Category Archives: House & Home

Dear Energizer

energizer-ecoadvancedDear Energizer,

Thank you for reminding me about the power of claims…and the various psychological heuristics (or biases, such as anchoring or focusing) that affect how we interpret what we hear.

Now I’m full of admiration for what you’re doing…driving the agenda when it comes to battery  recycling and pushing yourselves forward with your “leaders always go first” brand vision / purpose.

But “made with 4% recycled batteries” feels a little underwhelming to me. Even if it is a world first.


My biases (and in fact my basic grasp of numbers) tell me that 4% just isn’t very much. At all.


And the 4% claim is especially underwhelming when compared to your adversaries over the way at Duracell…

Even though it does relate to a different attribute, “Up to 10x [longer]” just sounds a lot better than “made with 4% [recycled batteries]”, even if I do buy into your higher purpose. Which I do.

But please do keep at it. Without achieving 4% today, you won’t be able to achieve the 10%, 20% and 50% etc which I have no doubt you are gunning for in the future. Bravo to that!

And as a slight aside, thanks for reminding me of the king of claims: Dyson.

“Twice the suction power of any lightweight cordless vacuum in use”.

Now that’s a claim worth shouting about.

Thanks again





Dear ambipur

ambi-pur-logoDear ambipur,

Or should that be Dear febreze?

febreze-logoWell whichever of you I should be writing to, thank you for coming up with the phrase “nose-blind”. It’s just so much more catchy than Anosmia (the official medical term for loss of the sense of smell).


It always puts a smile on by face when brands come up with a new bit of language or a phrase… Even better when that phrase enters the #lexicon. I guess with the Twitter generation that’s #morelikelythesedays.

So more smiles for me to look forward to. #wunderbar.

Thanks again and looking forward to see whether your mum & dad (aka P&G) continue to run you alongside each other or whether they force you to become one at some point in the future.


Dear Sainsbury’s Basics

Dear Sainsbury’s Basics,

Thank you for giving me a laugh with the subversive on-pack copy on your Cream Cleaner:

IMG_3250In the absence of any product or packaging advantage – in fact in the presence of notable disadvantage – who can blame you for going down the road of subversive humour?


“Cleans, no added promises” doesn’t really convince in the same way as a big brand on-pack claims check list, but with nothing to lose, having a mild pop at the likes of Cif seems like a pretty sensible idea to me.

Thanks again



Dear O2

O2 Logo

Dear O2,

Thank you for giving us the best line of advertising copy so far this year: “Carpe Diem. It means Grab the Frisbee“:

Whilst Be More Dog has given me a good old laugh, for which I’m grateful, it does feel a little bit “off-brand”. Where are the bubbles? Where’s the blue sky? Where’s the water? After all, you’ve spent 10 years establishing those codes, why go and throw them all away now?

But hang on a wee second Mr Brand Purist. (Not quite sure why I’m referring to myself in the third person here, nor affecting Scottishness…but anyway.)

As it happens I’m coming up to the end of my 24 month contract with you. And even after nearly 4 years with you, we don’t have much of a relationship.

You send me monthly emails telling me how much money you’re going to take from my account.

You send me texts informing me that I’ve got through my monthly 100mb data allowance – which seemed loads 23 months ago, but now just seems pitiful – and would I like to Bolt-on some more for only £3?

You send me PRIORITY Moments texts announcing concerts and other stuff, 99% of which don’t interest me, although are still worth receiving if it means I can get early dibs on Coldplay tickets like I did last year. (Barclaycard did the honours this year helping get my mother-in-law and I to Hyde Park to see The Rolling Stones.)

EE Logo


My current plan is to switch to EE (formerly Orange who I switched from to you to get my first iPhone), get a nice new shiny iPhone (possibly hanging on for the iPhone 5S rumoured for an October launch) and then get my home broadband through them too (with a nice new shiny router).

I’m fairly certain I can be bothered.

But this Be More Dog thing has piqued my interest. OK, so there’s no bubbles, but as your Priority Moments is not bad, I was intrigued to check it out. Which I did.

Be More Dog Landing Page

Hmmm. This O2 Refresh thing sounds good.

And there are the bubbles. Ahhh, that’s better.

And O2 Tu Go sounds kind of interesting.

O2 TuGo


So on-brand bubbles or off-brand cats and dogs but no bubbles, Be More Dog has alerted me to some service and product innovations that you’re offering that otherwise I would not have known about.

So perhaps you can thank Be More Dog for retaining me as a customer for another 24 months. Perhaps. No switch to EE. No hassle. New phone for me probably on a more expensive contract.

Which I’m guessing you’d classify as a success.

Thanks again




Dear Wickes


Dear Wickes,

Thank you for taking a near perfect and insightful product concept (for Ultra Gold Screws) and turning it into a beautifully executed advert that’s wonderfully nuanced in terms of its targeting and that celebrates the emotional benefit (i.e. pride) around which you’re building your brand.

Thank you for your insight (“We know when you take pride in your work. It’s the details that make the difference”) which demonstrates your deep understanding of your target consumers.

It would have be so tempting to have gone down the road of a self-fulfilling product insight (e.g. “Isn’t it annoying when your screws don’t go in smoothly?) but you’ve gone for a brand and category insight that operates at a level above the product category. Bravo!

Thank you for successfully targeting both tradesmen and keen DIY-ers. Fundamentally, both groups want to do a job that they’re proud of, although for Tradesmen there’s the added incentive of wanted to be paid and recommended whilst for DIY-ers there’s the satisfaction and economic advantage in not having to call in a Tradesman.  You manage to tick both boxes especially with the line “A range of screws, fit for professionals”.

Thank you for your product description – lots of lovely benefits and Reasons to Believe in there. And for visualising both the insight and the benefits so beautifully. Accuracy and precision like that is what every tradesmen and DIY-er aspires to.

Although you’ve done it before, so it’s no real surprise.

I love the close up shots. The dust. The pencil. The Chisel. The drill.

Just as M&S did to food a few years back – with their much parodied food-porn ads (It’s not just food, this is M&S food) – you’ve turned DIY into an object of visual desire, something to be admired, celebrated, ogled. Something to be proud of – i.e. playing right into the sweetspot of your brand positioning…(we’re proud to put) our name on it.

Personally I think that M&S’ recent food work is a vast improvement as it has the same emotional out-take but without the overt Nigella-style food-pornification element…and the scope to be parodied so extensively.

Thanks again Wickes


Dear Microsoft


Dear Microsoft,

Thank you for describing – with an apparently irony-free straight face – the huge, massive and vociferous global outcry to the planned restrictions on the new Xbox One as ‘candid feedback’.

Well that’s one way of putting it…!

Xbox One

I mean, come on.

‘Candid feedback’ is what you should have been seeking BEFORE you announced one of your biggest strategic innovations and competitive plays of the decade, not gathering once the shit has hit the fan so spectacularly after the event.

Have you not heard of market research?

It’s when you talk to your consumers and explore how they might react to the sorts of things that you’re thinking of doing.

xbox gamers

One focus group, just one focus group, with one tiny sub-segment of ‘gamers’ would have told you that restricting the sharing of games, restricting sales of pre-owned titles and requiring daily online authentication might not have been such a hot idea.


The last ‘game’ (as in computer game) that I played in earnest was Snake on my trusty Nokia 3210, c.1999, but even I could have told you that such a fundamental change dictated so prescriptively was not going to go down so well.

But I am being purposefully facetious and doing you a disservice.

Of course you did market research. Of course you did.

But I suspect you only heard what you wanted to hear.

I think you were seduced by positive responses to intriguing new features such as the ability to access your game library from a friend’s house.

I think you only heard the things that fitted with your strategic vision for a new era of digitally-centered console gaming with a forward-looking approach to games distribution, inspired by iTunes and PC gaming service Steam.

I think you were listening too hard to the games designers and publishers who are (understandably) sick of losing out to piracy and second-hand sales.

In amongst all that noise I think you forgot to listen, to properly listen, to the people who are actually going to go out and spend money on your stuff. The gamers.

But having said all that, thank you (and I’m thanking you on the behalf of the ‘gaming community’) for putting things right.

XBox and Playstation signs at Electronic Entertainment Expo

Sure it’s an embarrassing U-turn, a humbling climb-down, an admission that the other guys (namely Sony with the PS4) got it right and you got it wrong. (Oooh, their gloating must have been vexing for you.)

But the important thing is, you’ve put things right and all is not lost – and you’ve got until November to make it seem like none of this ever happened.

Thanks again



Dear logo


Thank you for keeping up the fantastic work with your latest ad: Astronaut.

Thank you for the details – they make all the difference:

  • The kids’ lunchbox
  • The cycle helmet
  • The salute
  • The choppers
  • The fact that Alan is about a foot shorter than his fellow astronauts
  • The helmet bump
  • The slow-mo jog
  • The boxer-swag
  • The “initiate lift-off sequence” face
  • And of course, the Top Gun backing track

All genius.

And building perfectly on your previous work which I thanked you for here.

Thanks again