Monthly Archives: November 2010

Dear VW

Dear VW,

Thank you for keeping the concepts of “strength” / “robustness” / “durability” so consistently at the heart of your Polo brand – and for delivering against the promise so convincingly…in the crowded “small-hatch” segment, you stand out and stick in the mind, above all others.

I have had the pleasure of regularly driving 3 VW Polos during my  “career” on the road, and despite the slightly dodgy colours (1 mustard yellow, 2 Cigale Blue…which actually means purple…one of which I still drive occasionally), never once have I had cause for even the remotest concern…in relation to the cars at least.

I like what you’ve done with the most recent iteration of the positioning as it builds on the theme, but takes it in a new direction:

I just love this one from a few years back – it’s sublime:

And this one makes me laugh every time:

This one was banned – fairly unsurprisingly – but like many things that are slightly uncomfortable and shocking, no doubt it did the viral rounds nicely:

Thanks VW Polo for getting me from A-B safely and thanks to you and your agency DDB for being such consistent brand guardians.


PS – And thanks again for your classic air-cooled vans which I blogged about here – one day, one day…


Dear RingGo

Dear RingGo,

Thank you for remembering who I am, my car registration number and most of my payment details – you make parking at the train station a breeze.

As a pay-as-you-go parker (as opposed to a season ticket holder) having to plan ahead to make sure that I had enough of the correct change was a genuine pain in the proverbial – usually involving having to stop at a garage to break a tenner with a pack of chewing gum that I didn’t really want. But thanks to you I no longer need to worry about it – park up, jump on the train, make one simple phone call and it’s all done. Marvellous.

And thanks for the clarity of your website – I really like the “No change for the car park?” headline…it sums you up perfectly.

I do think that you might have worked a little harder on the images. I’ve not seen many bikini wearing parkers recently and as far as I know there aren’t many station-side paradise beaches. But I do appreciate the limitations of most of the image libraries out there and I guess a mirror-to-reality set of images (grim-looking commuters facing the elements at Bicester North at 5.40am, for example) might not encapsulate the care-free image you’re trying to project…

Thanks again for making my life just that much easier.



Dear Trebor Extra Strong

Dear Trebor Extra Strong,

Thank you for bringing back childhood memories of the 80s – you were a highlight during the seemingly never-ending family car journeys up and down the A1. And thanks for reminding me of my Dad’s succession of brown Vauxhall Cavaliers…


…and for being nearly as exciting for my brothers and I (as you appeared from between the front seats, pack enticingly torn open) as pulling off the dual-carriageway and into a Happy Eater…or better still a Little Chef, for a lunchtime Olympic Breakfast (with a lolly reward for “eating nicely” and “cleaning the plate”)…

I worry about what will happen to you under your new owners Kraft. I just hope that – unlike the Vauxhall Cavalier, Happy Eater (RIP) and Little Chef (exceptionally bumpy ride since the pre-KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, M&S-to-Go glory days) – you’ll pull through relatively unscathed.

Thanks for the memories.


Dear Wonderwall Inc

Dear Wonderwall Inc,

Thank you for your sublime, simple and truly stunning homepage. OK, it’s only a homepage I know, and we shouldn’t get too excited. But compared to 99% of the sites out there, running my cursor over your “index” (especially with the sound turned on) is brilliantly different from anything else I’ve ever experienced online – it’s an organic, almost sensual experience that’s as mesmerizing at it is practical.

I love the way how you’ve avoided getting too up yourself, how you’ve given the power to me – your visitor – how you haven’t enforced a 2 minute art-house mini-film with chilled-but-funky music (that takes a further 2 minutes to buffer) upon me, and how your design values quite literally jump off the screen at me.

My advice to anyone that’s willing to listen is to turn their sound on, click on the image above or the link below to experience it for themselves.



Dear Alfa Romeo

Dear Alfa Romeo,

Thank you for being the latest brand to use the Photo Mosaic technique, as part of your 100 year celebrations. Although it might not be a totally new creative idea, the way you’ve done it and the way that you’ve combined “Alfista” sourced images with historic stills from the back catalogue, film, TV and motorsport successes really does feel like a celebration…not just a clever ad knocked together in Photoshop.


You remind me that just because something’s been done before, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it too, especially if you give it a little twist and make it your own – which you have.  Being true to the principle championed by my previous employers – and fully aware of and amused by the inherent irony – I’d like to thank you for doing what all brands should do from time to time…namely “Steal with Pride!”

Other brands have used the Photo Mosaic technique in the past – pretty successfully too:


Like anything, if over-used, or over-stolen by too many brands without enough pride, these peculiarly intriguing and fascinating images that so beautifully blur the lines between art and advertising will lose some of their impact, but until then, thanks must got to Alfa Romeo for being the latest brand to make me look, to make me stare…


Dear Red Bull

Dear Red Bull,

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to non-mainstream, “alternative” action sports…what a perfect platform for you as a brand, demonstrating brand values of both consistency/loyalty to a cause and innovation as new action sports develop and emerge (like Brazil’s Altinha…or Keepy-Uppy to you and I).

I love the way how you (mostly) avoid the Point Break style “adrenalin junky”  stereotype and how, whilst the events you’re involved with are competitive, there’s a genuine sense that it’s about the taking part, the community, the beauty and artistry of the spectacle, as much as it is about  the winning.

Check out this mesmeric, epic and awe-inspiring stuff:

Now I’m sure that purists will say that you’re ruining and commercialising action sports such as Parkour (aka freerunning) that have come from “underground” social movements or indeed philosophies. But I love the way how – through the money you bring – you’re giving people the opportunity to indulge in their passions, whilst entertaining – and more importantly from a brand / communication  perspective, reaching – the rest of us at the same time.

Would this have been such a spectacle without you behind it? Would the individuals and teams have practised and honed their art to the extent they clearly have without you? I doubt it…

So thanks Red Bull – I know I’ve thank you before, here, but I really do admire the scale, extent and scope of what you’re doing to build your brand.


Dear Kronenbourg 1664

Dear Kronenbourg 1664,

Thank you for your “Slow the Pace” positioning and for reminding us of the benefits of looking to adjacent categories (whiskey in this case I suspect) for inspiration when it comes to developing a brand positioning:

Being neither a ‘Banger, a Mohead, nor an aficionado of thrash/speed metal,  it’s only through a bit of follow-up research (which had I been a non-brand-blogging member of the general public I certainly wouldn’t have bothered with)  that I discovered that the ad features a certain Lemmy from Motorhead…and that the track is an acoustic version of what I now know is perhaps their most famous song, The Ace of Spades.

Even though the premise of the ad’s execution (i.e. a slow version of an infamously fast song played by a band famed for their propensity towards thrash/speed metal) went straight over my head, the actual brand positioning still works really well. That’s because there are so many other elements in there that play to the overall sense of discernment that’s inherent in the “Slow the Pace” positioning – the style and depth of the filming, the traditional clock, the newspaper, the game of cards, the laconic (everyday sultry) waitress, the French café ambience, the age of the clientelle etc, etc…

So thanks Kronenbourg 1664, for a positioning that addresses some of the barriers to consumption suffered by you and the lager category in general – i.e. the stuff that’s good to neck and get “lagered” on.

And as an aside, thanks for this “Drink Kronenbourg, get good at Pool” ad from the ’80s, which I came across and had me staring open-jawed at my screen…the thought you getting Eric Bristow in as a Creative consultant makes me smile:

I have to say, I’m not entirely sure that this isn’t, in fact, a skit from a comedy sketch show.