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


I’ve Never Been So Scared About Where We Are As A World …

After the revelations of yesterday, I thought I’d add one final nail in the coffin of optimism by showing you an answer Desmond Tutu gave in an interview from 2007.

I have to be honest, these 2 questions have had a profound affect on me.

The first is because I absolutely relate to the feeling of joy about having a son.

Full disclosure. When Otis was born, I wasn’t at my happiest.

To be absolutely honest, it took me 5 weeks to truly emotionally connect with him. Before that, I was spending all my time trying to get my head around the situation.

But now … oh my goodness.

That boy is everything to me.

The love I have for him is impossible to describe.

A few weeks ago he gave me his first unprompted kiss.

While it was more sound effect than tenderness, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.

And seeing him try to copy things I’ve done just melts my heart.

Yes, I know the last thing he should do is copy me if he wants a fulfilling life, but when you see a 16 month old kid try to match his steps to yours, I defy anyone to not be moved.

Which leads to Desmond Tutu’s second answer.

An answer that is devastating in it’s description.

Not just because he talks about the risk of us destroying each other, but he underlines the severity of the danger by adding …

“… and the whole of creation”.

He said this in 2007.

When I think of 2007, the World seems a softer, safer, happier place but now I am worried.

We have religious extremists actively trying to create armageddon.

We have political leaders focused more on the rich, than the masses.

We have incredible inequality in society, where millions literally have no hope.

We have an social attitude focused on ‘me’ not ‘we’.

We have Donald Trump running for President on a platform of hate and fear.

I have a son.

A beautiful, wonderful son.

I don’t want his future to be bleak.

I don’t want his hopes to be dashed.

I don’t want his innocence to be destroyed.

And I fear for all of those things, especially as I know they will all happen in some way … I have to just hope they won’t happen as badly as they could.

Sure, some of these feelings are because I have a son, so I look at the future differently now. Actually, to be more precise, the way I look at the future now is acknowledging there will be a time I won’t be there to protect him.

I hope that time is a long, long time away, but it will happen and all I can do is prepare him to deal with the trials, tribulations and joys of life with grace, positivity and compassion.

Maybe these are the same sort of worries my parents had when I was young.

Maybe these are the same sort of decisions my parents made about raising me.

Maybe these are the things every parent thinks about … just the names of the protagonists change.

But what worries me about that is it implies I should shut up because it will all sort itself out eventually … and while that might happen, my worry is ‘who will be doing the sorting’ and ‘do I trust their approach in doing it’?

There’s so much I don’t know but what I am sure of is that parenthood is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced, but it doesn’t half fuck with your brain.



This Blog Is The Cockroach Of Blogs …
May 3, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, History, Unplanned

Ten years ago today, I started this blog.

TEN YEARS.

That’s longer that 99% of Hollywood marriages!!!

Now while I’ve experienced a huge amount of things in that time …

I’ve lived in 4 countries.
I got married.
I got a cat.
I had a baby.
My mum passed away.
I sold both my companies.
I got to travel the World.
I qualified as a bloody teacher.
I bought countless amounts of tech rubbish.
I managed to still stay employed.
Got to do some of the best work I’ve ever done.
I had the best holiday of my entire life.
I had the most needed holiday of my entire life.

… and so has the World …

Global economic collapse.
Olympic Games in China and London.
The re-emergence of global terrorism.
The first black President.

[Yes, I know there’s a ton more, but my memory isn’t what it used to be]

… the fact is, the standard of my writing and my posts subject matter have remained pretty much the same.

Want proof?

Here’s the very first post I wrote.

Now you might think that I’m dissing myself by highlighting this fact, but when you take into account I’ve written TWO THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED POSTS [I know, mad eh!] I think it shows a level of consistency and reliability than Volkswagen would be jealous of.

According to the stats, there’s literally been millions of idiots who have supposedly visited this blog – but the fact is, the majority of comments have come from pretty much the same small group of people as it always did.

Sure, some have come, some have gone … some have even gone and then come back … and even this blog supposedly closed down only to start up again because I’m a sad, sadomasochistic fool … but the fact is I have to admire their commitment and industriousness because they’ve managed to write over SIXTY FOUR THOUSAND comments between them.

Or should I say 64,000 insults.

OK, of that 64,000 … at least half are by me trying to protect my honour, but that’s still impressive.

Of course, it could be argued that the reason so many people now check out my rubbish is because there’s less blogs now than there used to be.

Back in 2006, every man and his dog had one … but in the past 10 years, it appears people have grown up and decided it’s better to live a life rather than write about one. Or they simply moved all their complaining over to Twitter.

While some may say the reason I have continued writing when everyone else has left is because I am always a few years behind the times, I prefer to think of it as me winning the ultimate game of [blog] survivor.

Except by me winning, it means humanity has lost.

But despite everything … despite all the good, bad and indifferent stuff that has happened on this blog … I feel this blog has made a powerful difference in my life.

Not because of the rubbish I write – though it has been interesting to debate and learn from people as well as see how my viewpoints have evolved/changed in the past decade – but because it’s introduced me to a whole host of wonderful and interesting people.

The reality is there’s now a bunch of people in my life that are here because of this blog.

Sure, some of them I knew already.

In fact some of them I worked for – or with.

However there’s a bunch that I only know because of this thing I write every day.

I’ve been fortunate to meet many of them – but there’s still a few who have managed to stay away [well done Northern and Marcus] – but the fact is I’m super grateful to have them in my life and despite their cheek and mischief, I know that when the shit hits the fan [as it did last year when Mum passed away], they are watching out for me.

That’s pretty wonderful for anyone, even more so when it’s the byproduct of starting something simple because I wanted a place where I could release – or store – my brainfarts.

God knows if this blog will have another 10 years in it – I know you hope it doesn’t – but the first decade of it ended up being pretty damn awesome. At least for me. So thank you.



The Last Day Of Single Digits …
May 2, 2016, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment

You might be wondering what the title of this post means.

OK, you’re probably not, in fact I’d go as far as to say you probably don’t care … which is good, because I’m not going to tell you.

All will be revealed tomorrow.

Alright, I accept that’s hardly making you a quiver with anticipation, but humour me a little bit.

Please?

Pretty please?

Oh screw you … I’ll just let you know it’s ANOTHER PUBLIC HOLIDAY IN CHINA today so I’m not at work. I know … again! God bless communism.

That will teach you for not humouring me.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a little video clip to watch … it’s very apt for tomorrow’s news and especially apt for a Monday morning.



How Chinese Business Is Ruining China’s Reputation …

Next week there will be a post about scam advertising.

For those who don’t know what it means, it basically refers to bullshit certain agencies put out in a bid to look creative despite the fact it only runs once [often in some regional market where the cost – and audience – is minute] and the ‘idea’ is done for a client with no money and no chance of ever being able to bring it to market at scale.

But that’s next week, because today I’m going to talk about business scam.

The bullshit certain opportunists do in a bid to ride a commercial opportunity despite bringing nothing new to the table.

And I mean nothing new.

Because they basically steal from those who have done it well before them.

Have a look at this …

You might think that logo looks familiar – and it does – except it isn’t for Under Armour, oh no, it’s for China’s newest sports brand, Uncle Martian.

I kid you fucking not.

But it gets worse than just ‘borrowing’ from UA, they borrow from everyone – NIKE, New Balance, NYC and even Captain bloody America – which you can check out for yourself by clicking here to see images from their launch event.

I hoped China had got past this sort of behaviour.

It seemed like it.

Sure, many were still being ‘inspired’ by other, more successful brands … but whereas once they stopped at duplication, now we were seeing many develop their own innovations, things that moved them from copycats to creators to, arguably, pioneers.

But Uncle Martian have just shown the bad old ways still exist.

The ones who look for shortcuts.

The ones who don’t care about authenticity or quality or individuality.

The ones who do it just because they think they can get away with it.

But what makes it even worse is that this sort of behaviour doesn’t just affect Uncle Martian, but all of China.

What the people behind this copycat brand have done, is give everyone and anyone who mistrusts China, even more ammunition … from Donald Trump to, sadly, a shitload of people from China.

I know the Government have a policy of wanting to keep revenue in the country rather than see it flow out to international brands, but letting this sort of thing happen is hurting them far more than they may imagine.

But worse, it adds another obstacle for young Chinese entrepreneurs to try and overcome, because they will either be prejudiced against by venture capitalists, or told they should be copying rather than creating to drive the quickest return on investment possible.

I know I am not from here, but the launch of Uncle Martian has utterly disappointed me, because frankly China deserves better than this and is way, way, way better than this.



What The Hell Is Going On With Women’s Advertising?

So this is going to be an interesting post because I run the risk of being called sexist, old-fashioned, out-of-touch and basically a grumpy old bastard.

However, given I’ve been called waaaaaaay worse over the years – and mainly on this blog – I’m going to keep going regardless.

So a few weeks ago I wrote about a Dior advertising campaign that makes their new lipstick, resemble a cigarette.

Some – basically, John Dodds – argued that I was ‘seeing’ what I wanted to see, but in one of George’s comments, he linked to two photographs that seem to have been inspiration for the style of shot and both of them featured a cigarette as it’s main ‘prop’.

I know that’s not undeniable evidence, but I feel the circumstantial evidence – not to mention the product name, ‘addict’ – makes it seem likely this was the intention behind the imagery. Or should I say, that specific imagery.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a whole host of shit spouted in mens advertising.

Puerile. Sexist. stupid.

I’m in no way defending that, it’s basically what I write about every single week.

However, I am kind of shocked at how much advertising aimed at women seems to project an image that seems totally at odds with what I’ve been led to believe women like.

Of course, this is nothing new.

Worse, this is something that men helped push.

But while I am a 45 year old man with all the taste and sensitivity of an otter, the fact is I am amazed at some of the stuff I’m seeing out on the streets these days and without doubt, the worst offenders are the beauty category.

Again, this should not be a surprise given the unrealistic body imagery they have been peddling for years – admittedly created by men – but it seem beauty brands have decided their female empowerment messaging [if that is what it was] is not getting enough attention and so to counter this, they’ve adopted the strategy of recreating some of the most sexist advertising of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and simply replaced the man with a woman.

What am I talking about?

This:

Look at it.

Seriously, have a really good look.

Tell me that is not just a crass attempt at recreating a crass ad from the past 20 years.

First there’s the language … “stays on even when you get off”.

Wow, that’s clever isn’t it.

Now let’s look at the imagery … from the young mans dishevelled appearance and unbuttoned jeans to the totally unsubtle shot of the woman’s heels rammed into the walls of the lift to convey she has fucked the poor guy senseless.

It’s all so blatant.

No subtlety, no grace … it’s just tragic.

I don’t even know if they’re trying to target young women or old … it’s just bizarre.

And before anyone accuses me of being sexist, I just want to be clear that the male ads that depicted this sort of thing, were equally as pathetic.

Now some may say this is the ultimate demonstration of ‘female empowerment’ … where a woman can act exactly in the way men have and still do.

Maybe this ad taps into the desire women have to be able to get away with the shit men have gotten away with for centuries.

Maybe, by me finding this demeaning to women rather than empowering, I’m showing I’m old and insecure.

But the thing is I think women are worth more than this.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re also worth more than the superficial ’empowerment’ messages brands have been pushing for years – messages designed to sound good but ultimately constructed to sell their products – but they’re absolutely, definitely, comprehensively worth more than this.

I’d love to know who did it.

I’d love to know the rationale behind it.

I’d love to know who they were trying to target.

I’d love to know if this is the sort of thing intelligent women want to rally around.

But most of all, I’d love to know why all these brands are only focused on female equality.

Why go for just equal.

The thing is, as I talked about in a post about Brian Clough a while back, I have absolute faith that if women were in charge, they wouldn’t aspire to do what men do, but to do things better, which reminds me of the Marilyn Monroe quote:

“Women who want to be like men lack ambition”.

Maybe it’s time brands and advertising embraced that viewpoint as well.



Humpday Rockday …
April 27, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration

This has been out for ages, but I love it.

And not just because Queen feature at least 5 times.

[Though that helps]

Anyway, if you want a 15 minute journey through rock n’ roll, listen to this … it’s worth it, even though I accept the only thing worse than my advice on music is my advice regarding fashion.



Luxury Is Now A Price Point …
April 26, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Corporate Evil, Marketing

The picture above was spotted in Shanghai a few weeks ago.

The fact it is trying to convey a sense of luxury despite wonky lettering, sums up what is wrong with the whole ‘prestige’ category … despite the fact it is doing better and better every year.

When I was a kid, anything described as luxurious basically meant ‘rare’ and only for the ‘super wealthy’.

It could be anything from precious gems to 5 star hotels to even a colour television.

But for that rarity, you could expect to be in the company of perfection.

No flaws.

No mass production.

No new edition in 12 months.

Nowadays it’s all so different.

Luxury food.

Luxury toilet paper.

Luxury holidays.

The ‘luxury’ word has been hijacked by marketers and ad agencies to elevate the importance of their product – a product, that most of the time is only luxurious because of one thing.

Price.

But that price isn’t down to the craftsmanship behind the product or even the rarity [though I appreciate in some cases, it still is] it’s the price we are asked to pay to not feel like we’ve not been left behind.

At school we were told we would do well.

If you passed your exams and worked hard, you could make something of your life.

But sadly, while those traits are still super important, they’re no guarantee to success and now we have millions upon millions of people who were sold the dream of hope who are looking around asking themselves why the hell they haven’t succeeded … at least based on the expectations they were led to believe they could look forward too.

They studied hard.

They passed their exams.

They are committed to doing the best they can do.

But nothing. Nothing at all.

And this is what marketers have jumped on.

They’re selling these people the chance to feel successful … the chance to be given the momentary illusion they’re doing well, despite the fact the purchase of some of these items can lead to a lifetime of debt and even more despondency.

It’s like anti-prozac.

And what’s worse, modern luxury isn’t that luxurious at all.

There’s flaws.

There’s mass production.

There’s new versions superseding old versions every 12 months.

And we all buy into it. All of us.

I was having this discussion with a friend of mine recently – he’s a very senior, super successful marketer for a very desired luxury brand. I told him that the fact I was part of this trade made me ill and the only way I got my father to not be disgusted with my choice of career was because he could see I was committed to trying to do things the right way, not the dirtiest.

My friend looked at me and said,

“But Robert, what do you think people would feel if they weren’t given the chance to see they were achieving things in life?”

And some say marketers aren’t smart …




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