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25 years of Photoshop

Posted by sueb on February 18, 2015  |   No Comments »

On February 19, 1990, Adobe launched Photoshop 1. This week Photoshop celebrates its 25th birthday.

Where would we be without Photoshop?

Among all the productivity applications that have developed over the past 25 years, Adobe’s Photoshop has been the most influential and transformative for the rest of the world. It’s the greatest image manipulation program that’s ever been built, and like Google with search, its name has come to be used as a substitute for the actions it performs. Photoshop touch-ups are a compulsory part of most magazine and modelling shoots, but the application has grown into a fantastic tool for creating images from scratch as well.

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the first release of Photoshop. To commemorate the occasion, Adobe has compiled a minute-long animation made up of Photoshop creations. Featuring some familiar faces like Bilbo Baggins and Shrek, this compendium has been made up of the original working files provided by the artists themselves — and it features a bunch of great animations exposing the adjustments and layering that go into creating a realistic life like image.

In the 25 years and 15 major releases since Photoshop 1, Adobe’s photo editing software has evolved into an industry standard for design and photography pros alike. The application essentially took photo manipulation mainstream. It birthed new verbs like ‘shopped, and made bizarre masterpieces possible.

This is what Adobe Photoshop looked like 25 years ago and I can tell you from experience it was sooo hard to retouch back in the day on my Macintosh IISE!!!

For comparison’s sake, here’s what the latest version of Photoshop, “CC 2014,” looks like today:

And here is the promo video from Adobe to celebrate the 25 years

The most important advertising event of the year that is a sports event, aka the Super Bowl

Posted by Andrea Riera on January 30, 2015  |   No Comments »

It’s just one day until the Super Bowl takes place again. Many big brands like Dove, Budweiser and Lexus have already released their ads online and another ad has already been pulled due to bad feedback received on the Internet. So with all the buzz going on at the moment about this ‘sport’ event, I feel like it’s time for me to talk about it.

Yes, I put quotes around ‘sport’ because if nobody had ever told me what the Super Bowl is and on the day of the event I had checked my Twitter account, I would have got the entirely wrong idea that it is more of an advertising contest (best, polemic or more expensive ad) than an sports event.

In fact, I feel quite embarrassed to admit I never know the teams that are playing. But I do know which brands have made a huge investment to get into millions of American (and also not American) houses. How could this not be an advertising contest if marketing magazines, blogs, agencies, newspapers…. are keeping track minute after minute of the Super Bowl?

I remember last year I was awake until late (it was actually 4am when I went to bed – the side effect of living in the other side of the sea) to be up to date on every single thing that happened during the event, always in terms of advertising (The scores of the match? Ask someone who cares). Yes, I lost sleep and, of course, I also spent my morning reading all the articles related to what I like to call ‘the day of the expensive TV ads’.

So after reading, watching and rewatching all the ads from last year, I can tell my winner was #UpForWhatever by Bud Light. It was basically an experiential marketing campaign made to become a viral advertisement that cost the brand a lot of money. I loved it. Yes, it is something that has been done before and yes, I reckon it can look like it is not actually improvised (the guy of the ad is simply great and I’m not sure everyone would react the same way in that situation) but I still like it.

To be honest, I am passionate about experiential campaigns, where the protagonists of the ads have no idea they are going to end up on Youtube being seen for thousands or millions of people.

The thing is that #UpForWhatever reminds me other viral advertising that made me have the bittersweet thought of “That’s amazing! Why the hell I can’t come up with such a great idea?” and, most important “Why I’m never where these actions happen?”.

So here is the Bud Light ad and some of my favorite experiential campaigns. A Top10 I hope you enjoy as I do!

1. Up for whatever by Bud light

2. All eyes on the S4 by Samsung

3. The Candidate by Heineken

4. Champions league match by Heineken Italy

5. The Stresstest by Nivea

6. Bikers in cinema by Carlsberg

7. Friendship test by Carlsberg

8. Unlock the 007 in you by Coca Cola

9. Taste experiment by Coca Cola

10. LG So real it’s scary – interview

Leaving technology aside

Posted by Andrea Riera on November 13, 2014  |   No Comments »

Walking into a restaurant and seeing people more focused on their mobile than on their partners is becoming a more and more usual scenario. However, it is still really frowned upon. I myself complain about this behaviour all the time.

Last weekend one of my friends came to Edinburgh to visit me after 8 months without seeing each other. It was frustrating to see how, during our meals and while exploring the city, she seemed to be more interested in her mobile than our conversations, whether it was to check her email or to see how many ‘likes’ the photo she just posted had.  I actually had to scold her more than once, tired of being seated in the restaurant looking at the walls. Really, I have to tell an adult how rude it is to behave like that?

I’m not going to lie to you or myself, I couldn’t live without technology. I live in a foreign country (I’m from Barcelona) and I can’t imagine how it would be to not call my family and friends via Skype, buy flights on the internet to visit them, access my Spotify list while flying and, once in the airport, write to my sister by Whatsapp to know where exactly she is waiting for me instead of looking for her among the crowd like if Waldo was her name.

But even if technology makes our life easy, we shouldn’t dedicate more time to our devices than our own family and friends.

Obviously I am not the first to point that out. Many sociologists and doctors have warned about the social, mental and even physical risks from our attachment to technology.  One of these problems is, of course, the addiction to our mobiles (aka nomophobia).  However, there are many who are trying to save the society from this problem.

This year the Minister of Education, Culture, Technology and Science of Japan started a new project to help solve this kind of addiction. In order to keep youth away from computers and mobiles, they created an 8 day camp for young people where it was completely forbidden to have access to any of these devices.  As a result, the study concluded that the participants weren’t first interacting with the rest of the group or the psychologists but at the end they all were really social and extroverted.

Actually, there are a lot people who need to be in constant contact with their electronic devices. Having the phone in their hands or sleeping with it under the pillow is becoming a need for many. To beat the phobia of not being in actual contact with mobiles, a group of friends from the Netherlands and the United States came up with the NoPhone. The NoPhone is simply a piece of black, rectangular-shaped plastic, billed as a new way of helping managing app addiction.

Creators Van Gould, Ingmar Larsen and Ben Langeveld said the NoPhone was originally conceived after a night out socializing and, by ‘socialize’ they mean stare at their phones and occasionally look up from their screens to order another round.

Something similar happened in Brazil. The owners of a bar were tired of seeing people hanging out in their bar without not even talking. That was what made them look for a solution to end the situation: the ‘offline vase’. Thanks to this creation, the customers of the Salve Jorge Bar now can do nothing but talk to their friends.

Despite the efforts some are making to deal with our addiction to technology, others just accept this is how society now works and tries to adapt to this new situation. This is the case in the Chinese city of Chongqing. A month ago this city created a special path for people addicted to smartphones in order to protect them from falling to the floor or crash into all kinds of obstacles.

Thanks to the existence of this technology, we not only loose time we could spend with our friends, but also we miss everything that happens around us. This year Coca Cola launched this ironic campaign to denounce our bad social behaviour and to suggest a simple but an effective method to solve this problem.

We can then say, not all are advantages with technology and sometimes it can also be dangerous. Brands like Ikea and Moleskine point out how technology sometimes is less effective and more risky than paper. With these fun campaigns, these brands invite us to leave technology aside.

Moleskine has created an outdoor campaign with posters that recreate the cover of their famous notebooks highlighting the advantages of paper support.

Meanwhile, Ikea showed us the advantage of have an actual ‘bookbook’ rather than an ebook or tablet through this TV ad campaign.

So please, go! Stop reading this post now and recommend it to your friends while enjoying a drink.

Leaving technology aside

Posted by sueb on January 30, 2015  |   No Comments »

Walking into a restaurant and seeing people more focused on their mobile than on their partners is becoming a more and more usual scenario. However, it is still really frowned upon. I myself complain about this behaviour all the time.

Last weekend one of my friends came to Edinburgh to visit me after 8 months without seeing each other. It was frustrating to see how, during our meals and while exploring the city, she seemed to be more interested in her mobile than our conversations, whether it was to check her email or to see how many ‘likes’ the photo she just posted had.  I actually had to scold her more than once, tired of being seated in the restaurant looking at the walls. Really, I have to tell an adult how rude it is to behave like that?

I’m not going to lie to you or myself, I couldn’t live without technology. I live in a foreign country (I’m from Barcelona) and I can’t imagine how it would be to not call my family and friends via Skype, buy flights on the internet to visit them, access my Spotify list while flying and, once in the airport, write to my sister by Whatsapp to know where exactly she is waiting for me instead of looking for her among the crowd like if Waldo was her name.

But even if technology makes our life easy, we shouldn’t dedicate more time to our devices than our own family and friends.

Obviously I am not the first to point that out. Many sociologists and doctors have warned about the social, mental and even physical risks from our attachment to technology.  One of these problems is, of course, the addiction to our mobiles (aka nomophobia).  However, there are many who are trying to save the society from this problem.

This year the Minister of Education, Culture, Technology and Science of Japan started a new project to help solve this kind of addiction. In order to keep youth away from computers and mobiles, they created an 8 day camp for young people where it was completely forbidden to have access to any of these devices.  As a result, the study concluded that the participants weren’t first interacting with the rest of the group or the psychologists but at the end they all were really social and extroverted.

Actually, there are a lot people who need to be in constant contact with their electronic devices. Having the phone in their hands or sleeping with it under the pillow is becoming a need for many. To beat the phobia of not being in actual contact with mobiles, a group of friends from the Netherlands and the United States came up with the NoPhone. The NoPhone is simply a piece of black, rectangular-shaped plastic, billed as a new way of helping managing app addiction.

Creators Van Gould, Ingmar Larsen and Ben Langeveld said the NoPhone was originally conceived after a night out socializing and, by ‘socialize’ they mean stare at their phones and occasionally look up from their screens to order another round.

Something similar happened in Brazil. The owners of a bar were tired of seeing people hanging out in their bar without not even talking. That was what made them look for a solution to end the situation: the ‘offline vase’. Thanks to this creation, the customers of the Salve Jorge Bar now can do nothing but talk to their friends.

Despite the efforts some are making to deal with our addiction to technology, others just accept this is how society now works and tries to adapt to this new situation. This is the case in the Chinese city of Chongqing. A month ago this city created a special path for people addicted to smartphones in order to protect them from falling to the floor or crash into all kinds of obstacles.

Thanks to the existence of this technology, we not only loose time we could spend with our friends, but also we miss everything that happens around us. This year Coca Cola launched this ironic campaign to denounce our bad social behaviour and to suggest a simple but an effective method to solve this problem.

We can then say, not all are advantages with technology and sometimes it can also be dangerous. Brands like Ikea and Moleskine point out how technology sometimes is less effective and more risky than paper. With these fun campaigns, these brands invite us to leave technology aside.

Moleskine has created an outdoor campaign with posters that recreate the cover of their famous notebooks highlighting the advantages of paper support.

Meanwhile, Ikea showed us the advantage of have an actual ‘bookbook’ rather than an ebook or tablet through this TV ad campaign.

So please, go! Stop reading this post now and recommend it to your friends while enjoying a drink.

Leaving technology aside

Posted by Andrea Riera on November 13, 2014  |   No Comments »

Walking into a restaurant and seeing people more focused on their mobile than on their partners is becoming a more and more usual scenario. However, it is still really frowned upon. I myself complain about this behaviour all the time.

Last weekend one of my friends came to Edinburgh to visit me after 8 months without seeing each other. It was frustrating to see how, during our meals and while exploring the city, she seemed to be more interested in her mobile than our conversations, whether it was to check her email or to see how many ‘likes’ the photo she just posted had. I actually had to scold her more than once, tired of being seated in the restaurant looking at the walls. Really, I have to tell an adult how rude it is to behave like that?

I’m not going to lie to you or myself, I couldn’t live without technology. I live in a foreign country (I’m from Barcelona) and I can’t imagine how it would be to not call my family and friends via Skype, buy flights on the internet to visit them, access my Spotify list while flying and, once in the airport, write to my sister by Whatsapp to know where exactly she is waiting for me instead of looking for her among the crowd like if Waldo was her name.

But even if technology makes our life easy, we shouldn’t dedicate more time to our devices than our own family and friends.

Obviously I am not the first to point that out. Many sociologists and doctors have warned about the social, mental and even physical risks from our attachment to technology. One of these problems is, of course, the addiction to our mobiles (aka nomophobia). However, there are many who are trying to save the society from this problem.

This year the Minister of Education, Culture, Technology and Science of Japan started a new project to help solve this kind of addiction. In order to keep youth away from computers and mobiles, they created an 8 day camp for young people where it was completely forbidden to have access to any of these devices. As a result, the study concluded that the participants weren’t first interacting with the rest of the group or the psychologists but at the end they all were really social and extroverted.

Actually, there are a lot people who need to be in constant contact with their electronic devices. Having the phone in their hands or sleeping with it under the pillow is becoming a need for many. To beat the phobia of not being in actual contact with mobiles, a group of friends from the Netherlands and the United States came up with the NoPhone. The NoPhone is simply a piece of black, rectangular-shaped plastic, billed as a new way of helping managing app addiction.

Creators Van Gould, Ingmar Larsen and Ben Langeveld said the NoPhone was originally conceived after a night out socializing and, by ‘socialize’ they mean stare at their phones and occasionally look up from their screens to order another round.

Something similar happened in Brazil. The owners of a bar were tired of seeing people hanging out in their bar without not even talking. That was what made them look for a solution to end the situation: the ‘offline vase’. Thanks to this creation, the customers of the Salve Jorge Bar now can do nothing but talk to their friends.

Despite the efforts some are making to deal with our addiction to technology, others just accept this is how society now works and tries to adapt to this new situation. This is the case in the Chinese city of Chongqing. A month ago this city created a special path for people addicted to smartphones in order to protect them from falling to the floor or crash into all kinds of obstacles.

Thanks to the existence of this technology, we not only loose time we could spend with our friends, but also we miss everything that happens around us. This year Coca Cola launched this ironic campaign to denounce our bad social behaviour and to suggest a simple but an effective method to solve this problem.

We can then say, not all are advantages with technology and sometimes it can also be dangerous. Brands like Ikea and Moleskine point out how technology sometimes is less effective and more risky than paper. With these fun campaigns, these brands invite us to leave technology aside.

Moleskine has created an outdoor campaign with posters that recreate the cover of their famous notebooks highlighting the advantages of paper support.


Meanwhile, Ikea showed us the advantage of have an actual ‘bookbook’ rather than an ebook or tablet through this TV ad campaign.

So please, go! Stop reading this post now and recommend it to your friends while enjoying a drink.

Once again Halloween

Posted by Andrea Riera on October 31, 2014  |   No Comments »

Here it is! Once again Halloween, the most horrific day of the year is back. Fortunately, this British festivity has been extended to other countries, which means that not only national but also international brands have launched special campaigns to join the celebration.

At Family we have selected our favourite Halloween ads of the year. From Singapore to Spain, this is our ‘not that scary’ top 5.

1. IKEA

This may be the best Halloween ad of 2014. IKEA Singapore pays tribute to ‘Shining’ with this terrific ad.

2. CREST

We couldn’t imagine a Halloween without candies. In this campaign, Crest studies the side effects candies have on children and it’s great.

3. GEICO

Fact. The characters of horror movies always take poor decisions that lead them to death. Geico parodies this movie and invite us to not make the same stupid mistakes when choosing a car insurance.

4. HOLALUZ

HolaLuz, a Spanish Energy company, has created a fake horror movie trailer, ‘The Ring-ring’ to let us know that changing our energy company shouldn’t be that scary.

5. SNICKERS

‘You don’t look yourself when you are hungry’. Luckily that’s nothing Snickers can’t fix.

Third sector success

Posted by family on October 15, 2014  |   No Comments »

We are please as punch after The Spark brand development was highly commended at the Third Sector Awards last month. The Spark were shortlisted alongside fellow UK charities All We Can, Included, RSPB, and Shooting Star Chase (who were the very deserving winners on the night).

Formerly known as Scottish Marriage Care, Family worked with the organisation to create an identity that reflects the charity’s contemporary approach to relationships as well as the variety of relationships they support.

Within 4 months of launching the new identity and website, calls to their Relationship Helpline were up by 154%, requests for counselling increased by 18% and 13% more cohabiting couples were using The Spark’s relationship support services.

As a direct result of the rebrand, The Spark formed a partnership with Low Moss Prison to help make relationship support more accessible to vulnerable families and are also working towards a new partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care.

Talking about the success of the rebrand so far, Stella Gibson, CEO of The Spark said:

“We now have a brand that reflects who we are and is already creating new opportunities for us.”

We’ll raise our glasses to that.

Creativity is contagious

Posted by family on October 15, 2014  |   No Comments »


This wouldn’t be a proper blog post without an inspirational quote or two so I’ll begin with the words of Albert Einstein, one of the most creative and influential minds of the 20th Century:

Creativity is contagious, pass it on.

Just as Einstein’s ideas have gone on to inspire greatness in others, I believe we owe it to the next generation of designers, wordsmiths, and idea makers to infect them with our creativity.

For the past four years I’ve been mentoring Visual Communication students at Edinburgh College. The course’s sector-leading mentoring programme sees creative professionals rally to prepare the next generation of talent for working in the industry. Seeing the students’ transition from education to employment is incredibly rewarding and something that keeps me returning to the programme year after year.

I’ve learned a lot from working with the students, including a thing or two about mentoring. So here are 5 ways to become a better mentor and help to pass creativity on.

1. Communicate empathy
Remember how you felt walking into an agency on the first day of your placement? Or pitching for your first client? Or staring at a blank piece of paper, bereft of ideas and sweating blood, as an Account Manager circles your desk like a shark circles a helpless seal pup?

Remembering this accumulated experience helps us to understand and appreciate how other people feel when faced with similar experiences to our own. Empathy is a powerful tool in mentoring as it helps to build trust and mutual respect between the mentor and mentee.

2. Ask questions
A mentor’s role is not to provide all the answers but, rather, to encourage students to find their own solution to a creative problem. By asking questions, students are prompted to explore the idea – to pull it apart, shake it up, and turn it on its head. Does it meet the brief? What does it make people feel? Is it different?

Questioning rather than judging ideas helps students to develop the critical thinking skills needed to turn a speck of an idea into a winning concept.

3. Encourage mistakes
Author, educator, and Ted talk regular, Sir Ken Robinson believes that,

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with something original.

Fear of failure is a slayer of creativity. It paralyses us from exploring unchartered territory and dooms us to mediocrity.

So how do you encourage a mentee to consider failure as a necessary part of the creative process, when it goes against everything they’ve been taught? Ed Catmul, one of Pixar’s Founders and the President of Pixar Animation, knows how to foster a fearlessly creative culture:

If we as leaders can talk about our mistakes and our part in them, then we make it safe for others.

Talk about your own mistakes with your mentee. How did you handle them? What did you learned from them? The creative process is often shrouded in mystery, but being open about mistakes can help to promote failure as a form of learning and progress.

4. Make work experience work
Not all work placements are created equal. A negative experience can be a big set back for a student or graduate trying to get a footing in the industry. To make sure your agency and your mentee get the most out of the placement, establish what they are hoping to gain from the experience from the outset and let them know what you, in turn, expect from them.

Involving students in as wide a variety of tasks and projects as possible gives them a greater understanding of how their experience at college applies to industry. I’ve found that the students who benefit most from their placement are the ones who are immersed in the day to day activities of an agency; thinking up ideas for real projects, helping out on photoshoots, attending meetings, and producing designs that end up in front of the client.

A work placement is a great opportunity to find and hire new talent so providing a valuable experience is as much in an agency’s interest as it is in the student’s.

5. Be a cheerleader
A creative’s work is constantly scrutinised, compared, measured, and amended. It takes confidence to thrive in this industry – to challenge criticisms, to sell ideas to the cynical, and to bounce back from failures. For a nervous, self-doubting student to build up confidence, they’re going to need a cheerleader. Make that cheerleader you.

To find out more about the mentor programme head over to the student’s blog www.welovedesignetc.info

Anyone want to buy an awful photo?

Posted by Kevin Bird on August 21, 2014  |   No Comments »

This is the new Mercedes GLA
Or to be more accurate, a photograph of the brand spanking new, Mercedes GLA.
This image is featured in a new glossy, admittedly very expensive, International press and poster campaign.

Now, to be clear, I am not a massive fan of Mercedes cars.
They’re a bit like BMW’s and Audi’s to me.
There seems to be loads of different makes and models that unfortunately, and ironically, all seem to look exactly the same.
Apart from a few shiny chrome letters or numbers on the rear of the car of course.
I also don’t have to tell you, that they are very expensive cars, and have a fuel gauge that seems to go from full to empty in approximately 4.5 seconds.
So to me, and as they say on Dragons Den……..”Sorry, but I’m out”

But then a few weeks ago, whilst driving around Edinburgh in my much more fuel efficient, but not that masculine, Renault Captur,
I drove past a huge, magnificent looking 96 sheet poster featuring this shot, of the Mercedes GLA.

Now I would be exaggerating if I said I nearly crashed the car, when I saw the poster, but there was actually a slight swerve and a fumbling down the gears as my head flicked back and forwards between the road and this glorious image.

‘Wow!! How sexy is that? What is that? What make is that? Is that a Mercedes? How sexy is that……!!??

Was this, a couple of weeks after my 50th birthday, my mid life crisis kicking in?
I’ve never been that into cars. Not like some blokes are.
So why, suddenly, was this particular car poster, making me lose concentration on the road?

Then it dawned on me. I broke out in a wry smile.
This is my job. I should know this. And I know exactly what just happened.

I spend my working life as an art director and creative, advising clients on just about everything visual.
Everything from good old fashioned posters and press in advertising and design, to websites, online content and all kinds of imagery.

To be clear. I do like illustration. But I absolutely love, all things photography.

Unfortunately for the last few years, there are two things I hear a lot.

Everybody, and I mean everybody, now knows someone that apparently does………..’a bit of photography’.
They know someone who’s…………… ‘just bought a really expensive camera’, and that………… ‘ I’m sure they could ‘take some quick snaps for us’.
He or she, has also apparently done, some ‘really nice looking shots’ and can do ‘some amazing stuff, even their phone!’
(Deep sigh)

The second thing is sometimes worse.

There always seems to be some weird and wonderful collection or ‘bank of our shots’ of images that ‘might work’.
Some $5 stock shots that someone has accumulated. Some images a supplier gave them years ago.
Some stuff that was shot in 1997 which “cost a fortune at the time”, and are completely irrelevant now……….. ‘but it would be great if we could use them’.
All this, of course, and a load stuff a friend of a friend has done for nothing, and again, ‘it would be great if we make it work’.

Now I do understand the reluctance, particularly in challenging economic times, not to spend money if you don’t have to.
Commissioning new photography can be expensive. But not always.
And to be brutally honest, I’d suggest making your brand look cheap, and not getting any responses to your marketing, could be much more expensive.

I’m not saying I can’t make a clients existing photography work. I have done this many times and very successfully.
To me though, you always run the risk.
What does using a ramshackle bunch of half baked, not quite right, cheap-looking, inconsistent stock shots say about your company/brand?
Yeah….not great.

Now, what if you created something that not only looks amazing but has a consistent ‘your brand’ look and feel about it?
Create a set of images that are for you, and the job in hand. Not something just to conveniently fill a space.
And most important of all, create something that will MAKE people look at your brand. Like your brand. And engage with your brand

I increasingly see more and more imagery everywhere, that is scandalously bad.
They are so clearly stock shots.  Bog standard, space filling shots. Something that was clearly, not shot by a professional, or certainly by anyone that is, by the looks of it, any good.
Theses shots could be for any brand. That is why they are called ‘stockshots’!
Some of the car ads I’ve seen recently are quite horrendous. Horrible cut outs on horrible gaudy backgrounds.
More often than not, you can see how some poor retoucher has had to spend hours, maybe days, trying to make some p*** poor, appallingly lit photograph, look vaguely acceptable.
Is that REALLY how people want their brand to be seen?

Unsurprisingly, I can’t actually remember a lot of these brands by name.
And I would suggest that the highly informed, highly promiscuous, highly critical consumers of today, won’t remember these brands either.

So this brings us back quite nicely to our head turning Mercedes poster.

Mercedes clearly invested in their brand, by commissioning a brilliant photographer to do, what I think, is an amazing shot.
And now, a 50 year old man who was never likely to be interested in a Mercedes GLA, is interested , and even writing a blog, about a Mercedes GLA.

If only I could afford a Mercedes GLA.
(Deep sigh)

Glasgow Magic

Posted by John MacDougall on August 29, 2014  |   No Comments »

This year my summer holidays were spent in Glasgow. Not the furthest I’ve travelled with my family but in terms of a fantastic holiday, few previous ones can compete. The accommodation was agreeable, though slightly unsettling – its very strange to spend 10 nights in the bedroom where you grew up, having left it over a quarter of a century ago.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we spent 11 wonderful days at the Commonwealth Games staying with my mum and dad. We are big sports fans in our family, with athletics, swimming and cycling playing a central role in our lives over the past decade or so.  And having failed to get a single ticket for London 2012, we approached Glasgow 2014 with a broad strategy to get tickets for as many days as possible.

We are all very used to Edinburgh during the Festival, with the huge number of visitors and general ‘buzz’ around the city. We’ve also been at numerous one-off events in Glasgow over the years, but nothing close to the sheer scale of the Commie Games. Venues all over the city were full to capacity; Hampden Park was filled a dozen times in a week. The Hydro hosted some sensational, world-class gymnastics and then just about had its roof blown off by the crowds at the boxing finals. The swimmers at Tollcross were visibly moved by the huge support and the velodrome crowd roared their support.

We didn’t make it to the rugby sevens at Ibrox but everyone that I’ve spoken to about it was knocked out by the atmosphere. Loads of middle class rugby fans having the time of their lives at one of football’s most famous venues, in Govan – who’d have expected that? Another one we missed was the netball – a very gruff soldier from Yorkshire, who was controlling the security at the Hydro, told us all about it. He was clearly taken aback by how exciting it was, he’d never seen netball in his life.

Glasgow embraced it all, and got involved in it all. That’s where it differed from the Festival. The percentage of the crowds from the home city was notably high, Glasgow accents were everywhere. But they weren’t a partisan support, they cheered everyone. And there were plenty of St George’s flags on show as Team England won medals everywhere. Visitors came from across the world, in much smaller numbers of course. We chatted with a lovely Australian couple at the triathlon, who were complaining about the heat! No-one expected to get sunburnt in Strathclyde Park. And the family from South Africa who were behind us on the final night of athletics remarked that the rainstorms battering Hampden that night were truly African in intensity.

It wasn’t just at the venues where Glasgow turned out in huge numbers. The City Centre was heaving with families looking for some entertainment and a chance to just be a part of it. Many had no tickets nor any intentions of attending any of the sporting sessions, they just wanted to soak up the atmosphere.

Finally, with my advertising hat on, what about the brands – the sponsors who put their money into such events. Virgin Media seemed to be making the biggest effort around the Games, their mainstream advertising was appropriate and well placed. They also had the best piece of ambient branding, as the remote controlled toy minivans which were used to retrieve discusses and javelins were all branded with Virgin Media. SSE and Emirates were already headline sponsors at some of the venues that were being used and they targeted those venues fairly effectively – SSE conducting significant client entertainment right beside their venue. Longines focussed their messaging around timing devices at the various arenas and Ford had very overt branding on the official vehicles that they had provided. The marketing teams at the big sponsors had worked at making their brands a part of the event, not just a bolt-on.

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