Filed under: Comment
The bad news is that if you need to be reminded how important and influential the Asian market [and the people within it] is – in terms of trading, developing or working there – then there’s a good chance you’re already too late be a major part of it.
Filed under: Comment
As John Dodds likes to continually point out, I often post things about circumstances or situations that passed long ago.
Sure, part of this is because I’m about as topical as an episode of Neighbours, but part of it is because I pre-write this rubbish so far in advance that by the time I get to something new, it’s already consigned to history.
OK, so I could write it and move the other posts around so it would remain ‘topical’, but I can’t be arsed, so deal with it.
The reason I am preambling is – you guessed it – because I’m going to write another un-topical/topical post.
Back in April, I talked about how they seemed to understand how showing empathy, humanity and personality could translate to building a real rapport with their passengers, well on Halloween, they did it again.
I particularly love that they wrote the whole thing ‘straight’ – as if it was a real notice – giving the overall impression they’re a professional organisation but with a twinkle in the eye.
Yes, I know lots of companies do Halloween ads, but this is not an ad – well, not in the way most companies do them – it’s a wonderful bit of brand charm.
OK, so I accept many people may have missed this sign – and some may even think it is childish and unprofessional – however, while many companies believe the secret to success is to run efficiently and show no personality trait that could alienate a potential customer, I am firmly of the belief that brands who express their personality or point of view have a real advantage over their bland, parity competitors.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a strong POV or personality can automatically overcome those brands that offer mass distribution or uber-low prices, but it might get you a stronger and more emotionally loyal customer base than the casual/superficial/auto-pilot customers many organisations continually chase each and every day.
It’s for this reason that I’ll always pop into – and buy music from – Nottingham’s iconic second hand record shop ‘Rob’s Records’ … not because we share the same name or because I’m a technology luddite and only listen to my favourite bands via vinyl or CD … but because he has no problem expressing his personal opinion on the music he stocks.
Efficiency, professionalism, reliability and trust might be vital traits of a strong brand, but personality and character are what makes you fall in love.
Filed under: Comment
Yes, it’s me … no wonder he has such a disappointed look on his face.
How are you?
Yes, I had a wonderful holiday thank you for asking.
Let’s be honest, even if you’re kidnapped by Somali pirates, you still enjoy holidays … though the the best news is I get another two within the next two months for Christmas/New Year and then the wonderful Chinese New Year.
Living the dream ladies and gentleman, I’m living the dream.
Given I have written quite a lot in this post already, the reality is I have nothing to say, so I thought I’d go back in time and see what I had written on this day in previous years and guess what I found … I had to go all the way back to 2009 to find a post written on the 9th December.
I know, that’s amazingly big news isn’t it.
Anyway, for those who are interested [read: no one] it was about George Clooney and a whole host of other Hollywood stars who had sold their credibility to Japanese ad agencies in the misguided belief their ‘work’ would never be seen outside of that country.
Personally, I think the Western World should be thankful for their financial greediness, because otherwise, when else would we get to see Scarlett Johansson give a pseudo blow job in the guise of drinking an iced coffee brand.
[I bet you've all clicked on that link, haven't you? Pervs]
Anyway, as I said, I’m temporarily back and I promise you tomorrow’s post will be better than this one.
Though I am in advertising and work as a planner, so you shouldn’t trust a word I say.
Filed under: Comment
So today is the last day I write this blog for over 2 weeks.
As I said on Monday, I’m off on holiday – and while I’m sure you find this incredible, given the amount of time off I’ve had this year – the fact is it’s true.
I leave tomorrow, return 9th December, then 2 weeks after that we have Christmas holidays then New Year holidays and then – literally a couple of weeks after that – Chinese New Year holidays.
And to think some people don’t actually want to move here. Fools.
Anyway, as it’s the last post for the next 2 weeks [and it will be, because Jill will kick me in the head if she so much as see's me use any technology while we're away] I want to leave you all with a bit of a sentimental post.
“Oh no” I hear you cry.
But I’m asking you to bear with me on this. At least for a little bit.
I was recently in another city for work.
I was sat at the desk in my hotel room, looking out at the bustling city as the sun was starting to set on a beautiful – if bitterly cold – day.
Some nondescript music was playing in the background when my attention was suddenly drawn to a Facebook message that had just come through.
I looked down and saw it was a message from someone I had literally not seen – or spoken to – for 19 years.
Now I need to give you a bit of background on this character.
Many, many years ago, I was in a band.
We were quite good, had quite a following and big things were expected of us.
Anyway, along the way, we acquired a bunch of mates who all helped us out in different ways.
Some with transportation. Some with publicity. Some just coming to every gig.
One of these mates was our bass players flatmate.
Despite being quite a bit older than us and having experienced a rather ‘textured’ life … he was a good man and really wanted us to do well.
Anyway, one day, I went to our bass players house only to find that his flatmate had gone.
He’d packed his stuff and left without a note.
He’d also left with one of my guitars.
It wasn’t an overly expensive guitar, but it was still mine.
I was obviously fucked off, but it was apparent he had bigger issues in his life so just accepted it was ‘one of those things’.
Zoom forward 19 years and here he was, messaging me via Facebook.
I responded warmly, because  I was genuinely interested to hear why he had got in touch and  despite the incident with the guitar, I had always liked him.
Within seconds, I got a reply.
It was an apology.
A request for forgiveness.
He said he had always felt terrible about stealing my guitar but he had found himself in trouble that required him to leave Nottingham in a hurry and to do that, he had to get as much money as he could as quickly as he could.
He wanted me to know this incident had always played on his mind and he felt he just had to reach out and say sorry and face the consequences, because he honestly felt he could not move forward properly unless he addressed this issue.
I read this email a number of times.
Over and over again.
He he was, a man of 50, pouring his heart out to someone he’d not seen or spoken to for 19 years about an incident that – while wrong – was relatively small in the big scheme of things.
I wrote back to him.
I said the only thing I was really upset about was that he hadn’t felt he could tell me about his issue so I could try and help. And while I’d of rather he’d not stolen my property, I knew he would not do it unless he literally felt trapped in a corner.
There was a big pause between me sending this and him replying.
When he did, it was short, but no less powerful.
He said, thank you. He said he was grateful for my response. He said the weight that had lifted off his shoulders was unimaginable.
This made me happy.
Sure, he’d made me angry when he stole the guitar, but the price he paid for this act was 19 years of slow, nagging, guilt … the worst kind.
Now I know you might think I’m going over-the-top with this given he’d managed to get through 19 years before making contact, but the fact is he did. He didn’t have to. He could of kept quiet because the chance of us ever running into each other was almost zero.
And here’s the thing, as good as he felt that he’d come clean [which I genuinely believe was more important to him than me forgiving him] I also felt good he’d admitted to it.
Sometimes in our work lives, we forget we’re dealing with people.
The pressure, the speed, the expectation results in us focusing on the destination, not the journey.
Tempers can get frayed, arguments can happen, tears can occasionally flow … it’s all shit to be honest, given it’s only a job and it’s only bloody advertising.
Which is why I think if you’ve done something wrong, it’s always worth holding up your hands to it.
Sure, sometimes someone thinks you’ve fucked up when you don’t – and that’s another thing altogether – however there are many times, where you know the way you acted or responded wasn’t right and yet you try hard to forget about it, or write it off as just ‘the way work sometimes makes us’.
But the thing is, you never forget.
And the ‘victim’ never forgets.
It niggles and prods away in the background and as much as you can try to act like it’s not bothering you, you know it does.
Which is why when it happens, it’s always good to come clean.
The respondent might not be as forgiving as I was with my ex-bass players, ex-flatmate, but after you’ve done it, you’ll finally understand why people say ‘honesty is the best policy’ because even if there are ramifications, the sense of emotional freedom you get can never be underestimated.
Though obviously the best thing is to try and not fuck up in the first place. That is an even better policy than honesty, so to speak.
I know the guy who took my guitar doesn’t read this blog. But if he ever does, I want him to know I always thought highly of him, but now I feel he’s even more of a good man.
See you in a few weeks.
Filed under: Comment
Have a look at this …
… hopefully you went to the very end and saw that rather than being an infographic for bad Hollywood movie cliches, it’s actually an ad for a film festival, summed up with the line:
“Watch Films, Not Movies – There Is A Difference”.
To be honest, I like the idea behind the execution more than the execution, but I like the line.
Maybe it’s because it’s planner wanky or maybe, as the owner of thousands of documentaries, it ‘speaks’ to me [ignoring the fact I love Hollywood schlock and Jerry Springer is a cultural beacon for me] but whatever the reason, it engages people who might not normally go to a film festival … thinking they’re inhabited by film students who sit around in stripy tops, playing with their beards and contemplating how to capture the darkness of civilisation within their parody comedy that they wrote when they were 5 years old or something.
And that’s just the women. [Boom Tish]
Anyway, I don’t often praise work on here and compared to many of the campaigns I’ve liked [like this or this], it’s probably the weakest – it’s certainly the ugliest – but I go on holiday in 2 days so I’m feeling particularly generous which is why I should go before I start to make myself as ill as you’re probably feeling right now.
Filed under: Comment
Quick question, how many people still use MSN Messenger these days?
I, as I’m sure a lot of you guys still do, have it on my computers – and my phone – but I never use it, preferring all manner of alternatives from WeChat and Skype to Whatsapp to something called ‘having a conversation’.
Anyway, I’d be really interested to know if:
1. You have it on your computer/phone.
2. Whether you still use it.
3. What is your main choice for instant messaging these days.
Don’t worry, this is not a ruse for me to find out your social media tools so I can quickly ‘friend’ you to stop looking like I’m Billy-No-Mates [also known as 'Billy'], it’s a genuine question which I’d love you to answer, even though I know all I’ll get in return is abuse. Ta and Ta-ra.
Filed under: Comment
Following on from Friday’s post, I have another ‘moment of reflection’ I want to write about.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”, I hear you cry.
Well bad luck, it’s my blog and I can upset you if I want to.
The good news is that on Friday I go away again.
For 2 weeks.
Yes, you guessed it … I am on holiday.
If it’s any consolation, this is ‘proper’ holiday, not a Government mandated one.
Did that help?
No I didn’t think so.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that if you put up with this sentimental post … and a couple more this week … you’re then free from me for 2 weeks.
Seriously, I’ve been away so much this year that you’ve probably only had to endure 30 posts for all of 2013, so stop with your whining and let me get on with it.
So I have a bike.
A lovely, shiny, super nice bike.
One with pedals, not a motor.
I have always loved bikes.
Maybe it’s because I come from Nottingham – the home of Raleigh, where the Chopper and Grifter originated or maybe it’s because it was the first ‘vehicle’ that gave me my first taste of freedom – but I’ve always had a soft spot for them.
I say that, but after I learnt to drive, I never used a bike again, turning my back on my lovely BMX Tuff Burner in favour of a 950cc, D-reg, Ford Fiesta.
[Actually, I've just realised that the wheels on the Tuff Burner might explain why I ordered a special wheel for the bike I've just bought. It hasn't come yet, but now, when I get it, I'll always think of the BMX I feel guilty about tossing away in favour of a crap Ford Fiesta, with less than a 1 litre engine and only one wing mirror. Weird]
Yes, it’s THAT long ago.
Anyway, I recently this one made for me by the guys at WTF and I love it.
To prove how much I love it, I ride it every day – even though the roads of Shanghai are a total war zone.
Seriously, it’s insane … and ironically, I genuinely believe part of the reason for that is because of the good ol’ push bike.
You see cars are a relatively new phenomenon in China and so people’s frame of reference for ‘vehicle navigation’ is based bicycles, which means people think nothing of pushing their way to the front of queues or squeezing through narrow gaps if they sense they can keep moving forward.
Of course there’s other reasons, but I swear to god that’s part of it.
Anyway, I digress …
So I have this bike and I ride it every day.
When I get to work, it’s always a bit of a nightmare, because I have to get it in the lift, go up to the 4th floor then somehow activate the security key to open the door, while holding a coffee and not letting my bike fall … because it doesn’t have a stand and it somehow doesn’t like leaning against a wall easily.
For months, I’ve been using a method that involves shoulder barging or wheel pushing the door until literally a week ago, I went …
“Why don’t I just leave my bike on the floor, open the door, then pick it up again?”
So I did, and unsurprisingly, it works.
Now this would obviously be obvious to you, but to me, it was a revelation.
The irony being, as a kid, I thought nothing of riding my bike as fast as I could then jumping off to let it free wheel ahead of me, before collapsing in a dramatic heap.
I wasn’t doing it to damage it, I loved that bike, it was just part of what we did as kids.
Along side pulling wheelies.
And jumping over a bunch of people who stupidly were lying down next to a few bricks and a piece of wood that was acting as a ‘jump off point’.
OK, so this bike costs more than my Grifter or Tuff Burner put together, but the fact my brain had deleted the option of ‘leave my bike on the floor for a second’ really intrigued me.
Is it because I now appreciate the value of money?
Is it because I love that bike so much, I never want it to get dirty?
Is it because I’m just a sad, thick, bastard?
Well, let’s be honest, it’s probably the last option … but I also think it is about just having a more care-free attitude as a kid.
I know there’s nothing new in that statement, but when you actually remember the fundamental difference between how you once were and how you are now, it’s quite a shock to the system.
Most of the time we forget how we once acted or we craft our memories to not feel so silly. And of course, there’s many things we do now that are a million miles better than we used to be … but that freedom you once had was – with the benefit of hindsight – quite infectious and yet so few of us realise that until it’s either too late or we’re hit with a moment of adult ridiculousness.
Or that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.
Update: The wheel came. It bloody came. YES!!! What that means is my modern day BMX Tuff Burner is now complete. I know you couldn’t give a shit, but I love it – and given it is decidedly ‘old technology’, that is doubly amazing!