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


Off With Their Head [Hunter] …
September 21, 2011, 6:11 am
Filed under: Comment

I am in the fortunate position of getting spoken to about jobs fairly often.

I don’t just mean people who are interested in working for me/us, I mean people who are interested in me working for them.

I am under no illusion that the real reason is because I work at W+K rather than anything specifically to do with me – but it’s nice, because it assures me that when W+K finally come to their senses and I fail my teacher training exams, there might still be some options for me in adland down the line.

Albeit at a very different sort of agency to W+K.

Probably in a very different position.

Answering to a very different kind of boss.

But that aside, it’s nice – especially given the times where I was knocking on headhunters doors left, right and centre and no one wanted to lift a finger to help me.

Except Lesley Cheng in Australia – the single, greatest headhunter on the planet.

Anyway, so there’s been this headhunting company in Japan that has been writing to me for quite a few months.

The approach is always the same.

Some random woman writes to say she is representing Optia Partners and that her colleague, Tyron – who always has a link to his LinkedIn profile attached – would like to talk to me.

She gives me a date for a phone conversation, asks for my CV and number and then disappears.

So let’s get this straight, a guy wants to talk to me and yet he wants my CV.

Why?

Why would that matter if he’s already decided he wants to talk to me.

And why can’t he write to me directly?

And if they’ve managed to get my email, why can’t they just get my number and call?

And what gives them the right to decide when they want to talk to me? I appreciate they’re trying to be efficient by naming a time and date, but surely it would be better to ask the person they want to talk to when it was convenient for them, not the other way round?

But it gets worse.

You see while I am very happy at W+K, I always talk to people who are mental enough to want to talk to me … however as each date demanded by the mysterious woman from Optia Partners never suited my schedule, I would write back suggesting an alternative time and that I’d like to know more about their company before I send anyone my CV.

And what would happen?

Nothing.

Not a bean.

Wouldn’t hear a dickie-bird.

Then a few weeks later, I’d get the exact same ‘introduction’ email with them suggesting another inconvenient time to chat.

Finally this week I snapped and I sent back this …

This is the 3rd time you’ve written to me with exactly the same introduction.

On the previous 2 occasions, I’ve responded saying the date you have put forward is not convenient and yet you have not even responded, let alone offered an alternative.

If this is a demonstration of how you value people, I don’t have faith you would appreciate who I am or what I like so with that I wish you all the best and ask you not to contact me again.

Did it cause a response even though I asked them to not give me a response?

Of course not …

So to the people at Optia Partners – get your act together.

I know I’m nothing special, but if this is how you treat people you actually want to talk to, I pity any poor sod who is entrusting you to get them a new job and just to be clear, there is no cat-in-hells-chance I would ever call upon you to try and find me some talent.

One fuck up is bad.

Two fuck ups is ridiculous.

Three fuck ups is just plain stupid.

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe you have a long, long list of happy and satisfied clientele and you just have an issue dealing with people called ‘Rob Campbell’.

Hey, you certainly wouldn’t be the first.

But the thing is I don’t care.

You see even though I am assuming you must do something right because you’ve apparently been in business for quite a while, I can honestly say that if one day in the future I require the help of a professional organisation to find me gainful employment. I assure you, you would literally be the last people I would turn to.

If you want respect, you need to treat others with respect … and sending introduction emails by proxy and then blatantly ignoring the responses doesn’t do it.



How To Turn Love To Hate In One Joint Promotion …
September 20, 2011, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

Why S. Pellegrino? Why?

OK, so you’re both Italian. You’re both fucking overpriced. You’re both about sparkles … but it’s still a load of fucking pants.

I always considered you a brand that is upmarket but still grounded.

Yes, I know that’s an oxymoron, but that’s what you meant to me.

Apart from the fact that when served cold, you literally quenched my thirst unlike anything else – little razor blades that, ironically, slipped down my throat leaving me to smack my lips in refreshed delight – you had this ability to add a bit of glamour to a shitty sandwich or a bit of an anchor to a more poncey meal out.

You kept things real. You were real. You just seemed to go about what you do without any fuss or fanfare.

Gentle. Natural. Inclusive.

And now you go and fuck it all up by doing some bullshit joint promotion with Bvlgari. [Who weirdly, spell their name on their website BULGARI!!!]

Do you honestly think this will benefit you?

Why the hell would associating with a fucking jewelry company benefit you.

You don’t need to go ‘upmarket’, your fucking price guarantees that.

And what does Bvlgari get out of it?

Are you helping them reach out to a broader audience to say “we’re upmarket but not as pricey as you might think?”

I don’t fucking think so.

Hell, I’m half Italian and I’m still not buying into it.

Not only has this joint promotion made me actually dislike your brand a little bit, you’ve made me question how much I pay for your fizzy H2O … and while you might think you can sit pretty because you know you provide me with lip-smacking-refreshment like no one else, the fact is I don’t want to be seen drinking – let alone paying – for something that is linked to pretentious bollocks.

You’re not worried are you?

Not even a teensy bit.

I know why … because you think if anyone gets this pissed off over a bloody joint promotion, they must really give a shit about your brand.

Well the bad news for you is I’m a bitter and twisted bastard who thinks and acts this way over everything so don’t get too smug thinking my love for your beautifully crafted, perfectly clear, immaculately formed bubbles … packed full with icy-cold, tingling refreshment that bounce excitedly up and down on my tongue before jumping down my throat, giving me sharp little kisses all the way down … will be enough to stop me turning my back on you once and for all.

Ahem.

Look, just sort yourselves out or I’ll stop having my little flings with you behind Ms Diet Coke’s [ice, no lemon] back.

___________________________________________________________________________________

UPDATE:

I’ve found out the joint promotion is because both brands are celebrating their 125th anniversary and the bottle is supposed to be a ‘special edition’.

Apart from the fact it looks very much like every other fucking bottle of theirs I’ve drunk out of and I don’t really give a flying fuck their ‘special label’ features some gems casually thrown around the sides – the fact they don’t say it’s their joint anniversary anywhere on the label [at least, not that I saw] makes it a doubly stupid decision.

Good on them for being a century and a quarter old … unfortunately this joint promotion has made me care even less than I would have before.



Wonderbra For The Poor?
September 19, 2011, 6:22 am
Filed under: Comment

So I was passing a shop near my house at the weekend, when I saw this …

Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t live next to a sex shop – and contrary to popular prejudice, they do have them in China – it was actually in a chemists window [which creates more questions than answers] but I have to say, I was transfixed by it.

What on earth is it?

Please tell me it’s something that has been dressed wrongly, because I’d hate to think that is how you are supposed to wear the bloody thing.

Seriously, is it thermal underwear for the practical femme fatale?

What about the poor mans wonderbra?

Imagine getting a young lady home and finding she’s wearing that garb. Seriously, it would make Bridget Jones pants seem positively sensual.

And what’s going on with that mannequins breasts?

They’re almost as high up her body as one of Billy’s ladyboys adams apple would be … and the gap between them could easily accommodate a bus.

Though on the bright side, at least it looks better than this one.

Remember that? Shocking wasn’t it. And racist. Kinda.

OK, so this post is making even less sense than normal, so I’ll leave you with one simple – but very important – question. All things considered, do you think this ‘outfit’ would be an inappropriate Christmas present?

My wife’s happiness and my possible divorce is in your hands.



Why September 17th [Especially The One In 1938] Will Always Be One Of The Best Day’s In My Life …
September 17, 2011, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment

To my wonderful, wonderful Dad.

Happy Birthday.

I still miss you.

Rx

[I know I keep using the same post year after year, but I am sure you won’t mind]

Comments Off on Why September 17th [Especially The One In 1938] Will Always Be One Of The Best Day’s In My Life …


Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory …
September 16, 2011, 6:11 am
Filed under: Crap Campaigns In History

You’re a Norwegian destination – let’s call you Stavanger – and you’re looking for a way to tap into the lucrative tourist dollar.

You bring in a bunch of highly paid experts who talk to you about ‘unique selling propositions’ and ‘consumer benefits’.

You haven’t got the faintest idea what they’re saying but you like what they come back with …

“Stavanger is the perfect short break destination. Quite frankly, it’s the most spectacular short break destination”.

So far so good, you like how it sounds.

“But let me tell you why …” say’s the overpaid branding consultant, “… you see it’s the World’s most unspoilt travel destination”.

You sort of buy the justification, it’s one of those ambigious terms that means no one can really argue against such a statement … so with a strong proposition in your pocket, you go to your ad agency, carefully explain what you’re trying to convey.

“That’s absolutely brilliant …” say’s the agency CD/MD/CEO “… we will get on to it straight away.”

A week later they come back with an ad.

A print ad.

Before they reveal the picture, they read out the copy.

“FOR A SPECTACULAR SHORT BREAK, VISIT STAVANGER … THE WORLD’S MOST UNSPOILT TRAVEL DESTINATION”

You breathe a huge sigh of relief because they’ve taken your cues about what you want Stavanger to stand for quite literally and at the money this whole exercise is costing, you can’t afford any mistakes.

“But what about the picture?” you say with excitement bursting through your voice.

With a little cough, the CD walks up to the presentation stand and with great gusto, pulls back the cover to reveal the picture that will capture all these benefits in a single image …

What a shame the agency went and used an image that shows a rock with so many tourists on it that it doesn’t just look like the most spoilt travel destination on Earth, it looks like fucking Ibiza!

Putting aside that spending a truckload of cash to attract tourists to a place you say is ‘unspoilt’ is madness, the fact no one working on this campaign spotted the potential hypocrisy of their picture versus their message is tragic.

Sure, I am being a petty bastard, but I believe practicing what you preach is fucking important and that means understanding what you shouldn’t do as much as what you should.

I see way too much of this sort of thing … where the message and the visual don’t represent eachother, though to be honest, I see more stuff where the underlying idea doesn’t match what the brand has spent years saying it represented.

AXE in Australia, take a bow.

[Don’t worry, it’s not the wonderful folk at BBH who have fucked up, it’s – or at least it was – LOWES]

I don’t know if it’s laziness or stupidity or me being a cock, but it happens way too much and if we can’t get this sort of thing right … why the hell do we expect a client to trust us with how to build their brand.

OK, so sometimes the issue has nothing to do with the work, and all to do with how successful you’ve become.

I remember running some research for Lonely Planet and hearing a guy tell me how he’d taken the books advice to go to one of the most isolated bars on earth, only to find 3 other people there, all with a Lonely Planet in their hand. However that’s nothing like using a picture filled with people to promote your destination is unspoilt.

OK, so popularity doesn’t necessarily mean spoilt, but by the same token, it doesn’t make you immediately think you’re going to be surrounded by a fuckload of other people either.

So while I hope the people of Stavanger benefit from this campaign, I’d suggest that next time, they make sure their ad doesn’t attract the attention of pricks like me for all the wrong reasons or do a campaign that states to preserve the title of ‘most unspoilt place on earth’ they’ll put a limit on the number of people allowed to visit, at the very least it might create some urgency – or prestige – to visit.



Why Adland Needs More George Parker’s …
September 15, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Anyone who has read George Parker’s blog will know you never leave feeling the same way again.

Opinionated. Aggressive. Self-promoting. Petchulent. Rude. Loud. Blunt. Smart. Knowledgable. Funny. Challenging.

He is, quite simple, a force of nature.

And I love him.

You see while he might go off at the deep end on seemingly small matters and handles any criticism like some 5 year old kid who has been spoon fed e-numbers and espresso for the past 3 hours … he unashamedly speaks his mind and that is something this industry needs more of.

Now I know some people will say that is easy for someone who has achieved a lot in their career – and without doubt there’s some truth to that – however speaking up about something you don’t agree with should never be regarded as reckless, it should be regarded as mandatory.

Of course the key is ‘how’ you say stuff … I certainly wouldn’t recommend the George Parker method of calling a spade a fucking shovel as everyday behaviour [OK, I’m being a hypocrite, as I have said before, all people are in some way. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it] … however if you don’t let people know what you think or feel, there are massive implications, not just for you but for others.

I was recently invited to a meeting where I heard about an idea that some people had run ahead to try and make happen.

While their intention was right, it was about as mad as mad could be.

When I expressed this to them and explained why, there was a general acceptance that I had a point and they’d consider something else.

After the meeting, a couple of people I didn’t know, came up to me and said they were glad I’d brought it up because they felt the same way as me.

When I asked how long they’d known about it, they said a week.

A WEEK!!!

Now as I wrote here, I appreciate it’s hard for some people to speak up – especially when it’s to their bosses – however had I not been invited to that particular meeting, a pretty horrendous situation could have happened simply because the people in the room who appreciated the implications [who I believe weren’t junior level at all], didn’t speak up.

OK, so I was once like that too.

I remember being asked why I didn’t speak up in meetings when I wouldn’t shut the hell up when I was in the office.

When I said it was because I didn’t want to say something stupid … I was told,

“If it makes sense to you, you should say it and if it’s stupid, the people in the room will quickly tell you and educate you why”.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever had.

And that’s why people like George Parker are so important.

In an industry that has turned into a bunch of sycophantic, back-slapping, follow orders, don’t-upset-the-client/boss, yes-men … people like George show the importance and value of having, inviting and voicing opinions.

Sure it would be wise to express them in less confrontational terms … sure, you should only say something when you genuinely have a point … yes, you should maintain an open mind because you might find your view is wrong … however letting people know what you think, why you think it and what else could be done ensures people will start to view you as someone who can play a critical role in developing stronger ideas, which is a damn sight better than being regarded as an individual whose main role is to be the cheerleader for whoever has the biggest mouth or title in the room.

OK, so tragically a lot of people go a very long way with the ass-kissing, back-slapping strategy … however in my experience, the higher up the industry ladder you go, the more good clients turn to the people they believe give them meaningful viewpoints and advice, not just empty platitudes.

So George, thank you. You’re playing a much more important role than even your ego thought you were. Ha.



Causing A Stir …
September 14, 2011, 6:06 am
Filed under: Comment

My wife is a wonderful woman.

She is kind, caring, beautiful and smart … however a word that few would use to describe her is brave, and yet that is exactly what she is.

I don’t mean it because she married me – though that would be a fair point – I mean it because she has had a life of turmoil and challenge and yet she has come out the other side while maintaining her warm, positive and infectious personality.

While I readily admit I don’t know how she does it, I admire it … almost as much as I admire her attitude to happily step into the unknown.

I met Jill a few weeks before I was moving to Singapore.

I really liked her and hated the idea of leaving her, but I didn’t think she would ever want to move countries for a man she hardly knew.

It was thanks to my lovely friend Kristina that I asked her – because she pointed out to me that I couldn’t make a decision for her, I could only give her the option.

And I did. And she said yes.

I’d love to think I’d be that brave but I don’t know if I would be … not because I didn’t care enough, but because I’m a fucking wimp.

Obviously it worked out and since that fateful Saturday on Sept 4th 2004 where I met her for the first time in Balmain, I have dragged her to multiple countries to basically start all over again, over and over again.

Each time she has to start from scratch.

No home.
No job.
No friends.
No community.

And yet each time it happens, she gets on with making our life and home as happy and secure as quickly as possible and doesn’t ask for anything in return.

Nothing.

Whereas so many other wives rush to embrace an expat lifestyle – full of helpers, lunches and shopping – my wife shuns it all.

All she wants is to experience the adventure of her new ‘home’ with her husband and cat. To her, nothing else matters.

In all honesty, she’s a bloody inspiration, not to mention – as Andy likes to point out – way too good for me.

I do try and do my bit.

I try and ensure she feels loved, happy, safe and secure – but compared to how she makes me feel, I definitely get the better end of the deal.

Even moving to China – a place that challenges every aspect of your lifestyle, beliefs and values from the very second you land – didn’t phase her.

OK, so there were a few weird moments as we tried to organise phones, homes and food – not to mention get over some of China’s more ‘unique’ aspects … but in what seems the blink of an eye, she has done a load of projects for a bunch of companies – including China’s biggest milk company [who make Coca-Cola look like a local corner shop] who literally ‘adore her’ – learnt Mandarin [the most fucking fucked language in the entire universe], developed a group of friends, helped out charities, done some courses and now set up a high-end cake design company called Stir.

Me? I have just about remembered the W+K security door code.

This is what I mean about my wife being brave.

Despite being a successful designer and living in a country that has a knack at making every little thing an adventure [read: difficult] she decided to go off and train as a cake designer and set up her own company.

In just a short period of time, she has made a 7 tier wedding cake for the uber-poncy Peninsula Hotel in Shanghai … a bunch of corporate cakes for brands like Converse … a whole host of birthday cakes for Shanghai’s local and expat communities … got PR coverage in a number of local media and is now about to start her own ‘cake design’ training courses.

Just like that.

Whereas some people take 3 years to decide about their ‘brand pyramid’, my wife has gone off and made stuff happen.

And she’s happy.

Happier than happy … which is genuinely the happiest thing to see.

So thank you Jill for being so brill and brave and inspirational and may as many people ‘like’ Stir’s facebook page as possible because then you’ll get even more orders and I can give up work, spend my days in front of the telly playing Xbox and – possibly an even greater motivation for people who read this blog to sign up, beyond wanting to support the greatest cake creator in the entire Universe – stop writing this bloody blog.