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

When You’re Desperate For Things To Say, Say Anything!
February 23, 2007, 10:25 am
Filed under: Comment

So yesterday I went and bought the above iPOD clock radio. 

There were a number of reasons why I went out to buy it … none of them in the least bit practical …

1 I’d just been in the World’s most boring research meeting and needed something to make me feel good about wasting the last 2 hours of my life

2 I am a sad, technology-obsessed individual

3 We have so many bloody iPODs around the place, anything that can take one off the shelf and charge it is alright by me

4 It came with a remote control – meaning it is more than a clock, it’s a gadget

5 I like the idea of waking up to something other than a Naziesque ‘Buzzer’ or the most inane Singaporean Radio DJ [think Fluff Freeman from 1982!]

Anyway, when I got it back to the office, I was looking at the symbols on the box …

Made For iPod

Dual Alarm

Wake To iPod, Buzzer or Radio

Play & Recharge

… then I came across this one …

What the …. !!!???

The cheeky bastards are trying to make out that ‘Worldwide Radio Frequency Ranges’ is some sort of ‘super, special feature’ when in reality, every soddin’ radio on the planet offers exactly the same benefit.

They’re not saying my new gadget can pick up all radio stations in the World from my house in Singapore … oh no … they’re just saying that wherever I take it in the World, it can pick up local radio signals.

It’s like Ford promoting cars saying, “Multi-Journey Capable”

That little logo … that seemingly innocuous little symbol … immediately made me look at the product as a pile of cheap tat, which for a new brand in the marketplace [iLuv] is not good. 

Luckily for them, it works really well … but marketers preoccupation with meaningless little symbols is driving me mad, especially when they are for features which really aren’t ‘unique features’ at all.

Words Have Feelings Too …
February 22, 2007, 9:18 am
Filed under: Comment

Sure it’s not the greatest ad in the World, but I do like the sentiment of the idea … a letter is written with emotion whereas an email is written with efficiency.

Hmmn, so I wonder what that makes the post below written by?  Have a wild guess … ha.

When Companies Deserve A Kicking …
February 22, 2007, 9:07 am
Filed under: Comment

I recently wrote about companies who give out cheap shit under the guise of caring about their customers [the photo of the mouse mat was deleted by my Flickr hackers] … however I’ve just come across the World’s greatest piece of tat and want to share it with you.

Ladies and Gentlemen … allow me to introduce you to the CitiBank ‘Business Card Holder’.

Look how cute it is … it’s just like a briefcase – except it’s the size of a box of matches and has ‘CitiBank’ written on the side.

Marvel at how the locking mechanism really works.

Gasp at the ingenious way it transforms into a business card holder. Or a briefcase for midget business rabbits.

I kid you not, this is a real giveaway. For the financial representatives of CitiBank!!!

I cannot imagine how embarrassed you would be if you met a new client and had to reach into your cheap polyester suit to pull out a miniature briefcase containing all your uber-professional business cards.

Lets be honest … would you buy ANY financial product from a person who used this item? 

Do you think it conveys professionalism? Do you think it represents success?  Do you think it is the item of someone ‘in the know’?

Someone … somewhere … thought this was a good idea because I have been led to believe they ordered thousands to be given away at some internal conference.  Let me tell you, if I worked for CitiBank and was given one of these, I’d either resign on the spot or just find a quiet corner to cry/slash my wrists.

Companies go on and on about conveying the right image … ordering their ad agencies to instil cliché-driven images of professional, successful and suave men and women into all their communication … and then they go and order some of the most cheap, nasty and embarrassing shit ever created, without a second thought as to what it could be conveying to their clients and staff.

I’ve said it many, many times that it’s the little things that make all the difference and this is a perfect example of it.

Despite CitiBank spending literally billions on their communication every single year, this stupid little item has the power to undermine all they supposedly stand for in an instant. 

Sure, someone in the company thought it was probably a ‘cute’ idea, but then some people think Austin Allegro’s, Crossroads and George Clothing are cool … which leads to my point, who has the responsibility for the development of these sort of things?

At cynic, we have a philosophy that says if it has any direct interaction with consumers, we want to be involved with it … which is why apart from ads, we’ve been involved in things as varied as Jumbo Jet interior design, consumer packaging, sales kits, content creation, [none harmful] military hardware development, new distribution opportunities, NPD, brochures, on-hold messages, clothing etc etc … however in many big organisations, it would seem the marketing department relinquishes responsibility when it comes to areas they believe are ‘unimportant’ … often things like internal/external ‘leave behinds’.

Why is this?

As I said … it’s these little things that can really reinforce a brand and its values to employees and customers. Sure they may seem inconsequential, but as the crappy business card briefcase shows, they also have massive power to ruin a brands carefully constructed image. 

I appreciate some companies like giving other departments a chance to ‘express their own creativity and choices’ … but what I find interesting is that this only tends to happen where marketing is concerned – if someone suggested a brand manager could ‘have a go’ at R&D, I’m sure it would be met with outrage.

Why is marketing given so little credit?  Why is it something that is seen as a ‘treat’ for people to do rather than a specially crafted discipline?

Sure, by the standards adopted by a lot of companies, you’d never guess there was any skill or discipline in the creation of consumer communication [whatever channel it may utilise] … however in the right hands, it’s role in helping forge a particular image is vitally important and yet it is so often just passed over to someone who sees it as a ‘bit of fun‘.

Don’t get me wrong … I am not saying marketing and communication is a science – sure, there are some elements to it – but in essence it’s a pretty simple job. The skill is knowing what makes consumers tick, what’s really on their mind – not just in terms of the category, but interms of their life and culture … so with this in mind, handing it over to someone who thinks marketing and communication is just pictures, logos, templates, promotions and giveaways is probably one of the most daft business decisions you can make. 

Actually there is another daft business decision made quite often … and that is employing mediocrity in the Marketing Department.

Too many of today’s marketers are either ego maniacs [driven by the insecurity there job is not respected within their company], process managers [where they just ‘follow orders’ and offer no influence/direction to moving the company forward] or simply underqualified in terms of real, practical marketing practices [they know all the marketing books, but don’t appreciate that many of them are based on 1950’s philosophies and not as relevant for the modern age as they would think]

When you combine these 2 issues … the general standard of marketer and their ability to relinquish anything they deem not really important enough to even less qualified individuals … is it any wonder that brands, marketing and communication are so ignored by the masses?

It’s time to get real … treat consumers with the respect they deserve and not continually undermine your brand via tacky giveaways and/or misguided communication campaigns because in the right hands, marketing can help you truly be a force to be reckoned with, however in the wrong, it not only screws you over but makes your competition happier, healthier and richer.

Bring consumer needs back into business considerations … because when you do – not only can real creativity, imagination and expression come to the fore, but you actually achieve results that gets you respected again.

Now wouldn’t that make for a nice change?

What’s The Definition Of A Balanced Businessman? When They Have A Chip On Each Shoulder.
February 21, 2007, 4:14 pm
Filed under: Comment


OK … OK … so I know I am setting myself up for a fall here … but when I flew back from Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to fly First Class.

Yes … yes … it’s total-over-priced wank, but given it was Chinese New Year, all the flights were full and so to get to my next destination, I just had to do it.

Anyway, while I was sat in my seat, looking like a plonker, waiting for take-off … this bloke got on the plane and immediately stopped a hostess to ask if there were any seats available on the first row of the plane because he was currently booked on Row 2.

Now given the difference between Row 1 and Row 2 is about 5 feet … the only reason I’ve been able to come up with is that this bloke is the most insecure human alive – petrified of being ‘behind someone’ because in his tiny, little mind, it means he is not ‘Numero Uno’ and there’s someone ahead of him in the pecking order of life.

I shouldn’t be too shocked because years ago, we tested a Business Class Only concept for Virgin Atlantic and found it wouldn’t work because Business Class Passengers are so tuned into sitting at the front of the plane, that if they were seated at the rear – regardless of it still being Business Class – they wouldn’t fly it.

So there you go … conclusive [sort-of] evidence that Business Class Passengers are – in the main – a bunch of insecure, chip-on-the-shoulder, knobends!

Talking of knobends … look at this …

For those who can’t tell what it is … it’s an article about Singapore’s high-priced Hamburger outlet – UberBurger – who have closed after just 11 months of trading.

UberBurger were located in the heart of the Business District and were famous for having a $101 Wagu Beefburger on their menu … however the reason I am bringing it to your attention is that they are blaming their failure on the fact that the IMF held their conference here late last year.

They are claiming all the added security for the delegates stopped passing trade … however there are 2 flaws to this argument …

1 Other food outlets in the same area all did pretty well

2 If anyone can afford a $101 burger, surely it’s the capitalist sods who attend the IMF conference?

I am fed up of people not taking responsibility for things …  I mean, when things are good people are all very quick to take credit for stuff but when things fail, they do everything in their power to pass the buck to some other poor sod.

The reason UberBurger didn’t work wasn’t because of the IMF … it wasn’t even because of their massively priced burgers … it was because it was a totally schizo business.

You see whilst they had the premium priced food, the place was decked out to look like every other cheap and cheerful Burger Joint … meaning no Businessmen wanted to be seen at it, because it just looked too tacky.

If they really wanted to stand a chance of success, they should have either made the interior as exclusive as the menu … or change location and go purely for the tourist trade … however by ignoring one of the most basic marketing rules [know your customer] they ended up spending – and losing – millions of dollars.

And they say Advertising people are irresponsible with money …

For Marcus …
February 21, 2007, 8:35 am
Filed under: Comment

See … we may have lost the battle [or even the War] but as these pictures of our dinner show, we’ve not lost our love of the sausage.

Might get some proper rants back in now … I’ve certainly got lots of them to get out!

Am I The Hackers Training Ground?
February 20, 2007, 9:49 am
Filed under: Comment

My Flickr site has now been hacked and tons of my photos either deleted or swapped. With this in mind, the blog has to go on ‘hold’ till the buggers sort out what’s going on – eitherway, there’s a load of the posts on this site with missing or inappropriate photos on them [nothing rude, bad luck]

Why do they do this? Why? It makes me sick.

Who You Don’t Want To Be Stuck Behind At The Airport …
February 16, 2007, 9:24 am
Filed under: Comment

A man wearing cowboy boots with steel toecaps!  And yes, he was an American!

Surely another reason to vote sausage …