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

On Your Marks. Get Set. Underwhelm …
September 30, 2009, 6:56 am
Filed under: Comment

So last week I went to the SPIKES.

Overall it was pretty good, though as I wrote previously, Sir Ken Robertson [I mean, Robinson obviously – thanks for pointing out my stupidity there Simon, ha!] – a man who has never worked in advertising – stole the show for me both interms of his passion, his views on creativity and his ability to communicate without the need to show a single ad.

But that’s by the by … what this post is about is the gift bag you receive when you register.

Look, I know there’s an economic crisis going on but seriously, some of the ‘freebies’ were bloody awful.

I don’t mind getting cheap stuff – when you’ve grown up in Nottingham you’d regard a punch in the face as something nice – the issue I’ve got is just the bloody awful post-rationalisation that was used to justify the tat.

Come on folks, we’re in the creative intelligence business, surely we can come up with a half decent, semi-interesting/memorable justification for the stuff purchased from the local market stall.

My personal fave interms of total and unadulterated shittiness?

How about this beauty from McCann’s …

STAGE 1: “Oooooh a blue box. Maybe it’s some branded Tiffany’s stuff I can flog on ebay … can’t wait to see what’s inside”.


STAGE 3: “Ahhhhhh, the incredibly feable justification”

Jesus Christ is that bad or what?!

And what does ‘Helping our clients become the 800-pound gorillas in their own jungles’ actually mean?

Is it even 800 pounds? I always thought it was a 600 pound gorilla … which would mean McCann’s are saying they make their clients flabby and unsophisticated … which given a lot of their client roster kinda makes more sense.

Look I know it was an ad conference and all that, but this sort of lame-ass justification just makes them look incredibly sad. They’d of been better off if they’d just said …

“Our bosses won’t let us spend any money on something cool so have a gorilla”


“Something to give your kid to stop them asking you questions about their homework that you don’t even understand”

… because at least I’d smile and think they have a bit of a personality rather than it reinforcing all the negative [and quite possibly wrong] stereotypes that reside in my head about ‘Mcagency’.

Mind you, when you think about it, the whole concept of a ‘delegate’ bag is a bit mental.

As one of my colleagues, Kaj, said … in these ‘environmentally friendly times’, it might be better if we could do away with the whole concept of the ‘delegate bag’ and if it was absolutely vital, then it would be better if it wasn’t chock-a-block with all sorts of random pieces of paper so if you wanted more info about anything, you could SMS a particular number and get it sent back to you instantly.

I like this idea for 3 reasons …

1/ You wouldn’t need spinal surgery after the event because the bag was so heavy.

2/ You’d save a tree.

3/ Companies would be forced to focus on doing something interesting rather than just churning out another brainless leaflet.

But hey, who am I kidding … because for all adlands talk of creativity and intelligence … the only thing most of them care about is the ‘ad’ despite the fact the real proof of a creative environment is in how people [not just the one’s with “creative” on their business card] behave/think/act in the everyday, rather than when there’s an award show going on.

Once Upon A Time, Being Able To Start A Fire Represented ‘Status’ …
September 29, 2009, 6:16 am
Filed under: Comment

A few weeks ago, Jill’s Mum came to visit us in HK.

As it was her first time here, we did the usual ‘tourist’ things – which was actually quite nice for us too, because even though we’ve lived here for 8 months or so, we’ve been travelling so much, we haven’t actually had much time to do ‘the sights’.

Anyway, one of the things we did was ride the ‘Peak Tram’ … basically a train that takes you up from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong CBD, upto the relative quiet and natural beauty of the uber-priced ‘Peak’.

Now I know what I’m about to say is going to be fucking obvious to all of you, however when I got to the top of the hill, it wasn’t the view that I first noticed, but the breeze.

For those of you who don’t know, Hong Kong is an oven.

Sure, for some of the year, it has a climate where a jumper is a necessity, but when it’s hot – it makes Singapore look a walk in the park – and so back in the ol’ days when air conditioning meant letting off a fart, the wealthy didn’t live high up so they could feel superior to the minions below, they did it because basically they could breath.

Now as I said, you probably all knew that – however it was a revelation to me – which not only shows I’m a thick bastard, but that there’s a whole host of different stories and perspectives you can base your ideas on if you are only willing to look for them. Well, that and being given enough time to explore, experiment and discover.

If First Impressions Are Important …
September 28, 2009, 6:33 am
Filed under: Comment

… what would you think of a brand consultancy called Foetus International?

Having gone through the hell that is coming up with new company names … I must admit I’d love to know the thought process they went through to come up with that.

Of course it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out they wanted something that represented ‘giving life’ … but couldn’t they of chosen something better?





Fuck, even Placenta Global would be better than Foetus.

Look, I know nothing about them apart from the fact they are seemingly a Malaysian holding company for a bunch of local/interlocal [there’s a new word for you] ‘creative companies’ – so while I’m sure they’re really great at what they do, I can honestly say that if I was looking for help in making my brand grow, I don’t think my first choice would be an organisation who, in terms of first impressions, demonstrate all the subtly and sensitivity of Ms Jordan Big Tits.

Sorry, it’s Mondayitus …

To Juanita & Pat …
September 25, 2009, 5:50 pm
Filed under: Comment

… all the very best with your adventure, have fun and we’re gonna miss you way more than you could imagine. And deserve.

[PS: Sorry Pat, but I had to put your wife’s name before yours, you know how her ‘small [wo]man disease’ comes out when she believes she’s not being treated like the most important person in the room. Sorry, I meant galaxy, ha!]

Comments Off on To Juanita & Pat …

Sink or Think …
September 25, 2009, 6:28 am
Filed under: Comment

As you can see, I survived. Sorry – I’ll try less hard next time.

Right let’s get on with this shall we?

A while back, people started asking whether Google had made us all stupid because they had allowed all the ‘answers’ to be ‘out there’ …

To be honest, my view was – and continues to be – that anyone who thinks [1] Google is to blame and [2] Google has all the answers is the really stupid one, however as much as it pains me, I do have to admit there does seem to be an ever-growing body of folk who seem to manage to go through life without ever switching their brain on.

People who appear on Jerry Springer.
People who think Zac Efron is talented.
People who support Derby County.
Multinational Ad Agency CEO’s.

OK, so we all have bad days … or in my case, bad decades … however this isn’t the fault of bloody Google, it’s the fault of anyone who advocates ‘shortcuts’ to achievement.

Yes, I know I’ve written about this a million times, but it really, truly, madly bugs-the-shit-out-of-me … however the thing that scares me more is that instead of brands fighting against this ‘dumbing down’ of society, embrace it.

I remember a few years ago being in a meeting where the client was complaining our commercial for their uber-priced television was too complicated.

Now whilst I know agencies can – on occasion – go up their own arse, this wasn’t one of those situations.

After a few minutes, I asked if they wanted an ad that was as easy to understand as Mr Bean, the shit Rowan Atkinson television thing.

“Yes, YES, YEEESSSSS!” they screamed in delight – happy I understood them.

After their euphoria had died down, I calmly pointed out that while Mr Bean may be very popular throughout Asia, I very much doubt someone would buy a US$18,000 [!!!] television he endorsed.

The look on their faces was bordering on pathetic … but it sank even lower when I told them that I wasn’t going to recommend doing an ad that featured pseudo-success imagery either.

For me, there’s two ‘strategies’ that annoy the crap out of me: Spoon feeding [ie: dumb down] & Mirror Success [ie: buy product ‘X’ and you’ll be as successful & good looking as the people on the screen]

Anyway, I’m going totally off tangent because all I wanted to talk about was this …

Yep, it’s a photo of 2 women: 1 old bird and Jennifer Garner.

Now I know it would be wrong to assume the cult of celebratory has infiltrated all levels of society, but given this pic came from US magazine – the tabloid’s tabloid – I really think it was unnecessary for them to add this to the pic …

Can you see what I’m going on about?

Yep, it’s the fact they highlighted Jennifer is the one on the right.

You don’t fucking say!

Look, I know Kylie looked about 50 years older when she stopped pumping botox into her face, but let’s face it, for Jen to be mistaken for her Mum, she’d of had to be in the make-up trailer for some horror movie for about 36 weeks.

I believe adland has incredible power to do good.

I’m not talking about developing ideas that help charities [though they should do that too], I’m talking about countering cultural attitudes and behaviours … I just hope more agencies stop taking the easy path because even though it will make people less ‘advertising gullible’, it will show just what we’re capable of and force [some] brands to start focusing on doing the right thing rather than just churn out more lowest-common-denominator rubbish or the same old thing with a microcosm of change.

My name is Robert Campbell. Remember the name, you might not hear it again!

Take A Long, Hard Look At Yourself Adland …
September 21, 2009, 9:32 am
Filed under: Comment

Yes, yes … I know I said there wouldn’t be a post until Friday but as I’ll be in China without internet access and this issue has been angering me since Friday, I thought I’d bung in another post for errrrm, good luck.

On Friday at the SPIKES, we had the absolute privilege to see the utterly brilliant Sir Ken Robinson speak.

Putting aside that some people might not know who he is [which say’s a lot more about them than I could ever achieve], the fact is the turn out for this rare opportunity was a disgrace – about 30% at the beginning of the speech – leading to Sir Ken even making a joke about it.

But where were they?

Were they all hungover from pretending they were rock stars the night before?

Maybe some … but it seems the majority of the delegates were attending a workshop on “How To Win A Bloody Cannes Somethingorother”.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

If you want to win a Cannes Lion, all you have to do is something insightful, differentiated, interesting and real.

How long does that take to tell? 13 seconds?

For an industry that talks about ideas and media neutrality – it’s telling that the biggest attended seminars were the ones where a lot of ads were shown. And putting a TVC on the web is NOT digital … it’s called putting a TVC on the web.

As you all know, I’ve been a groupie of Sir Ken’s for many years and I know everyone who saw him left feeling in awe at his intellect, passion, humour and viewpoint on creativity … and for me, he was by far the most inspiring speaker of the SPIKES and the fact he has never even worked in adland is very telling about the real state of our industry, a state very few seem to ever want to talk about publically … or should I say, talk about publically with total honesty.

[I should point out there were some very good and interesting speakers who came from adland – however just like Monica Lewinksky did to El Presidente Clinton, Sir Ken blew them away *]

By sheer fluke, I saw Sir Ken at the airport and after calling on my ‘Baz spirit’ I went over to say hello and ended up chatting with him for a couple of wonderful, glorious hours.

Well, they were wonderful and glorious for me – not sure about him – but given he sent me an email this morning that didn’t feature the words “CEASE & DESIST” I think he didn’t mind too much, but that could be because we both have wives that have an unnatural love for Elvis Presley.

Anyway, I truly believe that if more people in adland followed his philosophy on creativity rather than just chase award ratings, then I reckon we might be an industry with a strong future rather than just a great past – alas, like drug addicts, for all the talk of wanting to think interms of the ‘bigger idea’, the lure of the 30” TVC and print ad is just too much for many of them, even though they all know it’s what’s slowly killing them and their industry at the same time.

* Yes that is the worst analogy of 2009. Sorry.

Where’s Wally? [The Adult Version]
September 21, 2009, 6:08 am
Filed under: Comment

I know we’ve just had a couple of days off [and I was basically ‘off’ all last week], but tomorrow I go to China to spend a few days helping an organisation try and save bears from terrible and wrongful treatment.

Yes, you can call me Noah, Dr Dolittle or simply Mr “I Need The Good Karma Points”.

Anyway, because I’ve been a slack arse, I don’t really have a blog post for today so whilst I will endeavour to have something for Friday – which I’m sure you’re all a quiver of excitement over – here’s something that makes Google Earth look like one of those shit pen telescopes you used to get as a kid.

Well, you did if you were as old as me.

All you have to do is click here and play with the zoom.

Apart from seeing ex-presidents, trophy wives and bored-as-shit people in the audience … you can also see how easy it is to be watched from afar, which is probably great news for the American Secret Service and bad news for Andy.


See you Friday … unless I get mauled.