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Category archive: Advertising

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:


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?:


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:


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:, 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:


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.

Thursday October 06 2016

Yesterday I was reminding myself that we live in an age when pub quiz questions have instant answers.  So when, soon after posting that posting, I came across this photo I took a while back, of a boat, …:


… with the words “THAMES RIB EXPERIENCE” written on it, I set to work to find out what the “RIB” bit means.  I had vaguely supposed that this was some sort of steakhouse sponsorship deal.  The world is now full of ridiculous arrangements of that sort, sponsored by commercial enterprises whose only way to sell more of their stuff is to cause even more people to have heard of it.  The mere merits of the product being irrelevant, for their purposes.  “Yes it’s bad for you but it tastes really nice” not being a message they want to be too publicly and explicitly associated with, because then they’d have the health fascists all over them.

So “Thames Rib Experience” as an exercise is boosting meat consumption?  But which ribs should we be consuming.  Just ribs generally?  The British Rib Council, a combined consortium of ribbers, combining to boost ribs in general?  It didn’t seem very plausible.  So, what does RIB really mean?

It turns out that RIB means rigid inflatable boat.

This is a triviality, of course, unless you are in life-threateningly urgent need of a rigid inflatable boat trip on the Thames.  But the change in the world towards a state where it is much easier to find things out is not trivial.  The story that lots of people mention in this connection, and lots of people are not wrong, is the ease with which a formerly dirt poor farmer now can, in the depths of the African countryside, keep himself informed about the prices he can expect to get for his products, when he takes them to market.

Quicker and better answers to questions is all part of why all this stuff has been happening lately.

Friday September 16 2016

How do you know if a cat is happy?  Answer, mostly: from the sounds it makes and from its bodily movements.  It purrs.  It shoves its face against your legs, or your face.  These are the strongest signs.

A still photo of a happy cat, or any kind of realistic picture, is not likely to communicate feline happiness nearly so definitely.  And that is particularly true if you are only allowed a picture of the cat’s face.  It’s eyes may be nearly shut, but that could just be because it’s resting, rather than especially happy.  And anyway, good pictures of faces, the sort that really get our attention, have eyes which are wide open.


I’m guessing that this may have been the thinking behind the above, to me, rather unsettling image.  There are no eyes-wide-open eye-catching photos of happy cats, so they slapped a smile on a cat in a drawing.

But, as I often say of rather peculiar things that I show photos of here: it got my attention.  Click on the above for a bit of context.  I took the photo in the Earls Court area, rather than Notting Hill, and it was of a bike.

The website.

There is, of course, that Cheshire Cat, but that’s rather unsettling also.

Saturday September 10 2016

If I take a photo like this …:


… then I am liable to feel quite a lot of affection for the spot from which I took it.  Big Things. Cranes.  Roof clutter.  A lit-up sign with news about a cricket game.  Advertising, including even an advert for the excellent City A.M. (bottom right).  True, it’s a bit gloomy.  But that only makes the cricket score shine all the brighter.

Here, below, is a photo of the spot that I took the above photo from:


Yes it’s the Oval Pavilion.  There is now sunshine, going sideways because by now it is the evening. Surrey have narrowly defeated Notts and all is well with the world, unless you were supporting Notts.

Here is another photo which I took a year later, from almost the same spot.  Just sitting a bit further back:


Judging by the next photo I took, I must have surveyed the scene. 240 Blackfriars.  St Paul’s.  Yellow cranes.  Yes, let’s take a closer look at those yellow cranes:


However, since taking all of the above (and a great many more (to say nothing of vans outside)) I have taken also to visiting another excellent Big Thing viewing platform, namely the one at the top of the Tate Modern Extension.

And when I looked more closely at the above photo of the yellow cranes, I observed this:


Still the yellow cranes, but this time we can also see the Tate Modern Tower much more clearly.  And the Tate Modern Extension is right behind a new block of flats, one of the ones already referred to in this earlier posting, about how you can see right into these new flats from the Tate Modern Extension viewing platform.

So, if I could see parts of the Tate Modern Extension viewing platform from the top of the Oval Pavilion, it ought also to be possible to see the top of the Oval Pavilion from parts of the Tate Modern Extension viewing platform.

And so it proved.  On my first expedition to the Tate Modern Extension viewing platform, I had given no thought to the Oval Pavilion.  But on my second visit, having scrutinised my Oval photos in the manner described above, I tried to photo the Oval Pavilion.  A lot, because I couldn’t myself see it properly.



On the right, in green, the famous Oval Gasometer.

Here, in case you are in any way unsure, is the Oval Pavilion:


For the last few days, I have been asking myself why I so much relish little visual duets of this sort.  Liking A, liking B, seeing A from B, seeing B from A.  Why am I so diverted by this?  Rather than answer this question, I will just leave it, for now, at putting the question.  I have the beginnings of some answers meandering about in my head, but they can wait.

Wednesday September 07 2016

imageI think it looks like they’re giving someone two fingers, rather than two kangaroo ears.  At least it’s not pointing at us.  It’s more like we’re doing it.  Weird.  It will be interesting to see if it survives.  Quite apart from anything else, I just think it is extremely ugly, in the same kind of way that the 2012 Olympics logo was ugly.

Tuesday August 16 2016

I continue to hoover up White Van pictures whenever an interesting one presents itself.  And this one, that I encountered yesterday evening in Victoria Street, is surely a classic of the genre:


What I enjoy so much about this van is how this enterprise clearly started out in a state of in-your-face honesty.  Yeah, we do lavs.  Our boss is Dave.  Workplaces need lavs.  You got a problem with that?  Everyone needs to piss and/or shit every now and again.

But then, as business expanded, the euphemisms crept in.  Changing the website was too complicated, but the surrounding verbiage got more polite and decorous.  That’s my take, anyway.  Have you ever seen the word “welfare” used like that?  I haven’t.  “Welfare Vans” sounds a bit like something laid on by the Japanese Army during the war, providing you-know-what to the soldiery, and for which they still refuse to apologise to the women thus made use of.

Go to and it’s all explained:

These self-contained welfare vans offer independent diesel heating, washing, toilet and kitchen/eating facilities. Also included are auxiliary power microwave, hand wash and water boiler. Our welfare vehicles offer superior standards and are completely mobile, providing staff with all the facilities required by current employment law. All parts comply with the new legislation for Whole Vehicle Type Approval.

I might have guessed there’d be government regulations involved.

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?
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!
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
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
I never knew Marmite came in tanker lorries
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Under a hundred copies
Was it Sweeney?  And what else were they trying to suppress?
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
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
Ken Livingstone was beaten by the billboards!
Big head and big something else
Two adverts in the tube
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
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
Blowing Smoke all over old school advertising