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


Creative Tension
July 31, 2006, 9:58 am
Filed under: Comment

I recently got an email from Russell Davies, telling me abit about his new venture OIA … because I’d mentioned that I knew one of his colleagues from a past life.

In his note, he said one of the reasons he really liked Emily [OIA partner] was that they come from completely opposite points of view … and this got me thinking about the people I work/worked with.

Without doubt, my best ‘stuff’ is when I collaberate with people who share a common philosophy, but have completely different viewpoints on ‘how to get there’. 

This means we debate, challenge – and truth be known – argue like buggers  … creating a tension that often leads to us creating something far more powerful than if we were all ‘happy-chappies’ simply following the ‘safe’.

I guess that in some ways, it’s a similar dynamic that led to bands like The Who … The Stones … Fleetwood Mac … Guns ‘n’ Roses [etc] creating such powerful music.

The tension [and occasional, downright hatred] between band members, often drove them to demand more and more from the music they were creating [as well as the people they were creating it with] … resulting in them getting to ‘places’ which they never imagined in their wildest dreams.

Lets face it, ‘My Generation’ wouldn’t have the power of an atom being split, if Townsend got on with everyone in the band.

My concern is that many people in advertising [especially the multinational mob] only work with those they ‘get on with’ … and whilst I totally understand that … I also believe companies have to encourage collaberation between the individuals with radically different points of view … because as long as the same end goal is the focus, the results could be magical – for the agency, the client and the consumer.

Bring back the tension!  Bring back the spark!  Bring back the creativity!



When Is A Word Not A Word?
July 28, 2006, 6:44 pm
Filed under: Comment

Words that should be banned from all advertising creative briefs and ‘marketing department’ documents.

COOL

ASPIRATIONAL

FUN

PREMIUM

CARING

EXCITING

I remember a brief from a toilet roll company saying they wanted to be premium and aspirational whilst also being caring!  

We ‘reminded’ them their product was used for wiping hairy arses so maybe they are setting their sights abit high!

To be fair, they came to their senses in the end … which is more than can be said for the insect repellent who wanted to be fun and exciting to use!!!  

What World do these people live in … because it sure as hell ain’t mine!



Mobile Phones Are Dangerous!
July 27, 2006, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Comment

No, I’m not talking about the [alleged] cancer-inducing radiation they emit … nor am I going on about their [supposed] ability to crash a plane … and I’m not even referring to the Paris Hilton friendly colours they are coming in [that is NOT my phone by the way] … I am talking about how predictive text [and the speed of life ] can conspire to get you into a shitload of trouble.

To explain what I mean, I have to do abit of a ‘back-story’ …

For the last 6 weeks, I have been working on a massive presentation for a Japanese client of ours. They have asked me/us to fundamentally change their brand direction and this paper is the blueprint for their global board. Nothing too important then eh! 

So yesterday I was busy working away when I got an SMS from the client saying …  “Hello Robert. How Is The Presentation Going. Could I Have A Synopsis Of It?”.

Soooooo, in a moment of efficiency, I grabbed my phone and quickly tapped back … “All Good, I’m Sending The Preso Over Now”

However, because of stupid predictive text [and the fact my fingers are quicker than my eyes], instead of saying ‘PRESO’… it actually said ‘SPERM’ and I only realised as my soddin’, stupid phone happily said, ‘Sending’.

Of course I tried to stop it, but it was to no avail so I immediately sent about 268 SMS’s apologising for saying, “All Good, I’m Sending The Sperm Over Now”

Luckily, if you’re a client of mine/ours, you expect the odd ‘interesting interaction’ [and it still isn’t as bad as vomiting all over a clients desk on your first meeting – which my colleague did!!!] but for all you others out there, don’t let technology lull you into a false sense of security, it can have horrid ramifications.

Saying that, Nokia, Motorola, LG, Philips, Samsung and SONY Ericsson should all be greatful to me – if I was American, I would probably sue them for ‘causing undue distress’!



When The Brain Conspires Against You.
July 26, 2006, 8:34 am
Filed under: Comment

It’s pretty common knowledge that if you want to operate a business in today’s World, you need a domain name.  However it is advisable to look at the domain name you’ve chosen as other see it and not just as you think it looks.

Look at the mess these everyday, humdrum companies have got themselves into!

Find agencts and their celebrities at ‘Who Represents‘ … www.whorepresents.com

Exchange advice at ‘Experts Exchange’ … www.expertsexchange.com

Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island’ at … www.penisland.net 

Need a therapist? Try ‘Therapist Finder’ at … www.therapistfinder.com

If you’re looking for computer firm I.P. Software’ … www.ipanywhere.com

Then, of course, the brainless designers, ‘Speed Of Art’ … www.speedofart.com

Want to holiday in ‘Lake Tahoe’? Try their brochure website at … www.gotahoe.com

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!



The World’s Gone Lazy.
July 25, 2006, 9:03 am
Filed under: Comment

I was at a florist recently [because I am a nice guy, not because I did anything wrong, thank-you-very-much] and she asked whether I wanted ‘Scented’ or ‘Unscented’ flowers.

When I asked what she meant, she told me that because many people don’t like the ‘scent’, they cultivate varieties with no smell at all.

For some reason, this really surprised me but I guess it shouldn’t. We’re a World obsessed with convenience and personalisation – even if it means making the natural, un-natural! 

Now I can appreciate this is great marketing – but I can’t help feel we’re becoming a bunch of self-important prima-donnas. 

There are people out there who happily pay a massive premium for an orange simply because it has been peeled for them.  Come on … who is sooooo busy that they can’t spend 60 seconds taking the skin off it? 

Alright … alright … I can sort-of see the point of that [though why no one has created ‘anti-orange smell wipes’ or ‘orange-peel-proof nail varnish’ is beyond me] but what about those ‘fruit-infused waters’?

It’s 30 degrees, you’re thirsty, you want to be abit healthy [or at least feel like you are] so what do you do – yep, you purchase a bottle of mineral water that doesn’t taste of water and has more sugar content than a can of Coke!  Why?  Is it because there’s a massive consumer base who hate the taste of water?  Apparently!

We’ve got stamps that taste of fruit, robot dogs, bananas with no curve, phones that let you text by voice, tomato ketchup that comes out green … it seems all of our quirks, however weird, are being catered for in some way or another!!

Finally, if further proof was needed about just how lazy we’ve all become, there’s the 30 year old bloke who, in just 3 years, became a millionaire simply by picking up miscellaneous items [like milk, fags and pizza] for people who couldn’t be arsed to get off their sofa – even though it cost them a 10 quid premium on each and every item.

At this rate, I guess it is only a matter of time before the human race ceases to continue and we slowly devolve back into dinosaurs – albeit ones that have vegetation that comes in various flavours.



Does HR = Human Remains?
July 24, 2006, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Comment

Today I got contacted by the HR department of a Multi-national asking if I’d like to ‘… come and have a chat’ with them.

Being a pain-in-the-arse, I asked why would I want to do that given I have lots of friends who talk to me all the time.

After a massive pause, they said they wanted to find out if I’d be interested in joining their organisation – and if I was, the CEO would like to meet me.

So this got me thinking – what exactly do HR departments do?

In this example [which unsurprisingly, I said an emphatic ‘NO’ to] they were basically secretaries trying to organise a meeting between 2 people … but surely there is more to it than that?

Well yes there is, but it seems in the majority of cases, HR is more about ‘management protection’ than ’talent nurturing’. 

There’s a great article about this in the Australian Newspaper, The Age [click here] … but I think the real issue is that HR Departments have little power … politically and financially … so they’re always going to be more about ‘maintaining the status quo’ than changing it.

Great companies are not about processes, they are about people … so having a department that represents employees hopes, dreams and aspirations makes commercial sense … but if all that department actually does is handle ’annual evaluation forms’ and ’holiday leave’ then what they are actually doing, is showing their employees that they don’t really value them at all.

Sure it is difficult if you have tens of thousands of people in your company … I’m not saying it isn’t … but until HR starts to attract people who not only want to make a difference, but have the power to do it [like an internal Union – but one that isn’t focused just on working conditions and salaries] – then they’re going to continue to be about as effective [and as trusted] as a local government planning department.



The Orphan Banana.
July 20, 2006, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Comment

I saw a single Banana in Starbucks today and he looked so lonely …

Was he missing his better looking [straighter?] mates or was he curling up to keep warm? 

Don’t worry, he’s alright now. He’s in my tum!

Interestingly, if our yellow friend wasn’t on his own, I probably wouldn’t have wanted him. 

Maybe greengrocers should only ever have one piece of fruit/veggie on display, because then they’ll appeal to the otherwise Fruit-Phobics.