Monday, March 31, 2008

Freelance English Copywriter

This blog is also finished, to read the whole story, scroll to the bottom and read upwards.

Here is the sequel:

English Copywriter in Hong Kong

If you are looking for a freelance English copywriter click this link.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"When You Reach For the Stars... may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either."

That's a quote from Mr. Burnett. I like it very much. And it's so true. I took a shot at a pretty tough goal and perhaps this just wasn't my year.

No matter. I came up with a handful of some pretty cool work. So I'm really happy with that.

I learned so much, actually. And I don't regret a thing.

Either way, this blog is finished. I'm taking the next month off to write my novel.

Will I document the process? Of course!

You can read about my third mission, and the sequel to this blog, right here:

An English Writer in Hong Kong

Thanks for reading. Thank you for your support. Let's catch up on the next page.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Last Day

Today is my last day at Ogilvy and Mather.

I have decided to take the next month off to visit with my brother and write my book.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Ogilvy won top honours at the MTR Awards last night, taking home Agency of the Year (Creative).

Our Disneyland work won the following awards:

- Gold - Favourite Campaign - selected by MTR passengers; sample size 1,200 (Disneyland)
- Silver - Best Tactical Campaign (Disneyland)
- Best use of Power Zone - (Disneyland)

Super Mouse

Thanks to a little SEO copywriting, Maria now has the #1 spot in the world on Google for Native English Teacher.

Check out her informative teaching blog, and if you need private lessons, let her know.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Long Nights

We finished up this morning at 8 a.m.

We ran into the CEO as he was coming in to work. Amazing.

Why am I working so hard when I only have 6 days to go?

That is the interesting thing about advertising. Everything you do is good for your portfolio. Everything creative is worthwhile.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finishing Strong

Last night we were here until 5:30 a.m. getting ready for an internal meeting.

We have a great brief on our hands from our biggest client, and the chance to do something really spectacular. So that’s fun.

We have some great ideas for stunts. Big stunts. The stuff that would have the whole of Hong Kong stop and take notice.

It’s nice to put in a good solid week before my contact’s up. You never know, this stuff, if it gets produced, may just get submitted for Cannes next year.

Monday, March 10, 2008

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

As an expat in Hong Kong, I can really relate to this spot. I think it takes place right near our office here in Central.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

But Wait...

Why am I still posting?

I thought this blog was over?

As it turns out, they have extended the deadline at Cannes until March 28th.

Another One From Brian

Brian wrote in to wish me: “Gambatte.”

It is the perfect expression.

A while back he sent me this gem.

It is an annual report for a food company that you need to bake before reading.

Friday, March 7, 2008

No Dice

Today is the submission date for Cannes.

Nothing of mine was entered.

What can I say? It was out of my hands.

And yes, maybe it’s true: While I couldn't have tried harder, I could have pushed more.

Either way, there is always next year.

What a drag.

So that’s that.

Now, I am going to do something I have been meaning to do my whole life.

I am going to write my book.

I’m leaving Ogilvy March 18th.

My plan is to spend some time with my brother. And take a rest. Then I will take a month to write.

After that, who knows?

(Probably another blog...)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dreams, Visions, Wild Ideas

The nice thing about working in a creative industry is being able to put all your random ideas to good use.

Monday, March 3, 2008

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

This is one of the spots that made Howard want to do ads. Super cool.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bjork in Hong Kong

I went to see Bjork the other night at Asia World Expo. It was exactly the spectacle I had hoped for. For some reason only a few thousand people came to see this incomparable Nordic star in action.

All of the eccentricities were out in full force. Visually, it was vivid. Hanging from the ceiling were medieval pennants adorned with pastel fish and amphibians. And beneath, she danced in a firecracker dress, smashing cymbals with her outstretched little hands. Wailing, writhing and wafting through eerie synths and spooky sounds and playful green lasers while an odd and animated horn section swayed with their shiny brass instruments under flapping and flagging red banners.

Her voice was a signature moan. The music ranged from soothing to savage, peaking with the growling, stomping, jungle war cry of "Army of Me."

She spoke to the crowd only little. At first to request that they turn off the hundreds of video cameras you see glowing above the bouncing heads of every show. (Amazingly enough, most heeded her wish.) And later to innocently congratulate Hong Kong on the Olympics and speak a little Cantonese.

The finale had thousands of white paper squares explode into the air and rain down like snow. She barked the words to "Declare Independence" and the chorus echoed in a wild chant over and over and the crowd joined in and the frenzy grew and the lyrics spat out from the wild-eyed few: "Raise your own flag! Raise your own flag!"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

For a fertilizer.

A little poetic license never hurt anyone.

More Black Dogs

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ogilvy at it Again

Campaign Brief Asia has named Ogilvy and Mather the ‘Agency of the Year in Hong Kong’ for the 3rd straight year.

It’s all getting rather silly. I mean just look at this signature. I’m running out of room down there:

Status Update Number XXXX

Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. Ideas.

You need a lot of ideas in this business.
Only about 1% ever get off the ground.

That’s why I keep pushing with new ideas.

100 headlines per head. 100 taglines per tag.

On the status update front, it has become near impossible for me to document this little endeavour of mine. At this point, it’s beyond my control. It’s up to the stars. So wish me luck.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Influential Speakers Take III

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Talent Show

Wieden and Kennedy recently held a competition to find some new talent for its Portland office.

Here’s one of the winners:

WK seeking

He documented his progress on a blog and had a cool slideshow to go with it.

Good idea, eh?

Personally, I got a kick out of this guy. His schtick was to go to every advertising site to ask people for their ideas. He stirred up controversy. He sparked debate. And he had the most notorious online presence of the lot.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lions and Dragons and Drummers

There are guys in bright red and yellow outfits running through the halls of Ogilvy banging on drums and clattering cymbals.

It’s a Chinese New Year tradition: The Lion Dance.

Outside a giant lion was engaged in a choreographed battle against some guy.

Very cool.

Stuff like this is why I love to work in foreign countries.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The 100 to One Rule

I stumbled across Sally Hogshead’s blog the other day.

She’s a very accomplished copywriter from the States with her own agency now.

Either way, she was talking about how she used to write 100 lines for every one that she kept.

Here are 800 lines she wrote for a BMW ad. Of the eight they used, three won awards, so that’s pretty inspiring.

I have three headlines due on Monday. It’s Saturday, midnight, and I’m in the office. I have 250 written so far, only 50 to go.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Skin of a Rhino, Soul of an Angel

Juniors, and students, from all over the world, find me through this blog.

They ask me things like, “How do I break into the industry? How do I find work in another country?” and, “What does it take to be a copywriter?”

I answer every email I get.

I think one of the reasons I am ranked as the #1 English copywriter on Google is because the site is useful for everyone. It’s a reference.

Either way, I usually direct them to It’s a great site. I tell them to read Hey Whipple Squeeze This, Pick Me, as well as Cutting Edge Advertising. And I point them here.

This is an excellent article by Suzanne Pope, a writer I admire: An Inconvenient Truth for Copywriters.

But what does it take?

1. Determination
2. Resilience
3. A sense of humour
4. Oh, and some skills help too

Personally, I have always seen impeccable spelling and grammar as criteria. After all, if writing is your craft, words are your tools. I have always felt that if one is a professional, they should know how to use their tools professionally.

When I come across something I’m not sure of, I look it up. I am constantly striving to improve. I have grammar reference pages bookmarked (sounds exciting doesn’t it?). I follow the lead of the New York Times (for American English) and the Guardian (for British).

Sometimes I look on ihaveanidea, the copywriters' watering hole, and I am a little dismayed.

Learn how to write like a copywriter, and edit like an editor, and you will be doing two jobs at once.

Just my two cents.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


When we were in Australia, we made ads on shoestring budgets. This forced us to be inventive. And simple.

Howard and I came up with another ad the other day. Absolutely minimalist. It would cost peanuts too.

March 7th is hanging over my head like an anvil in a Road Runner cartoon.

Happy Valentines.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

Sure, it's not an ad. But I laugh every time I see this.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Back from Bangkok

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but I’ve been busy exploring.

I went to Thailand for Chinese New Year.

I rode colourful tuk tuks through clamoring streets and haggled for ill-fitting Ts. I had a chance to lounge out by the pool. I had a chance to think.

Now it’s back at it. I’m hoping we can shoot this week.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

My One Show Volume 29 just arrived in the mail. I've seen most of the ads before, but there were a few new gems.

This spot took home a merit, but it's awesome.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl 2008

Well, every year it seems that I lose my bet against my dad. How the Pats could drop the ball at this point is beyond me.

Pssah. So much for football history.

Anyway, more to the point are the Super Bowl ads.

If this Cannes business ever pans out, I think that this would be a great mission for next year: To make a Super Bowl spot.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Either way, there were a few good ones this time around.

Here are some of my faves:

My parents absolutely love Night at the Roxbury, so they’d like this ad.

If you want to see them all, click this link.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Argh, it’s cold. 8 degrees. 98% humidity. You can’t shake ‘the chill.'

Sure, scoff away.

It may be -43 in Canada, but in Canada, there are a few key differences.

-They don’t blast the air conditioning on the subway, in elevators and in office buildings.

-They have things like, you know, insulation, and windows that close all the way.

-Long underwear.

-A sense of hibernation.

In the land of the ice and snow, you know it’s going to be cold for a long, long time, so you buy winter clothes and heaters and whatnot.

Here, all month I’ve been hearing, ‘Oh, it will only be cold for a few more days.’ But it’s been a month now, and I’m still cold, sick and heater-less. Ugh.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Steady Progressin’

Well, things are shaping up pretty nicely.

I just picked up a bunch of supplies for the shoot next week.

The idea is sound, I reckon. And the client’s keen.

Now, I’m thinking, “Why stop here?”

So I’m into creative mode again. I’m writing and re-writing from the brief in front of me. I think it would be interesting to have a solid long copy ad in the mix.

Also, I’m racking my brains on how to produce something good, simple and cost-effective for our biggest client.

If all goes well, we’ll be submitting to the Clios as well as the Lions. So let’s see.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Checklist for Insomniacs

Can’t sleep? Neither can I.

To put my extended waking hours to use, I have composed a helpful little list of some things that you can do while pacing the floors at 5 am.

1. Shave. (You might as well. It will save you some time in the morning for when you finally wake up.)
2. Put out your clothes for the next day. (See above.)
3. Work. (Eh, why not?)
4. Pace the floors. (It’s better than just lying there.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cake and Cognac

It was my birthday over the weekend. I celebrated with a little get-together at my pad in Causeway Bay.

On the initiative front, it appears as though we have found a photographer.

In case you were wondering, of course it is Hennessy.

To quote Mr. Ogilvy once again, "I always use my clients' products. This is not toadyism, but elementary good manners."

I like that one.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Ode to Corporate Poetry

Perhaps in Hong Kong it’s a trend,
Perhaps, it’s worldwide,
But more
And more so
I have found,
A request for copy
That’s not choppy,
But flows with rhythm and rhyme.
Like whimsy gospel
Binding spin.
It’s fun to write such ways.
In fact it seems not work at all,
But dreamy holidays.

Client Approval

Today my creative director and I went down to show our concept.

The owner of the chain, he got it right away. He loved the idea.

It matched his branding beautifully. And we now have a client.

Next step: The photo shoot.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So Far, So Good

Okay, this weekend I met with the owner of my favourite haunt here in Hong Kong. He was keen as anything to go along with this ad of ours. After all, like I said, it’s great concept. Whoo.

However, the perfect fit would be with another chain here in Hong Kong. Brand-wise, man, it’s ideal.

So all weekend I was hitting the bricks. I called, I asked around, I called some more, and after dropping by each of his shops in person and gorging myself each time, I figured email would be the safest thing for my sanity (and waistline).

Sure enough, he got back to me today. I’m meeting him tomorrow. Hopefully he likes it as much as my haunted friend on Friday.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cantonese 401

Cho leedo – sits here

May ah – what?

Mo lui – saying nonsense

Lan get – bad joke

Sie jing ah – waste of my time

So hi – dumb guy

Sow pay – close skin (get lost)

Choi mei – what are you going to do? (in your face)

Dew lah sing – damn the star!

Hong ngyan wahh soy (red face trouble water) – women are trouble (a girl with makeup is like a flood of trouble)

Die lan wok – big trouble

Siu siu – a little bit

Faay – fat

Die jyan – muscular (big object)

Poh tong – ordinary

Ho lan moon – very boring

Mah sing – hanging rope

Jew sing die ha – Paterson guy

Ho tscha – very cheesy guy

Ho luung – very unhip girl

Li ling – super handsome man

Li leng – super hot girl

Doh yeww – wasting time with unnecessary stuff

Chun ji (spring know) – who else knows?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Meet Your Match

Sometimes you can have a great idea for an ad but you don’t have the right brief to execute it.

Sometimes you can have the right brief but you don’t have the right client.

So as opposed to letting good ideas die, it’s better to take initiative.

Here’s an example of an interesting idea that had to be carried out as an initiative ad. It’s for a drain cleaner.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Back to the Basics

I’ve returned to the very origins of advertising: the cold call.

To find a client to run with this ad we’ve got in mind means systematically going through the phone book. Making lists. Making calls. Making meetings. Making connections. Making things happen.

It’s tough. I mean people have a hard enough time trying to understand what I’m saying in Canada.

As my parents (and Howard) say, ‘Speak slowly, Mike.’

Friday, January 11, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Knowledge. Who Wants Some? Come Get It.


The brick hitting has been put on hold until we can do a bit more internal research on the subject.

This entails watching a lot of movies and scouring the internet for answers and such.

In the words of the man, David Ogilvy himself:

"We pursue knowledge the way a pig pursues truffles."

And in the words of Kool Moe Dee:

"Knowledge is king."

Either way, I get to keep my sweet red beard for another day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Haunted by the Entrepreneurial Spirit

So far, my success in this business has come from a lot of hustle.

I imagine that if you are enormously talented, that success just falls in your lap. This has never been the case for me. I’ve had to be tenacious as hell. Luckily for me, advertising requires a lot of this get-up-and-go kind of initiative.

When we were in Australia we had to find the right clients to make the ads we wanted. When I was in Vancouver, same deal. It turned out to be a good way to build business. Now, here in Hong Kong, I am about to go out and do the same thing.

We’ve got the concept for a great ad. Now all we need is the right fit in terms of a client, and we’re rolling.

I have just the place in mind, so tomorrow I hit the bricks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Prepare for the Fantastic Five

One of the fun things about working in this business is starring in ads.

We’re doing a photo shoot this afternoon and I get to be the talent, so that’s kind of cool.

Since I’ve been in advertising, I’ve been in about four ads.

Oh, and did I mention I am also in the Fantastic Four?

This is my claim to fame. My two seconds as a paparazzi photographer. Look for me when the Thing gets into his confrontation with the Human Torch and throws his Porsche across the street.

That’s right. That’s me, in the background.

I tell ya, it’s not easy being famous.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Snappin’ Cracklin’ Pop Culture

What would happen if the Street Fighter guys reunited?

I'm not sure whether this is a viral teaser for Capcom or a film school project (or both), but it’s pretty amusing.

There are seven in the series so far.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tick Tick Tick

It's 2008.

I'm stoked to be back at work.

However, deadlines are looming.

I was checking out the Cannes Lions site the other day.

If we're going to make this happen, we have to act fast. We have until March 7th to get our ideas submitted.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mountain Man

It's nice to be home.

I have had a chance to rest. To hang out in the snow. To breathe the clean mountain air. And get back on my feet.

My little mouse is still in Hong Kong, but I will see her soon.

In the meantime, I haven't stopped solving briefs. I must say, it is much easier to do so at your leisure.

Time is the biggest enemy of the creative mind. Although deadlines do keep the mental momentum going.

Monday, December 24, 2007

We're #1

Well, well, well. It looks like all of that hard work, blood, sweat and tears has paid off.

Ogilvy has been chosen as the #1 agency in Hong Kong by Marketing Magazine.

Not just for creative, but in every category, across the board.

So yay for us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sleep, Eh?

I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve been a bit blah.

However, I have a vacation in the works. So I’m going back to Canada to rest.

Ahh, sweet, sweet sleep. It’s what Hong Kongers look forward to more than anything else (I’m not kidding, just ask them).

I saw this ad the other day and it made me laugh.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

This is quite nice.

Friday, December 7, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

I love the writing in this ad.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hard Sell Headlines

You know you are a good copywriter when you can write a great headline about something as mundane as a 50% off sale.

This one is my favourite:

Pay half now, nothing later.

While I'm at it, this one is pretty sweet.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What Do I Do All Day?

I spend all day writing and coming up with ideas.

I spend all day trying to dream up with something like this:

So simple. So brilliant.

Just a guy driving around with a Starbucks coffee glued to his roof. Everyone that tells him about it gets a free coffee, or something like that.

That is your job? Why yes it is.

Monday, December 3, 2007


I’ve logged 100 hours this week.


With all this work, am I getting any closer to my goal?

Well, I’m getting a lot of practice if nothing else.

This ad is fantastic:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

Hard Work Never Killed No One


What a week.

We’ve been putting in 14-16 hour days for the last five days.

Now, it’s 1:30 on a Friday night and I’m still here.

Tomorrow we work.

Sunday we work.

Three major projects for three major accounts, plus all the day-to-day stuff.

Hong Kong is crazy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Little Shuffling

Here' s my latest article, although it may seem a bit familiar.

Give Us Your Issues, Plights and Causes

This is a nice spot:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


After two weeks of scheming initiatives every night, we’ve got 50 more ideas.

But work is piling in. And some astounding new briefs. So now all our energy is going towards that.

There’s a chance here to make some astonishing stunts for the New Year, the kind of stuff that makes the papers.

Here’s what I mean by ‘stunt’:

At the time, this was the world’s largest announcement. It was for the launching of the Financial Times in Asia. This building is the IFC, the tallest building in HK. They made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for this one.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

Okay, the first time I saw this I thought it was outrageous. Great art direction, but compeletely outrageous.

Now, after watching it a few times, I think it's great.

If an ad grows on you, that's a good sign.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Linkin Park

So I went to see these guys last night. Now, I’m not a big fan. But the show was alright.

There was none of this sitting on your hands until politely clapping business like at the other show I saw there.

At least when there’s a rock show in Hong Kong they treat it like a rock show. My back row seat was easily upgraded to a front section spot after joining the hordes of sprite-ish and black-clad locals as they slipped past security, and, like lemmings, scrambled over the seats and piled into the front.

There were mobs of pumping fists and rehashed lyrics and screaming faces. According to the singer, we were the best city of the tour, so we were probably the first.

He put on a pretty good show. Nothing but the front pockets of his shirt retained their original color.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

50? Aieya! So Many La!

Why come up with so many ideas?

I see it like this. Once you’ve gone through your own initial screening you end up with four types of ideas:

Sparks – these can set off another idea, which can help it grow into a big big idea. You can’t predict how your partner’s mind will work, so if it has potential to be good, it could be a spark.

Dead ends – Here’s an ad that is hopeless, you just haven’t seen the hopelessness yet. Compared to other ads in the same category, it doesn’t match up in terms of unexpectedness.

Dones – If it has been done. It has been done. No point. With enough eyes that have read enough ads, it doesn’t take long to find what has been done already.

Gems – There’s a solid idea there. It’s a good ad. You just need someone else to say so too.

We’re on our way to another 50 by Friday. I’ll let you now how Round 2 goes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Churn, Churn, Churn

It’s been a crazy week for Howard.

He has hardly slept. Yesterday he was up for 40 hours straight.

We still managed to show our CD 50 ideas. Of those he liked 8. Of those the ECD liked 2.

Now, we just need to mock them up. Then get the clients onboard.

And we’re rolling.

Things are going well. I'm shooting for another 50 by next Friday.

This means a lot of running.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tapped In

Howard and I have a plan.

We are going to crank out 10 initiative ideas every night.

When we have 50 each (ideally, every Friday) we’ll show our CDs. They’ll help us whittle those 100 down to about 5 to show the ECD.

If we can get one idea through a week, we’re laughing.

This is our ticket to success, and ultimately, to reaching our goal.

I’ve been on a roll. I’ve been tapped in. I’ve got a lot of nuggets. I just need Howard to see if they’re fool’s gold or not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Ah chaos.

At this very moment there are six songs going on (from itunes, ads, and whatnot).

I like it. It's good for the ol' synapses.

1. “Feel it in the Air” – Phil Collins
2. “Park Life” – Blur
3. “15 Step” – Radiohead
4. Is that the Cult?
5. Random cantopop numbers from random corners
6. “Hey Little World” - The Hives

Idea Factory

The best part about being in a creative industry is having the resources to bring ideas to life.

It’s always been a popular pastime for my friends and I, to dream up random inventions and schemes.

Working for an idea factory, these inventions and schemes can actually be…actualized.

It’s a pretty sweet situation to be in. No worries about patents, or lawyers, or prototypes, or bank drafts, or any of the fuss of going out on your own. You just need to pitch it to a company that wants to run with it, and you are on your way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

I love the twist in this ad.

It’s for a site to rent better apartments? No.

It’s for a flat screen TV? Noooo.

What the heck is it an ad for anyway?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Big on the Medium

For me, a great way to get inspiration is by reading magazines.

You can look at any given ad and ask yourself two things:

1. Does it cut through the clutter of everything else in the magazine?

2. Does it have enough branding to differentiate itself from its competition in the same product category?

Then I set to work on making those two things happen.

Looking at the medium, in this case magazines, is also a good way to remind yourself how a finished ad will look, or what a client will be happy with at the end of the day (or month-long process).

It’s usually not that extreme.

This is where the second part comes in. Coming up with an award-winning idea to fit the brief.

However, award-winning caliber communication is never the safe road (entirely because it hasn’t been done before). So to have it run, you need a client with faith in the very professionals they have hired. And advertising as a whole.

To me, that’s the ultimate goal. To produce an award-winning ad that is put in heavy circulation.

But at this stage in my career, I'd be happy with anything.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another Gem From Scandinavia

Friday, November 9, 2007

Black Dogs

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

No Sleep ‘til Kowloon

One of the problems with Hong Kong is that you are putting in 12-16 hour days, every day.

You never get a chance to breathe, let alone think about anything except what’s immediately on your plate (which is a lot).

When you are not working on the weekends, you have to spend that time coming up with initiative stuff for awards.

Last weekend wasn’t so fruitful so now I’m panicking. The clock is ticking. I need to eliminate the noise that is sleeplessness and exhaustion and overload. I am seeking that Zen state. Clearing my mind of all but ideas. Mmmm. Okay, quit reading, you are distracting me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Quelle Coincidence!

I just noticed that the columnist for The Peak, Hong Kong's magazine for the super-rich, is Rick Hetamalle.

I know that guy.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Return of The Hives

On a note completely unrelated to advertising - the new Hives album has arrived.

Excellent stuff.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Crafting vs Concepting

I spend half of my time crafting copy. Basically just writing and writing and re-writing.

Sometimes this is my work that I am smoothing out to be perfect. Sometimes, being an English copywriter and all, it’s editing other people’s stuff.

I spend the other half of my time coming up with ideas.

Advertising is a crazy business, because you come up with ideas all day (or half a day) every day, and all you have to show for it later is a handful of ads at the end of the year.

That’s the nature of concepts. It takes time for them to be realized.

When a copywriter shows their portfolio to a creative director there should be a balance of crafted writing and conceptual thinking in their book.

After a year and a bit in Hong Kong, I have heaps of crafted writing, but not so much concept stuff.

So it’s going to be an initiative weekend for me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fickle Fickle SEO

I’m having more SEO problems. It appears I have a certain love/hate relationship going here with Google. Most of the time I’m at around #3 for English Copywriter, but for the last few days, I’ve been right off the map.

Curses. I’ll make a few tweaks here and there and we’ll see how it goes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Up for some Scrabulous, Mr. Peanut?

Microsoft just signed a $240 million deal with Facebook. If nothing else, this tells us that this little networking site has something to offer in terms of advertising potential.

The thing about Facebook is all the little applications you can download. There are a lot of really dumb ones, but some are kind of cool.

These applications have been dreamed up by random entrepreneurs looking to build up databases. That’s fine, except for the spam. I just don’t get why the big brands haven’t jumped onboard yet, but to do more than just collect names and interests.

The way I see it, you could create a Facebook character to represent the brand (and most brands already have a character in mind). Then build up a network and involve them in games, riddles, puzzles, and all the while offer the latest promotions etc. through the one-on-one interaction with your audience.

Ah, we’ll see.

Friday, October 26, 2007

English Copywriter x 2

Here's another one from the mouse.

Spectators at the Beijing Olympics Warned to Watch their Lungs

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Identity Crisis

My little mouse has been busy.

Here's the latest: I am not a plastic bag.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

So simple.

Weather Schmeather

My latest article is out. I wrote this one with Maria.

Weather Modification at the Beijing Olympics

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Influential Speakers Take II

Keeping with the theme of pivotal pitches, here’s another.

It’s one thing to give a persuasive speech for new business or funding, and quite another to speak, off the fly, to one very angry mob.

This is a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968, the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

All over the United States riots had broken out upon hearing the news.

Now, he had to announce King’s death to a mostly black audience in a black neighborhood.

The speech he made was off the cuff, to a crowd on the verge of rioting.

That night, race riots broke out in 60 cities, but not Indianapolis.

Some attribute that fact to this speech.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Master of Puppets

Here’s Mr. Rogers winning $20 million for PBS in about six minutes.

Talk about a persuasive speaker.

Howard and I agree. The guy can pitch. And that I need to speak more slowly when I present.

Perhaps we need to throw down some poetry Rogers-style mid-presentation as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

Hong Kong has to be the most convenient city in the world. Anywhere you want to go is within a ten or fifteen minute cab ride. And a ten or fifteen minute cab ride costs less than $40, which is like $5 Canadian.

Any type of food is right at your doorstep (at least if you live in Causeway Bay). And you never have to look far for any kind of service, be it optometrist, dentist, doctor, or a haircut.

Coming from a small town with three traffic lights, where the closest McDonald’s is an hour and a half drive away, it’s a bit surreal at times.

Here's a shot from my roof. Dig the old school buildings mixed in with the ultra-modern skyscrapers.

Monday, October 15, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

Pure candy.

So ridiculous it's good.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back at It

Alright, that was easy to fix. I'm back in the listings.

Here’s another one from Happy Slip.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


This is Happy Slip. Maria loves her.

It's pretty amusing stuff. I've been saying 'Dee-sas-tar' all day. Mostly because Google's banned me again...Ar! Dee-sas-tar! I'll have to sort this out - keep an eye out for some serious damage control in the next couple of days.

Ahhh Advertising

The sad reality of my job.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

Another oldie. I absolutely loved this ad when I first saw it years ago.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Steady Progression

Some people go from advertising to making music videos. Then, they go from making videos to making films.

Either way. Here are a couple of great ads that would make cool videos.

Here are a couple of cool videos that would make great films.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Probably Maybe

There’s nothing like having a word all your own.

Ad critics aside, it’s a marketer’s dream.

Take Volvo and safe. McDonald’s and fast.

But Carslberg probably has the best tagline out there:

And they use it to great effect.

You can’t run ads for alcohol or tobacco in Norway. So when Carlsberg wanted to sponsor a football (soccer) match in Oslo, they weren’t allowed to put their brand on the jerseys.

‘Simple’, said they, ‘we’ll just put: Probably….’

People got it. Loved it even.

The other day, I was watching ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ with Will Smith. I wasn’t a big fan of the show, but anyway, there is one scene where they walk along discussing the difference between ‘possibly’ and ‘probably’.

Right away Carlsberg came to mind. Is there a link? Or have I been doing this too long…

Either way, here’s another in that campaign I was going on about a few posts back.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Status Report # Something or Other

It may seem that I am meandering a bit with this ridiculous mission and all, but I’ll get you up to speed just the same:

Every so often we have initiative meetings to come up more off-the-wall stuff for our clients.

Ideally, if the work is clever enough, it will get produced. And if it is great, it may even win awards.

The whole creative team presented some work. Howard and I had some pretty cool ideas.

Only one of the concepts we presented was cleared for the next phase.

So, we’ll work on it, and make it into a campaign. This is the first hurdle. And there will be many more to come. (More ideas too.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Few More From Brian

This is a very cool idea for Toyota Corrolla. It's not a 3D rendering, it's an actual wire frame.

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

This is very cool.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Every ad needs a twist. Something unexpected to hook the audience's attention or memory. Like a joke, this usually takes the form of a surprise at the end.

My favourite twists come from swapping moods. For instance, you set the stage for horror, and then deliver comedy. Or even more harrowing: you do the opposite.

Scandinavians do this very well...which is probably why I work so well with Swedes and Norwegians.

Here are a few examples:

This one reminds me of those train safety videos they made us watch as kids.

Here's a nature documentary on the world's hungriest animal.

A good twist on 'reasons to give'.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

English Copywriter Pick of the Week

Some excellent Amnesty ads brought to my attention by my friend Brian.

The tagline is: It's not happening here but it is happening