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


Hello Mum …
February 28, 2007, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Comment

So after a big day, I finally pop back to my hotel to quickly check on my emails [and see your comments about George and his ‘choccy-botty’, ahem] and find this from my Mum.

I have spent almost two hours reading the contents of your blog.  I loved it!  It is so entertaining, interesting and funny. 

What I loved even more was your photograph at the end. It made me smile. 

It is so wonderful that you have such lovely colleagues, with the same sense of humour as yours and that you can all ‘insult’ each other with avengeance!. 

Yes, I know, THOSE words-well, I have survived and I certainly would not let them put a negative slant on your very good diary.

Enjoy your incredible experience of being in India you lucky man and let me know what you think of the magical Taj Mahal. 

One thing that makes me really happy is that you notice, understand, appreciate and respect the culture of Asia. Enjoy everything and take care. Mum xxx 

Now I knew I had a cool Mum … afterall she is a SKYPE using-video-conferencing-Russian learning-Art Class following-Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer lovin’-Writing appreciation adoring woman … but the fact she can read my blog – even with THOSE words – and still enjoy it, is cooler than cool.

So could everyone please say a nice ‘hello’ to my Mum as she is bound to be mortified about this ‘publicity’. [God, this Taj Mahal visit has affected me hasn’t it. Better send Andy here next time!]

Right, off to my [or should I say ‘our’] Futures Bright dinner. God I am sooo over lentils!

PS: Mr Mortimer – any news on what you emailed me?



The Answer To George’s Toilet Troubles?
February 27, 2007, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Comment

 

Could it be that he ate some tender minced lamb with MACE!!!???

Lets hope this is a classic ‘translation’ mistake, because if it is what made him ill, the poor guy is in serious trouble – starting with his missus who won’t believe he’s been ‘attacked’ by a portion of grub, ha!

Oh and to Mr ‘M’ [no one to do with James Bond] … thanks for your email, all of our thumbs are ‘UP’ and the rest of our fingers are crossed so let us know how it goes!



A Day To Remember …
February 27, 2007, 4:02 am
Filed under: Comment

… and not just because George has succumbed to ‘Delhi Belly’ – despite claiming not to have let a single drop of tap/shower water touch his lips. [He’s been washing/shaving with fucking Evian!]

Anyway, it all started weirdly when this morning, I attended a meeting where the ‘host’ – as a sign of [supposed] respect – invited a ‘Spiritual Guru’ along, to pass on a few nuggets to leading a happier, healthier life. 

Now believe it or not, I am quite open to this sort of thing [well, sort-of open] however this guy seemed like a complete and utter con artist … which resulted in me spending most of my time trying not to laugh out loud in this blokes face.

Have a look at these slides he presented to me – even a planner couldn’t come up with that sort of bollocks [well OK, a few could] …

 

Answers on a postcard please …

 

Celebrate everything, do you here? EVERYTHING!

… and yet, while we were being tormented by the monotonous monotone of this ‘Guru’s’ voice, the host was lapping it up as if Jesus himself was speaking to him.

The boring bugger went on and on for ages … and everytime you sensed he was coming to an end, he said he needed ‘another 5 minutes’ and then would carry on as if time had no meaning – which it probably doesn’t to him.

It was seriously mind-numbing … but please know I did try to pay attention, the problem was it was all so ridiculous that within 10 seconds, I’d start giggling and have to chuck one of the weird ‘nuts/polo mint’ concoctions into my mouth so that I could look like I was eating rather than laughing.

The really scary thing is this guy is a multi-multi millionaire … he gets paid outrageous amounts of money by ‘believers’ to spout loads of crap which they interpret as ‘words of humanity’. 

I absolutely detest these self-appointed-guru’s with their patronising smiles and condescending attitudes … as far as I am concerned they are the equivalent of ambulance chasing lawyers – except instead of hunting down accident victims, they seek out the individuals with low esteem. Or maybe I am just a bad tempered, angry shit whose soul has no chance of redemption. It’s quite possible.

Now I know this makes me sound a total and utter prick, but when you get told that a flower blossomed because some ‘happy’ prisoners walked past it [as opposed to when it almost died because some sad ‘free people’ checked it out] then you’ll maybe afford me abit of grace. 

I know it was done with the best intentions, but O-H M-Y G-O-D, it was one of the funniest painful moments of my life.

Anyway, from one extreme to the other …

So after a long day of meetings [it got better after ‘Guru gob’ – but it would have been hard not to] I was taken to a welcome dinner – described as a ‘Night  Of Indian Extravaganza’.

After a 50 minute drive through some of the World’s wealthiest and poorest neighbourhoods [which would test the emotions of even the most cold-hearted person] I finally arrived at the destination where – true to their word – I was treated to the whole spectrum of Indian hospitality – which included the Rocky theme being played at a billion decibels which was rather surreal.

Anyway, rather than describing everything I saw, I’ll just show you a bunch of photos from the evening – it’ll probably do it more justice than any words I could muster and I appreciate this is a very indulgent post of nothingness – but it’s my blog so you can’t stop me. Well you could, but you don’t know my home address. Or do you??? Eek. [Can you tell I’m tried and shell-shocked? Ha]

Oh, last thing … when I was on the bus, I passed a double glazing window shop which used the quite wonderful line, “Burglar Proof Glass”

How lovely is that eh? I soooo hope it means its unbreakable glass or there is a rather big flaw in that thought, hahaha! Night.

You’ve not been in India unless you see an elephant.

 

Still smaller than Andy. But to be fair to Andy, it was a small elephant. Well, small by elephant standards – it still seemed huge to me!

 

Traditional Indian Dancing [but NOT to the ‘Rocky’ theme. Thank God!]

 

Women dancing with, errrrrrm, pots of fire on their heads. As you do.

Don’t worry, this isn’t some terrible incident relating to the ‘pot of fire’ [if it was, I’d send it to ‘Candid Camera’ or something] it’s a fire eater – or fire blower – in all his glory.

And finally …

First they tell me it is culturally respectful, then they call me Taliban-Man all bloody night!  And some people say the Indian people don’t have a sense of humour.



A Visual Metaphor For Planning …
February 25, 2007, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Comment

The above pictures are of a beautiful Indian Restaurant in Delhi called ‘VEDA‘ – however this beauty was only visible if you opened the doors because otherwise, all you’d see is …

Never take anything for granted – because if you ask enough people enough questions and look long, hard, deep and wide enough – eventually you may come across a real nugget of gold!

I truly believe discovery can set us free … and I truly believe planners are sort-of discoverers … however it would seem that in today’s communication industry, too many planners are too happy rehashing the same old shit, stating the bleedin’ obvious but using intellectual words because they think it makes them look clever or simply turning their back on consumer needs/wants/fears and acting like cold, misinformed management consultants.

If you really want to know how to understand, engage and motivate humanity for your clients [and customers] best interests … then get off your arse and go out into the real World because there’s more chance of finding the answers out there than sitting in your office infront of a computer.

Make planning human again … for everyone’s sakes. [Especially my blood pressure!]



India: Colour, Sound, Smell, Culture, Madness … Humanity.
February 25, 2007, 3:56 am
Filed under: Comment

Delhi Airport … full of UN troops. Not the most calming thing to see in the arrivals lounge.

I hate the Chivas brand – I just find it trite – however I do like the fact that in the mad streets of India, a motorbike is regarded as more of a ‘status symbol’ than a car.

Coke versus Lipton. How many other countries could you say that in?

When you get to the hotel you are given a garland of flowers and …

… your own ‘Indian marking’.

And on the television, it’s a none-stop-supply of channels showing the bloody cricket!

I have always had a great warmth for the Indian people and culture.

Maybe it was because my Dad came here when I was 5 and filled my head with the beauty, grace, warmth, energy, culture and symbolism of the place … or maybe it was because one of my closest friends growing up was Kermjeet, an Indian kid whose family treated me like a son – however whatever the actual reason is, as I grow older and [supposedly] wiser, I can categorically say, one of the things I truly love about the place [and Asia in general] is the level of sacrifice people will make for the good of future generations.

You see as much as there is ‘family responsibility’ in pretty much every culture … out in the ‘East’, people don’t just look after their ‘immediate family’ [ie: children / parents / grandparents], they also have one eye on the overall development of their country because they appreciate if their country progresses, then their family also has a greater chance of progressing as well.

For me the biggest difference between the family values of East and West, is that whilst people in the West care about their immediate family and [in the main] don’t want to bring shame on them … in the East, people don’t want to screw up the family name of the last 2000 years or the next 2000 years. 

Because of this, another fundamental difference is in their choice of political representative.

Out in India/Asia, people passionately vote for whoever they believe will benefit their country as a whole … and whilst you may think that’s what most people in democratic societies do, the reality is that in many cases, people [especially in established in Western markets] vote for whoever represents their best personal interests, regardless of the wider community.

Yeah … yeah … I know I sound like a Red Commie Bastard, but as I see the gradual decline of society in Western [Powerhouse] countries … I really do appreciate how lucky I am to be living in a region where cultural development is as highly regarded [and nurtured] as personal and economic progression.

Oh, and for those people who value ‘wealth’ only interms of ‘financial power’ – you should know the East is also about to be [if not already] the wealthiest, most powerful and influential region on the planet.

[Infact some people say it’s only been the last 800 years, that this hasn’t been the case! And whilst that sounds a long time … for a planet millions of years old, it’s not really]

It’s no longer a case of East meets West … it’s becoming East LEADS West and you know what,  that might not be so bad at all!



Serious About [Healthy] Food.
February 25, 2007, 3:55 am
Filed under: Comment

A while back I wrote about a Singaporean company who were passionately promoting the fact they believe in making/selling truly healthy, tasty and nutritious food.

Well I popped back for a quick sandwich and when I opened the bag, I saw they had thrown in the above keyring.

Now I know it’s a little thing … but it helps solidify in my mind that these people are really serious about what they say – and given I’m embarking on a little health kick [honest!] it ensures I will go back there as often as I can.

In a time where so many brands are spending billions on empty and/or outrageous promises – it’s really great to see a small company [especially in Asia] have a ‘brand philosophy’, that they proudly live by.

Some multinationals should take note …



Words With No Meaning …
February 23, 2007, 10:30 am
Filed under: Comment, Uncategorized

As seen in the window of a clothing store in Singapore

Maybe I’m missing something … maybe they’re being ‘ironic’ … but how can a black dress [the fashion stable for 99.4856% of the female population] be something that is ‘daring’ and will cause women to feel they’ve ‘re-invented’ themselves?

Marketing wank at it’s best … even the model looks average. [though admittedly in Singapore she’d be a bit of a ‘freak’!]

I hate the way the comms industry has taken away the real meaning of certain words. 

For example REVOLUTION is no longer about fighting against a political wrongs … oh no … now you’re likely to see it used in an ad for socks or fucking mittens! 

When will companies realise that what is important to them, quite often means fuck-all to the consumer and simply adding a word like REVOLUTION isn’t going to make the slightest bit of difference!

To counteract this sort of behaviour, our creative briefs have 2 very important questions within them …

1 What is the customers attitude towards this brand? 

2 What is the customers attitude towards this category?

Doing this ensures we never make the mistake of assuming a well known/used brand means it is well liked and important in consumers minds.

A perfect example was when we worked on a Colgate project … 

1 What is the customers attitude towards this brand? 

It is a well trusted, well known and well used product for people of all ages, all demographics. 

2 What is the customers attitude towards this category?

While having nice teeth is very important to people, in the big scheme of things, toothpaste choice is not something people spend any time thinking about – except Mum’s and even then that tends to be on behalf of their kids teeth [who don’t regard it as overly important] rather than themselves. 

Infact its purchase tends to be when people are on ‘automatic shopping pilot’ – as it has little significance to the masses and brand choice is probably dictated by the purchasing habit of the previous generation.

So instead of ending up doing the usual self-indulgent ad that only appeal to [1] Colgate Marketing Executives and [2] The odd Mum … we knew the only way we could broaden their market share was to create communication that resonated with consumers ‘lives’, not just their ‘teeth cleaning habits’ – which led to the infamous [well, infamous for Colgate] ‘People With Ugly Mouths, Don’t Get Laid’ ads. 

[Yeah … yeah … so Colgate didn’t end up buying the campaign, but in testing it achieved the highest recall rates in Colgate Palmolive history. Oh well …]

All I am saying is that to achieve greater success, it’s not just about understanding the consumers relationship with the brand – it’s about understanding the consumers relationship with the category … because it doesn’t matter if you are the undisputed brand leader for the last 1000 years, if the consumer doesn’t regard your category with any real level of importance in their lives, you’re not going to make any communication that drives your growth other than [if you’re really, really lucky] a short-term spike.

Honesty gets you better work, loyalty and results … I encourage you to tell the harsh truths [if you’re not already!]

Now as I’m off to Delhi for about a week, I’m not sure how much updating I’ll be doing [no, not because I’ll be on the loo, but because I have back-to-back-to-back meetings!] so can I take this opportunity to promote a great post by the brilliantly talented Fred about CNY and the outrageous cost of Abalone.

Oh and Billy, hope today’s op goes well my son – we’re all thinking of you.

And when you get a chance, can you please tell me whether Andy is having me on or not about including a few porn movies in the gift pack we sent you.  If he’s not, our insurance company will probably revoke our policy and then we won’t be paying for your little surgical procedure.  Yes, be afraid, be   v  e  r  y  afraid, ha!

Finally, with the Oscars coming up, I thought I’d highlight one of the worst-acted [actually, one of the worst-everything] ads EVER. 

Excellent camera work … genius script writing … beautiful use of gratuitous female sexuality …  no, it’s not a cliché-ridden beer ad, it’s a cliché ridden construction ad instead.  Enjoy. Sort-of.  [Thanks Jonno for sending it to me, I won’t ask how/why you found it!]