WK Side Week 5

‘Writer 22’ posted this a couple of days ago:

hey, this one’s for the chaps at WKside – just read your week 2.0 post and didn’t think i’d get your attention if i put a comment in there. so, what the heck, i am going ahead and putting one here – the only place you’d check. "———-we now feel we could grab anyone on the street and talk for hours about things like how important it is to find your tone of voice before you say anything———-" ok. imagine you bumped into me on a street of your choice (me never been to London;-) and i drag you into the nearest pub. now, talk. – how do you define ‘tone of voice’? i’ve never been able to, so far. – what are the different ‘tones of voice’. examples for each will help – basically, just tell me all you can on the subject. and give me some links as well. oh boy, go for it. "Another round of beers, please." the tab’s on me, remember? hahaha

What we’ve learnt about tone of voice (or why we should be suspicious of anyone offering virtual beers):

We don’t know who you are. So I guess that there is the first example of tone of voice, or lack of one. We have to guess from your email. So, assuming we’ve met on the street and you’re going to buy us a beer, forgive us for hesitating. We don’t know the first thing about you, except that you’re willing to invite strangers off the street for a drink. Why should we go with you? Your tone of voice might have convinced us. Without telling us who you are, we’re imagining, slightly scary, veering between demanding yet generous, maybe even on deadline for an advertising assignment. And you made a smiley face out of punctuation so Ben Everitt’s just left the room in disgust. Hmm. Second thing we’ve learnt, these different types? Well, it’s endless really. We’re here to communicate. And there are as many ways of saying things as there are things to say. Let’s start with you. Imagine you’re a brand. Who are you? You’re speaking but no one’s going to listen if they don’t know who you are. So in answer to your question, you can’t define the term ‘tone of voice’, you have to define yours. That means defining you- who are you, where have you come from, what are you about, what do you stand for? Then, you can say anything. Because it will be honest. If brands are companies and companies are humans, it’s about speaking like one. This is basically why tone of voice is so important. It’s like an ad going, “Hey, kids, buy this, it’s really cool” Kids are encouraged not to take things from strange adults. And rightly so. Or, a car salesman saying, “Buy my car!” Well he would, wouldn’t he? But if your best friend told you something he liked about the car that you didn’t know, you might get interested. So who is the car company, a bunch of guys like your friend or bunch of phoney car salesmen? Those people in the company surely work there because they like cars a little bit, maybe even a lot. That’s what you would tap into. And I guess that also means, when you ask about lots of different tones of voice, you can’t try them on like hats. If you’re an established bank it will sound strange if you start talking like a vodka brand. It’s like those clear plastic bra straps…weirdly noticeable only because they’re trying so hard not to be.

That’s what we’ve seen here, sitting in on pitch meetings. These guys will spend the longest amount of time working out who the brand is before they try and say anything. It’s pinned up on the wall, as soon as something feels right. If it doesn’t, it quickly gets pulled down. By the time it comes to writing ads they are all very clear on the tone of voice. And they also work very hard at making sure that tone of voice is unique. Inspiration comes from everywhere – a book, a song, an object, a quote. So while we’re enjoying the second round of these virtual beers (no offence, don’t think they’re going to catch on), there must be a million things you could tell us about you that we could relate to, or not, or at least persuade us to let you buy us another round. We like to laugh. Are you funny? Are you interesting? What do you do? Why are you interested in tone of voice? Can we have real beer?

Hope this helps! As far as links go, this is an example of finding a human tone of voice. But why not check out advertising agency sites as well? (And for what it’s worth, we’re mildly offended you don’t think we check our website.) Cheers! It is nice you read our blog though. Keep writing, we want to hear from you.

pitch in Leeds

Up to Leeds at the end of last week for a pitch. Plenty of competition on this one as we’re up against DDB, CHI, Fallon and possibly one other (some reports suggest). We got the train up to Leeds the night before so as not to have last minute travel worries. Bumped into Fallon in the hotel bar – they had the same plan. They were pitching before us in the morning but they’re clearly a lot more rock’n’roll than we are. Most of us were in bed by midnight but the Fallon team were still drinking at 2.00am, according to the W+K hard core boozers.

While Fallon were at the clients’ offices pitching, we had a chance for a last presentation run-through at the hotel. Here are Chris Groom, Jon Campbell and Matt Boffey getting their game faces on. Or something like that.


Ben boring Boffey:


We should hear later this week who’s through to the next round. After sending Boffey to sleep in the run-through, Ben’s performance picked up significantly in the actual pitch, so don’t write us off just yet. Fingers crossed…

EA shoot


On location for EA Games – it was a great day shooting mannequins in pants and a cheeky, very skilled 14 year old footballer in the freezing cold…location: a housing estate on Lawless Street E14 (really).


The above shot is of the client Luke, wrapped up warm with an extra jumper (supplied by Shay) and hat and socks supplied by the agency (he didn’t believe us when we said it would be freezing all day).

Below are writer Shay and friend.


Shay’s the one on the left.

feedback from Mr Angry

This one is for all those readers who say we never post any negative feedback on here:

I have just discovered who is responsible for those annoying Honda commercials.

I am an ordinary member of the public with no power in the media industry but I feel someone should speak out against this tirade of tediously long, irritating, ingratiating, psycho-tapped commercialism.

This latest outing ‘Choir’ is a masterwork in infuriating drivel.  I had to endure a Christmas of a man with a moustache singing in a cheesy 70s tone driving off a waterfall now I must endure this.  All this after a minute long cartoon with an abundance of bright, bursting colours — designed to what?  Make me feel happy about Honda?  I hate Honda for doing this to me.
Please stop!
An ordinary member of the public.
I guess you can’t please everyone.

From Russell at TED

Wieden + Kennedy’s former planning director, Russell Davies, has been at the TED conference in California.

TED is an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather for inspiration and insight. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. In fact, the event is broader still, showcasing ideas that matter in any discipline. Attendees have called it "The ultimate brain spa," and "A four-day journey into the future." The audience — CEOs and scientists, producers and policy makers — is almost as extraordinary as the speakers, who have included Bill Gates, Quincy Jones, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, and Bono.

The people from TED contacted us to see if they could show some of our Honda ads at the conference. June Cohen of TED said, ‘The principles behind the campaigns (Inspiration; innovation; the power of dreams) match so perfectly with the spirit of TED and the TEDPrize, in particular.’

So, we sent the ads over.

Russell writes:

So I’m not sure how bloggable this is but they did show the ads at the TED conference.

Which means that you can now definitely state that Al Gore and Meg Ryan have seen OK Factory, Choir and Impossible Dream. And so have lots of Nobel Prize winners and billionaires, including Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

The ads obviously went down well, but probably the most rewarding thing for you guys is that Lexus sponsored the event (presumably at huge expense) and then had to sit and watch all these Honda ads being shown for no money.

That’s the power of good ads.

heavenly choir?


The Honda Civic ‘Choir’ ad is out in there in some bizarre places in cyberspace. This is one of my favourites:

Worship Matters.

It says:

‘This is an amazing piece of music and a great performance: first time I watched it I laughed, the second time I pondered. I love this – thanks for introducing me to it.

It is amazing the capacity God has planted into the human heart and within our grasp: we have much to praise Him for and to do so with much greater profundity than the Honda Choir!’

Eco-bore sells out


Here’s an extract from a letter written by Simon Day (above), star of our Honda ‘Impossible Dream’ ad.

‘The amazing advert that I had the honour to be in has obviously gone down a storm. It really captures people’s imaginations. Strangers constantly stop me in the street to say it’s the coolest ad they’ve ever seen. I say they’re the coolest I’ve ever driven. My three year old sings ‘de possible dream’ on a daily basis. The first word she spelt with her fridge magnet was HONDA. We’re a seriously branded family.

Which is ironic is you knew my history as an anti-car bore. A radical cyclist when we lived in London…I even wrote an anti-car play. Imagine the teasing since I’ve been the moustachioed face of Honda. "Eco-bore sells out!" Etc, etc. They’re just jealous.’

Cut to: a week ago on the hard shoulder of the M2 on our way to a wedding. Honda man in his best suit, standing by the steaming  bonnet of the rusty Volvo. My wife on the phone to the RAC, my child yelling in the back…Finally the Knights of the Road arrive and patch us up.

"Should get you to london but I’d take a taxi home if I were you! Hang on, I’ve seen you on the box. Aren’t you in that Honda ad?" I blush – a mixture of pride and shame. "You want to write to them, mate. See if they’ll give you one of them new Civics. They’re incredible. You shouldn’t be seen driving this heap of crap. Great advert. You were like James Bond." Off they drove. And off we limped – in the slow lane.’

I think Honda may just be minded to get him a Civic.

Interior design visit


We had a visit today from senior lecturer Cyril Shing (far left, above) and his students from UCE Birmingham Department of Three Dimensional Design. Cyril phoned up and said they were planning to do an interior design project on an ad agency so we got them in to show them the mess that is the Wieden + Kennedy workspace. They’ve gone off now to come up with some ideas about how we could (theoretically) change our environment. And they’re also having a think about our proposed rooftop extension. It’ll be interesting to see suggestions for our environment filtered through their brains.