Art direction of the year – Leo Burnett France for Jeep

Leo Burnett‘s beautifully-crafted campaign for Jeep is going to win all kinds of awards for art direction. Each ad features a monochrome image of an animal that can be flipped upside down to become a different species, and unlike most ambigrams, these actually do work both ways:



Deer > sea lion

Sea lion










Penguin (this one doesn’t work as well for me – it’s the eyes)

The line – See whatever you want to see – feels a bit ‘global English’ to me (although they’re French, so fair enough) but works with the product and the idea.

This is apparently a press campaign, but I’d like to see the images appear in digital media to make maximum use of the dichotomy.

Story and images via Metro.

Update: despite being presented by Metro as ‘new’, these have just won 3 Lions at Cannes (Press, Craft Illustration and Craft Art Direction). Which means I was right!

10 honest tips for people doing work experience

Based on my own experience on both sides of the fence. Not necessarily the case everywhere, and so on.

1. There won’t always be stuff for you to do

Often, a work experience person turns up on day 1 expecting to be treated like a new employee – inductions, introductions, structured work days with lots to do and time to review it with staff. This is rarely the case. We usually haven’t taken you on because we need something done, it’s because you asked us if you could come in and we agreed. This means we haven’t necessarily got work lined up for you, so you need to hustle a bit.

This means actively looking for opportunities where you can help, and volunteering. Go up to people and introduce yourself, don’t wait for someone to do it for you – then ask if you can help with anything.

2. Some of it’s going to be drudge work

I feel daft writing this because I feel like it’s incredibly obvious, but I’ve also seen plenty of work experience people getting irritated or just plain failing to volunteer for things that aren’t very glamorous. The obvious cliché is making rounds of tea, but seriously, people actually want you to do this and almost no one on work experience ever does. Again, don’t wait for someone to ask you – get on it. Multiple times a day.

You might also have to do things like going to the shops to fetch something or putting things in envelopes. It’s boring. It’s not fun. But you asked to be here – so be willing to help.

3. Some of the things you’ll be asked to do won’t make any sense at all

I remember this so well. I was working under this incredibly impressive, successful lady and she’d ask me to do something in one sentence and I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what task she wanted me to actually perform. But I’d nod and smile and then go away and panic.

Don’t do this. The person you’re working with has probably been doing their job for a long time, surrounded by people who do similar jobs. They have an established way of speaking, with phrases and jargon and understandings that they’ve completely forgotten aren’t commonplace. This means things that seem totally obvious and transparent to them – like “run this out” – are actually baffling to a newbie. So ask clarifying questions – find out exactly what they mean. You might feel daft, but you’ll feel worse three hours later when they ask if you’ve done it and you’re no closer to knowing what the task even was.

“Run this out” turned out to mean “print this for me”, by the way.

4. If you don’t know how to do something, say so

I recently asked an intern to do a design-related task for me, and he graciously agreed. I’d somehow got it into my head that he was a trainee graphic designer, whereas he actually wasn’t at all, and was out of his depth. Sometimes people will ask you to do stuff because for one reason or another, they think you know how. If you don’t, that’s OK – don’t muddle through, just tell us.

5. Sometimes you’ll be doing nothing

This is related to point 1. If you’ve hustled all you can hustle and there’s genuinely nothing for you to do, it’s actually fine for you to sit and read the internet. No one’s thinking “what a terrible work experience person” – we’re concentrating on our jobs.

6. Don’t add staff on social networks

I did this myself. I might actually still have one or two of the people I met on work experience seven years ago on my Facebook. It felt completely fine at the time – “I’ve known these people for three whole weeks! It’s overdue, if anything!” – but they’ll find it premature and possibly creepy. Of course, it’s fine to follow them on Twitter – that’s different – but don’t add them on Facebook unless they add you, and LinkedIn should probably wait until after you’ve finished your placement.

7. There probably isn’t a job

This one sucks, I know. We’ve all been told that if we work unbelievably hard at our work experience placements, management will find a way to hire us. It’s usually not true. Again, nine times out of ten, we’ve asked you in because you wanted us to and we’re happy to help – not because we’re looking for someone at your level/in your role. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – far from it! But it’s worth knowing that the majority of the placements you do will be most valuable for their CV collateral, and not for actual paid work.

8. Get some CV advice

One of the hardest things to do when you’re new to the world of work is write your CV in a way that isn’t terrible. I had this problem and I reckon most other people do too. I asked one of the people I was working with if I could see his CV, as an example – not everyone will agree to this because it’s a bit confidential and they might not have one to hand, but it’s worth asking. Real-world examples of actual CVs in your industry are worth a thousand times more than generic internet articles about CV-writing (although, here’s one I wrote).

Don’t be offended if they don’t say yes. Just ask them if they’d be happy to look over yours and give you some feedback.

9. Ask for testimonials

A week or so after you leave the agency, send a nice email to the person you got on with best and ask if they’d mind writing you one paragraph of praise to put on your CV/LinkedIn/website. Give them some examples of what to write, or they might just put it aside – eg. “Would you mind writing a quick paragraph saying I did OK? Just something about how I met my deadlines, was friendly and professional, and showed promise in graphic design?”. This increases your chance of actually getting a response.

If they don’t respond, it’s OK to chase it nicely once (about a week later again) – if you still don’t get anything, leave it.

10. Write good begging emails

The begging email is a necessary part of getting work experience placements, and no one minds getting them. But some of the ones I’ve been getting lately are surprisingly poor. No subject line, no information about what department/job role they’re interested in, when they could come in, what they can offer, no CV or portfolio link – jeez, give me something to go on! The younger generations are often accused of having an entitlement complex, and I don’t think it’s true, but if you email a company saying you want work experience and don’t say one single thing about how you’ll be useful to them while you’re there – well, it’s not looking good for you. Having an extra person in the office is a bit of an inconvenience, so it’d be nice if you let us know it’ll be worthwhile.

A friendly tone and a little joke will also go a really, really long way to helping the person you’re emailing say ‘yes’. Sound like someone they want to have around the office, who’ll pitch in, help out, and not get under their feet.

So, see you Monday?

Which came first – the chicken, the chicken, the chicken or the owl?

Unlike the egg conundrum, we can answer this one.

First, SmarterEveryDay made this video about chickens not moving their heads, all the way back in 2008: 


Then ‘Rotate Your Owl’ by Weebl’s Stuff added disco music in 2011 :


Then this ad by Ogilvy & Mather Germany compared the non-moving chicken head to the steadiness of the Fujifilm XS-1 (January 2013, according to Ads of the World):


And finally the Mercedes Magic Body Control ad by Jung von Matt, which has been doing the rounds, appeared in September 2013: 


Which one of these counts as the ‘original’ depends on who you ask. If it’s the one that first popularised the idea, it’s Smarter Every Day. If it’s whoever made it into a dance move, it’s Weebl’s Stuff. If it’s whoever made it into an ad, it’s Ogilvy and Mather. If it’s whoever made it into a viral ad, it’s Jung von Matt.

If it’s whoever came up with the idea in the first place, it’s the chickens.

The truth about freelance

People often ask me what freelancing is like, how they should go about it, or whether it’s for them. Well, here it is. The naked truth about freelancing in advertising.

The good

– You meet heaps and heaps of brilliant people

– You get to see loads of agencies from the inside

– You find out what it’s really like working somewhere

– You work on a huge range of media and clients

– You run into people you know everywhere (especially when you’ve been doing it for a while)

– You often only work somewhere for a few days or weeks, so you never get as far as ‘feedback round 8 – the client’s revenge’

– The money is great compared to a salary.

The bad

– You don’t have a fixed payday (some people I’ve spoken to thought freelancers got paid on the same day as all the other employees. If only)

– You’ll either need to set up your own limited company and deal with your tax, NI etc yourself, or use an umbrella company (I use Parasol – if you sign up with them, please say Holly Brockwell referred you. Will love you forever) and give them a cut

– If the agency you freelance at hasn’t used your umbrella company before, there’s a whole bunch of forms to fill in. Agencies generally don’t like these and some take weeks to complete them, delaying your payment

– You might have to do up to three sets of timesheets for the same job (the agency, umbrella company and recruiters all like to use their own)

– It’s rare that anyone shows you where the loos are

– You always feel like the new kid, and you rarely have time to make proper friends

– Agencies often won’t put you on internal email, give you a door pass, etc. This can be a royal pain, especially when you need a door pass to exit an area but didn’t need one to get in. Yes, I have been locked in several times.

– You never know for sure whether there’ll be more work after this project/week/month

– There will be times when there’s no work at all. Particularly coming up to Christmas. This can be inordinately stressful

– Agencies being agencies, they often don’t decide whether they need you until the last possible second. I didn’t know where I was working this monday morning until 4pm on friday afternoon

– Freelancers often get the projects that permanent staff members don’t want.

The ugly

Some agencies have 45-day or even 60-day payment terms. This means you won’t get your money until 1.5 or 2 months after you invoice, and you can’t invoice straight away

– Even then, agencies don’t always pay on time

– You will spend your entire life chasing invoices (“Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing payments?” is the freelancer’s anthem)

– Projects sometimes get cancelled or cut short with no notice. I once had a six-month project turn into two weeks. There is no compensation for this, you just go home

– If you’re off sick, you don’t get paid. If you take holiday, you don’t get paid. It’s difficult to justify a week off when you know how much money you’re turning down to take it.

So do I recommend freelance?

I do if:

– You have savings. Ideally at least enough to pay everything for three months

– You’re not particularly prone to stress or anxiety


– You don’t have a permanent job (eg if you’ve been laid off, as happened to me).

In summary

Freelance can be incredibly rewarding. It’s brilliant for your career, your portfolio and your social network. It can also be stressful and worrying, and if you don’t have savings, you can end up getting into debt when there’s no work or payments haven’t come through.

When people ask me about freelancing, they often have a rose-tinted view of basically a permanent job paying twice the money. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I’m having a marvellous time bouncing around London’s many agencies, but I’ve also bored my friends to tears moaning about overdue invoices. It’s very feast-or-famine, so if you have a permanent job you’re thinking of chucking in, really think it through.

Questions? Comments? Think I’m completely wrong?

Leave a comment below. Especially if you think I’m completely wrong.

Bauballs: battle of the balls

For as long as anyone can remember, Christmas has happened every year. And also for as long as anyone can remember, men had balls. And yet at two separate London agencies this year, these two age-old facts came together in exactly the same way. With the same name.

Behold Albion London’s Bauballs:


And Fallon London’s Bauballs:


So before anyone gets testy, there’s only one way to settle this. With a battle of the balls, presided over by me. Obviously.

Round 1: appearance

It’s important to have good-looking stones.

Fallon’s Bauballs come in one variety: shiny, hard plastic.

Albion’s offering comes in no less than eight variants, including:


Maximum effort there. Impressive.

Round 1 winner: Albion.

Round 2: worthiness

Both sets of Bauballs are raising money for testicular cancer charities – Albion for Everyman, and Fallon for Orchid. But how much are they raising?

Fallon’s offering costs a ball-busting fifteen quid, although it does include P&P. Albion’s is £5 (plus P&P), so they’d need to sell three times as many sacks to make the same amount of money.

However. Fallon’s knackers have already sold out, whereas Albion’s Etsy shop seems very well stocked indeed. And with so many varieties, one expects gonad fans reaching into their coin purse for £15 might opt for three Albion pairs rather than one of Fallon’s.

In addition, Albion has auctioned a symbolic pair of their office dog’s bollocks on eBay for a scro-tastic 56 quid. I reckon this puts them well in the lead.

Round 2 winner: Albion.

Round 3: responsibility

While they’re shilling Christmas plums, have the agencies gone to any extra effort to spread the message of the charities they’re representing?

Fallon’s done well here with their nad-checking guide:


Whereas Albion’s is all about the decorations. Tut, all mouth and no trousers.

Round 3 winner: Fallon.

The verdict

Although the real winner here is charity my Christmas tree, I’d have to be nuts not to award it to Albion with their score of 2-1. Which means Fallon gets the sack.

Ho ho ho.

Ad agency Ralph lets you assassinate Facebook friends with small breasts

This week in jaw-dropping, how-the-hell-did-this-get-made campaigns is Ralph’s very short-lived Facebook one for Square Enix’s Hitman game.

It allowed you to put a “hit” out on your Facebook friends (ie send a hitman after them). This is questionable in itself. But the list of reasons you can give for killing them, and worse, the list of identifying traits you can give to the hitman had my jaw on the floor.

Gaming blog Rock, Paper, Shotgun lists said traits as follows:

  • Her awful make-up
  • Her ginger hair
  • Her annoying laugh
  • Her strange odour
  • Her big ears
  • Her muffin top
  • Her hairy legs
  • Her small tits

Seriously. Here’s a screenshot to prove it, where he’s chosen a friend to “kill” because she’s cheating (click to enlarge):


That’s not something he’s typed in himself – it’s from a dropdown list of pre-determined selections. Small tits. Ginger hair. Seriously.

Next in this stellar process is a message saying you’ve been wished dead:


And THEN a video of the deed. Amazing.



I have no words.

Unsurprisingly, this campaign was pulled almost as soon as it launched, but the problem is, it DID launch. It was concepted, refined and built, tested and deployed, and no one said “hold on, should we really be suggesting killing people with bad make-up?”. Unbelievable.

Here’s Square Enix’s cringing apology:

“Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends. Those hits would only be viewable by the recipient and could only be sent to people who were confirmed friends.

We were wide of the mark with the app and following feedback from the community we decided the best thing to do was remove it completely and quickly. This we’ve now done.

We’re sorry for any offence caused by this.”

No word yet from Ralph, the agency responsible, though. Disappointing.

Story and pictures via Rock,  Paper, Shotgun.

Ad agency laughs at people on benefits

I have nothing against Iris, the ad agency that invented 2012 Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville. I even know some great people working there. But I just can’t justify what I saw on Campaign magazine’s website this week.

You see, Iris have been busy re-doing their internal staff benefits booklet. This is the brochure they give to employees to let them know what they’re entitled to at Iris in terms of life insurance, maternity leave and so on. And being an ad agency, they decided they really needed a concept for this booklet.

So they went away, thought about it for – ooh, twenty seconds? – and decided that “Iris on Benefits” was the best possible title. And for the images? Well, why don’t we all dress up as stereotypical on-benefit types (apparently inspired by the fictional people on ‘Shameless’) and have a good old laugh?

Here’s the resulting booklet. Bear in mind the models in these photos are affluent, educated people who work in advertising, poking fun at disadvantaged sections of society that they’ve probably never even encountered.

Maybe I just have no sense of humour, but to me, that’s not funny, clever or creative. It’s bloody appalling.

Campaign describes the ethos as “boozing during the day, smoking, watching Jeremy Kyle and racing each other on mobility scooters”, which is just as judgmental. What is the matter with these people? They’re representing a respectable agency and industry magazine and yet they’re talking like Iain Duncan Smith after a bottle of Moet.

I’m sure this was supposed to come across as light and humorous, but it doesn’t. It comes across as sneering, superior and ignorant. Did I mention that the pregnant lady has a cigarette in her hand in both photos? That’s right, people, if you lose your job and have to claim unemployment benefits, you’ll inevitably get up the duff and smoke through your pregnancy. What is this? Kilroy?

I’m incredibly shocked that Iris thought this was fit not only to represent their agency to new employees, but in the trade press as well (because they’ve clearly sent it to Campaign themselves). In any other industry, this would be national press scandal-worthy. I hope we can show Iris in the comments on this post that it’s not on in advertising either.

Update: One of the people involved in the project has posted a link to the entire brochure. You can see it here.

Another update: As promised on twitter, I’ve donated the ad revenue from this blog post to Trevor Beattie’s Jack & Ada Beattie Foundation. They “Assist the vulnerable and marginalised in the Midlands and London facing social injustice and inequality” – which seems appropriate given the subject matter of this post.

Therefore, contrary to some rather uncharitable suggestions, I have not profited from this blog post, nor did I ever intend to.