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Before I start, could George sit down, take a deep breath, maybe have a sup of tea.
And Jonathan. Well I want Jonathan to step away from the computer and do something completely different. COMPLETELY different.
And for the sake of my friends and colleagues pensions, I guess it would be wise for me to say this is just a little tease and in no way something I am claiming is a designated business strategy for Google.
OK … how about also adding these things can happen to the best of us and there’s been lots of occasions where inadvertent fuck ups have occurred by sheer bad luck.
Or lack of attention to detail.
Like the time a media planner sponsored the Sunday night movie for Johnson & Johnson tampons … only to find he had inadvertently spent a shitload of the clients cash happily announcing an association with RAMBO: First Blood.
Or the time the Telstra agency ran full page ads saying people could download the song of the Australian Idol winner – only to realise the URL didn’t have the .au suffix, which meant millions of tiny and impressionable kids got sent to a US gay porn stars site of the same name.
Oh fuck it, it’ll have to do.
Right … imagine you’re a high end fashion retailer, a high end fashion retailer who carefully manages every element of the brand perception.
You spend an absolute fortune making sure you seen in the right places and with the right associations.
So guess how happy you must be when Google serve this ad next to an article about one of your over-priced, over-hyped new lines …
If you can’t see what it is, on the left is an article in SMH.com about a new LV belt, and on the right is an ad for the new line of fakes available from some dodgy Asian shop.
On one hand its inspired ad placement for the pirates, on the other, it’s unlikely LV will regard Google as best buddies.
How did it happen?
Well apparently it has something to do with how Google handle none- AU IP addresses, but for me, the bigger issue is that Google took money off a company that sells pirated goods – stop that and that would go a long way to avoiding this sort of thing.
Mind you, with the amount of money being made on pirated products these days, maybe it’s Google demonstrating their fierce brain again and recognising that in the future, they’ll be more money advertising fakes for companies than the real thing from the brand ‘owners’.
As I said, there are occasions where this thing can happen by pure bad luck … like the time KFC launched the Big Apple Crumble and Towering Inferno burger on September 11th 2001 … but I have to say in this instance, I think it’s due to both a questionable conduct by someone at Google sales AND a momentary lack of foresight when creating the systems that decides where ads should appear.
Mind you, it does prove something else … targeting on digital can be more imaginative and effective than most other ad channels, including the self-appointed ‘experts’ at 1-2-1 marketing, DM.
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I know at 39, I could be regarded as a techno luddite – and whilst I know I am not up to date with all the comings and goings of life – I’m not dead yet, and when you compare me to people like Andy, I’m positively Steve Jobsesque.
Anyway the reason I say this is because I’ve found myself in a couple of situations where I’ve heard some very young digital gurus go on and on about the power of social networking.
Like most people in this field – they were extremely smart, had a very strong and relevant viewpoint and a generally good grasp of what is going on in the heads of the people that regard digital as ‘life support’ – however the bit they seemed to fail to grasp is that social networking is not a new phenomenon, it’s just one that technology has aided in its execution.
As much as I prefer face-to-face conversations, I cannot deny there are many social network sites and tools that have seemingly seamlessly integrated themselves into my life. To be honest, that shows how screwed up my life is rather than how techno connected I am – but all the same, there are elements within the current social networking hype that I have to admit has genuinely enhanced my life.
Do I think it is all good news?
Of course not, I still think Twitter is more about over-sharing and ego, just like I also believe – as I wrote here – that there are some potentially serious social ramifications in an over-reliance on technology based networking, but for all that, there’s a lot of good, great and excellent stuff that is going on, even if as a by-product, it is also adding a huge new layer of clutter and interruption.
So is the World better with all this advancement?
Yeah, probably … but we managed to live pretty well in the dark ol’ days pre-internet … and you could argue that society was maybe overall happier, but to be fair, that has sod all to do with technology and more to do with where the World and Government policies are at the moment.
But it’s the ‘dark ol’ days’ bit that I want to comment on.
As I said, over the last few weeks I’ve met some digital guru’s who regard social networking like it is the greatest gift to the planet since electricity [or Jerry Springer] but like I said at the Music Matters conference recently, social networking is not a new phenomenon, it’s just technology has made it easier to execute.
Hell, I live in a region where ‘networks’ have been keeping individuals World’s turning for thousands of years.
This is a place where ‘who you know’ is the currency of life. Of course technology has made that much easier to do now, but it’s not a new concept.
And my argument to the record companies was that they should stop looking at social networks as something bad for their business because not only will they be here to stay, but because ultimately they’ve been trading in this field for decades.
As most people know, I am a bit of a Queen fan.
I used to collect EVERYTHING to do with Freddie and the boys … from albums to t-shirts to concerts and everything inbetween.
Over the years – and thanks to their fan club – I was able to make contact with many sad fuckers like me and we would share information, thoughts, ideas as fast as our little pens would allow us to write them.
And then when you saw them live … OH MY GOD.
100,000 people crammed into a stadium, united by a common focus, feeling excited that for the next 7200 seconds, they’re going to be in the same ‘room’ as their heroes … breathing the same air, hearing the same noises, sharing the same moments.
As you waited for them to come on stage, you’d talk to the people around you … you’d give knowing nods to the guys wearing shirts that proved they’d seen the band on much earlier tours or in different countries … you’d swap stories and hear bits of information that would make you want to hear songs all over again … THAT IS ALSO SOCIAL NETWORKING and not a computer in sight.
I’ve written before that one of the problems I’ve always had with my industry is that in a bid for cred, they jump onto every ‘new thing’ and declare it the future of communication, business and life.
In many cases, like social networking, it’s not new – it’s just an evolution of an old and established system/process and even then it doesn’t mean everything else is redundant, because as much as some people like to claim otherwise, in terms of communication and advertising there is no one medium that can do it all, at least not till SKYNET launch their social network ad tool.
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I love Japan.
I love everything about it.
For me, it is the closest to feeling like you’re on another planet and I happen to like that.
One of the things I regret is that I have spent too much time living in countries where English is the native language.
UK, Singapore, US Australia … even HK, though it’s less so than it used to be …
Now I know that if I really wanted to, I could have changed that – but opportunities arose where they arose and whilst it ultimately made acclimatising to a new country much easier, I always felt like I was still pretty ‘close to home’.
To be honest, technology had a big hand in that … because suddenly I was able to read the Evening Post whether I was in Nottingham or Shanghai and thanks to SKYPE, I could see my Mum’s lovely face each and every day.
Of course this is all brilliant and something I probably take way too much for granted, however there’s something wonderful in feeling a stranger – surrounded by people and cultures that are about as opposite to your own as you can get.
Suddenly you have to think about the smallest thing. You see the most inane details in a new light. You feel frightened, challenged and exhilarated all at the same time.
And whilst it can quite quickly wear thin – it’s also exhilarating and makes you feel alive again.
Which leads me back to Tokyo.
I’ve always wanted to live there. Always.
Infact last year it almost happened but because of a bunch of factors [Google anyone?] it didn’t … and whilst it all worked out for the best, it still disappointed me … which is why I’m so happy Sunshine/M&C is going to be opening an office there in a few months.
Sadly [but happily for them] I won’t be moving there … but the fact I will get to spend a hell of a lot more time in one of my favourite places in the World is a good thing, except for that bloke who came on here a while back and basically called me Satan’s spawn for flying too much.
However that isn’t the purpose of this post. As usual.
Whilst I’ve complained in the past that the typical Asian ad campaign is basically a celebratory endorsing some product or other … in Japan, they take it to a whole new level.
Celebratory endorsement is in so much demand, that the buy-out rates for a campaign in Japan can exceed the cost of the rest of the World put together.
So its little surprise every 2 bit, A-to-Z grade ‘star’ heads over to the land of the Rising Sun to make a quick couple of mill endorsing everything from chocolate to bloody fags.
Now in the past they used to be able to get away with selling their soul because no one on this side of the planet would ever see it.
To be honest, that was a good thing for them and their fans.
Good for them, because it meant they could pocket a tidy bunch without losing their cred. Good for the fans because there’s nothing more upsetting than seeing an actor you rate perform the sort of shit you’d expect to see at a cabaret guest house.
However that’s all over now thanks to the internet …
Well, I say all over … what I actually mean is that given actors are bigger whores than adfolk or, errrrm prostitutes … we’ll still see a steady procession of them heading over there to happily look twats for cash, however this time, the World won’t be left in the dark, we can all get together and share their humiliation.
And what humiliation it is.
A while back I was in Tokyo and I came across one of the shittest ads I have ever seen featuring none other than Woody Allen’s muse, Scarlett Johansson.
Yep, the woman who has cultivated an image of beauty, sophistication and elegance thanks to her movies and ambassador role for uber-chic brands like D&G, showed she’s not above dropping her [credibility] pants by lending her exquisite face to, errrrm coffee.
Oh but it gets worse. Oh yes it does.
Obviously the Starbucks rip off brand identified a new segment to tap into … which I can only assume is the sexual deviant … because after offering to blow another wad all over Scarlett’s face, she came back and did this …
Isn’t it amazing how they’ve managed to marry purity and sophistication with celebratory blowjob all in one piece of beautiful film. Seriously, I can’t wait for when she endorses the Japanese Horse Sausage company.
However as I said, it’s not just Scarlett who is at it – they all are – and who can blame them because they’re getting paid shitloads, so if you want to see souls literally being destroyed right in front of your eyes, you’d better head over to here where you can see the whole sorry lot of them in all their Japanese celebratory endorsement errrrrm, glory.
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Not her, obviously.
So last week – as you all have been bored half to death by – I was away attending research groups.
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of sitting behind a one-way piece of glass knows how painful this can be – however because of a certain incident with the key researcher, it was even more painful than usual.
Well, I say painful – but it was actually laughable and achieved a new low in the value of the focus group.
But I digress.
For reasons I still don’t know, I found myself in a nightclub in some godforsaken Chinese town at 2am.
There’s so many things wrong with that sentence …
NIGHTCLUB … GODFORSAKEN CHINESE TOWN … 2AM
… and yet that is what happened.
To be honest – if I put aside the fact that I’ve NEVER liked those sorts of places – I did find the whole thing quite interesting.
As I walked in and surveyed the scene, it became obvious the owners had seen a video of a Miami nightclub circa 1985 because the whole place felt like it had just been lifted from some Hollywood movie scene. Believe it or not, that’s actually meant as a compliment.
However, whilst they had put in all the physical elements to ensure a good night … including the loudest fucking sound system I’ve heard since AC/DC at the Monsters Of Rock … the reality was it seemed the people didn’t know how to interact. Seriously, it was like a school disco with all the guys on one side and all the ladies on the other …
Infact I saw more blokes dancing with each other [and before you say it, it wasn’t that kind of bar] than I did couples … you could almost sense the frustration and confusion from both parties in how to mingle with the opposite sex.
Even when every 30 mins, they interrupted the music to get some of their hot female staff [and the odd dodgy gay looking man] to strip down to their bikini’s in a very sexually suggestive manner, it did no good.
It was weird.
You could feel the tension but still no one acted on it.
Infact, apart from the dodgy Westerners in there [which I’ll come to in a moment] the only person I saw getting lucky was a guy who was pretending to be P. Diddy by buying a bottle of sparkling wine and getting surrounded by a gaggle of Chinese beauties who all thought he was the height of sophistication.
I don’t want people thinking China is sexually repressed … it isn’t … just ask Frith, ha!
However the ol’ cliché of ‘face’ is alive and well and to put yourself in a position where people could laugh at you or step out of accepted cultural ‘norms’ of behviour is very unlikely to happen.
Saying that it’s not just China that does this.
One of the things I do when I’m in Malaysia – a Muslim country let’s not forget – is going into a shopping centre and turning the Bluetooth on my phone.
Because I’ve given my phone quite an ambiguous name, within seconds I am inundated by Bluetooth messages from horny guys who are hoping to get lucky/quickie without  risking ridicule  openly disregarding their religious values.
Of course if they ever found out they’d sent a message to a 39 year old, bald, rough looking bloke from Nottingham, they’d kill themselves … or me … but it helps prove that for all the talk of ‘cultural and religious rule’ some things are all conquering.
[It's not just men either. Much to the horror of certain groups, women's sexuality is going through a period [not the best choice of word there] of liberatation and whilst they are utilising similar ‘face saving tactics’ to attract attention, their ultimate goal of a ‘shag’ is the same – which is contributing to a surge in STD’s and unwanted pregnancies throughout the region.]
But back to the dodgy Westerners.
No, I’m not talking about me … nor the Germans … I’m talking about the new cockroaches of International travel, the Russians.
OK they’re not cockroaches really – infact, the ones I’ve met are top [if slightly scary] individuals … however there are 2 things that amazes me about these folk …
1/ They’re bloody everywhere.
2/ They’re always MASSIVE.
3/ They can’t dance for shit.
[Turn your head to the left for evidence]
Yep, this whole bloody post was just an excuse to show a video I took of some Russian bloke doing the epileptic dance. Thank god he didn’t see me or I might be feeding the fishes – unless Niko could negotiate me out.
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Remember the puppies?
They all found homes.
Social media saved their lives!
[except it didn’t, but let’s not let truth stand in the way of digital dominance]