Dear Arla Best of Both

Arla-Best of Both 2ltr-1ltrDear Arla Best of Both,

Thank you for being unashamedly “inspired” by a similar brand in an adjacent category. And for demonstrating that sometimes the simplest and best ideas are in sitting right before our very eyes – or rather just a couple of aisles along down at the supermarket.

Hovis Best of Both

Whilst I may not necessarily like the ad, it certainly does standout – which is no bad thing when launching a new proposition…just ask Barry Scott over at Cillit Bang.

Arla_ad_1200Thank you for showing us how to play to and piggy-back an existing, well, establishing unit of meaning –  in the form of the Best of Both descriptor, which directly leverages all the hard work that Hovis have done establishing their Best of Both sliced-bread proposition.

And thank you for creating a potential new code with the Yellow cap. It remains to be seen whether you can make it yours and yours alone…or whether the proliferation of colours (purple or orange for the, albeit multi-brand, 1% Fat milk) will prove to be too much for consumers.

The One - Purple Top

Thanks again



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 essential Waitrose

essential WaitroseDear essential Waitrose,

Thank you for your hilarious take on the meaning of the word essential with your Sea Salt & Kelp shower gel.

Waitrose Essentials - Sea Salt & Kelp Shower Gel

The idea that it might be vitally important and absolutely necessary (as per the dictionary definition of essential) for any shower taker to have some Sea Salt & Kelp gel in there with them is absurd, bordering on the ridiculous…but very funny.

Toby Young - CapitalAnd thank you for reminding of the BBC’s excellent mini-series Capital and in particular the scene in which Toby Young’s banker character reels off a list of items to describe how his predicted £1m bonus “doesn’t go very far these days” (“…My car, your car, the family car, the school fees, the tennis lessons, the gardeners for here and in the country…” – the list goes on) to which his vile wife snaps “And tell me which one of those is not an absolute essential?!”.

Thanks again – I look forward to spotting further “essentials” from your range and having a laugh…



Dear BP / M&S Simply Food

BP M&S Simply Food

Dear BP / M&S Simply Food,

Thank you for spotting an opportunity in the gap left by the tobacco display ban – and for filling it both elegantly and with a pleasing dose of karma.

BP - Tobacco ban replacementCiggies replaced by pharmacy – karma in action…and all pleasingly displayed in a back-lit pill shaped lozenge. Nice.

And so much nicer than the roller-blind of death that appears elsewhere.

Tobacco BanAnd thank you to your member of staff at the Family Farm services on the A34 just south of Junction 9 of the M40 who, albeit somewhat bemused and not only because of the ungodly hour in the morning, allowed me to take a picture whilst she was processing my Nectar Card.

Thanks again


Dear Amazon Kindle

amazon kindle

Dear Amazon Kindle,

Thank you for giving me a right laugh with the recommendations you give me on my Kindle – a hilarious glitch in your otherwise pretty amazing algorthymic matrix.

When I flicked on last night, I actually laughed out loud, when confronted with this:

Yours Completely - Krista Lakes

Intrigued, I clicked to find out more:

Maids don’t ever get to go to the ball… do they?

Jace Connors:
Stretched thin from running a business and organizing a wedding, the last thing Jace needs is the world’s most eligible bachelorettes trying to sneak their way into his bed. When he meets Ella grooming the inn’s horses, though, she leaves him breathless. Jace knows that he can’t let her get away…

Ella McDaniels:
What starts as an almost-kiss in the barn ends up captivating Ella, even though she knows that the richly dressed Jace is out of her league. However, when he keeps showing up wherever she is, her attraction to him grows. And if she can outwit her wicked stepmother, she just might be able to dance with him at the wedding reception ball. There’s only one problem…

What if Jace is actually the groom?

Krista Lakes, if you’re reading, please don’t think that I’m laughing at you. No doubt there is strong market for the books that you write. And they are enjoyed by a great many people.

But Amazon, you made me laugh. Perhaps out of relief that even an organisation as slick as you can get it wrong sometimes. Phew.

You have done such a great job in the past with recommendations “inspired by my browsing history”, that when the first novel in Krista Lakes’ new series Billionaires and Brides pops up, my reaction is to wonder what the hell it is that I’ve been browsing for, and what books I have bought on my Kindle (perhaps unknown to me) to make you want to recommend her work to me.

Bill Bryson - The Road to Little Dribbling

All the books I buy are either about Innovation. Or are by Bill Bryson. Pretty much.

But the truth is that you’ve conditioned me to expect that you’re going make accurate recommendations. It goes with out say. It’s ingrained deeply into my expectation of you as a brand. So when you don’t quite manage it, it’s kind of funny.

Thanks again Amazon Kindle. For giving me a laugh, but also for helping me read more and read faster.


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 Scrabble

Scrabble LogoDear Scrabble,

Thank you for Anagram Lovers – an absolute triumph of beautiful cinematography of which Wes Anderson would have been proud.

Thank you for resisting the tempatation of advertising cliches – i.e. the good-looking-mum-and-dad-playing-scrable-with-their-good-looking-children shot.

Thank you for believing in the construct of anagrams as a representation of your brand – without that belief, you would never have been able to tell a story like this.

And thank you for being wonderfully random (crab diving Spaniard in Japan?!), just like the game itself.

And thanks for Anagram Christmas.

A good effort, but the kitsch kookiness that makes Anagram Lovers so charming gets lost in Christmas tweeness – in my view. Still made me smile though.

Thanks again