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

For All Of You Who Thought Queen Were A Bunch Of Muppets …
November 30, 2009, 6:13 am
Filed under: Comment

Genius … especially Animal, Swedish Chef and Beaker [especially his shakeout moment at 2″ 50 secs] who steal the limelight in a way that would make Freddie proud.

[Though Ms Piggy probably channels him the most accurately]

Given Queen have just released a new album [basically their 67,456th version of ‘Greatest Hits’] this could be one of the great marketing ploys to reach new audiences since Def Leppard’s “Guitar Hero” strategy – but regardless of that, it’s just bloody brilliant and given Queen would have had to approve the use of this song, then hat’s off to them for letting it happen because it’s 4 minutes 47 seconds of smiling pleasure.

When Men Grow …
November 27, 2009, 6:14 am
Filed under: Comment

After some gentle nudging, NP has written a wonderful post about how his first few weeks of Fatherhood has changed/enhanced him.

It’s sensitive, beautiful, gentle and insightful and I’m a better person for reading it.

That NP is a good man in every way. Bastard.

This is where I could go on a massive rant about how badly men are being reflected in mainstream communication and media, but that’s something for another day, especially as I need to think how I write it so it doesn’t come across as some ‘anti-women / pro man’ sexist rubbish.

So go and read NP’s magic and if in 9 months there’s a glut of babies being born, we know who to blame 🙂

Have a top weekend.

Playstation Need To Remember That To People Who Use The Machine, ‘Playing’ Is The Last Thing They Think They’re Doing …
November 26, 2009, 6:26 am
Filed under: Comment

I’m a big fan of games systems.

Over the years I’ve had a whole bunch of them … Philips G7000, Intellivision, Atari 2600, SNES, Megadrive, 3DO, Saturn, Playstation [1,2 & 3], Xbox [1 & 2], Wii … you name it, I’ve probably had it or played on it.

Now even though I am not very good, especially compared to a 15 year old kid in South Dakota who kicks my arse on FIFA every bloody night … it’s an activity I love, if only for the fact it gives the whole range of my emotions a bloody good workout.

One of the greatest ads that captured this spirit was this one by TBWA …

Brilliant … in just 59 seconds, they have not only captured the range of emotions people experience when playing a video game, but they have also captured how for many people, ‘life’ is a series of events that highlight their slow descent into conformity, self-censorship and frustration.


Yep … but you can’t be that surprised given we live in a society that says what we do/say/think/wear has more influence in how our lives will turn out than what we achieve, believe and follow.

Anyway this isn’t about that … this is about the ads of Playstation.

In short, the work was brilliant.

Built on real and powerful insights and married to a brand personality bursting with barely contained youthful arrogance – it was the voice of a generation, the closest thing to punk they’d probably experienced.

Now we have to remember this all came from SONY – a brand that has its heart in ultra-conservative [especially in terms of business] Japan.

So how did it happen?

Well, while the guys at TBWA can take some credit – if anyone has read EDGE magazines fantastic article about the background of Playstation’s launch – then you’ll know the real driving force was that SONY’s hierarchy thought the brand was going to fail and didn’t want a thing to do with it, hense they actively encouraged the people involved to not associate it too strongly or closely with the SONY brand.

And now onto the real point of my post …

As we all know, Playstation went on to be a huge success – at its peak, contributing approx 90% of Sony’s entire profit – which is where things started to change because rather than try and deny it’s existence, SONY’s senior management started to take a much closer and more influential interest in how things developed [probably to associate themselves with success given that prior to Playstation, the company was in a bad way] which, in my opinion, ultimately led to the downfall of Playstation’s powerful, pragmatic and insight-driven creative.

I bring this up because I recently saw an ad for SONY’s new portable PSP.

OK, so PSP’s ads were never very good in the first place – and the World is in a different place to when the original Playstation launched – but when I read copy like the stuff being churned out below, I realise SONY don’t care about resonating with gamers, they just want everything to fit in with their adult-orientated, industry-generic, brand voice.


Let’s look at some of the highlights shall we?

“Bored? You must be. You should get a PSPgo. You could be watching ‘Transformer: Revenge Of The Fallen’ instead of reading some ad in a magazine. Brilliant.”

How terrible is that …

No passion, no hunger, no emotion, no nothing.

It’s cold, clinical, contrived, humourless, immature wallpaper advertising at its worst and it becomes even more painful when you compare it to the ‘Double Life’ ad above – an ad for the same company, for pretty much the same product.

[Acknowledging the original PS was purely a games system whereas the more modern incarnations are much more multimedia, even if they are still predominantly used for gaming]

Sure one is a television commercial whereas the other is a print ad, but that doesn’t mean it should be bereft of all attitude, hunger or gaming mindset – afterall, some of the early Playstation print was fantastic as you can be reminded of here and here.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about this awful ad is that the person who either wrote it or approved it, didn’t take any time to really understand what gaming means to people.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, what gender you are or what you do for a living … you don’t play games as an antidote to boredom, you play them as an antidote to life …

So the moral of the story is if you want to do work that will truly infiltrate society, then you have 3 options available to you …

1/ Choose brands that have a heritage of great creative.
2/ Choose brands that are the enfant terrible within the organisation.
3/ Get a planner involved.

Maybe this insightless approach has come about because SONY’s marketing people think the brands new joke of a positioning line Make.Believe empowers them to do whatever they want, regardless of relevance or resonance – and if that’s the case, then God help us all – however there is one bit of light and that is a dear friend of mine has recently been appointed head honcho for Playstation out of Japan and if his first bit of work is anything to go by [with WK] then in the coming months gamers, creatives and planners might be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

I believe.

If Ferrari Could Produce A Car As Quick As The Publishing Industry, They’d Win F1 Forever …
November 25, 2009, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment

I’ve written previously about how the publishing industry are masters of exploiting any niche opportunity and recently I saw another example of their relentless quest for quick profit …


I don’t know if you can read the ‘headline’ but it claims to be “An Authorised Collection Of The Funniest Tweets Of All Time.”

Now that’s marketing for you.

OK, so they have got Mr “charisma by-pass” and founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, to write a forward which maybe qualifies it for ‘authorised’ status … but to say this is a collection of the funniest tweets of all time is wrong in so many ways.

To start with it breaches the trade descriptions act because quite frankly, I doubt Nick Douglas – the author, or should I say compiler – checked every bloody Twitter account in existence … secondly, with tweets such as “sometimes we wish Twitter was called ‘Ultimate Badass Report’” it’s hardly the sort of thing that requires you to put on a corset to ensure your sides don’t split … and thirdly – and most damningly – it’s not a compilation at all, it’s a book designed to help egomaniacs maintain their delusion.

What am I going on about?

Well, the fact is this book has been compiled with tweets that individuals have personally submitted for publication … individuals who wrote the tweets in the first place.

Jesus, that’s like asking Hitler to determine whether he was guilty of war crimes …

The thing is, these sorts of books sell by the bucketload – especially around Christmas time where ‘stocking fillers’ becomes a euphemism for ‘overpriced, slightly relevant, shit that on a normal day, you wouldn’t even wipe your arse with, let alone spend good money on’ – however if someone who didn’t know what Twitter was, were to flick through the book, they would be left with just one impression: Twitter is for twats.

And in many cases, they’d be right.

Anyway, as this blog seems to be the home for egomaniac twats [especially if your initials are A.B.] then you can claim to be a printed author by going here.

Love Is …
November 24, 2009, 5:48 am
Filed under: Comment

… not having your wedding reception here …


Are Starbucks insane???

OK, so they wouldn’t be as insane as someone who thought their marriage was going to be a success after offering their wedding guests a Venti latte and a mandarin muffin, but Jesus, it’s pretty bloody bad!

Look I know the faux coffee makers have had a tough time of late and exploring new avenues for profit is important… but the fact they are ignoring many of their inherent issues and are instead focusing on trying to tap into the bloody wedding reception market shows a brand still on the cusp of total desperation.

To be fair, with a bit of re-jigging, it might have a bit of potential – especially if they offered ‘all-in-one’ wedding packages in countries/regions where there is an abundance of teen pregnancies and shotgun marriages [read: Nottingham] – but to be honest, even if a 13 year old kid got his 14 year old girlfriend of 3 weeks up the duff, I reckon they’d turn their noses up at getting hitched in a bloody Starbucks.

McDonald’s maybe … but Starbucks?

Happiness At The Misfortune Of Others …
November 23, 2009, 6:33 am
Filed under: Comment

Many years ago, when cynic was a mere few weeks old, we were approached by Porsche to do some work for them regarding public opinion.

To be honest, we almost felt guilty taking the money because it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what the key viewpoints would be, but as we all had mortgages to pay, we did and decided to have some fun trying to work out ways we could get the info.

To cut a very long – and boring – story short, on top of all the traditional and professional methodologies, we ended up doing some other stuff that was rather left field.

George went out onto the streets of NYC with a man holding a video camera. He had to stop random men on the street on the pretext of wanting to ask him some questions about some economic viewpoint or other.

Within a couple of minutes, Andy – in a Porsche Boxter we had hired – would come screaming round the corner, playing music at Metallicaesque decibels, shouting at passers-by in a demented and random way.

It was at this point George would look at his interviewee and ask …

“What do you think of that?”

And almost every time, the interviewee would respond with a diatribe of clichés that included such gems as …


“Gets paid a fortune for doing nothing”

“Eats at hip restaurants with models”

“Snorts the average American’s annual salary up his nose”

“Probably lives in an overpriced warehouse apartment”

After a few minutes of hearing this character assassination, George would say the same thing …

“Sounds a pretty good life doesn’t it?”

To which invariably, the respondent would smile or laugh and nod in agreement.

Now is everyone who drives a Porsche a overpaid, model shagging, top restaurant eating, coke snorting’, apartment dwelling wanker?

No … however what we found interesting is that these clichés tended to be offered by pretty much every person we spoke to and yet, when we would say to them it sounded quite a cool life, they all nodded in agreement and laughed – as if they had realised for the first time their views were driven by jealousy rather than disgust.

A dear friend of mine – Juanita – calls this ‘projection’ [part of Jung’s theories / learnings / research] and whilst I don’t agree with all her/Jung’s views and theories, on this one I do … which is why armed with this information, we were able to develop some lovely ideas for Porsche based around ‘life’s not fair’ even though the German gits never ended up using any of them.


Still, this project helped explain to me why this Bentley ‘ad’ resonated so deeply with both Bentley and none-Bentley drivers alike …

As usual, I don’t really know why I’ve told you all this … especially because I’ve missed out a ton of stuff that was actually the heart & soul of the experiement … but it does possibly explain why this weekend – whilst out on the expensive streets of cold Hong Kong – I saw something that made me smile with sickening contentment …


And there I was thinking I was a socialist … no I’m not … I’m a wannabe [though some would claim I’ve climbed to the very top] wanker.

Well I do work in adland I suppose.

Professor Prostitute …
November 20, 2009, 6:19 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things I have always loved about my job is meeting the weird and the wonderful … however one of the things I adore about my job is when I can involve the weird and the wonderful into existing projects.

Over the years I’ve involved all sorts of people with all sorts of ‘diverse’ backgrounds to help us help clients be more interesting, engaging and effective – from car thieves to mothers with multiple kids to stand up comedians to Buddhist priests and almost everyone in-between.

However, much to my colleagues delight – and my mother’s dismay – there is one category of individual that I have gained a reputation for turning to, and that is people who work within the adult entertainment industry.

Adult entertainment industry?

OK, let me define it more clearly … prostitutes and strippers, pimps and pornographers.

Clear? Good.

In all seriousness, I have been introducing these ‘specialists’ to my clients for years – and whilst their first impression may be shock when I talk about getting them into the meetings and process – by the time they have heard their insights, views, experiences and opinions [which obviously all link to a certain aspect of their business and/or business problem] they feel they have powerful information that very few people, organizations and/or industries could ever hope to identify, let alone give them.

The reason I bring this up is that I am currently embroiled in a project where yet again, ‘ladies of the night’ are helping me out.

Without going into too much detail, they are helping me educate my client [who is in the hospitality business] why they are not doing as well as they could.

You see prostitutes go where the money is [or as Mr Dodds likes to say, they ‘fish where the fishes are’] and when I first stepped on my clients property, I realized there were very few who hung around there and given the category, location and clientele they have – that is not good at all.

Now to be fair, there’s quite a few reasons for this situation – their security people for one – however, what these wonderful and smart ladies have been able to do is clearly articulate why there is such a lack of their presence onsite, which as a byproduct, identifies the real issue facing my clients business [which has now formed the foundation of what our brief is] and highlights the ‘excuses’ many of the people in the company have given for their lack of performance and/or judgement.

So am I suggesting that my client should evaluate our success by the upturn in prostitute presence?

Well yes, actually I am.

Of course there will be many other factors as well – however whether you like it or not, prostitutes are some of the most entrepreneurial business people around – so if our work results in them wanting to find a way into my clients establishment, then it means we must be doing something right.

The reason I bring this up is that quite often – when trying to identify the fundamental issues facing a client – we often rely on a standard approach to investigation.

There is nothing wrong with this, however if you tend to have one methodology you tend to see problems the same way and this is often the driving force behind the sameness of ad agencies solutions for their clients.

Of course I am NOT suggesting adult entertainers can offer insight to every client problem NOR am I saying that you should approach them to help every client problem … what I AM saying is that when you are approaching a challenge, you should go way beyond the usual subjects for your information because a conversation with someone from R&D or payroll or the job centre of adult entertainment – could open up your mind to new and/or alternative underlying issues which could ultimately help you identify new and exciting ways to overcome them.

Just for the record … I talk to people from many walks of life, not just ‘sexperts’ … however the reason why I have found myself getting them involved in what we’re doing is because we have a bunch of clients where having a real understanding of societies deep and dark secrets, thoughts and behaviours has helped us identify both the real problems and the real opportunities.

It might sound like a joke – and I know you’re all sniggering at the back – but I can honestly say their insight and information has had a big part to play in helping us develop work work and ideas for a whole bunch of brands from Tango and Virgin Atlantic to VB Beer and Dreamworks – though you would be hard pressed to understand why by looking at what we have done, because their role is to help us understand people, not help us how to sex things up.

And that’s the point, just because someone is only seemingly specialised in one category doesn’t mean they can’t contribute thoughts and knowledge to another. Of course their situation has to have some sort of relevance to the issue you are looking at, but you’d be amazed what learnings you can get by having a chat to someone who is not weighed down with the baggage of how certain industries operate.

We call this intelligent naivity so next time you are in a situation where you have to really understand the issues facing an industry or why society has a particular viewpoint, don’t just go with depth, explore some breadth [as long as you don’t find yourself in this situation] because you never know just what they might help you turn up and even if nothing does come of it – you’ll of had a bloody interesting time doing it and might have some learnings you can use at a later date.

Finally, if for some reason you do find that someone from the adult industry could help you in a particular area [and obviously I mean related to your job, not your perversion] could I suggest you approach the matter sensitively because you might not have the clients, colleagues, accounts department and wife that let you get away with it and I’m sure-as-shit not going to let you sue me when you’re sacked for sexual misconduct or expense misuse.