Can you pay to get an ad banned?

I ask because this magnificent effort by Spark44 London for Jaguar has been banned for “encouraging dangerous driving”, which I can’t see at all.

What I can see is how much of a dream it’d be to have an ad about villainy – starring the man who played Loki – banned for encouraging dangerous behaviour. And like most people, the only reason I’ve even seen this ad is because it got banned.


Beautiful ad, by the way. Polished script, great choice of actor, perfect delivery and an effortless tie-up with the product. Plus it’s really, really sexy. Just saying.

Honda shows Hyundai how it’s done

Most people who read this blog, follow me on Twitter or know me in real life remember the time I had a somewhat high-profile disagreement with Hyundai.


BBC World News

For those who didn’t see it, Hyundai made a really badly-judged ad that showed someone trying to commit suicide in one of their cars, and failing because the car only emits water. As I commented at the time, there were many more creative and interesting ways to deliver this message without sucker-punching people who’ve lost loved ones to suicide, or showing them how to do it (there were details in the ad that would help people die effectively).

Honda – a brand I’ve worked on and have a huge soft spot for – have just come out with their answer to the water-emissions brief. And isn’t this just a world away from someone ending his life?



Image and story via PSFK


Honda-branded bottled water, created entirely from the emissions of their FCX model.

Simple. Effective. And it didn’t make me cry.

Wasn’t so hard, was it?

Brands with balls: Johnnie Walker’s Glass Car

Picture this: you represent an alcohol brand. Your alcohol brand sponsors an activity that involves driving cars very, very fast around tight bends. Meanwhile, drink-driving is a huge issue in your sector.

Do you stick your head in the sand? Or stand up, accept your social responsibility, and make an ad like this?

The beautiful, brave Johnnie Walker ‘Glass Car’ piece is impressive for three reasons:

1. The stunning motion graphics
2. The script, which manages to tie in the product, Formula 1 sponsorship and an anti-drink-driving message – while still sounding beautifully-crafted
3. The fact that many, many brands would never touch this idea, for fear it would associate them with drink drivers.

Brand Republic doesn’t list the agency or the motion graphics house, but everyone involved in this must be feeling pretty good right now. Not only that it’s executed in such an immensely classy, inspiring way, but that it got made at all. We’ve all seen scores of ballsy ad ideas like this get killed over the years, because frankly, it’s a lot easier to ignore the big issues in your sector than to face them head-on, and risk people thinking that your customers are the problem.

I’m less keen on the hashtag #ImNOTdriving, which doesn’t seem to fit the tone of the script – but it seems to be established on Instagram already, so perhaps Johnnie Walker were trying to use an existing social property instead of creating a new one.

This is a striking, very shareable ad that gets its message across and positions Johnnie Walker as a responsible, ethical purveyor of alcohol. But most impressively, it’s Diageo showing that they’d rather take a stand than join all the other companies with their fingers in their ears. Great work.

Update: Grant Hunter has kindly provided the credits:

Agency: iris Worldwide Singapore
Director: Russ Appleford
Production: The Other Side

Well done, chaps.

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.

An open letter to Innocean and Hyundai

Dear Hyundai and your advertising agency, Innocean,

This is my dad.


His name is Geoff. He married my mum in the eighties and had two little girls, by all accounts the loves of his life.

This is the note he left when he committed suicide in his car:


And this is your new ad.

As an advertising creative, I would like to congratulate you on achieving the visceral reaction we all hope for. On prompting me to share it on my Twitter page and my blog. I would not like to congratulate you on making me cry for my dad.

When your ad started to play, and I saw the beautifully-shot scenes of taped-up car windows with exhaust feeding in, I began to shake. I shook so hard that I had to put down my drink before I spilt it. And then I started to cry. I remembered looking out of the window to see the police and ambulance, wondering what was happening. I remember mum sitting me down to explain that daddy had gone to sleep and would not be waking up, and no, he wouldn’t be able to take me to my friend’s birthday party next week. No, he couldn’t come back from heaven just for that day, but he would like to if he could. I remember finding out that he had died holding my sister’s soft toy rabbit in his lap.

Surprisingly, when I reached the conclusion of your video, where we see that the man has in fact not died thanks to Hyundai’s clean emissions, I did not stop crying. I did not suddenly feel that my tears were justified by your amusing message. I just felt empty. And sick. And I wanted my dad.

I understand better than most people the need to do something newsworthy, something talkable, even something outrageous to get those all-important viewing figures. What I don’t understand is why a group of strangers have just brought me to tears in order to sell me a car. Why I had to be reminded of the awful moment I knew I’d never see my dad again, and the moments since that he hasn’t been there. That birthday party. Results day. Graduation.

I’ve worked on automotive accounts. I actually worked on Honda for the best part of a year. And strangely, not once did it seem that the best way – the most intelligent way, the most creative way – to advertise their products to people was to remind them of the horrendous event that is suicide. Strangely enough, I could – and still can – think of a thousand more interesting, creative ideas that wouldn’t have left me feeling like I’ve just lost my dad all over again.

So I’d like to ask that next time you want to tell the world about a new innovation in car design, you think about it for a little bit longer. Think about me. Think about my dad. And the thousands of other suicide victims and the families they left behind.

My dad never drove a Hyundai. Thanks to you, neither will I.


Holly Brockwell.