Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Advertising

Monday December 05 2016

On my way to Tottenham, a week ago today, my first stop was Seven Sisters on the Victoria Line, where I changed to the regular railway in order to travel onwards:

image

But who, I wondered while I waited for my next train, were those Seven Sisters?  I made a note to self – written only on my brain cells, but it worked nevertheless – to search out the answer.  Which is easy these days.

Here it is:

The name is derived from seven elms which were planted in a circle with a walnut tree at their centre on an area of common land known as Page Green.  The clump was known as the Seven Sisters by 1732.

In his early seventeenth-century work, Brief Description of Tottenham, local vicar and historian William Bedwell singled out the walnut tree for particular mention. He wrote of it as a local ‘arboreal wonder’ which ‘flourished without growing bigger’. He described it as popularly associated with the burning of an unknown Protestant.  There is also speculation that the tree was ancient, possibly going back as far as Roman times, perhaps standing in a sacred grove or pagan place of worship

The location of the seven trees can be tracked through a series of maps from 1619 on.  From 1619 they are shown in a position which today corresponds with the western tip of Page Green at the junction of Broad Lane and the High Road.  With urbanisation radically changing the area, the ‘Seven Sisters’ had been replanted by 1876, still on Page Green, but further to the east.  Contemporary maps show them remaining in this new location until 1955.

So: trees.  I was hoping for actual sisters.

Friday December 02 2016

Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, so here, among other things, is a panda:

image

What this photo illustrates is the perennial problem of trying to chuck stuff out, which is that all too often, stuff is just too nice to chuck out.

I recall, a year or two after the Berlin Wall was dismantled, meeting an Eastern European lady, who complained about how the packages and pots and bottles in which produce was suddenly now sold was too good to chuck out.  Bloody capitalism.  Capitalist rubbish was better than what they had previously had as actual stuff.

In a modified form, I now suffer from this syndrome.  It has crept up on me more gradually, but throughout my lifetime, packaging has been getting ever better, probably because it is the sort of industry that politicians disapprove of, and have hence left to its own devices, an industry’s own devices invariably being better than any device devised by politicians.  The packaging industry, not having been “helped”, has thrived.

Beer bottles (the one in the picture still has beer in it so that will be consumed first), I have learned not to miss.  But even they are sometimes so artfully designed that it seems wrong to throw them away.

The coffee jar I will keep, because coffee jars are so structurally impressive.

But that panda has got to go.

Sunday November 27 2016

Or maybe it has been invented and the answer is it’s called lots of little flat screen televisions.

This thought was provoked by seeing this picture, at Mick Hartley‘s:

image

There’s nothing wrong with this Big Thing that painting it entertainingly wouldn’t put right, in fact very right indeed.  It could become a well-loved landmark, if only it was spruced up a bit, with some bright colours.  This Big Thing is called the Edificio Torres Blancas, and it is in Madrid.  In Spain they like bright colours, right?

But, what bright colours?  The answer is to copy what they now do in Trafalgar Square, with that Fourth Plinth.  In Trafalgar Square, they have solved the problem of what to put on the Fourth Plinth by keeping on changing it.  That way, everyone gets to like some of the objects they put on the Plinth, and that way everyone who dislikes what is there now can comfort themselves with the thought that it will soon be gone.  All can photo the ones they like and ignore the rest.  Eventually, a winner may be declared.  Eventually, a thing will be put there that seems to right, to so many people, that it will be decided to keep that thing there for ever.

That’s what they should do with the colouring of the above Big Thing in Madrid.

So, techies, get to work.  What we need is a new sort of paint that you just slap on, but whose colours, down to the minutest detail, can then be controlled by a big old computer at ground level.

Or, this is already possible, as the advertisers are now proving with their changeable screens, and all that it missing is that this is, for a mere building, as opposed to a commercially profitable message, for the time being, too expensive.

Also, maybe the architect is still alive and vetoing any such notions, insisting that his masterpiece remain blancas, or failing that then at least grey all over.  Time will soon correct this sorry state of affairs, if state of affairs it be.

Thursday November 24 2016

I took this photo …:

image

… yesterday.

This rather alarming message was displayed in the Waterloo Station concourse area, in rather large lettering, and you can see more of that if you click on the above horizontal visual slice.

All it was was part of an advert for the Top Gear replacement that Clarkson, Hammond and May are now doing for Amazon.  But photography sometimes does this.  But “this”, I mean that it can snatch messages out of the flux of everyday life – especially everyday advertising – and bestow upon them a portentousness that they don’t really radiate, when they are merely doing their job.  Now that adverts can change their screens, there can be one message, and then another, like a TV advert.  And the result is these snatches of text that can pack far more of a punch than they do in real life, so to speak.

Tuesday October 25 2016

Incoming from Michael Jennings: One for you.

It certainly is.  Apparently, in Mexico, Uber is using drones to advertise itself, by having them hover, with signs, over traffic jams:

image

Drones to carry adverts, or signs.  But of course.  The possibilities are endless, and the probability is: lots of complaining, drone destruction, car crashes blamed on drones carrying adverts or signs, etc.

Imagine it.  You are going at a speed considered too fast by the Big Computer in the Sky, so it sends a drone out to fly out in front of you, telling you to slow down or be fined.  Or more probably, just telling you that you have already have been fined.  Ah, modern life.  Science fiction just never sees it coming.

By the way, what is that sign saying?

Sunday October 23 2016

Fact about London that is little known by those who don’t live there or don’t go there: black cabs, at least as likely as not, aren’t.

Here are four that I photoed recently:

imageimageimageimageimageimage

The Easyjet taxi is orange all over.  The other three have adverts only on their sides, but two out of three of them aren’t even black on the bits of the taxis where the adverts aren’t.  Only two of these “black cabs” are even partially black, and the RAW taxi is only partially black (ish) because the advert is (ish).

Quite a lot of taxis can be seen which have no adverts, but are just a different plain colour.  White, grey, blue, red, whatever.  I realise that those who live in London or who visit London from time to time know all this, but the world does contain people who do not fall into this category, and maybe you are one of them.  Unlikely, I know, but there are people like this who do read this blog, even if most of them are only spam commenters.

Adverts on vehicles strike me as very photoable, because in a few months the adverts will be replaced, and even the enterprise itself is liable to be gone in a few years.

Speaking of taxis which aren’t advertising anything, but are just not black, how about this one?:

image

I spotted that one recently, outside Victoria Station.  I was in a hurry to meet someone, so I had no time to scrutinise it carefully to see if an advert is actually buried in there, somewhere.  But, I rather think that if that is an advert involved, it is an advert for the artist who did it.  Maybe the artist was paid, or maybe the artist paid.

It might make sense for the artist to pay.  I recently asked a black cabbie how much he got paid for his black cab to be embraced by an advert, and he said it was around seventy quid a month.  That might be worth it for an artist, to put himself about, by flashing pictures of the cab that he had unblackened around amongst his mates and potential customers.  But, what do I know?

Thursday October 13 2016

I recently photoed this van:

image

What intrigued me about it was its minimalist propaganda message.  “GREY MOTH”.

My original thought was that, in the age of google, you don’t actually need a mass of information to find out all you want to know about an enterprise.  That’s what this posting was going to be about.  (I still remember fondly that van outside the Oval, which just said “VOITH”.  I quickly learned all about VOITH.)

Trouble is, if the name of the enterprise is “GREY MOTH”, and you google “grey moth”, well, in addition to the GREY MOTH enterprise, somewhere in there, you get lots and lots of grey moths.  (If you google “voith”, all you get is VOITH.  A voith is not a regular thing, from which the VOITH enterprise merely took its name.)

Luckily, however, there was a website on the van, front and back.  This website was back to front at the front, ambulance style, but I was still able to decypher it as: www.grey-moth.com, crucially including that all-important hyphen.  Which, as you see, gets us where we need to be.  And it turns out to be a very interesting business.  I was thinking that it would be some dreary fashion enterprise, but not a bit of it.  Turns out, it’s an aerial videoing business, using drones.

I’ve been keeping an eye on drones for a while.  And after initially wondering if I might ever buy one, I eventually concluded: no.  If you get a drone, then you will either have to take it very seriously and learn all about how to do it, and become a full-time droner, mastering not only all the technical problems of drones but also the many legal minefields that droners must walk across (safety and privacy to name but two).  Or: not.  And I decided: not.

Drones, in other words, are not toys.  But, they are a huge business opportunity, both for businesses that can make serious use of them, like farms or pop concert promoters or movie-makers, and for people willing to master drone use for a living and to hire themselves out.  Like Grey-Moth does.

Speaking of minimalist propaganda, those Guys & Dolls Unisex Hair Stylists look like they are ("UYS DOL S") on their last hair curlers, if not already gone.

Monday October 10 2016

I’ve spent all my blogging time today trying to write a couple of things for Samizdata, so once again it’s quota photo time, this time in the form of a photo of Tom Cruise that I photoed recently, just a few minutes before I took this footbridge photo.  To be more exact, it is a photo of a photo, of Tom Cruise:

image

That photo that you see in my photo is to be seen outside the Duchess Theatre in the West End, where the play being shown Goes Wrong, every night, without, although this may not be quite the way to describe things, fail.

I assume that you can only exhibit a picture of Tom Cruise like that if Tom Cruise gives his permission.  If that’s right, Tom Cruise proves himself to be a good sport.  Or, perhaps, a greedy bastard.  But for now, I’m going with good sport, if only because if he got greedy, they couldn’t afford it.

Cruise plays along
What does Thames “RIB” Experience mean?
Cats don’t smile
Photoing Tate Modern from the Oval and the Oval from Tate Modern
Deliveroo V sign
When welfare means lavatories
Another fine day at the Oval (1): Vans
Ghostbusters sculpture advert at Waterloo Station
London looking like Dubai
Temporary Oxford Street
WWWhite Van
Horizontal French signs
White vans are becoming very informative
Pizza Express bus
A rubbish lorry posting
South Bank Superheroes
Recent taxis with adverts photos
Barcelona owl
Michael Jennings on Uber (and the Uber logo ruckus)
Out and about with GD1 (8): Non-human creature vans
Big Ben bigger
Black Cat white van
Vans that need to look the part
White vans in Kentish Town
A busy day and a collection of Big Things
A Japanese torpedo bomber that could use some zoom
A Big Thing and a Much Bigger Thing – on a not-black cab
Big Things on Boris Bikes
Big Things having orgasms
Wrap artistry
Wicked Campers: Are they now going respectable?
Borats!
Anonymous guys taking (and making) pictures in Trafalgar Square
White Vans are looking more and more like websites
On going ahead with a posting anyway even if I don’t have all the photos to hand that I would like
Cameras seeing red
For CAR’S read CARS
Fantasy Vauxhall Bridge with lots of glass
A Morris Minor advertising a ping pong night club
Hire Intelligence White Van
Another The Wires! Building in Japan (plus more Dezeenery)
Corbyn – and an advert bus
Taxis with adverts
A day in BMdotcom heaven (3): Adverts
Some quota reflected cranes and a quota white van
Weird wide angle lens effect
Shiny little car
A big Black Cab advert picture for a Samizdata posting
White van reflexology
Sorry!  No Photo’s!
Upshot
Interesting vehicles
Zorb football
Pancake White Van
You can tell that drones have arrived because now they are being turned into a sport
Two Lady covers
Real Photographer - shame about the adverts
Strange London buses
Another horizontal advert for an only slightly more expensive drone
First test against NZ – first day
Adverts for small and cheap drones
A photographer and an advert
A forgotten war
Along the river towards Battersea
Big 4
White Vin Van
White Van
Big cat advert
January newspaper pages
Views from Waterloo Bridge
Proof that there are a lot of French people in Britain just now
A photographer from the I Just Like It directory
A French film poster advertising a British film
In the City with Gus
Scary bunny
Big cat advertises guide dogs
Bond car
Confirming my String prejudices
Oxo Tower with bus advertising The Expendables III
The Not-V2 at London Bridge Station
I see cats
The London Look
Hao Ruan and LYCS Architecture are now world famous
Red arrow?
Guardian online is a group blog that trolls its own readers
Premier League soccer news
Amusing cats versus important people
Classic Feline Friday quote from Tim Berners-Lee
The Met swoops on the Adams Family
Camel
Photoing the A380 from above – from the ground
Westminster Tube photos
Guangbiao Chen’s incredible business card
Fat bastard!
Dezeen continues to delight
The Times of May 24th 1940
Quota photo of a bucket of plastic crocodiles in an otherwise deserted shop window in Oxford Street
The Alex Singleton blog
Savoy cat
Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
Google Nexus 4 photos
Wedding photography (2): Signs
Remembering a warmer day
The Qur’an is not science – science cannot be ignored
Cleaning lady for hire
It got my attention
Latest C4 logo sculpture
Photographers at Eros and Art in the tube
Ancient and modern (but mostly ancient) cars in Regent Street yesterday
More NFL Fan Rally pictures from last Saturday
The Wheel reflected in a cheeseburger advert
Meaning in sport
Even the Goodyear Blimp is now obsessed with safety
More signs of the times
If you can’t beat them hire them
Another sign of the times
Old school advertising has its uses
Female cows in TV advert shock
And then give up and stay fat
Transport redirect
From pop to purrfume
Trust drunk and disorderly
Adverts on taxis and cars
Rockets are a great improvement on balloons
Advertising aimed entirely at me
Zaltzman on Clarke
Links to this and that
Tiny Cardboard Box People Appear All Over Singapore
Expendable movie news
Exploitation?
I never knew Marmite came in tanker lorries
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT MOTORS
Blur
I EAT RUBBISH!
Under a hundred copies
Was it Sweeney?  And what else were they trying to suppress?
Slumponomics
Me and Michael Jennings talk tech trends
Model T parts flatvert
Laptop for emails
Minimum Wage flatvert at Guido’s and Iain Dale’s
Indy Flatverts and a Guido Q&A
Thinking thin at the top
More sign photos
Instapundit turns into Idiot Toys
Two Samizdata comments on the sinking of Brown and on the sinking of the Daily Telegraph
Register for your free pack and five £1-off-coupons
Multipurpose internet-connected rabbit
The Fixed Quantity of Advertising fallacy and the menace of targetted advertising
Acton
Even crazier crisps!
You don’t wait for it – you go looking for it
Random links
If it’s not Art it can be rather fun
Lump art and dinner in sky
Mockery
Ken Livingstone was beaten by the billboards!
Big head and big something else
Two adverts in the tube
Daddy-o
Cisco – fuck off and die
Here they stand
Classic car thinness
Travis Perkins of Pimlico Road are not good at delivering timber
At Bethnal Green railway station
Obama a loser?
Antoine Clarke on the US Primaries – either Obama will beat McCain or McCain will beat Clinton
Dot matrix printing in the sky
Billion Monkey Maria Sharapova lookalikes!!!
Engadget suffers from intermittent giant text disease
When the penny drops
Hear ye hear ye
It’s the decline of old-school advertising that’s really hurting old-school journalism
Smelling the smoke in the Microsoft machine
Revised logo
Real Photographers worship the Logo
Writhing
Irrelevant heart attack adverts
London tricyclists are getting strong
A spring in their step
Dame Edna and Borats in Piccadilly Circus!
A basic part of the domestic cat’s heritage
Micklethwait’s Four Star Theory of the Internet
Screw you Dove – good on you Ruth Kelly – the right to avoid gay adoption
Male cows do not have udders
Spreading the word for free
More ways to use the best pictures
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections
Grassy car with blog
Interruptive relief?
Dnalgne no emoc! - Billion Monkey snaps mental Maradona!
Young People models for Old People
Billion Monkeys photo themselves to make you visit Malta!
The Million Dollar Homepage
Dye hard
Cillit Bang made-up twat
Ouch!
Blowing Smoke all over old school advertising