Jack Smith

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The power of sound

Earlier this year, three girls and I had to ‘create’ an ad agency.

We called it Spud.

I wont bore you with all the details, but part of the assignment was to create a creds video, something to show ourselves off.

This is what we came up with.


So, a few months has passed.

I was sat one evening on my laptop, TV on in the background, and the above video came on; an advert for Anglian Dream Home Improvement. 

Nothing I’m either interested in, or in the market for, but I instantly looked up at the TV to see what the hell was on the tele.


They had the same fucking background music as us.


My point is this, not that I’m now going to rush out and buy a new conservatory, but that sounds are triggers. 

Dave Trott gives a very good, and very concise lecture on it.


When we hear a sound we recognise we pay attention.

It’s a memory.

Advertising makes use of sounds, so we need to find sounds that ring bells with the audience.


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Just saw this in town.
Advert for No Smoking Day 2013.
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Hyundai, Innocean & car fumes

Before I write this I want to stress that I have the deepest sympathy for Holly Brockwell (read the blog here). I couldn’t imagine something more horrifying and sadder than losing someone so close in such horrific circumstances. I really truly feel for her, her family and her father for something truly devastating must have happened for him to feel forced to take his own life.

I don’t want to be rude, obnoxious or hurtful. I simply want to pose questions and to an extent play Devil’s advocate.

I too am an advertising creative. I understand the importance of putting a message across in a clever way, in a way that engages with people, in a way that speaks to people, in a way that conveys exactly what you are trying to say. 

I don’t know the people who wrote the ad for Hyundai, but I can pretty categorically say that they would never write an ad like this with any malice or with true intent to offend anyone who has lost someone in similar circumstances. But, I’ll bet they feel awful now.

The point I want to raise, and this is not directly related to the Hyundai advert, is are we in a time in culture and society where we are now afraid of offending people?

I don’t know if the ad was meant to be funny per se, but I’m guessing it was meant to have a light hearted look on the situation.

I don’t know how many people watch Mad Men, but should they have been forced to cut the scene where Lane Pryce attempted his suicide in the same manner?

The sad reality is that there are awful situations all around the world. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people and unfortunately, suicide is one of those horrible things. It’s a travesty, don’t get me wrong, and I couldn’t even bring myself to imagine the unthinkable myself of someone that close taking their own life. But, is this cause to eradicate such happenings from our conversations?

I’m sure if I put some thought into it, I could find a very large number of adverts, TV series, films, lyrics or pieces of art that refer in some way to something horrible that someone else can relate to. And of course that’s going to be hard to take, of course it’s going to be horrible. But as I ask: bad things happen, but should resort to forgetting and never mentioning them again through fear of offending someone?

My grandmother recently passed away having suffered with Alzheimers for about 15 years. She was a shell. She didn’t know me or my brother, my Father or my Grandfather - her own husband. She lay in bed every day doing no more than breathing. That is not an exaggeration. It was awful. I went to visit my Grandfather the other week, a matter of weeks after the death of his Wife. We had the TV on. For the life of me I can’t remember who it was, but there was a comedian on. He made a joke about Alzheimers. I sat there for a second, expecting my Grandfather to burst into tears, to change the channel, to leave the room, to, well, I don’t know. But he didn’t. He laughed. It was a joke. The comedian didn’t set out to upset my family. He set out to make people laugh, in which he succeeded.

As I say, I feel incredibly sorry for anyone that has lost someone so close as their own Father, especially in such awful circumstances. This is not a blog about ridiculing the woman, or the advert. I simply want to ask a question.

Are we at a time where our work suffers through the overwhelming fear of offending someone?

Play for the mistake

I was sat eating dinner last night, plate on the edge of the sofa, TV on and so on.

The dog was sat next to me, staring at my fork every move it made. She was waiting for me to knock something accidentally off the edge of the plate, or for the moment I was looking away so she could pounce and take my chicken breast. She was waiting for me to lower my guard because she knew full well I was in charge, and if she stole my food straight off my plate whilst I was eating, she would be in trouble.

She was playing for the mistake.

I happened to be watching Bayern Munich vs Barcelona at the time. The same is true in football. A ball is coming over the top, you’re the shorter player. The man in front of you is far taller, and stronger. You’re not going to win the header. Do you foul him, or do you play for the mistake. Step back, let him take the ball, and stand off until he messes it up.

In life, when you’re number two sometimes you can can’t win by competing. But you can win by not competing. If the dog had jumped for my plate, she would have been locked in the kitchen and wouldn’t have eaten. If the smaller player went for the header, he wouldn’t win it, and he’d be outmuscled and probably out of position.

If you can’t win, sometimes it’s best to let the other person play and wait for them to make their mistakes. Then you can grab that bit of chicken that you’ve been eyeing up, or make the tackle as he fumbles with the ball at his feet. Focus not on being better than them at what they are good at, but look how that’s a weakness, and how you can capitalise on that weakness. 

What kind of a shower is this meant to be? I can categorically say I have never been to a gym with mixed showers, where men, women, girls and boys all share a shower. 

Also, awful advert.


Simple packaging. 

The kind of thing you would expect to see from Apple


I don’t get this advert. It’s quite clear that the biggest competition is Apple’s iPad. iPad is the number 1 tablet. It’s brilliant. Apple’s advertising is fantastic too. Simple, and delivers everything about the iPad. And it makes it sexy. So, Microsoft have a few options if they want to sell their Surface over the iPad. Cheaper, better, easier to use, faster, more storage and so on. Instead they seem to have offered the one selling point I can only imagine no one cares about. It has a keyboard, that clicks. Look at everyone with their clicking keyboards. At no point does it say how that is better. At no point do they show how they are in any way better than the iPad. Fail.