Words on Victory Tea project

A few months ago I handed in my university final project: a campaign for Victory Tea.

And now I’ve just received really lovely words on the project from the team at Victory Tea themselves. And it’s published on their blog.

Tears.

Here’s what they said:

Newcastle Student Brews Up Winning Tea Design

A few weeks ago we received an email from a friend of Victory Tea who told us about a girl doing work experience at her PR company called Oeil Jumratsilpal. Oeil was studying Advertising & Media right here at university in Newcastle and she had chosen to do her final year project on Victory Tea. Well we were terribly honoured. All we knew was that she had had to produce “a promotional campaign across various media channels” and that she was keen to show us her work. So we awaited the finished article with interest and anticipation, looking forward to seeing how an inventive outsider would interpret the brand and what they would do with it if they got their hands on our superior teabags for real. The results were victorious and we were very impressive with Oeil’s ideas. She had really got to grips with the core brand messages and had continued the design and copy in the Victory Tea tone of voice which is so crucial to our communication and brand-building. We particularly loved the Best of British style visuals. Oeil’s beautiful poster designs were a work of art in themselves and her imagining of them in a London underground setting worked brilliantly. The best bit of the whole experience was the idea that someone random out there had seen the website (or the product), got inspired and then let their creative juices run riot. And that they hadn’t lost sight of the commercial aspect – we want people to not just love Victory Tea but buy Victory Tea too!  Oeil hadn’t contacted us to request any info or imagery from us nor was there any guarantee that we’d give her any feedback or even view her work. (Of course we would have done but that’s not the point.) She just went off and came up with something fantastic. And then put it out there. A true creative. Happily we DID see her stuff and also thought it was marvellous. We absolutely adore the teacup illustration so don’t be surprised if it pops up now and again. And if Oeil didn’t get a triple first or whatever they dish out these days  – there’ll be trouble.

We’ve put more of her designs on the Facebook page so pop over and take a look.

Here’s the link to the blogpost: http://www.victorytea.co.uk/blog/2012/05/newcastle-student-brews-up-winning-tea-design/.

My gratitude is beyond words!

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Interview at Guerilla

I have just had an interview at Guerilla today and it went pretty well.

I was so nervous prior the meeting, as it had been a very long time since I last found myself in that situation. Also, it had been a long time since I had to explain my way through my whole portfolio. I was pretty unsure of my book by the time I reached the agency.

I met with the Group Account Director and the Creative Director, who were both very nice and kind enough to stay behind after work hours to meet with me.

They both really enjoyed my book and was interested to have me over at their agency. Their feedback was so amazingly positive that I was taken aback a little and had my self-confidence restored as well.

At one point, the creative director even said my book was one of the best copywriter’s book he’d seen.

So overall, I am very happy with the way it went and now waiting for their confirmation of my placement, which will probably arrive sometimes next week. I really look forward to getting to do some creative work again. After leaving Newcastle College for Northumbria University, it seems as if that part of my life has vanished and I really miss it.

Shit my professor says

I had Visual in Advertising class today at Northumbria University. Today was the second class of the semester, and already, I can’t wait for the whole course to be over.

Here is a list of what one of the professors said today. None of them was edited.

“These are good ads, because they have shadows in the background.”

[Teaching politics] “I have never really thought of politics before.”

“It’s all nonesense but they thought bullet-shaped vehicles moved faster.”

“Actors and actresses were celebrities in the 1930s.” (…so what are they today?)

And she was half way through explaining an example to support her case when she realized, “Oh, well, that was probably not a good example…”

True story.

I miss Newcastle College.

Manson Misunderstood

by Oeil Jumratsilpa

“Anybody intelligent enough to realize what America is, is not going to sit around and do nothing about it. They’re going to be the same way that I am…They’re going to be pissed.” –Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson, a musician, artist, music journalist and poet, is also known for his witty commentary on the hypocrisy of political America. He never fails to carry the air of calm confidence as he casually leans back and mocks, in a whispering voice, the very foundation of contemporary American society.

Many know Manson for his notorious make-up, curious costumes, and scandalous stage persona, while mistakenly assuming him as a troubled child who will never grow up. However, an interview with him is often enough to make one question the mass perception of this infamous rock star.

One of the biggest American issues is religion, a great driving force so engrained in the culture and people’s identity. It has been a part of the fabrication of many American traditions, philosophical ideals, wars, protests, bombings, spending cuts, hate speeches, poverty, segregation, discrimination, Fox News, and the propagation of American hypocrisies.

The bible preaches about love and forgiveness, while American Christian fundamentalists curse homosexuals to burn in hell, support torture in wars, and justify bombing those with differing beliefs.  Media pundits publicly announce atheists as “sad”, “suffering”, “idiots” and “parasites who add nothing to the society”, establishing atheists as the nation’s least trusted minority group.

Another misunderstood group is Satanists. Contrary to popular belief, Satanism does not involve the devil worship, but in actuality it is a worship of self in absence of god(s). This firmly places Satanism in the realm of non-believers, probably the most misunderstood of all.

Satanists are perceived as a group of suicidal, morbid, sadistic teens, who love wearing black and obscure make-up. However, Satanism is a form of values, promoting individualism, a simple logic that is called, in other contexts, self-reliance, as stated by the current head of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore:

“Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates…Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshipped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.”

Marilyn Manson has always been the media’s favorite icon subjected to blame and mockery. It’s easy. He has the whole package: the make-up, the curious costumes, his drug habits, his brutal words, and his partaking in Satanism.

However, many fail to realize that Marilyn Manson is, in fact, a deep, intelligent, and eloquent man.

To put simply, Marilyn Manson is a widely misunderstood character. Misunderstood by his own fans, the media, and the public.

The fans

Many of Manson’s fans have their own interpretation of what he stands for, breeding misunderstanding from presumptions.

With Manson’s scandalous stage performance, song lyrics and music videos, many fans tend to draw wrong conclusions from their experience. Many of his fans arrive at his concerts chanting, “We’re here to worship Satan” and “Satan is God”.

However, words such as ‘Antichrist’, to Manson, are simply “the collective disbelief in god”. Manson himself is aware of such misunderstandings; “[Satanism]’s all about self-preservation. People confuse it with devil worship”, he says.

Many fans go so far as to worship Marilyn Manson himself as their god, setting the course of their lives to Manson’s words, not knowing that it is the opposite of Manson’s core values: self-reliance and individualism.

Manson compares his values to the philosophy of Nietzche, where Man is his own god. He claims to have tried to clarify this point to his fans at many of his concerts by debasing himself, his message being “You are no different from me”.

A portion of Manson’s fans also mistakes his stage performances and lyrics for encouragement of violence, while Manson begs to differ. He acknowledges that every public figure has to convey a certain image. And his is to shock and outrage the public, the media, and the parents; those who, he believes, make up the core of the hypocritical institution.

A case example includes a 15-year-old Justin Doucet who shot a teacher before shooting himself. The young Justin worshipped Marilyn Manson and Adolf Hitler, believing in the relationship between the two people’s values. What this misled fan failed to understand was Manson’s objection to mindless submission to organized religions and establishments, something Hitler supported and propagated.

Ultimately, the message Manson wants to convey to his fans is simply:

“I never said to be like me. I say to be like you and make a difference.”

The media

An institution that holds an immense power is the media, having always played an important role in influencing public opinion. Walter Lippmann (1922), an American writer, reporter, and political commentator, noted that the mass media is the primary source of the pictures in people’s heads about the outside world, for the public receives only what the media chooses to tell them.

And when it comes to Marilyn Manson, the media, especially Fox News and their conservative pundits, is the biggest man accountable for his falsely perceived identity.

Many conservative commentators love to jump right to Manson’s name when selecting a negative influencer responsible for any tragedy related to youth violence. Bill O’reilly, for example, on his Children at Risk show, called Manson responsible for the “corrosive effects of the popular music world on American children”.

Religious fundamentalists never fail to show their concern in the media, as they greet Manson’s concert tours with protests and angry headlines in the local news. Manson himself calmly points out the hypocrisy in such behavior when he retorted, “the lack of hospitality that they greet someone like [him] with, is very un-Christian”.

One of Manson’s most famous interviews is in the documentary Bowling for Columbine, where the director Michael Moore explores how the media hastily attributes the blame for such incidents to controversial public influencers.

The documentary shows video clips of nasty remarks on Manson, as the entire focus of why the shooting occurred shifted onto him simply because the shooter listened to his music.

In the interview, Manson admitted he understood why the media picked him to be the scapegoat, explaining that he “[represents] what everyone’s afraid of”. His fearless encouragement of thinking for oneself and questioning the institution scares the hell out of the giants, not wanting to lose their control over the public.

In the interview, Manson describes the American media as a “campaign of fear and consumption”.

Manson recognizes the function of the media that Lippmann suggested in 1922 when he observed: “We forgot about the president was shooting bombs overseas, yet I’m a bad guy because I sing some rock ‘n’ roll songs. And who’s a bigger influence: the president or Marilyn Manson?”

Even though the answer is obvious to critical thinkers, Manson acknowledges that the media chose to blame him regardless because the other option is not “the way the media wants to take and spin and turn it into fear”.

Manson also stresses that we live in “a society of victimization”, where people who look and behave differently from the socially constructed norm are associated with illegal or immoral activity. The fundamental reason remains that being different is a threat to the authority.

One thing Manson said in this interview that stuck with the majority of the audience is his answer to Moore’s question regarding what he would say to the victims of the shooting:

“I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say. And that’s what no one did.”

This observation is not only applicable to this specific incident. The media tends to jump to conclusions that serve their own purpose, before listening to the real victims. Many shooters of similar incidents feel invisible and go to extreme lengths to be heard.

A 14-year-old fan of Manson’s, Asa Coon, shot four people before taking his own life, resulting in the media blaming his favorite band for his action. However, the media, again, failed to realize that Asa grew up with a troubled family life and had problems at school from being different (i.e. an atheist), driving him to his breakdown.

A former classmate spoke up and pointed out his own observation:

“I ain’t justifying nothing. I ain’t saying he did the right thing, but I am saying he got pushed for a long time and asked them people to help, help, help, help, but nobody helped.”

The public

The public, also known as the media consumer, has become the tools for those in power to self-cleanse and reject forces that challenge their authority.

Many live their lives according to what the institutions tell them through the media, walking around as mindless and fearful consumers. Manson had it right when he said:

“The burden of originality is one that most people don’t want to accept. They’d rather sit in front of the TV and let that tell them what they’re supposed to like, what they’re supposed to buy, and what they’re supposed to laugh at.”

His devotion to Satanism and controversial work is simply an effort to open the public’s eyes to institutions like religion and big corporations, and their control over the people. Manson’s work aims to act as a challenge to traditional morality and to make people question their own perspectives.

At the same time, Manson recognizes the difficulties in challenging the system and one’s own values, as it is more comfortable and easier to follow instructions. However, he points out that if one does not make an effort, one will be “trapped in a rut and [will never] see it until they die”.

Manson also discusses the hypocrisy in American ideals, including freedom of speech and individualism:

“Americans talk so much about being individualistic, but they don’t want you to be an individual because if you think for yourself then you’re not going to be a part of any trend that they want you to be a part of. They don’t want you to think for yourself. They tell you they do, so that you’re happy and…stupid”

Individualism is the biggest message Marilyn Manson tries to communicate through his work, words, and action.

Individualism means recognizing that everything is up to interpretation and perspective, an idea Manson emphasizes greatly. Also, it is the ability to think for oneself, to recognize the hypocrisy of one’s own society, and to not succumb to it.

He even embraces it to be a part of his identity, forming his own name from the two American icons demonstrating the great American hypocrisy, as he highlights the ironic reality of the world:

“Marilyn Monroe wasn’t even her real name, Charles Manson isn’t his real name, and now, I’m taking that to be my real name. But what’s real? You can’t find the truth, you just pick the lie you like the best.” 

Practical Project blog

I am working on the practical project for Northumbria University, which is to create a branding and advertising campaign for Victory Tea, which will include  website copy, print advertising campaign, online advertising campaign, bounce-back email, social media, and packaging copy and design. It is a live brief received from a North East-based advertising agency Drummond Central.

Here is the link to the blog where I keep all my research, ideas, and work progress:

http://victoryteaproject.wordpress.com/

London industry visit 2011

Last week between March 28 – 31, I went on a trip with college down to London to visit four advertising agencies including Mother, RKCR/Y&R, Ogilvy and Saatchi&Saatchi, and the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).

We were also given three live briefs from three of the agencies to work on, including moneysupermarket.com, Interflora, and San Miguel.

After arriving at London King’s Cross station at around noon, we had some time to check in to the hotel before going off to meet Mother.

The creative team we met at Mother was Tim McNaughton and Freddy Mandy. The agency looked really amazing and exciting. We all squeezed into this huge meeting room, with comfy chairs and pretty chandeliers. Then the team arrived. They looked as if they were the opposite of each other, but they were almost finishing each other’s sentences all the time. So each of us presented our idea for moneysupermarket.com and posting our ideas up on the board. They waited to see all the ideas before starting the crit.

The brief they gave us for moneysupermarket.com was basically to beat the Meerkat (which is almost like the arch enemy) and make moneysupermarket.com number one.

Here is my idea. It’s a TV/radio campaign around the tagline “Don’t troll”:

1.

Troll walking down the mountain. Talking to the camera.

Troll: Since Medieval Norway, us trolls would come down from the mountains and the forests to human villages to switch our ugly babies with prettier human babies. It’s always been our tradition.

[Reaches human village]

But look at them now!

[Camera shows human kids drinking, smoking, fighting each other]

The troll genes are everywhere. This is not a good deal!

Voice: Don’t troll. moneysupermarket.com

2.

Troll sitting in troll-style living room. Talking to camera. Documentary style.

Troll: A long time ago, us trolls bought a piece of land in the mountains of Norway. The real estate agent told us the location was perfect because the mountains could hide us from sunlight–it turns us into stone.

[Irritated]

But nobody mentioned the midnight sun. Sometimes we can’t go out for months. This is not a good deal!

Voice: Don’t troll. moneysupermarket.com

3.

Troll sitting in troll-style living room. Talking to camera. Documentary style.

Troll: My great grandfather’s death was the most tragic in the troll history. He got into this eating match with a human kid. But the kid cheated and poured every spoonful into his backpack. When my great grandfather was full, the kid told him to cut a hole in his belly so he could eat forever.

[Sighs]

It was so not a good deal.

Voice: Don’t troll. moneysupermarket.com

I used the word troll to signify two things:

  1. Don’t be stupid, like a troll.
  2. You don’t need to “troll” (as in to actively search for something) because moneysupermarket.com does the job for you.

The creative team said they loved the idea, but the word troll only has one meaning.

I was pretty sure I had done the research right, but I didn’t want to say anything to make a fool out of myself. But I checked the dictionary again and I found out that you can use the word troll in a sentence like: “a group of companies trolling for partnership opportunities.” But I’m not sure, if they don’t know that side of the word, most people probably don’t either. So maybe the idea isn’t that good afterall.

The team commented though that they expected much more work from us than what was shown.

After the crit, they talked to us and answered our questions.

They said, when building your portfolio, you should:

  • try pushing all your ideas, and expand the campaign to more than just print ads
  • show more than just ad campaigns, for example show something that solves everyday’s problem, show something that makes you more interesting.

In every campaign, there should be this one main idea (that is really awesome), and the rest depends on where you put that idea. And one tip is to find an irregular, new, and interesting profit of the product you are advertising.

They told us that at Mother, the creative team does all the job, including that of the “suits”, meaning they have to talk to the clients themselves as well. This makes the creatives understand the product and the client much better, and the creatives will end up being expert in many fields.

After that, we had an agency tour where the team walked and talked us through the agency. I must say that I loved every bit of it. The team was friendly and nice, and the agency looked and sounded amazing.

After the tour and after everyone had left, my creative partner and I stayed behind to ask for some opinions on our ideas for the other briefs. We also had the chance to leave our business cards (that we designed specifically for this trip!) with them and got theirs in return.

The next day, we had two agency visits, to RKCR/Y&R and Ogilvy.

RKCR/Y&R gave us a brief for Interflora, basically to state that Interflora delivers flowers.

I wrote three headlines for this brief:

  • We’ll prepare the gift, drive across the city, find her house, get through the growling bulldog, talk to her mum, and let you take all the credit.
  • We’ll arrange the gift, drive across the country, find his flat, curse at the broken lift, climb 22 flights of stairs, and let you take all the credit.
  • We’ll craft the gift, cross the oceans, find her place, argue with the foreign landlord, perform the birthday song, and let you take all the credit.

The creative team we were meeting was Andy Forrest and Nicola Hawes.

The team commented that they liked the idea of “letting the client take all the credit” but they felt like they were reading the same ad three times over. They suggested I should try using visual to solve this problem and to make the three executions look different from each other.

They said that they expected much more work from us, which was exactly the same comment we got from Mother. After that meeting, I decided to go back to my last campaign (for San Miguel) and expand that campaign much more than I originally did, in order not to get the same comment again the next day.

They suggested that we also should push all of our ideas into other media and not just to stop at print ads, to explore new media, etc.

They also said that it was a good idea to have other ideas at the back of your portfolio as backup, just in case the people you show your portfolio to don’t like the main idea you show them. Then you can just pull out all the other ideas (could just be scamps) and ask what they think about them.

They said the main component of a good campaign/portfolio is: good thinking + new media + experimental idea.

My creative partner and I also had a chance to leave our business cards with them as well.

That afternoon, we had a visit at Ogilvy, where we had an agency tour and a tour around their famous digital lab. (Random fact: Ogilvy has their own Ogilvy button in the elevator.)

Even though the whole agency and the digital lab was cool and a lot of fun, I didn’t think it was really my style. In one building there, there were 15,000 people working. It was such a big agency. Even though that means that they would have all the means you could ever dream of needing, I would prefer working at a smaller agency like Mother, whose environment pushes my creativity more.

The next morning, we had a presentation at ASA to listen to, which turned out to be very interesting and not boring at all (as we all kind of guiltily expected). We learned a lot about their guidelines, and how they approach complaints and make decisions. We saw some case examples, including the KFC TV ad that had thousands of complaints but never really got banned. I found most of the ads banned by the ASA actually deserved to be banned. For example, there was this one print ad for anti-wrinkle cream that airbrushed their model’s wrinkles out, which kind of meant that the cream didn’t work.

That afternoon, we had a meeting with Suzanne Hails at Saatchi&Saatchi, who gave us the San Miguel brief.

The proposition of that brief is simply “the slow beer”.

My main idea was to show a serial killer taking his time before he kills his victim, with the headline “Some things in life take longer to enjoy.” I loved that idea, but I could never really find any other idea to fill up the campaign. I finally picked two other ones that I am too embarrassed about to share them with you here. Being aware of how provocative this idea was, I decided to write down all my other “safe” ideas, including:

  • Do you know what the Spanish really do during siesta? They drink San Miguel.
  • Metaphor comparing San Miguel to other Spanish arts (dancing, cooking, painting)
  • George Carlin’s speech on the paradox of the modern life (click here to read)

I also added some promotion ideas to my campaign as well, which is to give out bottles of San Miguel in places where people have to wait for or spend a long time and on the bottle will be a sticker that reads “Take time to enjoy. Visit xxxxx.com”. This link will lead to a page that explains how people are flooded with activities and information that they don’t take time to slow down and do nothing. Researches also show that people are smarter if they do nothing for a certain amount of time everyday. On this website, people can pick the background and background noise of a place that they like (the beach, the forest, etc.), sit down with a bottle of San Miguel, and do nothing. People can also buy a bottle of San Miguel to get a code that they can use to unlock “exclusive” backgrounds.

Suzanne laughed so hard at my serial killer idea. She said it was the strongest execution in the campaign. She also liked my extension to the campaign and said that if I worked with the George Carlin’s speech idea, I could build the whole campaign with the ideas I already had.

She gave us one suggestion about when building a campaign for your portfolio with three executions. All the three executions should have some continuity, but should at the same time look different enough from each other. It should go something like this:

#1 portrays the idea > #2 crazier > #3 push till MAX

After that, we had an agency tour. Saatchi&Saatchi looked a lot like Ogilvy in a way, but I felt the environment was more “creative”. (The entrance was epic, by the way.) They had real British pub signs in front of conference rooms, and therefore, all their conference rooms are named after British pubs.

After the tour, my creative partner and I stayed behind (again) to give Suzanne our business card and have a small chat. She was so friendly and sincere. She also insisted that we kept in touch and send her our portfolio so she could take a look.

Overall, I had an amazing time in London this year (much better than last year) and I got even more inspired and excited about the industry than I was before. I now have this urge and certainty of rushing down to London after graduation and get a job or placement there. Unfortunately, I have already paid for Northumbria University, so I guess I’ll have to wait another year.

And if I could pick any agency right now, it would definitely be Mother.

The role of the copywriter and teamwork

Last week, we had a talk session with Chris Rickaby on the topic of “The Role of the Writer”, where he talked about what a copywriter does and the condition in which teamwork works the best.

Chris started his career as an advertising copywriter at DDB, was a Creative Director at Different, and is now working on his PhD thesis on transmedia.

The role of the writer

Traditionally:

  • Create ideas
  • Make a strong team player
  • Craft headlines and copy
  • Script
  • Web copy
  • Copy checking

Now:

  • Understand cross-platform / transmedia
  • Storytelling

He also gave us some tips regarding writing good ads.

You’re not selling the sausage, sell the sizzle.

John Caples (1920’s) was The Sizzle King. He came up with the idea of selling the sizzle instead of the sausage. With any product you get, always ask yourself “What am I really selling?”

Always find the best narrative for the client regardless of circumstances.

Write with the reader.

Think of every ad as a 1-to-1 conversation with your audience. Always think of it as an individual experience.

Tony Cox (at DDB 80-90’s) was called Mr Cup and Saucer. When shown the work from junior teams, he often said “It’s a bit cup and saucer, isn’t it?”

What he meant by “cup and saucer” was when the visual and the headline say the same thing. Instead, they should complement each other.

Also, write an ad so that it works 80% and let the audience do the rest (20%) of the work.

Teamwork – the practical approach

Here is a five-day example.

Day 1 and 2: Free uncritical brainstorm. Write everything down. (Even the bad, silly ideas, since they can be the root of a great idea/campaign.) This should be the most exciting and fun part of the process.

Day 3: Critical review. Separate the wheat from the chaff. Constantly refer to the brief. Pick winners.

Day 4: Develop winner. Eject what’s not working. Think about other media.

Day 5: Perfect development. Craft headlines, etc. Agree your internal pitch (about which ideas to present) and always support with strong logical reasons.