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

A Couple Of Things I Really Love About England …
June 29, 2007, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment


Pub Sunday Roasts – look like shit, taste like heaven.  


Crap Local Shop Competition Prizes.  

I think it’s the lack of pretence that I love the most … the simple-yet-effective promise that offers no illusion or hype.

It’s reassuring … warm … pleasing.

Maybe it’s because it reminds me of where/how I grew up or maybe it’s because its about as far removed from the image conscious World of Advertising as you can get … but I love it, miss it and want more of it … which all goes to show you can take the boy out of Nottingham but you can’t take Nottingham out the boy, ha!

[Yes I am in HK, but like a sad bastard, I wrote this post prior to leaving and set it to come on automatically today. And yes, I am still pissed off … infact I’m really angry]

Q: Why Did The Tin Man Want A Heart?
June 28, 2007, 5:20 pm
Filed under: Comment

A: Because he knew that’s what he needed to become a good planner.


If you can’t empathise and understand the ever-changing needs/wants/fears of society, then academic intelligence counts for little.

At least in adland.

Or should I say the adland that actually does stuff that means something to people.

Blast From The Past …
June 28, 2007, 7:15 am
Filed under: Comment

… yep, a carphone – as seen in a cab in Cannes.

Given we live in a World where everyone seemingly has a phone in their coat pocket – it was quite a shock to be reminded that once, mobiles used to be permanently attached to a particular space – but then we often forget about the advancements of technology until we see what we regarded as ‘next-gen’ next to what we use now.

Hell, I remember being ‘cutting edge’ when in the late 80’s, I had a ‘Rabbit Mobile’ … a phone that only worked when you stood next to a ‘signal station’ [most often found at Little Chef “Restaurants” on the M1] and could only make calls, not receive them.

What I find sad is that we have stopped appreciating ‘stuff’ … we live in a World of disposability and while we might get excited about things like R2D2 and iPhones, it tends to only last a short while before we are looking for the next big thing or improvement to impact our lives.

Without doubt companies play a big role in the development of this consumer attitude because they are constantly looking at what they can develop next [even if it is a small improvement on what has gone before] in a quest to achieve greater and greater profits … however I also think this ‘disposable materialism’ attitude is symbolic of an increase in the level of dissatisfaction we are having in life.

Dissapointment @ 25 Bday

Now I am not suggesting we’re all living lives of misery … but I do think a great many people feel they are not getting as much out of life as they thought they would / deserve / crave  – and this has quite possibly led to an increased focus on material possession as it helps validate or justify their existence and/or success. [perceived or otherwise]

I’ve written about this in the past [here, here and here] but an event that happened to me last Saturday, has affected me so deeply, I am questioning what I want, believe in and stand for – because I’ve realised how easy it is to never truly treasure what you’ve got.

I won’t go on as I am still formulating my thoughts – and I appreciate as a total techno-addict I am being rather hypocritical – but to me a ‘balanced life’ isn’t about finding a way to manage an equal level of work and play, it’s about finding a situation that ensures you appreciate an equal level of potential and reality and I can’t help but feel many people don’t live that way at all – mainly because the ad industry is fixated on selling ‘fear’ [as a strategy] because they believe it is the most effective way to generate short-term sales!

Unfortunately this all goes back to my point of too many people in advertising having brains, but not using them … but we’re aiming to put that right aren’t we, ha!

[I’m in Hong Kong tomorrow so I just want to wish you all a toptastic weekend!]

I’m Going To The Only Place Where You’ll Find Culture In Australia …
June 27, 2007, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Comment

Yoghurt + Penguin

Just found out that over the next few months, I am going to be in and out of Melbourne – so if anyone who reads this blog fancies catching up, let me know and I’ll buy you a coffee. [Like how I have to buy friendship, ha!]

Anyway, I’m there from this Tuesday, but if that’s inconvenient [which it might be for me as well given I’ll probably be in meetings-from-hell most of the time] I am sure/hopeful we can catch up over the coming weeks/months.

[Age … our burger date is a given and Emily, this is the project I am hoping to get you involved in – just need to find out the lye of the land before I can commit to anything]

Blinkered About Content …
June 27, 2007, 7:20 am
Filed under: Comment

T1 Blinker

One thing I absolutely detest is when I meet people who think a particular media channel can solve all the [business] problems in the World.

Most of them don’t acknowledge the power/value of any other medium … they just say DM / Digital / TV / Cinema / Promo / Poster / Newspaper / etc [delete where appropriate] is the answer to everything, including cancer, peace on Earth and getting laid more often.

What is really bugging me at the moment is when ad agencies go on and on and on about digital.

Don’t get me wrong, I think digital is fucking brilliant but the bit that bothers me is that the agencies rarely talk about the importance of content, they just imply that if you use digital, everything will be brilliant.

The importance of content/creativity is being more and more sidelined and so in an attempt to name and shame, I wrote this letter to Media Magazine [Asia’s Campaign]

I read Shelly Lazarus comment about User Generated Content with interest … not just because I agree this “phenomenon” is the work of the few rather than the masses… but because she said if agencies weren’t better at content than the consumer, then we’d all be out of business.

The thing is, I believe alot of people who embark on content creation ARE already better than many in adland … and if we [the marketing and advertising community] continue to pay lip-service to the importance of creativity, then we might as well pack up our bags and go home.

OK, I am being very dramatic – not to mention generalistic – and I do appreciate it is [probably] easier to create content that only has to ‘entertain’ rather than motivate people to ‘do stuff’ … however I can’t help but feel alot of the industry is out of touch given many still call the internet ‘new media’ and we continue to keep planning and creative awards as separate entities – when in reality, you shouldn’t be able to have one without the other.

Despite ever changing times, the ‘rules’ of great communication are still pretty much what they’ve always been … and yet many in our industry seem to now regard ‘where you say stuff’ as being far more important than ‘what you say’ and ‘how you say it’ . This is not to underestimate the importance or value of channel choice … far from it … but by the same token, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance and value of great creativity as well.

While user generated content may be produced by a relatively small amount of people … it’s popularity is fuelled by the masses … so I hope the industry realises we cannot treat content with such frivolity because society is indicating they won’t put up with crap ads and now have the power to not only avoid them, but show us how it should be done.

public_enemy We All Hate Rob

No doubt in the next edition I’ll be slagged off by CEO’s and Media Directors but if they read my letter carefully, they’ll see I’m not slagging them off, I’m just trying to remind people what this industry is great at – or at least used to be. 

This separation between media, planning and creativity is killing us … but given so many communication disciplines are now their own profit centres [obsessed with maximising their own profitability] … the situation is unlikely to change before it gets too late.

I can totally understand why it happened … and I can see why media companies are so happy it did [given so many were treated badly by many in the creative community] … but this practice is ultimately screwing the longterm value of our industry, and if certain individuals/disciplines continue to ignore the mutual benefit/power of working together, then our ability to reach/influence the consumer will be long gone and so will our ability to make a living.

Can you tell I’m pissed off at the moment? Ha!

Brand Humiliation …
June 26, 2007, 1:32 pm
Filed under: Comment

So I was in the hell that was Heathrow Airport when I spotted this lovely attempt to ‘grab consumers attention’.

Now you could argue that it worked as I not only noticed it, but secretly videoed it … however the only reason I did it was to demonstrate the sad lengths some companies will go to in a bid to make people notice them.

Apart from the fact its based on the same  ‘lowest form of idea’ that I wrote about a while back, the women look so fucking bored.  And maybe that’s what amazed me most – they look bored rather than humiliated.

I don’t even know what they were ‘advertising’ … but its bound to be some alcohol brand as loads of them seem to use this method to generate sales.

What gets me is that if this was a TV ad, it wouldn’t get through the strict UK alcohol advertising laws … yet in an airport, where there are tons and tons of small kids, it isn’t just allowed … it’s encouraged.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the importance/value of sales promotion and done properly, it can enhance the brand whilst also driving sales … however I can’t help but feel that in this case we have a company who has simply gone for [what they believe is] the quickest route to sales, and not given a second thought to whether it undermines their carefully crafted brand image and persona.  [even though I don’t know who it is for, ha!]

I love the fact that companies go on and on and on about the importance of brand strategy … and yet when they think there is an opportunity to make a few bucks more, they’ll turn their back on it in a heartbeat. 

There’s loads of examples of this … from Harley Davidson making watches [very ‘freedom’] through to MILO making chocolate bars [very ‘healthy energy’] … and all it does is show that strategy means nothing when a companies greed gets in the way!

An Inconvenient Personality …
June 23, 2007, 3:28 am
Filed under: Comment

First of all I want to acknowledge how lucky I am to have even been in the situation to meet Al Gore … plus I want to celebrate the fact that he is taking on such an important issue when it would have been so much easier to sit at home and enjoy a quiet life with his family … finally, it should be noted he genuinely cares about this crisis and while I suspect a Presidential nomination is on its way, I don’t believe he is taking on this issue for publicity reasons.

OK?   Good … that’s the caveat over with.

Maybe it’s because when I first met Bob Geldof I was blown away by his passion [plus he is a genuine hero of mine] … maybe it’s because when Al Gore was in Government he didn’t take on this issue with as much focus and passion as he does today … maybe it’s because on his TedTalk he was so bloody good … maybe it’s because talking to an advertising person about global warming is out of his comfort zone … maybe it’s because it was so bloody hot [and he was sweating alot] … maybe it’s because he had much bigger [as well as better ] things to do … maybe it’s because he was putting more wine in his mouth than food … maybe it’s because he was wearing a ridiculous pair of cowboy boots … maybe it’s because I was so bloody hungry [and didn’t want to talk with my mouth full] … maybe it’s because I spent the first 10 minutes thinking “HOLY SHIT I’M TALKING TO AL GORE” … maybe it’s because as a politician, he’d been trained to control his passion … maybe it’s because I couldn’t stop looking at how bloody fat he is [not nice, but he really is huuuuuge!] … maybe it’s because in ‘An Inconvienient Truth’ he was giving a presentation he’d been doing for years  … maybe it’s because I was trying to tell if his wife had a facelift [she looks really good for her age!] … maybe it’s because when I asked him a rather politically charged question*, he answered in a typically political way [ie: not answering it at all] … maybe it’s because I’m an evil, cynical shit … but for whatever reason it was, I can say I went away feeling  – and I do admit to a sense of shame in saying this – rather underwhelmed.

As I said, I LOVE what he is trying to do [and I don’t care that some say he doesn’t practice what he preaches] … but unfortunately his mannerisms, posture and monotone, charisma-free delivery left me feeling rather unmoved.

Yes I am probably going to go to hell for saying that but that’s the truth.

Don’t get me wrong, he is a genuinely nice bloke … but you get the impression that when he talks about the environment, he switches to ‘Robot Al Mode’ because he either starts regurgitating masses of facts and figures … drops a bundle of names [most of which I’d never heard of] … or uses really obscure quotes where your brain stops listening to what he is saying and tries to work out what the hell he was trying to convey.

I totally respect the man and as I said, there could be a billion reasons for why he didn’t live up to the expectations/image I had … but to me, the difference between when I met Geldof and when I met Gore [hahaha, I love the fact I can write that] is that one guy has had his passion trained out of him and while that might be good for American politics [though I would disagree with that] it’s fucking terrible when you meet a cynical old sod who wants to ‘feel’ what is being said, not just hear it.

So that’s it, Cannes is over … at least for me … and while I’ve generally had a good time, that’s more because I’ve caught up with old friends, seen current friends make complete arseholes of themselves, been out of the office and met Al Gore as opposed to actually enjoying the festival per se.

I won’t go into all the reasons why the awards left me abit cold as I think my previous posts pretty much cover it all … but without doubt, this Cannes has been the ‘Green Cannes’ [they even gave Al Gore a special ‘green lion’] and while that is all well and good, unless the industry starts making a conscious effort to help its clients to help make the World a better place, then it’s nothing but ego-wank talk.

Sure to achieve what I am saying will require better, broader, deeper thinking [ie: not going straight ‘to an ad’] but it can be done … it should be done … and it’ll ultimately benefit everyone – be it humanity, corporations and/or shareholders.

Last thing … an apology to Will and Lauren … I’m not going to be able to meet up this weekend I’m afraid. 

I am so sorry – I really wanted to catch up – but I am there for such a short time it’s going to be pretty much taken up with my management meeting and spending time with my Mum.  I hope you understand and when I am back next time, I promise to buy you both tea AND cake!!! Yes, I am that generous, ha!

With that I wish you all a top weekend and I’ll see you mid-next week as I’ll be in mad flying mode for the next few days.

* I said that given the USA is the largest contributor to global warming … would he say the World would be within its rights to declare war on America for continually using a weapon of mass destruction against humanity.

The wonderfully hungover Tom … minutes before going in to hear Gore’s speech. Between him and me, we put fashion back 100 years!