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


What 72 Hours In Memphis Does To You …
June 30, 2006, 10:11 am
Filed under: Comment

DURING: Spend a number of hours in his Graceland Mansion surrounded by the weirdest people this side of a Jerry Springer show.

AFTER: Good Evenin’ Y’all ….

We now live on a diet of fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches … wear clothes littered with Rhinestones … and spend days working out why Elvis made such a lasting impression on the World when ultimately, he was just a singer of other people’s songs.  [That statement will sooooooooo annoy the missus, ha]

OK, it’s more than just how he sang the songs … it’s also was how he presented himself … but still, the fact that he induces a level of support most artists today would kill for – DESPITE BEING DEAD FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS – is quite astonishing!  I mean, you don’t see millions making ‘pilgrimages’ to Mozart’s house do you – and in some ways, he was the Elvis of his day!!

After much debate, I put it down to the fact that along with great management [and yes, his natural talent] Elvis came onto the scene at a ‘tipping point’ of cultural, social and economic revolution … a point where millions were desperate to rise above the prejudice, poverty and control that ruled all aspects of their lives.

So many people talk about brands like NIKE, Virgin and Innocent having great consumer adoration … and they do … but compared to Elvis, they haven’t got that much to shout about.  I mean, how many brands would still be loved, celebrated and purchased at ever increasing levels THIRTY YEARS after they ‘left the building’?  

Success is not just down to product functionality – it’s about vision, passion, action, charisma – so I am greatful there’s still some brands and agencies out there who are happy to continually prove the ‘functionally-focused, consumer-irrelevant, management-consultants’ wrong. I never thought I’d ever say this, but THANK GOD FOR ELVIS! 



Emperor’s New Clothes?
June 29, 2006, 11:00 am
Filed under: Comment

Another day, another proprietary  tool’. 

However, Media Planning and Buying Company, GROUP M, has done more than just re-package the same old bollocks with an exciting new name … oh yes, they’ve created a ‘tool’ that can measure how much advertising ‘engages’ consumers ’emotionally and/or behaviourally.

Sorry, but am I the only one who thinks this sort of thing actually creates an greater divide between brand and public?

Don’t get me wrong, I love how science can answer things previously thought of as unanswerable – but advertising is not a science … infact it is one of the most simplistic things on earth! 

For me, the problem is that business doesn’t allow its people to try new things – and I can sort of understand why, because mistakes are bloody expensive. However what it has resulted in is most marketers only approving communication that is quantifiable – be it creativity, media, R&D etc etc – because then, if something goes wrong, they have the ‘data’ to explain why they acted in the best interests of their company.

The irony is that for all the research and information we have available, we now have less successful brands than at any point in history – even when clients spend so much on research till it say’s everything is going to be a great success!

A colleague of mine, Fred, has written a wonderful paper on the ‘Rise Of The Focus Group’ [www.fredriksarnblad.wordpress.com/2006/05/09/goodbye-innovation/Don’t get me [or him] wrong, we love research – it is a very valuable and valid methodology that can really help guide the development of communication – it’s just that in the wrong hands [and it’s in alot of wrong hands at the moment] it can screw up ‘potential’ better than any teacher or parent.

My problem is that I can’t help  feel this ‘engagement tool’ is going to screw up creativity and imagination to an even greater extent … because apart from the results being reliant on the interpretation of the individual ‘expert decoder’, it’s still asking people to ‘switch on’ their rational side of the brain [even if it is done subconsciously] and this will naturally skew the ‘findings’ because in the ‘real World’, everything we do is emotionally led, rationally justified.

Anyway, you can read Group M’s hype at … http://adage.com/article?article_id=110187 … and please bare in mind that media companies have a long history of launching ‘new tools’ pronouncing they can save the World of communication when in reality, they tend to end up doing the same old thing they’ve always done.  Think about it … for all their talk about the ever-changing media consumption habits of the consumer, if you analyse where the majority of the media money is invested by them, you’ll find it’s generally in the same old QUANTIFIABLE media they’ve always used.  Hmmmm ….



Who Do You Think You Are?
June 28, 2006, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Comment

I saw this machine in Memphis and it totally rocks!

Can you imagine if your ‘character’ could really be read by a ‘weight’ machine?  HR departments would be redundent overnight!

Mind you, in some ways, I suppose it can – afterall, if you’re completely obese, it does say something about your character doesn’t it!

Anyway, I loved it – and there were tons of things like this that represented a time when the World was more innocent – or at least more gullible, ha!



Don’t Take Anything For Granted …
June 27, 2006, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Comment

Imagine having a life where once you were a big, big television star.  How sweet would life be?

Think of it … adored by billions all around the world … banking thousands of dollars each week and [probably] banging tons of hot babes each single night.

However, twenty years later … things aren’t going so well. 

In today’s fast living, mass consumerism, low attention span World … ou’re out of date, out of shape and out of cash so to earn a crust, you have resorted to flogging trailer-trash real estate via a crappy television network in Memphis, Tennessee.

Oh dear.

This is not an ad for a pension company [though I did use the idea for Virgin Money a few years ago] it’s what I’ve found has happened to Erik Estrada … the bloke from ‘CHIPS’, better known as Officer Poncherello!

So this leads to the question … is it better to have ‘achieved major success’ than to have ‘never achieved it at all’?  [I’m talking of ‘achieving something’, not just gaining notoriety for appearing on Blockbusters or Big Brother’]



Footie Loopy!
June 26, 2006, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Comment

Here are some examples of a country going mad for it's National Football Team.

I seriously can't think of many things that would get this level responce in England – hell, even the Queen's Golden Jubilee didn't have such an outpouring of national pride. 

What's even more amazing is that all this is for a bunch of players who are overpaid and underperforming on a regular basis! 

 

 

[Click here … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAkkdOqitOk … if you want to see/hear what hundreds of Englishmen sound like when singing the national anthem. Be warned, it's terrible AND THEY WERE SOBER at the time!]

However, following on from my previous entry – whilst these footballers are getting paid hundreds of thousands each and every week, some of the little things that shows England at its greatest [like the park I photographed on the previous blog entry] are being left to slowly die.

Below is a photo of a sign put up by Nottingham County Council.  Look at it closely and you will see that the 'maintenance' they are undertaking started in 2003 – ALMOST 3 YEARS AGO!  But surely this must mean they are spending millions on the place eh? 

Nah, course not – they are spending 70 grand, a figure which compared to many of the other things the council is happy to spend money on, is miniscule.

Ignoring the fact that this shows the Council's priorities … the one thing I am trying to figure out is how 70,000 quids worth of maintance can take almost 3 years to complete!  Who the hell are they getting to do it?  Stephen Hawking?

OK … OK … 70,000 pounds IS quite alot of money, but when we have a bunch of football players being promised a three hundred thousand pound bonus EACH, if they win the World Cup, it sort of shows [to me at least] why England needs abit of a 'reality check'. [And yes, I am aware how old this is making me sound – and I'm only 36!]



The World Is An Amazing Place. Sometimes.
June 24, 2006, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Comment

Well I am back.  And yes, I had an amazing – if sometimes scary – time. 

Because basically, I went around the World, I saw a load of things of interest and over the next couple of weeks, I'll put a few of them up for you to look at and comment on.

Anyway, to start it all off, look at this picture taken near my house in Nottingham, England. Sure, it was a beautiful, beautiful day but regardless of that, I can't help but feel it shows [a small part of] England at its greatest. 

What do I mean by that?  Well it's hard to articulate – but the spectrum of green being reflected in all the trees and bushes, the strong and imposing nature of the Queen Victoria statue, the vibrancy and variety of the flowers, the striking shade of blue interrupted by white, white clouds in the sky … well, it all adds up to a 'moment' where England seems to be showing off just how 'great' it can be when it wants to!

I can’t help but feel that if more money was invested into parks, greenery and colour [at say the expence of bombs, guns and war] … England's slow decent into mass-apathy could be halted and the nation could be proud of its country without needing a Swedish managed, national football team as an excuse for it.



I See Dead People …
June 6, 2006, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Comment

For reasons best kept to myself, I'm going to be mingling with the rednecks and weirdos in Graceland very soon.

Given this will result in me probably needing months of therapy, this blog might not be updated for a little while [probably a week or two] so in the meantime, check out some of my mates 'sites of note' – they're far better than mine will ever be – but please come back soon … you're the only friends I've got.