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

The Fatal Flaw Of Planning: Judgement Contamination!
March 30, 2007, 9:09 am
Filed under: Comment

Regardless of the research … the product … the client … the category … the consumer … the past, future or present information … planning has one inherent flaw – it is always influenced by the personal views and experiences of the planner involved.

This is not to highlight the fact we always have a minimum of 2 planners [preferably with dramatically different viewpoints to the same issue] working on each piece of business – though that is something I am proud of – nor is it to say that planning should be done by robots … it’s simply to highlight that if you’re a planner who believes in the ‘Management Consultant / Intellectual Superiority’ approach to brand development [where exposure to ‘real consumers / cultures / life’ is nothing more than an odd focus group and research paper] then you need to realise you are disproportionately responsible for some of the awful communication being inflicted on the masses and as such, should take greater responsibility when the campaign and it’s goals, crash, burn and die. Thank You.

When You Know Humanity, Genius Ideas Happen …
March 30, 2007, 9:05 am
Filed under: Comment

While looking at a letter young Will has had printed in Campaign [well done mate], I spotted a letter by George Michaelides – one of the founding partners of Michaelides & Bednash – the Naked before Naked! [Sorry John – and Niku – but you know it’s true! Ha!]

Anyway, over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to work with these guys on a whole host of things and if I am being honest, their understanding of the consumer was so good that it often led to being the critical factor in moving campaigns from good to iconic [see Tango / Channel 4 / Pot Noodle]

However, whilst I am waxing lyrical about what these guys have done, this post isn’t actually about them … it’s actually about how important is is to truly understand and appreciate how the consumer thinks/acts/feels – not just interms of brand/account planning – but in every aspect of the communication process.

Without going on and on and on, I simply urge you to look at the letter below [with emphasis on the section highlighted] and see how REAL CONSUMER INSIGHT was turned into something that truly motivated a change in consumer action/opinion.

To me, this is a wonderful example of solving a clients business problem through the power of creativity.

It is the reason why we exist … the reason why [a few] communication agencies are miles ahead of management consultantcies and the reason why clients SHOULD not automatically disregard our abilities or influence. 

Brilliant isn’t it!

And this was not a one off in great thinking. Years ago Channel 5 bought some advertising hoardings at a European Football Match which was being shown on ITV.  On each one it said in big, bold letters, “The Match On Channel 5 Is Much Better”.

Genius …

If you want to be part of communication that infiltrates society and moves culture – then you have to remember that before jumping to the pretty pictures, the fancy words and the creative ideas – you should start with one little thing … human insight.

Borat And Forest Gump’s Love Child Speaks …
March 29, 2007, 4:14 pm
Filed under: Comment

Read much more about the warm, wonderful and beautiful Sacrum by clicking here.

Does Anyone Know …
March 29, 2007, 10:50 am
Filed under: Comment

… the divorce rate for executives in advertising, compared to other industries?

Also, is there any skew towards ex-pats versus people working in their home country?

If anyone who can help, I’d be very grateful – and no, this is nothing to do with me or Andy or anyone else I know directly, ha!

Can It Be Creative If It Has No Imagination?
March 29, 2007, 8:48 am
Filed under: Comment

SHOCK HORROR PROBE: Rob is angry again!

What about now? I hear you groan?Well, lots of things – however for the sake of this post, I’ll just focus on these 2 ‘things’.

So imagine my amusement when I went shopping for a film at the weekend and came across this …

There are so many things wrong with this concept, I just don’t know where to start.

Oh yes I do …First of all, the BEHIND ENEMY LINES [I] was actually based on a real event – so unless the ‘sequel’ features the soldier from the original flick at his home … lounging on the couch … watching television … drinking whisky from the bottle and experiencing the odd ‘war’ flashback … it’s a load of made-up bollocks.

Then there’s the fact this movie has the words, “AXIS OF EVIL”

Hmmmmn, wonder which countries that could be referring to eh!

Given the Chinese Government BANNED Mission Impossible 3 because they didn’t like the way the movie projected elements of the city as old [ie: washing was shown hanging from balcony windows] I don’t think BEHIND ENEMY LINES II [Axis Of Evil] is going to go down particularly well with the film fans of in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.

Mind you, lets face it, the only people who will actually watch it are redneck Yanks who think they should drop the bomb on the whole lot of ’em and be done with it.

[Best Ever Quote? Evel Knievel who said, “I am against violence, but I think we should just nuke the whole of the Middle East as that’s the only way they’ll learn!”  Yes Evel, very anti-violence!]

However, as annoying as that film made me, it’s nothing to this absolute abomination …

That is an ad for the iconic DR Marten’s shoes …

Can you believe it?

On one hand, you could be impressed they’re NOT showing any of their shoes in the ad, but then you quickly realise it’s one of the most mental things EVER.

Then there’s the line … 47 YEARS OF ORIGINALITY.

Can you actually be be ORIGINAL for 47 years? 

Surely that means you have to be continually innovating your product to fulfil that claim … and if that is the case, can someone tell me 47 years worth of DM innovation?

This is a brand with a history, a soul, a genuineness … and they honour it with this page of crap.

Devastating … especially for a brand with that much potential.

I remember years ago we pitched for the business and if memory serves me, the idea was around “DM’s Put The Great in Great Britain”

We didn’t get the account because we were ‘off-strategy’ and ‘limiting the brands potential in International markets’.  Well all I can say is that the person behind this rubbish is doing more harm to DM’s than if they featured an ad with a skinhead kicking the crap out of a 10 year old kid.

OK, so this ad was in a Singapore paper – a country where anything with any level of aggression [bar the Armed Forces ads] are boiled out – but come on, surely someone must have realised this was about as ‘off brand’ as you could get.It’s so bloody rare to have a brand that has undeniable soul and attitude … and to see it reduced to this makes me want to scream. And cry.

I think its time we re-approached them … don’t you?

Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
March 28, 2007, 6:44 pm
Filed under: Comment

Hmmmmn, what happens if you walk into your Regional Finance Director’s office and find his shirt, trousers, socks AND PANTS hanging up?

You fear for your eyes …


You know what, it’s probably best not to ask what is going on – he told me, but I am still in shock at seeing a West Ham fan in a pair of ‘corporate shoes’.

Another day in the craaaaaaaaazy world of advertising!

WOW: That’s Really Shit …
March 28, 2007, 8:03 am
Filed under: Comment

OK, so a few years ago I had the ‘experience’ of working with Coca-Cola in Atlanta – and boy, what an experience it was.

You see this is a brand with a severe chip on its shoulder … it cannot grasp that much of what it does is NOT the height of cool or that their massive sales are NOT a representation of having mass consumer adoration.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s an incredibly successful brand … but alot of that is to do with its monopolistic distribution rather than their advertising and communication.

And yet they continually fail – or choose to ignore – this point.

Personally I think it’s down to ego. 

You see in many countries, the bottling and manufacturing sides of Coca-Cola are completely separate entities … so for someone who works in Coke Marketing, it will be almost impossible for them to give any credit to the bottling side of the business because they may feel it undermines the importance of what they actually do.

Hang on … there is a point to all this.

Anyway, I used to go to meeting after meeting at Coke HQ and almost always hear the same thing being spouted by some little-experienced, myopic, consumer-ignorant, brand-blinkered brand manager.

“We want work that reflects the size and stature of the Coke brand, something with the WOW FACTOR!”

And every single time, I would ask the same question,

“Can you tell me what a WOW FACTOR actually is?”

To which I’d be met with either sneers, an arrogant laugh or some fake coughing – followed by a myriad of overly-complex descriptions of what this mythical ‘WOW FACTOR’ was.

The funny thing was that they’d go on and on and on about wanting to impact culture – lead people to a happier place – and then, when it came to approving our ideas [including one that is possibly the best idea we’ve ever developed], they felt the only thing they needed to do was a television ad. Yeah, very WOW FACTOR eh!!

So why am I going on about this?

Well it’s because I hate these marketing-department-type-terms [ie: ‘WOW FACTOR’] because in the real world, they mean nothing.

Hell, in the 2 years I was worked with Coke, not once was there a unifed view of what this term meant, though it seemed to us it basically represented a ‘feeling’ that excited them – more often than not because it made Coke look good against Pepsi.

Anyway, this is not about Coke … I will have to save that for a day when cynic no longer work with them, ha … this is about fulfilling my promise to Rob Mortimer and writing about Microsoft and their astoundingly brilliant, creative pile-of-Vista-launch-shite, “WOW”.

What I love about Bill Gates company is that they have an almost magical ability to take stuff that is genuinely good, and fuck it up.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Windows XP, XBox, Zune or now Vista … this is a brand that invites the Fuck Up Fairy to come and visit each and every time.

Take their new campaign …

Did you watch it?

So according to Microsoft, their Vista product gives you the same feeling as watching a rocket take off, discovering new lands, seeing the magnificence of nature … in short, it is the next Wonder Of The World.


OK … so I am sure Vista might make a few things more possible for us all, but the software doesn’t give the WOW FACTOR, it’s the content the software allows you to create that makes that happen. Another example of company ego coming to the fore.

Why don’t they go the whole hog and say, “Hey Earthlings, you should feel very lucky we decided to do make our Vista software because you are petty, insignificant ‘things’. Cough up a fortune and we – and only we – will put a little life into your sad, lonely lives. Without Microsoft Vista, you are nothing … nothing, do you here”.

People with outrageous salaries and reputations came up with this rubbish.

They will have been paid an absolute fortune to research, develop, test, re-research, redevelop, re-test concept after concept and then – somehow – come up with the most nonsensical, pointless ad campaign [possibly] in history.

I hope you are all pissed off.  I am … I mean, how come those fuckers can get paid millions to make a load of crap when I do it in my toilets for free each and everyday? Hell, the only WOW I have gotten from Microsoft, is, “WOW, another load a complete bollock advertising!”

If I was Gates [a man who I had started to actually respect given his charitable endeavours] I’d be pissed … because not only is this campaign unlikely to change consumers view of the Microsoft organisation [which IS important given they are broadening out into other areas of consumer electronics ] it also undermines his stance on helping the World’s poor because they are spending hundreds of millions on insipid, uninspired communication.

If Apple launched this campaign, it would still stink but because they have a history of liberating consumers creativity, we could probably just about mentally rationalise it … however when a brand like Microsoft does it, it almost acts as an ad to NOT associate with Microsoft – which as far as I can remember, is not a good thing.

This is corporate ego at its worst – giving no tangible reason why I should even want to find out more about Vista, let alone buy it … and so as far as I am concerned, the people behind it [both client and agency side] should be publically flogged till they swear on their families lives, NEVER to subject humanity to such mindless twaddle again. 

On the other hand, it does give Steve Jobs and Apple great material for their ads …