Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One Show costs

There's a very interesting item in Ad Age about the One Show intern (poor guy) who leaked the number and cost of entries by agency. You can read the article here:


The cost of award shows is a little crazy, and the fact that the One Show brought in about $10MM last year is pretty amazing. At the same time, I'm not shocked that a big agency network like DDB spent about $100k according to the article. In fact, for the PR value that they get out of winning several pencils, combined with internal value of having a goal such as this, it's not a bad deal for a huge global corporation. (TBWA, where I work, isn't listed in the article.)

The two most interesting paragraphs in the article are these:

"BBDO's spending was well ahead of the amount spent by the closest agency, the notoriously award-hungry Leo Burnett, which spent around $150,000 to enter about 400 different ads or campaigns. JWT, Ogilvy and DDB all appear to have spent about $100,000, for about 300 entries each, while Crispin Porter & Bogusky entered nearly 100 times.

Perhaps the only surprises in the top 20 in terms of numbers of entries: Vancouver-based Rethink Communications, a 60-person shop, had 87 entries, while MTV Networks had 59, perhaps showing the media owner's serious intent to become an agency-like player."

I have to admit that I was pretty amazed that Rethink had almost as many entries as Crispin. Don't get me wrong, Rethink is a very good agency and they have some incredible talent over there. But to be just a few entries behind Crispin, with their huge client roster and amazing creative output, is pretty incredible. And with the average price of an entry being $358, that works out to an investment of over $30k for Rethink. And that's just for one show. But they haven't had to lay anyone off this year, that I've heard of, so I guess they doing something (or a lot of things) right.

It'd be great if Cannes had an intern like the One Show. I'd love to see what the various agencies invest in that show.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Changing Pods

I came across these super-funky changing pods in the Bay downtown the other day.

As you can sort-of see, they're hidden in the back area of the Olympic store, buried behind the kid's clothes where no one can see them. I doubt they get much use. Which is really too bad, because if you go into one and close the door it's like you've got yourself your very one little bubble zone. You're just sitting quietly in a nice white sphere. The next time I'm have a super-stressy day, I'm going to go up to the Bay, close the door, and have a little meditation session.

Sadly, I don't believe that the Bay is going to get any more of these. Apparently they take up too much floor space. Maybe I can buy one off of them post-Games and put it on my deck.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Location based branding

Two new Artigiano's have opened recently in my 'hood.

For those of you not from Vancouver, Artigiano's is a fabulous local coffee shop. There was one on the ground floor of the building that DDB was in, when I worked there. And there are now two of them within a block our TBWA\Vancouver offices. They make lattes with some form of addictive milk that makes them better and creamier than anywhere else. They used to sell very premium super-high end beans. There was usually a line-up to place your order. And the cafes are still relatively rare so, needless to say, I was pretty happy to find one opening near me.

I went to the nearest one the other day. It had all the same interior trimmings as the others, and the same delicious coffee, and the same great foam-art. So it seemed all good.

But the new Artigiano is on Broadway and Laurel. It's two doors down from a Tim Horton's / Wendy's. And it's sandwiched between two unleased spaces. Here's a shot of it.And I've got to admit that while they've done everything in their power to maintain the brand equity in this new location, it's just not cutting it. And I believe that it has everything to do with this more down-market location. The cafe doesn't feel as unique or as interesting as the downtown urban locations. It feels out of place here and a little awkward. Like you're at a pool party and you're wearig a suit and tie.

But it gets even worse. They've opened another one just a couple of blocks away in the entrance area to the new huge London Drugs. Frankly, in that case, I don't think they're even trying to maintain some sort of brand standards anymore. They're just capitalizing on some serious volume. It makes them feel more like a McDonald's than a premium cafe where a tall latte costs $3.33.

I think they've made a pretty decent error here. It may work out well for them in the long run, but I think that they're starting to lose their special feeling. When you're sharing space with LD Insurance and competing for coffee dollars with Timmy's, you're gonna lose some of that premium feel that allowed you to get away with selling $20 cups of coffee. (True story. But not for today's blog.)

The beauty of Vancouver

Here's what today looked like in my neighborhood. Simply spectacular. Although a few degrees warmer would have been nice.

An aside - I hear that yesterday was the opening of the Cherry Blossom Festival at Van Dusen Garden. Unfortunately, there are no cherry blossoms this year. It's been too damned cold.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The dog store

I enjoyed this video this morning. I love the idea of a dog store. And all of the design elements are beautifully done. It's great work.

But I'm pretty sure they could have done a better job with that taxi video. What's up with that?

This is all from the agency that did that great Nissan spot years ago about how dogs love trucks. TBWA\Chiat Day clearly loves dogs.

BTW - I picked this one up from Scamp, of whom I'm a pretty big fan.

Monday, March 16, 2009

fantastic media idea + patience = brilliance

I am so impressed with this ad. Most consumers who see it won't even realize what they've seen because they'll only see part or they'll see it in the wrong order. But those who do get it will be amazed.

What I'm most impressed with is the patience of the client to allow a year to pass before their creative is revealed. This is no quick hit.

And it's just a package shot. Nothing more. The brilliance is all in the execution and media buy.

The ad is for Nedeburg Ingenuity wine and the creative is from Network BBDO Cape Town. I hope they take home a bucket-full of awards for this.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another layer of approvals

One of the most frustrating things in the ad business is presenting ideas to the people you believe are the decision makers, getting those ideas approved, then discovering that there's another layer of people with different objectives who are also going to have a say.

Turns out that nothing changes.

Colleen and I spent last weekend playing tourist in Victoria. While there we took the tour of the legislature buildings. One of the stories they tell is of the province's original coat of arms, shown in this stained glass window.

Apparently this design was completed, approved locally, and then sent for heraldic approval in London. Being the 19th century, that journey from BC to London took a long time, during which this lovely window was created to celebrate the event.

Unfortunately, there's a major flaw in the design. The setting sun, which symbolizes BC being in the west, is undiplomatically placed above the Union Jack. However, at that time the idea that "the sun never sets on the British empire" was still paramount. This was a real no-no.

So, they had to redo the crest, flipping the two elements.

I feel the designer's pain all the time. I'll bet he didn't have enough time or budget either.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mark Mizgala's work

A colleague and friend of mine, Mark Mizgala, just had his gallery opening on Thursday evening at the Winsor Gallery. I've been to his painting shows before, but this is the first time that I've had a chance to see his photography work. It's terrific.

He has covered 3 categories - found materials, doll dresses and broken squirt guns. There's some deep psychoanalysis required for those, but I'll leave that to others to consider.

It's got to be a tough time for the art market, but I get the feeling that those with money still have money and are still buying. That's what I've been hearing about the high end car market, and it probably applies to art too. I believe that Mark will do very well in this new medium.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

If you're in Vancouver, stop by his show. The gallery is on the 3000 block of South Granville.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Visiting the brewery

One of my clients is a craft brewer and Paul and I travelled up to Vernon the other day to do a tour of their brewery.

I'd never been through a brewery before and this was a fantastic experience. This brewery isn't really set up to give tours, so it's not all fancy for the public. It's just there to brew great beer. And the brewmaster was a terrific guide.

The process and care for making the beer was incredibly interesting. For them it's all about the ingredients. The process from one beer to another is essentially the same. Maybe a little more time for one step or a little hotter for another, but most all beer follows the same steps. What makes the difference is what you put into it. Do you use only the best barley with a bit of carmelized malt mixed in, as you would for a quality beer, or do you toss in corn syrup? Do you use the best hops imported from Germany or do you use the cheap stuff from down south? Do you triple filter the beer or do you single filter it then pasteurize it? Essentially, do you cut corners to save a few bucks? As you can guess, these guys are all about doing things the best way to turn out a great product, and they're pretty serious about it. (Really, don't joke about the beer.)

The brewery is broken down into two areas. The first is where they brew the beer. The second is where they can/bottle/keg and ship it. And, if I'm to be totally honest, I think the canning process was the coolest. Watching all that beer going into all those cans, whizzing along a conveyer belt, filling, packing, binding and stacking. Apparently you want to be super efficient in this step, so that you can minimize the amount of oxygen that gets into the beer, allowing for a stable and consistent product. It's an amazing system to watch.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Canadian moment

Paul and I were driving past Kelowna the other day and we passed this scene.

I'm Canadian. I've lived in Canada almost my whole life. I lived in Montreal for 4 cold winters. I've skated down the Rideau Canal. But this was the first time I'd actually seen people out ice fishing. And frankly, I don't even go fishing in the middle of summer, so I don't really get this. I maybe understand the idea of ice fishing in a shack on a lake in Manitoba with your five best friends and a bottle of rye. But open and exposed in the cold? No.

What really amused me about this was that about another kilometer down the road this frozen lake didn't have any ice on it at all. It was just rough open lake water.

I wonder if you get worried when you notice that you're the last guy fishing before the open water?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Liquor Fragrance

Not laugh out loud amusing, but a small inner smile amusing.

The sign from a duty free store at a nearby airport. Do you really want to smell like Liquor?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another interesting auction

As regular readers of my blog may have noticed, I enjoy going to auctions. I like the idea of competing against others to find something special and get an amazing deal. Hell, if the idea of buying a $125,000 dinosaur doesn't get your blood going then nothing will.

I went to an auction preview yesterday. It was pretty cool. They've shut down production on the show The L-Word, which was filmed here in Vancouver. I think it had a 5 year run, so there was lots of stuff for them to get rid of. I'm sure this is normal in places like L.A., but I'd never been to a TV show clearance.

What was interesting about this auction was that they'd segmented the product based on characters' rooms. So you could go in and buy "John's loft". In fact, you couldn't buy an individual item out of John's loft, you had to buy all of it or nothing. 

Now, for me this was a little frustrating, since I just wanted a new lamp or chair. And I'd never seen the show. So when I saw a lamp I wanted, but then discovered that I had to buy a couch, chair, desk and more with it, I was disappointed. But it was a pretty cool idea for fans of the show. Normally you can try to replicate something you see on TV, but in this case, for once, you could actually buy something you'd coveted for years, and at a pretty reasonable price.

I almost wished I'd cared about John's loft, or any of the other rooms on display.