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

Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until It’s Buggered Off To Become A Dark Distant Memory …
January 24, 2011, 6:40 am
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So as I wrote/complained about last week, it’s been snowing in Shanghai.

Even though I’ve not lived in a place that has had snow for almost 20 years – and have been perfectly OK with that fact for all those years – I can’t help but accept it’s quite nice to have around.

Sure it’s cold and has forced me to enclose my feet in contraptions that I am sure were created to be torture machines from the past [that’s shoes if didn’t know] but because my reference point for the white stuff was frozen in a time to when I was much, much younger – my initial reaction to a city covered in white was that it was time to play.

I think I mentioned to some of you that within minutes of getting out of the apartment, I found myself making snowballs and throwing them at people. Sure, they were the wrong people [ie: not who I thought it was, which resulted in me having to try and apologise using a few words of Mandarin and some excessive hand gestures] but the fact that was the first thing I did kind of makes me feel good.

Mad eh!

Well, probably more sad.

Anyway, the thing is because it’s been so long since I saw the stuff falling out of the sky, it felt like I was seeing it for the first time and the whole concept of ‘experience innocence’ is one I find fascinating.

Without wishing to sound like a weirdo – or a pervert – one thing I love to do is watch a kid experiencing something for the first time.

It could be their first interaction with snow … circus’ … animals … it doesn’t really matter, I just find watching their faces and actions amazing and end up feeling kind-of honoured I was there to share it with them, even if they don’t realise it and will have forgotten it when they get older.

And that is why I am secretly quite excited about the snow.

It’s more than just nostalgia, there was a sort of ‘discovery’ element to it … and so not only did it make me wish I could clearly remember how I felt the first time I experienced stuff, it made me re-think and re-evaluate a whole bunch of things that go way beyond just the category of icy water and that’s nice because when you get to my age, the thought that you can still be enchanted and inspired by something from your past is rather pleasing, especially in my industry which is almost exclusively focused on the new.

I Know The Thought Of It Would Fill You With Dread But …
January 21, 2011, 4:30 pm
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Sometimes You Don’t Need To Read Between The Lines To Know What’s Being Said Is Bollocks …
January 21, 2011, 6:22 am
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So last week I was in a café and saw this:

Yep, yummy extra fresh Brittany oysters.

Well it would be yummy if it wasn’t for the fact:

1/ I’m allergic to all seafood.
2/ I was in Shanghai at the time … so I’m not exactly sure how they can be classed as extra fresh in the first place.

Actually what the hell does extra fresh even mean?

If getting oysters straight from the sea is generally classed as ‘fresh’, does ‘extra fresh’ mean you get them in your mouth before they’re even created?

Seriously, this is the sort of nonsensical descriptor that does my head in, but at least it came from some dodgy restaurant in Shanghai rather than a mega-brand that pays lots of people lots and lots of money to be drive sales and loyalty.

Groupon Is Coupon Spelt Badly …
January 20, 2011, 6:24 am
Filed under: Comment

So if you read the ad press, you’ll see the industry is going mental about the phenomenon that is groupon.

Seriously, some of them are treating it like it’s the second coming of Jesus [though it feels like they think it’s the second coming of the bloke with the beard every bloody week] and yet, in a sickeningly familiar pattern, adland is ultimately hundreds of years out-of-date even though they are trying their best to look like they’re on the cutting edge of everything.

The concept of groupon is not new.

In fact it’s one of the founding principals of trade – and while I appreciate technology [and the groupon company] have enabled more people to benefit from it in easier and more convenient ways, to claim it is a completely new approach just shows how out-of-touch adland [especially the digital fraternity] are.

I suppose what saddens me more is that for all the talk of being ‘media neutral’ and ‘business centric’, adland didn’t leverage this idea years ago.

Mind you, maybe they did and they had the rug pulled from underneath them by a client who views any concept requiring them to offer a financial incentive as the ultimate insult, even if you could give them sales that would dramatically raise their share [and profit].

I can say this from personal experience because way back in 1997, I developed a concept for WPP and Unilever called Sampleshop.

We’re not walking with dinosaurs, we’re working with them.

Without going into all the details, it was a program that was designed to drive shoppers to disproportionately purchase Unilever products over competitor brands and give Unilever the ability to create/change offers in real time so they could maximise efficiencies with stock and distribution.

And do you know what they said?

Yep, they said no.


Not – I should point out – because they thought it wouldn’t work … oh no … but because they thought it would work too well.

Yep, some analyst had determined/decided that the amount of short-term profit would cost them was detrimental to their market value, even though we had done [well, we had got someone to do it for us] analytics to demonstrate the benefits of offering an additional few % discount in our particular channel was enormous based on how many more people we would be driving to purchase.

I shouldn’t complain because I got paid for the idea – but it still bugs me that adland gets slammed for not developing business focused ideas when often they do and the reason they don’t happen is because the clients ego gets in the way.

Hang on, I’ve gone from slagging off agencies to blaming it all on clients …

How did that happen?

Oh I know, because I wrote this post and I can go off at angles even a protractor would be jealous of.

Anyway, groupon is a nice idea, but like social media, it’s not new so the sooner the ad industry stops trying to be at the cutting edge of things that aren’t actually at the cutting edge of anything – and gets back to what they’re brilliant at [apart from long lunches and delusion] – the sooner we might start reminding business about our real skill and value.

The Results Are In …
January 19, 2011, 8:16 am
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… and the answer to last nights major news item is:

The legend [admittedly a legend no one actually wants or care about, except maybe Birkenstock and even they’re probably happy I’ve temporarily stopped ruining their reputation … which is especially tough to take given they’re the preferred choice of footwear for German tourists. Who wear them in socks] is over.

My feet feel cramped and strangely cold … despite the fact I am also wearing socks to work for the first time in 15 years – socks I should point out – that I had to steal from my wife’s cupboard because I haven’t got any.

Yes that’s right, I’m wearing women’s clothing.


China has broken me … but at least I lasted longer than Google. [Sorry George and Jonathan]

On the brightside, I can walk through the streets of Shanghai without fear of puddles. Or dog shit.

Always a silver lining with me eh …

God, how I hope a warm spell breaks out tomorrow, so I can get out of prison. Foot prison.