Posts Tagged ‘borkowski’

The Art of Change

Is there any excuse for a deferral, hidden behind the familiar “no comment”? For the first time in my career, I find myself pondering this Churchillian aphorism. “No comment” is a splendid expression which I am using again and again.

My old cohorts launched a new offering via PR Week last week, which naturally pasted me onto the front page. Lordy, what a headline. Last week I had nothing to say; I guess when I do, I will. Some wag on Twitter correctly observed that I’m quick to offer opinion as a rent-a-quote on public affairs yet remain tight-lipped on my own. The media landscape can be a funny old vista, if viewed from the outside rather than from within. It’s fascinating to listen to opinion about an idea I’ve provoked; sometimes it’s funny, sometimes cruel, sometimes wide of the mark – but always absorbing. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s In A Name?

What’s in a name? That’s the question I have been asking myself this week.

Back in the day, I thought that trading under my name was a great idea. Some have challenged the conceit, but it was the need to create a family business that was my biggest inspiration. I was proud of my father and recognised his sacrifices, which enabled me to have the freedom of thought and mind to become a publicist. My mother never quite understood what my daily grind involved. She wondered why, if I loved media so much, I didn’t apply for a safe job at the BBC. Hanging out with odd circus folk was a worry, especially the exciting itinerant crowd who sucked on gasoline and juggled chainsaws.

The trend for spawning agencies with odd and clever names will always be in vogue. I remained resolute, however; I even registered a trademark; and this week has underlined why I am proud of my family name. Read the rest of this entry »

Looks Like We Got Ourselves a Reader!

A pal sent this snap to Borkowski Towers. I am excited and delighted to have discovered evidence of the person who bought my book – now, I wonder who she is?

The Sleb’s Prayer and The Exterminating Factor

Have you overdosed on the X Factor? Are the opinions of the judges getting you down? Have you felt like venting your feelings about the loss of your favourite contestant? Did Danyl’s departure in the semi-finals really get your goat? Did Lucie losing out to Jedward rile you to the point of despair? Or are you simply sick of the whole ‘poptastic’ shebang?

If the answer to any of these questions is “YES”, Borkowski has a couple of tasty slices of satirical goodness to ease your rage, two fine diversions from a toxic weekend of TV carnage. In a burst of pre-Christmas generosity, we present The Exterminating Factor, a neat-but-twisted X rated game that allows the player an opportunity to vent their destructive feelings. All within the bounds of legality and common sense, of course – we are in no way suggesting that the game’s scenario should be re-enacted in real life.

You see, this twisted little game allows the player to shoot virtual nails into the disembodied heads of Simon Cowell, Danni Minogue, Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh – and what would there be on TV worth being ranted and fulminated about if The Exterminator Factor were taken too seriously and acted upon in real life?

Better just to play the game and feel that shiver of nervous satisfaction as the first virtual nail strikes and two smaller judges’ heads burst from Simon Cowell’s smiling face. Or gasp as the dimpled smile of a tiny Cheryl Cole disappears forever in a hail of virtual nails.

Based on the gaming classic Asteroids, The Exterminating Factor is the perfect way of letting loose all your pent up frustrations at the 21st Century’s premier talent contest cum soap opera. Click on the picture to access the game.


And as if that wasn’t enough, Borkowski also presents a sharp, satirical poem for all the pacifists and non-gamers out there who are tired of celebrity for the sake of celebrity; of popularity contests masquerading as talent contests; who cannot bear to see the world and its wife doing everything in its power to be famous.

The Sleb’s Prayer, by the remarkable poet Adam Horovitz, features music based on a sample by great 60s garage rock band, The Groupies. The track has been wrapped up in Mel Rodiq’s stunning video in the style of magazines like Heat and OK. You can see it below.

The World Behind the ‘Best Job in the World’

You couldn’t move anywhere this morning without hearing something about Ben Southall, the British winner of ‘The Best Job in the World’ and the string of idyllic desert islands along the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia, which will act as his home and office for six months. Not surprising, when the job is more like a paid holiday and earns him approximately £74,000!

The campaign, run by Tourism Queensland, is a fine example of PR left to do what it does best – spread a positive story as far and wide as possible in a glowing light. And you don’t get a much more glowing, positive light than in Australia, thanks to the ‘can do’ attitude of the Australians and the sunshine. The story behind this job spread virally throughout the world with a little careful placing on YouTube and Facebook – ‘The Best Job in the World’ was a fantastic hook to take advantage of social networking with.

“This is probably the first time that a campaign has achieved this sort of reach with so little advertising spend other than a few strategically placed job ads around the world,” Australian marketing analyst Tim Burrowes told the Daily Mail. “This has all been about the power of people passing things on, largely through YouTube. The main lesson to be learned here is that if you have an original, exciting idea that gets people talking you don’t need to spend huge on advertising.”

He’s absolutely right, but there are still too many people with great talent of great products out there stuck in relationships with advertising men who just don’t get this or who think that PR is ‘easy’. These are people who will hang on to a client by hook or by crook, telling them what they want to hear and not letting the story out to run free.

It’s amazing what free-thinking PR can do: Borkowski’s award-winning campaign for Wispa won Cadburys huge, nationwide coverage for the return of the iconic 80s chocolate bar and created a conversation with the people who actually bought the bars and wanted it to come back. Through social networking, they were able to be a part of the process. The same is true of the ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign – it spread virally because people felt they were part of it.

The final 50 candidates even competed to gather more followers on the web and interact with them, dressing in Scuba outfits and filming themselves walking through cities being one of the popular stunts. It’s appropriate, given that part of the job remit is to communicate with the world from the island. This, then, is a PR campaign that will just keep on unfolding.

If the ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign had stayed in the hands of advertisers who felt they could manage a little easy PR on the side, however, the story would have been far less likely to have the enormous impact it has had in a little over four months. PR needs to be let free to do what it needs to do – if the ‘Best Job in the World’ story had stayed in the hands of Machiavellian advertising men who are most skilled at managing a client’s expectations and keeping the client in a hole, who claim knowledge of PR when the client knows nothing of it, then it would have faltered at the first.

The campaign could also have easily faltered under the weight of stories about the other islands near to Hamilton Island, where Southall will be taking up residence as caretaker for six months. On the Today programme this morning, Chloe Hooper revealed the darker side of Australia’s relationship with the islands; she talked about Palm Island, founded in 1918 as a prison island for ‘misbehaving’ indigenous Australians – misbehaving meaning speaking their own language or asking about wages.

This is not an island the tourist industry would want known about, especially as indigenous Australians are still beaten and murdered there – Hooper related an incident from 2004 a drunken indigenous Australian swore at the white officer in charge of Palm Island and was found beaten with his liver cut in two some hours later – and the life expectancy is 20 years less for the indigenous population than it is for a non-indigenous Australian.

This story could well explode in the tourist commission’s faces – there is a curious dichotomy between the ‘can do’ attitude of the Australians and the institutionalised racism that survives in the country still. But, by allowing the positive story free reign, they have kept the negative angle at bay for now.

If they can use the waves of unleashed positivity to help address this negative aspect of the Australian psyche – and break down the barriers contained by the barrier reef – all the better, but it’s worth realising that, in the hands of an advertising agency which thinks it understands PR, there would never have been the vast positives in the first place, nor the room to address the darker side of Australia and its relationship with the indigenous population in a constructive, transparent manner.

Borkowski and Clifford Live Streaming Debate

I will be going head to head with Max Clifford to discuss the toxic nature of celebrity at the London College of Communication tonight and, if you don’t have a ticket – they sold out quickly – you’ll be glad to know you haven’t missed out! You can get involved in the heated and controversial debate as it will be streamed live on Ustream.

If you want to see the debate, click on the following link this evening – the show starts at 6 p.m.

Beatwax @ Borkowski

And now for some fantastic news! Borkowski will – from April 1st – be bringing the ideas and execution consultancy Beatwax into the Borkowski fold, completing our expansion plans and allowing us to further develop complementary creative solutions for our clients.

I’ve admired the work of Beatwax for a long time – their stunt to promote The Simpsons Movie, placing a huge Homer Simpson next to the Cerne Abbas Giant made it into my book, The Fame Formula, as an example of the sort of stunt that continues the work of the great publicists. Their recent, stunning campaign for Paramount, promoting the Watchmen with a giant water screen projection of the central character, Dr Manhattan, rising out of the Thames, garnered worldwide press attention.

This, then, is an extraordinary opportunity. Beatwax share our values and we are very excited about taking advantage of the obvious creative synergy between the two companies. This will strengthen our ability to do measurable groundbreaking work and deliver what clients need now and into the future.

What’s exciting me most, given the current fragmentation of the media and the rise of social networks, is that this means that Borkowski can take advantage of its ever-evolving strategy to use complementary disciplines to amplify brand campaigns.

Both agencies believe this is important and will help capture the imagination of the public in a technology-driven world of consumer empowerment, bringing new opportunities in creative brand amplification via bespoke communications solutions, encompassing experiential, online, events, guerrilla and street activity, brand and media partnerships and third party promotions.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Bad Santas

Three out-of-work, recession-hit Santas were employed by Borkowski for a simple photo shoot for the company’s Christmas card, due to take place this afternoon. Unfortunately, they got thoroughly drunk beforehand and are currently rampaging around the streets of London.

Fortunately, we had a video camera on hand and have been following them as they shout, curse and conga their way through the centre of London, accosting passers by, gibbering, wailing and generally misbehaving. The sight of a pissed up, pissed off Santa sat on his haunches in the middle of London nursing a cigarette like his life depended upon it whilst being barracked by his two Santa buddies until he gets up to dance the conga is one to behold.

This may have started off as a simple Christmas card, but I think we’ve got something better still. And, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can watch them running amok right now at

With a Bang and a Wispa

Luckily, someone at the PR Week Awards was on hand with a camera to capture the Borkowski team’s exuberant stage invasion post the announcement of the team winning the Campaign of the Year Gold Award for the Cadbury’s Wispa campaign. The footage below proves beyond doubt that the only thing to go quietly to the stage was the Wispa itself.

In the grainy film, one can see a clearly over-the-moon Larry Franks, Borkowski’s MD, arriving onstage and skidding to his knees at the feet of Bill Bailey, who gives him a hug, before he leaps up to clutch the award in the manner of an England footballer who’s just scored a double hat-trick in the World Cup Final.

He’s followed by the entire Borkowski team, pleased as punch and just as giddy in their glad rags, smiling fit to split their faces as the award statue flies over their heads, gathering into the sort of group shot that is usually used to sell ensemble TV shows about hip and edgy people doing hip and edgy things in hip and edgy places. Not too far removed from the truth, then…

It’s a shame that the footage ends where it does – but one can always fill in the details of what followed for oneself. I’m currently imagining the entire team taking turns to make their version of the Gwyneth Paltrow Oscar acceptance speech, hot tears of joy soaking the award as they cradle it like a newborn baby. It makes for a most charming scene!

Winning with Wispa!

The last time we entered the PR Week Awards was fifteen years ago. Then, we won the award for Best Promotional Activity for a publicity stunt that involved a circus and a clown. It was a well-earned award, beating Freud’s Planet Hollywood campaign.

For many reasons, however, we have not entered since then. This year, however, our new business director, Suresh Raj, thought it would be a good idea to put forward our Wispa campaign for Best Digital Innovation. So the team –and assorted clients– turned up to the Grosvenor House Hotel last night to eat rubbery lamb and sip mediocre red wine and quaff catering champagne, not expecting to win the award.

The evening was chaotic. I met loads of old pals and was pleased to see Nick Band, as I mistakenly thought he had died a couple of years ago. The Awards floorshow came from Bill Bailey, who was extraordinarily good. His best line was: “I don’t trust joggers, they’re the ones who always find the dead bodies”.  I think he was warned at least twice not to take the piss out of the PR trade via hastily scribbled note-lets.

I have a huge amount of respect for Colin Byrne but, if I am completely honest, I wasn’t too enthused when the Product and Promotion Marketing and Communications Award went to Weber Sandwich for a patio heater campaign, on behalf of the Energy Saving Trust, beating what was without a doubt one of the best campaigns of last year; the Homer Simpson effigy next to the Cerne Abbas chalk giant staged by Beatwax.

I was blown away, however, when we were given the Digital Innovation award for our Wispa campaign. Danny Rogers, the editor of PR Week, noted that the Cadbury’s Wispa campaign stood out because it expertly harnessed social media to great sales effect.

I had to scoot off early, content that we had achieved something significant. To my amazement, twenty minutes later I received a call from Suresh saying we’d been awarded the Gold Award for Campaign of the Year for our Bring Back Wispa campaign. I was gob-smacked and delighted.

I suppose, if we’d lost, that I might be bleating about how unfair and biased the awards were, but clearly they’re not! It was fantastic to hear that some of the Borkowski team disgraced themselves on stage and that our MD had a Jimmy Bullard moment, skidding across the stage on his hands and knees to take the award from Bill. One sobering thought was that I had to pick up an extraordinary bar bill, which underlined the drunken celebrations that went on until the early hours.

That said, I am blessed with some extraordinary people who work tirelessly to forge campaigns. It’s wonderful to have that recognized by the industry.