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


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.



Behold, The World’s Most Ironic Ad …
October 14, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Crap Campaigns In History

This is what happens when [marketing] people forget that to stand any chance of making people give the teeniest shit about you, you don’t communicate what you want people to know, you communicate what they want to know.

That said, I bet the person behind this was some media planner who told them:

“People riding the underground don’t want to make eye-contact with other passengers so they look around for things to occupy their attention, like long-copy ads. This is the perfect opportunity for us to run an ad that fully explains the symptoms of ADHD to a highly captive and engaged audience”.

I’m telling you, I can literally hear that being said.

Maybe it could have worked if the ad wasn’t addressing people in the first person.

Maybe it would be less bloody ridiculous if it started with the words, ‘Do you know someone who …’, but it didn’t, instead they used long-copy to try and connect with people who have an inability to focus on anything for more than a few seconds.

Shame on the media planner for only focusing on the medium not the audience.

Shame on the client for only focusing on what they want to say, not how they should communicate it.

Shame on the underground sales team for only focusing on their sales targets, not effectiveness.

And to anyone who say’s, “but you’re writing about it, so that proves its successful” … may I suggest you visit here, because you’ll find a place that appears to value disruption more than it does meaningful resonance.



Let The Heart Rule The Mind …
October 13, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

One thing I particularly hate is when people tell you something won’t work before you’ve even had a chance to try it.

Sure, there are some things you know are going to end up in disaster … sure, some of the people who tell you this are basing it on their own experiences and are actually trying to save you from pain and disappointment … but – and here’s the critical bit – just because something hasn’t worked in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t work in the future.

If we had taken the attitude that ‘failure meant impossible’ in all aspects of our life, then we would have nothing.

No language.

No writing.

No cars.

No law.

No gadgets.

No nothing.

Zero … nada … nichts.

So while I am not advocating we all throw ourselves out of the 10th floor window in a bid to prove ‘man can fly’ … nor am I celebrating the importance of failure [which only has validity if you have put in the effort before you've failed and learnt from it, afterwards] I am saying that business should give their hearts a bit more respect than they currently do, because for all the importance of brains, that’s where the seeds of incredible always start.

Oh, and if you need another reason … how about the fact that so many new products end up failing, despite the fact they have been considered, debated and tested to within an inch of their life.

Of course the reason companies still favour this approach is because it makes a better argument to their shareholders when things go tits-up.

Better to say ‘you considered everything’ and failed than look economically negligent by talking about following your heart.

But as I said, I’m not suggesting you let your heart have complete control.

I’m not saying you should ignore realities or standards. I’m simply saying that it’s better to start in an area that excites you than to focus purely on the things that ‘make immediate sense’ … especially if you’re hoping for a totally different result than what has gone on before.

Of course, there are occasions when that can happen.

Very, very rare occasions – where society intersects with what you’ve been up to – but in a World where companies are continually looking for the next new, new thing … maybe they need to realise that so much of what society loves [as opposed to just likes] started off with the heart rather than the head and instead of treating them as opposing forces, they need to get back to realising they’re co-dependent friends who can change the outcome of anything.



As We Head In To The Weekend, Let’s All Remember This …
October 10, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

… and I’m not just saying that because I have tattoos and don’t go to Church.

To be honest, I’m fast coming to the opinion that religion is the biggest weapon of mass destruction. I am all for following your beliefs and having strong opinions, but to immediately denounce anyone who has a different point of view is a recipe for disaster – especially when there is so much contradiction and hypocrisy inherent in every religion.

Of course I appreciate not everyone is like this and that for them, their beliefs are a source of comfort and guidance, but if anyone has seen the documentary Jesus Camp, you’ll know that some practitioners view religion almost as a popularity contest and are continually looking for ways to encourage more extreme – or myopic – behaviour, in a bid to ensure they don’t get ‘left behind’.

I’d call it childish if it didn’t have such dangerous ramifications.

If I had my way, I would stop schools teaching religious studies and get them to start studying religion.

Let them see the commonalities amongst faiths … how many share similar views on respecting and helping others and then let the individuals make their own choices rather than have it thrust upon them.

But I know that won’t happen so I suppose I’d just be happy if we taught the importance of context and perspective … which would not only [hopefully] help ensure the best parts of faith are protected [rather than fall victim to religious extremism inflation] but may stop people turning the internet into a place of mass segregation.

Hey, I can dream can’t I?




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