Archive for May, 2010

Amnesty International Shell AGM – inspiring advertising

May 31, 2010

Almost 2 weeks ago, when I was browsing the free metro newspaper unsuspected. I came across Amnesty‘s advertisement about Shell‘s AGM and was immediately taken by it. The advertisement was a full page, was very short and the combination of a powerful graphic plus very short – but very powerful – copy left a long lasting impression to me.

The advertisement was based on a contrast: the champagne toast of the Shell AGM executives, celebrating a record of profits, and the polluted drinking water that the inhabitants of the Niger delta are drinking because of Shell’s pollution in the region. It aimed to raise awareness about this region in the Africa continent, that has been allegedly devastated as a result of Shell’s actions and to portray, once again, that profits should not come before people.


P.S.: image © respective owner


Google Chrome – inspiring advertising

May 9, 2010

The Google Chrome advertisement at the Westfield Shopping Centre

If you have been in the UK in the last 6 months, you must have noticed at least once an advertisement about Chrome, Google‘s newest browser for surfing the web. Google announced its own browser and released the beta version for Windows in 2008. It was only recently that it completed the MacOS X and Linux versions, making it a unique browser that can run in the most popular operating systems. Therefore, the time was ripe to follow the release with an extensive media advertising campaign.

Attempting to enter this specific section of the market is not an easy task. Until recently, the public did not have many choices on internet browsers, and with the demise of Netscape, Microsoft‘s Internet Explorer dominated the market. Today, even though Internet Explorer has a large proportion of the market, Firefox, a new internet browser from the Mozilla foundation, has gained widespread acceptance and has begun crunching Microsoft’s domination. Apple also released its Safari browser for Windows, and Google then followed suit with Google Chrome and the intention to build it for all the popular computer platforms. To gain a large percentage of the market, the advertising campaign for Google Chrome needed to focus on to the simple user and explain how their surfing-the-net experience can be better and user-friendly. To this end, Google’s campaign has been immensely successful, because of:

Being everywhere. In the past 6 months, everywhere you looked, you could spot a Google Chrome advertisement. They were in tube stations, in posters, in train carriages, on the press, in London buses and also on the cover pages of most free-press magazines (and sometimes suited to the audience of the particular magazine). They even made special custom-made ads, like the ones I witnessed at the Westfield Shopping Centre. In one of the entrances of the shopping centre, there were special projections on Westfield’s wall, featuring Christmas -related themes and advertising Google Chrome.

Another Google Chrome advertisement at the Westfield Shopping Centre

Being simple. Launching a new computer software for surfing the web usually involves complex statements about HTML, CSSS, mpegs, Flash etc. But those words were never included in the Chrome’s advertisement copy, which, written in a relaxed playful font, included simple statements about what the normally doing when surfing the web.

Being unconventional. You would expect to find people fiddling with their computers in a normal advertisement about computer browsers, right? This is what happened with the Chrome feature’s advertisements, but in an unconventional way. As you can see from the video, Google chose to demonstrated the advanced features of Google Chrome not in a digital way, but in a mechanical old fashioned way. Under the slow and relaxing sounds of a harp, Google described the features of Google Chrome by building mechanical contraptions and offering some behind-the-scenes insights of how these worked to deliver the image in front of the camera. The viewer can’t just wait to see what they will come up with next.

Simply inspiring, isn’t it?


Franco Manca

May 6, 2010

If Wagamama is the best choice for fast, cheap and delicious Japanese food, Busaba for Thai food, Wahaca for Mexican, then Franco Manca should complete the list as the restaurant for inexpensive and simple Italian pizza.

We visited the Chiswick branch of this restaurant in Spring. The white wood-burning oven was the dominating element of the basic, white-tiled rectangular dining area. The only thing that interrupted this immaculately clean image was the brown basic benches scattered in the dinning area and pictures of raw ingredients, animal produce or pizza-making at the walls.

We noticed the relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere from the moment we were greeted by the polite and young waiters. At the dinning area, where we were shown to our table, we noticed the metal bucket at the middle of the table containing the cutlery, carefully wrapped in individual napkins and paper placemats which, as is typical for most restaurants of this type, double as menus. We visited on a rainy, Saturday early afternoon, so there was plenty of space.

The menu is pretty basic; there are only 6 different pizzas to chose from and some starters and a salad. Almost all the starters are based on dough and are oven-baked, which makes sense, as Franco Manca doesn’t seem to have an elaborate kitchen, other than the wood-fire oven. But what it lacks for variety οf dishes, it makes up for taste.

Despite the simplicity of the menu, all the dishes we sampled in the restaurant were delicious. The garlic bread had a welcoming but not overpowering flavour, and the baked aubergines were divine. But the real revelation was the pizza: prepared with slow-rising sordough that takes 20 hours prepare, and mostly organic ingredients, the pizza was baked to perfection and the flavours of the individual ingredients evident.

An even more daring step is to strip the menu off any artificial fizzy drinks. You can not order a coke in this restaurant, as it is not included in the menu. Instead, you could quench you thirst with fresh, home-made lemonade, beer or wine from a carefully selected – albeit limited- list.

Most importantly, a visit at Franco Manca will not cost you much. A lunch for two people excluding wine only cost us approximately 22 GBP (11 GBP per person). But it is the relaxed atmosphere and the delicious food that will bring us back; hungry for more.


P.S. Franco Manca is located at 144 Chiswick High Road, W4 1PU (Google Map) and at Unit 4, Market Row, Sw9 8LD (Google Map, Streetview) at Brixton.

all images © Franco Manca

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009

May 3, 2010

Clash of the Yellowhammers

Every year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum manages to impress me for the freshness, quality and originality of the winning images. Though, it is not wonder, as it is the most famous wildlife competition and attracts submissions from professional photographers and amateur enthusiasts. This year, with 43,000 submissions from 94 countries, a new exhibition room with black panels and low lighting, I spotted many recurring themes from the previous year but several new interesting photos, as well.

One of the most interesting categories was this of the young photographers, consisting of three different subcategories: those of ten years and under, 11-14 years and 15-18 years. Indeed, if you were not told that these images were captured by young children, you would have probably imagined that they were taken by professional adult photographers. Among those, the prize for the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year went to Fergus Gill from the UK, who won the title for the second time after turning his photography hobby into a passion, with his captivating image of the “Clash of the Yellowhammers”.



But the most astonishing category for the exhibition was the “One Earth Award” category, which depicts conservation issues or actions and the interaction between humans and the natural world. Among the images, the “Footprints” was my personal favourite: an image of a penguin who pauses and inquisitively examines human footprints at a sea shore in the United States.

Unfortunately, this year’s competition was surrounded by controversy, regarding its top prize, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. When I visited the exhibition, the judges had given the top prize to “Storybook Wolf” by José Luis Rodriguez; an image of a wolf jumping a fence to search for his pray. The judges not only commended the technique of the photographer, who seems to have invented it especially for these types of shots, but the excellent composition of the image, which elegantly captures thousands of years of wolf predation in a single moment. But others who saw the image recognised the wolf as not being a wild animal but a tamed one that the photographer allegedly hired to get his shot. After some discussion with wolf experts, who questioned why the wolf would jump the gate when a wild animal was more likely to squeeze between the bars. and the photographer himself, the judges were not convinced that the wolf was wild and decided to strip the photographer of his award because of violation of the competition rules. The photographer strongly denied that the wolf was tame.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition has now ended in London, but you will still be able to see the wining images in the exhibition roadshow touring around the globe. You can also find them at the website of the Natural History Museum.


P.S.: All images © of the respective owners and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year owners.