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Paul Lavoie on scam ads and trust: "Brands really want to tell the truth"

People don't like new. In fact, I always wanted to start an agency called HACK. We should do the worst crap, just get the job done, real fast, and just get out of there. New is more challenging to sell.

Right after Paul Lavoie, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of TAXI, was done with his creative solving problem lecture at the Eurobest 2009 in Amsterdam, where he had a pornographer, a knife-thrower and a Dakar Rally driver as guests, we dragged him aside and wanted to talk with him about trust, the must-have building block to create great ads. We ended up talking about the biggest deception of them all in adland, scam ads, and why they are made.

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Double stealth campaign got the world scrolling

It all started with Mathijs Kraai and Bas Uytdenhouwen, who had set a goal for themselves to graduate from the Communication & Multimedia Design programme at the Avans University in The Netherlands in a spectacular manner. In contrary to the individually performed internship and thesis, the ‘free project’ offered the option to form a team and formulate a worthy project to graduate with.

Mathijs’ and Bas’ first task was obvious: finding the best and most ambitious Communication & Multimedia students of our year. It didn’t take long for us to get Bart van Delft on board, who Mathijs and Bas recently did a project with for Philips Design. They also followed a half year long minor program with him at the University of Twente.

Mathijs and Bas both chose the specialization Interaction Strategy, which focuses on strategic aspects of campaigns, but also on marketing, management and concept development. Bart chose Information & Interaction, with which he specializes on converting the above to the real world.

After the first brainstorm session, organized before the project itself had started, the three decided to present themselves to the ‘real world’ and potential employers in a highly distinct and unique way.

Even though there were no concrete plans yet, they realised that designers should not be lacking in this project group. Hence, the search for new blood continued, which resulted in hooking up with Hester Naaktgeboren and Jeroen Bijl. Both of them have specialized in Multimedial Design, and it shows. The composition of this group that would operate under the name ‘De vijf van morgen’ (The five of tomorrow) was born.

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When is a copy inspired, when is it illegal, and how to tell your clients to stop having demo-love

This is brought on by Her morning Elegance trend & the recent straight style copy of "Sorry I'm late".

Badlanders as the examples I promised: Dexim ad vs Jamie Nelson - This is what we call "demo love" - and what lawyers call "copyright infringement". and Double BLT magazine covers, NYT's "T" vs Coast a.k.a Toast.. This is not to be confused with obvious parodies that mimic a style on purpose to be funny. Like when John Cleese & Schweppes copied the style of CK perfume ads at the time.
Homages to other ads are a long-going tradition in UK advertising, but it's difficult to make them work in their own right so be careful with that.
The all time low is when ad agencies in far off lands re-use photographs they have no rights to use in their own ad campaigns, and this one tops them all as the mummy in that photograph is actually the copywriter of the original ad. When it comes to design you need to be inspired but watch out so it's not too inspired by all the great designers who came before you.

Clients will get in trouble for straight-up rip-offs. As they did in the case of Coke mimicking Joel Veitch's ninja kittens, and when Nike copied a chinese flash animators stick figures. These cases were won by the original creators, which is rare, but the bigger worry is when you piss off someone elses fanbase which may also be your customer base. Like when Nike copied Minor Theft or Jamba Juice borrowed heavily from Get Your War on. There is bigger danger in copying than simply being called a hack.

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Rest in peace S-W-H, Long Live INDIE, Amsterdam instead.

I bumped into Mark Aink in Cannes, as proven here with a blurry phoneshot from Gutter bar, and did ask him about Indie - the new agency born from what was once known as S-W-H. Can't for the life of me recall all the clever things he said (everything ever said at the gutter bar is the smartest thing ever, but it evaporates the next morning), but he did confess that relaunch of S-W-H to Indie is all part of a "reset", just like the one Balmer was talking about.

All cleaned up and ready for their closeups, Mark Aink and Lode Schaeffer of Indie have much more to say about their metamorphosis.

Managing Partner, Mark Aink says:

“First instincts can sometimes lead businesses to seek what they know and try to maintain stability despite changes occurring within their industry. It’s time for businesses, ours included, to realise that things aren’t changing but they’ve already changed. The changes that we have made over the years within S-W-H are manifested in the roots of Indie.”

Creative Director and Founding Partner of S-W-H, Lode Schaeffer, says:

“S-W-H was established in 1997. It doesn’t sound that long ago but, since then, we’ve seen exponential changes in the world around us, especially in the rise of new media. YouTube, camera-phones, TV on-demand, blogs, MP3, even Google didn’t exist back then, and now they are an everyday part of our lives. It’s a no-brainer that change has also occurred within our agency. Indie takes on board all of those changes and embraces them. We’re looking ahead to the not-yet-known.”
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Psyop Workshop in Cannes 2009 - where skin wins over execution.

Psyop - you know them - they're world famous for creating amazing animations for advertising, had a workshop in cannes Wednesday 24 June titled: Blurring The Line Between Art And Commerce In Advertising. Their best-known piece is probably Happiness Factory for Coke out of W+K Amsterdam that won a silver lion last year and appeared in the 2007 Super Bowl. When I heard they were doing a workshop, I was interested in learning more about who they are, what they do, and how they do it.

The workshop was headed up by Psyop Managing Partner Justin Booth-Clibborn and Marie Hyon and Marco Spier both Founders and Creative Directors at Psyop. The workshop began with a little bit about who they are this may be best shown in their anthem spot which they created to define themselves, their anthem. They then then went on to dissect a few of their best works including the beautiful Crow for MTV HD (www.psyop.tv/mtvhd), the paper doll cutout music video for Converse , Fantaand their latest for Milk. They shared with the delegates what goes into a job, how they pitch it and their design process. They went into the most detail on the Milk Sad Princess spot and it's really amazing at how much work goes into creating animated water - something like 28 layers to make it look real.

In the last 30-45 minutes of their workshop, the workshop bit began. Delegates dived into groups, given a number of magazines, poster board, sharpie markers, scissors and glues sticks, and were told to come up with a concept or story inspired by the music. The music was "Thank you for Being a Friend" (yes, the theme from TVs The Golden Girls, egad!). They didn't wnat to make things easy. Groups, composed of people from all other the globe, who did not know each other, began to frantically work together to get this task done. The prize to the winning group would be Psyop books, which are not yet released.

The groups came up with some great ideas - the most impressive to me was the group who did a stop-motion piece utilizing their digital camera. In the end the team that used sex to sell, they had a Playboy magazine to work with, were the winners of the day. Figures.

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Mark Wnek - Crisis and Creativity, The future and Dinosaurs - Cannes 2009.

Crisis and creativity

Quite tired up after spending long days and long nights in Cannes I waited for Mark Wnek in the cool light lobby of the Carlton hotel and somehow we ended up filming it in the darkest le petit bar without a flash on - to avoid all the noise of Spike Lee and all of Microsoft running around out there.

I began by showing Mark this illustration at adage where he's painted in the style of Mad Men, on i-boy's suggestion.

Mark Wnek: The Mad Men thing, yeah that was Jonah Bloom's idea. For AdAge he wanted to do something different, so he had us all illustrated in the style of Mad Men. I thought it was quite fun.

dabs: I love the show actually, do you watch it?

Mark Wnek: Oh yeah, it's great. It's fantastic.

dabs: What is the difference between US and UK advertising?

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Exclusive interview with Nose Janitor's agent.

Over at HeyWhipple's 12secondTV you can find all the episodes of The Nose Janitor. Here, we can now offer you an exclusive interview with The Nose Janitor's Agent.

dabs: Well, by now Nose Janitor's recent rant on the set of his upcoming movie is well-known. He's become a bit of a punch line for the tabloids and one wonders if all this isn't going to hurt Nose Janitor's ratings on 12secondtv. Is it?

Nose Janitor's Agent: You know, this is just....it's crazy. Yes, Nose Janitor is sorry about picking on the assistant director the way he did. He was out of line. But Nose Janitor is a professional. You wouldn't want his job. Seriously. You wouldn't want to have to do the things he does, (I mean, come ON, look at what he does for a living!) ... but he does it without complaining. Could you do it? Seriously, could YOU?

dabs: Ummmm, probably not. Anyway, let's shift to that disturbing special effect we see in all the Nose Janitor movies. That thing on Nose Janitor's head? It's not....it's not...

Nose Janitor's Agent: "It'snot." (LAUGHS) That old joke. Remember? "You think it's a booger but it'snot." Aaaanyway, we specifically shot episode 7 to put to rest those rumors. As you can see in the film, it's VERY clear that our special effects department uses parts of an APPLE to make the main effect. Its very realism is probably what got us into trouble to begin with, but as I said, Nose Janitor is a professional and we're not going to change the way he makes movies just because a few viewers are squeamish. Film is life. Life is art. And let me tell you my little friend ... life, art, and film, they're not always PRETTY. Capeesh?

dabs: Um, okay. Next question: With all the .... well, shall we say "crap" on the web, some critics have charged that Nose Janitor is just feeding off of the public's tastelessness, that his work is...and I quote from a recent review in the Times..."juvenile....puerile...the lowest form of humor imaginable." Your reaction?

Nose Janitor's Agent: See, the thing is this... (PHONE BEGINS TO RING) ...sorry....the thing is this: if you want knowledge, go to the li-berry, okay? Nose Janitor answers to his public. That's who matters to Nose Janitor. Okay? Listen, I gotta take this call. M&M's candy is sponsoring Nose Janitor. Episode 11. Clock it, dude. I gotta bounce. Peace out.

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Reset on La Croisette - Canneslions 2009

For all the talk about it not being a party year, fewer delegates, less people, less good work, and so on Cannes 2009 was still an advertising mecca. People who produce ads, create ads, shoot ads and run ad agencies were there as well the great clients that make fantastic advertising possible. Congratulations again to Volkswagen for winning a well deserved advertiser of the year. About time, aye? So you might not have spent four hours saying hi to everyone as you walked down la Croisette as you've done in previous years, but the seminars were full, the parties were still good and in the end fantastic work won even if there were fewer winners.

Steve Ballmer figured it out, "this is not a global recession, this is a reset". This is also an advertising reset - the big idea is back and it doesn't matter how you sell it, be it an interactive film, a facebook app or a PR stunt of global proportions. Lets all remember however that those who create the big idea, and those who execute it are people who need to eat and probably feed their children. Advertising agencies need to take a long hard look at what they are charging for. Charge for the idea, and set it free. When masses of youtube folks play on your "30 minutes" making their own films, you've won - but clients should be aware that an idea like that doesn't come from out of nowhere. This is what you pay agencies for.

There were unusual winners this year, and even an honorable mention for Whassup #2 "Change" - which had no advertiser and was not a real agency piece, but the judges wanted to recognize the change in advertising and as soon as the last second played, it brought the house down.

Carl W. Jones revealed to me on Monday what hard work the judges had been put through. The universal idea is what made it as cultural diferences made some jokes hard to understand. One of the judges didn't see the pun in MTV "Cribs" Anti-Knife crime because he thought that was a school dorm, rather than a prison. They had so many fakes thrown out and then one jury had to argue - for days it seemed - about an entry which "they couldn't figure out what category it should be in". It was the Obama campaign that had category problems, and it made history by winning both the Titanium Grand Prix and Integrated Grand Prix.

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Fred: "We're lucky, the crisis probably helped us win" - Cannes 2009.

Fred from the fabled Fred & Farid, Paris, has just flown in, to accept the award"I was on vacation, I didn't even have long pants packed - I had to buy these" he says pointing to his slacks. So he's brought the family to the buzzing advertising festival. Is that different? To have the family in Cannes during the lions? Yes.

- Does having children make you think of advertising different?
- Fred: Yes. ... Before you only had the "idea" of a babies, you didn't understand. I look at things now that we made, even, like tattooing babies, and I cringe. We didn't know. You will only understand it once you have children. Back then we didn't understand. I have the family here, and it's so different, we were on the beach all day. Before, I wanted to seperate advertising from home, but now that I have brought them, this is good. It's bring your own bubble. It takes the edge off Cannes."

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Stardust Studios launches revamped site

Our friends over at Stardust Studios, a design-driven bi-coastal U.S. creative production company have redone their site. The original site launched at Stardust.tv in 2005, which was designed by founder/CD Jake Banks and developed by Joshua Davis Studios.

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