Filed under: Comment
As you probably know, I love the band Queen.
OK, so after 1984 they went a bit dodgy, but I still think they are incredible.
And yes, I do like their Hot Space album, even if most fans hate it.
People talk about Muse as a band who push musical boundaries, but apart from the fact they sound an awful lot like Queen, if you listen to Freddie, Brian, Roger and John’s 1975 album – A Night At The Opera – you will see they were practitioners of musical diversity decades earlier.
Over the years, I’ve spent a fortune travelling the World to see their gigs, let alone buying albums, books, DVD’s and t-shirts … and while many mock them, the reality is they will go down in history as one of rock and roll’s biggest selling, influential and iconic bands.
I look at that photo at the top of the post and see a band that was at the height of their fame and creativity.
That photo was taken in 1981 and they look like people who have feel confident in their abilities and achievements.
That was the year they did their ground breaking South American tour, playing to crowds of over quarter of a million people … leaving an entire continent blown away by the power of their live performance.
Of course, they surpassed even that when 4 years later, they literally stole the show at the biggest concert in the World, Live Aid.
The fact the band still has a career 40+ years after forming and Freddie is still a beloved figure 23 years after he died is testimony to the impact the band has made on culture.
While there are many who like to heap shit on the band [and me for loving them] … I’ve always been able to dismiss their negative comments because they are fans of bands like The Smiths, the musical equivalent of clinical depression – so imagine how upset I was when I read this:
… laugh it up Northern. Bastard.
Filed under: Comment
Thought so … now you can go off and enjoy your Monday in much better spirits as well as be grateful that Johnson & Johnson don’t make vibrators.
Filed under: Comment
A long time ago, when I was doing my Google experiment, I went out for drinks with a gentleman called Jonathan Rosenberg.
At the bar, I saw someone I vaguely knew who was a creative at a multinational ad agency. I’m not sure if it was the industry success he had enjoyed over the years that made him who he was, or whether it was just his natural state, but he was a bit of a dick.
Anyway, he came over with a friend – who happened to be a planner he worked with – and after some introductions, they sat down to join us.
Unsurprisingly, within minutes, this guy started talking about his work and the awards he’d won. Of course he was trying to be casual about it, but you knew his whole self-worth was wrapped up in those little statues he collected.
Then – out of nowhere – Jonathan asked,
“I don’t work in advertising, so what do you think is a great example of its power?”
After they thought about it for a few minutes, having some private discussion, they surprised us by saying ‘Lux soap’.
Yes, bloody Lux Soap.
I remember looking at them and thinking they had only chosen that to either confuse us or to try and look interesting and imaginative.
“Why?” we asked … to which Mr Dick replied something like:
“Advertising turned a piece of soap into a profitable business that withstood wars and countless competitors”.
Fair point. Not the greatest point. But a fair point.
But it was here that Jonathan did something awesome.
You see he hadn’t actually explained where he worked or what he did – I’d just introduced him as a friend of mine – and it was at this point he decided to destroy their ego.
He looked at them and replied that he thought their point was interesting but subjective and as he didn’t know the brands history, he couldn’t tell if they had a point or not. He added that while the advertising had obviously helped the brand, it was the creator of the product who really had made the impact.
Mr Dick asked him for to give an example of something he thought was worthy of recognition to which Jonathan replied something like “the Android operating system” to which – and I remember the smug look on his face – Cockhead said that he thought the point was interesting but also subjective.
And it was here I was in the presence of a magic moment, because Jonathan – the SVP of Product Management for Google – looked him square in the eye by saying,
“Oh, it’s not subjective, I helped create it”.
It was amazing. Sure, it was also egotistical … but I can ignore that because the moment was so bloody good.
The reason for this story is that I worry sometimes that adland seems to think it knows it all and can do everything better than everyone else.
We’re good. We can be really, really good … but that doesn’t mean we’re the best and it certainly doesn’t mean we can do things better than others, because if we could, we would have invented Square rather than make a bunch of ads saying, ‘Bank X really cares about small business so why don’t you come in and have a chat’.
We are a creative industry. We are creative thinkers. We are also deluded and full of self doubt and self importance.
I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone said only the advertising industry has people that they label ‘creative’ working within it. Artists, writers, musicians, game designers [etc etc] don’t label themselves that way … they just get on with doing stuff that the masses call creative.
In other words, one gets their label of creativity as a byproduct of what they do, the other wants people to think they are creative before they’ve started doing anything to justify it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some amazingly talented – and creative – people in our industry, I just don’t think we have any right to think we’re more creative than others, especially when they are doing stuff that has more impact, influence and commercial value than all the stuff we do put together.
And with that, I will leave you with an interview with Tony Fadell.
While he has never made an ad or worked in an agency or hung out at the Gutter Bar in Cannes or even judged a major award show, I think he still is worthy of being called creative given he created the iPod and started Nest to name but a few things.
[Pay close attention to his view on Smart TV's and Home Automation. It's hilariously accurate]
I suppose what I’m saying is that if we keep thinking our competition are other agencies – be that media, creative or digital – we are going to end up on the scrap heap in the blink of an eye because while adland has a lot to offer and can do amazing things, I genuinely believe we can reach completely new levels of influence and creativity if we start to look, listen, learn, embrace and attract the sort of people and industries who infiltrate culture through their version of creativity.
To do that will require a huge amount of things to change – from a new financial model to new client relationships and contacts to new training and approaches [to name but a few] – but I’d be more frightened about IDEO setting up an ad agency division than feeling a sense of hope if JWT announced they were about to launch a product development arm.
It’s up to us and the easiest first step is to change our collective mindset.
[A clearer version of the article can be viewed here]
Filed under: Comment
The ad community love to talk about being all about business.
They love saying how they’re committed to solving client problems.
The bang on about how they’re focused on effectiveness.
But it’s not true, is it … at least in the way most businesses want their problems solved.
As I’ve said before, even when agencies say they’re ‘media neutral’, it still implies their solution to every problem involves some sort of media.
Or said another way, stalk rather than attract.
That’s one of the reasons I believe the best people in the business are at the creative end of business, not the business end of creativity. They understand what’s really going on … what really needs to happen … and can develop ideas that solve that problem, regardless of the advertising. In fact, the role of any advertising they produce is there to amplify the solution to the masses rather than be the solution.
Of course it’s hard … especially when some marketers believe their role is more about producing communication rather than driving the broader business … but it can happen, it just doesn’t happen enough.
Now compare that to clients.
Adland loves to act like they’re better than many clients.
OK, in some cases, that’s absolutely true … but compared to many, we are slower, less innovative and less pragmatic than we like to admit.
Don’t get me wrong, I think adland – or should I say, some of the people in adland – are incredible, but my issue is that for all the talk we do about being instigators of commercial opportunity, I believe we see more commercially creative ideas from clients than we do adland.
Case in point, Spotify.
A while ago, they launched this:
What I love about it is that it works on so many levels:
+ It reinvigorates interest in their existing users.
+ It intrigues interest from none users.
+ It drives incremental usage and revenue for the brand.
+ It drives new revenue for artists who – until that point – had been ignored.
No digital centric, integrated campaign that takes users to a bunch of online ‘documentaries’ – after you’ve got past the pre-roll nightmares and a bunch of specially created – never downloaded – apps that are tied together with some pithy, snappy end line … just a real idea, that intrigues and interests a specific segment of society/culture that has a genuine commercial value for the company.
Of course, like all great ideas, it’s so simple you can’t work out why no one did it before – but that’s what great marketing is, the ability to see opportunities that have commercial and cultural value and then express it in a way that draws people in.
Then do awesome communication to inspire and seduce the masses.
In a World where too many in adland seems to think an idea is some sort of over-infalted, ultra-convoluted, complex range of executions and apps, the reality is there are an incredible amount of powerful, profitable, infectious and, crucially, simple ideas that are hidden in plain sight and the sooner we stop wanting to align with the latest shiny new thing [to make us feel good and look relevant] and get back to opening our eyes so we can see and understand what real commercial ideas are – and build off that in brilliant, creative ways – the quicker our industry will get back to where it belongs.
Of course for that to happen, clients need to get back to giving us business problems rather than pre-defined marketing decisions, but it also requires us to care about what they need, not just what we want them to need.
Filed under: Comment
So I know the moment passed for this post a few weeks, however:
1. I think the issue I’m going to rant about goes
beyond this particular ‘special’ day.
2. That’s never stopped me in the past.
So what’s the story I’m threatening to bore you with?
Well, it’s this … about a month ago, I received this email:
Yes, it’s from NEST – those clever chaps who have just been bought by Google – but there’s a couple of things wrong with it.
The first is the whole ‘buy a smoke alarm or learning thermostat’ for your true love.
OK, so they had the good grace to point out it’s not very romantic [which is more than can be said for this] and – to be fair – if a woman bought it for a man, they’d probably like it because the real reason men want kids is because it gives them an excuse to buy a new DSLR camera [thank you Toby Young] but come on … can you imagine the face of your beloved if you handed this over on the 14th Feb?
It would similar to buying your wife some bathroom scales for Christmas or a new kitchen bin for their birthday [the first done by my Dad in a very rare moment of mental and the latter done by my best friend Paul, who to this day, continues to argue, "... but it was a bloody expensive bin"] which, let me tell you, does not get a positive response from the receiver, however good your intentions may have been.
I would love to know how many of these were purchased by guys for their other halves for Valentines Day. I’d also love to know how many of them are now single.
This whole ‘any excuse to get people to buy our stuff’ really gets on my nerves.
I particularly hate it when car manufacturers/dealers start running ads saying things like:
Show how much you love her this Valentines Day by buying her a new Toyota RAV 4
Look, I know the best presents are the ones you’d love to have but could never justify to buy yourself, but a new car – are you bloody kidding me?
Only the uber-rich, insecure or stalker would do such a thing … though I am sure they justify it by arguing it’s not really to sell cars on Valentines Day, but to get the public to start thinking about the idea of purchasing a new motor, which takes on average 13 weeks or so, before you actually take action.
That aside, another thing that annoys me is how these ads are always aimed at the man, have you noticed that?
Of course I understand why, but it annoys the hell out of me.
What next, running ads in the funeral column saying:
“Yes it’s sad they’ve died, so use the life insurance to cheer yourself up with a new BMW 3 series”
But the other reason this email is daft – and not just because I’m anti-Valentine’s Day – is because I already own all their products which is, I assume, how they got my details on their database list in the first place.
Yes, I appreciate they don’t know my marital status so they could argue I could still be in the market to buy one of their products for my significant other, but it all highlights the problem with database marketing … it tells you what happened, not why it happened, which ends up with brands cluttering inboxes with offers that people don’t want or make no sense.
The saving grace for NEST is – as I said – that they highlight they’re not your ‘typical’ Valentine’s gift and they genuinely make toptastic products, but it still bugs me I got sent this, but that could be because my metamorphosis into a Grumpy Old Man is nearly complete.
Filed under: Comment
So a few weeks ago, the wonderfully talented actor – Philip Seymour Hoffman – died.
That day, my favourite newspaper – The Daily Fail, I mean Mail – published this article:
If I look at that article, a number of different scenarios reveal themselves:
1. George Clooney & Steve Coogan both expressed their sorrow at exactly the same time.
2. George Clooney led the tributes in the US while Coogan led them in the UK.
3. Steve Coogan was the first person at the London Critic’s Film Awards to speak up.
Of course, none of this matters – and I’m not suggesting either, or any, of the actors who made comments did it for any other reason than genuine sadness and concern – I just hate how newspapers use tragedy as an excuse to get ‘celebrity comment’ as if they think it lets them show how connected they are, when all it really does is show how tasteless they are.
It’s the same thing I hate about Australian media who continually try to find ways to link famous, successful people to their wonderful country.
They almost shat their pants in excitement when Nicole Kidman married Tom Cruise – then the biggest star in the World – so they could print countless articles with the words, “Our Tom”.
Seriously, everyone is fair game as long as they can claim – however tenuous – some connection to Oz from Cameron Diaz ["Our Cam"] because she spent a few months living there in the 90′s through to Abba ["Our Ab"] because Australia was the first country that embraced them, beyond their native Sweden.
Funnily enough, I was never bestowed with that moniker despite living there almost 10 years.
Of course I’m not famous or did anything of repute, which explains why the only correspondence I get from Australian establishments are papers telling me that they won’t renew my residency, despite owning property there and being married to one of ‘their people’.
Oh well …
Anyway, I know this has nothing to do with planning, advertising or anything really … but I just needed to get it off my chest and now I feel a bit better for doing that.
But only a bit.
Filed under: Comment
How the hell are we in March already?
That is insane.
Before you know it, it will be the year 2050 and I’ll be dead and you’ll finally be free from being subjected to the rubbish I write on this blog.
Anyway, to maintain the March Madness theme, I thought I’d share something I saw recently:
I know I don’t drink so it’s a bit weird that I’d highlight it, but seeing how my friends treat beer as if it’s air, I feel I am in a unique position to convey this.
Beer having a ‘best before’ date goes along with other mad stuff I see around us, like baby clothes having pockets and Coldplay being popular.
So with that, I’ll leave you with the news there’s only 297 days till Christmas, which at the rate we got to March, will end up feeling like it’s only a week away.