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


The State Of Adland In [Another] Picture …

Yes I know I wrote about this just a few weeks ago … and this is my attempt to ease us back into working life … but the wonderful Mr Weigel misguidedly sent me a photo [he was jet lagged, so he forgot how stupid an idea this was] that highlights how the downturn in traditional adspend is having an impact on the entire industry.

This …

Let’s face it, when one of the best agencies in the World is diversifying to make some coin, it must be bad.

On the plus side, when my mates at Adam&Eve see this post and tell me to go “screw myself”, I’ll interpret that as them offering me a solution, not being angry. Perfect.



Heroes Come And Go But Legends Live Forever …

My god. It seems impossible.

You were the black mamba … the one with superhuman powers, how is this even possible?

And we must not forget the others who died by your side, including your young daughter.

You leave a billion fans with a billion memories crying a billion tears.

I’ll never forget how you showed your love to the obsessed young fans in China. It was the same kindness and compassion you showed to someone who didn’t know shit about basketball.

Me.

Maybe that’s why my favourite work with you was Mentu. Not just for what you did for young, Chinese players, but for making me truly appreciate just what you brought to a game I didn’t then understand.

I still believe the music we used was the perfect soundtrack to present your dramatic, distinctive elegance.

There are players famous to a team.
There are players famous to a game.
There are players famous to a country.

But there’s few who are famous around the world, whether that sport is played there or not.

You are one of the legends.

You will remain forever.

But your loss is a tragedy.

Comments Off on Heroes Come And Go But Legends Live Forever …


If You Thought Fragrance Ads Were Mental Before …

Fragrance ads.

They are a law to themselves. All whimsical romance or overt seduction expressed in contrived, theatrical and over-acted ways.

I get selling smell using visual mediums is hard, so wrapping it up in some sort of concept makes sense … except when every one of those concepts is the work of someone who is obviously off their face on coke.

Sure, some can be funny.

Those horrific, pretentious Gerard Butler ads for Boss ended up being comedy gold … and the recent Johnny Depp ‘Sauvage’ campaign – that was hijacked by the public – turned out to be an act of genius but in the main, we are exposed to a plethora of commercials that feature a beautiful actor/actress getting paid a fortune to destroy their credibility against a backdrop of an overly produced stage set, a contemporary – but utterly bland – sound track and unsubtle messages of shining bright etc etc.

However recently I saw something different.

Kinda.

Because while it follows the well-worn path of the fragrance category, the script, acting and production values are so low, you would expect it to be an ad for a ‘Everything For A £1’ shop not Emporio Armani.

To make matters worse, it seems the people behind the ad sold it to the client by saying …

“We are targeting 40+ couples who hate each other.

They yearn to go back to a time where they were together out of choice, not because they have a mortgage to pay.

A time where they hung our spontaneously, not because they have to do the weekly shopping.

To connect with them, we will tell a story of a young couple falling in love.

We will capture the intensity of a developing relationship where they are intoxicated with each other.

We will incorporate scenes from classic films or ads from their youth – from 50 Shades Of Grey and those old Nescafe Gold Blend ads from the late 80’s/90’s to the classic ‘cycle to the moon’ scene from ET … though it could be more BMX Bandits, it all depends on how much budget you give us.

In essence, we are not selling perfume, we’re selling marriage guidance in a bottle”.

At this point, I imagine you’re wondering what the hell I’m going on about … well ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls … sit back and all will be revealed …

But please have a bucket ready for the flow of vomit that will be coming your way.

50 Shades Of Grey/Gold Blend Inspired Bollocks …

ET/BMX Bandits Inspired Shite …



Back The Experts, Not Your Ego …

I’ve written about this – kinda – a long time ago.

As in FOURTEEN YEARS AGO.

It’s the situation where unless there is group consensus, nothing goes ahead.

Yes, I’m talking about that thing called democracy.

Now I’m all for democracy … even when it goes bonkers and votes in our current Prime Minister.

But when it comes to the issue of creativity, I am less inclined to support it.

You see creativity is pretty subjective … it is also pretty scary … so even though our industry is filled with highly trained, highly experienced, highly regarded experts in the field, the decision to make something often ends up being driven by a client asking themselves, “do I like it?”.

Actually, it’s probably not that and more, “will my bosses like it?”

Oh of course no one will admit that … they’ll talk about how their experience or their conversations with clients/colleagues/customers is influencing their decision, but more often than not the reality is they feel far more comfortable doing something that ‘fits in’ rather than ‘stands out’.

Fitting in is safe.

Fitting in doesn’t get the scrutiny.

Fitting in doesn’t upset anyone around you.

So we end up in a situation where many clients ignore the experts – the people who know how to capture the imagination of the public in a way that serves their clients best interests – and focus on what the people around them think.

Or said another way, their strategy to approval is to ensure they can mitigate blame rather than drive glory which is why they allow the decisions to be made by committee rather than by their personal commitment.

It’s similar to those marketers who let research make the decision for them rather than inform their decision.

It’s the abdication of responsibility.

Now of course not everyone does this.

There are some amazing clients out there … those who are clear in what they want to achieve and trusting in the experts who want to help them get there.

But it’s getting less and less which is why we are ending up in more and more situations where ideas are born from pragmatism, diluted through fear and then executed by committee.

And if you need more proof, here’ is a quote from Dave Trott …



If There Was A Eurovision Door Contest …

… then surely this door would win it for England hands down.

Yes, I am writing about a front door.

Is this a new low on this blog?

It just might be.

So this door is a few doors up from our house.

To be honest, in all the time I’ve lived there, I never noticed it … and then one morning, it’s pinkness shone bring like a lighthouse against the cold, miserable, darkness of Fulham.

I don’t know why, but it feels quintessentially British to me.

Maybe it’s because of the tiles that lead up to the door.

Maybe it’s because of the gaslight lamp attached to the door.

Maybe it’s because of that single milk bottle nestled by the door.

Or maybe it’s because I swear I’ve seen doors like that in movies like Four Weddings And A Funeral and Paddington.

Who the hell knows, but it came together enough to make me want a pink door at my house.

Seriously.

And I swear if you asked me what colour door I’d want before seeing this one … I doubt I’d have ever suggested pink in a million years.

And yet seeing it in the flesh makes me feel differently.

Not because it stands out from the typical blues and blacks … nor because it feels showy or attention seeking … but because as much as I see the colour, it’s what the colour makes me feel that is enticing.

You see for me, I feel everything behind that door will be lovely.

Charming. Comfortable. Warm. Inviting … all the things you would want your house to feel.

Which all goes to show, features on their own are nothing if they don’t stir your emotions.

Clients could do with remembering that like I could do with remembering never to write a post about a front door again.



Kill Them With Honesty …
January 21, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Advertising, Agency Culture, Attitude & Aptitude

One thing I hate are workshops that start with the moderator saying,

“Let’s all tell each other something unique about yourself?”

It might not be exactly that, but it is some equally inane statement.

Look, I get it … it’s an attempt to get the group to bond by revealing a vulnerability about yourself, but the reality is it ends up being an ego fest or some massive humble brag.

Occasionally you get someone who misreads the room and responds with a statement so embarrassing that the room drops 10 degrees in the blink of an eye, but more usually, it’s an endless stream of people trying to be humble, humorous or bigging themselves up.

For years I’ve answered this question with the contempt it deserves.

A while back a friend asked if I could attend a meeting because he wanted my involvement in a project he was part of. I was happy to do that until the moderator asked us all, “What’s your go-to karaoke song?”.

I’m not joking. They really asked that … to which I was subjected to a stream of people awkwardly revealing their lack of musical taste to which we had the rest of the audience clapping wildly with each announcement.

When it came to me, I answered with ‘Killing in the Name Of by Rage Against The Machine’.

Silence.

Pin drop.

Awkward, nervous laughter before someone asked me why that song?.

I replied, “Because I love singing, ‘Fuck you, I won’t do as you tell me”.

Silence.

Pin drop.

End of the introductions.

Anyway, recently my friend if I would attend another workshop. Because I’m a glutton for punishment and he promised it was a different moderator, I said yes.

So I go there and within the first 5 minutes we were asked to write down ‘who our most important relationships are with and why?’ on a piece of paper to which they would be collated and then they’d be picked out of a hat and read to the audience for them to guess who wrote it.

OK, so it is less inane than revealing your favourite TV show as a kid or your favourite breakfast cereal, but it’s still rubbish and – quite frankly – none of anyone’s business.

Why should my personal life be used for breaking the ice with others?

I’m all for sharing openly, but not for the benefit of a moderator.

So I wrote down my answer.

It’s the picture at the top of the page.

Suffice to say, people quickly understood my goal was to get to great work rather than agreeable and cosy outcomes … something the great Richard Huntingdon rightfully said, was the opposite of what most workshops are about.



Something We Should All Remember …

I saw this quote by David Thoreau recently …

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

I have to say I love it because in some ways, it’s the best definition of creativity – and, to a certain extent, strategy – I’ve seen in ages.

Of course our job is to help clients achieve their goals.

Help them succeed in ways that are better than they imagined.

But too much of what we are doing is solving problems laterally rather than literally.

Or worse, simply executing what the client wants.

For me, the best creativity makes people think, feel, question … and to do that, you need people who see the World differently so that they can see what everyone else is just looking at.

Revealing possibility rather than reproducing what everyone already knows.

And doesn’t care about.