Archive for March, 2011

The things we love – Part 5: Ice lollies

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Ok, so we may be massively jumping the gun, but a couple of sunshiny days have brightened our hopes for a sizzling rather than drizzling summer.

It’s also turned our minds to the frozen bliss on a wooden stick that is the mighty ice lolly.

First created back in 1912 by a Swedish zoo keeper who was researching non-lethal ammunition to subdue a rampaging polar bear, the ice lolly has grown over the years to a level of national popularity equalled only by Stephen Fry and Cluedo.

But this year, we intend to settle once and for all the greatest debate to sweep our collective social consciousness since the ‘is the Jaffa Cake a biscuit?’ kerfuffle. 

Who is the true king of the ice lollies?

I shall get the frosty ball rolling with my own campaign for the exquisite Twister.

Fruity, creamy, yet still with a traditional ‘lolly’ heart, the Twister entangles smooth flavour, refreshing belly chills and an explosion of colour (Well, three colours. Four if you count the stick.)

Can anything truly defeat this seriously slurpable sucker? I very much doubt it.

Go on, tell me I’m wrong. I bloody dare you.

I got 99 Problems…

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

This article on the CR Blog has created a bit of ‘passion’ from the design community and it got me thinking about 99design.com and the concerns I have.

99design.com is an American website where a business can brief, let’s say, a logo to a so-called ‘design community’ in which the winner of the logo will then be paid from as little as £185 – it goes under a very trendy term called ‘crowd sourcing’ – sounds fine!

But this is not a collective intelligence solving a design challenge – it’s a competition in which you set your talent against other designers and so-called designers.

How can something like this work? Where’s the in-depth communication from client to designer about the company, the brand, or the direction and aspirations etc? What’s the legal small print? Will the designer own their designs? Are there consequences if they plagiarise? If they don’t win what is actually the point?

I mean, it’s not Blue Peter you don’t even get a bloody badge! – just some criticism from a business who don’t want a relationship with their designers but are instead looking to solve their design problems quick and dirty.

The argument for such a website is that it’s a place where an aspiring designer with no formal training can acquire the skills to work in a competitive creative environment.

But one can argue that part of acquiring those skills is doing the leg work – making opportunities, making mistakes and making chances to get their foot through the proverbial door and ultimately being responsible for their work.

One of the problems is that novice designers on sites like 99design.com are not aware of the legality of typefaces and stock devices and are quite happy to rip off other work with almost no consequence to themselves.

But probably the most terrifying thing about so-called ‘crowd sourcing’ design sites is that all the power is in the business or ‘contest-holders’ hands.

There are hardly any safeguards for designers and surely working in such a one sided environment can not be healthy for the industry? And what if clients start specifically asking agencies to adhere to budgets they receive from a crowd sourcing website and those costs start to become standard. Then no one wins, the standard drops with price – and you literally get what you pay for…

In my humble (and thoroughly indignant) opinion, a load of old tat.

Which design has been created by a designer and which by our Boulton who thinks powerpoint is the program of the gods.

Sunraysia promotional packs

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Having devised the exciting new ‘Feel Great’ giveaway promotion for our chums at Sunraysia, we then helped incorporate it onto their brand new juice carton designs.

They were chuffed to bits with the results and just this morning sent us over a couple of snaps showing the new promotional packaging coming off the production line.

From inside our brains to (very nearly) on supermarket shelves. The creative journey is almost complete…

One man went to Tweet

Friday, March 18th, 2011


There’s nothing we enjoy more than a good old social experiment. So, like the willing dancing monkey I am, I set sail far away from my personal comfort zone. Or to be far less dramatic, I spent the day ‘Tweeting’.

First thing you should know about me. Social media frightens, exhausts and annoys me in equal measure. I don’t understand it, so I fear it. And that fear tends to manifest itself in an emotional flip-flop between grumbling tantrums and trembling, confused anger.

But nevertheless, my chin is large and vaguely bearded and, occasionally I must take a blow on it for the good of the team and my own self improvement. Thus I embarked on my day of Tweeting.

I think the reason Tweeting fills me with such horror and annoyance is that because I am a shamelessly old fashioned lover of good old printed paper. Newspapers, books, crosswords. Bliss. Left to my own devices I’d happily assume the role of a fanatical paper terrorist, craft enormous paper mache fists (out of old newspaper, naturally) and go around smashing Kindles like a book-Hulk.

Basically my rather pathetic luddite motto is: ‘if it’s on a screen, it ain’t my scene…’

Once settled, albeit uneasily, into the Twittersphere it soon became apparent that there was a lot going on. An awful lot. For the love of cheese, someone make it stop…

I soon felt bombarded by the sheer volume of people hammering at my skull with ‘this link’ or ‘that insight’, promising to teach me something that would provoke interested noises like ‘oooh’ and possibly even ‘ahhh’.

What also became apparent is that, very often, these voices are not attempting to start any kind of conversation but merely talking very loudly at one another. It’s unsettling, not unlike being trapped on a playground roundabout where screaming children are simply bellowing across a dizzying, whirling merry-go-round without any hope of actually being able to say, hear or absorb anything of value.

I don’t doubt that there is a vast amount of hugely valuable ideas, thoughts and information being shared, I just question the way in which people are using Twitter to deliver it.

All too often, the Tweets encouraging me to investigate a particular link or article were so dry and uninspiring themselves that my eyeballs actually turned to dust and crumbled out all over my keyboard before I could click to find out more. By the time I’d waded through 140 lacklustre characters inviting me to find out more the link had inevitably been whisked away, buried beneath the next stream of drably presented offerings.

Undeniably quantity has battered quality into a sobbing, sloppy mush in the world of Twitter. By the very nature of the internet, everything on it will be of interest to someone. However, the inevitable offset to this is that most things on the internet will interest hardly anyone.

Nevertheless my objection lies in the drab nature of the Tweets themselves. People may be wishing to steer the audience to the most mind-blowingly informative article ever written. But because of the flat and unremarkable way people construct the Tweets themselves they’re immediately turning off everyone but only the most devoted and curious citizens of Twitter. Too many dull Tweets are not doing justice to the potentially fascinating content they are trying to drive people towards.

Admittedly this may just be the ranting of a copywriting nerd who would gush over a beautifully constructed sentence in the way a ‘regular’ person would respond to a magnificent painting or a tiny puppy.

But for me at least, until Tweeters start to realise that the construction of their Tweets determines whether people actually choose to give a hoot what they’re ultimately offering, the shouty merry-go-round will keep on spinning and spinning. And then someone’s going to be sick.

Paddy’s Day

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Happy St Patrick’s Day

As the token Irish person at Together I felt that it was only appropriate to wish everyone a Happy Paddy’s Day.
So here it goes…   “La feile Padraig shona duit”. x