Sadly this blog is no longer more. Ben&James have gone their separate ways.

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And the Roses Awards 2010 go to...Wieden & Kennedy

We've always felt that the North, South advertising divide is all a bit pointless and non-existent in our current times. There's some good work being done at agencies that care about doing that sort of thing and plenty of dross at places that don't. And that's the same no matter where you are. There are some agencies in all parts of the country with client lists that would make any marketing manager salivate and there's plenty with barely a household name to their, well, name. As budgets are being slashed we really do believe that it's not location that matters, it's ideas. And with the advent of "virtual agenices" and so on, they can come from anywhere.

So there's no chips on our shoulders then. Hopefully that's clear? Great. Because now we could potentially ruin that perception. And as we've just clearly established, that's not us. Honest.

It's the Roses Awards you see. We fear they've just made a massive mistake.

An amendment to their rules means that now "you can be based anywhere in the UK including London providing you are producing work for a client whose headquarters are outside the M25."

So that means Mother with their brilliant Rocky work, W&K with Lurpak, BMB and their Yorkshire Tea campaign could - if they actually entered - be picking up the Roses Awards this year. Brilliant campaigns all of them. But wouldn't The Roses be in danger of losing their one point of difference?

We love The Roses, not because it gives "lesser" agencies a chance to pick up a bit of silverware. But because it helps to promote regional agencies that may not be actually getting the publicity they do deserve. And because, outside of Soho, agencies tend to be spread very widely apart. So the Roses gives us a chance to create healthy rivalries with each other. It makes us want to try to better "local" competing agencies who may actually be 100's of miles apart from us.

Basically It's like a regional heat for X-Factor. You witness a few terrible sights, a few "how did that get through" moments, and amidst all that, you get to see a few gems that you know will go on to receive bigger accolades.

So our fear for this rule change is not that we'll end up with fewer awards on the mantelpiece, just a fear that agencies will have fewer reasons to care about entering in the first place.

Getting someone else to do it

We were once told by a wise old creative that being an art director is a piece of piss, all you have to do is get other people to make you look good.

In a sense it's true, commissioning the right photographer, illustrator, designer, director can make the piece of work look great. We found a lot in our old agency we were constantly being scuppered 'from above' from using great people to make the work the best it could possibly be. We'd dread phrases such as "Can't we just get him to do it?", "Can't you do it?", "I'm sick of paying for this" etc etc etc. We could make it look good ourselves, but we weren't really striving for good, we wanted great.

We had a project where we wanted some lovely hand drawn type and wanted to use a great typographer called Ben Weeks. The process went on for a while and we were assured that we could use him. In the end we were told we couldn't use him and would have to do the type ourselves. We made a decent job of it, but that's all it was, decent, acceptable. It could have looked great, but because we used the wrong person to do it it wasn't the best it could be, it was just good.

A good example of this is on The Book Design Review blog and concerns the two pictures above. The Johnny Cash cover is done by Shepard Fairey the Led Zep one by someone who's trying to do a style like Shepard Fairey. Now the Led Zep cover looks good, but the Shepard Fairy one looks great and that is the difference in using other talented people.

The difference is, why make your work good, when it could be great?


Paul Belford's done some ads. They're a bit special. We once met him as juniors in a competition. He liked our work. We've been buzzing ever since. Have a good Christmas all.

The World of 100

Cracking set of posters by Toby Ng. See more here, thanks to Albion for the heads up.

We've all been there

"We need business cards designed to impress people in big companies at the top end of town… set up as a Word template so we can print them in here in our office.”

"Well we’d like it to look very corporate, but also quite funky."

“I understand that you prefer to use photoshop, but we don’t feel like that program is universal enough. If you could do all of the design work in Microsoft Paint it would be easier for us to edit what you do and give you an idea of the changes we want.”

See more of this comedy gold at Clients from Hell