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

If You’re Going To Change The Brief, Change It For Their Benefit, Not Yours …
August 31, 2011, 6:13 am
Filed under: Comment

One of my most hated responses is “it’s off brief”.

Far too often, it’s muttered by people who wouldn’t even know what being “on brief” is.

Too many mediocrity merchants use it as a shield to protect themselves from either [1] saying what they really mean or [2] doing something that they think their boss will hate.

However it’s not always the wrong term to use and it’s not always something adland can claim is someone else’s fault.

One of the things that bugs-the-shit out of me is when planners suggest a strategic direction that completely ignores the objective that has been set.

It’s all easy to blame those sorts of situations on clients who haven’t set their core objective clearly enough, but one of the roles of a planner is to uncover or identify the real issue/challenge/goal that has to be addressed and so if that has not been done, then there is an issue with the planner in the first place.

Just recently I saw something where the planners involved had completely shifted the objective that had been set.

Sure it was interesting … sure it had a lot of additional benefits … sure it would be fun … but the fact is, it no longer captured the core objective that had been clearly and concisely articulated and while their new focus would have added a broader perspective to the challenge, they had diluted the heart of the objective to such a point that it was now genuinely ‘off brief’ and as such, wrong.

Maybe if they’d explained their reason for changing the objective in accordance with how it played into the original goal, they’d of got a better response from me … maybe I was in a bad mood and wasn’t prepared to listen … but as much as strategy needs to expressed [at least in adland] in a way that encourages imagination and creativity, if it doesn’t address the fundamental goal, it’s not strategy, it’s indulgence.

I am absolutely all for turning challenges on their head … adding things to it … moving things around … approaching things in incredibly weird and wonderful ways … giving the client stuff better than they ever dared hope or expect … but if you ignore what the client wants addressing, you’re wasting their time, our reputation and everyone’s cash … so either remember the real meaning of the term, or go start your own company.

PS: The planners involved were not from my team. They know who they are and they’re being watched very fucking carefully at the moment.

Will Apple Survive Without Jobs?
August 30, 2011, 6:14 am
Filed under: Comment

… obviously the answer is yes, so can we all move on and start asking some questions that have some real fucking merit.

Seriously, these sort of ‘shock headlines’ give me the fucking shits.

Maybe Apple will suffer in the future without Jobs guiding hand [or, should I say, iron rod] but they’re not going to implode in the next fucking week, any more than Ford collapsed in a heap the moment ol’ Henry popped his clogs.

On top of that, Jobs is still involved with the company, even if he’s not CEO, so let’s stop thinking we’re being clever fuckers for discussing this, because we’re not – what we are doing is showing [1] we’re commercial amateurs and [2] we’re ignorant … because on top of the fact they’ve been educating their stupidly clever folk in ‘the way of Steve’ for over a decade, I’m pretty sure Apple have been giving this situation serious thought for oooooooh, only about the last 10 bloody years.

And for the record, Virgin will survive without Branson, Facebook will survive without Zuckerberg and Google will survive without Sergey and Larry.

Thank you, I feel much better now.

It’s Monday, So Why Don’t We Start The Week With Finding Out How Much Of A Failure You Really Are …
August 29, 2011, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

For reasons I don’t even want to go into, I have written up a test that appeared on Oprah “God Complex” Winfrey’s show a while back.

It was performed by that [allegedly] sick, sexist quack – Dr. Phil – which automatically means it was designed to be [1] complete and utter bollocks and [2] appealing to bored, middle American married women who have nothing going on in their lives other than to sing along to Gloria Gaynor songs.

Apparently Dr. Phil scored 55 [quelle fucking surprise!] and the yo-yo dieter got 38 … I, on the other hand, got 41, which both scares the living bejesus out of me because it probably means I’m a fucking egomaniac cockhead [no comments please] as well as pleases me because it means I’m ‘3 better’ than that bloody woman off the telly.

Hang on, according to the ‘score chart’, it says I’m “sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head” … which means I’ve already proved this test is a load of bollocks.

Anyway, there are 10 questions, so find out if you’re a social leper, a social climber or a social psychopath but remember that:

1. Evaluating your own behaviour is like asking a criminal to decide whether he’s guilty or innocent.

2. If you are general enough – yet use highly descriptive language – you can make anything seem relevant. [Classic manipulative/amateur planner ploy]

3. If you believe these sorts of tests it highlights you’re the sort of planner who looks for convenient “answers”, rather than doing any real fucking legwork to find out what’s really going in people’s lives and minds in the real World.

4. If you believe these sorts of tests, it says more about who you are than anything these tests could ever prove.

Anyway, enough of all that … ready to play?

Good. Then we will begin …

1. When do you feel your best …

A) in the morning

B) during the afternoon and early evening

C) late at night

2. You usually walk …

A) fairly fast, with long steps

B) fairly fast, with little steps

C) less fast head up, looking the world in the face

D) less fast, head down

E) very slowly

3. When talking to people you …

A) stand with your arms folded

B) have your hands clasped

C) have one or both your hands on your hips

D) touch or push the person to whom you are talking

E) play with your ear, touch your chin, or smooth your hair

4. When relaxing, you sit with …

A) your knees bent with your legs neatly side by side

B) your legs crossed

C) your legs stretched out or straight

D) one leg curled under you

5. When something really amuses you, you react with…

A) big appreciated laugh

B) a laugh, but not a loud one

C) a quiet chuckle

D) a sheepish smile

6. When you go to a party or social gathering you …

A) make a loud entrance so everyone notices you

B) make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know

C) make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed

7. You’re working very hard, concentrating hard, and you’re interrupted …

A) welcome the break

B) feel extremely irritated

C) vary between these two extremes

8. Which of the following colors do you like most …

A) Red or orange

B) black

C) yellow or light blue

D) green

E) dark blue or purple

F) white

G) brown or gray

9. When you’re in bed, in those last few moments before going to sleep you are …

A) stretched out on your back

B) stretched out face down on your stomach

C) on your side, slightly curled

D) with your head on one arm

E) with your head under the covers

10. You often dream that you are …

A) falling

B) fighting or struggling

C) searching for something or somebody

D) flying or floating

E) you usually have dreamless sleep

F) your dreams are always pleasant



1. (a) 2 (b) 4 (c) 6

2. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 7 (d) 2 (e) 1

3. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 5 (d) 7 (e) 6

4. (a) 4 (b) 6 (c) 2 (d) 1

5. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 2

6. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 2

7. (a) 6 (b) 2 (c) 4

8. (a) 6 (b) 7 (c) 5 (d) 4 (e) 3 (f) 2 (g) 1

9. (a) 7 (b) 6 (c) 4 (d) 2 (e ) 1

10. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 6 (f) 1

Now add up the total number of points.

Others see you as someone they should “handle with care.” You’re seen as vain, self-centered, and extremely dominant. Others may admire you, wishing they could be more like you, but don’t always trust you, hesitating to become too deeply involved with you. You probably have at least 2 ex-wives and complain about planners. A lot.

51 TO 60 POINTS:
Others see you as an exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality, a natural leader, who’s quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold and adventuresome, someone who will try anything once, someone who takes chances and enjoys an adventure. They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement you radiate.

41 TO 50 POINTS:
Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting, someone who’s constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding, someone who’ll always cheer them up and help them out.

31 TO 40 POINTS:
Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who’s extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expects the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you, realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over if that trust is ever broken.

21 TO 30 POINTS:
Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy. They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder. It would really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment, expecting you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then, usually decide against it. They think this reaction is caused partly by your careful nature.

People think you’re shy, nervous and indecisive – someone who needs looking after, who always wants someone else to make the decisions and who doesn’t want to get involved with anyone or anything! They see you as a worrier who always sees problems that don’t exist. Some people think you’re boring. Only those who know you well, know you aren’t. You probably also go by the name of Billy. And have lots of tatts. Lots of tatts.

Lucille Ball Understands Insight Better Than Planners …
August 26, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

“If a man correctly guesses the age of a woman, he may be smart, but he’s not very bright.”

Genius. And she didn’t even need a 100 page powerpoint document to explain her point.

Planners, take note.

Why Everyone Should Start Their Own Business …
August 25, 2011, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things that bugs the crap out of me is how many people in adland seem to think they’re geniuses and their clients are fuckwits.

What’s worse is the only way they’ll seem to change their mind is if the client ends up agreeing to whatever they suggest or want to do … which is total and utter madness.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate they’re many people in marketing that could make the wrong decision in a house fire [“Do I walk out the front door or stay and brainstorm possibilities?”] but by the same token, there’s way too many people in adland that don’t appreciate they’re paid to help companies make more money, not to fund their personal artistic endeavors.

And that’s why I’m a big believer in everyone starting their own company.

I’m not talking about a hobby … I’m talking about something where your livelihood – short or long term – is inherently linked to it’s success or failure.

Trust me, there’s nothing like having a business to test your morals, values and principles.

As much as we like to pretend it’s all about talent, the fact is lots and lots of people can, and do, have big ideas – not to mention a bunch of thoughts on how things could, and should, be done … however it’s only when you have a company that you truly appreciate the commercial considerations that need to be weighed up behind every decision.

That’s not saying there is ever a reason to not do amazing work, but there are a lot of factors that need to be understood and quite frankly, too few people in adland truly understand that – or at least the implications of doing that – which is why starting a business is not only a time of unbelievable excitement, but also of learning.

While I am incredibly fortunate to work for an independent company who has built their reputation by maintaing their strong principles and beliefs – the fact is my first 3 years at cynic did more to teach me how to get ideas to go from the bottom drawer to the boardroom table and I genuinely believe that without that education, the successes I have been fortunate to have in my career would have been severely impacted.

So if you want to improve your odds of making the ideas you believe in happen, start your own business and I guarantee you’ll soon learn how success comes from pitching your thoughts from your client’s needs perspective, not just your own egos.

Flawed Logic …
August 24, 2011, 6:05 am
Filed under: Crap Marketing Ideas From History!

Have a look at this ad that I saw in a music mag …

On one hand I appreciate how they have tried to link the visual to the content of the medium – even if it’s totally shit and uninspiring – however what the fuck are they going on about with that message?

Sure, you wouldn’t buy a microphone from a mechanic, but that’s also because they don’t bloody sell them – whereas buying currency from a bank makes perfect sense because not only do they offer that service, their reason for being is dealing with cash [or should I say debt] and so it’s a perfectly logical thing to do.

OK, so maybe this company is saying they offer foreign currency for lower prices than the high street banks – however while they’re right that I wouldn’t go to a mechanic to get a mic, I also wouldn’t go to a financial institution that I’ve never heard of when I don’t even know what the hell it is they’re offering. #Fail.

The Art Of The Schmooze …
August 23, 2011, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

When I was starting in adland, I would hear people talk ‘schmoozing’.

You know what it is, where a client is taken out – normally by someone in client management – and “entertained”.

Now the thing is, people would always say the word ‘schmooze’ as if it was dirty … the equivilent of cheating on your wife but buying her a bunch of flowers on the way home. From a petrol station forecourt.

Now of course I know there have been all manner of dirty, filthy, morally corrupt things done under the guise of “entertaining the client” … however I would still say they are the exception rather than the rule, especially in adland.

Schmoozing doesn’t mean being underhand. Nor does it mean being slimy … intact I’d go as far to say that schmoozing is a really important thing and planners should be doing it far more than they do.

I’m not talking about long lunches, strip clubs or games of golf … I’m talking about the simple act of having a meal together.

Now I appreciate that might disappoint some … however the simple lunch or dinner is an amazing weapon.

I don’t mean it because you can try to win favor by getting them pissed … I mean it because it allows you to talk to them in a neutral environment … where previously ‘sensitive’ issues suddenly lose their explosiveness … where you can talk about life, not just work and start to connect on a deeper level – at least more than the day-to-day interactions you probably normally manage.

You get to discuss the future … fears, wants, hopes and dreams … and then you can go back to the office and try and do something about making it happen … something that can open the door to mutual benefit and belief … something that can get you more influence and creativity over their approach … something that can get you to deliver them stronger and more meaningful results.

Something that let’s you both remember how powerful, effective and important the advertising business can actually be …

You might think this is all airy-fairy, but as I wrote previously, half the battle to getting good work is having trust, respect and understanding and if all your interactions are based around an office table, rather than a dining table – the chances of you being able to achieve that get seriously limited.

So next time you’re wondering how you can get a client to start doing better, bolder, more meaningful things – forget about thinking of ways to show them how “utterly-fucking-amazing-you-are-and-how-stupid-they-must-be-if-they-turn-it-down” and give schmoozing strategy a go … because having a strong relationship with the client doesn’t mean you’re a creep or in account service [that is not meant to sound like I’m discounting them, in fact, I think they possibly have the toughest job of anyone in adland], it means you’re increasing the odds of doing the sort of work that others out there will talk about with a distinctly envious tone in their voice. And green eyes.