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

Wednesday November 14 2018

Nothing says Christmas to me quite like Special Christmas Edition packs of Walkers Potato Crisps.  And actually, I came across these in Sainsbury’s … it must have been nearly a fortnight ago now:

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Photoing a shiny package, with information directly under the shininess, is somewhat above my photoing pay grade, what with my photoing pay grade being: zero without expenses.  On the left there, we have Turkey & Stuffing, Brussels Sprout, and Pigs in Blankets.  On the right, Glazed Ham, Turkey & Stuffing (again), and … well that’s not so clear.

So here’s another photo which explains that it is Cheese & Cranberry:

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However, my favourite bit is this little disclaimer, concerning the Brussels Sprout crisps:

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I love it.  Guaranteed entirely made with artificial flavouring.  No natural flavouring at all.  Real turkey.  Real stuffing.  Real pigs.  Real blankets.  Real ham with real glaze, real cheese, ceal cranberry.  But: fake sprouts.

I don’t always hate the twenty first century.  Today, I love it.

One way to photo such packages as these more clearly is to empty them, and flatten them out, like they’ve done here, because that brings the light under control.  At lest, I think that’s what they did.  Those photos certainly look flat.  But a package that is flat rather than curved stops looking like a package.  Such photos literally take the crisps out of the picture.  And who wants that?

Sunday November 11 2018

Yesterday, I went on a shopping expedition which involved boarding a train at Charing Cross, which I planned to reach by going first to St James’s Park tube.

The first of the photos below (1.1) is of a taxi, parked close to where I live, with some sort of poppy related advert on it.  I like to photo taxis covered in adverts.  Temporariness, the passing London scene, will get more interesting as the years pass, blah blah.

Then, in Strutton Ground, just this side of Victoria Street, I encountered two besuited gentlemen wearing military berets and medals.  I photoed them both, with their permission, and I post one of these photos here (1.2), also with their permission.  Sadly, the other photo didn’t come out properly.

It was only at this point that I realised that, the following day (i.e. today) being Remembrance Sunday and what’s more the exact one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice of November 1918, London in the Westminster Abbey area would already be awash with Remembrance Sunday photo-ops.  My shopping could wait a while, and I turned right down Victoria Street.

The seven other photos below mostly involve small wooden crosses and dead autumn leaves - autumn 2018 arrived at Peak Dead Leaf yesterday - but they also include another poppy related advert, this time on a the side of a bus (3.3), which I photoed in Parliament Square:

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Sadly, the plasticated documents referring to “British Nuclear Test Veterans” (2.1) were insufficiently plasticated to resist the effects of the rain.  It began to rain some more when I was arriving at Charing Cross station and it did not stop for several hours, so I’m guessing these lists suffered further rain damage.  It’s odd how little sadnesses like this stick in your mind, in amongst the bigger sadnesses being remembered.

The autumn-leaves-among-crosses photos, all taken outside Westminster Abbey, are but a few of a million such that must have been taken over this weekend, in London and in many other places.  Is it proper to include two mere advert photos, even if they are poppy related adverts, in such poetically symbolic and dignified company?  I chose to do this because one of the things I find most interesting about these Remembrance remembrances is that, as each year of them passes, they don’t seem to be getting any smaller.  People still want remember all this stuff, even though all the veterans of World War 1 are now gone.  Hence the adverts.  If the adverts didn’t get results, they’d not be worth their cost.

As to why these remembrances continue to be remembered, and by such huge numbers of people, year after year, I think one reason is that each political tribe and faction can each put their own spin on the sad events being remembered, but in the privacy of their own minds.  For some political partisans, these ceremonies and symbols are a chance to wallow in the pageantry of patriotism.  For others, they are an opportunity to rebuke such nationalists, for stirring up the kinds of hostility that might provoke a repeat of the sad events being remembered.  “Patriotism” and “nationalism” being the words used to salute, or to denounce, the exact same sentiments.  But declaring red poppies to be a warning that the defence budget should be increased, or that they are anti-Trump and anti-Brexit symbols that Trump supporters and Brexiteers have no right to wear, would be too vulgar and partisan, so on the whole this kind of vulgarity and partisanship is not indulged in, not out loud.

The phenomenon of the political meeting where all present hear the same words but where each understands them to mean different things – I’m thinking of such words as “Britain”, “freedom”, “democracy” and “common sense” – has long fascinated me.  Remembrance ceremonies remind me, on a larger scale, of such meetings.  I attended many such little political meetings myself before I decided that mainstream politics was not for me, and switched to libertarianism, where meanings are spelt out and arguments are had rather than avoided.

For less obsessively political people, Remembrance ceremonies and symbols are simply an opportunity to reflect on the sadness of history in general, and in particular the sadness of the premature deaths of beloved ancestors – or, perhaps worse – hardly known-about ancestors.  We can at least all agree that premature death, in whatever circumstances, is a sad thing to contemplate.  And until young men entirely cease from dying in wars, Remembrance Sunday will continue to be, among other things, a meaningfully up-to-date event.

And so, year after year, these ceremonies continue.  Will this year’s anniversary come to be regarded as Peak Remembrance?  We shall see.

Thursday November 08 2018

This is not an advert for a book.  Well, it is, but that’s not my purpose in showing it here.  My angle is my niece, the crime fiction writer Roz Watkins, who is quoted here, enthusing about the book:

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The point being that, with what seems to me like remarkable speed, Roz has turned herself into someone whose opinion about other people’s writing is considered worth quoting.

I found the above graphic at her Twitter feed, along with her thanks for having been described as “the great Roz Watkins” by a grateful publisher.  Everything about Roz’s public and social media presence says to me, and I am sure to everyone else who is following her, that she is very serious about her writing career.  Deadly serious, you might say.

This matters, because readers of crime fiction need to know that, if they invest their time and curiosity and shelf space, to say nothing of their cash, in a leading character, this investment will pay off.  The energetic and upbeat way that Roz presents herself says that there will be plenty more books about her lead detective.  There is already a second Meg Dalton tale coming out next April, and if several more Meg Daltons do not follow, at a speed no faster than (but no slower than) is consistent with the maintenance of quality, I for one will be very surprised.

Thursday October 25 2018

Whenever I see a taxi with an interesting advert on it, I try to photo it.  To recycle what I said in this, there is something especially appealing about a large number of objects, all exactly the same shape, usually all decked out in the same bland colour, but each one instead decorated differently and very colourfully.

It would appear that I’m not the only one.  Further evidence that taxi adverts count for more, per square inch, than other adverts do, comes in the form of the meme war that this taxi and its advert is now provoking:

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The CEO of a plumbing firm has announced that his company will be paying a delivery driver to ride around London in a taxi emblazoned with the slogan ‘Bollocks to Brexit’.

Social media gobbled this up, of course, and the responses were not long in coming.  There was this:

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And then this:

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And there will surely be many more.  I hope I chance upon the original, and get a go at photoing it myself.

More taxis with regular adverts will definitely follow here, as soon as I get around to it.

LATER: And, as I should have mentioned sooner, my friend from way back, financial journo Tom Burroughes, is giving a talk this Friday,tomorrow evening, at my place, about Brexit and all that.  I anticipate a more subtle and more elevated discussion than the one on these taxis.

Friday October 19 2018

More and more of my photo-time is spent collating the photos I have already taken.  Last night, for instance, I went looking for (more) photos of London taxis with adverts on them.  There is something especially appealing, to me anyway, about a large number of objects all exactly the same shape, but each decorated differently.  (Some time, I must go searching for my photos of elephants.)

Equally appealing, to me, were those Gormley Men.  In that case, each Man was the same, and undecorated in the more usual and rather bland sculpture way.  But, each one was in a different place and a different sort of setting.  My Gormley Men photos did not need collating, because Gormley had already collated them, by putting all his Men in the same part of London at the same time.  Therefore my photos of the Gormley Men mostly collated themselves.

Not so the elephants, or taxis.  When looking for taxis, I am looking for taxis photoed in the course of all manner of different photo-expeditions each with their own directories.

But my point is that in the course of all this taxi-collating, I was clicking through literally thousands of non-taxi photos, and I kept coming across non-taxi photos that I particularly liked.  Like (kike as in “such as” – this is not a command) this one, for instance, taken last June:

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I like doing modified cliches in writing, and I also like them photographically.  A view, for instance, of some London Thing that has been photoed to death, but put beside or in front of or behind something that is not so usual.  Most photoers would regard the above scaffolding as a problem rather than any sort of solution, to the Eros-has been photoed-to-death problem.

The scaffolding’s wrapping has the effect of clearing away all the usual clutter from Piccadilly Circus and replacing it with something a lot like sky on a dull day.  It puts Eros in an empty field in the countryside, you might say.  And yes I know, I like clutter.  But not always.

Here is another modified cliché photo:

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The Wheel has been photoed to death, and that’s a view I regularly see – and regularly photo - of it, from the point where Strutton Ground meets Victoria Street, looking down Victoria Street towards Parliament Square and beyond.  But that sky behind The Wheel made The Wheel look amazing, on that particular day in January of this year.

Finally, one of many photos I took this year of Battersea Power Station:

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The Power Station and (if you are a craniac like me) its crane cluster are the clichés.  And if you want to take the sting out of a cliché, one way is to reflect it in something.  At that point its extreme recognisability becomes more a virtue and less of a bore.  Its very clichéness becomes helpful to the photo.

This photo was taken from the upstream side of the Power Station, where there is already a big chunk of new flats up and running, with accompanying tasteless sculpture, coffee serving places and the like.  All sparked, I believe, by the new USA Embassy.

This photo of mine turns Battersea Power Station upside down.  I’ve always thought that an upside down Battersea Power Station would make a rather good table.  But, until now I never thought to go looking for such a table on the www.  Here we go.  That took about three seconds, so I bet there are plenty more that are cheaper.  This guy had the same idea, but those two links were all I could quickly find concerning this notion.

Here is another modified cliché photo of Battersea Power Station, the modification this time being smoke.

Come to think of it, all those London taxi photos I’ve been digging up are also modified cliché photos, aren’t they?  London taxi = cliché, adverts = modification.

Wednesday October 17 2018

Yesterday I was writing here about how temporariness is a great softener of visual blows.  If you don’t like it, wait until it goes away.

Well, here is news of progress in the technology of making how something looks something that can keep on changing:

Flexible electronic paper could be available in colour as early as next year, allowing designers to create clothing, accessories and other products that double as display screens.

Commonly used on devices such as Kindle e-readers, e-paper has until now only been available in monochrome, restricting its appeal.

But advances in flexible e-paper technology mean that products such as shoes, watches and garments could soon feature full-colour text, patters and images that can constantly change.

It won’t just be how people dress.

However, this will be a different kind of temporariness, because the changing, at least potentially, will never stop.  There will be no normal that gets interrupted, which you can wait for things to get back to, the way you can with scaffolding.

But, ”could be available ...” means that all this will be taking a while.

Wednesday October 03 2018

This:

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Photoed by me last night.  And explained here.  The Metropolitan Line came up with this logo just after the regular London Underground logo was devised.  Now this version of it survives,but only on platforms at Moorgate that are no longer used.

Weird.

In the twentieth century, weird is all it would have been.  Then forgotten.  Just another of life’s little mysteries.  But, in the age of the internet, there are no little mysteries.

Thursday September 20 2018

To me, nothing says Abroad quite like a poster, somewhere in Abroad, advertising an English speaking movie, whose English title I already know, with a foreign title that is different, but with all the same star names:

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La Taupe means The Mole.  I preferred the TV series, but I love this poster.  Photoed by me in Paris in February 2012.

As was this, on the same expedition:

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In the same directory, I encountered other photos of posters advertising the following movies: Drive (Ryan Gosling), Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage), Underworld (Kate Beckingsale), and Star Wars Episode 1 (whoever).  But in those posters, the titles stayed in their original English.  Why?

La Taupe
This actually did get my attention
“Attention” that isn’t
Adams versus Kaepernick
More Surrey cricket photos
A view from the Shard
Orange umbrellas in Lower Marsh
Big Thing Alignment with an appropriate slogan in the foreground
Confessions of a preemptive pessimist
Ruthless boohoo man
More photoers
Flotsametrics
Heroes with photoers
Death Wish avec Bruce Willis
A missed opportunity
Two adverts for the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts
Green Union Jack
Quota taxi covered in quota red flamingos
Worse than bad form
Elina Cerla
Piccadilly in the wet
Photoing the man playing a flaming tuba
Pimlico in Kensington
Naughty old adverts in The Star
Leadenhall Market
Ashes to virtual Ashes
Self storage is a strange expression
The most popular England and Wales birthday date is my birthday date
Dramatic sky over Brixton
Bromley-by-Bow tube to the Twelvetrees Crescent bridge
Eight
Dissing the Walkie Talkie
Rugby v Marlborough at Lord’s today
Wonder women
When advertising doesn’t quite work
A classic car and a modern classic car in Lower Marsh
Why computers are so dumb and so insolent
Animated tube maps
Happiness and other survival techniques
Barcelona photoers 2005
Barcelona Big Things (and Barcelona Big Thing graphics)
Incorporating the little orange light in the design
Another Capital Golf car
Cat proximity awareness
An Underground sermon
To Tottenham (6): The Spurs Shop
You wait for years and then two come along at once
Skull Shaver
Merry Christmas from the Pilot Store (and from me)
To Tottenham (2): Seven Sisters?
Packaging that is too good
Somebody needs to invent electronically changeable paint
What indeed?
Droneverts
The art of taxi advertising
Van – grey but very interesting
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