Brand Republic's top stories of 2009
LONDON - As adland enjoys its customary wind-down for Christmas and New Year, we leave you with a round-up of some of 2009's most interesting stories across advertising, marketing and media.
In a year which harsh economic realities brought many unpleasant surprises, one of the biggest came at the end of summer when News International said it was closing down thelondonpaper.
The closure of the London Lite by Associated Newspapers followed, but not before Alexander Lebedev's Evening Standard gave events a further twist by dropping its cover price in what management said was partly a reaction to the challenge of new technologies distracting readers.
If you were on Twitter on your iPhone when you heard that news, double irony points for you.
Unlike microblogging and London freesheets (so far), you can at least make a profit out of death, as OK! magazine demonstrated with its tasteful "tribute" cover photo showing Michael Jackson in the hands of paramedics.
MJ never made it to the comeback gigs he booked an entire ITV1 ad break for in March, but in media and marketing there's always a chance an old brand can be dug up.
Take Bauer's plans to revive The Face after five years (nice to see a new launch after Arena's unfortunate demise) or the much quicker resurrection of Woolworths as an online retailer.
Public affection for Woolies was so powerful that soundalike names were employed by those seeking to recreate it on the high street - including Wellworths and Alworths.
Another well-loved retailer celebrated reaching its 125th year with a return to its roots as a penny bazaar, selling two million items for one pence each.
Tesco's less sentimental take on promotion saw it tease us with Clubcard 2, which was revealed to double the points Clubcard users could earn.
Walkers Crisps caught the imagination with a competition that resulted in the public creating six new crisp flavours, while Marlboro did NPD the old-fashioned way to launch its first new brand in two years, Bright Leaf.
Tobacco and crisps sustained media agencies through the year's many pitches, among them the COI's £250m business and Unilever's £3bn global account.
Two stories gripped London's ad community - BBH making 10% of its staff redundant in August, another sad demonstration of the depth of the recession, and Fallon losing the Sony Europe account to Anomaly after seven years this month.
Sir Martin Sorrell may have concentrated a few minds with a speech criticising agency bosses as "resistant to change" and holding up advertisers from adapting to consumers' shift to digital media as quickly as they should.
While Sorrell was in pursuit of digital consumers, Rupert Murdoch was chasing them off his land.
More accurately, he wants them to pay to visit News Corporation websites from next year, and he and his top brass have spent much of 2009 making pronouncements about the newspaper industry's need to ditch the free online content model.
In the wider digital world, Facebook's previous status as the bleeding edge passed to Twitter, mobile apps and augmented reality.
Although interest was piqued by Crispin Porter's clever Facebook campaign bribing people to ditch their friends for Burger King, this year everyone was trying to work out if their brand was being talked about on Twitter, how popular they were and whether Twitter would actually make them pay to be on it.
Two stories among many illustrated the microblogging site's influence on brands and the media: US electronics retailer Best Buy seeking job applicants with 250 Twitter followers and the social media-led backlash against columnist Jan Moir's article on Stephen Gately that resulted in Mail Online pulling ads from it.
But as a creative vehicle, Twitter wasn't a patch on the iPhone. Last year there was Carling's iPint app - this year gave us models who strip when the stockmarket falls, courtesy of Puma and Droga5, and the ability for iPhone users to interact with digital outdoor screens, courtesy of CBS Outdoor and Clusta.
Creatives also got their teeth into augmented reality, turning things like a Nestle breakfast cereal box into a 3D games console.
Finally we come to fights and stunts.
Jedward became sticks with which the Tories and Labour shamelessly beat each other.
Carlos Teves got his mug on two posters; one from new club Manchester City announcing 'Welcome to Manchester', the second from fans of Manchester United telling him 'Welcome to the end of your career'.
The humble bus ad found a higher calling when Christian groups rose to the bait over the atheists' earlier use of the medium.
It seemed the only brand capable of turning the other cheek was John Lewis, after it fell victim to Dixons' feisty campaign telling consumers to use posh department stores to get shown TVs and then buy them online.
John Lewis refrained from an advertising counter-attack, limiting itself to a PR defence of loftily commenting it found it a bit odd that a rival would make a virtue of the fact that it doesn't have anything like a comparable service.
Other brands showed they didn't need to resort to knocking ads or even any ads to get fantastic exposure.
Marmite gave us its take on the pop-up shop, Comparethemarket.com put its meerkat mascot Aleksandr Orlov on the shelves of Harrods, and men dressed as Tic Tacs recreated the Everton goal ITV viewers missed when the channel accidentally cut to a Tic Tacs ad.
There was also Kelloggs cleverly claiming it was looking into laser-branding individual Corn Flakes to combat fakery, but for sheer amusement our favourite moment was when an outraged parent complained about the "carnal" packaging of Haribo's Maoam sweets brand.
We leave you with the immortal words of Daily Mail letter-writer Simon Simpkins:
"The lemon and lime are locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter. The lime, who I assume to be the gentleman in this coupling, has a particularly lurid expression on his face."
We hope your imminent coupling with 2010 brings you as much pleasure and wish you a Merry Christmas.
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