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


Has The Ad Industry Become A Hype Industry Rather Than A Creative One?

A while back – unsurprisingly, at Cannes Scam Ad time – an agency made a plate that they said absorbed the grease from food to reduce the calories.

Of course, I’ve not seen this plate anywhere since they entered it into an award … but the reason I bring it up is because I recently saw a real, live, genuine product that frankly, is an embarrassment to that piece of scam.

Worse, it’s an embarrassment to the whole ad industry.

Here is it …

Yep, it’s another plate.

Except this plate doesn’t have mini-holes to “supposedly” drain a small proportion of the bad stuff from your dinner.

No, this one is shaped to reflect the size, shape and capacity of the average human stomach.

That’s it.

At a glance, you can see the quantity of food that should be going down your mouth.

Now of course what food you put on the plate has a huge impact on the effect it will have on your body, but given so many of the obesity issues are caused by quantity, this could have a real impact on your overall health in an instant.

No questionable ‘technology’.

No ads telling you to eat healthier.

Just a product that actually helps you help yourself … albeit in an ingenious, guilt-tripping/educational way.

I’ve said this before, but I genuinely believe designers are currently solving problems in better and more powerful ways than adland. Of course we still do brilliant things, but in our quest to try and make ourselves look good … we seem to be focusing our energies on chasing hype rather than doing something that proves how genuinely smart we can be.

And if you need any more evidence of that, just look at the recent Super Bowl.

An event that should be the best ad for the industry but ends up being the worst … mainly because for all the talk we spout about being innovative and focused on solving problems, we end up making TV spots that sell bad humour, brand ego or z-grade self-help manifestos.

Sure there’s the odd one or two every year who do something genuinely interesting [but rarely as good as this], but at a time where we have a chance to show how good we can really be, they still end up being the exception rather than the rule.

Or said another way.

A bunch of ads that cost millions of dollars are less effective, creative and insightful than an £18 bowl from fullstopbowl.com



Make Problems Your Friend …
February 23, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

I recently met a creative who was incredibly vocal on how they think all clients are stupid.

Now I know there are some clients who can make Kim Kardashian look like Einstein … but every discipline has their fair share of total bloody idiots, so I asked them what they hated about them so much.

Their reply was “They keep putting obstacles in front of me doing my work”.

When I asked what they meant, they said they wanted to do whatever they think is good.

And here lies the issue … some of us are still confusing commercial creativity with creativity.

But here’s the thing I don’t quite get.

If the goal for these people is to feel they are brilliant … then, in theory, commercial creativity should be a much better way of achieving that.

Is it really a challenge when you are given the freedom to do whatever you want?

Is that really showing others what you are capable of doing … achieving … overcoming?

The fact is, we’re paid money by clients to help them move forward. If we ignore their situation in our solutions, then we’re not doing what we’re paid for and what we are brilliant at.

That doesn’t mean we can’t approach their challenge in very different ways to what was expected.

Hell, that’s actually what we’re supposed to do.

But somewhere along the line, some people have decided ‘challenges’ are inhibiting their creativity and I find that bizarre.

Answering a problem in the most imaginative, intriguing and creative way possible is an infectious feeling.

It shows how you can think and do things in ways few can imagine.

Of course, if the challenge you have been given is the wrong challenge, then you have a point to complain. Just like you do if a client keeps adding challenges to their original challenge … but if people out there think they should be able to do whatever the hell they want – regardless of what the situation requires – then they have 3 choices. Take a long hard look at how they are selling their ideas to their client, pack in advertising and become an artist or start their own business.

Problems are the lifeblood of our creativity, we should look at them as our friend because the harder they are, the more prestige they can give us when we answer them brilliantly.



Baby Chair Manufacturers Make Donald Trump Look Like A Labrador Puppy …

I’ve written a lot about my hatred of pushchair companies.

How they try and sell their seat-on-wheels as a fashion item or a bloody 4×4 vehicle.

But now iCandy – one of the worst offenders – have decided to fuck me over by releasing this:

I know my hatred is bordering on irrational but I hate this so much.

I hate the name.

MiChair. MICHAIR.

Apart from it being utter bollocks, why can’t they spell it properly.

Oh I know why, because by making the ‘i’ in MiCHAIR lowercase, they think it makes it sound like it’s some kind of next-gen product when all it is, IS A FUCKING HIGHCHAIR FOR A BABY.

Then I hate the Dad in the photo.

Look at him …

They might think he looks young, relaxed and good looking – the sort that holds down an uber-successful job in the city – but I just think he’s a smug fuck who is sleeping with his secretary. Probably in the marital bed when his wife is out at her sisters.

And don’t get me started on that kitchen.

Oh you just know the client demanded it to look clean and contemporary because that reflects ‘the brands values and aesthetic’ or some other contrived marketing buzzword bullshit.

And the irony is, by doing that, it highlights how much bollocks this all is because anyone with a kid will tell you that regardless how immaculate a place may be when you start to feed your child, the moment you try and put food in their mouth, the entire room will resemble a war zone within 3 seconds flat.

But I can even overlook all that compared to the worst bit … the line.

LIVE EVERY MOMENT. LOVE EVERY STEP.

What the fuck?

Seriously, what the fuck?

Love every moment of what? Feeding your kid?

Are you insane?

Unless that chair can strap a kid in like their Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs, you’ll never live every moment … you’ll be too busy trying to avoid it.

And then there’s that LOVE EVERY STEP.

Maybe they mean it in terms of how the chair adapts to the different life stages of the kid, but even if it does [which I totally made up, by the way] IT’S A CHAIR … IT CAN’T GO ANYWHERE SO WHY ARE YOU USING WORDS LIKE STEPS???

OK … OK … I need to take a deep, deep breath but I hate how these companies try to exploit the love we have for our kids by making us feel that we are not treating them well unless we put them in some pretend designer bollocks.

To be quite honest, that strategy – while sadly effective – is utterly evil because what they’re saying is it’s the stuff you put around your baby that is more important than the way you actually treat them.

Bastards.

I would absolutely love to know how many of the people behind this are parents.

Then I’d love to know how many have called their kids Tarquin or Apple-Baby-Boo.

I don’t know why knowing their kids name would be important, but I’d just like to know.

Because I’m angry. And irrational. And just really, really fed up of how these companies are turning kids into a fucking accessory for certain parents to show off how fucking rich and stylish they are.

Though I admit, if Birkenstock did a high chair, I’d be there with fucking bells on.

ARGHHHHHHHH!

[I’ll be better by tomorrow. Promise. Well, semi-promise]



Love Lasts Even When It’s Gone …
February 21, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Emotion, Empathy, Love

So last week was Valentines Day.

While I tend to take the piss out of it, it’s not an attempt to downplay the role of love, it’s just that I don’t think the 14th February has much to do with it … hence I call it Fear Day.

But recently I read something that is absolutely about love.

A story that captures all the joy, pain, twists and turns it takes you on.

It’s by Hollywood actor Dan Aykroyd and his relationship with Carrie Fisher.

It’s beautiful …

While it happened a long time ago and things didn’t turn out as he had hoped, you can tell the feelings of love, compassion, respect and happiness are still there.

Especially when you read the last line.

Emphatically, when you read the last line.

Now that is the sort of love that can make the world better. Here’s to more of that, than Feb 14.



Viz Makes Mondays Bearable …
February 20, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Viz

I love Viz.

I love them with all my heart.

I had the great experience of doing some work with them years ago, when I was trying to convince them to partner with cynic to be part of the creative department. My theory was anyone who could create such evil genius could create amazing advertising.

Alas they weren’t into it. Probably for the best.

But that still doesn’t stop me being in awe of their brilliance, vulgarity and sheer immaturity …

Hope the above #TOPTIP makes your Monday slightly less shit than your typical Monday.



Sometimes The Audience Finds You …

So I recently read an article on the UK distributors of Danish store, Tiger.

Tiger is often referred to as ‘Posh Poundland’ as it sells all manner of stuff.

Anyway, in 2005, a husband and wife – with no business experience whatsoever – decided to pour all the money they had into buying the rights for the brand in the UK.

They openly admit it was very difficult and they made many mistakes but 11 years later, they sold it for an estimated 40+ million pounds.

So far so good, but what really interested me was something they said at the end of the interview …

How brilliant is that.

It’s also a great lesson in thinking about your audience.

Too often, our industry defines audiences by the segment we believe are the most likely to want to buy our brand/product.

While that makes perfect sense, the problem is we are often end up being pretty generalistic in who we define our audience to be … often because our clients are petrified of putting limitations on their sales potential. The other problem with this broad audience approach is that it tends to end up being the audience for the whole category, which means we end up pitting ourselves directly against our competition.

What I love about this Tiger example is – albeit by lucky accident – they realised their was a very specific segment who were attracted to this product. A segment that liked it for reasons beyond what was expected, and yet was something that actively drove them to buy.

Now I admit it takes balls to do this.

It also takes absolute honesty.

And confidence.

But when defining audiences, it’s always worth remembering the motivations for purchase are often very different to what we would like to think they are. Of course we know this, but when in front of a client, it’s amazing how often we either temporarily forget or simply choose to ignore.

By being absolutely open to who could/should be interested in our clients brands, we not only stand the chance of making work that truly resonates with a particular segment, but one that automatically differentiates you from the countless competitors all trying to steal your share, which is why I still love the V&A London museum ad from the 80’s, where Saatchi’s [in their absolute pomp] realised the thing people liked most about the place was the cafe, which led to them running ad’s with the bravest ‘endline’ you may ever see …




A Lesson On The Folly Of Focus Groups From Cameron Crowe …

For some of the younger readers of this blog, you may be wondering who Cameron Crow – the person I reference in the title of this post – is.

Well, he’s a famous film writer/director, responsible for movies including:

+ Almost Famous
+ Jerry Maguire
+ Singles

OK, so he’s also responsible for the car-crash that was Vanilla Sky, but let’s ignore that …

Anyway, I recently read an interview with him where he talks about how he came up with the name ‘Jerry Maguire’ and it’s fascinating.

Not really because of the story behind the name, but what he says at the very end … how movie companies now operate and what the outcome of their modern-day marketing approach would result in.

The thing is, I can so imagine the focus group/movie company preferring ‘You Complete Me’ to ‘Jerry Maguire’.

I can hear the feedback …

“Who the hell is Jerry Maguire?”

“Jerry Maguire is such a boring name, so it must be a boring film”.

“I can’t think what a film called Jerry Maguire would be about?”

“You Complete Me sounds so romantic”

“You Complete Me sounds like a film that is happy and positive”

“You Complete Me is a film I want my whole family to see”

And while I accept I’m being biased – having seen the movie many times – I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have wanted to see a movie called ‘You Complete Me’, even if it still contained one of the iconic scenes of my generation.

[Which would probably be left on the cutting room floor these days, see below]

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of research … but focus groups aren’t really about that, they’re about being progress killers.