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

Little Things Can Make Big Fuck Ups …
August 31, 2009, 6:29 am
Filed under: Comment

So we’ve just been doing some ads for one of our clients that features well known people media personalities.

Obviously, as part of the process, we have to get things approved, so we recently sent one of the ideas over to the client and ‘talent’ for their feedback.

Fortunately for us, everything was fine – but the talent did say he had to send it to his managers in London for their approval.

It was then we realised we had a potential disaster on our hands.

When we were going through the ideas, we realised that in the copy, we had said “she” instead of “he”.

Obviously it’s just a slip of a copywriters hand, but it’s not right and just because the ad was a ‘work in progress’ doesn’t mean we should be slack in checking things before we send them out.

Now you might think, “what harms done, the client and talent didn’t pick it up either” and you’d be right, but I don’t think that’s an excuse – however it gets worse. Potentially much, MUCH worse.

You see the talent who has been subject to our inadvertent ‘sex change’ is a very well known gay man … except he hasn’t actually ‘come out’ so I am waiting for the explosion when his managers see the mistake and think we’ve just been taking the piss.

Do I think they will accept it was an innocent mistake?

If it was anyone other than us, possibly – but something tells me I’m going to be buying a lot of dinners over the next few weeks.

I’ve always said it’s the little things that can make the difference and here’s proof –the letter ‘s’ has the potential to make my life very painful indeed!

Porno For Mormons? [Including Classic ‘Tangent’ Soundtrack]
August 28, 2009, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Comment

Because my previous post has been – quite rightly – treated like a piece of shit, I thought I’d let you spend your weekend contemplating …

1/ What sort of person comes up with a contraption like this.
2/ What sort of person would happily advertise a contraption like this.
3/ What sort of person buys a contraption like this.

As Thora Hird once said, “There’s nowt as queer as folk”.

Have a good weekend.

Let’s Act Like Kids Again …
August 28, 2009, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

The very lovely, supportive and kind John Dodds recently told me my blog posts are basically ‘one line of an idea, stretched to the limit’.

And he was right.

For a person whose job is to ‘simplify’, I don’t half go on and on and on sometimes.

Anyway, I digress. As usual.

So I was watching a program recently where it showed kids going off to play with their friends and that got me thinking.

Do you remember when you were young and when you wanted to play with your mates you just went round to their house and knocked on their door?

No phoning, SMSing, MSNing or emailing to check if they were in/available … you just got off your arse and ran round to see if they wanted to come out to play.

Or chat.

Or share a can of Tizer.

Do we do that anymore?

Putting aside the fact Tizer makes Red Bull look like natural spring water … I would hasten to guess, probably not – and if we do ever have unexpected visitors turn up on our doorstep, our first reaction is probably more likely to be one of annoyance than thrill.

Why are we like this?

Sure there’s many things we could throw up as excuses …

We are working harder and have bigger responsibilities than ever before.

We spend so much working, we need to spend time with our loved ones.

We’re so busy we never have time to do the odd jobs that need fixing.

… but at the end of the day, most of that’s a load of bollocks because popping in to see a mate unannounced a couple of times a month is hardly going to kill us is it?

I’ve said it before but this ‘planned spontaneity’ attitude that is prevalent amongst so many of us is pretty sad so here’s my challenge …

This weekend go and knock on a mates door just to ‘say hello’.

No pre-screening … just go over, say hello and then maybe suggest ‘a drink’ for no other reason than it would be nice to catch up.

I know they’ll probably think you’re about to tell them you’re getting a divorce or have cancer … but don’t worry about that … get back to a time when friendship was as much about just hanging out as it was having someone to copy your homework off.

Yes … I am aware that [1] this is an unbelievably bad post and [2] it say’s more about me than it does you … but if you recognise any of this in your life, then maybe you’re losing touch with some of the elements that make life great.

Oh the irony that this is all coming from a man writing it on a blog to a bunch of people he has never met … ha!

Why A Toothbrush Will Stop Me Staying At The Sheraton …
August 27, 2009, 6:29 am
Filed under: Comment

Before I start – I have a sneaky suspicion that I may of already written this post before.

I’ve done a cursory check, but can’t find it … however something is niggling away at me that this is ‘old news’, however as pretty much everything on this blog is old news, I guess you’re used to it.

I am a reluctant tipper.

Let me rephrase that … I am a reluctant tipper unless I feel someone has been especially good in how they have handled my request.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Brit … or a total tight arse … but I find it very hard to hand over a ‘bonus’ simply because someone passed me the salt. 10 minutes after I asked for it.

And yet I now live in a society where people expect to get given money regardless of what they have done.

OK … OK … I know in many cases these people get paid shit and a little can go a long way – however with so many hotels/restaurants already ripping people off with a ‘service charge’, I can’t see for the life of me why I should pay a tip on an already self-imposed tip simply because someone is doing their job.

It’s for these reasons that I am deeply unpopular when I go to the US.

I remember paying for a dinner where I was expecting about US$50 change and the waiter – who had been absolutely fucking shit – boldly said …
“Is the change mine?”

I couldn’t believe it, so much to Andy’s amusement, I replied, “No, but a whole dollar of it is.”

To say I was given stares of death is an understatement – but why the hell should I give more money to someone who hasn’t done anything to earn it?

Fuck, I sound like legendary tight arse Rod Stewart don’t I.

This is all coming out wrong … I guess I am just saying that I don’t subscribe to the ‘always tip’ mentality because I don’t believe in rewarding someone if they’ve acted [attitudinally or interms of their performance] like a total tit.

Hmmmmn, I think this has just about guaranteed no one wants to ever work with me again. Oh well …

Anyway the reason I say all this is because this ‘tip obsession’ has ultimately robbed the Sheraton Hotel in Malaysia of a customer.

Last week I was in KL.

I arrived late at the hotel and basically just wanted to go to bed.

Now I stay in a lot of hotels and apart from the Sanderson in London – who tried to charge me TWENTY POUNDS for a toothbrush kit – I have pretty much always found a basic amenities kit in the bathroom.

That was until I stayed at the Sheraton.

Oh no. You see, despite it supposedly being a decent hotel – they don’t put anything in your bathroom except some soap and toilet paper.

“OK, no worries” … I thought, “… I’ll just ring house-keeping.”

“No problems Mr Campbell” they said, “… we’ll send one to your room immediately”.

5 minutes pass.

10 minutes pass.

15 minutes pass.

20 minutes pass.


Finally …

I open the door and find a young guy holding my toothbrush like it was a javelin.

“Your toothbrush” he declared, like he’d just found the Da Vinci code.

“Thank you very much”, I replied … however, as I took the item from the guys hand, I realised he was rooted to the spot.

Had he accidently stood in a jar of super glue?

Was he standing on some chewing gum?

No, the cheeky bugger expected me to tip him.

For bringing me a toothbrush after 20 minutes!!!

And did I?

Of course … because my mind basically went through all the reasons why it wasn’t his fault.

1/ Maybe house-keeping couldn’t find a toothbrush and held him up.

2/ He was young and probably working to pay his way through university. Or look after his dying parents.

3/ I never feel I deserve to be in nice places so I thought maybe some of my guilt could be off-set by helping out this guy … someone I felt more related to than I did anyone else in the hotel.

And that is why I paid more for this toothbrush than if I’d gone to the shops and bought everything Colgate had ever produced for people’s gobs.

Yet I feel a bit pissy.

OK, so in the big scheme of things it’s nothing much, however the fact a hotel feels it OK to make guests order a toothbrush and go through – for Brits – the anguish of ‘do I tip/don’t I tip’ means I am much less likely to stay there in the future.

Maybe I am an anomaly … maybe I am a tight arse … but with hotels doing more and more outlandish schemes in an attempt to get customers whilst still charging outrageous rates for the smallest of items [Can of Diet Coke? $7!!!], they should make sure they get the basics right because I care a damn site more about having a toothbrush in my room than I do a bloody monogrammed bathrobe.

Is Ignorance Or Delusion, Bliss?
August 26, 2009, 6:35 am
Filed under: Comment

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of very clever people who work in brand consultancies.

No – it’s not April the 1st – it’s true.

The reason I feel I have to point this out is because if you were to follow some of the comments being made by some of the more ‘high profile’ individuals, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a home for fuckwits, used car salesmen and con artists.

My personal pet peeve?

When they take a company for fucking millions, claiming a new logo … and ONLY a new logo … can change the fate of a company overnight.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely appreciate the importance, value and appeal of a strong and memorable visual identity, but if the products shit, it ain’t gonna work – at least in the long term.

Let’s be honest, Google’s “logo” looks like some 5 year old with powerpoint put it together … however, because the brand actually lives a meaningful, demonstrable, motivating and infectious philosophy, no one really gives a damn.

Hell, some people actually think Google is cool … how weird is that eh!

So why am I saying this …

Because someone – I don’t know who – has said to SONY Ericsson, that the future of their company isn’t about making better products or offering superior customer service, it’s about recreating their logo in different colours.

Yes, that’ll do it … I have instantly forgotten that they treated me like a total prick when their phones kept failing … I’ve painted out of my memory the fact they lied and then called me a liar … I’ve moved on from the fact they continually create products that almost always has one key feature missing … they now have their weird logo in 5 lovely shades and so regardless of what tat they churn out, I’ll be queuing up for them.

Brilliant move Sony Ericsson … I wonder how much you paid for it?

Whatever it was, it was too much.

No doubt the pink symbol will be used for girl phones and the blue on boys. Green will be for business models and the brown and purple will be kept in a tin on the shelf till they find a way to make phones they can sell to dogs and lesbians.

[No, I don’t know where I’m going with this either]

I find it incredibly sad that so many companies genuinely believe a new visual identity – without anything to really back it up – can change their fate. Their belief that it signifies a ‘change’ to the market is astounding given most people won’t even notice it, let alone care.

I guess it is symbolic of a culture [from Governments to shareholders] that is continually looking for short-cuts to success rather than putting in the hard yards and facing their responsibilities … and the fact common sense flies out the window when a brand consultancy will happily perpetuate the companies delusion makes me sad.

Terribly, terribly sad.

You Feel Better If You’ve Worked For It …
August 25, 2009, 6:45 am
Filed under: Comment

I love hard work … I could sit and watch it for years.

Now there’s a quote we can all relate to. Or can we?

The reason I bring this up is that recently, a Middle Eastern billionaire bought into one of my local football teams, Notts County.

Now the reason I find this interesting is that Notts County – whilst being the oldest professional club in the World – are shit.

Yes even shitter than my beloved Nottingham Forest.

Hell, they’ve been bumbling along the bottom of the [old] 4th division – beating relegation by the skin of their teeth – year after year and yet, for reasons that still have not been made totally clear, a billionaire has decided to revive their fortunes despite living in a land about as far removed from Nottingham as you can get.

And the long and short of it is that I think it’s great.

In a sport where we’ve seen outrageous levels of investment in many of the so called ‘glamour’ clubs – here is a man who has decided not to take the easy, and obvious, path … but chosen to help a proud and historic club that is down on its luck.

To me, that say’s a lot about the man …

Sure, he’s paying the ol’ Swedish pervert – Sven-Göran Eriksson – 2 million quid a year to ‘oversee’ his investment, has promised additional funds for player acquisition and has said he wants the team in the Championship by their 150th anniversary [3 years from now] but all in all, it seems the goal is to earn the right to be viewed as successful rather than simply buying in at the top level.

In a World where people view success more by what you have rather than what you did to earn it, I find this approach both refreshing and inspiring … and whilst I’m under no illusion that having a billionaire backer and globally renowned football coach makes things easier, it’s still the path of great resistance which is why it seems to me the man behind all this positive turmoil subscribes to the view that nothing feels as great as when you’ve overcome some level of adversity – and I wish more companies adopted this view because in their quest for ‘easier’ profits, they’re potentially missing out on opportunities that could make them truly great.

There’s nothing wrong with making [m/b]illions … but to me, it’s how you made it and what you did with it once you got it … which is why I’m more likely to support the new Notts County patriarch than I am Mr Abranovich or most agency CEO’s for that matter.

Intellectual Inflation …
August 24, 2009, 6:03 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things I love about airports is seeing all the advertising.

The reason I say this is not because it represents the pinnacle of creativity, but because it embodies the ego of so many industries.

To be honest, I’ve never really bought into the whole ‘airport advertising targets the uber-successful’.

There’s a couple of reasons for this …

1/ I go to airports a hell of a lot and I am about as successful as errrrrm, someone you’ve never heard of who isn’t very successful.

2/ The truly successful go to airports so regularly, that they don’t get there 2 hours before takeoff, but about 2 minutes before doors close – meaning they don’t hang around long enough to even notice any of the billboard ads, let alone react to them.

Anyway, getting back to the reason for this post, recently I was walking through HK airport when I saw these …

Jesus Christ, have you ever read such clichéd twaddle? Is it just me or do they sound like the sort of ‘joke’ you get in a Christmas cracker?

I’ve written before how much I value education – and I’ve also written how I don’t believe they should be run as an independent profit centres – however what bugs me is that so many universities are seemingly now positioning themselves as the ‘home for greater wealth’ which has major implications both on the attitudes of the people attending and the courses being offered.

Of course I’m generalising – however a little while back, whilst on Google duty, I was in the fortunate position of doing some work with Harvard when they announced they didn’t want to be known as a place that simply [my words] “churned out the next generation of billionaire banker, but wanted to help develop people who wished to make the World a better place”.

Now, given I’d met many of their professors, I knew this to be true however it didn’t stop me ringing my contacts [professors in law and economics] telling them that if they really wanted this to be the case, why don’t they double the admission costs [as people will still pay as it’s bloody Harvard] and let someone who has [1] no desire to be a banker and [2] no chance of ever attending, study there.

The response?

“You got us Robert”.

You see, whilst I know places like Harvard genuinely do want education to be used as a currency for good [both personal and social] the fact is, we have become a society where ‘value’ is determined almost universally on ‘financial return’ which is why the majority of places of learning hunt down ‘customers’ down with all the zeal of an FMCG … promising wealth seemingly based more on the fact companies like people with MBA’s rather than education – which when mingled with a person’s natural curiosity and pragmatism – can/will open new and exciting doors of opportunities.

As Sir Ken Robinson said in his landmark speech, the problem with all this is that so many people are now getting degrees etc, their value is actually decreasing – meaning that unless something drastic happens, we are in danger of churning out experts in process rather than individuals who can pragmatically take their knowledge and do something new and interesting with it.

If you want to see what the future looks like if universities don’t start embracing and encouraging a more entrepreneurial spirit, look no further than the students of Singapore … a production line of brilliant people who in many cases, sadly have an inability to think around a problem and/or cannot accept objective points of view.

In other words, it’s a generation who aspire to be middle management in an International company rather than create their own future and fate.

I once saw a brilliant professor of psychology [@ Utah University no less!] who said that when he started teaching in the 60’s, the campus was a hotbed of debate regarding how to make the World a better place for all who lived in it … now people just talk about how best to make a billion … and whilst money is incredibly important, if even our places of learning happily perpetuate the myth that the only things of value is first class travel and wearing a suit in an International company, then what hope have we got to make business and life interesting.

I know I am bound to be biased, but it’s for these reasons I hope Richard Branson one day starts a university because by his own admission, if he had based his decisions following the rules advocated by many of the business universities around the World, he’d of ended up being a bloke selling used LP’s at a market stall in South London.