Thursday, November 29, 2018

Merrry Christmas or Let's make a show in a barn!

Most holiday advertising begins to be created in the early summer. While it’s 90F outside and
people are looking forward to a summer vacation, ad people are knee deep in winter
thoughts. By the time Fall rolls around no sooner is the Halloween stuff displayed before it’s
vampired by Christmas shelf space. As we all know it’s no small holiday. And for many many retailers, it’s a make or break time of year.

Admittedly, I anticipate Christmas ads more than even Super Bowl ads. Often the economic climate can be gauged by the creative we see pre-Christmas. And for me, it’s like waiting to unwrap a package impatient to know what’s inside. Lately, more and more I have been disappointed. It’s not because my senses have been dulled or overindulged or over stimulated by holiday white noise. It’s mostly because a lot of Christmas ads have lost the heart and essence of the season.

But wait, what just caught my eye?

Why Santa of course and he didn’t even have to try.

Out of a small indie shop in Poughkeepsie NY called Ashworth Creative, they are busy as elves
making ads and seeming to have FUN doing it.

The minute I happened on this tale of Santa tapping out his own Christmas list I settled in to see a tired, beleaguered Santa facing yet another glass of milk looming large in the foreground. And I realized how poor Santee’s tummy must be reeeeeling after his 9 billionth glass of this stuff. So, I began to sympathize and wonder who and what Santa could possibly be making HIS wish list for.
Turns out Santa was wishing and writing for a nice hot cuppa…. tea that is from Harney and Sons Fine Teas.

And who wouldn’t after a night like his. At last, we see Mrs. C making The Great Man his tea as he appreciatively pats her paw as a thank you.

Ashworth and Harney and Sons Fine Teas chose a classic Christmas approach that reminds me of a black and white 1939 movie with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney (you have to be a real film/Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney fan to know this) who eagerly and spontaneously decide to put on a show in a barn. It’s about family, fun, friends, festivity and the ingenuity needed in getting it produced. And so it is at Ashworth with Harney and Sons Fine Teas where there’s no apology for it being a clear celebration of Christmas. There’s no apology for featuring Santa, who is resplendent in costume and demeanor. And it leaves a good feeling at the end just like the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney film and a nice hot cuppa tea does.

The ad is simple and sweet. A classic Christmas choice that isn’t trying to be too clever. And it is putting a show on in a barn.

And what do I mean by that?

This ad will run only on social media:  YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. It was shot with a local small production house and took one day. The set was the home of one of the owners. And Mr. and Mrs. C ? Agency and family. From getting the assignment to uploading on social media, maybe it took six weeks. It was a collaborative effort by both Ashworth and Harney and Sons. All in it cost less than most big NYC ad agency Christmas parties.

When you see behemoths like JWT and Wunderman having to merge, who haven’t done anything fun or creative or insightful or risky for over fifty years you can see why they are endangered. They stopped having fun. They stopped taking risks. They stopped being an ad agency. They stopped making a show in a barn.

Harvey and Sons Fine Teas headquarters aren’t far from Poughkeepsie. They are family owned and run, as is Ashworth Creative.

More and more it’s little shops like these beginning to mushroom with handling solid, local businesses and established not for profits. They are actively pitching and getting and doing bigger and bigger assignments. Why? Because they are lean, local, smart, nimble and accommodating.

So my new advice to agencies for 2019 is: Make a show in a barn!

From time to time I am going to feature smaller agency work that works. Because these shops are the new reality teeming with positive energy, teaming with openness to new work, new approaches, and fresh ideas that attract supportive clients that inclusively believe in them.

To view more of Ashworth’s work, here’s their website:

If you’d like to be considered for my review, send me your stuff.

Giving this sweet Santa spot a cheerful 8 out of 10.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

This is WHY we have advertising agencies ....

Apparently, over 6 million people have viewed this 'advert' on Facebook and have declared that John Lewis should hire this guy to do their next Christmas ad.


First, this isn't an ad about Christmas.

This is an ad about a guy who has a serious Oedipus complex.

Second, this is about a Millennial guy who probably went to some film or art school and needs a job.

Third, this is so maudlin and sappy it's ridiculous, ludicrous and completely bad taste.

Fourth it has nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with Millennials wanting to turn Christmas into some PC 'meaningful' Gwenneth Paltrow-esque GOOP ridiculous madeup significance about the true meaning of love.

Give me a barf bag.

Look all you snowflakes, advertising is about selling. Not about some severely conflicted bearded guy who so dotes on his Mother that it borders on clinical and represents something really really more for a Public Service ad for a Helpline.

And apparently, there are over 6 million people out there that need that helpline phone number.

I give this a -10.....

Goodluck in your job search fella.