Thursday, 24 February 2011

Kylie Remixed: Buy The Locomotive

For those of you that didn't see it, during halftime of yesterday's Champions League tie between Marseille and Manchester United, Lexus' new poster girl - no, you probably didn't guess it... Kylie Minogue was unveiled on the small screen

CHI & Partners'"Drum Roll" ad seeks to promote the company's "first full hybrid luxury compact car" - the CT 200h, as part of their Quiet Revolution campaign.  It currently exists alongside over 20 viral backstage videos that Lexus' Facebook members can enjoy, with Kylie's Aphrodite-Les Foiles Tour tickets as a sign-up incentive.

The ad commences with a lengthy drum roll crescendo, featuring such first-rate stick men as Pauli Stanley McKenzie and Mike Joyce.  This is drawn to a close by Kylie, who softly asks the viewers to "Join the quiet revolution", before subsequently taking the CT for a leisurely drive, and finally introducing the luxurious compact car.

Personally I'm not a fan.  Granted that the two sections of the commercial are meant to contrast each other, but the level of disjointedness that exists between the two scenes almost seems as though the viewer is watching two different ads.
Additionally to this, as someone who's career is founded in noise, Kylie's presence seems wholly inappropriate for this Quiet Revolution.  Whilst it's refreshing to see a company not using the same dulcet Hondaesque tones to promote their vehicles, the ex-Neighbours star's voice just seems to spoil the moment, failing to adequately provide the calmness that might better promote the brand's message.

Whilst Kylie's presence will no doubt attract attention to the brand, it will have to be seen how well received the production will be.  Unfortunately for Lexus, if early online comments are anything to go on, the forecast isn't looking too good.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

John O'Groats to Lands End: Training Diary

7th Aug
Sorry to not have updated in such a long period of time, exams, finding a job and sorting stuff out made me completely forget to be honest.  Well, in short, it's all fallen apart.  Whilst I'll update the full story when I'm back (ominous and confusing statement, see below for answers), Jeff's sister was no longer able to provide the support car which made it all a bit of a pickle.  Whilst Jeff's friend was able to help us out for about 3 days, it was too late to really sort anything out.  Because of all the kerfuffle, Ben ended up pulling out, having not really trained, and his dates to be able to do the ride diminishing anyway.  That said however, because of the money that people have very generously sent me for such a good cause, I've been determined to do something.  As such, when speaking to my friend Lucy, we decided to have a trip to Paris together.  What's more, is that I said that I'd cycle and meet her there (mystery solved!).
Unfortunately my knee is pretty screwed and I've been told by the doc not to do anything, so I'm going to have to take it fairly easy.  However the plan is tomorrow (Monday) to do London to Brighton, then over to Dieppe, then about half way to Paris, and finally on to meet Lucy on Friday.  Having a couple of days with her seeing the sights and recovering, I'm then going to see how my knee is, and whether I can make the trip up to Lille, across to Calais and ultimately back home.  Alternatively, if I'm not feeling great I may just cycle back the way I came, or if I can barely walk I'll just hop on the eurostar back home.
For all those who donated and supported me, I'm truly sorry that it's come to this.  I hate the fact that the big plan didn't come off, but hopefully this (should I manage to get there) will be some consolation.  At least the money is going to a fantastic cause, and I'm determined that I'll do it one day.
So that's kind of it.  Off up to Clapham Common tomorrow to start the trip.  Wish me luck : )

14th May
Took Jippy out on his first ride today, and boy was eventful.  Arriving at his house with him wearing his brand new cycling shoes, I noted a distinct lack of cleats, rendering them about as useful as a chocolate teapot.  But undeterred by Jeff's stupidity we headed back to Evans Cycles, got it sorted, and before long were off.

Cycling along the seafront towards Shoreham, Jeff not only got his first taste of pedestrians mindlessly walking across cycle paths, but had his first fall.  Not quite navigating round a family out on a bike ride (brings back memories) he failed to un-clip the right leg and tumbled over into a lady.  Pillock.  Sadly however this was not to be Jeff's last event of the day.

In the process of climbing to the top of Saltdean and back, Jip took a total of 3 more tumbles and just for good measure knocked into an unsuspecting pedestrian.  Though laughing (expect the last time when Jeff got angry and kicked his bike), I'm very aware that having not yet fallen off my time will come.

Apart from these events, overall the ride was fairly smooth.  In spite of a couple of knackering hill climbs chucked in we felt surprisingly fresh at the end of our 36km ride -

8th May
Instead of cycling training, wicket kept (if that's a verb) in our second league cricket match, which we managed to win - hazaah!!  Knee not fantastic, but the 3 catches, 1 stumping and winning runs I hit sooth the pain.  Now, back to revision and assessment day prep.

5th May
After my "great day" my knee was agony on the next , but at least I didn't collapse during the cycle.  If I can do this bike ride, I've got the rest of my life to recover [nervous whimper].  Also, found out that Jippy has got accute tonsillitis/glandular fever.  Having had it myself a while back my prayers are with you ol' pal, get better soon!

3rd May
Great day!!  Not only did I found out that I got onto a marketing summer school that I'd applied for, but I also found out that I got through to the assessment day for a grad scheme at Starcom MediaVest!!  Even better than that however, I covered just under 20 miles on the bike without much being enormously out of breath!!

2rd May
With exams and 24,000 words to hand in in a few weeks I've unfortunately had to experience the nice weather from the inside of a library this week.  However, my sad looking bike is enticing me and I think I might have to go out tomorrow, lord knows I need to.

25th Apr
Back from cricket tour, having taken the plunge and wicket kept for 5 games, and no real problems for my knees.  Moderate twinges but considering that each match involves doing roughly 300 squats, am fairly pleased.

10 Apr
Right, well the bike is fixed (sort of - gear changes aren't all that smooth sometimes) and I've finally been out on a ride!  Was fairly nervous about not being able to de-clip my shoes and falling over foolishly, so was a bit tentative - and looking hilarious in all my bike gear.
This bike is QUICK!  Which is awesome, but I sooooo nearly lost control going quickly over some uneven ground on a hill just outside of Brighton, very scary.  Apart from that, sunny day, lovely ride, about 1.5 hours with some stops to look at the sea (and recover a bit).  The best bit, my knee wasn't even that bad afterwards!!  Fingers crossed...

5th Apr
Finally taken the plunge and bought a protein shake.  I know, I know, I'm becoming one of those overly testosterony "look-at-me-I-go-to-the-gym" sort of people, but at least it's only a "recovery" one, and not full on pretentious protein.  Having tasted the supposedly chocolaty flavour, I'd say it's a mixture of the milk you get when you put Coco Pops in, and cardboard; but it's vaguely palatable.  Also bought some pretty gloves .  Not much to say about them yet as I haven't actually ridden a bike so far.  Soon though.  Soon.

4th Apr
Did the acupuncture properly for the first time!  Asked to be shown by the physio, as I realised that I wasn't actually shown how to do it in the first place.  Very painful and the needle got a little stuck, but biting my lip I managed to eventually yank it out.

1st Apr
Right, well a mixture of news to speak of.  The bike news isn't as bad as it could be, the shifters don't need changing which is a positive, but the rear dérailleur does, meaning that (having managed to price match it with Evans) it's gong to cost £140.  Having had no response from my e-mails to the eBay seller I may have to open the dreaded "case" on PayPal to try and get some form of reimbursement, failing that pay for it myself.

Knees not so good, acupuncture still not going that well, but back on the bike and back up to doing hour rides without much trouble.  Did 20m in 1h12sec yesterday (but only on a gym bike) with house mate Tom "Ace" Whiting whose joining me in the London to Brighton this June.

Separate to that, I'm sitting here typing this in a shiny new pair of cycling shoes! Whilst technically I don't actually have a bike to clip them into yet, I still think I look pretty cool.  As Jeff noted however, I'm definitely on the path to being the guy with all the gear and no idea.
Also, the hair on my knees really isn't growing back quickly at all...

27th Mar
Bike Disaster!  Having sent the bike off to Halfords to get tuned up whilst I browse shoes, I get a bad, bad call.  Apparently the chain is set to snap, the cassette is heavily worn down and both need replacing.  Additionally, there's a potential that the shifters are shot too!  If that's the case it could be about £400 to sort it out...  Not happy one bit.  I've e-mailed my eBay chum to ask for a bit of help for my bike that was supposedly in "awesome condition", thoug hI have a feel as though i may need to flex my legalistic muscles to get him to budge at all.

25th Mar
Ow!  Conjured up the guts to try this acupuncture malarkey, but not 100% I did it right - or at least as well as Stuart.  Ah well, I'm sure I'll get better with practice.

23rd Mar
Saw my team, foolish people.  I tell them I've been really good and rested and not done any sport (only a very slight porky), to which I am then told that there was no reason why I shouldn't have been exercising.  WHAT?!  Talk about mixed messages eh?  However, apparently the immense pain I've been in is a good thing, it means that the ligament is revascularising - I think it means getting more blood to it so that it can heal itself.
On bonus side, they submitted and have given me some needles to stick into my knee.  Could be interesting...

17th Mar
Still been really good (apart from going to last ever Sports Centre cricket training - sob), but knee in agony.  Really hurts

10th Mar
Been really good, literally not done anything remotely sporty, but knee hurts more than did last week.

3rd Mar
Saw physios (I'm building a team).  As knee feeling a bit better, after more acupuncture I was told to rest for ANOTHER 2 WEEKS!  Refused to let me have needles to self acupuncture as well.  Ah well, one can but ask

28th Feb
DISASTER!!  At cricket training who should walk in.....Stuart!  Cue awkward conversation as I try to explain why I'm doing exercise : S  On the plus side, he did see me bowl Ferg middle stump.

27th Feb
Saw new physio (Stuart), did some acupuncture, taped up, and told me the worst thing to do right  Uuurgh!  Ah well, doctors orders I guess.....After cricket training tomorrow

24th Feb
Been ill since coming back from cricket training on Saturday.  Rubbish.  Planing on trying to make it to the gym tomorrow....and maybe even make up this bike that's taking so much space in my little room.

19th Feb
Physio wants another physio to take a look, i.e. not sure what to do : S  However, my bike has arrived, and despite paying £470, its in better nick than I though it would be!  Now if I could just figure out how to put it together...

13th Feb
Mixed day, got knee (singular) taped up at physio.  Andy decided that the left one doesn't kneed it (get it), so I have one bald knee for a while (I guess I deserve it for that pun).  On a more positive note, bought a bike!  A bit old, but really good parts mean that it should be great.  Introducing.... the Specialized Allez Elite!

12th Feb
Waxed knees this eve, verdict:  Hurts less than I thought it would, but still fairly *cough* really *cough* painful.  Each individual strip doesn't hurt THAT much, but the amount you have to do gets in your head.  Ah well, I now have silky smooth knees : )

8th Feb
Still giong doing hour long rides, but is far far easier than it was.  Normally covering about 19 miles - though I'm aware that outside it'll be a lot harder.  Missed out on one or two eBay and gumtree bikes, for those bike buffs out there, I'm looking to get at least a Shimano Tiagro groupset or better if possible.

7th Feb
Jeff's got a bike!  Great one too, however it does mean that my bike has to at least be as good as his, or it'll drive me crazy cycling behind him knowing that he's got it easier lol.

Also, I wasn't going to put this in as it was a bit naughty of me, so I've only put it in on 1st April.
The other day, having been cycling a fair bit during the week I felt a bit thirsty at cricket training on Saturday, but forgot to have a drink.  In fact, all day I was thirsty but I just kept forgetting to have a drink.  In the evening I started to feel very fatigued.  I know it's a stupid sign, but I can always tell when I'm really ill because I become too lazy to move my mouth when I talk.  Having been sitting in Tutku's room it almost felt as though I was drunk, acting fairly silly but still extremely lethargic.  I went to go to bed, but didn't quite make it (to next door!), so just lay on the stairs for about 45 minutes, at which point Ben/tom found me and put me into my bed.  Now this is the silly bit.  My bed being on laminate flooring it's always a bit slippery.  As I rolled over towards the wall my bed slipped out a bit and I fell down the side.  Stupid I know.  Upon saying that I was fine, everyone in the house went out and left me where I was.  However, the position I'd somehow fallen in made it  too hard for me to roll over, and I was too tired to push the bed.  As a result of this, I ended up just laying there, lying uncomfortably on what turned out to be a pair of trainers (that gave me a huge bruise), head on some slippers staring at the wall for about 2 1/2 hours before Ben thankfully came back to my rescue.  Technically speaking it turns out that I was dangerously dehydrated to a point where I should have been taken to hospital and put on a drip.  Ah well, Lucozade is fine too.

Moral of the story?  DRINK WATER!!

2nd Feb
Back to Physio, had another assessment, wants me to shave my knees so he can tape them up lol.  Shave?  Bah, I shall wax and see if all this fuss about pain is true.

29th Jan
Changed mind, very fickle I know, but eBay and gumtree are looking much more promising for a bargain.  The bikes around, whilst second hand, are a much higher spec than I can afford brand new.

28th Jan
Ready to buy a bike, GT Series 4, £400, a lot brighter green thant the picture shows, but with some shoes thrown in so can't complain.  Going in tomorrow, very excited : )

25th Jan
Still struggling along, no change in knees, a bit disappointed to be honest.

19th Jan
Insoles still feel weird, got 7 weeks till permanent ones are made, so got a bit of time to get used to them.  After some great help at Evans Cycles I'malmost ready to buy a bike, possibly a Trek 1.1, or GT Series 4

25th Jan
Met with the podiatrist.  Aparently I have unbelieveably over pronated feet (basically I'm flat footed).  This explains why I run la bit like a duck - but at least I don't have to go to war lol.  Adapted my insoles, feel really weird at the moment but I'm sure I'll get used to them.

22nd Jan
First 1.5 hour cycle, nearly colapsed afterwards though, think I'll stick to the 1 hours atm.  Starting to research bikes : )

20th Jan
First appointment with physio Andy, nice guy, hoping for big things.

19th Jan
Done a couple of hour longs, seems to be getting easier, knees really hurt though.

14th Jan
My current physio being stumped, I've finally managed to book an appointment with an NHS physio and a podiatrist.

13th Jan
First hour long ride, knackered.  Knees hurt a lot.

4th Jan
Two rides done, gone from 30-40 minutes.  I guess its a start...

1st Jan 2011
Training starts today!  Only at the gym though, still saving up for the actual bike.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

An Ordained Male in a Komedic Car - John Bishop, Jason Manford and the Komedia

With a bank holiday style weekend comedy line-up of Jason Manford on Friday, the Komedia on Sunday, and John Bishop on Monday, I thought a review only appropriate. However, instead of extensively going through each one and boring the pants off of everyone, I thought it better to condense them into one synoptic blog. First up to the plate, Manford...

As Ben and I found our seats, just six rows back from where our Mancunian maestro would be performing, a big smile crossed my face. Having booked the seats way back in October 2009, I couldn't believe the day had finally arrived, but boy was I glad it had.

Jason arriving soon later on stage to a rapturous applause, as a self professed tight-arse he did his own warm up on the recent firing of Sky's Andy Grey. Everyone in a jovial mood, he moved on to some fantastic material, including jokes about babies, Christmas, hecklers, people's names (in which he said our pal Jeff's name was akin to Barry, and shouldn't be allowed on anyone under 50 - poor Jeff...but true), poo and Brighton, that had all watching in stitches.

The performance was fantastic, Jason's inoffensive and almost conversational style making him seem friendly and relatable. Whilst his material was on some moderately standard comedic topics, the jokes and anecdotes were fresh and clever, with punchlines being unexpected and perfectly timed. He was definitely worth the wait, and I'd recommend him to anyone for when he returns to Brighton later this year on the same tour. Though I'll resist the temptation to go again, I may take his advice this December and look past Michael McIntyre, and reach for his DVD instead.

My laughing muscles having recovered, off I headed to the Komedia with the Kayaking Club for one of their Krater Comedy Club nights. After navigating my way through the labyrinthine North Laines, I eventually located the neon emblazoned club, not really sure what to expect of the evening.
Settling in with a rather pricey drink, I watched with glee as pro-compare Stephen Grant expertly warmed up the crowd with some great improvisation and observational comedy, including a destruction of my foolish friends who'd broken the first rule of being a comedy club audience member - don't sit at the front. Everyone being suitably jovial in spirits, it wasn't long before Stephen brought on the first act; Malawian comedian Daliso Chaponda.

His soft voice alongside a very measured delivery meant that each punchline almost surprised you at how funny it was. Once acclimatised to his method of delivery, each anticipatory wait was rewarded with exuberant laughter from the audience. Whist comedians such as Shappi Khorsandi and Stephen K. Amos (though undoubtedly great) tend to hover their jokes around their ethnicity, Chaponda drew away from this with some top material on his ambitions, and experiences in Brighton. Whilst perhaps some layering to his anecdotes may help him reach greater heights of comedy, at the moment he suits mid-sized venues like the Komedia down to the ground, and is definitely worth a watch.

Next up was Rosie Wilby. Being brand new to the scene she had a tall order to follow up, but faired fairly well, showing few signs of nerves for someone so inexperienced. Whilst many of her jokes lacked the nuance that differentiates between the funny and hilarious, she undoubtedly has potential. Managing to produce the odd gem within her short slot, she adequately showed that with some polishing and improved timing, she has the skills to do do well, though I'd probably wait until she had some more experience before rushing to see her again.

Third out of the four was fresh faced "cross between a bi-curious 14 year-old girl and the moon"; Marc Burrows. Whilst having shared stages with the likes of Dara O'Brian and Rufus Houns, on the night it didn't really shine through. Whilst undoubtedly talented, his phenomenally rapid pace of speech prevented much comedic timing, and meant the audience barely had time to register a joke before it was whisked away to the next one. Alongside this, some iffy linking between topics made his set feel slightly disjointed, occasionally causing him to return back to has stock of jokes on his physical appearance in order to maintain the crowd. Expecting a bit more from the orchestrator of '09 and '10 5* Edinburgh Fringe Festival show "The Big Comedy Breakfast", this writer was left disappointingly underwhelmed.

Fortunately however, the headline act certainly didn't disappoint. Having been on the circuit for a number of years, with some solo shows and the odd award to his name, upon entering, a few spectators could be heard murmuring vague recollections of seeing the performer. After his performance however, just about everyone who attended will be actively seeking him out, as on Sunday the 6th February, Carey Marx brough the Komedia to tears.
With a wide range of well intellectual and meticulously crafted material that somewhat belies his appearance included: Disproving God whilst simultaneously proving a Jahovah's Witness to be a bed wetter, how punching clowns and sexually abusing cows will save the planet, and an exploration of how insensitive paraplegics can be.
Whilst pushing the boundaries of offensiveness with every joke, Carey's honed timing, wry smile and doe-eyed expressions of innocence, forced you into fits of laughter against every politically correct bone in your body.
A fantastic end to the evening, and a comedian that I'd pay a fair amount to go and see. Whilst you'll be likely to come out severely questioning your morals, you certainly wont be disappointed.

Overall, a great evening, with the venue itself carrying a great atmosphere; and considering the student price of £3.50, an unbelievable bargain. If you haven't been to a Krater night, get down there asap, you're really missing out.

To round off my laughter-filled weekend, Monday evening brought along a visit to see 2011 British Comedy Award Winner John Bishop on his second solo tour - Sunshine. Having been in the game for just over 11 years, his career has recently taken off. However, despite appearances on such shows as Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, and Michael McIntyres Comedy Roadshow, the 44 year old Liverpudlian is still remaining on the peripherals of becoming a household name.

Walking in a couple of minutes late, my friend Tom and I were bricking it, as our fantastic seats (2nd row back, centre stage) meant that as late comers, we were ripe for a ribbing. Fortunately for us, we managed to sneak to our seats underneath the Bishop radar, and settled in for what turned out to be a brilliant evening.

The Scouser drew upon a lengthy history of work and familial relationships to present the audience with a wide variety of observational comedy, whilst providing a great insight as to how the Ex-Pharmaceuticals Manager came to be where he is today.
His measured and friendly approach meant that each anecdote not only made you laugh, but kept you interested throughout. Additionally, meandering off on unrehearsed tangents whilst maintaining perfect comedic timing, not only showed the depth of his talent, but displayed his clear enjoyment for his profession, further enhancing his likeability factor.
What made his act stand out more than most, were a few recorded ads for TV job applications (e.g. Bazooka and Admiral), coupled with a dazzling dancing finish, with Bishop suited up like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

If you haven't seen or even heard of John Bishop, he's definitely worth at least a Google. His material reaching a wide range of audiences make him a great night out regardless of whether you're out with your mate or Auntie Margaret. Though I'd reckon that ticket prices may be slightly more dear for his next tour, you certainly wouldn't be wasting your money.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

My favourite Ad, The Wonder of Honda: The Cog

Though being the global no.1 in the motorbike industry, to the Western world Honda generally conjures up an image of an automobile, and whilst renowned for quality, its historical lack of desirability has considerably hindered the brand's market penetration.

Two weeks prior to their release of the 7th generation of the Honda Accord in 2003, the release of their innovative, engaging, and mesmerising "Cog" ad (part of their award winning "Power of Dreams" campaign) caused such a stir as to change the brand's image for ever.
Their European ad agency being changed periodically, following a successful pitch to Honda by Weiden and Kennedy, they were afforded £1 million for the creation of what BTA jury’s chairman Charles Inge would say was the "best commercial [he'd] seen in ten years".

The ad itself uses the parts of what was at the time one of only five existing Honda Accords in a Heath Robinson Contraption. Within this, numerous car parts form an ingenious and complex chain reaction that culminates in the gentle release of an Accord, revealing it's labelling banner of the Accord to the tune of "Rappers Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang.
The 2 minute long ad took a total of 606 takes and 4 days to shoot, before premiering during the a Brazilian Grand Prix break, on one of only a handful of outings the full ad received.

The intricate yet smooth and seamless way in which each stage of the story flows in a quasi-domino effect, alongside the quietness of the piece and pin point accuracy by which each stage is completed, transfixes and mesmerises the viewer. The consumer is then gently brought back to reality and focused on the brand by the almost gentle introduction of music and dulcet tones of the voice over.
The closeness of the camera was a conscious move by the editing company, and one which focuses the viewer on the moment, ensuring that at the end of the piece all attention is consequently on the car, and not on what has gone on before.
Further to the ad itself, it is believed that the decision to reduce the length of the ad for subsequent outings was also an intelligent one, as though much of the TV spend had been well spent on engaging its target audience on its first few airings, it needed to remain visible to successfully play on the (perhaps nowadays dwindling) water-cooler effect, and embed itself within consumer's minds as a desirable brand.

Apart from it's clear artistic genius, causing Honda's website to rise to 2nd overnight, and directly influencing 10,000 sales make it unsurprising that "Cog" went on to win more awards than any other commercial in history. Unfortunately however, it was a surprisingly beaten favourite for the famous Grand Prix award at Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2003. After being beaten by IKEA's "Lamp" ad, it was reported that the accusations of plagiarism of the 1987 art film, "Der Lauf der Dinge" that surrounded the ad, cost it the award.

Whilst Cog is over, it's legacy certainly lives on, being dubbed by Campaign as one of the most imitated ads ever, most recently echoed in OK GO's music video for "This Too Shall Pass".
Cog was just the first in what a series of iconic ads that Honda has become notorious for, including the notorious "Honda Civic Choir" and "Grrr". Perhaps most famously to consumers was the 2008 "Honda Live Ad". In this, 4 Creative teamed up with Starcom MediaVest Group in order to air a live commercial of 18 freefalling skydivers to spell out the letters H.O.N.D and A, , as the finale of a series of unbranded TV and print ads that merely hinted at the nature of the final piece.

With Honda recently upgrading its trust of Starcom MediaVest Group London by providing them with their entire European Media Account, they have just finished collaborating once again with Honda genius Weiden and Kennedy on the Honda Jazz "This Unpredictable Life" ad and iPhone app. Whilst undoubtedly another digital masterpiece, time will have to tell and stats will have to be gathered, on whether it can capture the nation and measure up to the wonder that is the Cog.

See below for other related ads and videos: