Thursday, 31 January 2013

Screenwriting for the uninitiated

Other than bashing out posts on my other blog, I have to be honest and say that writing has taken a bit of a back seat of late. My current job doesn't rely on well-crafted sentences to get work done, so in an attempt to kick-start my creative juices I've taken on a screenwriting course.

In a stupidly naive move on my part, I figured writing screenplays wouldn't be all that difficult. After all, I love film and can string words together in a half-decent(ish) order. Surely these two elements would work nicely together?


Screenwriting is bloomin' difficult.

It's different to any kind of words on the page I've tried before. Because, despite what most people think, an interesting situation does not a good story make.

When you "write" a screenplay, only about 1/3 of your time is spent with pen and paper/laptop and keyboard. The other 2/3s are spent pulling your hair out trying to plan how the fecking story will work. It's all in the planning.

So far, my attempts to think of a feature (yes, that's right, I signed up for a year course to figure out how to write a feature - I don't half make it hard for myself!) all I've managed to squeeze out of my noggin is a watery range of damp squibs.

Still, I will soldier on in an effort to somehow write something a tiny bit filmic...

Anyone out there ever attempted screenwriting? Would be interested to hear how you've fared.

P.S. One great thing about learning this craft is the excuse to read as many screenplays as possible. You whizz through them in about an hour - brilliant!

Monday, 27 August 2012

New blog calling

It's been very quiet on the Crabbit Copy front over the last few months. Partly because I haven't really been focusing on advertising at all. And therefore have nothing even remotely interesting to blog about.

I've started a new job at a digital marketing agency, so I suspect that ramblings will probably re-commence once I've gotten over agency culture shock. Being out of agency life for four years has made me soft and squishy. Not good!

Anyway, for those that are interested, I've started another blog called Purse Full of Pennies. It's totally unrelated to advertising, digital or anything new and communication-y. In fact, it's about old stuff. It's VERY likely that I will write about vintage ads, so I suppose there's still a tenuous link in there somewhere...

I've never blogged about it here, but I am a massive bargain hunter, love charity shopping and get all hot and sweaty under the collar when I spot car boots. I need stuff to write about. So it made sense to put the two together. You might be interested, you might not be. But I still figured I would give it a plug :)

Anyways, it's here. Enjoy!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

More brilliant Edinburgh International Science Festival images

With the SciFest in full swing I can't get enough of everything that's happening in Edinburgh at the moment.

I went to a brilliant talk on Thursday night at the Scottish Storytelling Centre called Invisible Worlds (not to be confused with the St Andrews Sq exhibition) and while I was waiting outside I spied some images on the wall.

I took a selection of photos of the images, despite looking like a complete and utter idiot. Everyone probably thought I was a total numpty (Why is she taking a photo of a photo?) and I didn't have the guts to say that it's postmodern, innit?

This is the embryo of a cavefish. He looks a mean cavefish. By Monica Folgueira.

This might be my favourite. It's the underside of a proleg of a caterpillar. Yes, caterpillars have prolegs. They're like real legs but not. How cool is that? By Spike Walker.

Amazing 3D construction of a mouse embryo. The embryo was labelled with fluorescent dye to mark the cells. If that isn't cool I dunno what is. By Agnieszka Jedrusik and Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz. 

Honeybee alert! He's a hairy critter, no? I'm not surprised all that fuzz was picked up, he was shot by an electron micrograph. By David McCarthy and Annie Cavanagh. 

There were a good few pictures on the wall, so if you're passing the Scottish Storytelling Centre before 15th April be sure to pop in for a coffee and have a wee scooch at the photography. There's some cool stuff to see and they are all part of the Wellcome Collection's recent catalogue of acquisitions. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

How to use a moustache to your advantage

Saw these great little flyers a while back at the Glasgow Film Festival and I've been meaning to post them up. So now I have.

Stuffed in one of the leaflet racks alongside the various Glasgow tourist offerings, these three executions really stood out. They're quite a lot of fun, eh?

I generally think the regular moustache is one of the worst facial adornments imaginable (only beaten by tattooed clown tears) but I will hold my hand up and say that I do respect a good 'tache. If I saw one of these on the streets I'd probably have to take a photo.

The idea seems to be you cut out the 'tache that takes your fancy, shove it on your face and take a snap that you upload onto the online photo gallery. I'd happily link you to the gallery, except that Glasgow Museums has taken it off their website (maybe nobody uploaded photos? Awkward...). 

Here's the reverse: 

Copy's fun too. Shame they had to spoil it all with a daft wee QR code at the bottom of the leaflet.

No idea who did this. In-house? Agency? Nice to see some creative stuff for leafleting though. 

Monday, 2 April 2012

The beauty of science

Ever wondered what you would see if you looked a fly straight in the eye? Or considered how a woman can squeeze her foot into a stiletto heel, when the two shapes just don't quite match? Or pontificated over the sheer scale of the universe because it's so mind-bogglingly, ginormously big?

I must admit, I'd never thought about what an eyeball fight with a fly would be like, but after spending half an hour wandering around the Invisible Worlds photo exhibition in St Andrews Square, I now know that I would be unlikely to win...

Yes, I know what you're thinking. These fly's eyes look like a frightened bawsack. 
A collection of amazing images have been brought together as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival to show the creativity of nature, from the enormously big to the spectacularly small. It's well worth a visit.

There are dozens of fantastic images to soak up; everything from medicine to astronomy to biology to geography, but even ignoring the subject matter the visuals are so interesting you'll find yourself wandering around spellbound. I took some snaps to give folk a flavour of what there is to see:

This isn't a jellyfish. It's actually a nerve from a cat's skin.
Miniature cities live inside your technical gadgets. Think they have post offices in there?
Glow in the dark pollen. They remind me of Nerdz... 
The exhibition is free and a great way to spend half an hour if you're looking for a bit of inspiration. And if you're a woman, you might even reconsider wearing stilettos – really, bones shouldn't be doing that kind of thing! 

I always wondered why wearing stilettos was like a form of torture. There's your answer right there.
There are dozens of images to get around and the ones I've taken are only a small snapshot of what's available. For someone obsessed with space, I've noticed that I didn't really take any of the universe at large, but there are some absolutely fantastic astronomical shots to see. I wanted to put more photos up, but hopefully this is a good selection to whet your appetite.

The exhibition is in the south west corner of St Andrews Square, until the 15 April when the SciFest winds up. You should really try to get along and have a wee neb if you have a free half hour or so :)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Strathclyde Police domestic abuse campaign

I've been meaning to post this creative since January (when it was launched) but due to problems including misplacing the files and being utterly rubbish at meeting my own personal deadlines, the poor things have been languishing at the back of my mac until now.

The Strathclyde Police domestic abuse creative was doing the rounds at the start of the year, put together by the folks at STV Creative.

If I was going to be a moan, a wee gripe is that there's only one execution. However, I suspect the budget monster probably had a lot to do with that.

See the 30 second TV below:

There's also a lot of print-based media to support the TV, and there's a radio execution (I'm not smart enough to figure out the embed code for an audio on my HD rather than packaged up nicely in a player online - any help in comments appreciated!).
48 sheet


Glasgow subway

Bus ticket

At the risk of using one word waaaay too many times, there was a lot of chat over the value of shock in advertising via Twitter when I was introduced to this work. One of the creatives at STV said he felt the above was from that school of thought - do you think it's got shock value?

I'm personally not a fan of the shock tactic. I don't think it gives people a good enough reason to engage with the message. I tend to think that positive messages work better. Although, for this kind of topic do you think the sharp-intake-of-breath approach is maybe a good way to get attention?

Maybe shock does have a value. This campaign has apparently been doing a good job for the police - if I remember there's been a lot of measurement to back up its effectiveness.

What do you think? Good? Bad? Shocking? Would be interested to know your thoughts on the subject. And what you think of the creative! This post is basically me just asking lots of questions...

Monday, 27 February 2012

Night of the Mummy at RBS Museum Lates

What do Egyptian mummies, dinosaurs wearing headphones, catwalk models and me all have in common? Aside from being totally and completely unrelated (especially the me and the models part), they were all present at the latest RBS Museum Lates at the National Museum in Edinburgh.

Do you think the dinosaur is listening to T-Rex?

Last year, some clever clogs at the museum decided that it was time to open the doors wide to big kids after dark and let them wander around clutching beer, wine or a G&T while soaking up the spectacular exhibits with no wee ones to act as trip hazards.

What a good idea.

I managed to miss the first event last November (boo) but with a stroke of luck I bagged myself a ticket for the latest after-dark adventure and toddled along of a Friday night, complete with sensible shoes so I could run around the shadowy corridors squealing with glee.

Look at all the pretty colours...
As it turns out, the corridors weren't shadowy. In fact, the place was absolutely bursting with life. The event was a sell out and all the ladies were wearing high heels and stunning dresses. Some of the blokes were even decked out in a similar garb, with Egyptian head-dresses and golden togas (sexy).

To top off the fashionista vibe, catwalk models weaved their way amongst the crowd, making me feel like one of the stuffed African elephants in the animal exhibit. 

Bagged a model photie! (Not sure I'm cut out to be a paparazzo.)

The night was packed full of activities and fun stuff to do. There was a silent disco, the opportunity to dress up like Cleopatra, live music for most of the evening and even face painting madness. It was a big play date for grown ups.

Aside from wanting to look at the gem stones and stuffed animals (my favourite parts of the museum) I was desperately keen to get stuck into the latest exhibition in the National Museum. Fascinating Mummies is the only exhibit of its kind in the UK and well worth investigation.

A map of the exhibit comes in handy in order to avoid errant mummies on the prowl.
There was loads and loads to get through, from jewellery to dead bodies to advertising. Yes, I have even been able to shoe horn an advertising reference into this post, and I can back it up with photographic evidence...

1920s Palmolive press ad. Palmolive face stuff is so amazing it will make you as cool as a mummy? Or something.
The exhibition was fantastic. I'd heartily recommend it to anyone with a facial skincare brand brief. If Palmolive can use mummies to sell female skincare, so can you.

That's a mummy. I'd recommend using him for a mattress ad.
This chap is called Osiris. He's clearly a brand ambassador for candy canes.
One for the graphic designers. Pretty patterns. Just so happens they're 1000s of years old.
I didn't really think anything could top the Fascinating Mummies exhibition. It takes a lot to match ancient Egyptian mummies (except zombies and vampires at a push) so I wasn't expecting to run into anything else of equal interest. How wrong I was. 

There were real, live meerkats. 

I'm a meerkat and I'm alive. Compare me!
My favourite part of the meerkat experience was the comparison element. However, without their smoking jackets it was a difficult exercise and I couldn't differentiate between Alexandr and Sergei. Instead, I had to satisfy myself by taking millions of photos. 

Check out those tails. Too cute.
Some people, including myself, were a bit worried that the meerkats would be engulfed in a storm of overeager museum-goers and would drown by stroking. I asked the handler if the poor wee things were stressed because of all the attention they were getting, but he reassured me that if they didn't want to be there they would let him know via the medium of teeth.

The cultured equivalent of a rave in a field.
All in all, the night deserved a proper thumbs up. I really enjoyed my evening and would heartily recommend all to visit. One wee piece of advice is to fill up on grub before arrival - I turned up starving and by the time I'd eaten an hour of my evening had disappeared. But aside from that, just make an appearance and expect to have lots and lots of fun.

The next RBS Museum Lates is scheduled for Friday 18 May 2012. Of course, if you can't wait that long the National Museum is open for FREE during the day. 

(You need to go, it's a creative's paradise.)

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bit of nationalist creative for you

I'm by no means a nationalistic type of person, but I must admit I really like this video from Blipfoto. Makes you proud to be Scottish and all that.

Now, if only Salmond could be a bit more creative with his propaganda and rhetoric. It would certainly make reading the papers and watching the Scottish news a bit more interesting...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Things have been quiet

Sorry. Not much has been happening on here of late. I promised a follow up QR code blog (which is in the pipeline) but as it's been over a month in coming I felt I should put a stop-gap in place until its appearance.

Things have been a bit slow of late because I've been concentrating on a different kind of writing; the utterly engulfing world of creative writing. I started a course at the end of September at the Uni of Edinburgh in an effort to get my ample arse in gear, and have been furiously scribbling down snippets of stories, poems and I-have-no-idea-what-you-are things in an attempt to learn how to write creatively.

Let me just point out right now that creative writing is NOT THE SAME as copywriting. Oh no. It's a different beast entirely. I'm still trying to figure it out after three months and I'm still nowhere near sorted. In fact, I don't think I'm even off the starting block.

Also, my stuff is absolutely crap. But that's fine. You need to start in a world of crapness to get good. Otherwise how will you ever learn? Right?

I had a chat with a well-established screen writer a few weeks ago and told him about my attempts at becoming something other than a copy monkey. However, I have not idea yet what it is that I am aiming for.

He told me that it took him four years to learn his craft, and another three to figure out where he was going with it.

So a three month flounder doesn't seem so bad after all. If you've got any writers' tips for me, please do share. I need all the help I can get!

Monday, 26 September 2011

The great QR code experiment number 1

It's been (un)interesting to hear and read all about the latest craze that is sweeping Marketing-Land. The QR code has exploded onto the advertising scene and it would appear that every Tom, Dick and Harry has been jumping on the bandwagon, plastering plukey little squares in the corner of every piece of creative out there.

Don't know what a QR code is? Don't fret, around two thirds of punters don't have a scooby what they are either. This is a QR code:

They're really visually attractive, eh? I bet art directors just loooove putting these on top of a beautiful photo that took a whole day to capture.

In order to use a QR code, you need to have a smartphone with a QR reader application installed. (Never mind that over 60% of the population don't have smartphones, and of the remaining lot that do have one, most don't even know what the jumble of black and white even means. Let's just ignore the fact that most people can't even access a code to begin with, therefore removing the vast majority of an average advertiser's customer base. It's fine to ignore your customers' behaviours when novelty call to actions make an appearance. Honest.)

So. The idea is to open the smartphone application and then scan it over a code in order for it to take you to a website address. That's what a QR code does. It's an alternative for a web address.

In case you haven't guessed already, I am not an advocate of these squares. However, I felt it was only fair to do a test to see whether these things have any merit. If my test was fruitful, I'd have to concede that QR codes are indeed useful and there is a genuine reason for having a monochrome square of 8-bit vomit at the corner of an ad.

I did try to be impartial when I was doing this. Seriously. I've done two experiments in total so far. Number 2 is for another post.

QR Code Experiment Number 1

Picture this. I'm on a packed ScotRail train on its way through to Glasgow. I spy an ad across the way from where I'm sitting with a QR code. This is ideal for a real-life test. The scene looks a little like this:

Okay, this photo is not ideal. But I was sitting opposite a woman (you can just see her head) and I spotted the QR code at the bottom left of the ad. This is a typical situation where a code has been used on a piece of print advertising.

So, now I need to either type in the web address that's on the ad with my smartphone (quick and painless), or take a photo of the QR code at the bottom of the ad. As this is a code experiment, I am clearly going to brandish my phone and attempt to take a scan of it. There's just a slight problem. There's a woman in the way, and she's looking at me like I'm a creepy nutter attempting to photograph her.  Which, in a lot of ways, is kind of true. So I decide to wait in order to avoid being arrested.

Ah-hah! Now she's left (you can still see her looking at me like I'm mental) and the seat is vacant so I can take a scan of the code. As we can all see, the code is not going to be picked up by the smartphone from where I'm sitting. I MUST GET CLOSER.

This is a bit better. Now I'm standing up and leaning a wee bit over the table, waving my smartphone about in an attempt to get reception and sort my reader app out. Nearly there... Let the scanning commence!

Despite the space-age reader, it's not working. I'm still too far away. So I need to get closer. I need to get so close that I have to practically snog the David Mach spikey screaming face. I'm wearing low-slung jeans on the day of the QR Code Experiment Number 1, but this is definitely a bad idea as I end up mooning my fellow passengers with ass-crack because I'm leaning over the table so much in a desperate attempt to capture this code.

I get so excited when the code finally works that I forget to screen shot it. You'll need to forgive me. Suffice to say, it eventually works, but the code needs to get to the full size of the phone screen. Still, at least a relevant and informative webpage will soon be presented to me. (Let's just forget that all the information I actually needed was already on the ad.)

Ah, lovely. Despite QR codes being formatted for smartphones, I have not landed on a mobile friendly page. It's formatted for normal web browsers. Never mind, let's negotiate this anyway. There are TWO different links to a David Mach exhibition; I don't know which one is the advertised show. Upon click through to both events, there is no extra info that was not already contained on the ad.

Great. I've just spent five minutes staring out a stranger, waving my phone about like an idiot and displaying my arse to the train. And I didn't even get any more information!

Out of interest, here's the page I'd have landed on if I'd just typed in the web address on the phone browser:

Okay, it's still not formatted for mobile web, but the David Mach exhibition is on the front page, there's only one link (less confusing) and in order to get here I did not have to faff about one bit.

What have I gained from this QR code experience? A cold arse.

I have had a nose at the link that the code is aligned to and there have been 209 referrals to the website so far; however I don't have a breakdown of the QR code percentage (and no idea of bounce rate etc). So still no clear idea of whether this is working... Do you think this is this proving a successful referral mechanism? Maybe my experience isn't the norm?
What do you think of these codes? I'm always interested in hearing the pros and cons of ad stuff... 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Meeee Owwww

Say hello to the newest members of the family. We welcomed Rebus and Marley into my Mum's abode at the weekend. They're two enormous cats; I'm expecting them to beat up my shins some time soon.

 Rebus, named after the nosey Scottish detective. He's fat and friendly.

Marley doesn't have any dreadlocks. I think he needs to listen to some reggae to mellow out.

Why am I showing you photos of cats?Well, it is the interwebs after all. It was bound to happen sometime.

One important question still remains, however. DO THEY HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS?! 

Here's an ad featuring cats with opposable thumbs in it. Genius.

P.S. If you're a fan of felines and are in the Edinburgh area, get along to Lothian Cat Rescue. They've got dozens of abandoned kitties that need love and affection, so make them your first port of call for cat-related purchases.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Let England Shake

Have you listened to this album yet? No? Here it is, listen to it. It's the best stuff I've heard for absolutely ages.

If you don't really know much about PJ Harvey (who I saw at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall last night; the fifth time I've seen her) then this is a good place to start. There's nobody like her; I genuinely can't think of a band or artist that has a similar sound or breadth to their career... Radiohead is the closest I can come, but even then they're not a good comparison.

Let England Shake has been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and I sincerely hope PJ takes home the gong. This is a haunting album about the horrors of war, a topic that is difficult at best to deal with. Listen to the lyrics and you'll be affected completely (have a listen to "The Words That Maketh Murder").

I mention this because it was a completely bizarre experience seeing and hearing people scream and applause the songs on this album which are so sad and desperate. The music was originally recorded in a church; that seems fitting for such a subject that is tackled incredibly thoroughly. 

Other Polly material that is seriously fabulously good, if Let England Shake is not quite your thing (although I have no idea why it wouldn't be because it's fecking brilliant):

Also. PJ Harvey's costume sense is brilliant. Check out the Flickr pool to see some of the outfits she's been in recently.

I'm a bit of a fangirl.

But seriously. Go listen!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Life continues to trundle on

I started a new job in January, but after 6 months there I didn't feel like I had gelled with the company and wanted to focus my working hours on things with a digital slant.

So I've moved back into the charity sector and I'm now getting to grips with my new role as a digital comms person. Until further notice all of my work will be related to online stuffs. Does that job title make me some kind of PR? Bloody hell.

I suspect the slant of this blog will probably start to capture more in the way of digital thingymajigs and nuggets of online buffoonery wot with this career move. I definitely want to keep my eye on ATL stuff, but as life moves on and I find my work moving along with it, the nonsense I blog about will likely come along on the journey with me.

What I definitely don't want to happen is for my minuscule little corner of Blogger to turn into yet another piece of social media marketing drivel. Here is a list of things I hope to leave to another nook of the interwebs. I can guarantee I won't bring anything to the party:
  • New online tool and product launches.
  • Social media metrics and measurement. 
  • Marketing jargon speak.
  • Techie jargon speak.
  • Digital marketing hints and tips. 
  • SEO.

The following topics may creep in now and again:
  • Cats. 
  • Observations about public transport. 
  • Bizarre email forwards from my Mum. 
  • Stuff that interests me that might not be advertising. 
  • The stupidity of the human race.
  • Just what the hell is this digital marketing lark all about, anyway?

Just let me know if the content from now on is a bigger load of rubbish than usual and I'll do my best to rein it in...