Category Archives: Advertising & Marketing

What’s in a Name?

Golley Slater, an advertising agency in London, are undergoing a serious rebrand. To raise awareness, appear collaborative, etc… they decided to make renaming of the company a public competition. The ‘What’s in a Name’ campaign judges solely on the name itself, rather than artistic flair or logo expertise. To view the details of the competition, please click here.

Like most people who entered, I definitely had a 100% chance of winning. But seeing as I didn’t make the shortlist, I thought I might share my idea. Remember, it’s all about the name. So forget the purple, and endure the patriotism of my imagi-nation…

Mercutio. The jester and confidant of headline-grabbing Romeo. The unsung hero of arguably the most famous piece of literature ever written. But why name our agency after him? Let’s consider Mercutio’s role in Romeo and Juliet, and compare it to that of an Ad agency driving a campaign to market.

1) The middle man. Mercutio is the link between the Montague and Capulet families. Similarly, an agency bridges the gap between client and audience/publisher.

2) The dependant. It’s widely critiqued that Mercutio’s death triggers the point at which Romeo and Juliet descends from playful rom-com into harrowing tragedy. Without our agency, there’s no chance of a happy ending!

3) The loyal friend. As a kinsman of the Prince of Verona, Mercutio has a higher social standing than either of the wealthy Montague and Capulet families. Not restricted by class, his loyalty to Romeo is heightened further in death as he is fatally stabbed whilst trying to protect him. This symbolises (all-be-it exceedingly) the kind of loyalty any client would expect from their agency. No ego. No boundaries. A fierce, unrivalled and transparent friendship.

4) A balanced relationship. Although Romeo (the client) is the hero, Mercutio (the agency) is not fearful of standing up to him. He doesn’t shy away from faux-pas, as evidenced by him asking the difficult questions and tackling delicate issues head-on. He jests at Romeo’s love, with the kind of banter and wit you’d expect from any best friend relationship. He’s even comedic in death and puns about his own stab wound, “ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.”

Mercutio is a true English gent; a supremely aspirational character, whose status amongst audiences is heightened by an untimely and noble death. He’s modest, strong and extremely generous; going way beyond the call of duty in his friendship with Romeo. As a secondary character, he’s away from the spotlight, but yet so pivotal to the outcome of the story. There’s no fluff, no waffle. Every appearance Mercutio makes carries a significant punch. As a character, he’s ruthlessly efficient.

All this in mind, what do we actually know about Mercutio? Away from the bright lights of Capulets v Montagues, what does he do when he’s not trying to keep the peace? We don’t know. We’ll never know. It’s not relevant. The story is Romeo and Juliet, not Romeo and Juliet brought together by Mercutio. In this sense, he’s a faceless hero. In the eye of the client, he’s the ideal agency.

I’m not a Shakespeare freak, far from it. Since my ‘special measures’ education, I’ve learnt far more about Romeo and Juliet through researching for this competition. The point is that I knew enough in the first place. I knew enough to recognise Mercutio, and to know he was a pretty cool guy, with a cool name! From the outset he’s a selfless bloke who gave up his life for a ‘greater cause’; I also think most of the public will recognise this. After all, can you think of a more famous story?

The choice of Mercutio as a company name evokes creativity and passion. The logo is purple; combining the red and blue of the Capulet and Montague families. He’s the middle branch of the ‘m’ in the logo, nestled between the client and the audience. It’s a connection that demonstrates collaboration and a focus on relationships, as does the logo’s tessellating letters. Soft curves are juxtaposed by hard edges, mirroring Mercutio’s loyalty and empathy with his unique, impulsive character and no-nonsense approach. Indeed, psychologists have found that above all, what people like in others is kindness and assertiveness — the sense that someone will be available to help in a time of need and has the ability to stand up for oneself. This is the ethos of Golley Slater; let’s announce it to the world through Mercutio.

And did the Beckhams’ name any of their children after him? It’s time someone did…

The Finalists

Bitterness aside, above are the 5 finalists; as chosen by members of the Young Creative Council (YCC). To vote for your favourite, please click here. Or alternatively [**bitterness reinstated**], feel free to send them a strongly worded email saying how much better Mercutio is, and that they’ve made a horrendous, life-threatening mistake.

Ideas really are like farts. Everyone thinks theirs is best. Market testing rules.


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U.S. Healthscare

Put down your teeth whitening kits, California… this sh*t is real. Take a minute to study this healthcare ad above… It’s a real ad, from a real Los Angeles magazine, read by real people.

I’m still trying to figure out why I was so shocked by this. Perhaps the notion of selling a health service isn’t something we Brits are used to, but still – just look at it! It appears Best Price Evaluations Medical Services (catchy name, by the way) are offering an October Special, awesome. And what’s more, you’ll get seen by this super sexy doctor who definitely topped the charts at Harvard. She’s got ‘experienced and trustworthy’ smeared all over her, albeit with foundation and lip gloss. Non-prescript glasses are a nice touch though, if only my GP was cast in the role of a 1950’s secretary.

Sarcastic onslaught aside, what started as an entertaining discovery at a coffee house in Hermosa Beach, has since descended into a self-actualising critique of  US health history. Namely, the forced sterilisation program of the 20th Century.

Compulsory sterilisation was first proposed by Gordon Lincecum in 1849, a Texan biologist who believed that genes of the mentally disabled and undesirable sectors of society should be made impassable. In a movement that spanned dozens of countries, including Nazi Germany; the following 100+ years saw the mentally ill pooled with the black; the poor; the deaf; the blind; the physically deformed and even criminals. They all faced sterilisation at some point or another, many against their will, many without even knowing…

In 1968, Elaine Riddick was raped by a neighbour who threatened to kill her if she told what happened. She was 13, the daughter of violent and abusive parents in the desperately poor country town of Winfall, North Carolina. Whilst she was giving birth in hospital, a social worker deemed her “feeble-minded” and petitioned the state Eugenics Board to have her sterilised. Officials coerced her illiterate grandmother into signing an “x” on an authorisation form. After performing a Caesarean section, doctors sterilised her “just like cutting a hog”, she says.

In total, over 60,000 Americans were sterilised under eugenics laws; laws that were eventually abolished in 1981 – a mere 30 years ago. Suddenly, a tasteless magazine ad doesn’t seem quite so barbaric.


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Byroglyphics: Art or Design?

Byroglyphics. Where surgical Sin City-esque freehand meets ‘Shit! I’ve just spilt coffee on my work!’

I love the risk/reward notion behind Byroglyphics’ work; the man has some serious balls! I mean… imagine the time spent drawing this woman. The pressure of capturing an emotion that – at the stroke of a biro, can be wrecked so easily. And then when you finally think you’ve nailed it, you go throw a sh*t load of acrylics all over her face! Now that takes some stones…

It’s little wonder then that, at times, I think his experimental approach can be his undoing. I look through his gallery and think – ‘Ooohhh, you shouldn’t have added that… If only that was over here, and there was a little less of this…’ But isn’t that what art is all about? Opinion?

I often wonder about the difference between art and design; and good old Byroglyphics has come up with the answer. Consistency. If artists were consistent, they would be boring – predictable. But consistent design is strong and cohesive. Consistency breeds trust. I trust Nike that if I buy these trainers, they will make me run faster… I trust Levi’s that these jeans won’t fall apart in the first wash… I trust Lynx that their new scent will help me with the ladies… All these brands are saying the same thing now as they did when they first arrived in our fickle commercial lives. Belief is contagious. Just ask Jesus…

To become a success, an artist only has to convince one squillionaire. A designer has to convince the rest of the world…

Good luck!


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