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


The Day Before The Countdown Begins …
November 30, 2010, 5:50 am
Filed under: Comment

So tomorrow is the 1st of December.

Fuck me, how quick has this year gone eh?

So no doubt, from tomorrow, blogs around the World will start doing ‘annual reviews’ – stating the good, the bad and the bollocks from the previous 11 months.

Well I’m not going to be one of those people, because I’m going to do it today instead.

2010 has been a good year for me.

OK, so Forest fucked up the play off games, but all in all it’s been a very good year.

Apart from the fact I and my loved ones, have been happy and healthy – I entered a new chapter of my life which is proving to be interesting and exciting – which is really great given I’m an old fart at 40 years of age.

Without doubt moving to China and starting at W+K has been great.

I must admit I was a bit nervous.

Not of moving to China … but starting as an employee again after almost 9 years.

Now while some people may think I am of the opinion the company is called Wieden+Kennedy+Campbell [Andy!!!] I’d like to think I’ve adapted to my new circumstances and situation fairly well … and I am certainly very excited about what we can [hopefully] achieve together in the next 12 months.

However if I was to pick one thing that stands out for me as the best point of 2010, it’s my birthday present to my beloved Paul.

Seriously, it was wonderful and turned out way better than I could ever have hoped.

The look on his face – especially when he realised it was in every paper, not just a one off – will stay with me forever, however the real reason it’s the best thing of my 2010 is that I know he knows how important he is in my life and that’s really important, because he’s done more for me than he’ll ever know and I’d never want him to think I’ve taken him – or his actions – for granted.

I can hear you, “Oh god, Rob’s going sentimental again”.

And I guess I am – but in an industry that it supposed to be all about understanding and empathising with people, I find it amazing how little we talk about this sort of thing and while I appreciate a lot of it is personal and private, it should still be something we discuss openly especially when so much of the ‘cutting edge thinking’ that gets the focus and the applause is often hardly new and hasn’t involved all that much thinking.

I’m not saying everyone in adland is like this – maybe it’s just me and the shit that I think & spout – however it is the reason why I find hearing Marcus talk about life in a funny farm or NP write about how his son has changed his life or how Lauren is finding her dalliance with Berlin or basically anything Charles writes about that’s not linked to adland [amongst the many blogs/magazines/people that I could quote] far more interesting and educational than 99% of the stuff that gets promoted in the industry press or amplified via the ‘Rockstar’ blogs.

But then I like Queen …

So here’s to 2010, a great year by anyones standards, and may there be plenty more of them in the years to come for all*.

* As long as mine are slightly better than yours of course! Ha.



Home Is A Feeling …
November 29, 2010, 6:34 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’m in Singapore for the next couple of days and as usual, I like it and miss it.

That’s not to say I don’t like Shanghai – I bloody love it – but for some reason, Singapore feels more like home than pretty much all the other places I have some sort of direct connection with, so it’s good to be back.

And this leads to the point of this post: belonging.

The reality is I have spent my whole life feeling like I don’t belong.

That doesn’t mean I feel – or have felt – alienated, isolated, uncared for or unloved … it’s just I feel I have never really ‘fitted in’ with certain groups or situations that have ended up dominating large parts of my life.

Without doubt, some of this [most of this?] has been self inflicted.

Not because I am someone with a self-destruction switch but because I have certain needs and insecurities that have led to me making personal choices that has resulted in my feelings of disconnection ending up as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Which leads me back to Singapore.

Despite so many things that annoy me about the place, it feels like home.

OK, so for me, the true definition of home is always going to be where my wife [and cat] are … but interms of a place that feels like I have some definitive and active roots in place, Singapore is it.

At least currently.

I wish I could truly explain why that’s the case but I can’t.

Knowing my way around the place and having some friends and history here can’t be the reason because that’s true of many places I’ve lived over the years – plus I was only in Singapore for 4 years which isn’t very long, especially compared to some other countries I stayed – so who knows what the reasons are, but it’s good to be back even if the only way for me to get rid of that familiar ‘stranger in my own town’ feeling is to go to Funan Mall and buy a shitload of electronic tat.



If This Photo Resonates With You, Please Kill Yourself.
November 26, 2010, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment

Look at them.

The embodiment of young and successful.

All summer clothes, fancy haircuts and perfect teeth.

A couple of couples enjoying a casual moment in summer – BBQ, wine, laughs and a dog stealing some sausages from the BBQ.

Does this make anyone else want to go over to this fictitious house and stab the adults in the eyes and burn the house down?

Don’t worry, I wouldn’t touch the dog, he/she is innocent in all of this … but the people who created this pile of ‘lifestyle shit’ are guilty and I’ve just sentenced them to a damn good kicking.

What bothers me about this ad?

Everything.

I know I’m being irrational and that I can’t give you a good reason why it makes me ill, but it does and there’s something about the casting of the talent that especially gets my goat.

The guys in particular are just wrong.

Apart from the fact they just don’t look like they’d go out with the women in the ad, they certainly don’t look like they’d drink the fucking wine [?] that they’re supposedly supping.

The man whose jumper is so low you can see his bollocks, looks in particular about as comfortable as a backpacker in the company of Ivan Milat [look it up] … though I also find it rather disconcerting that he [and the other bloke] seem to be looking rather dreamily at the dogs ass rather than anything else.

Everything about it annoys me

It’s contrived, cliched “lifestyle” bollocks and ultimately gives much more insight about the client than it does the audience.



Why Research Companies Are In Danger Of Going The Way Of Adland …
November 25, 2010, 6:23 am
Filed under: Comment

Once upon a time research was a method for companies and brands to know things about them and their audience that they didn’t know.

Things that could make them better, more relevant, more profitable.

In essence, research was a torch that shone a light on the murky to help show them a better way forward.

Zoom forward to today and research is quite different.

Nowadays it’s not about shining light, it’s about wrapping them in a warm blanket.

It’s more about confirming what they know [which does have it’s place] or confirming what they want to say – regardless of whether that is the right thing they should be doing or not.

There’s lots of reasons for this, but one of them is that research companies are now so focused on maintaining their big annual contracts, they will – like many agencies – say or do whatever they think will keep the relationship alive.

Sure not all of them are like this – and as I said, there’s a whole host of other reasons for this to happen of which clients have to take more than their fair share, especially in Asia where the basic construct of decision making is “what will my boss want to hear” – however when WPP has more research companies in it’s roster than comms companies, you know the pursuit of profit … and the ramifications of not achieving that … could influence how a company responds to the brief as much as the brief itself.

I’m a big believe in research … a huge believer … but if it’s to have the value it deserves, both in the minds of clients and agencies, it’s got to stop being the safety blanket and get back to being the torch.



I’ve Heard Of Niche Business, But This Is Ridiculous …
November 24, 2010, 6:35 am
Filed under: Comment

I never realised being a postal or telco worker could be so dangerous.

Joking aside though, there is something that I quite like about this – albeit in a weird way – at least you know who the hell they’re talking to, which is better than so much of the bland communication out there, which seem to have been created under the edict of “DO NOT ALIENATE ANYONE” which half the time ends up not talking to anyone either.

Communication is at it’s most effective when it talks with [not ‘to’] its audience clearly, relevantly, engagingly and interestingly … so all a one-size fits all approach achieves is the creation of a lot of background chatter, rather than some up-front attention, meaning and intrigue.

Effectiveness isn’t about how many people it reaches, it’s about how many people are moved to react to it.

Clients, agencies and media people should take note.



Most Brands Need To Realise What They Don’t Say Communicates More Than What They Do …
November 23, 2010, 6:06 am
Filed under: Comment

This is basically the uber-dumbed down theory of a conversation I had last week with Martin Weigel – Wieden Amsterdam’s sickeningly clever and lovely head of planning.

Without doubt if you asked for his articulation of what I’m about to ‘theory assassinate’, you would read something more informative, articulate and thought provoking than I could ever dream of producing – however as I am Jeremy Kyle to his Jeremy Paxman, you’ll just have to stick with the ‘everything for a pound’ version until he decides to get off his arse and write it up fully on his blog.

[When he does, I think you’re going to love it, especially because he has some wonderful research on how people interpret digital communication [which is not about the internet] versus analogue]

Anyway, the very, Very, VERY basic premise is that if human communication is as reliant on none-verbal cues as it is on language and words, then why do so many brands [and their agencies] spend so little time investigating [and valuing] the signals their brand communicates via their everyday, real World interactions?

Look, I know that sounds awfully like I’m rehashing my ‘little things can make the biggest difference’ rant … but that’s because I’m not explaining myself [read: Martin] properly … however even if you put all the really clever stuff aside, I just like the idea that if you think of brand communication in the same vein as how humans communicate, it might stop people going straight to creating contrived, one-dimension ads and start including, addressing and valuing the seemingly inconsequential elements that ultimately influences peoples views and loyalty to a far greater degree than any ad could hope to achieve.

In other words, don’t ignore the importance of brand body language.



A Promotion Even Salvador Dali Would Think Was Shit …
November 22, 2010, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

Remember that post I wrote last week about relevance being in the eye of the beholder?

Well my lovely friend Scotty [though he probably doesn’t want me to publicly acknowledge that] has pointed me in the direction of one of the best examples of “only makes sense in the mind of the client” brand promotions that I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Play in the Himalaya’s?
Design a fucking golf ball?

WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.

Jesus Christ, they’re flogging a fucking beer. An Australian beer. A beer that comes from a country where men either wear singlets and shorts and talk about the quality of the BBQ, the new Holden V8 or the AFL scores or wear designer threads, drive cars they can’t really afford and pretend they’re somebody the rest of the World cares about when in reality all they’re doing is sitting in an overpriced bar surrounded by British backpackers.

Maybe.

Mind you, I do have to say I love how they’ve dropped the word INDIVIDUAL or UNIQUE about 10,000 times in the body copy. That’s subtle. Seriously, if I wasn’t an advertising professional, I’d never get how they’re trying to subliminally position the beer as the brew for guys who are their own men.

The leaders.
The champions.
The brave.

What a pile of bollocks.

And while I would rather stick hot nails down my cock than get up at 6am to play a round of fucking golf [can you tell I’m not a fan?], I would imagine the game is enjoyed most when you get to play against someone so there’s no use being a unique golf ball individual, if your prize is being flown to the fucking Himalaya’s to basically practice your putting on your own.

Seriously, if I won that prize, it would drive me to drink.

Ahhhhhhh … now that’s not so stupid afterall.

Seriously, this is pants – especially the ‘golf ball design’ entry mechanic – which is why I assume the real reason for this idea is because the brewery CEO likes golf and wants an excuse to be flown up there on corporate expenses.

What next?

Ford offer a ‘spending bonanza at Toys R Us’ promotion or maybe Tesco’s could launch a ‘win a toilet’ campaign where it’s all based on who has made the prettiest pattern wiping their arse?

The only good thing about this pile of shite is that the neanderthal sense of humour of the average Aussie male means that Coopers brewery will be inundated with entries of golf balls that are all made to look like a big, hairy bollock.

Look, I’m not saying promotions should have rational entry mechanics or obvious prizes, but I do think there’s a big difference between imaginative and fucking pointless and this campaign definitely falls into the latter camp. At least on first impressions.

I don’t know who Coopers agency are [I hope to fuck it’s not TBWA and they are flogging this as part of their ‘disruption’ philosophy] but whoever it is, please note that if you – or anyone at Coopers – stumble across this post, please don’t think “all publicity is good publicity”, because it isn’t.