Diary of a sale ad

Alan Jarvie, Founder & Worldwide Creative Director at LONDON Advertising on creating a sale to help save 2021, reminding businesses that you have to speculate to accumulate.

Alan Jarvie

Founder & Worldwide Creative Director LONDON Advertising


December 24, 2020

As usual, the brief comes in at the end of the day, on the last working day of the week. Only this time it’s Christmas Eve and the client is my business partner, Michael.

“We’ve been offered some poster space on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Can you come up with something, you know, Happy New Year from LONDON Advertising, only better.” Don’t you just love account people? He might as well have finished off by saying, “enjoy your Christmas, I’m off to the Bahamas” like a proper client.

May 2020

During the first lockdown, with a bit of time on our hands, we decided it was a good opportunity to raise our profile. Like many agencies, LONDON isn’t as famous as we’d like it to be. Michael and I worked overseas for ten years in Hong Kong and New York, so missed out on a decade of profile building, but gained a lot in experience and having a good time.

We’re big believers in ‘if you’re going to do something, do it with a bang’. So, with our get famous hats on, we decided to do some TV ads and posters.

Obviously, they had to be simple and cheap to produce. Times were tough and this was our money we were spending.

We wrote some scripts, and I did the voice-overs; brilliantly I thought. However, the rest of the team felt we could maybe do a bit better. The next thing I know we’ve secured Dame Helen Mirren and Liam Neeson. My VOs were consigned to the bin.

The campaign ran on national TV and nationwide on digital posters through June and July and garnered us a lot of news coverage. Michael did more interviews and podcasts than you can shake the proverbial stick at, and, yes, we saw a big jump in awareness of LONDON Advertising.

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November 2020 

It’s Christmas card time. We like the ‘old fashioned’ idea of sending Christmas cards. We believe, if we get our shit together in time, the card can sit on people’s desks for the whole of December reminding them of LONDON Advertising. Of course, 2020 was different. Nearly everybody on our mailing list was WFH, if they were still working, many weren’t, and we didn’t have their home addresses.

We had two choices: do nothing or do something different. We opted for the latter and came up with the idea of Christmas Postercards, another opportunity to raise our profile and reach more people than our mailing list.

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December 27, 2020

I’m giving Michael’s brief some thought.

Happy New Year from LONDON Advertising. Nah, we’d kind of done that with our Christmas Postercards.

Always look on the bright side of life. Gedit? Our ads are bright green. Naah.

Some other message about hoping 2021 was going to be better than 2020? Naaah. That’s what every Christmas card you received was saying, what every news article was saying, what everybody was saying.

It was January, January Sales time. Why don’t we do a Sale? Three months’ work for the price of two.

We wrote some ads: Hurry. The LONDON Advertising Sale Now On. Brilliant ideas. Ludicrously small prices. When the ideas are gone, they’re gone… and I sent them off to Michael with the heading ‘Not what you asked for’.

I heard nothing for two days.

December 29, 2020 

“Sorry I’ve been sunning myself on the beach in the Bahamas” said Michael. Not really, but that’s what I thought. What he actually said was, “Sorry just saw this. Brilliant. David (our genius Head of Creative Services and so much more) can you get Justin (our genius Head of Design) to prepare them and liaise with the poster company to supply them.” That’s great account management for you. And then he went back to the beach.

December 30, 2020 

Everyone dragged themselves away from their leftover turkey and the mental despair of Tier Four lockdown, got the work done and once again we had bright, shiny posters all over the country. And once again shed loads of news coverage. And a bit more fame.

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January 2021 

Michael, now back from the Bahamas (not really, he’s still there. Not really) spoke to our friends at Pimento, a group of independent marketing agencies, who were keen to join us in our Sale.

So, now we had over 30 companies offering their services for ludicrously small prices. We re-worked the work and named the whole thing the Save 2021 Sale.

There’s allegedly over £100 billion of unspent disposable cash sloshing around in people’s pockets just waiting for when we’re allowed out again. We know things are tight for many companies, but we also know from our own experience you have to speculate to accumulate. This Sale is us doing our bit to help. Hopefully it’ll help save 2021.

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Guest Author

Alan Jarvie

Founder & Worldwide Creative Director LONDON Advertising


Alan is Founder and Worldwide Creative Director of LONDON Advertising. Before LONDON he was: Creative Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at M&C Saatchi, based in London; Creative Director at M&C Saatchi, New York; and Founder/Creative Director of M&C Saatchi, Asia, based in Hong Kong. Prior to that he worked at a number of London ‘Hot shops’. He has worked with big clients, small clients and medium sized clients, on luxury products, everyday products, political campaigns and good causes. He has produced work that has run all over the world, in every media. He believes a brilliant idea is simple and universal. And is essential if you want to increase sales or change opinions.

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