Category Archives: Travel

Dear Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains LogoDear Virgin Trains,

Thank you for demonstrating the power of great copy-writing with your Be Bound For Glory spot:

You’ve packed in enough hooky soundbites for 10 ads – insightful, current, clever and engaging:

  • You are a warrior and your weapon is you.
  • Remember. She’s counting on you. You’re her man. You’re the man.
  • You’re a zen-master in the art of parent whispering.
  • It’s all or nothing. Death or Glory.
  • You’re Prince of the Darkness. Caesar of the Salad. Shamen of the Shuttlecock.
  • Word to your mother in law

OK, so the voiceover is a bit X-Factor – although my view is that it adds drama, familiarity and irony / humour.

And compared to The Snackarchist from Mattesons, which plays to the same basic conceit of a somewhat-nerdy-but-not-too-nerdy-young-guy-demonstrates-self-assurance-and-confidence-in-everyday-situations, you absolutely wipe the floor.

And that’s thanks to your awesome copy. Not to mention the brilliant performances from the cast and Director. And a great backing track. What a piece of work.

Thanks again Virgin Trains – 90 seconds of pure advertising entertainment that will make me feel good about the next time I take a Virgin Train.



Dear Aviva

Aviva_logoDear Aviva,

Thank you for The Aviva Drive App Challenge…you’ve given us game changing innovation that’s a killer manifestation of a global brand vision and strategy. For a proponent of vision-led innovation like me, this is the stuff of dreams.

10/10 Aviva.

  • An innovation with that much sought after but rarely delivered Triple-Win of benefits: The Consumer Benefit (lower insurance premiums); The Brand Benefit (consumers now have a genuine reason to choose Aviva over the other 1000 brands that the comparison websites spit out); The Societal Benefit (safer roads)
  • An innovation that not only is a wonderful demonstration of your new global Good Thinking brand strategy / vision, but also has the potential to radically disrupt the car insurance category – for the better
  • An innovation that harnesses technology for a genuine consumer benefit – for real people in the real world as opposed to the 1% / early adopters who usually get this stuff

And what an execution – I love it. I really love it.

Malki’s line “I know I’ve got to prove myself now to win this competition” is beautifully reminiscent of what we hear on the Saturday night TV talent shows. Memory structures = tapped. Nice.

Cannot wait for the next installment, in which I anticipate and hope that you’ll communicate some more of the functional features of the proposition – i.e. “Aviva Drive is a free app that monitors your driving skills. Once you’ve driven 200 miles, you’ll get an individual driving score out of 10. Safer drivers scoring 7.1 or more could save an average of £150 on Aviva comprehensive car insurance – a saving which could be achieved by 44% of them”

Thank you again Aviva.


PS – And thank you for your Press Release – everything spelt, with perfect clarity, in less than a page. Lovely.

Dear Brittany Ferries

Brittany-Ferries-logoDear Brittany Ferries,

Thank you for the line “Curiosity – it can lead you anywhere” – what a wonderful, life-affirming sentiment. And as such, a highly compelling emotional space for a brand to occupy.

“Stay curious” has got to be one of the greatest pieces of advice that any parent can give to their child. I hope I can impart that in spades to our children.

And thank you for reminding me of France in the summer.

Ooh how I love a summer holiday with my family in France.

The hell of Lyon 645km, the disruption of having stop at every other Aire de Service, the nightmare of where’s the bloody peage ticket got to, the uncertainty of did I just get flashed by a speed camera and will it recognise my British number plate and the panic of Jane the SatNav lady losing the plot at a crucial approaching junction.


It all pales into insignificance and turns to joy as the memory does its stuff, replacing the short-term pain with a golden haze of loveliness.

Golden haze of loveliness well captured Brittany Ferries.

And thank you for reminding me of one of my favourite ads of all time, which incidentally I wrote about here:

Makes me blub everytime – and not even DIY SOS can do that.

Thanks again.


Dear Thomson

thomson holidays logo

Dear Thomson,

Thank you for Simon the Ogre…he’s fascinating to watch and so easy to empathise with (I pity him as much as a feel his pain), and as such he’s a highly insightful departure from the norm.

Thank you turning the usual Department of Tourism style Experience the mystery of Cyprus cliché that tends to appear at this time of year on its head.


What I really admire is how whilst breaking from the norm and standing out, you’ve also managed to keep so many of the traditional holiday codes, that are reflected (expected?) in advertising.

The pool, the beach, the clear blue sea, the happy kids, the delicious food and the inevitable attractive-wife-in-bikini* that The Sunday Times Travel section is so fond of – she features more weeks than not I reckon…

Sunday Times Travel

…Although unlike the editors over at The Sunday Times, you’ve been good enough to give her a face and the chance not to wear a white bikini.

And thank you to whoever did the music. Somehow, to my ear anyway, you / they have managed to combine Adele’s Someone like you with Keane’s (or should I say Lily Allen’s / John Lewis’) Somewhere only we know.

Good effort that.

Thanks again.


*Also see Virgin’s Holidays Tanuary Sale. Although to be fair to them, they put the hunks in their trunks too:

Virgin Tanuary Hunk


Virgin Tanuary Sale

Dear Renault

Renault - Drive the Change

Dear Renault,

Thank you bringing our attention to the new Renault Clio, in not one, but two, beautifully conceived and executed pieces of channel-specific communication.

1) A masterful cinematic traditional ad for the “big screen” (which most of have at home these days)

2) Some delightful experiential online ads (for the small but ever-growing screens of our web-enabled “personal devices”)

I love them both.

Thank you for the Beautiful Mind style conspiracy theorist’s layer. And thank you for the French accents. J’adore ca.

Thank you for the Va-Va Voom button. And thank you for Papa & Nicole. Brand memory appropriately jogged and reaffirmed.

The longer versions of the online ads are worth a look if you’ve got a spare moment.

OK, so it’s all getting a bit messy –  am I not Forgetting the first time, reigniting my Va-Va Voom or Driving the change?

The positioning purist in me might be inclined to suggest that things are somewhat “partout le magasin”, but frankly we get the message…there’s a new Clio out and it’s pretty awesome.

Thanks Renault.

I’m as grateful – in a different way – as I was when I thanked you here for The Megane Project.




Dear Rainforest Alliance


Dear Rainforest Alliance,

Thank you for the game-changing Follow the Frog – the concept and execution are pure unadulterated genius:








Follow the Frog

I sincerely hope that Follow the Frog has the impact that it so richly deserves and world’s rainforests so desperately need.

Thanks again