Monthly Archives: February 2012

Dear Paddy Power

Dear Paddy Power,

Thank you for courting controversy…and giving me a good laugh at the same time.


I feel like brands make ads knowing that they’re going to be banned (and that they’ll be getting lots of viral benefits anyway) all the time…

…But I cannot think of any off the top of my head.

I do, however, struggle to conceive that any of them can have been written as brilliantly as yours.

Your copywriter is a genius.

Thanks Paddy Power.



Dear apostrophe


Dear apostrophe,

Thank you for giving those of us fond of grammar based irony a right laugh:

Cock-up or sophisticated joke?

Either way, it made me the pedant in me smile.

So thanks for that. And thanks for your cafes which are most excellent.


PS – And thanks to my friend Ollie who was kind enough to share this on Facebook.

Dear Kraft (again)

Dear Kraft (again),

Thank you for continuing to amaze me with your launch of Philadelphia with Chocolate (for which I thanked you previously here)

Your  faith in inverse psychology is puzzling, to say the very least.

I just don’t get it.

But thanks for making me smile when I imagine what Jennifer Saunders’ reaction might have been upon receiving the script…something along the lines of: “So you want me to talk about how disgusting your product is and that’s how you’re going to get people to try it, right? OK. You’re the boss.”



Dear Muller

Dear Muller,

Thank you for demonstrating the dangers of getting carried away with an advertising idea at the expense of the long-term brand idea.

When this lavish ad appeared, I somewhat flippantly thanked you here for reminding us of the side-effects of psychedelic drugs…principally because I thought you’d lost the plot.

But now it appears that I’m not the only one:

– Both your UK chief executive and your UK Marketing Director have left you as part of a “shake-up of personnel”

– Your ad agency TBWA have resigned the account

– Your Wunderful Stuff campaign has been pulled in favour of product-led ads first aired in 2007

Yes, Yeo Valley were a threat with their boy band follow-up to 2010’s rapping farmers (I thanked them indirectly for that here when I was thanking the X-Factor):

But as the challenger brand trying to wrestle some of your £400m annual sales from you, it made sense for Yeo Valley to do something and make noise that was going to make them famous.

But you already were famous. And as such, you didn’t need to turn your back on your brand heritage and go down the “whacky” ad road.

Sure, it’s a seductive option, especially if you can get creative and launch a “whacky” ad that builds the long-term brand at the same time.

But that’s exceptionally hard to do. And relies on a whacky brand personality in the first place.

Tango’s You’ve been TANGO’d and Cadbury’s Gorilla are cases in point.

Great ads for famous brands.

Lots of buzz. Lots of talkability. PR field-day. Sky high YouTube hits. New news for existing consumers. Appeal to new consumers. Sizeable uplift in sales.

All good stuff that any Marketing Director would happily accept.

But what did those ads do to build those brands in the long-term? What permanent memory structures did they create?

In the Cadbury case, some might argue that all Gorilla said to its consumers was that Cadbury is a brand that makes cool ads…(although admittedly Airport Trucks and to a lesser extent, Eyebrows undermine that argument).

But Cadbury doesn’t sell ads.

It sells chocolate.

(This is possibly an accusation that could also be levelled at Guinness as well, where it could be said that the ads have become more important than the objective of the ads – which presumably is to get more people to drink more Guinness).

Now I’m all for creativity.

It’s just when people default to whackiness in the belief that they’re being creative that I get worried.

It would be a bit like all comedians resorting to surrealism to try to be funny.

Surrealism can be very funny – as shown by Noel Fielding – but it’s not the only way to be funny.

Whackiness can be creative, but it’s not the only way to be creative.

And as you’ve shown us Muller, should not be pursued at the expense of the long-term brand idea.

Thanks for that.


PS – Here’s some of those wonderful – but dubious in terms of long-term brand building – ads:

Dear Dyson,

Dear Dyson (or should that be Mr Dyson…or perhaps just James?),

Thank you for showing, once again, the power of differentiation, with your Dyson Hot.

It’s an extraordinary, weird but beautiful – almost sculptural (Barbara Hepworth?) – looking thing:

OK, not beautiful, but pretty cool.

Well hot actually. Without you, the past few weeks where it has barely got above zero, would have been no fun at all.

Thank you for all the excellent new technology…and for taking the time to explain it.

To be honest the basic gist (AirMultiplier Technology – which sounds good) and my awareness of all the products that you’ve launched in past (i.e. your brand), were more than enough to convince me to part with around 5 times as much cash for you, than the nearest comparable product.

But that’s the point.

You’re not comparable.

You’re better.

You’re different.

Which is why you can charge what you do and leave the rest of the pack to be cheaper.

Thanks again…I never thought I would be proud of a fan heater sitting in the corner of the room. But I am.



Dear Kraft

Dear Kraft,

Thank you for ploughing ahead – despite the odds being apparently massively stacked against you – with the launch of  Philadelphia with Cadbury (is that what I call it?) in the UK – it’s admirable.


But admirable.

Even more so as you seem to be fully aware of the potential – how can I put this – “limiting factors”.

1) Your Philadelphia brand manager has been quoted as saying: “We wanted the debut campaign for Philadelphia with Cadbury to focus on addressing the barrier of how cheese and chocolate sounds to consumers and from next month will be visiting shopping centres throughout the UK to try and giveaway 220,000 samples to shoppers.”

The two phrases that stick out for me there are “barrier of how cheese and chocolate sounds” and “try and giveaway”.

2) Your launch campaign idea – ‘Choccy Philly? Don’t Be Silly” featuring comedian Jennifer Saunders parodying people’s reactions to the idea of the new spread – implies that consumer reactions in research have ranged from disbelief to confusion.

I wish you luck in your quest to sample or joke your way into the British public’s shopping baskets.

3)  You have decided to target a new occasion for the category – the afternoon snack market – as opposed to the more obvious breakfast occasion…which implicitly suggests to me that you know you don’t have a hope in hell of stealing share from Nutella.

If you wanted to take on Nutella, (existing license deals aside) why didn’t you just launch a better Nutella in the form of a fresh Cadbury spread? OK, you might have made it with Philadelphia, but you didn’t need to tell the chocolate-with-cheese rejecting British public about it.

(As it happens, I suspect the product will actually taste great, as Philly doesn’t really taste cheesy anyway, texture being its real forte. But people don’t think that. To the British consumer, Philly is a cream cheese. Perception and reality, perception and reality.)

And finally Kraft, thank you for making me conjure up the image of the brand managers of both Philadelphia and Cadbury holding their heads in their hands – and then laughing together at the ridiculousness of it all, rolling their sleeves up and making the best of it.

  • The Philadelphia brand manager because senior Kraft stakeholders are blindly seeking to replicate success achieved with Philadelphia with Milka in Germany (a very respectable £18m in sales since launch in 2010, by the way) and Italy, without the faintest care for local UK market food codes nor the iconic status of the Cadbury brand
  • The Cadbury brand manager because their vision of Kraft coming in and knackering their brand is coming true in glorious Technicolor slow-motion before their very eyes.

So thank you for having the courage of your convictions, believing that you can buy market share, believing that you can overcome a cornucopia of consumer barriers and believing that it you can make Philadelphia with Cadbury work. Admirable stuff.

Funny thing is, despite everything, I think you just might.







Thanks again.


Dear Heinz

Dear Heinz,

Thank you for showing how ethnographic research can come into its own with your Heinz Beanz fridge packs.

It’s perhaps not as “hip” as real-time online co-creation (effectiveness yet to be proven in my book), so thanks for showing that poking about in actual people’s real fridges can be a wonderful source of genuine insight – that can be applied to both innovation and communication.

Yes it’s a simple idea, but the best ones often are.

And thank you for taking a little poetic license with the execution. Baked beans in a Toby Jug? About as likely as some of the “tuning” on show in yet-another-in-the-fantastic-and-never-ending-line of VW ads from a few years back:

And thanks to both you Heinz and VW for choosing such great soundtracks. Especially the VW track.

Mawkish and macabre as it may have been, thinking back to Simon Bates’ Our Tune feature (Radio 1, mid-80s), brings a smile to my face. As does Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet for which Nino Rota’s Love Theme should, um, perhaps more properly, errr, be remembered.

Thanks again