The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Introducing The Steve McClaren Of Advertising?
October 23, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

If you can be arsed, I’d love you to watch a video.

I know it’s long, but it’s absolutely, unequivocally, categorically worth listening to.

However, if you haven’t got the time to watch it all, please … please … please watch from 28 minutes 30 seconds to 32 minutes.

I’m not going to say a thing about it, I simply offer it up to you so that I can hear your viewpoint on how a senior member of the advertising community is promoting our role, purpose and attitude to the wider World.

To avoid any confusion, I don’t want any comments about Saatchi or the work shown in the presentation [which, for the record is generally good], I am just interested to hear what you think about what Mr Roberts says and how he says it … acknowledging it’s always difficult to present to people where your native language is not their native language

That said, after I watched it, I couldn’t help being reminded of this, hence the title of the post.

Enjoy.



Why The Modern Day Bank Robber Is A Baby Manufacture …
October 22, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

In little over 6 weeks, I’m going to be a Dad.

42 days.

FORTY TWO DAYS!!!

Jesus!

For someone who is paid to be a ‘planner’, I’m rather alarmed that I have not planned anything for the little kids birth.

Seriously.

Sure we have a hospital, a few clothes, a cot and a pram but that’s about it.

But this isn’t a post about my obvious lack of parenting skill – oh no – this is about how bloody expensive everything is.

EVERYTHING.

You can’t walk into a baby store [which I am doing my utmost to avoid] without dropping hundreds of quid.

Or in my case, millions of RMB.

Anyone who thinks adland is a ripoff should see the price of baby stuff.

Christ, I thought Jill’s engagement ring was expensive, but at least that came with a diamond … this baby stuff is basically a bunch of colourful plastic so it’s no surprise that you feel violated every time you hand your credit card over to the cashier.

The thing that freaked me out the most was the pram.

OK, so I’ve never really needed to judge the cost of prams before but I almost shat my pants when I saw how much they were.

Of course they say you’re paying for the advanced technology, super suspension and a huge range of uses, but it’s the transportation for a kid who is the size of a couple of rulers … a kid who won’t know the difference between a highly tuned pram and a bloody shopping trolley … so you know that’s a massive bunch of bollocks.

The fact is, most of these ‘super prams’ have little to do with the kid.

Oh no … most of these super prams are all about how you’ll look to other parents as this ad for ‘iCandy’ prams [do you see what they did there] demonstrates:

I cannot tell you how much I hate this.

I hate it to the point where I want to kidnap everyone associated with it, torture them until they are crying and begging for forgiveness and then force them to use the pram as their family car until the end of time.

Seriously, I hate it that much.

It’s not just the fact they feature an oh-so-cool hipster wanker – though that literally makes me want to rip my face off with a spoon – it’s not just that they’ve called this model ‘the raspberry’ even though it’s purple … it’s not just that the brand chose a name that makes it sound like Steve Jobs created it … it’s the fact they’ve said it’s for ‘urban adventurers’.

Who the fuck are they trying to kid.

Urban adventurers?

It’s not a fucking Land Rover, it’s a pram.

Something that pushes a baby around.

While you pick up some nappies from the local shop.

It’s not like you’re going cross vast deserts to try and discover new civilisations … the only thing you’re going to cross is the high street so you can sit with a bunch of other show-off parents while sipping your overpriced, decaf, low-foam, extra-hot, cafe latte with imported beans from the Amazon.

All ‘urban adventurer’ actually is, is another bullshit marketing term … designed to make fashion victim parents feel like they’re hip, despite the fact they have a bundle of noise and shit alongside them 24/7.

It’s almost an anti-parent statement.

It’s like saying having a kid is not as important as being seen as the man/woman around town.

What a load of shit.

And the fact they use a hipster-cock on this ad just makes it all 10,000 worse.

Where’s he going with that bag?

To the gym?

To the office?

To a clients?

Well wherever he’s going, I wouldn’t trust him … who the fuck carries a bag with them when there’s ample space to shove it under the pram?

Oh I know who … the idiots who spend $5000 on a bag because GQ Magazine says it’s the latest thing to be seen with.

I hate this ad.

I hate every single thing about it.

And I absolutely loathe it’s called iCandy.

Do they think that’s clever?

Do they think it’s subtle?

If there was no other pram on the face of the earth, I still wouldn’t buy an iCandy.

I would literally rather fit wheels to my hands and knees and be a human pram than give these bastards a penny of my money.

Look, I know people choose a pram for more reasons than just their child’s comfort and safety … but where the idiots at iCandy fucked up is they talked about this in their advertising, which is a massive no-no.

It’s a bit like cool.

If you say you’re it, you’re not it.

The secret to planning isn’t just about discovering the motivations behind what we say, think, feel and do … it’s also about knowing when you should – and shouldn’t – talk about it … which is why I would bet money that the planner behind this campaign isn’t a parent and if they are, then they’re an idiot.

Mind you, I accept that they maybe discovered a new parental segment who believes everything they own needs to be an accessory to their image and they’re going all out to target them … but surely Kim Kardashian has a pram for North by now?

As a footnote to this rant, I should admit that I did buy a pram that cost the equivalent of a small car in Slovakia.

I also admit the marketing collateral from the manufactures did mention their advanced technology, super suspension and huge range of uses.

I even accept I chose the ‘limited edition colour’ even though it cost 80 quid more than the standard options.

But none of this was about image – oh no – it was all about doing what’s best for my child.

And while I could argue that includes trying to get other parents to look at the pram rather than me to ensure my kid doesn’t get a stigma that his father dresses like a drunk – from 1978 – the fact is you’d be wrong because how could my choice be for my image when we all know pushing a pram is the woman’s job.

Ahem.



If You Think Adland Is Pretentious, You Should See The Fashion Industry …
October 21, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Yesterday I wrote about how style has changed over the past 10 years.

Today I will simply show an article – from Bloomberg Business Week – that features one of the people who has helped evolve our style … hairdresser to the stars [his description, not mine] Julien Farel.

I don’t know this man, I’ve never heard of this man and I accept that given he’s in Business Week, he must be of certain repute … but I hope his responses are tongue-in-cheek – especially his answers to the questions ‘what is an athletes haircut’ and ‘why is your tie so short’ – because otherwise he might be up there with Mr Pepsi Logo in terms of pretentious, delusional wankers who need a good kick in the face.

[And yes, I do know Peter Arnell - also known as Mr Pepsi Logo - ended up losing his job shortly after the Pepsi debacle, which shows that as much as adland puts up with ego, it is on the proviso you bring in income, not see it fly out the door ]

[A larger sized version of the article can be seen here]



The Quickest Way To See How Style Has Become More Dapper Over The Past Decade …
October 20, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

… though it’s somewhat undermined by the fact my beloved Birkenstocks are now – according to Vogue – the latest darling of the catwalk and fashion industry.

I can see how they might come to that conclusion when a supermodel wears them, but it all goes to shit – like it would if I ever was to wear a suit – when I’m seen traipsing down a Shanghai street sporting a pair.

But that’s the the thing with fashion, it’s not about looking good, it’s about the illusion of progressiveness, drama and newness … even if you’re actually going backwards and you come up with stuff that looks utterly ridiculous when worn by 99.98% of the population.

On a street.

In Luton.

On the bright side, adland suddenly doesn’t look nearly so elitist any more.



American Idol Contestants Are Less Deluded Than Some Brands …
October 17, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment, Crap Marketing Ideas From History!

So I saw this ad recently …

What do you think it’s for?

With a line like ‘DISCOVER YOURSELF’, could it be:

For a camera brand?

Or a holiday firm?

What about for wannabe smug bastards?

Or even the joys of masturbation?

Well it’s none of those, it’s for ties.

Yes, ties.

Admitedlly they’re expensive, super-ties … but it’s still a tie.

Look, I know I have the fashion sense of an Australian, but even I know a tie can express a degree of individuality … albeit in an semi-ironic way given the majority of people who wear them also wear similar looking suits because they do a job that requires them to act like sheep in the business world … but let’s get a grip, it’s a tie, there’s not much ‘discovering’ to be done.

To be honest, it’s this sort of ad that does my head in.

Correction, it’s this sort of planning that does my head in.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for laddering ideas up, but when it becomes this meaningless, ambiguous, highly superficial, pseudo-status bullshit … I want to find the people who wrote and approved this ad and then make them put on one of their ties until the knot is so tight, they die a very slow and painfully death.

Stop with the bullshit.

Just stop it.

Seriously.

If this tie is as special as you say it is, then embrace it … tell me why I should care rather than spout your generic, up-itself, bollocks because I’ll tell you something, the only people who’ll actually believe you when you say it’s a ‘stunning, limited edition accessory’ are the sort of fuckwits who think the business card scene in American Psycho is something to aspire to rather than laugh at.

At the end of the day, this ad gives waaaaaaaaaay more insight about the people working at Coyaba than the people they’re trying to talk to and that insight is they have a massive chip-on-their-shoulder about their own self importance and self worth.

And they’re right to feel insecure, because while they like to kid themselves their role is to help people discover a whole world of possibility for personal expression and exploration, they know that all they actually do is MAKE SOME FUCKING TIES.



Laugh Yourself Wise …
October 16, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comedians

A very long time ago, I wrote a post about why I sometimes work with comedians.

I don’t mean ‘bad ad people’, I literally mean comedians.

Anyway, the reason I write this is because I recently watched an episode of Louie C K’s television show and came across a scene that was not only funny but was moving and incredibly revealing.

I love it.

I think it’s fantastic.

Apart from the writing, the other thing I love are the pauses.

Big, long pauses of nothingness.

To be honest, that technique used to be the domain of British drama … where directors appreciated a moment of silence could sometimes say more than a flurry of words, but over time – in these highly commercialised times – that trait has been lost so it’s wonderful to see it again in all its power and glory.

But back to the scene.

The reason I like it so much is not just because it reveals what truly goes on in the minds and hearts of overweight people [yes, it's focused on women, but it also says a lot about men - especially middle-aged, overweight men], but highlights how many brands just get it wrong when they talk about health and vitality.

Hell, even when they’re trying to guilt-trip people into action, the points they raise are still a few degrees off truly connecting with where people’s heads are at.

The insecurities they face go way beyond how others judge them – it’s more how they feel they’ll never really get out of life what they believed they could … or should … especially compared to so many others around them.

Is this right?

Is this fair?

Is this changeable?

They are questions that – in some ways – don’t matter, because it’s not a rational argument, it’s almost entirely emotional.

As much as I hated Sex and the City, the one thing I definitely appreciated was their acknowledgement of insecurity.

That behind the face – whether it was young, fresh and successful or old, wrinkled and more humble – were opinions, thoughts and views that ravaged beliefs, attitude and confidence.

Or said another way.

Behind every face – regardless of how you may appear to the outside World – are dirty little secrets that conspire to continually fill you with doubt and anxiety.

You might be great at hiding from it. You may be well versed in ignoring it. But – as the wonderful Dove campaign from last year showed, you are never able to get away from it.

Of course knowing this offers agencies and brands 2 choices.

1. Exploit it for commercial gain.
2. Show how you can get passed it for commercial gain.

But as this sketch shows, at least to me, it’s not necessarily about highlighting the pain or showing the solution, sometimes the greatest thing you can do is simply offer a little gesture – like holding someone’s hand – because that shows you understand the situation without having to highlight the situation and for some, that can mean more to them than a World of [false] promises and hope.

As men – and seemingly brands and agencies – fail to understand time and time again, sometimes it’s not about offering a fix, it’s just offering an ear.



Amateur Generosity …
October 15, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Chinese Culture, Comment

As has been written 10 trillion times, China is a land of paradox.

On one hand it is a culture that values, treasures and celebrates the family, but on the other, there is very much the attitude it’s each to their own.

Of course, you could say that sounds quite similar to the beliefs that permeate much of America, given there is the view that if you work hard, you will prosper and if you don’t, then no one should help because it’s your own fault and America doesn’t do socialism.

The irony is, neither does China – the home of [alleged] communism.

That aside, given the amount of prejudice that China faces from the Western press, I feel I need to point out that when natural tragedy hits, the people – like those in America and countless other nations – are incredibly generous and compassionate because they believe if something happens that is out of your control, then you should be helped to the point where you can start to help yourself. But not a penny more.

That might sound harsh, but it’s just the way it is.

It doesn’t mean the people aren’t kind, warm, helpful or funny, it just means there’s a different value system to that of other nations … driven by the fact that it’s not that long ago that the difference [literally] between life and death was down to what you could get before someone else could get it.

Think about it.

Imagine coming from a culture where in the lifetime of your grandparents – or even your parents – survival was literally of the fittest.

Not what you earned.

Not who you knew.

But what you could find … with hundreds of millions of other people all trying to do the same.

That’s what happened here and for all the abundance that now exists in many cities [though not as many as many people think], years of tragic experiences and memories have shaped attitude and values in relation to others.

The reason I say all this is that I recently saw this:

Yep, it’s a donation jar, but if you look closely, you’ll see it’s not for a particular charity or a cause … it appears to be to simply allow you to practice being generous.

OK, so they say practice makes perfect, but I’m not quite sure that works for this.

To be honest, I think it’s probably a massive scam.

Not just because the shopkeeper didn’t know where the money would be going when I asked him, but because in a nation that has been ‘trained’ to believe benevolent generosity can come back and bite you on the ass, I doubt a nation is going to suddenly change their ways because a donation jar tells them to … especially a donation jar that doesn’t give you any idea where the cash is going.

Hey, maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe this will change attitudes and behaviour and make a cheeky shop owner very, very rich … but while the joy of giving can be a wonderful thing, I believe it’s going to take a bit more than that and if it doesn’t, then all that behavioural economic stuff that adland has been spouting like they invented it, is all a pile of shite.




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