Thank you, Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash
When asked if he had a message for the Governor of Fulsom Prison this was Johnny Cash's reply

Johnny Cash, the original punk star, would have been 78 today. 

He was born on February 26th 1932 and died on September 12th 2008 just four months after his wife June Carter Cash.

His musical legacy spans over 50 years and he is held in great affection by many the world over for his music but also for his empathy and affinity with the common man. 

Cash believed himself to have some Irish roots but discovered that he was, in fact, of Scottish royal descent – the Cash family tree can be traced back to 11th century Fife.

Anyway, this is one of my favourite JC tracks – his wonderful cover of Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus.  Enjoy.


Tom Holmes helps Derry to get creative

With Tom Holmes and Learning Pool
Janet Harkin, Lisa McGonigle, Tom Holmes, Mary McKenna

I had the big pleasure to meet Tom Holmes, creativebrief Founder & Chairman, recently.  That’s us, above, with fellow Poolies Lisa and Mary.

Tom was visiting Derry to lend his support and ideas to the UK City of Culture 2013 plans when he called in for afternoon tea to our Clarendon Street office.

A native of Northern Ireland – Tom was born in Belfast – his Holmes family roots are Islandmagee, County Antrim and then way before that, Holmes’s Town, Co. Donegal – near Lifford.

Tom is a marketing luminary who has spent much of his career working with the who’s who of agencies (WCRS, Grey Worldwide, Saatchi and Saatchi and The Lowe Group).

In 2002 he founded creativebrief which he describes as a company that matches brands to agencies.

It connects buyers and sellers of marketing services by applying the latest and best digital technology, industry knowledge, research expertise and extensive database to provide a unique search and selection service for clients looking to find the most effective creative, marketing and media services, to match their individual communications requirements.

When we met him Tom was recovering from a cold but was still full of energy, curiousity and thoughtful comments as we told him a little bit about Learning Pool

He admired the Learning Pool surf boards in our boardroom and happily posed with a Peggy pig, bedecked with a ‘I heart LP’ button badge on his lapel.

Tom was generous with his little black book and demonstrated the results of enviable networking skills as he reeled off people he thought we might want to chat to – “Tell them Tom said to say hello,” he encouraged.

As well as telling us how he started creativebrief from his kitchen table Tom talked about the other stuff he’s involved in.

From the Brands of the Future competition, the Marketing Society of Scotland and the Edinburgh International Marketing Festival, it was clear to see Tom’s commitment to creative and forward thinking marketing and the commercial value it can bring.

Product placement and the power of advertising


product placement logo

From next week, 28th February, Ofcom will allow commercial TV channels to earn revenue from the placement of products within the programmes they make for UK audiences.

Viewers will know if a programme contains placed products by the appearance of the ‘P’ sign at the beginning and end of the programme.

Product placement has been around in films for years as fans of James Bond films will testify.  Cars, mainly Fords but, of course, the classic Austin Martin, have been featured in many of the films alongside computer and other electronic equipment.  It seems Q had some help along the way.

So how subtle or otherwise will the product placement be?  According to Ofcom there must be ‘editorial justification’ for a product to be in the programme and it mustn’t appear so often that viewers feel they’re being sold to.

However, you could argue that the promotion of products in TV programmes has been around in the UK for a while too – remember Jim Bowen’s Bull’s Eye where the losing contestant was teased with “Look at the prizes you could have won”?  Cars, speed boats and caravans were shown.

Or Brucie’s Generation Game where there was always a toaster or electric blanket (the height of many a viewer’s aspiration in the 70’s) to accompany the cuddly toy.

Clever use of product placement will make our favourite characters more real – their Starbucks choice may become ours. 

But how much impact will this really have on UK TV viewing audiences?   Will it just be a question of playing spot the product for a short while until we get bored of that game?

Like most cultural changes the effects will not be immediately apparent.

As the excellent short BBC series ‘Foods that made Billions’ showed, the power of advertising on our culture is astounding and only really apparent in retrospect.

The rise and rise of the breakfast cereal industry in the US and UK is one of the most successful marketing stories ever. 

The advent of product placement in our daily TV viewing will give brand owners and marketers another tool to use to increase the relevancy of their products and ensure that they become more immersed in the fabric of our everyday lives.

And, if nothing else, it gives a  whole new story line for the next Royle Family Christmas special as Jim, Denise, Barb and Dave have a punt on how many products will be featured in the latest episode of Corrie.

Some of my thoughts, written down. Ramble on.