘CHRISTMAS CRACKERS’ headline on 15th October (above). The story was about a town that had put its decorations up earlier than the paper deemed appropriate

Now it’s in full swing. In a Costa Coffee the other day I noticed from a take-one that they had ‘Christmas All Wrapped Up’. In what massively disappointing way would that be? Well, they have Brie & Cranberry Paninis, Mince Tarts and Chocolate Cookie Lattes. That’s Christmas Day sorted, then!

Elsewhere we can expect a plethora of annual stalwarts such as ‘Stuff the Turkey!’, ‘Jingle Change this Xmas!’ and variations on the Wise Men riff. Incidentally, my ‘Avoid Turkeys this Christmas’ headline, for a new movie channel, was rejected by my then creative director on the grounds that ‘turkeys’ was an industry expression that no one outside the movie business would understand what it meant.

The ideal Christmas gift

Another perennial treat lies in seeing which dull, everyday products get to be re-packaged as ‘the ideal Christmas Gift’. A couple of examples I’ve seen so far this year have included a garden water butt and laser eye surgery. Feel free to post any others as well as any Christmas headlines I can steal admire.

Holiday cover at MRM

Just finished three weeks’ work at MRM, south-east London, covering for their joint creative director Drew Forsyth.

Drew and his family were holidaying in South Africa, whose famous Kruger National Park could have provided the perfect metaphor for a story about MRM’s kill-or-be-killed culture; a lawless savanna where predators lurk behind every Nobo board and where you have to fight to survive. Except that MRM isn’t like that at all and in any case Drew didn’t visit the Park

In fact, McCann Relationship Marketing is an easy-going, civilised place with friendly people and good accounts with decent briefs. It’s also in an area of London that’s perhaps the most resurgentest of all London’s resurgent areas. Tate Modern, opened in 2000, seems to have been the catalyst for an enormous programme of redevelopment. So far, the emphasis seems to have been placed primarily on office buildings with a few token eateries and the usual chains. But hopefully there’ll be incentives for other types of stores to move into the area so that the local office workers have somewhere to buy, say, a lightbulb or a radio or something.

A lot of the buildings are yet to be finished, and I spotted this interesting anomaly in the site hoardings.

It appears I have gone live.

My own website. Cool. Let me know what you think.