Archive for December, 2012

Ugliness is seasoning for beauty

by Alex Benady

Spot the blemish

If you look at the home page of the Coley Porter Bell web site you will notice the words, “we believe in the power of beauty to create successful brands.”  Yes we have unashamedly hitched our company horse to the wagon of beauty.

But in his recent book ‘Ugly: the Aesthetics of Everything’, design writer Stephen Bayley (who once modestly described himself as the second cleverest man in Britain), argues that that beauty is boring and that without ugliness, there could be no beauty.

He claims the evidence is piling up. “Beauty is a conformist conspiracy,” he fulminates. “And the conspirators include the fashion, cosmetics and movie businesses: a terrible Greek chorus of brainless idolatry towards abstract form. The conspirators insist that women – and, nowadays, men, too – should be un-creased, smooth, fat-free, tanned and, with the exception of the skull, hairless. Flawlessly dull. ”

If you’ve ever been in the unfortunate position of being the only normal person in a room full of beautiful people, you will know that Stephen’s argument makes intuitive sense. Certainly beauty as interpreted by the ‘brainless Greek chorus of Hollywood and the cosmetics business’, can be repetitious, soulless and dull.

So where does that leave our argument that beauty is the route to commercial success? (more…)

Coley Porter Bells. Happy Christmas 2012.

by Sarah Cameron

 

At Coley Porter Bell we take Christmas REALLY, REALLY seriously …

Take a look - Coley Porter Bell 2012 Christmas card

 

 

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Falmouth student sparkles to win Shine

by Alex Benady

Second year graphics student Emily Smith from Falmouth  University has triumphed over 100 other undergraduate entrants to take the prize in Coley Porter Bell’s Shine competition for new talent.

Emily wins herself £3,000 and a three month work placement with her brilliantly innovative response to a brief  for a gift pack for Chivas 18 whisky. Her winning design is rooted in the idea of an urban sky line viewed from a pent house bar and looks like a modern building or at least a detail of a modern building. It consists of an 18 faceted pyramid in blue translucent acrylic which forms a setting for the bottle which is visible inside.

Emily says it was a simple consumption scenario that inspired her. “I imagined someone drinking Chivas 18 in a luxury rooftop bar in London, and worked backwards imagining who he was, where he works and what might appeal to him. The gift box aims to be bold, unique and simple, as well as carefully considered.”

“It’s so exciting to have won. It’s a real confidence boost for my final year and winning a placement is exciting because I really want to work at Coley Porter Bell.”

Emily will also have the chance to present her design to a panel of Chivas executives who will decide whether it will be used ‘for real’, or not. Chivas sponsors Shine and it was first time in its ten year history that Shine included a live brief. Previously the task has been to design a poster for next year’s competition.

Shine is only open to second year graphics students. Emily’s design was chosen after she and 100 other students submitted examples of their work. The best ten were invited to our Paddington offices for interview where they were given the brief for the Chivas 18 gift pack.

“In the interviews Emily came across as engaging calm confident and it was clear that she, really wanted it,” said Richard Clayton, creative director at Coley Porter Bell. “We were judging the concept rather than the execution and her response to the brief was surprising, thoughtful and innovative.”

“‘18’ is positioned as the ‘creatively audacious’ member of the Chivas family,” explained Chivas Regal marketing manager Sue Leckie. “Given the match between the brand and the competition, we thought we could take our involvement a little further this year to see if we can come up with some work that we can use in earnest.”

Although on the face of it Shine is about creativity, it is really about ‘applied creatvity’ which is a much more complex issue, says Richard Clayton. “Obviously we were looking for the quality of the creative concept. But that is often determined by a person’s ability to focus on the brief in front of them. A surprisng number of the entries we received responded to the idea of whisky generally which produced very generic concepts.  Answer the brief is the best advice I can give any student and anyone entering Shine in the future.” ENDS

Leaving Creative Arts out of EBacc a disaster

by Stephen Bell

Art school of tomorrow?

As a commercial organization, we generally give politics a wide berth. After all who knows if our next client is going to be a Conservative, Labour, UKIP or Monster Raving Loony supporter? That’s why we usually keep our corporate mouth shut on politically contentious issues.

But we think that the current debate over the creative content of the proposed new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is so important that it isn’t simply a matter of (party) politics. It goes way beyond politics. It is a matter of existence -for our industry and maybe even for our country.

To bring you up to speed; the EBacc will recognise pupils who pass five exams in academic subjects. Creative subjects like art, dance, drama and music are not on that list, raising fears that the Government is undermining their place at the heart of learning.

The argument goes that schools will be judged on how many pupils pass the EBacc. If the creative arts are not included in the EBacc, they will become even more marginal than they already are and could slowly disappear from the secondary syllabus altogether.

In a letter to the Times last week Nigel Carrington Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts London revealed that this is already happening.

He described how a survey commissioned by the Department for Education showed the extent to which schools are ceasing to teach arts and design following the introduction of the EBacc as a performance measure in 2010.

27% of the English secondary school teachers polled said that a subject or course has been withdrawn from their school in 2012 as a result of the EBacc – with creative subjects hardest hit. 23% report that drama and performing arts have been withdrawn, 17% are no longer teaching art, 14% have lost design or design technology and 11% have lost textiles.

The impact is usually couched in terms of the effect on the creative industries. According to the CBI, the creative and cultural sector contributes 6% of the UK’s GDP, making it our second biggest industry after the financial sector. It employs around 1.5 million people in 106,700 registered businesses and accounts for more than 10% of the UK’s total export of services.

The fear is that reducing creative arts teaching in schools will cut the pipeline of talent that sustains this successful sector.

But we believe the effects could go much further than that. First there is the damage caused in the personal realm. Without the creative arts, our children will be denied the balanced education they need to grow and thrive. We are in danger of raising a generation of culturally impoverished citizens as a result.

We are also in danger of destroying one of the UK’s most powerful competitive tools. Think back to the opening ceremony of the Olympics and you get a sense of just how important creativity is to our national identity -and almost everything we do. That’s because creativity has commercial effects that go way beyond the creative industries. Even ‘right brain’ industries like science and technology and financial services are informed and enriched by ‘left brain’ thinking, in design, execution, marketing branding and so on.

An e petition has been raised (http://www.baccforthefuture.com/) .  So far it has 34,541 signatories. We can only hope that Mr Gove will listen to them.

Leaving Creative Arts out of EBacc could be fatal.

by Stephen Bell

Art College of the future?


As a commercial organization, we generally give politics a wide berth. After all who knows if our next client is going to be a Conservative, Labour, UKIP or Monster Raving Loony supporter? That’s why we usually keep our corporate mouth shut on politically contentious issues.

But we think that the current debate over the creative content of the proposed new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is so important that it isn’t simply a matter of (party) politics. It goes way beyond politics. It is a matter of existence -for our industry and maybe even for our country.

To bring you up to speed; the EBacc will recognise pupils who pass five exams in academic subjects. Creative subjects like art, dance, drama and music are not on that list, raising fears that the Government is undermining their place at the heart of learning.

The argument goes that schools will be judged on how many pupils pass the EBacc. If the creative arts are not included in the EBacc, they will become even more marginal than they already are and could slowly disappear from the secondary syllabus altogether.

In a letter to the Times last week Nigel Carrington Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts London revealed that this is already happening.

He described how a survey commissioned by the Department for Education showed the extent to which schools are ceasing to teach arts and design following the introduction of the EBacc as a performance measure in 2010.

27% of the English secondary school teachers polled said that a subject or course has been withdrawn from their school in 2012 as a result of the EBacc – with creative subjects hardest hit. 23% report that drama and performing arts have been withdrawn, 17% are no longer teaching art, 14% have lost design or design technology and 11% have lost textiles.

The impact is usually couched in terms of the effect on the creative industries. According to the CBI, the creative and cultural sector contributes 6% of the UK’s GDP, making it our second biggest industry after the financial sector. It employs around 1.5 million people in 106,700 registered businesses and accounts for more than 10% of the UK’s total export of services.

The fear is that reducing creative arts teaching in schools will cut the pipeline of talent that sustains this successful sector.

But we believe the effects could go much further than that. First there is the damage caused in the personal realm. Without the creative arts, our children will be denied the balanced education they need to grow and thrive. We are in danger of raising a generation of culturally impoverished citizens as a result.

We are also in danger of destroying one of the UK’s most powerful competitive tools. Think back to the opening ceremony of the Olympics and you get a sense of just how important creativity is to our national identity -and almost everything we do. That’s because creativity has commercial effects that go way beyond the creative industries. Even ‘right brain’ industries like science and technology and financial services are informed and enriched by ‘left brain’ thinking, in design, execution, marketing branding and so on.

An e petition has been raised (http://www.baccforthefuture.com/) .  So far it has 34,541 signatories. We can only hope that Mr Gove will listen to them.

Communication is not the brand

by Alex Benady


P&G's Mums campaign

This week Marketing magazine named Procter and Gamble the Marketing Society’s brand of the year. It looks like a resounding vindication of P&G’s $100m investment in the Olympics which it explained or amplified through the emotional “proud Sponsor of Mums” campaign which has run for much of the year.

According to P&G’s global brand building officer Marc Pritchard, it was the largest and most ambitious campaign the company has ever carried out and generated an extra $500 million in extra sales for brands like Ariel, Fairy, Pampers and Flash. Good business then.

But speaking to Marketing, Roisin Donelly, P&G’s UK corporate marketing director said something strange. “We only launched the corporate brand a year ago in the UK. Before that there was very low awareness.”

Awareness? Can that really be the Marketing Society’s measure of a brand? Writing in Ad Age recently on the topic of confusing company brands and product brands, branding guru Al Ries defined a company brand as ‘a powerful motivating force …for buying ..product brands’.  “How many consumers go out of their way to buy Proctor and Gamble products,” he asked?

Good question. Obviously awareness is not the same thing as a proposition. I am aware of all sorts of things, -Adolf Hitler, world hunger, BMW cars, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m motivated to buy one.

It’s yet more evidence that ‘marketing’ and ‘branding’ are  increasingly being reduced to (or confused with) ‘communications’.

Clearly awareness and brand strength are related. Obviously, if a brand resides in the minds of consumers, the more minds the brand is in, the stronger it will be.  But as Ries points out, it’s not the awareness per se that matters, but the ability of that awareness to influence buying decisions.

So to what extent does P&G’s corporate brand influence buying decisions?  We don’t know because neither marketing nor the Marketing Society saw fit to tell us if P&G achieved its highly ambitious $500 million extra sales target.

Instinct suggests that corporate brands don’t influence buying decisions very much. Especially for long established products in mature markets. Will more people buy Fairy Liquid more often because it carries the P&G stamp? Even with the halo effect from all P&G’s good deeds and sponsorship, it’s hard to see why they should.

On the other hand you can imagine that a well respected provenance should make launching new products easier. Given that P&G is embarking on ambitious innovation programme, communicating the corprorate brand makes perfect sense.

In a more connected, more transparent world, it is often argued that consumers care about the company behind their brands more than ever before.  Yet if the company itself is not a proposition, what’s the point of turning it into a brand?

The key to success, says Ries, is focus. “If you want to build a strong company brand, you have to have narrow focus,” he writes.  The trouble with companies like P&G, Unilever and Nestle is that their focus is necessarily too broad.

I cant help feeling that the real reasons for creating a company brand are not to do with the consumer at all. Like global brands they seem to be more connected with efficiencies in management and communications, than anything else.

This blog is about all the things that inspire us as we make brands beautiful: insights and ideas, points of view, fabulous work, nascent trends - all the things that excite us and help us to see new possibilities for the brands we work on. So please enjoy, add your comments, forward the link, and come back and see us. We’ll be posting regularly.