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

Here’s A Headline You Don’t See Very Often*
July 31, 2008, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Food For Thought

Nice to know that political scandals are not just limited to Western governments.

For those who want to know what the hell this is about, you can find out here.

* Unless you read the Sunday Sport ‘newspaper’.

Freedom Of Opinion Wanted …
July 31, 2008, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Comment

I am aware most of my blog posts of late have been bordering on being unmitigated shite [wait till you see tomorrow’s, it’s achieves new highs in lows!] but after a lovely chat with Professor Mark Chong – one of the best blokes in the Universe – I think I might actually be writing some stuff that could be interesting in the future.

No, that’s not a typo – I N T E R E S T I N G

Sadly, given it’s going to take some time for us to validate the trend we believe is emerging, you’re going to have to sit through alot more of my crap before you get to the gold [or at least, gold plated] however to get things rolling, I’d love to hear whether you think Asian business [especially in Singapore] is becoming [or will soon become] more Western in it’s attitude/approach or more Asian – and why.

All viewpoints gratefully received – especially if you live/work/deal in the region.

That’s it. Ta-ra.

[PS: Charles and Lauren are on fire at the moment – not literally, I’m talking about their blogs. One day I hope to be able to achieve 36.27% of the quality they write on a daily basis, the clever, smug bastards!]

Your ‘Spin’ Spins Me Right Round, Baby Right Round …
July 31, 2008, 8:00 am
Filed under: Comment

Given most of my mates are at work [or at least that’s their excuse] I thought I’d turn to the newspaper … and even though it contravenes the trades description act of what a newspaper should be … I did come across a rather interesting letter that someone decided to write in …

Bad BA by you.

I know it is probably quite hard to read, but the basic jist is that this bloke, Steve Armstrong, is slagging off British Airways because [1] they have unhelpful call centres in India [2] the luggage gets lost and [3] they charge a fortune.

Now even though they are a totally shit airline, does anyone else think this whole thing smells abit funny?

OK, so Singaporean’s LOOOOOOOOVE to moan and complain but Steve Armstrong doesn’t sound a very Asian does it?

And his complaint sounds kinda weird – especially the fact that he sends his kids using an airline he say’s he vowed many years ago never to use again.

Alright … alright … he doesn’t say “I’m only going to fly Singapore Airlines in the future because they’re the best and the most competitively priced” so I appreciate I’m making abit of a conspiracy theory here, but this wouldn’t be the first time companies have used dirty tactics to try and obtain more business.

One of my favourites – apart from when SONY Pictures invented journalistic quotes for their movies [actually they invented the journalists as well but that’s by-the-by] – is back in 2002 when I was in Oz.

I was scanning through the pages of the terrible Daily Telegraph newspaper when I came across this supposed ‘readers letter’ …

Page 18 by you.

OK, so Aussie blokes love their cars – and there is this Ford vs Holden battle amongst the truly sad [ha!] – but who the fuck writes in about bloody television commercials?

Of course my cynic-radar told me that this was another example of the depths PR companies will stoop to to get their client some positive publicity so imagine my surprise when I turned the page and saw the promotion that the Daily Telegraph was running …

Page 20

Yep, that’s right, WIN A FORD XR6 … what a surprise!

Of course I can’t prove that The Daily Telegraph and Ford were in cahoots to pull the wool over the Aussie publics eyes … but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s quite a coincidence.

So for all those companies who want to try and get some additional – and positive publicity – I have an idea for you.

Rather than utilise the most transparent strategy since George Bush announced WMD’s in Iraq, why don’t you actually do stuff that people actually want/need rather than try and take the lazy route by attempting to make big news out of nothing or at the very least, the most miniscule evolution known to man.

I know you’re probably all jealous how Apple can get on news programs all around the World by banging out the same product with a bit more colour and memory, but they’re an exception [and even though they have a history of genuine, user-friendly innovation, that sort of behaviour won’t go unpunished if they try and do it too often] so stop your PR machines from fabricating illusion and do something that they can really get their teeth into … something good, interesting and exciting … because for all the money you spend on spin, I bet you could come out with something worthwhile if you re-directed some of those funds into finding out what your customers really want/need rather than interpret whatever they say to suit your own personal agendas.

It’s Not Business, It’s Personal …
July 30, 2008, 7:57 am
Filed under: Comment

A while back I wrote about how difficult it is to run global / regional brands.

The main thrust of my rant was that not only do you have to get a grip [and manage] cultural differences, but you also have to counter the various corporate attitudinal differences – which tends to mean that apart from a focus on ‘getting the money in’, there’s little consistency in approach.

To highlight my example, I discussed how SONY Malaysia were systematically destroying their corporate brands vision, strategy and goal by embarking on some terrible advertising for Vaio.

28/12/2007 I’d rather be an orphan!

Now I know I shouldn’t care because I left that account when I/we ended our WPP experiment – but the thing is I do care, I care alot – and what kills me is that it seems SONY Malaysia’s terrible attitude towards brand building and treating people with respect and intelligence is spreading to Singapore.

Normally when I go to the Funan Mall – one of Singapore’s dedicated technology shopping centres – I get very excited because I know I’ll be seeing/buying more pointless shit that will keep me happy for oooooooh, 10 minutes, however on this occasion, I felt sick before I even entered the doors because hanging proudly at the entrance was this …





So according to SONY [or should I say SONY VAIO … coincidence? I think not!] the colour pink makes you [1] more romantic and [2] more beautiful.

Well no offence, but Barbara Cartland was liberally coated in the stuff and she looked fucking terrible … though to be fair, she did write a load of soppy guff that sold in the millions.

And what the hell is luxurious pink?

Is that like ‘Tuscan Red’ … which is basically red with a poncy name? Designers have a lot to answer for I can tell you … 🙂

Now while I am sure there are some people out there who really, really, really want a pink computer [Emah for example!] I doubt even they would buy one JUST because of it’s fucking colour.

And if they did, would you really want stupid bastards walking around associating with your brand?

Well actually if you’re embarking on this sort of strategy, we know the answer to that – however selling your brand/product purely on the basis it comes in a particular shade of pink undermines any premium price you hope to achieve.

Look, I know that when iMac first offered different colour ‘flavours’, it was a novel approach because before that, computers had only been available in grey or black … however as I said previously, we live in multi-coloured ‘everything’ times, so this approach is particularly weak, especially when every other computer manufacture – including the super-cheap-and-nasty – offers the same option.

It is a very fine line between brand consistency and profit – however they are not mutually exclusive – and if SONY carries on letting it’s VAIO subsidiary fuck up their brand, then they only have themselves to blame if they go back to the wilderness they were so recently an inhabitant of.

I love SONY – not just because of what I/we did for them – but because I adore their products and when I see this kind-of activity, it makes me ill because it’s the actions of the desperate and/or totally misinformed.

I’m sure there’ll be someone who retort this approach has had a positive short term effect on sales, however to them I would counter by saying it’s the long-term ramifications you should be worried about – but then when organisations only focus on the end of the month, I’d only be wasting my breath wouldn’t I?

Brands keep going on about how hard it is to achieve consumer loyalty, but what do they expect when they subject them to lowest common denominator communication day after day after day?

Hmmmmn, I wonder how much of this approach is a byproduct of how the marketing manager/director is treated/respected by their boss?

As one client once said to me, “shit is handed down in direct proportion to what he is experiencing himself” – which means if the CEO isn’t getting laid, we all suffer 🙂

Drink And Drive … It’s Fun!
July 29, 2008, 11:23 am
Filed under: Crap Marketing Ideas From History!

27/07/2008 by you.

Formula 1cocktails? Formula 1 cocks more like …

And the copy … “Getting you revved up for the Formula 1 season. It’s our pleasure. Please approach our ladies or gentlemen for more information” … could easily be misinterpreted as a theme night at the local brothel.

Another gratuitous attempt to jump on the Singapore Formula 1 bandwagon. What next, Formula 1 bog roll? For when you have to ‘shit and go’ in a hurry?

Funny How The Advertising Capitalists Utilise A Communist Approach To Business Problem Solving …
July 28, 2008, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment

One Way Photo: Timothy Schenck

I’m back home for a few days which gives me a chance to have a think about some of the stuff that’s been going on in my/our lives as of late. [Not including having to put up with Andy at close quarters for far too long/often!]

To be honest, it’s all been very exciting – but rather than go on about that [mainly because there’s shedloads still to do] – I’d like to write about one of the key differences I’ve noticed between how an organisation like Google operates [especially in the area of ‘problem solving’] and adland.

Actually, I/we have noticed quite alot of operational/attitudinal differences so maybe over the coming weeks/months [time, confidentiality clauses and other things that get me ranting, allowing] I’ll detail a few more of them because there’s some massive learnings that I believe both organisations/industries could benefit from reading/hearing.

[Well, that is if you think my viewpoint has any validity at all – which we all know it doesn’t – so moving swiftly on …]

So last week we were sitting around with some of the Google folk when the subject of adland came up.

Putting aside that a load of geeks had the audacity to say people in advertising are out of touch [that comment is just for you Jonathan, ha!] I found it very interesting that they said the worst two presentations they’d EVER seen came from big ad agency networks/holding companies.

Apparently in both cases a bunch of big wigs had come in and talked about their ‘proprietary system’ and how it led to a bunch of their famous ads being created.

The thing is, the Google folk found what was being said weird – not just because they didn’t recognise some of the ads being called ‘famous’ – but because [1] they couldn’t believe the networks were claiming their system was unique when it sounded awfully basic [not to mention very similar to the one their competitors were bragging about] and [2] they couldn’t help but feel the agencies were talking about processes and systems because they thought it would help them ‘connect’ with the engineers in the room.

The thing is – and this is a lesson to any in adland who claim EVERYTHING has to follow a regimented, researched, all-encompassing process – Google don’t believe that one single process can solve it all.

Sure there may be certain elements within a task that requires specific processes to be adhered to, however when Google [or any engineer for that matter] tries to create something new, they tend to develop a process around the challenge, rather than make the challenge work within the process.

I know that sounds like common sense but have a think about how many agencies talk/think/act like that?

No wonder so many ad campaigns are so bloody generic!


In their desperate bid to be corporately relevant, adland decided to put all their eggs in the ‘proprietary tool’ basket [even though in many cases, the only ‘unique element’ is the name attached to their system] … and while some clients have ‘fallen’ for this approach, the fact every business problem is answered with ‘an ad’ shows just how out-of-touch they [and their proprietary tools] really are.

[Yes I know that at this point Google basically just live online, but [1] they’re still more imaginative than many in adland [2] they are still a relatively young organisation [3] I’m working on changing that, hence I’ve asked them to come up with ideas how the brand would/could exist if there was a Worldwide power cut, ha!]

The difference between Google and adland is that Google live by guiding principals rather than a single, regimented process – and whilst there are some agencies out there who follow a similar approach – the short-sightedness [or arrogance] of the big networks is becoming more and more apparent each and every day.

Sir Martin Sorrell calls Google the ‘frenemy’ … and he’s right, because on one hand they’re encouraging/forcing adland to raise their game and show just how clever, creative and imaginative we can be whereas on the other, they’re ready to take away our livlihoods if we continue to ignore the needs/wants/desires of clients and society.

Right, I’m off to spend abit of time with the wife so I hope you’re all toptastic and I’ll catch you soon …

[PS: I cannot tell you how great it is to meet people who can articulate why they don’t like something, clearly and precisely. It makes such a refreshing change from the usual, “I just don’t like it”]

Why Is It …
July 24, 2008, 3:33 am
Filed under: Comment

… that companies use clichés to talk about their desire to develop innovative thinking/ideas?

Shift the paradigm

Think outside of the box

Jesus, if they can’t even think of a fresh way to express their goals, how the hell are they going to ever stand a chance of achieving them?

One of the worst offenders has to be Wunderman.

After making some truly awful generalisations regarding technology and people born in the 1970’s … they’ve now gone and cemented the fact they are about as creative, imaginative and relevant as Elizabeth Taylor by launching their new corporate identity …


Apart from the fact the font looks like it comes straight from Air Austria circa 1974 – that splodge is just plain weird.

Personally, I think it looks like a butterfly trying to shag a kids building block … or maybe the silhouette of some freak deer [while vomiting] … but according to Trish Wheaton [Wunderman’s Global Chief Marketing Officer] it represents …

“Wunderman’s new and refreshed brand identity bringing focus to our core proposition for clients and potential clients and provides each and every employee with a common articulation of our values and our vision”.

Sure it does love … sure it does.

Now putting aside the fact that this demonstrates how design justification is even more ludicrous than that of adland … what I want to know is what this means Wunderman’s value and vision actually are?

Does the purple represent they want to be a delicious [and successful] as Cadbury’s?

Maybe it means they think Prince is the God of midget-sized music?

Or it signify that they are ambiguous in their claims because that way, they can say whatever the client wants to hear?

Too be honest, I still wasn’t the wiser – especially when I spotted that their logo [or the squiggle outside the box] actually varied …

Because I’m a nosy bastard, I decided to find out what they were on about, so I called up a Wunderman representative and asked … and do you know what they said?

“It represents how Wunderman think outside the box”.

Case closed, point proved and despair achieved.