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So this is my last post of 2009 … consider it my gift to you.
If I look back on the previous 12 months, I would say it’s been a much better year for me personally than professionally – and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m a greedy bastard and want both sides of my life to be huge – however even though there were a few things that kept me interested and smiling [Victoria’s Secret anyone??], the last few months have seen us being handed quite a few mental/cool/mad projects, so I have real cause to be optimistic about 2010 … especially when things like Virgin Racing are now ‘live’ which helps justify my sense of optimism.
Anyway, I guess we’ll know for sure in approx 12 months so until then, let’s revisit a post I wrote a few weeks ago.
To ensure the festive season didn’t get too happy and optimistic, I asked people to join me in a mass personal character assassination.
I made a call for suggestions of questions that we would all have to answer – with the caveat being you could veto a maximum of 2 to ensure you weren’t thrown in prison or the dole queue.
Despite the fact absolutely no other bastard has agreed to do this – I will go against adman principles – and do as I said, so for your viewing/cringing pleasure, I now reveal the dark secrets of 2009 …
HOW MUCH MONEY DID YOU EARN?
That is something just for me, my accountant and [possibly] my wife to know. VETO!
WHICH CLIENT DID YOU WORK WITH YOU FANCIED. OR HATED?
Well there was one client who I must admit, I found quite ‘visually’ appealing [and yes, it was a woman thank you very much] but not only does it go without saying that  it was only one way  if it wasn’t, I’d of gone running to Jill for protection and  my wife beats them all – except Angelina – I think it best if I move swiftly past that and concentrate on who I hated.
The only problem I have is that there wasn’t anyone I dealt with who I hated. Not one.
How terribly disappointing.
Saying that, there was one person who worked with a client of mine who I thought was an absolute cock of the highest order … and guess what, he worked for Landor!
I can’t remember his name [honest] but he was the one that said he had a proprietary tool for coming up with brand/product names and then proceeded to get upset when a week later, I pointed out that coming back to us with a choice of ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED NAMES indicates his ‘proprietary tool’ was either not very good at filtering or basically just an online thesaurus.
This is also the gentleman that said he had a pricey tool to help companies decide where, on the outside of corporate headquarters, their signage should go [when the answer is surely ‘the top’??] and tried to claim that developing the brand personality [when their job was to help the client define the overall brand and business plan] was ‘out of scope’.
He was a total twat … but then to be fair, he got paid a hell of a lot more cash than we did … so I guess I should be pointing my hatred towards the client in question and myself. Bugger.
WHAT WAS THE SINGLE MOST DEVIOUS THING YOU DID AND TO WHOM?
I can’t really say what this is – mainly because it’s still in ‘action’ and the other party doesn’t realise it yet. But it’s worth it – at least to us. [ie: Me, Andy & George]
NAME THE MOST STUPID QUESTION YOU HAD FROM A CLIENT AND COLLEAGUE IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
My favourite is when a client complained about a slide I’d submitted for a presentation.
She said she didn’t understand the relevance of having some weird person in the picture and wanted something more corporate and obvious.
Sadly for her, the picture was of the founder and CEO of the company she worked for … someone who is almost universally known … and someone I was referring to with the slide.
I genuinely didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In the end I laughed. At her.
DEFINE THE YEAR YOU’VE JUST HAD IN 3 OR LESS WORDS
Room for improvement.
DEFINE THE YEAR YOU HOPE TO HAVE NEXT YEAR IN 3 OR LESS WORDS
Arise Sir Campbell
SEEDIEST THING YOU’VE DONE ALL YEAR.
It depends on your definition of seedy … but there’s been a few … all professionally based, which kinda makes it sound even more pathetic.
I can tell you something silly though …
There is a particular person who I despise – mainly for what he has done to some good friends of mine rather than anything he has done directly to me – and I may of found myself in a situation where I was able to ‘borrow’ a couple of wheels off his office chair so he had to physically drag his sad and sorry ass around the office for a few days.
I tell you, if that did happen, it wouldn’t be big, or clever … but from what I understand was the reaction from the person-in-question … it was worth it.
HOW MANY CLIENT FREEBIES DID YOU GET? ROB HAS TO INCLUDE VIRGIN FLIGHTS. TO THE NEAREST HUNDRED.
The flights/upgrades I get aren’t freebies … I just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Ahem.
Saying that, I did get the wonderful AC/DC @ Giant Stadium tickets – but as I then got bloody swine flu, I could argue it was a pretty shit gift.
So all things considered, I would say the best freebies I got in the last 12 months were either the Google phones, the opportunity to feed bears or the house. [in-joke for Andy and George there]
WHO DID YOU MOST OFTEN VISUALISE NAKED?
Me … because when I see the real thing it always ends in tears.
WHAT’S THE RUDEST THING YOU MUTTERED UNDER YOUR BREATH TO A CLIENT WHEN LEAVING THE ROOM/PUTTING THE PHONE DOWN?
I don’t tend to mutter it under my breath, but then I don’t tend to be rude – I just ask questions or point out certain things that get interpreted as being rude by insecure individuals.
Saying that, I did tell a creative to grow some fucking balls and stop being [his partners] doormat – so maybe that qualifies.
I should point out [can you sense the justification coming] I said this only after being subjected to months of passive aggressive provocation – passive aggressive provocation that was driven by their need to keep their fragile and minimally-justified egos in check.
BASED ON IDEAS, COMMENTS, PAYCHECK, WHO DID U LIKE MOST LAST YEAR:
[A] ROB? [B] ANDY? [C] GEORGE?
George. By a country mile. Ha.
FROM ANDY, HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU WISH YOU WERE ME?
Only when I visit the ATM.
Quite anti-climatic wasn’t it?
No wonder no one else did it – wish I hadn’t either – but at least I only played my veto on one question.
In the very, Very, VERY unlikely event someone else decides to answer the questions on their blog, let me know – I always like to compare how sad a bastard I am to others out there.
Anyway, moving swiftly on … I guess all that’s left to say for the year is thank you to all who checked out my rubbish and/or wrote an insightful/sarcastic comment and may you all have a toptastic festive season and 2010, just not as toptastic as mine.
Have fun, ta-ra …
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This gives me no pleasure … no pleasure at all … but have a look at this awful, Awful, AWFUL ad for Audi by [I think] my old colleagues at Y&R Singapore / Asia* …
I know it’s nearly Christmas and we’re supposed to be full of love and consideration, but how completely and utterly shit is that eh!?
I’ll tell you … it’s absolutely completely and utterly pants.
I have always loved Audi – and whilst much of that has been because of their product – a big part has been down to BBH’s consistently great ads, all developed with understated elegance and style… and yet now all that lies in a tattered heap because some local agency felt it appropriate to develop an ad [I can’t say an idea] that has all the subtly of Arnie with all the grace of errrrrm, Arnie.
Of course the client should has to take some responsibility for letting it out – however knowing the car industry, I would imagine they had an incredibly short leadtime and so if they didn’t run it, they wouldn’t have anything to run at all – but you know what, I think they should of run nothing at all because this is simply awful.
Apart from some of the worst art direction I think I’ve ever seen [one car looks 6 miles wide whereas the other resembles an automobile for dwarves] the whole premise is just bollocks.
Oh I know what it’s supposed to be [“It’s in the stars you’re going to own an Audi”] but for a brand that has so much to offer – it’s unbelievably tragic that they went with the sort of shit visual pun that you would expect in a 5th year junior school class.
The thing that is even more horrifying is that the Audi brand isn’t as well known in Asia as you would think – and so whilst I am not suggesting an ad detailing the brands heritage – I do believe there are a shitload of interesting and motivational brand stories that could have been used rather than some dot-to-dot graphic that makes no sense and does the brand a huge injustice.
I feel like sending this to Hegarty just to see if I can hear his scream from the other side of the planet – however instead I will simply say this …
Audi, you are a great brand … a brand that is unique amongst the higher-end car marques … a brand that has incredible potential in Asia, despite their obsession with brands that have already achieved an accepted level of status … a brand that has the power to represent the shift in the Asian value of progression … and given you have obviously chosen specifically not to go with the agency that helped you in so many other markets around the World, I would love the chance to come and have a chat because a brand like yours deserves communication that does you justice, and that doesn’t just mean in helping you build the value of the brand, I mean in helping you build significant sales through the value of the brand and should you want to have a chat – it would give me the greatest, greatest of confidential pleasure and all you have to do is click here.
There’s a lot of great people in Y&R* – and it still represents a special time in my career – but if they are indeed behind this monstrosity, then the only reasons I can come up with for it being out in the public domain are  the creatives were being held gun point by a blind creative/accout director …  the entire agency was experiencing a group brain aneurysm … &/or  the people behind it have absolutey no understanding of the brand, the market or advertising in general … and so in the interests of everyone, I think whatever the reason, the people involved should take the lead of Santa and disappear from our sight for at least a year.
After the pain of this, it’s little surprise Monday is my last post of the year.
Thanks a lot Y&R Singapore*, you’ve ruined my Christmas! And Audi’s 2010.
* If this wasn’t Y&R, then I apologise, I am basing it on reports they had won the account – so if I am mistaken, my anger should be re-directed at whichever agency/creative team were behind it. Thank you.
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… and I’m not saying that because I have to – I just like it.
In a World of shouty, unsubtle, rationalism … this is a welcome and charming distraction.
[Thank you George & Neil]
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So I’ve been back in Singapore a couple of times recently and as I was passing the Singapore Tourism Office, I saw this …
Now I love Singapore – I look back on my 4 years living there very fondly – but even I, as a big advocate of the place, thought that was quite a big ask so being an inquisitive/cynical sod, I thought I’d pop in and see what they had to back up that claim.
Sadly for Singapore Tourism, my concerns weren’t without cause …
Dear oh dear ,.. how many ‘reasons’ do you think are there?
Eighty … at a push?
It wouldn’t be so bad if it was January 2009, but it’s December – so unless something major happens, I doubt they’ll get another 1,929 reasons in the next 14 odd days.
The good news for STB [Singapore Tourism Board] is they’ve just hired my friends at BBH – including Freddie – so things are bound to take a big step for the better, however the moral of the story is …
1/ Realise people – even highly nationalistic people – don’t care as much about this stuff as the tourist board.
2/ Tourists don’t give a flying shit about this stuff compared to the tourist board.
3/ If you have unrealistic expectations – not just about the level of public involvement, but your situation – then you’re going to get burnt, especially if some pain-in-the-ass British bloke is walking by.
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Did you see it?
Good isn’t it!
Really want to talk about it – especially the cool, people-powered stuff – but I am not allowed to at the moment [though that hasn’t stopped me boring the pants off Jill for the past few months] but if all goes to plan, this could be something I can feel really proud of and given my age and length of time in adland, that’s something to be quite chuffed about, though I did write 2 posts about how I want my ‘golden period’ to be in the future, not in the past.
Without wishing to sound like a broken record, for adland to grow, I genuinely believe it has to start adopting a philosophy of creating fate, rather than just creating ads … because if it doesn’t, then the Mad Men era will be seen as the age where advertising was at it’s peak and given the talent that exists in the industry, that would be a tragedy.
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… because in little over 24 hours [if all goes to plan] a project I’ve been working on for the last few months will be officially unveiled.
Whilst all the elements won’t be explained, the goal is quite simple … we intend to end the predictable nature of a particular industry and make it – at the very least – exciting again.
I know this is all very ambigious, but it’ll become clear soon and I can’t wait till the full details are revealed because there’s some stuff that is incredibly cool indeed … and there’s not a single ad in any of it, well, not as most ad agencies would define it.
Oh, and if you’re wondering why I’ve used a picture of Anna Kournikova in this post, ask me when I see you and you’ll realise it’s wasn’t just for perverted reasons.
PS: Sorry how bollocks this is – especially as I’m not really saying much [as usual] – it’s just a toptastic thing for me.
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… by going here.