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


Inside The Heads Of Business …
November 30, 2006, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Comment

I spend alot of time in hotels … either because I am travelling or because clients think it is the best place to hold conferences.

So yesterday it dawned on me [yes, I must be thick] that by checking out Hotel ‘Events Boards’ and seeing the ‘themes’ of the conferences being held there – I can get a quick idea of the issues Corporateland feel they are facing.

However, as much as I travel, I can only be in one place at a time … so this is where you lot come in …

Basically, what I am proposing is that if you ever find yourself in a hotel, you take a photo of the ‘Events Board’ and send it to this email.

What happens then is that we have a ‘Corporate Conference Blog’ [I’ve set up BSI but have done very little with it yet] … where all the photos taken are put up, and we try to identify any underlying themes/issues by day/week/month.

Sure, it could be a complete waste of time – but something in my gut tells me it won’t be … because with a bit of intelligence, we should be able to identify [albeit broadly] common /emerging themes by city, country, region or World – which can only be useful in further understanding the underlying issues faced by existing and potential clients.

Of course I’m not asking people to go out of their way … however if you are at a hotel, take a photo and send it to the email above.

Really appreciate your help and yes – the photo above does feature my very bald head. Don’t you think it’s arty??? [Don’t answer that!]

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Only In England …
November 30, 2006, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Comment

This story involves the parents of a very good friend of mine …

It’s more than just a story about a pet cow and the British Government … it’s about common sense, democracy and humanity.

Please check it out … either by clicking here or here. [or do your own google search by clicking here]



Have The People On ‘Changing Rooms’ Ruined Creative Agencies Reputation?
November 29, 2006, 9:47 am
Filed under: Comment

As we know, there is a growing trend amongst corporations to hire an Ad Agency and then dictate/change everything that has been done, to meet their own [quite often misguided or plain wrong] standards or vision.

So I was giving this some thought and wondered if programs like ‘Changing Rooms’ have added to distrust between client and agency.

Why?

Well given some of the rooms the so called ‘Interior Design Experts’ [read: Creatives] change are unmitigated disasters – maybe the public [and brand managers / marketing directors] subliminally believe that …

1. Creatives don’t understand reality.

2. People believe they can do a much better job themselves.

3. Creativity isn’t that hard [because when they get it right, it’s only cost 500 quid]

4. Creativity is cheap [because when they get it right, it’s only cost 500 quid]

5. Creative is based on the superficial [because the materials they use are cheap and nasty, even if they look good]

Just a thought … but why else would so many believe they are the ones with the creative talent and consumer understanding to make their brand and campaign a total success?

Maybe as an industry we should do ‘CHANGING MINDS’ – where a bunch of Agency people pit their wits against a bunch of Brand Managers/Marketing Directors with the goal of coming up with [and executing] an idea that makes an everyday consumer change their mind about a pre-designated brand. 

Maybe this will actually prove we know what we’re doing and should be encouraged to do it … rather than play second fiddle to the whims of certain clients who are about as ‘in-touch’ with reality as the Queen is.

We could even include representatives of other organisations who seem committed to undermining our value in motivating consumers – like my absolute favourite, the Management Consultant.

So whatcha reckon … any merit to this TV show idea or is it complete and utter balls? 

And don’t think subliminal prejudices don’t exist … if you were arrested of murder and there were 2 identical lawyers available to hire: who would you choose – the one with the posh London accent or the one with the thick Birmingham accent? Exactly!



The Perversion Of China …
November 29, 2006, 9:46 am
Filed under: Comment

So China’s largest porn site … Pornographic Summer … has been shut down by the Government and the founder has been given a life sentence for errrrrm, corrupting the corruptible – however the thing I find astounding is that they had 600,000 members. SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND!

Now in a country of 1.4 billion, that might not seem that many – but when you realise 60% of the population are in rural areas with little or no communication channels easily available to them, approx 40% of the remainder are below the already ‘low’ poverty line and 10% of the remainder have no access to the internet, you’ll see that far from being a small percentage, it’s actually pretty high.

Whether we like it or not, porn is one of the World’s most enduring, powerful and profitable business categories – far more successful than many well known brands out there and yet interms of business respect, it is about as low as a snakes underbelly.

Many years ago, I was invited to speak about branding at the SEXPO conference [yes, my Mother was sooooo proud, ha!] and in the audience were some of the most intelligent [and rich] marketing people I’ve ever met. 

They truly understood their audience [interms of what they want, how to reach them and how to keep them loyal] as well as their brands and their category … and I have no doubt that if they were incharge of more ‘mainstream brands’, they would be equally successful with them. [One guy said the difference between his company and a multinational marketing department is that he has to make decisions, not endless debate]

Sure, it might be taboo, but it is [in most places] legal and popular … yet the Business World chooses to ignore the valuable lessons they could learn from them. [Though to be fair, certain companies do appreciate the influence porn has in their own categories … infact a well known consumer electronic company spoke to the porn industry prior to investing in DVD technology, because they knew if the format was embraced by the creators of these films, the format would be a success]

With so many Western businesses going into places like China and getting their fingers burnt … maybe it’s time some of them look at the lessons ‘porn’ can teach them – because they seem to consistently be able to achieve great levels of success despite operating in one of the most competitive categories on Earth.



Are Hotels Telling Us Something …
November 28, 2006, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Comment

This is a photo of the bed I had at the Shangri-La Bangkok. 

As you can see, it was bloody huuuuuuuuuuuge – infact it was too huge … I actually woke up sideways across the bed which even for a person who likes space when he sleeps, is abit too much space.

Why did they do this? 

Well, it’s probably because they ‘can’ … plus it fits with their ‘Fit For A King’ image … but seriously, do they know something we don’t?

Are hotels expecting us all to get so fat that ‘width’ is going to be the ultimate ‘comfort selling point’ for Hotels, Cars, Airlines?  I mean, this bed was actually wider than bloody it was long. Mad!

Well, I think the Hotels could be thinking ahead, especially when Macca’s – despite all their ‘health attempts’ – launch the World’s first Unhealthy, Health Menu in Singapore …

For those who can’t read it properly, Macca’s have started offering Garden Salad, Apple and Sweetcorn.

All good eh? 

Well sort of … except Macca’s then go and ruin it by selling the Garden Salad with ‘1000 Island Dressing’, the Apples with Caramel Sauce’ and the Sweetcorn with ‘Butter’.

Jesus … they just can’t help themselves can they???? 

OK, so Macca’s in Asia hasn’t copped as much crap as in Western Markets, but the diet out in Asia is far from healthy – despite what many say – and this sort of thing is hardly conducive to Macca’s global attempt to ‘clean up their image’. 

Mind you I don’t blame them for doing it as they’re only addressing ‘human nature’.

Eh???

Well, when I worked on Diet Tango in the UK, we knew that people – even those who claimed they were ‘trying’ to be healthy’ – tended to eat tons of bad-but-tasty grub like chips, gravy, curry, sausage etc etc.  To make themselves ‘feel better’, they would do something like buy a diet drink or walk up the stairs to the office [even if there were only about 3 of them] in some misguided belief that it would counteract the 8 trillion calories they’d just stuffed down their gob.

It led to some of the best radio ads ever with the great line, “YOU NEED IT BECAUSE YOU’RE WEAK’ … and it really tapped into the psyche of the Tango consumer – beer bellied men [or kids who aspired to be beer bellied men, haha] who realised that if their stomach continued to grow at the rate it was going, they’d have to stop kidding themselves they’re just a ‘few pounds’ over their perfect weight, because they wouldn’t be able to get close enough to the mirror to check themselves out!

Of course the word ‘DIET’ tends to be quite negative for brands – infact Diet Coke is one of the few [except in some countries where it is named Coke Light] that has managed to get away with it – but I wonder if that is part of the reason obesity is getting so bad – because the word DIET has been replaced by things like LOW CALORIES / LOW FAT when in reality, the food they refer too are generally so chock-a-block with other crap, they are about ‘healthy’ as a bacon and egg sandwich smothered in HP sauce.

Brands and people are living in a World of denial – and whilst this might be good for Hotels selling bigger beds etc etc – I really feel it’s time that brands who ‘claim’ to care about their consumers choice, stop having a foot in both camps [they call it ‘consumer choice, ha!] and come out and attack the issue head on. 

First thing?  Stop using the word ‘healthy’ when they’re not that healthy … stop using the word ‘energy’ when they’re referring to tons of sugar … stop using the words ‘low fat’ when they’re full of every other thing that’s bad for you – because if we don’t, the real industries of growth will be those who can best exploit the restrictions faced by ’bigger people’ [ie Hotels and the Airlines who are starting to charge ticket prices based on the persons ‘weight’] and creativity is already about as low as it can go.

What really, really, really bugs me is that WEIGHT WATCHERS should be the brand that takes this issue head-on – be the brand that fights for peoples health rights – but I guess they are another perfect example of a company who say’s one thing and then acts totally in the other way because money is more important that principals.

Sure we have to make money … but at any price?  Unfortunately, that seems the ‘corporate way which sorts of makes a mockery of companies [and agencies] that say they are ’strategically focused!’



Egonomics …
November 28, 2006, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Comment

If ego was a currency, today I’d be a millionaire. Why?

Because over at AdCritic, our SONY brand ad has been highlighted as ‘Ad of the Day’. [though if you are reading this on the 28/11 – it’ll be ‘Ad of Yesterday’, ha!]

Now if you haven’t got a password to the at site but feel a compulsion to check it out … you can watch if for free by clicking here. [Yes, I am so generous!]

On top of that, if you are sad and want to know more about the ads background, you can click here and read all about it.



James Bond Isn’t Scary …
November 27, 2006, 1:45 pm
Filed under: Comment

I have written many posts about the patriarchal nature of Singapore and how it ‘rules’ rather than governs.

I’ve pointed out that there are many good things about this place but some [like putting in machines to ‘sanitise your hands prior to opening a door’ – see pic below] are going to the extreme.

However the one thing I found quite amazing is that this weekend, when I went to see James Bond, there were loads of people in the cinema with children around the age of 5 with them.

Now I haven’t got any kids – and I appreciate how hard it must be to see films with ‘mature content’ when you have them … but this was ridiculous and most of the film was spent hearing the sobbing of scared little kids!

OK, so it is really the responsibility of the parents, but in a country where the Government tell you to ‘smile at foreign dignitaries, ‘be nice to others on the road’ and ‘honour intellectual property’ … I am just shocked they haven’t ordered cinemas to stop adults taking kids to see movies of ‘questionable infant content’.

If an adult was found showing porn movies to a kid, they would be arrested for ‘child abuse’ and improper conduct’ … and yet in cinemas all around the land, this sort-of thing goes on and on and on – another example of money first, values second … and it is making me sick.

People are so quick to jump on the youth-brands-corrupting-youth bandwagon … but the reality is that many of the so-called ‘family brands’ [from cinemas to Macca’s] are doing far more damage to society than Grand Theft Auto or James Bond ever could do and yet they are rarely questioned on a political level.

Hell, if Macca’s did an ad like the one below [“The Most Useless Photo In The World?”] … rather than be seen as re-iterating firmly established racist/prejudice views … they’d probably be congratulated by the Singaporean Government for representing a multi-cultural life. 

One rule for one … another rule for the other – often decided on your ‘brand character’, ‘hypothetical values’ or ‘money you pay in tax to the Government’.