THE BLOG

15
Jan

Mug Life: This is Bruce & Luke’s Coffee

I should have been looking for a birthday present for my mum, but instead I was scrolling Facebook. This big, hairy, teethy face was talking at me through my screen and I didn’t know why. “Luke Jackson is LIVE!” Thanks, Facebook. That’s great. But who the fuck is Luke? And what’s he so excited about? I flipped the sound on to hear a very enthusiastic monologue about coffee grinding, which was essentially a man shouting at an iPhone in Carlisle, whilst I watched it slouched on my sofa 320 miles away in Surrey. That was my first experience of Facebook Live.

Thanks to internet buttons and URL black magic, I was signed-up to “Bruce & Luke’s Hand Crafted Coffee” in minutes. I had suddenly decided that I needed a bag of ground coffee delivered to my office every three weeks. I order a hell of a lot of shit off the internet, but had never really considered a coffee subscription. It was the Facebook Live experience and the sheer teethy passion for the craft that grabbed me. And despite rampant competition from other coffee subscription services (which are sometimes cheaper), some great local coffee shops in my area, AND the option to just be a normal human being that makes his own coffee, I’m now on my 12th Bruce & Luke’s bag in 8 months.

What Bruce & Luke’s do right is connect with their crowd. The coffee shop model has been copied more times than that Sean Bean ‘brace yourselves’ meme. Everything is “organic” or “artisanal” and it’s always written on a chalkboard in fancy lettering whilst a vegan with 17 nose piercings tells you that they will accept the new £5 note but only begrudgingly. Coffee shops are a mishmash of mismatched furniture and framed “Keep Calm and Carry On” prints. Bruce & Luke’s do away with all of that. They just want to sell you COFFEE. They are so excited about their COFFEE that they want to tell you all about their coffee loudly and often. Luke regularly broadcasts live on Facebook from their roasting bunker, delving into different roasts, different flavours, but also adding a personal spin such as talking about skinny dipping or other startups from Carlisle that he admires. He’s visibly EXCITED the whole time. That excitement is INFECTIOUS. Drink a strong coffee and smile like a maniac, and the whole world smiles like a maniac with you.

Bruce & Luke’s approach is very much “back of house”. You get to see what they do behind-the-scenes, the fun they have, the mess they make, and the slog that goes into running a business. It doesn’t feel staged. It feels genuine. With a consistent presence on social media tied in with some pretty solid and accessible branding (again, a break from the tried tired and tested coffee model) it keeps you engaged. That very subscription model can be tough though, with customers paying little and not often. But it works where demand is met by a good product and great service.

The word passion is heinously overused (mostly on bad CVs, LinkedIn, and ‘about us’ pages) but these guys really do have the passion.

Check out Bruce & Luke’s below and pick-up a free sample from their site:

bruceandlukes.com
facebook.com/bruceandlukes
instagram.com/bruceandlukes
twitter.com/bruceandlukes

90% of what we see in business, marketing, and advertising is a cliché or a copy. Each month I’ll be looking at people or brands that are doing something different. (No sponsorship or reimbursements – just an honest 500 words.)

14
Dec

Experian rebrand: It’s hip to be square

I like Experian. A lot. I worked in their cross-channel Marketing Services business for nearly 5 years, and it’s one of the best things I ever did. It allowed me to work very closely with the likes of Sky, ITV, Vodafone, Barclays, Starbucks, Emirates, and many more who I could list but I already feel like I am unashamedly namedropping. It allowed me to work with dozens and dozens of incredibly dedicated and talented people not just in the UK but across Europe, the Middle East and sometimes as far afield as Watford. It also set me on the right path for the rest of my career, and gave me a clear vision of what I wanted to do and how I could do it.

During my last few months at Experian, there were rumours of a rebrand, which we were very excited about. The Experian logo was starting to feel tired, and we still didn’t really understand what all the spots meant. Rumour had it that each spot represented an area of the business. I found it made a great dot-to-dot during particularly long meetings. Today, Wednesday 14th December, the new brand is here.

I don’t like it. Do you? It’s very square (in every sense of the word) and it’s very, very nineties. I’m not talking FHM, Oasis, cocaine, MTV nineties. I’m talking flip charts, Powerpoint slide deck, Windows 95 screensaver, yuppies and Amstrads nineties. At the risk of sounding like every clichéd designer, the font is dangerously close to Comic Sans, and the colour palette says to me “healthcare” or “flexible gym membership”, not marketing, finance, and data. Of course, the branding needs to be soft and accessible to bring business and information services down to a more human level, but this could have been so much better. Sorry, Experian, it’s a Ctrl+Alt+Delete from me. With ‘disruption’ being the word of the year, it’s disappointing to see so many influential names in business playing it this safe.

15
Nov

808 The Movie: And the beat goes on.

808 is a film documenting the rise and rise of the iconic Roland TR-808 drum machine. It premiered state-side almost two years ago at SXSW Film Festival, and premiered on UK soil at the British Film Institute last year. FINALLY, it has a worldwide release date. 808 will debut on December 9th as an Apple Music exclusive, before becoming available on iTunes Movies for download/rental on December 16th.

Produced by You Know Films (Alexander Dunn with Luke Bainbridge, Alex Noyer, Matthew Jarman), 808 documents the serious grooves that the drum machine has left across the music industry over the last 40 years. Narrated by the familiar tones of music face Zane Lowe, it features interviews with Afrika Bambaataa, Questlove, Pharrell, Rick Rubin, David Guetta, Phil Collins, Goldie and many more, who come together to geek-out over the much revered box of fun.

You can check out the trailer below, or take a look at my photos documenting the UK premiere at BFI London right here.

11
Nov

Hell bent for leather

Universal photography go-to Canon have completely lost their minds and styled their hugely popular EOS DSLR to mimic a classic 35mm camera. On paper, that sounds like an “okay-ish-maybe” idea. In reality, it looks a little bit shit.

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I mean, I can see what they are trying to achieve. But it just doesn’t look quite right. The plastic, unsurprisingly, looks just like plastic. And that leather hand grip could have been a beautiful rust tan. Instead, it’s a cold winter afternoon mud-brown. The smashed-up cherry on the cake is the off-black lens, which really cannot be helped, as 90% of Canon’s consumer lenses are off-black. It just does not look right.

Canon, you’re Canon. You don’t need to try to be cool. Don’t be the dancing uncle at the party.

These guys nailed it…

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24
Oct

Photographic memory: Kodak’s revival

We’ve heard it all before; a technology giant falls and is replaced by a dozen trendy upstarts. Kodak though, they’ve stood strong despite rabid competition, a 2012 bankruptcy, and waving goodbye to £500m worth of patents just to keep the lights on.

The problem is, people are not buying cameras anymore. In 2015, total sales of DSLR and compact cameras were less than one third of total sales in 2010. From 2014 to 2015, sales fell by 17%. In short, that’s terrible. And it’s obvious why. Personal technology is evolving at a dramatic pace, and we the public are absolutely hungry for faster, smaller, more fashionable devices. Whether it looks good on the table next to your latte is more important than its ISO speed. And why spend £600 on a prosumer DSLR when you can carry an exceptionally good camera in your pocket that can also makes calls, send texts, download games, web, etc.

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Kodak know this, and despite coming dangerously close to being left on the cutting room floor, they did what many brands should have done a decade ago – evolved. Evolved in a way that many others have too; they looked back to go forward.

The new (old) Kodak logo is new, but it’s old. It’s their old logo with a new twist. A literal twist… vertical text (who does that these days?) A brave move, which seems to just about work and stays faithful to Peter Oestrich’s original work. After all, retro is in right now and it’s all around us; Co-op’s brand revival, Stranger Things, Edison lightbulbs, tweed, and so on. But let’s not kid ourselves, a splash of vintage branding isn’t enough to revive an entire brand.

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Kodak know this, also. They’ve attacked the market at both ends – professional and consumer. Their legendary Super 8 camera is back, and more importantly, their brand-new smartphone, the Elektra, hopes to appeal to everyday smartphone users who are serious about their Instagram habit. On paper, the device looks strong, with a f2.0 aperture, complete manual shooting, and expandable memory. The device itself is not bad looking either, and offers welcome respite from the hoards of iPhone-a-likes saturating the market. But in the same way that Carl Zeiss lenses did absolutely nothing for Nokia’s reputation, I’m skeptical on whether people will shift their daily digital life from Apple or Samsung to Kodak, just for a more authentic camera experience.

To quote longtime Kodak aficionado, Kubrick; “You must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas.”

27
Aug

The Big Pink Cider Tractor with Smirnoff Europe

On my desk, there is a special phone with a red flashing light. Something like this. Only Taylor Herring have the number for that phone. So when it rings, I know it’s big news.

The brief was to create something a little different for the launch of Smirnoff’s brand-new vodka-infused cider, and Taylor Herring are top of the market when it comes to stunts and PR. You may have seen their work with the likes of Pimm’s, Sky Atlantic, Top Gear or Game of Thrones.

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I worked with Taylor Herring to design a super-size drinks fridge built on a genuine rusty old flatbed farm trailer, straight outta Compton. (Compton, Surrey, just off the A3, not far from Guildford. Lovely place.) Hooked up to a great big raspberry-pink tractor, the trailer would be towed around London, before settling at Broadway Market and Spitalfields Market to give out samples and pose for selfies. Smirnoff’s social media push would include a “snap to win” campaign with the #SmirnoffTractor hashtag.

After some hurried building from the projects team, and a late night or two, the beast was born. Smirnoff’s Cider tractor rolled into London for two solid days of action, twisting and turning through the city, creating some great viral buzz on social media, and confusing hundreds of tourists and office workers. Check out the fruits of our labour below…

In the news: The Drum | PR Week | CampaignLive | The Marketing Blog

19
Aug

World Photography Day 2016

Happy World Photography Day! Here are some favourites that I’ve taken over the years.

For me, photography is a daily scrapbook, a freeze frame of a moment that most people will miss – not necessarily taking in the sights and the skyscrapers, but digging a little deeper, finding a different perspective, and uncovering the underbelly.

As someone who grew up as part of “the internet generation”, I watched 56k dial-up become 100Mb fibre-optic. And with that, the incredible progression of smartphone technology. My first camera phone was atrocious – low-resolution, fuzzy, cloudy photos barely worth using. Now we have devices with increasingly low aperture, huge dynamic range, and colour/light capture on par with an entry-level DSLR. As astounding as it is to have a device like that in your back pocket, it’s hard to not become fully reliant on your camera phone. More often than not, I’ll go an entire trip with my Canon sitting at the bottom of my rucksack collecting sand, whilst my iPhone and I dance around like a snap-happy couple. A constant battle of discipline. I’ll have a word with myself.

In order; New York, Cuba, Paris, Barcelona, Sardinia, Poland, Sweden. And Aldershot.

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CUBA

PARIS

BARC

SARDINIA

GDANSK

SWEDEN

ALDERSHOT

17
Jan

How to Start a Creative Agency

I created this on a whim one quiet Friday morning, when recounting just how many agencies that I’d visited seemed to follow the very same and somewhat clichéd culture and format.

It happened to strike a chord with those inside and outside of the industry, reaching over 802,000 impressions on social media alone. Some took it as gospel, some were offended, whilst others, intendedly so, took it with a great big pinch of salt. Now, where’s my scotch?