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The season of travel is revving up, and the hotel booking websites are fighting it out for our dollars. Our challengers are:, Trivago, and As I’ve caught most of these ads on my TV lately I decided to compare them to see which one I like best.



When I land on I’m greeted (or yelled at) by a schmörgesborg of things to click on. No organization, well some actually. But let’s think about this, if I’m not savvy with surfing the World Wide Web would I really know what to click on? There is a box in the left corner of the screen that allows me to enter my details, which is good, well… it’s the status quo for any site like this. But the rest of the home page is boring and seemingly unorganized. There is also nothing about the website that excites me to book with them, or even travel in general. In fact there is not even one high quality scenic picture to salivate my travelling appetite. Although when you get into the thick of their website it does have a lot of information.

Now onto the ads, is going for a younger market or at least young at heart. The first ad clearly uses “Booking” as a substitute for everyone’s (or most people’s) favourite F-word. The first time I hear it, I laugh, the next time a little… and then on the 6th time it’s over done. Way over done. The rest of the ad is great too. I love the insight that you picked right. That dilemma we all face “will this hotel live up to my expectations” is what every traveller faces, and it’s why we love hotel chains so much: we know what to expect. The copy is great, but I feel that the epic-ness that comes from the announcer gets tiresome. It’s too much. I’m trying to book a hotel, I’m not about to make a big speech to my rag-tag team as we’re about to try and save the world from aliens. Deep down the ad conveys a great insight that would make me want to book with them, but it’s lost with all the theatrics.



Trivago‘s website is simple. Like Google simple. It’s just a search bar. Nothing complex. I like that. But I also would like some travel-porn. Some shots of beautiful scenery, or a sandy beach. Get me excited Trivago. Sadly that’s their downfall. They’re boring. Which is kinda good. I would trust them more. But they seem too boring, so even though I may trust them more, I may not remember them because my mind will be distracted when their ad comes on. Their one key selling-point is never creatively addressed in their advertising. They promote how you can pick from several different sites. So whoever offers you the best price wins. So why not exploit that? It pains me to see a great insight that is communicated in an uninspired way. I feel like it’s a training video, and those are never exciting.



Mascots annoy me. Why does every company feel they need a mascot? However, Captain Obvious is not bad. I can see a lot of ads coming out of this, but has to be careful to not make me hate him. Use him sparingly and not in ways that will make me not want to visit your site. Speaking of their website, I like it (Pay attention Trivago and especially you I’m greeted by the Captain, and some travel-porn. Wow! 3 websites and only 1 actually puts up a picture of where I want to go. I realize stock photo sites aren’t cheap, but come on. The site is simple and has only the necessary details. This one has found a nice balance.

Their ads are great. They’re not boring, and they don’t repeat the same punchline over and over until it’s not funny anymore. Their jokes are great, and fit within the narrative. They’re set up with out me seeing them coming. Everything that was on the brief is addressed in a clever way. And in the end I walk away liking what I experienced.


The key is to always pull people into the ad, “Get them hooked” as they say. By pulling them in and engaged you have their attention to make your pitch. This ad from Samsung does exactly that. At first it is intriguing, then you wanna see what happens and then the USP is subtly and cleverly introduced. After that it is all entertainment, like a reward for the viewer for sticking it out, and to encourage them to share it with their friends because they know they’ll get the same rise out of it as they did.

…copywriting of course.

I stumbled across this gem while on YouTube. It’s selling the oddest product, but with some great writing it makes a splash. The second video is the now infamous Dollar Shave Club.

Although these aren’t the 1/2 hour infomercials that grace cable’s airwaves in the middle of the day. They are very similar containing product demos and a strong pitch to drive you to click on through to the check out.

As always its about the relationship, fostering it, caring for it – like a child – if you constantly make your presence known they’ll resent you for it and want you out of their lives. So use a light touch so that each time they see you it is a enjoyable one.



Jane Maas’ memoir Mad Women is an answer to the question: what was it like for women in the 1960s? Clearly the TV show Mad Men demonstrates the male side quite well, but what was it like for the real Peggy Olsons of the 1960s?

What I got from the book was that although there was a feminist movement to help move women forward; the social, cultural and family pressures slowed down the process. Women not only wanted to be accepted as equals to men, but they also wanted to be accepted by fellow women. An example of this is frozen dinners. They were largely purchased and used in secret. You didn’t want other housewife’s to know that you fed your family that rubbish, because it reflects badly on you and your ability to keep a good home. I bring this up because advertising in the 1960s is always critiqued as encouraging those stereotypes, but through reading Jane’s book you begin to understand that companies wanted to advertise new easier to use products but many women won’t jump on board.

Before reading the book I assumed that advertising encouraged the stereotypes in those times. However, the opposite is also true too. Men and women kept up with the stereotypes due to peer pressure or because that is what they firmly believed. There was of course “radical” women in those times. I used quotations because a woman wanting to work isn’t seen as radical today, but back then it was. Some women worked after they had kids (like Jane Maas) and they fed their family frozen dinners (again, like Jane Maas). Over time more and more women did both. They slowly brought in things and ideas into their lives that slowly changed society. Yes, Mad Women is a book about advertising, but it is an interesting viewpoint into the mind of a woman in the 60s struggling with the stereotypes she is faced with and the choices she makes: should I break this stereotype, or live up to it?

Does advertising reflect culture or create and maintain it? In my opinion it is not a black and white question. So I’d say both. It encourages new culture by introducing new products like frozen dinners, but it reflects old culture by how it speaks to their audience. Since housewives in general needed to live up to certain ideals they would feel ashamed by buying frozen dinners. So the advertising would most likely have to curb those thoughts.

By viewing the commercial the feeling is that you are not going to compromise the quality of the dinner you’d serve your family. Yes there are ads that clearly stereotype women. From our perspective it seems every ad does so. Then again the 60s were different times, and composed of different customs. It will be interesting to look back at our time in 30-40 years and see the ads that populated our media. Then we’d think, “Holy crap! I was a racist!” For example the LGBT community is protesting to simply be accepted into society, and to not be seen as ‘different’. Also if you pay attention next time you’re watching commercials on TV, you’d notice that white people out number all other racial minorities 4 to 1. Here is an interesting question to ask yourself: if you were to cast a TV commercial who would you cast? The default answer is “whoever the target market is.” Then again that only furthers the stereotype that your product is use by that race/gender/faith. If you were to cast a different ethnicity in the commercial it may be taken as “out of place.” Obviously there is no one-size fits all answer. There never is for these kind of things.

In conclusion, advertising is responsible for some stereotypes, and in other cases only responding to others. Advertising in essence is a sales tool that tries to appeal to the widest market possible. In doing so it has to take in the median idea of its market. So when you see an ad it is acting as a median snapshot of that advertiser’s perspective of its market at that time, be it the 1960s or 2013.


YouTube: a place of endless cat videos and tutorials on everything. My most recent binge-watching spree has found itself on YouTube watching DigitalRev TV. This YouTube channel, set in Hong Kong is hosted by a charismatic Chinese 20-something with an elegant British accent who simply goes by Kai. If it were not for his antics, you’d think he was a British photography-scholar. They do camera reviews, compare certain aspects of photography (like prime vs zoom lenses) and hold challenges to professional photographers (or Pro Togs) in their “Pro Photographer Cheap Camera Challenge”. Episodes include Chase Jarvis trying to take skateboarding photos with a Lego camera.


It wasn’t until the 15th some odd episode I watched that I realized DigitalRev was bigger than just a YouTube channel. Previously I had admired at their office thinking “Wow, they got a nice office for a YouTube channel”. Later I realized that DigitalRev is an online retailer that sells camera equipment (not one of my brightest moments). Their site has an attempt at a social community that is focused on photography. But where this really wins out is that their YouTube channel doesn’t overtly advertise in the way of “Buy! Buy! Buy!” It is more subtle. At the end of each episode it has the classic and innocent “For more information check out…”

What this channel did do for me as an amateur photographer was that it got me interested in photography again. It encouraged me to try new things with my camera. Furthermore, I feel that I have a source of trusted information about photography to go to.



Now the reasons why I’m playing up DigitalRev is because how effective this form of marketing is. Consider this: it’s YouTube so it’s free for both the viewer and company, it’s filmed in Hong Kong which is nowhere near where I live thus reaching a worldwide audience, it made me want to try new things with photography (such as exposure techniques) and I feel that I’m better for having binge-watched most of their videos. As companies are still trying to figure out how to market to the Internet user; DigitalRev demonstrates one simple philosophy: don’t ram the message down the viewer’s throat. To more clearly illustrate what I mean. The host Kai breaks more camera gear then he praises. The only brand he clearly loves is Leica, which is drastically out of 99% of his viewer’s price range. On more common and financially achievable camera equipment like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and so on; he is honest about what he feels. He gives pros and cons and tests the gear out in unique ways.

What this company does is a lesson to anyone wanting to have a successful YouTube channel is that there is effort put into it. The host, cameraman and production assistant (who also make appearances) all understand photography. They’re well versed in the plethora of technology used in photography. Secondly, it is entertaining, unlike most of YouTube reviews. And last there is a production value to it. Which yes does matter.

There are of course many other channels that employ these ideas. However, there are more channels that don’t. If you want to sell products and gain a loyal audience on the Internet: don’t ram your call to action down their throat. Because lets face it, there are several other places people can venture to on the world wide web to find out the same information.

English has certainly gotten around in its lifetime. Its got words from all over, and why? Whereas Italian and French and other languages at least sound the same. English switches tongues, eras, dialects and pronunciation. For example everything I’ve written in these few sentences come from Latin, Anglo, Saxon, French and so on. So in case you’re wondering where this all came from, here is a video.

I was watching YouTube today. As per-usual there was an ad before the video started. Normally (like everyone else) I sit through waiting for the first chance to skip it. But instead I used that time to text a friend and sat through until the end. The ad was for MiO Sport. At the end they intrigued me with “secret videos”.


As you can guess I clicked on the secret videos. The idea was that I had to watch the commercial again and find secret videos hidden in the ad. It was simple. They used the annotations that YouTube channels use to link to additional material. In this case when you clicked on a certain thing the secret video you find is an extension of that theme. So when he shoots the paper ball into the garbage can, you can click on him and find a hidden video of him competing with some one else for a glass of MiO.

This is a brilliant creative use of YouTube. It gets the viewer to go through the commercial over and over trying to find secret videos. It’s like every client’s fantasy.

Take a look, and have fun trying to find those secret videos.

Volkswagen is one heck of a successful company. They have V-Dub clubs all across the world. That’s actually surprising if you think about it: VWs are everywhere on the road. They are a common car that has a loyal fan base. Usually car clubs are reserved for rare cars like Porsche or old muscle cars. Not everyday vehicles.

So how did it all start? Well yes with the Nazi’s, but let’s focus on when it came to America. The challenge posed to DDB with VW was that this is a German car with WW2 still fresh in the minds of their audience.

The ads merge both strategy and creativity into the core benefits of buying a VW Beetle: durability and affordability. Before ads were more like sales pitches that got old quick and gave no one a reason to listen, unless of course they were actually in the market to buy. What amazes me is that this concept is still new to most companies. People don’t buy into things easily: you have to pay them in entertainment. By paying them in entertainment you can address what ever it is you want to say. I could easily list several examples here in every medium, but I’d rather not put that on my blog. Instead I’ll show what I mean with a great example.

If all advertising was like this then people would pay attention to it more. Saying that people actively avoid advertising is a lie. YouTube is loaded with ads that get thousands of views. The Superbowl is a great example of people (who don’t care for the game) wanting to watch commercials. Creative advertising grounded in strategy works. That fact is shown both in award shows around the world and in sales.

The most important thing is that above having a good strategy, creative idea and the entertainment factor all rolled up into one ad, it has to relate to the target. This is why I love copywriting. That puzzle that must be solved for each an every ad. Of all commercials here is my favorite.

Sir John Hegarty, the ‘H’ in BBH.

A memoir by a personal ad hero of mine. So there might be bias here. “Hegarty On Advertising: Turning Intelligence Into Magic”.


Just like a typical memoir, Hegarty goes through his career and the lessons he learned along the way. The point of reading this book would be to learn those lessons. I’d say them here if I wasn’t worried about copyright infringement. So instead, and like always, I am going to talk about the purpose of this book.

Hegarty had the fortune of being apart of some great agencies, most notably Saatchi & Saatchi and of course BBH. He believes that great creatives have an entrepreneurial spirit about the brands they work on. Once upon a time back in the days of Rosser Reeves marketing a product would be based on its unique selling point. Now with so many brands in the marketplace it is hard to establish a brand. Sure there are unique and slight differences between one brand over another, but is that enough to set it apart? Not really. So in many ways it comes down to salesmanship. How one brand pitches itself against its competitors to its audience.

In an interview he gave (which is linked at the bottom) he talks about how creatives need to think ahead of the trends. The ideas need to lead the pack, not go with it. He talks about how the ad industry is making a worse product. How we are “not coming up with the ideas that are game changing”. Now certainly some are game changing. Like the latest McDonald’s truth campaign. No one saw that coming. However, Hegarty has a point. The majority of creative isn’t game changing. But what is the ‘game’?

The game itself is changing so fast. Mobile phones are getting more and more futuristic, TV is changing so fast that networks are struggling to keep up, everyday the world is becoming more globalized and smaller. So in many ways brands are just trying to hang onto the changing tides that the consistent bombardment of new technology is bringing into this world. The curious question is, will it ever stop? slow down? or will it speed up? History dictates it will speed up, but how fast can innovation really go before people just settle into certain things that work for them, because there are only so many new technologies one can adopt and use daily.

I agree and respectfully disagree with Hegarty. As an aspiring creative I try to stay on top of the trends out there and think of how I can reach the audience better. Sometimes new technologies, trends and ideas work well, but on the other hand sometimes the old ways work well too.

In the book Hegarty gives many other insights into what it takes for a creative to succeed in this business. It is important to note that he stays active in the goings-on at BBH. I won’t give his ideas away here because those are his. What I will say is that he is all about thinking of things differently. The same boring thing never sells, and creatives have to be, well, creative. Or another way of putting it: tear down the old ways of thinking and put up new ones, new branded ones.

Eric Kallman and Craig Allen who are the brains behind some of the greatest ads today. Currently Eric is now at Barton F. Graf 9000 in New York (, while Craig is still at Wieden + Kennedy ( Most notably they worked on Skittles and Old Spice together.

It is interesting to see how a great Writer/Art Director work together.

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