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


Don’t Let Our Delusion Be Our Downfall …
June 27, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude

A while back I wrote a post about the positive benefits of growing older.

While I admit I would still rather stay young – if only so I could see my son grow up for longer – the fact is, it’s not all bad wracking up the years … though I must admit, it would be even better if we treated age like levels of a video game so I could say ‘I’m level 47’.

The reason I’m saying this is because I recently read the quote at the top of the page that I think sums up the different stages of life quite nicely. More than that, it’s also awesome advice … because if we keep basing our decisions on what we think others expect of us rather than what we are personally excited by, we may never find what we were meant to do. 



And To Think, Some Agencies Aspire To Being Like This …
June 26, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Creativity

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about making money.

Money changes things.

Creates things.

Makes things possible.

However, if you want to build something that good, talented people also want to be a part of, the key is how you make your cash and what you do with it once you’ve got it.

And that is why I still believe the best creativity comes when money is treated as a byproduct of high standards and craft rather than the core motivation.

But then I like Queen and Birkenstocks so what do I know.



Create Ideas Not Advertising …

Remember when I was about to leave Wieden and I wrote a post about some of the work I had loved being a part of over the past 7 years?

Remember how I said there were some other campaigns I was super excited about but couldn’t talk about them because they hadn’t come out?

No, I didn’t think you would [dicks!] … but the point of this post is one of those campaigns has just launched and I love it.

There’s so many reasons why it warms the cockles of my heart.

It’s fun.

It’s insanely diverse in its execution.

But most of all, an idea rather than an ad idea.

I’ve talked about this for years. For me, the best thing we can do is identify the problem, create a solution and then use comms to tell as many people as possible about this ‘new thing’. Sadly, the majority of advertising still is based on identifying the problem then spending millions of dollars telling everyone about the problem.

But what is ‘this’, I hear you cry. This …

What you’re looking at are plasters [or, now I’m in America, bandaids] for kids.

They were developed by us for NIKE to celebrate Children’s Day.

5 years ago the reason parents didn’t want their kids to play sport is because they wanted them to study their school books. Fortunately that is less of an issue now [but still an issue] but what we discovered is there’s a new barrier and that is that parents worry their kids will get hurt. This is more than just a physical element – it’s tied up to a whole host of complex issues parents are going through, from not wanting to give them the pressure they went through to also wanting to prepare them for the insane competition they will face in life – but what we saw was an opportunity to enable kids to show their parents that sports makes them rather than hurts them.

So we made a product.

A plaster/bandaid.

A plaster/bandaid that actually isn’t about protecting the injuries kids get from playing sport but a badge of honor for playing the sport they love. A badge of honor that lets their parents know they are being awesome for letting their kids compete and that what they get out of it are far more than bumps and bruises.

We made this product.

We developed a whole range – with the cultural context and vernacular of each specific sport embedded into the design.

Then we created advertising with them. About them.

Billboards that you can take the product from.

Films that talk about the beauty of pure play.

Posters that you can collect and use.

Comic books where the images on the plasters form the story. 

And best of all, Nike had them in their stores.

Lots of them.

For kids to have, use and show their parents.

And best of all, it was real. They made tens of thousands of packets of them.

It’s not scam. It’s solving a problem in the most creative of ways.

And even though they waited till I’d left to launch it, I still love it.

Hell, even Forbes loves it. [Though the article is a bit pants]

So to everyone at Wieden Shanghai, especially the guys who were the real instigators of it [I know who you are] not to mention Steve, Andy and PT at NIKE, congratulations, it’s brilliant and I’m so happy and proud of you.

Only took 7 years … hahaha.



Out Of The Times …
June 22, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Culture, Marketing, Marketing Fail, Positioning, Sport

The Times.

One of the icons of newspapers and journalism.

Not just in the UK, but across the whole World.

Sure, there have been scandals along the way – not to mention the Murdoch ownership – but overall, it is still a paper that commands huge respect which is why I found this recent ad of theirs on Facebook rather baffling.

Yes, I know football is a global sport worth billions of pounds a year.

Yes, I know The Times have a football writer, Henry Winter, that is highly revered.

Yes, I know that Facebook audiences may be more likely to react to a football story than a journalism story.

But …. come on.

It’s the fucking Times.

And while having a global perspectives has never been so important as it is today, I’m not sure football – or Jose Mourinho for that matter – is going to drive the subscriptions they crave, especially when there are so many more topical [and important] issues they could push against … whether that’s the politically motivated movement to promote anything that challenges a claim as false news or even the tragic terrorist events that have taken place in London in the last few days.

While I appreciate the need to broaden your audience base is vital, chasing them never leads to long term success because ultimately you are handing over your destiny to people who could change their allegiance in a heartbeat, especially when there are so many other alternatives all vying for your attention.

As I wrote a while back, if you don’t commit to what you were created for, then how can you ever expect your audience to commit to what you stand for.



I Miss Medium-Long Copy …
June 21, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Over the years I’ve written about the power of long copy.

And John Dodds has continually reminded me that no one reads it.

As I’ve said countless times in response, it’s not about the length of the copy, but whether it is interesting to the reader. Sadly – with so many ads these days fixated on saying what they want the reader to be interested in rather than what is actually interesting to them – it means Mr Dodds argument stands.

Anyway, the reason for this is that I recently saw an old ad for Porsche that I kind-of loved.

Would it work today?

Well it certainly would be different from the cold, clinical and contrived ads they currently put out. Or should I say the cold, clinical and contrived ads ALL the luxury car brands put out.

But I’m not sure if saying you can drive your own German Police Car is something that the average middle-aged, bald, fat man would be inspired by. Especially at the price a 911 is these days. But hey, when the alternative is this Police Car in Balmain, Sydney, Australia … the Porsche looks like Heidi Klum in a room full of red-headed stepchildren.



A Reminder Why Grammar Is Important …
June 20, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Standards

… as seen in a store toilet in Australia.

Unless, of course, they really meant the toilet could only be used by disabled, elderly, pregnant children … which, in that case, means they should be located in Nottingham not Australia.



Just When You Thought It Was Safe …
June 19, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Family, Fatherhood, Otis

So I’m back.

I know … I know … the thought horrifies you. If it’s any consolation, it sort-of horrifies me too.

A huge amount has happened in the month or so I’ve been in LA, but the most important thing is we have settled.

To be honest, it’s been quite quick.

While Jill and I have done this a few times – as has the cat, Rosie – for Otis, it’s been a big change and the kid has handled it brilliantly.

Sure he’s missed his friends, toys and beloved Yaya … but he’s been awesome and I couldn’t be prouder.

I am a massive believer that one of the key criteria for success – or survival – is the ability to adapt to changing times.

That doesn’t mean you have to change your standards or your interests or even what you love, it’s just that you have to embrace the new rather than desperately hold on to the past.

That might sound hypocritical coming from me – a bonafide sentimentalist – but the reality is, my willingness to go where things excite me has enabled me to have the experiences I’ve had and hope still to have … so seeing my son be so positive about such a dramatic change of environment makes me feel he is already setting himself up for a life of adventure.

OK … OK … so maybe I’m overthinking all this, especially as Otis didn’t really have many options available to him once his parents decided to move to LA … but seeing him reach out to kids his age in a bid to bond and form friendships is wonderful to see.

Of course I feel a tinge of sadness witnessing it because I know part of his behaviour is because he feels a sense of isolation and I did that to him and I hate that I did that to him … but watching him adapt to his situation on his own accord is brilliant, especially when so many agencies are still trying to act like it’s the 1980’s.