Only half of me is human and other such stories I tell people to increase their perceptions of my abilities

Working in marketing includes a lot of bullshit. We bullshit how long it will take us to finish a job, we bullshit how cheap we can do it for, and we nearly always bullshit rationales for our ideas when the client questions them.

It’s all part of the fun.

I bullshit all the time, but then I’m a copywriter, so it’s in my DNA. If I’m trying to write about a product, often the truth is a little underwhelming. However, the story I can tell around the truth leads to more opportunities, so I bullshit it.

Does product A lead directly to X? Of course not. But, if you use product A in a certain way and the stars align perfectly in the sky, X is a very real possibility.

I also bullshit a lot about myself. The Ash Billinghay brand relies heavily on imagination, as without it, I’m just a copywriter.

With it, I’m so much more. So, suspend your disbelief for a few paragraphs, and come with me on a journey through the bullshit I’ve told people. Starting with…

I’m Stephen King

Most rational people wouldn’t give this one a second thought, but the person who believed it wasn’t rational at all. In fact, she was very drunk and propping up a bar. We got chatting as I ordered some drinks, and when she asked what I did for a job I didn’t have the patience to explain copywriting to her. I just said I was a writer, and she asked what kind of books I wrote. I said horror, she said, “No way! Like Stephen King?” I smiled, and she said she knew she recognised me from somewhere.

Thus, a legend is reborn, and my drinks are paid for by someone who thinks she’s just met a celebrity. I’m much younger that Stephen King, but she was very, very drunk.

 

My parents were both writers

I don’t think copywriting ability is genetic. My diabetes might be, and my bad eyesight definitely is, but I learnt how to write irreverent nonsense all by myself. Still, it sounds grand to say I come from a long line of copywriters, and when you’re speaking to someone you know you’ll never have to meet again, you can be whoever you want to be.

I was Ash Billinghay of Billinghay and Billinghay, a family-run agency with excellent heritage. Not heard of us? That’s because we’re incredibly bespoke and entirely fictional.

 

I’m allergic to marketing jargon

This one is clearly a lie. If it was true I’d have died long ago, or at the very least be rolling around on the floor in agony with hives all over my skin.

I just don’t like jargon. There’s no need for it, plain English is the way forward, and you absolutely need to stop using it.

But it doesn’t bring me out in a rash, unless I’m feeling particularly bored in a meeting, in which case I may start sneezing until someone notices and asks me to stop so they can carry on talking about the digitalisation of Gen Z. Bless me.

 

There’s value in bullshitting sometimes. It spices up your day and lets you have some fun along the way. Admittedly, most of this post has been bullshit too, but if you’ve got to this point, it’s done its job.

Stop it

Hey, you’ve seen advertising, right? That stuff that get in the way when you’re trying to live your life, those flashy pictures that prevent you from enjoying yourself, the things that pop up on your screen when you’re trying to read.

Yeah, advertising. Well then, you probably have an opinion on it, and that opinion probably includes a whole host of things you’d rather see less of.

What’s that? It doesn’t? You’ve got better things to be doing with your time then complaining about the state of advertising to try and get a few likes on social media, and boost your personal brand’s presence?

Oh, well good for you. I don’t, so here I am.

 

THING ONE: YOU

Brands have this weird belief that we should care about them. I don’t, and nor should you. They’re just an office full of middle-aged men, trying to convince us they’re more in line with our way of living than the office next door, full of slightly younger men who are doing the same thing via Snapchat.

The reality is, I don’t know what your brand stands for, I just know it costs 20p more than the brand next to it on the shelf, so I’ll choose that one.

 

THING TWO: MILLENNIALS

The term ‘millennials’ was invented by someone too lazy to try and make their advertising original. They thought if they could paint an entire generation with the same brush, it would make their lives easier. After all, everyone between the ages of 18 and 25 thinks the exact same things, so why wouldn’t they love the new flavours of Diet Coke?

I was sat in a meeting where someone said, “Millennials want to live for now. They want experiences, fast and forgettable, moments. They don’t care for the future.”

Not only was I sick in my mouth, but I also opened their mouth and was sick in that too. Then I looked at my savings account and realised how useless it was, as it didn’t help me experience ‘now’ in the slightest. I spent it all that night on something I can no longer remember.

 

THING THREE: VIDEOS THAT PLAY BEFORE THE VIDEO I WANT TO WATCH

I know they think that I’ll watch their content if they force me to. I know that someone has decided it appeals to the same target audience as the video I want to see. I know their research has suggested 15 seconds is the ideal amount of time to capture my attention.

But they are wrong.

Not only will I look away for that 15 seconds, but I’ll also remember the brand that tried to sell to me, and be less likely to spend money on them ever again.

The click-bait on Facebook told me there was a video of an animal doing a funny thing, and that is literally all I can think about right now. Not your advert. Not your call to action. Not you, unless you too are a dog that does something I won’t believe.

The worst ones don’t even give you a skip option, which is literally the only think I’m paying attention to.

 

THING FOUR: BRANDED CONTENT

Have you ever read any? No? Me neither. A sponsored article, a lifestyle piece that disguises itself as something interesting, only to reveal it’s actually a really long ad for a mobile phone, anything that has to include an ad hashtag to stop me believing it’s genuine.

Behave. You’re kidding yourself if you think anyone other than your mum is going to read it, and she’s only going to do it because she’s forced to love you thanks to genetics.

It’s bad, it’s boring, and I could have written it better in a sentence. Pay me money.

 

Anyway, that was it. Enjoy your weeks.

 

 

 

BE THE BRAND LIVE THE BRAND

Once, recently, I went to a meeting. I do this sometimes, when people more senior than me decide I can be trusted in the real world. I don’t agree with their judgement, but that’s up to them.

Anyway, at this meeting lots of things were said. Some of them I wrote down in the form of notes, others I did not.

One of the ones I did write down was the following:

The brand is the experience.

Now, this might just be marketing bullshit, as most things in marketing are, but it got me thinking:

What would my brand be, if it was based on the experience of others?

The first thing that came to mind was professional integrity, but then after laughing for a little bit I moved on to the more serious answers.

I based these all on genuine feedback I’ve had from my peers, who are fortunate enough to have spent a considerable time working by my side. I wish I was my peers.

EXPERIENCE ONE: IRREVERENCE

I’m rarely known to answer a brief in the way that brief feels it should be answered. I mean, I once wrote a credit card campaign based on the idea that they’d be useless if a bear attacked. This later got merged with another idea and made even less sense than it would have done originally.

When I’m forced to do work that doesn’t allow for such creative expression, I still do a better job than anyone else would do, just with an angry look on my face. Stop killing my dreams, man.

That leads me on nicely to…

EXPERIENCE TWO: MODESTY

It’s been commented on that I, perhaps, have a mild ego. Some people would say that I have such belief in my own ability to think of conceptual ideas and write kick-ass copy, that they’ve personally felt inadequate when in my presence.

That’s fair enough.

I know I’m good, but I always want to be better. In fact, I want to be the very best there ever was. I want to be the kind of writer people study later on, and remark on the fact I was as beautiful as I was bright. Shut up, it could happen.

 

EXPERIENCE THREE: OFTEN GETS DISTRACTED

Ok, so here’s the thing. Once I was writing something pretty dull while someone else was working on something that looked more fun. What happened next was that I not only finished my dull work, but also wrote the other work in the same time, with better results.

I do get distracted by ideas all the time. It makes holding a serious conversation with me challenging, as you can see the point my eyes glaze over after you’ve said words like, “millennial demographic” or “the data suggests”.

Give me something cool to think about though, and the only thing that will distract me is the burning desire to own that brief like a freshly baked cookie that my sister is trying to eat before me.

 

EXPERIENCE FOUR: FAST

The fastest copywriter you’ll ever work with. That’s what I’d say if you asked me to describe my working ability in relation to speed. Give me a day to do a job, I’ll do it in half that time and spend the rest of it asking you for more, or writing a blog post about me as a brand.

This speed does have its downsides, though. For one, my fingers type so fast they now have weird little finger abs and intimidate other fingers in the finger gym.

Also, account managers charge me out by the hour, so at the same time as I’m wowing their clients, I’m also costing them dollar. Sorry.

 

EXPERIENCE FIVE: HAHAHA SO FUNNY

Some people find my off-hand commentary on life funny. Some people would say that my sarcastic delivery and razor-sharp wit make me a delight to be around. Some people would say I should talk more to them.

Others would not.

This is ok, because if I was to be funny to everyone, it wouldn’t feel special to the individuals who deserved it. It’d be like, I don’t know, the Queen giving everyone a knighthood. Or everyone catching a cold at the same time. Or death.

 

EXPERIENCE SIX: SOMETIMES HE TAKES IT TOO FAR AND HE SHOULD STOP

This blog post is a good example of that.

However, that can be a good thing, can’t it? I don’t give up on a brief until I’ve exhausted every possible idea, I don’t leave the studio until I’m proud with what I’ve produced, and I don’t stop telling a joke until the recipient is absolutely convinced it’s hilarious.

Persistency pays off.

 

EXPERIENCE SEVEN: POTENTIAL TO BE GREAT OR MAYBE ONE DAY GO INSANE

I’ve been told several things in my career to date.

Many times, I’ve been told I have the potential to be a creative inspiration, potentially one day be a creative director, maybe even go on to greatness.

More times I’ve been asked if I need to talk to anyone, like, professional.

You must take the good with the bad, and without the bad, I don’t think my good would be quite so, you know, good. I’ll use it to my benefit.

 

 

THE BRAND

So, what does that make of my brand? Is brand Ash one you’d buy into, or one whose recent advertising campaign looks seriously misguided? Why is there a bear in it? Is that even allowed on TV at this time of day?

I don’t know, really. I think it’s still a work in progress, like an older version of the Apple logo where it’s still recognisable as what it went on to become, but not quite there yet.

I’m excited to keep moulding what makes me, me, and see where it takes me.

I’m also excited to meet my eventual counsellor. We’ll have fun.

New year, same you, just with an ambition to be better that will likely fade away by mid-February

I hate clichés. Predictable ideas, boring work that has been done before, and 99% of the content on LinkedIn makes me want to remove my own flesh and soak into the soil.

Sadly, I work in marketing, so this shit surrounds me all the time.

In January, the air is full of it. We’re polluted with creative crap that scrapes the barrel of what you can class as an idea. Whether it’s trying to get you to join a gym, eat better, chase a new job or give up that crippling meth addiction, marketing wheels are whirring away to push out the cheapest content they can produce in the hope you’ll pay attention.

Which is weird, because if they did that in, say, April, you’d call it out.

You’d see that recruitment ad telling you it’s time to become the person you always wanted to be, and instantly spot that there’s no actual thinking behind it.

You’d spot the poster for the gym and realise you can’t justifying £40 a month just to get sweaty on your lunch break.

You’d be smarter than marketing, wouldn’t you? Because you’re a good, bright person. Bullshit can’t fool you.

So why, in January, do people who are supposedly experts in their field think it will work? Why do people who work in an industry whose soul intent is to disrupt your regular thought process and make you think about something else, continue to push the same things you see every year?

Today I did as I do every day, and scrolled through LinkedIn hoping to find someone willing to pay loads of money to a sarcastic writer with a teenager’s haircut to write something witty and irreverent.

I did the same on Twitter, even Facebook.

The amount of shit I saw was astronomical. Admittedly, that’s nothing new on LinkedIn, where everything is always shit,* but it still hurts to see. There are people out there – creative people who have dreams, who grew up wanting to change the world – being forced to create things that will already be forgotten about by the time a copywriter comes to write an angry blog about them.

Is January some kind of magical time when people will discard the person they’ve always been, and decide that, yes, this is the time they want to take up a brand-new career?

No, it’s just another month, just as shit as all the other months, just as melancholy as every other passing moment in our existence, just another period of time that will pass by without note as the world crumbles around us and our dreams gradually turn into resentment.

You like eating pies. January isn’t going to change that.

You enjoy sitting at your desk, earning an average salary for doing the least work possible. January won’t change that either.

As for trying to stop you drinking? If January achieved that, you’d literally have no reason left to live.

Fuck January. Be the person you want to be whenever you want to be them, and don’t let a month bully you into thinking any differently.

*I’ve posted this on LinkedIn, meaning this too is now shit.

2017: A year in review

Are you, like me, sick of people saying that 2017 was a year of ups and downs? Are you, like me, bored of people saying how proud they are to have come through a tough twelve months with such good friends by their side? Are you, like me, fed up with everyone’s optimism for the year ahead, despite the fact they have no noticeable skills or abilities that will make 2018 any better than the year before?

Well, you’re in the right place, as this year in review will say none of the above and will only deliver the cold, hard facts about a year in the life of me, Ash Billinghay, Senior Copywriter and purveyor of fine words and sarcasm.

For those unsure what this is all about, why not look back at 2016: A year in review? That post was full of misery and uncertainty, and will give you a good idea of the kind of tone to expect over the next few paragraphs.

If you don’t care what this is about, then let’s plough forward and get this show on the road, beginning with, as is tradition, January.

January

January was a weird time, as Lincoln City were making headlines for holding Championship side Ipswich to a draw in the FA Cup. Anyway, you don’t care about that, what you do care about is the fact I had my second, third, fourth, fifth and potentially even my sixth date with the girl I’m now living with (I know!), and that I got myself a new job to expand my horizons and grow my CV.

This resulted in me looking for flats in the northern sweat pit that is Leeds. More on that in approximately no time at all.

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This leaving card gets it.

February

Flat hunting is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do. The same applies to house hunting, or bungalow hunting, or probably even houseboat hunting, but with flats you get extra pressure. You’ve only got one floor to look at, and on that floor you’ve got to find warmth, space, and potential for joy.

I looked at two flats, and this was my mistake. Flat number one was tiny, and despite its beautiful location, its lack of fridge, washing machine and enough space to live in put me off.

Flat number two won me over. It was a huge basement flat (alarm bells) with a massive amount of space, in a prime location oozing with potential. It looked lovely on first viewing, and within ten minutes of stepping foot in the door, I was making an offer.

Oh, if only I knew then what I know now.

Moving out was heart breaking. I loved my Sheffield flat, but an urge to better myself was taking me away from it. Stay tuned through to December to see how long that lasted.

I moved in to new flat the day after my birthday, and from that point on, everything went a little bit wrong with it.

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March

Starting a new job can be daunting.

I’d been in my last one for three years, and actually really liked it. I was only moving because I have grand ambitions to be the best version of me possible, and an opportunity missed is a moment wasted, or something like that.

It felt weird starting somewhere new. I had to learn new names, and remember new passwords, and I suppose rebuild my brand in a new location. But, on the bright side, Lincoln City got through to the quarter finals of the FA Cup, and I got to sacrifice my brand for the sake of cheering loudly as we got battered 5-0. Never mind.

Anyway, I got to explore Leeds, get lost in new places, and do it all with my now long-term girlfriend by my side. Getting lost together turns ‘bumbling around in a panic’ into ‘going on an adventure,’ which looks much better on Instagram.

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Here’s a really thin building in Leeds.

April

Have you ever been to Liverpool? Neither had I, until April 2017, where I went along and met a lovely French man called Sean and his girlfriend Jenni. With them, and Grace on my arm, we wandered through parks, drank our way through every pub we could find, and best of all, watched Lincoln City lift the National League trophy. Ok, admittedly I was the only one really watching this, in a deserted pub in which I had to request they put the game on, but it was wonderful to see.

My only regret was that, after a lifetime of seeing us suffer, I couldn’t be there in person with my Dad to watch our moment in the spotlight. I’ll make it up to you, Dad, with lots of trips to see us languish in mid-table in the Football League. You reds.

Other April highlights included… no, wait, Lincoln winning the league was it. Nothing can top that.

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Liverpool parking.

May

In May something magical happened, when during a routine walk round through nature, we discovered a mystical band of characters known as ‘The Friends of Roundhay Park.’ Their dog followed us for a while, and we were invited to join in with their park cleaning activities. We declined and never saw them again, only hearing their song in the trees whenever we passed a park.

We also got to try on fancy hats in a shopping centre, an image of which later went to appear on a cushion in our flat.

Speaking of the flat, I should point out that by now I’d become aware it was a shithole, full of damp walls, a bathroom that leaked whenever it rained, spiders that would eat you given the chance, slugs, broken appliances and a maverick landlord who would let himself in whenever he fancied, instantly breaking the tenancy agreement.

Other things I found included the pound meter that needed topping up for power, and slime growing up several of the walls.

It took three months of living in hell for any of this to be fixed, and despite claims that he’d used ‘the best people in the business’ for it, the damp came back with a vengeance within weeks.

Fuck you, flat. I wish I’d gone for the tiny new one in a fancy location. Who needs a fridge, anyway?

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Fucking flat. Fuck off.

June

This goes down as one of my favourite Junes in history. Since moving to Leeds, I’d really missed my friends and began to feel a little bit homesick. So, when I got to spend a weekend in Whitby with them, I was full of glee and delight. Whitby is a babe of a town, and the seaside is one of my favourite places to be. Prancing about on the sand, running like a coward from the cold, northern seas, and eating copious fish and chips all made this one of my most cherished 2017 memories.

I could go on, but this picture will do a much better job of expressing the joy I felt.

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July

I could count the number of weddings I’d been to on three fingers. Until July, that is, when it went up to four, and I got to sit a little awkwardly in a Catholic church as everyone around me sang along with hymns and prayers I’d never heard of. More awkwardly than that, at the end of the ceremony everyone turned to each other and, with a handshake, said, “Peace be with you.”

I misheard this, and spent the next few minutes saying, “Pleased to meet you,” to a very confused Catholic congregation.

I’ll remember the day as being a wonderful chance for me to meet new friends, have fun and watch a lovely couple get married. Others will remember it for me pouring water down my drunk girlfriend’s mouth, as bridesmaid duties got the better of her.

That’s another skill to add to my LinkedIn.

July was also home to the busiest weekend of my year, where I went to my best mate’s birthday party, some weird outdoor festival where a man played bamboo, and London all in the space of three manic days. If you’re considering getting the coach to London, don’t. It smells. Also, if you think you can drink that amount of alcohol in such a short space of time, you’re wrong, you can’t, and you shouldn’t even try it. You’re not 21 anymore. Grow up.

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August

Skinny jeans have been my go-to fashion choice ever since I had the confidence to start wearing them. For a long time, I based my image on having thin legs and big hair, but then I started going to the gym and, soon enough, it didn’t work anymore. This was made obvious during an August walk up in the Derbyshire countryside, where my impractical choice of clothing promptly split, leaving my groin feeling very fresh and airy.

Not long after, I discovered how expensive actual jeans can be, and forked out on a pair that will hopefully last me longer.

August also saw me lose in an obstacle course to a three-year-old boy, so maybe I need to go to the gym more.

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You can’t see it here, but those jeans are ruined.

September

IKEA is a wonderous place. I’d never been to one before, so September opened my eyes to some incredible possibilities. One such possibility was a tea cabinet, which I put together all by myself to house my ever-growing collection of teas of the globe.

Go to IKEA, readers, it’s got everything there.

September was even more memorable for being the month my girlfriend moved into my damp, falling apart flat with me. Look at me, cohabiting with a girl. Do you see this, teenage Ash? Remember when you thought you were unattractive and would never find love? Remember that bitch who cheated on you for 18 months and made you feel like shit again? Remember all those bad haircuts that rightly put girls off you?

Look how far you’ve come. Now you share toothpaste with the love of your life.

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October

In October, my friend announced she was carrying another human life in her stomach, and I felt paternal instincts that I didn’t know existed. What is this wizardry? How can something so small grow into something so big? Can I please be the uncle who leads it astray and feeds it too much sugar, to make up for the fact I am diabetic?

All valid questions.

This month also saw me dress up as a terrifying witch doctor, embracing Halloween in full for the first time since I dressed as a rabbit, got too drunk, and walked home dragging my furry carcass behind me.

And, most excitingly of all, I missed Sheffield so much that I decided to move back there and make it my forever home. This meant I’d need to remember how to drive, and suddenly, things literally moved up a gear.

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November

It had been a solid seven years since I last sat behind the wheel of a car, so what better time to get back into the habit than in the cold, icy weeks of November? I could see the fear in my instructor’s eyes when I sat behind the wheel and told him how long it had been, but three lessons later and it had all come flooding back to me. The starting, the turning the wheel, the stopping at red lights. I was a natural.

According to the photos saved on my phone, that was pretty much all that happened in November, but remembering how to move a large, metal object at fast speeds is exciting enough.

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December

The year ended with as much excitement as it had begun. Honestly, in all the years I’ve written this review that only about six people ever read, never has it featured so little sarcasm, regret, or pessimism for the year ahead. I’m sorry about that, readers, as I know you don’t come here for happiness. You could find that with any copywriter, but with me you expect a certain bitter tone of voice. I fear I have let you down on that front with this post, but I should also point out that I don’t care, as 2017 was a bloody delight.

There were no ups and downs, only ups and a lot of damp.

December saw me, for the first time ever, spend Christmas with a girl and her family, splitting the day between clans Billinghay and Hollister. I also bought a car, and am now legally allowed to drive it at up to 70mph on the roads of the United Kingdom. So far, I’ve driven it to places such as Asda, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Aldi, McDonalds and Edinburgh. Who knows where it’ll go next? (Probably to and from Leeds quite a bit, what with me moving back to Sheffield. Yay.)

In short, while other people are talking about years of struggle that they feel stronger for having come through, I’m going to take this chance to brag about how good my year was and how I thoroughly deserve it. Go 2017. You were the tits.

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Why you can’t write copy

I know you think you can write copy, but I’m here to tell you something important – you can’t, and you should stop trying.

That is unless, you too, are a copywriter, in which case you’re free to carry on. This doesn’t concern you. This concerns those around you who think they know better.

I’ve been doing this job for a long time now, and no matter where I’ve worked, I’ve noticed something – everyone else thinks they can do better.

You’ll write a tagline for a product and send it over to a designer, just to watch them take all the punctuation out because it looks messy.

You’ll write an email campaign, before the account manager decides it would sound better written differently, and proceeds to do just that.

You’ll write a radio script, but the new business guy ‘knows the client’, so steps in at the last minute to pitch his own idea.

It happens time and time again, all across the industry, leaving copywriters wondering what they wasted all that time gaining experience and honing their craft.

After all, it’s only words, isn’t it? Anyone can do them.

Just the other week I was speaking with a creative director who told me he doesn’t have a full-time copywriter, as the COO likes turning his hand to writing and finds it relaxing. I took a look at their website, and you could tell.

And once I sat next to a very senior member of the creative team, as they took an apostrophe out of the word ‘it’s’ because it “didn’t look right on the screen.”

“But it means something different now,” I protested. “It’s the wrong word. You may as well put potatoes in. People will laugh at us. We’ll look like idiots. IT IS MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO ITS.”

It went to print, and I was told to get down off the table.

It’s time it stopped.

This doesn’t happen with any other area of creativity. You won’t see anyone editing a designer’s work without first consulting them. You wouldn’t get anyone cutting a film together unless they worked in that department. It only happens when you’re a copywriter.

It’s our own fault, really, for choosing a career that is just so damn easy.

Almost everyone can write. In fact, most of our colleagues will write several emails a day, write briefs, write texts to their friends, write shopping lists, all sorts. They write all the time. Piece of cake.

Writing is a doddle. They’ve been doing it since they were a kid. They thought about becoming a copywriter once, actually, and got a B in A-Level English. Writing is more of a hobby, anyway.

Their confusion comes in thinking that copywriting is the same.

It isn’t.

Copywriting takes a lot of work to get right. It takes a mind that can think in puns and wordplay and sales and imagination and the down and dirty all at the same time. It takes skill.

You haven’t got that skill, junior artworker. You haven’t spent your entire adult life practicing it, web developer. You don’t have a portfolio full of award winning lines, account director.

Sure, you can suggest things. There’s every chance I got it wrong and it could be improved. I’m not always a genius.

But your suggestion is where it should stop. Leave the words up to me, let me decide what sounds better, and let me be the one who says where a bloody apostrophe should go.

Or I’ll start doing your job for you, and I can promise you right now, I’d do it really badly.

Eat the ice cream

What’s the last good advert you remember?

I don’t know either.

I mean, I see enough of them, on TV, on Facebook, on Instagram, on websites, on billboards, on every single piece of media I ever consume, ALL OF THE TIME, but none of them stick.

However, one thing that has stuck recently, is this dystopian film for ice cream.

Watch it, then watch it again, then wonder if it was real and watch it a third time just to make sure.

Yep.

Having first been sent it by my friend, I’ve since seen it talked about by a bunch of people who don’t think it’s very good. Some people, in fact, hate it.

Well, I’m here to take it upon myself to let you all know you’re mistaken.

This is the best piece of advertising I’ve seen in ages, and what follows is a list of perfectly valid reasons why your opinion is wrong.

Reason you’re wrong 1 – People are talking about it.

Already this sets it apart from almost any other advert you’ll see. Right now I’m watching an ad for Lor coffee. It tells me I shouldn’t pursue anything less than gold, and just like that it’s over and I’ve forgotten all about it. Will I tweet about that Lor advert? No. Will I send it round the office tomorrow in an all-office email? No. Will I do that with any of the other ads that are flicking past my eye holes behind my laptop? Not a chance.

But I will, and already have done, with dystopian ice cream. If advertising has any purpose at all, it is to get something talked about. Success.

 

Reason you’re wrong 2 – It wasn’t designed by data.

The reason a lot of ads are shit is because data is their inspiration. The data says the audience will like this. The data says they responded well to that. The data says your ad should look like this.

Data conforms your creative. It gives you the building blocks to make something, and whenever you build with a prescribed list of ingredients, you end up with something that looks very similar. That’s why most of what we see it bollocks – it’s not been inspired by creativity; it’s been inspired by facts and figures, which in the entire history of the world, have never lead to anything mildly interesting. Sure, a bit of data is nice. A brief and a proposition, that’ll do. But let’s not go overboard.

This ice cream ad wasn’t even made by an agency. A film studio did it, which is why it looks so sharp and finely produced. Ad agencies often fall into the trap of creative by committee, where if a room full of people don’t all love the idea, the idea dies.

No committee got anywhere near this, so the idea stayed original.

 

Reason you’re wrong 3 – It caused controversy.

If everybody likes an idea, the chances are it’s bang average. It’s been shaped by opinions, feedback, criticism, and round after round of amends and changes. While it might have started out as something fresh and new, an agency full of people whose jobs are to tell you ‘no’ have ended up making it boringly safe.

It then goes to the client, who makes it safer still, before you deliver something everyone is just happy to get off their desks and won’t put anywhere near their portfolios.

Every second a good idea dies. It’s the way of the world.

Dystopian ice cream is an idea that not everybody likes. Some people think it’s great, while other people think it’s a piss take. That means it’s the furthest thing away from average you could imagine. In the few days it’s been out, it’s already caused more conversation than anything that went through a panel of experts.

It’s fresh and new, and no-one killed it.

 

Reason you’re wrong number 4 – Excellent SEO.

Search dystopian ice cream. Need I say anymore?

 

I’d always much rather create something that is hated than something that is acceptable.
Acceptable ideas are what will kill the industry. Things like this are what will keep it striving to be different, which I’m sure was the reason we all got into it.

Advertising is meant to cause a stir and make products stand out from their competition. I can’t think of anything that has done that better recently than robots force feeding a captive OAP ice cream.