Friday, 20 February 2009

finally decided to jump on the twitter bandwagon

After originally not seeing the value of twitter (mostly due to the lack of my friends twittering) I have taken the jump and activated my account as of today! Obviously I am now somewhat of a late-comer and finding a username was an absolute nightmare! I vow to never be a 'late majority' ever again! I was trying for over 30 minutes and got failed attempt after failed attempt...even 'Idontknow', 'Imfedup' and 'Igiveup' have gone!! So I have resorted to a somewhat lame username le_treehugger. I do love to hug those trees!

Nation of borrowers - the recession, a harsh lesson!

Everyday I sit and watch the news, everyday I listen to them talk about the dramatic rise in unemployment and how we are sinking further and further into recession. It is quite depressing, but can't help thinking it has been a long time coming. We have become generation debt, borrowing way beyond our means not giving a second thought to the future. Saving seems to have become a thing of the past.

I was brought up in an environment where if you wanted something, you saved for it, none of this 'get it on credit' malarkey! Yes, okay, a mortgage is different, most people have to borrow to buy a property, but when did it become the norm to fully kit your house with all of the latest technology, purchase a car that is way beyond your price range, and to hit the shops regularly not giving a second thought to sticking it all on credit card? It seems that we have adopted this notion that nothing is too expensive once you break it down into nice manageable monthly payments.

But now the shit has well and truly hit the fan (for want of a better expression)! I think we can all agree that we are smack bang in the middle of a recession now, countless companies are going bust and unemployment just continues to rise and rise. Let me tell you, the dole barely covers basic living expenses let alone covering all of your debt!

Times are hard but lets hope that as a society we learn something from this economic crisis. Hopefully the recession will bring with it a new trend where people borrow only for necessities and save for luxuries.

Most loved and most hated ad of the week

Most loved...

I realise that the strategy is not exactly groundbreaking but I think this advert is a genius use of intertextuality. It just fits so well and that damn tune gets embedded in my head every time I see it. I think that 118 118 have done so well to build up a fun and iconic brand for what is ordinarily a boring service. The 118 118 guys have almost become a cult in themselves with their get-up becoming increasingly popular for fancy dress. Okay, the ad doesn't really lend itself to a long running campaign but as a one off I think its great!

Most hated...

I just don't understand how anyone could have ever thought that this advert was worthy of air-time, seriously, its just so awful. It actually makes me cringe...I'm guessing that whatever creative team came up with this is probably trying to erase it from their memory! I think most are agreed that the best ads come from a key insights, a product/consumer truth...someone tell me, where is the truth in this advert? What young child do you know that would actually notice, let alone care if the bathroom smells of 'bathroom' or 'soft petals'?! I thought that the aim was to get your target market to identify with your advert and the characters so that they can see how the product would fit into their lives. If this is the case then this advert fails miserably!!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

MDMA anyone?

As much as I am enjoying the new series of Skins, I can’t help but think just how wrong it is. Skins has become such a cult and I dread to imagine just how much of an influence that it has on na├»ve and impressionable teens. The new series is running a very fine line between portraying reality and glamourising excessive drug and alcohol consumption, meaningless sex and violence. MDMA, spliff and neat vodka has never been so cool. Granted, most of them are pretty fucked and have some issues, but nevertheless, they seem to be having a whale of a time and I am even finding myself envious of some of their parties!

I’m currently sat firmly on the fence with this…on the one hand I believe strongly in freedom of expression, yet on the other, you can’t deny the influence that media has on our society and there is clearly a need for social responsibility…yep, I think I better just make myself comfortable!

Creative or just plain stupid?

Here are just a few examples of the question asked in some advertising grad scheme application forms...

WPP’s light-hearted offering:

Can frugality ever become cool? (max 250 words)

We have become a nation where everyone is talking about and trying to be ‘green’, be it recycling, shopping in charity shops or starting a vegetable patch. It amuses me that only a few years ago anyone caught participating in the above activities would have been classed a ‘hippy’, however, today, anyone thought to be ‘anti-green’ will surely be frowned upon. It would seem that these ‘hippies’ were in fact the trendsetters and innovators of the ‘environmentally-friendly’ era.

I believe that this new ‘green’ mindset combined with the current economic crisis will indeed bring about a trend where frugality will be cool. The need to save will no doubt give rise to a change in attitude towards frugality. A frugal lifestyle offers the opportunity to save money as well as gain some bonus points on the ‘green’ scale. Most supermarkets are already advertising discount brands as standard. Advertising does not set trends, but rather acknowledges what is cool and perpetuates it.

As with the attempt to be ‘green’, I do not feel that many will adopt frugality in its entirety. Most will experiment with the easier habits, however, those habits that require a greater level of change and dedication are never likely to be embraced wholeheartedly by the majority. Rather than making a conscious choice to be frugal, most are being forced as a result of their current financial situation but as economy begins to recover, I believe that they will be quick to neglect their newly adopted frugal lifestyle.

In 1973 E F Schumacher wrote: ‘All real human problems arise from the antinomy of order and freedom.’ If true, what are the implications for parents and managements? (max 250 words)

I believe that we all subconsciously battle with the antinomy of order and freedom on a daily basis, be it in a personal or professional setting. It is impossible to rate either one of the opposing laws as being more important than the other. The implications for both parents and managements would be the vital importance of finding the appropriate and most effective balance of the conflicting laws in order to maintain morale and loyalty, thus getting the best out of their employees/children. Parents must ensure that they provide their children with a balance of discipline, direction, morals and the freedom to play, have fun and learn from their own mistakes. Managements need to set boundaries and frameworks in order for the organisation to run smoothly but they also need to allow their employees a level of freedom so that they are able to use their initiative and feel trusted within the workplace.

Finding the best balance of order and freedom is especially important within creative agencies as due to their creative nature there is a danger that the law of freedom will be infinitely more alluring than the law of order. However, they must ensure that they do not choose between the competing halves, rather put both to good use, thus adopting a ‘one-and-the-other-at-the-same-time’ approach.

MCCanns Probing questions:

Britain has lost its sense of identity. Discuss. (150 words)

There is no doubt that Britain has changed dramatically over recent years, and many have struggled to come to terms with such change. I do not feel that Britain has lost its identity, rather its identity has changed. Britain has been welcoming to immigrants and as a result has a more ethnically diverse culture. I don’t think this a bad thing, in fact I think it portrays a British culture that we should be proud of. Britain’s identity lies with its people, if British people feel they have lost their identity then that is of their own doing and not that of the government. I consider myself British. Britain is where I live, and British culture is the culture in which I exist. I think that the problem lies not with a lack of identity, but with the inability to embrace change.

What have brands ever done for us anyway? (150 words)

We have become a nation that is obsessed with brands. We as consumers have complex relationships with the brands that we choose to use. We use brands as a form of identity and self-expression. Brands function as a tangible expression of self-image within the social environment, they offer us a method of differentiating ourselves within social groups. For example, surfers will more often than not only wear brands such as quicksilver, Billabong and Rip Curl as they are widely known as ‘surfy’ brands, whereas footballers will buy more sporty brands such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok.

You’re setting up a community on Pluto. Who or what would you take with you and why? (100 words)

My Community:
Alex Zane – Husband (Self explanatory).
Kings of Leon – Life is better set to music.
Chef and culinary explorer Valentine Warner – Everyone needs to eat and good food makes me happy.
My friend Liz – She always manages to make me smile.
Lee Evans – Laughing keeps you young.
David Attenborough – I’ve always wanted to meet him and pick his brains.
The whole cast of the Bill – Guilty pleasure!
Coen Brothers – Genius.
Mark Sloan (Diagnosis Murder) – He has both medical knowledge and a good nose for crime.
Last but not least my Mum – I think she’d quite like Pluto.

Iris graduate application question: Have safe sex. It’s what we tell thousands of 18-24 year olds on behalf of our clients every day. Where and when do you think is the best way to get the message out there?

We have become a nation where in order to meet a prospective partner you don your gladrags and paint the town red. I am sure if asked, most 18-24 year olds would say that they go out at the weekends to have fun, however they will inevitably be hoping to meet a special someone. This need, combined with alcohol, often results in one night stands, which is generally when unprotected sex occurs. They are having fun, alcohol has taken away some of their inhibitions and they do not fully consider the consequences. Therefore, I would say that the best time to target this audience is a) when they are on their night out and b) the morning after, when they may be regretting their actions. Adverts could be placed in clubs and bars, especially behind toilet doors. They could also be placed in taxi cabs, tube stations, bus shelters etc for the ride home.

I think it is also important to consider that almost every 18-24 year old is a regular internet user, and more often than not look to the internet for sources of information, therefore a digital aspect of the campaign would be needed.

I would also target high street shops, maybe fitting rooms. Most girls and boys will buy new clothes for nights out. While they won’t actually be on the night out, it will be in their mind as they will be planning what to wear. By talking to them then we may be able to prevent any unsafe sex and encourage them to think ahead and buy protection before they go out, get them into the mindset where condoms are an essential part of their ‘outfit’ when they hit the town. This could be transferable into digital with condom brands etc combining efforts with Topshop/Topman and advertising on their websites for when the audience is shopping online.

(I didn't actually get through to the first round of any of these I wouldn't advise that you take any ideas from my answers!!)

My take on advertising grad schemes...

I applied for a number of advertising agency grad schemes in 2008. Filling out the application forms was as time consuming as keeping up a full time job, with questions ranging from strange to absurd. I get that advertising is a sociable industry and the questions are designed to acquire an understanding of not only your abilities and skills but your personality also. However, I can’t help but think that some of the questions are trying too hard to be creative and ‘whacky’. An agencies application form is almost an advert in itself, trying to communicate their ‘fun’ brand to prospective employees.

I found it very difficult to know how best to answer the questions at first…you can’t help but think ‘right, how do I think they would want me to answer this question?’ or wonder how they will read into certain responses. But, at the end of the day you are playing a numbers game, and you’ve no way of knowing what sort of person will be reading your application form. My only advice would be to be yourself and answer all questions honestly, that way they won’t be able to tuck you up should you make it to a first round interview.

From my applications I had a handful of rejections (pah! What do they know!), two first round interviews and one second round. Surprisingly my success was with the two agencies I thought would be the toughest to get through; M&C Saatchi and DDB. My first round at M&C went okay and my DDB first round went brilliantly (or so I thought…), however, ironically, I then got rejected from DDB and made it to the second round of M&C.

Second round…hmmm, I had no idea what to expect being new to the whole graduate recruitment scene. It was an experience and I gained a lot from the day, however, I would not go as far as to say that I enjoyed myself, or had a whale of a time, least not until they brought out the beer! I know that I have what it takes to make it in advertising and my qualifications speak for themselves, but I couldn’t help feeling out of place. I was a welsh country girl in a room full of very well spoken and well presented Oxford and Cambridge students, don’t get me wrong, I have no prejudices against them and most of the people that I met were lovely, however I quickly realised that this method of recruitment may not be for me.

So, it came as no surprise when I didn’t get offered a place (still making it to the final 35 out of over 750 is not bad). My feedback was that I was a little quiet and somewhat of a shrinking violet. I was advised that I need to have more confidence in my abilities and that I am more talented than I realise. This made the rejection a little less harsh!

Anyway, I don’t think I will be rushing to apply for the 2009 schemes, I’m going to focus more on the back door!


Hey there! Let me introduce myself…

I am a very friendly, happy-go-lucky kind of girl and love interacting with and meeting new people. Being brought up in the welsh countryside, I am very much a country bumpkin and am at my happiest when exploring the great outdoors. I have a ‘get up and go’ attitude towards life and relish a good challenge. I love music, films, galleries, museums and am known to enjoy the odd beer!

If my friends were to describe me in three words I believe that they would be; outgoing, smiley and loyal.

My all time favourite song: Joy Division Love will tear us apart
My all time favourite film (if pushed to name one!): True Romance
My favourite book (to date): Margaret Atwood ‘Handmaids Tale’


- Tea and cake
- Folk music
- Wildlife programmes
- Sunflowers
- Street Art
- Europe
- Running
- Hats and scarves
- Period dramas
- The beach

10 Dislikes:

- Rain
- People that spit (with no good reason)
- Horror films
- Chat shows
- Wasps
- Fizzy drinks
- Size zero
- Sambucca (a complex, love-hate relationship!)
- Trance music
- People that are too big for their boots.