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

For The Guilty Parent …
June 22, 2007, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Comment

So you’re a new Mum or Dad … and you love little Johnnie incredibly … but because you like driving a new BMW 5 series and living in a desirable location, you work all hours available and only really get to be a parent for 3 minutes on a Saturday [as you rush out to buy your soy mochacino!]

Of course you feel abit guilty about it, but hey … you’re building a solid and desirable foundation for the future so it’s all justifiable.

However despite showering lil’ Johnnie with gift upon gift … there’s that little nagging feeling in the back of your head that you could be a BAD PARENT???

Enter the latest desk fan from Asia with new ‘Baby Wind’ setting.

Suddenly you can feel like little Johnnie is in the room with you.

Suddenly you can feel like you are spending time with your child.

Suddenly you can feel like the best god-damn parent in the UNIVERSE.


OK, so it’s not really a fan with a ‘guilty parent’ setting, it’s just another one of those classic ‘lost in translation’ examples – but I like it because it sounds like it has a built-in noxious fumes setting which you probably can only access by patting the fan on the back for a few minutes. Pointless post … but probably more enjoyable than the Cannes crap I’ve been writing about eh, haha!

Mind you, later today is ‘GORE DAY’ … so if  that doesn’t inspire me to write a positive and interesting post about Cannesthen I may as well pack in this whole blogging lark, put on a cardy and wait to die.And no, that is not a promise, ha!

PS: No Mum, I won’t be wearing a suit to have dinner with him, but I promise I won’t let the family name down. Too much.

Mars Or The Top Of Rob’s Sunburnt Head? You Decide.
June 22, 2007, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Comment

But as Fred said [in a previous comment] … at least my sunburn happened naturally which is more than can be said for him!

[Wonderful to have you back my friend, can’t wait to see you on Tuesday!]

Rolf Harris Say’s …
June 22, 2007, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Comment

This photo was taken at an ad agency party in Cannes last night.

If you reckon you can tell what it is [yet], write it in the comments section … the winner gets errrrrmn, nothing.

[Clue: it’s the sort of sad thing you would expect an agency to do to try and look cool/shocking/memorable]

A Victim Of Circumstance …
June 21, 2007, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Comment

So some very senior guys from RKCR/Y&R have announced their resignation from the agency and their intention to start a totally new company.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve had quite a number of confusing calls/emails asking me what is going on and I don’t understand why.

Chinese Whispers

Sure I share the same name as one of RKCR’s founders [though he left RCKR/Y&R years ago]  … sure I have a long history working with Virgin … and sure, I/we are working with Y&R/WPP throughout Asia to boost their planning and creative capabilities … however that doesn’t mean I have the faintest idea of what is going on over there and to be honest, I don’t really care … though I would suggest getting Richard Huntingdon in the vacant spot quick smart.

Sherlock Holmes Monkey

I love how people can take totally unrelated information and because of some weak coincidence, suddenly think they’ve cracked the Da Vinci code … however on this occasion, as is often the case, they have demonstrated to be more Conspiracy Theorist than Sherlock Holmes … and I’m sure Robert Campbell [the one who helped found RKCR] would not be happy to think some people out there believe HE is the loud, opinionated, sunburnt planning tosser who writes this blog.

Being confused as a planner when you’re a multi-award winning creative is bad enough, but being confused for me … that must be hell on Earth!


However there is something I have learnt through all this … and that is the keyboards on French computers in internet cafe’s are laid out slightly differently from the QWERTY ones we all know so it takes a bitch-of-a time to write anything that isn’t laden with spelling mistakes. 

Not that has ever bothered NP or Marcus though eh?  Ha!


Biting The Hand That Feeds Me …
June 21, 2007, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Comment

Number Two

So I’ve been in Cannes now 2 days … and after the initial happiness of basically being in a beautiful seaside town with nice weather, great food and astoundingly beautiful people to look at – I’m now angry.

No … this is not because we’ve not been given awards for things we thought we deserved [though I can’t say the same for Andy, ha] … nor is it because everything around here costs a fucking fortune … nor is it because I’ve now the brightest sunburnt head this side of Skeggy … it’s because I’ve been reminded how much I fucking loathe 95% of the fucking advertising industry.

Don’t get me wrong … I actually really love advertising [well, my version of advertising] … but the majority of the people within it?  Give me a gun and I’ll happily pull the trigger.

It started off when I casually picked up Industry Bible “Campaign” and read page after page of arrogant, upper-class tripe from a bunch of smug-looking cocks who have about as much to do with the ‘realities of life’ as the Queen.

14th July - Bastille Day, France

While I am sure most of the fuckers come from the sorts of places that would make Nottingham look like the global city of culture – their attitude, language and posture make them sound like the sort of individuals who would have been first killed in the French Revolution.

I am sure Matt Dyke at DDB [UK] is a lovely bloke, but when you read things like …

“Definitely take beach wear, otherwise you’ll end up splashing 200 [euros] in Hermes” you just end up wanting to lamp the fucker.

For Matt’s sake I hope he doesn’t work on any brand like Macca’s or Cornflakes because in that one sentence, he has just lost all cred in ‘knowing how consumers think’, hahaha!

And he is not alone … a whole host of advertising upper-class yobs talk passionately and positively about what amounts to the vulgar spending of money and it’s all very, very sickening.

No doubt these people think Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street is a God and that the 80’s were the single greatest times in advertising! Tossers.

Now I don’t want to sound a crushing bore, but this sort of attitude and behaviour does the industry no good at all.

Sure we should be able to celebrate the power and magic of great advertising … sure we should be able to let our hair down and have a good time … but for it to last a week … in Cannes … right after the Film Festival? 

I tell you, if we asked Freud what he thought it all meant, I am sure he would say it was representative of advertising’s desperate bid to feel superior and important within the social hierarchy … or in short … there’s a bunch of delusional fuckers in adland.

Infact, had I not had the wonderful pleasure of drinking a coffee with my East Midlands chum, Russell, who knows what I may of ended up doing? 

May 1st.

Given all my normal ‘calming influences’ had deserted me [George was in detox … Pete was in shame … DD was in a stupor … Trev was being romantic [with his wife I should add] … Kathryn was at dinner … and everyone else who usually keeps me ‘grounded’ was at home] there’s a good chance I could be writing this post from a French police cell, just like the last time I came to this country. [Long story, better kept to myself!]

Russell, my Mum thanks you for subconsciously keeping me on the safe[ish] and narrow … and on a personal note, I hope next time we can have a longer chat about ‘stuff’ because that’s when life is the most interesting. At least for me, ha!

Cannes is a lovely place … and I do appreciate how privileged I am for being here when so many people are stuck behind desks in Luton … however if it means I have to mingle with the sort of folk that turns this place into a ‘Club 18-90 for the Delusional’, [though I should point out NOT everyone is like this here, just alot of them] then all things considered, next year I’d rather stay at home.

2 more days to go.

Will I survive?  Or probably more appropriate, will the ad industry survive?

PS: Pete is genuinely mortified about his ‘Majestic’ comment yesterday.  We bought him a little toy crown to wear last night to signify his pompousness – which is really unfair as …

1 he’s not like that at all

2 the only ‘grandiose thing’ about the Majestic is it’s name

3 we ate sausages there – about the most un-Cannes thing you could ever do, ha!

PPS: There is not a Starbucks to be seen ANYWHERE in Cannes.  It’s wonderful. 

Sure there’s a Macca’s, but there’s only one and it’s minute … but you get the impression Starbucks was scared/chased out of town so that the small, local cafe businesses which are dotted down every street, could prosper.

This immediately gives Cannes a more intimate feeling … something that is both novel and inviting. Other councils should take note!

Cannes: Day One In The Sun …
June 20, 2007, 8:51 am
Filed under: Comment

Number One

So after a flight sitting next to an old boss of mine [which was interesting as I left under abit of a cloud] I arrived in hot and sunny Cannes.

Unsurprisingly, I was immediately hit by 4 key things …

1 The men were either all trying to look like members of The Rolling Stones or Miami Vice [The TV show, not the movie]

2 The women were all unbelievably beautiful and carried themselves off with far more grace than the men could ever hope for

3 There were more Ferrari’s and Bentley’s than even David Beckham could dream of

4 Most people were pissed or obviously trying to pretend they didn’t want to be noticed

Anyway, after checking into my hotel I went out into the sun and within 10 mins of walking along the sea front I found George slumbered in the corner of a bar, pissed out of his head telling me I was his best friend and the awards were all a big, fucking fix. [I kid you not, he even swore!!!]

Apart from the fact he had inadvertently become a great ad for not drinking, I couldn’t help but feel we’d been in a similar situation before – like in India a few months ago – proving that married men with 3 daughters should never be allowed out on their own because they metamorphisize into wankdom!

So I left him to it and went and had a look at what was else was going on.

And what did I find?

Errrrm, see points 1-4 above.

suessian megaphone

Luckily after an hour or so, it was time for me to do my speech with Pete from Crispin’s – so I turned my back on ad-ego-hell and headed into the cauldron of ‘what’s-so-fucking-special-about-you? conference.

As you would expect from the most pragmatic creative agency currently operating in the World, they attracted an audience who demanded to be challenged, entertained and informed and for the next 45 minutes did out very best to do just that. 

Whether we actually achieved our goal is open to debate, but they seemed very happy at the end and were genuinely interested in our view that if advertising was to survive, it would be dependent on us finding creative answers to clients business problems, not just thinking an ad is always the best – or right – solution.

To demonstrate this, we talked about the recent motorbike brief we had been given … how we’d designed jumbo jet interiors for Virgin … why the British M.O.D. asked us to create none-harmful weaponry … then we invited the wonderful Nigel Marsh – CEO of Leo’s in Australia – to talk about the Earth Hour campaign which he not only communicated, but conceived as well.

It all led to an interesting debate and more and more I think Rob M’s idea of a summit/conference/tea-party on this matter is vital because there are still too people with their heads in the sand believing a 30 second bit of film can solve all the problems in the World.

After that I just ponced around … saw friends, ate AMAZING food, picked up 2 bronze and 1 gold Lion/s in the print category [well, the guys in our team did and a massive congrats to them for that] then I picked up George from the bar and made sure he got home/hotel.

So here I am at 1:34am Frog time in my room, unbelievably ready for bed. 

All in all it has been an OK day … but tomorrow is where it really kicks off and I am happy to say I am meeting Russell for a nice cup of tea to ensure that with all the festivities, Mr Angry from Nottingham doesn’t develop an advertising ‘luvvy’ streak, ha!

It’s absolute and total wank … but as absolute and total wank goes, it’s fun!

[Yes Andy, lots of people asked me how you were. Happy now???]

Natural Optimism …
June 18, 2007, 11:32 am
Filed under: Comment

Rainbows. I love them.

No, I’m not talking about the kids television show featuring such characters as George, Zippy, Bungle, Rod, Jane and Freddie plus the host who ended up stacking shelves at his local Tesco – I’m talking about this type …

And why do I love them?

Well to me, they have a magical appeal – they signify hope, positivity and a belief that everything is going to be alright.

Without doubt this all stems from my childhood where a rainbow would inform me the rain that had kept me indoors was finally going and I should get ready to go out – be it riding my bike through the big puddles, going to the park and getting a wet bum playing on the swings or simply getting my trainers and pants filthy as I play football with my friends on the muddy sports fields.

And while I haven’t ridden a bike, gone or a swing or played footie for quite a while – when I see a rainbow it brings back a warm feeling – a sense all is OK or is going to be OK and a moment of inner peace.

Mad isn’t it.

The thing is, great brands/ideas/people should effect people in a similar way.  They should impact you from the inside-out … making you ‘feel’ something that positively affects your mood, your attitude, your mind, even if it is just for a split second.

For me, a great brand is one that attracts people regardless of heritage, distribution, price or innovation … and yet so many people think it’s simply something that has a recognisable look or logo – which is probably why so many ‘re-launch’ every 12 months. 

God that sort of thing pisses me off …

They go on about how ad agencies aren’t responsible with money and then spend obscene amounts of cash every 12 months in the hope that their completely new positioning will change their market success even though in the ‘real World’, it’s just more of the same old bland bollocks they’ve been peddling for years.

Think about brands like Apple, Virgin, Tesco, NIKE. W&K … all contemporary, relevant and exciting brands and yet they don’t ’relaunch’ every year. 

Infact they stand for pretty much the same thing they’ve always stood for which means the masses actually believe in them … trust them … fuck, LIKE them … which in these days of greater choice and information is possibly one of the most important advantages any corporation can have for maximising their chance of prosperity.

Maybe I’m daft, but I think it is quite easy to develop engaging brand ideas and as far as I am concerned, the basic rules are …

1 Develop an idea that is consumer focused [but based on a company truth – preferably attitudinal], means something [rather than just being corporate drivel] and engages culture rather than just the category.

2 Stick by that idea. For decades!

[Sure, you still have to ensure the expression is relevant and resonant to changing time, but you don’t change what you stand for every 2 minutes as part of yet another ‘Brand Relaunch’]

3 Keep track of what is going on in your category and your consumers lives so you can exploit or defend any situation

Don’t let your idea become diluted by mediocrity

5 Engage, enthuse, entertain, interest be fresh and honest in all your communication with society

[From your ads to your packaging to your promotions]

Live what you say, say what you live

OK … so there’s going to be other things you should/could do to make your brand mean more than just the category … but given we are in changing times with more and more cynical [yet informed] consumers, it’s time brands stood for something rather than continually tried to represent whatever it is they think the consumer wants to hear.

It’s about attracting, not chasing … sure we have to sell things … but to paraphrase David Ogilvy, the consumer is not stupid, the consumer is your wife / husband / partner / child / friend / lover / parent / grandparent / colleague! [Delete as appropriate] 

PS: I arrive in Cannes tomorrow which is why this post has sod all to do with the ego-fest. Expect ‘character assassination’s from around Wednesday, ha!