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


Blunt Truth Is Better Than Crafted Lies …
July 26, 2010, 6:05 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’ve been reading the book ‘Shit My Dad Says’… a collection of ‘tough love’ statements a journalists father said to him over the years.

Apart from some of them being very funny and sounding scarily like the Father is the bastard love child of Andy and Simon Cowell …

[On returning from kindergarten]

“You thought it was hard? If kindergarten is busting your ass, I got some bad news for you about the rest of your life”

OR

[On Lego]

“Listen, I don’t want to stifle your creativity, but that thing you built there, it looks like a pile of shit”

… the fact is his ‘to-the-point’ views are refreshing and relevant.

We live in politically correct times.

People often feel they can’t say what they really think, even if they would do it with tact and sensitivity.

I remember a few months ago, I was running a client brainstorm and started by saying:

“I do not subscribe to the belief everyone has good ideas. Everyone might have ideas, but quite often they’re not good so by all means speak up but unless it specifically answers the task at hand against the issues we’ve highlighted, I’m not going to allow our time to be wasted with something that could disrupt the few good ideas from coming to the fore”

Well, there was outrage.

People called me arrogant and unhelpful and basically a terrible human being … however a brainstorm isn’t supposed to be adult playtime, it’s supposed to drive new thinking around old problems and so if you approach the session as some sort of happy hippy party, you’re better off hiring a children’s clown than an ad person.

[Yes, I know this sounds contrary to the view I had when Richard Huntingdon slagged off brainstorms – however, he called into question the whole concept of clashing brains, whereas my view is they are valuable as long as they are managed and controlled correctly]

Anyway, back to the book.

As I said, some of his ‘call-a-spade-a-fucking-shovel’ comments are very funny, however underpinning them is a viewpoint that gets to the heart of the issue … the sort of thing adland and clients should be embracing rather than hiding from.

I wrote about this sort of thing a while back and called it ‘Unplanned Planning’ and I still believe in these highly exaggerated, band-wagon jumping, don’t upset a soul, contrived times, you can deeply connect with people through tough love messages, backed up with a tailored brand experience.

An example is when our hero replies to his son’s complaints about overdraft fees …

“Don’t get mad at the overdraft charge. No … no … see there’s your problem. You think of it as a penalty for taking out money you don’t have, but instead it might help you to think of it as a reminder you’re a dumb shit”

We’ve all been there …

Not just overdrawn, but then complaining about the fees but he’s right … what the fuck do we expect when we use money we haven’t got? Sure there might be the odd exception, but if you’re anything like I was till I finally got my act together, you were using your overdraft as part of your salary rather than in a case of emergencies.

Now imagine if a bank came out and said they wanted to stop you going broke.

Said they wanted to stop your monthly salary being dwindled away before you even got a chance to spend a cent of it.

Said they were going to help you minimise the risk of losing your car, house, life.

Yes … yes … I know it’s all very doom and gloom, but even putting the recent financial crisis aside, these are issues that have been worrying a huge percentage of the adult World for a long time.

I know it sounds mad, especially given Bank of America/IDEO did such a fantastic thing with their ‘change’ campaign, but what if a bank came out and said that in their quest to help people truly take control of their financial lives – and as a result, not pass on the bad habits and burden onto their children – they had put in place the highest overdraft fees of any bank and would charge double if you used the O/D facility 2 months in a row because the only way you’ll learn is if you deal with the problem head on rather than hide behind the illusion of solvency via high interest credit cards and easy-to-obtain overdraft facilities.

They’d be the bank that didn’t do you credit, so to speak.

Sadly I know it wouldn’t work because it’s these very people that supply the banks with the majority of their profits … but the banking industry is ripe for revolution and if the British Government hadn’t stopped Virgin from getting Northern Rock, I might of been able to put it to the test.

So next time you have a client give you a challenge, forget all the processes, brand models and marketing tools and think of the blunt solution – and whilst you might have to doll it up before you present it to the client, you’ll probably have the basis of an idea that will create change rather than just create advertising.


48 Comments so far
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he is not my fucking dad but i wish he was my planner.

off on all sorts of tangents, overfuckinglong again, going over old ground and some totally unlikely scenarios but thanks to some of the most insightful fucking comments ive heard in years (apart from my own) i quite liked reading this borefest.

your last paragraph may be the most useful thing youve ever written for all the advertising toddlers but theyll not realsie it because its not appeared in planning monthly or pfsk.

this is good news for you campbell as it keeps you working for at least another fucking year, which is the ultimate proof this industry is mad. but not as mad as the 2 santas at wieden+kennedy will be when you start car production at one of their offices and call the company wieden+kennedy+campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Another near compliment. The house refurb is really fucking with your mind isn’t it Andy!

Comment by Rob

When I read the book it reminded me of a typical day in the cynic office. Explans why after 12 pages I had to throw it out the window and move states.

Comment by Billy Whizz

dont blame me for not finishing the book when we all fucking know the real reason is it didnt have pictures or the word “hustler” on the cover.

and it had words you didnt understand. like creativity. in small print.

do you really want me to go on? you know i fucking could.

for days.

Comment by andy@cynic

I had to throw it out because I missed you all so much.

And what does creativity mean? It’s something to do with filling in expense forms isn’t it?

Comment by Billy Whizz

better. much fucking better.

and yes, thats exactly what it means.

Comment by andy@cynic

I loved that book and it’s being made into a sitcom with William Shatner as “Dad”. Brilliant casting.

You’ve basically revisited your unplanned planning philosophy but it’s a great reminder of it’s power (creatively and effectively) when so many clients demand pages of powerpoint charts that address every issue other than the real one because their ego or boss doesn’t want to know about it so a lot of the communication created today plays around the edges of the issue rather than gets to the real tension point.

With the Old Spice campaign proving once again that facing facts can be a more powerful platform than writing fiction, it would be great to think more companies would adopt this approach but I doubt it especially when some of the “blunt truth” will be presented to them in a way that is unrecognizable from the sort of expression expressed by “shit my dad says”.

Comment by Pete

shatner fucking rocks. captain james t kirk is a foul mouthed dirty bastard who writes some of the maddest song lyrics of all fucking time. that is the only part of your too fucking serious for school comment that is worthy of me commenting on, the rest is just more planner porn.

Comment by andy@cynic

I consider it a positive step in the right direction Andy.

Comment by Pete

thats a fucking good retort. youre not bad pete. for a planner.

Comment by andy@cynic

And I’m with Andy on your last paragraph except you’re preaching to the converted here. 🙂

Comment by Pete

planner parasite. but at least you steal from the fucking best.

Comment by andy@cynic

Love “shit” but how many times can you try and flog your “The bank that does do you credit” line? OK, you’ve twisted it around to be about not doing you credit but it’s still basically the same idea, just re-polished hoping no one will notice. Bad luck buddy, they don’t call me “eagle eyed Mr CSI” for nothing. Well, only I call myself that but its a rad name and I’m keeping it.

Comment by DH

good fucking point dave, hes been flogging that longer than his best mates cock and hes still had no takers. seems bankers arent as fucking stupid as they look or act. sometimes.

talking of fucking freaks who should be killed with an ice pick to the temple, have you thought of adopting a second rad name, something like “beware, i talk fucking shit”?

Comment by andy@cynic

maybe shitman is my old man. what a lucky bastard he would be, even after i stung him for 4 decades of missed birthday/christmas presents.

Comment by andy@cynic

No doubt he would be singing from the highest rooftops Andy. Before proceeding to throw himself off.

Comment by Rob

Nice companion piece to your last post which taught us that a planner’s job is to state the obvious.

Comment by John

Is that the obvious that you didn’t get John?

Comment by Rob

As I think was established there were many layers of obvious and I have the attention span of

Comment by John

excellent fucking wimp out dodds.

Comment by andy@cynic

When I read the book, I thought it was Andy’s autobiography except I couldn’t work out why he kept referring to his “dad” rather than himself.

The posts good, but like Pete said, we’re already believers.

Comment by Bazza

Great stuff Rob. Would’ve loved to see how you’d tackle the “but the majority of our profits come these fees” issues while pitching your model to banking’s higher ups.

Comment by Rafik

i love stating the obvious.

and sometimes, i’m inspired to act by the beautiful, the nonsensical, the irrational, the tactile, the metaphorical or the romantic.

Comment by lauren

The sad thing is that in adland, the obvious often isn’t that obvious.

Which shows how far some of us have strayed from the people we’re supposed to understand and motivate.

Comment by Rob

Don’t blame us Robert, blame the system.

Comment by Lee Hill

Yeah … it was all Gordon Brown’s fault wasn’t it! Ha.

Comment by Rob

I have read this post.

Comment by Marcus

From yesterday’s Sunday Times:

“To close, I wonder if Saab’s ad men will continue to insist that Saabs are based on jet fighters. It’s a hard sell when we know this one’s actually based on a Vauxhall saloon.”

Comment by John

but I really did read this post.

Comment by Marcus

There was a time where that was an interesting platform [even if all they did was show an ad with a fighter plane than a Saab] – but people & times change, except for Swedish car manufacturing it seems.

Comment by Rob

When you started with all the tough love talk, I thought you might be gearing up to rip us new ones on those APSOW assignments…

Comment by Heather

You get that on Friday.

Comment by Rob

I still don’t really like workshops, unless the casting and the tone isn’t politically correct… so usually they’re designed to come out with the solution already developing.
Bet I’m not alone in that.
What was funny after suffering too many Disruption workshops was that the majority of outcomes came down to stating the obvious in market that loved creating beautiful lies.
One of the best ideas was a dry shampoo, that was famous in the 1970’s and had been appropriated by festival goers enabling you to be free spirited and spontaneous….to make things happen for yourself rather than let the beauty world try and turn you into soemthing you’re not…….they couldn’t believe ‘they’ had come up with it.
Or a fizzy drink with a a distinct ‘bite’to the taste that would become a champion of witty and funny young men over thick ‘jocks’
Or the Disription workshop that figured out that every new generation wants to change the world (Refresh Everything)
Best ever was some work for Infinity, where a certain diminutive long in the tooth planner (best mates with Tom Caroll, biggest gossip I ever met) nearly hit the ceiling (no mean feat for a galloping midget) when we ‘discovered’ that true luxury was becoming conspicuous exprerience rather than consumption “We can play Judo with that”
While a small percentage ended up wanting to sell the product the consumer wished had actually been made.

Comment by northern

Nice rant NG and your point about ‘discovering the obvious’ is a good one … not in the sense of the Old Spice campaign I wrote about last week, but in the THAT’S WHAT YOUR MUM COULD OF TOLD YOU BUT YOU DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW/ACCEPT THAT sense.

And what the fuck does “we can play judo with that” actually mean???

Comment by Rob

I still do not know

Comment by northern

And you didn’t ask????

Or were you not there. If you were and didn’t ask, that makes up for my slackass A[P]SOTW write up. [Which is out on Friday by the way, just in time to avoid iPod singing The Smiths!]

Comment by Rob

Too busy trying not to laugh out loud, not advisable with your global CEO’s best mate.
You know perfectly well it doesn’t compare with your lame performance on school of the web. I was struggling to get something sensible out of A bunch of Naked Disruption Emperors and had to let things pass.
You have had your minions do the job for you, typing feedback until their fingers bleed, while you don’t even bother to pull YOUR finger out.
In fact, while I don’t believe you’ll actually publish by Friday, you should Ipod sing the Smiths anyway, to make up for general slackness and then trying to justify it by comparing it to my crucifixion at the hands of the love child of The Penguin and Mother Disruption.

Comment by northern

Have you been talking to Andy?

And you should know the threat of doing anything associated with The Smiths is enough to get me to do anything. Well, nearly anything, I know that would sound like a challenge to you.

Comment by Rob

Yes, but you should still do it for your cheek

Comment by northern

singing the fucking smiths? that would punish us more than him northern groper. stop playing with fucking fire, youll kill us all.

Comment by andy@cynic

Forget Judo, Northern is turning into the advertising Karate Kid. I don’t know what’s in the water in that part of Sheffield but I like what it’s doing to him…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

karate kid? you mean hes a one trick pony who fucks off into the obscurity?

Comment by andy@cynic

Even if that’s true I get to grope Elisabeth Schue

Comment by northern

she was about 14 when she made that video so youre a plastic tit groping gary glitter wannabe now. it alls fucking change in your life isnt it groper. i havent seen a change like this since michael fucking barrymore. careful northern, you have more to lose than the confused, lanky death party planner.

Comment by andy@cynic

I meant the new one, trained by Jackie Chan…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

More Barry More

Comment by northern

Fucking brilliantly said. I can get away with brutal honesty here … in no-were. Actually, I might be sort of famous for being so…direct. I get tired of dancing around with these people. We’re all busy. Time is money. Get on with us or go see the billboard sales guy.

Comment by adchick

We need to start a company.

We could call it ‘punchbag’ and have a slogan that says “it’s all about you”.

Comment by Rob




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