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


Why We All Need A Rodi. But Probably Not His Dress Sense.
January 12, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

This is my colleague Rodi.

Yes, I know his legs are the sort of white that Persil Automatic Washing Powder aspires to delivering … but if you can get past that horrific sight [and I recommend you do because he’s a Russian/Australian martial arts ninja bastard] I’ll explain one of the reasons why he is so good.

Planning – and planners – love to make a big deal out of being curious.

To be honest, this has always made me feel a bit sick because we act like they’re the only people in the World with this attitude.

Let’s be honest, curiosity is a basic human trait and even if planners execute this more than the majority [which I’d say is open to debate] they’re no where near as curious as people in the finance, technology, R&D or criminal investigation industries, to name a few.

Seriously, what does a planner class as being curious.

Going through a client research report?

Reading some blogs?

Doing the odd ‘home visit’?

Give me a break …

And this leads to my other issue with so many planners, they forget our job is two fold:

1. To understand & represent our clients audience.
2. To help liberate our clients business.

That’s not optional.
They’re not mutually exclusive.
They are interdependent and should be treated as such.

And this is what makes Rodi so good.

He understands that to help liberate our clients business, he has to understand our clients business.

Not just in terms of marketing or usage or whatever ‘objective’ has been put down on the brief by the client – but the inner workings of what goes on behind the scenes … from what it takes to make & distribute their products and brands to the factors that influence senior managements decisions and actions.

Now you might think we all do that … and without doubt, we should … but if you were to spend a week with Rodi and compare his approach to what most people class as ‘business curiosity’, the gulf in methodology and result would be as obvious as the breast implants on 90% of Hollywood’s Z-grade female ‘stars’.

His approach doesn’t involve getting on to some subscribed research site or do a Google search [though he does that too] he goes and see’s a whole range of people … both within the company and, for a more objective point-of-view, outside it.

I’ve never seen a person consume annual reports with the sort of relish he does.

And he really looks into the numbers.

He looks where the money has been coming and going.

He compares it to where it was coming and going a year ago.

He analyses that with what their competitors say in their annual reports.

He cross references everything against economic data to understand whether they are acting independently or reacting to wider economic issues.

And that’s before he even takes into account the attitudes, needs, wants & fears of society – which he knows well because he makes it his business to know it well. Plus he has an amazing team around him to fill in blanks and questions.

[Yes, that’s you Charinee & Leon!]

Not only does all this result in him knowing our clients business at least as well as many of them do, he is also able to develop business solutions to problems that go way beyond just ‘making an ad’.

There’s nothing I like more than watching him in full flow as he carefully explains how a particular issue can be solved by [eg] changing their distribution approach or relinquishing their current consumers in favour of a more emerging audience or creating infrastructure to allow people to get involved … especially when he uses the clients – and independent – data to prove his point to any doubters.

Don’t get me wrong, Rodi is not – and doesn’t want to be – a management consultant.

Nor a branding consultant.

He simply understands that to get the right solution you have to have the right questions and his view is that if you follow the money, you end up identifying the problems or opportunities that can be the most powerful, interesting and rewarding for our clients, their audience and our agency.

That is someone who is curious.

Not because he wants to look cool or justify his title, but because he wants to be known for helping deliver business results in the most creatively imaginative, memorable and meaningful ways possible.

So next time you say you’re curious, make sure you mean it more in terms of how Rodi does it than some average person on the street … or I’ll send him round to snow-blind you with his legs.

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iFail.
January 11, 2012, 6:18 am
Filed under: Crap Marketing Ideas From History!

After the heaviness of yesterday’s post, I thought I’d get back to what this blog is best known for – bollocks.

So for reasons best not to go into, I came across [not the best choice of phrase] this:

No, I’m not saying having a personal alarm on your iPhone is mental – though how you access it if you’re being attacked is open to debate – I’m saying calling it ‘iRape’ is.

iRape!

Seriously?

Did the person behind this app not think it sounds awfully like ‘I Rape’?

On first impressions it sounds more like a social network app for the criminally inclined rather than a product that aims to provide you with a sense of security and safety.

How many times do I have to say ‘sell the benefit, not the problem’.

Mind you, when the apps description includes the disclaimer …

“This application will not prevent you from being sexually abused”

… you understand Stephen Thompson, creator of iRape, was doomed before he started.

That aside, the disclaimer helps us understand a couple of other things as well:

1. iRape is selling the illusion [or delusions] of security and safety.
2. American society is a litigiously obsessed society.

Don't worry Stephen, on the bright side you can still make a fortune … all you have to do is open a branding company because I know your naming strategy is tailor-made for the Singaporean market.



Ban The Bullshit …
January 10, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment


So this is the 2nd day of writing my blog in 2012 and I have to say I’m finding it hard.

It’s not because, as John Dodds say’s, I’ve had too much holiday … it’s because I feel numb to stuff.

Numb to planning.
Numb to adland.
Numb to brands and branding.

This is slightly disconcerting given this is how I make my income but you see, over the holiday period, I had a chance to read a bunch of stuff and overwhelmingly, I was underwhelmed by what my industry churns out – or celebrates – as ‘interesting’.

Of course not everyone was like that and – much to my dismay – some of the stuff that I found genuinely thought-provoking came from people who also happen to write comments on here [though never their thought provoking stuff I noted] however overall, I was just left feeling rather empty by what adland and planning and branding is becoming.

Maybe it’s because I can remember when it was truly influential on business and culture.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen – and fortunately been part of – work that made a massive difference to everyone involved.

Maybe it’s because I’m just a thick bastard and don’t understand all the intellectualism being banded about.

Who knows, but as much as the industry likes to lay the blame for our declining commercial creative power at the feet of everyone from egotistical corporations to bad marketing managers to basically anyone or anything digital … I would say a lot of it is down to how we manage and promote ourselves on a daily basis.

While there are some that still are flying the flag for creating commercial magic – overall, the industry seems to have morphed into an excuse machine.

We can’t create magic under timeline pressure.
We can’t create magic under budget pressure.
We can’t agree with what clients may suggest.
We don’t think the public know what they want.
We won’t change anything from what we’ve produced.

OK, so I’m being dramatic and without doubt, there are a bunch of external reasons why we’ve suffered so much over the past 10-15 years – however instead of trying to compartmentalize or complicate what we do in a bid to derive more revenue from clients because we’ve sold the commercial value of applied creative thinking down the river for the past few decades … maybe if we just got on with what brands and society actually wanted and needed from us, we’d end producing more great commercially creative ideas than proprietary bullshit.

Wouldn’t that be amazing!?

Wouldn’t it be good to be judged on what we do rather than what we say we do?!

I know it’s easier said than done … I know that too many companies care more about the process than what the process delivers … but if we continue to play along with this attitude and approach, we’re contributing to our own demise in terms of value, respect and future and the thing is, adland offers benefits few other industries could ever hope to create or influence which is why I think it’s time we start remembering what we actually do because looking and sounding like clients isn’t working.

Oh I know why agencies did it.

They thought it would make our clients respect us more … however the irony is it seems to be making them respect us less.

We didn’t lose our seat at the boardroom table because of how we talked or dressed, we lost it because we stopped talking and caring about their needs, goals and dreams and that’s why I believe the only way to get it back is by proving we understand their business at least as well as them and their audience significantly better than them … and the only way that can happen is if we stop believing its about what we say and get back to focusing on creating success through what we do.

I’m not talking about creative awards or effectiveness papers that have made a ‘degree of change’ sound like the second coming of Jesus … I’m talking about doing stuff that fundamentally – and undeniably – shifts the needle.

And how would we judge this?

Well creative and effectiveness awards would still be important, but in my mind, some other ways to tell whether we are being successful in our goal is if [1] we start attracting clients rather than consistently having to chase them [2] we change culture rather than always trying to reflect it and [3] we help re-establish the power and importance of the marketing director at boardroom level.

Of course it requires both sides to make that happen but wouldn’t it be nice if the industry adopted that as their new years resolution.

Just a thought …



Same Shit, Different Year …
January 9, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

How’s that for a positive new year blog post title?

Well, don’t worry – I’m just being sarcastic, I’m not suggesting we’re all going to end up doing 99% of the same shit we vowed we wouldn’t do again, even if statistically, that might be 82.67% true.

So did you have a good time?

Of course you did because let’s face it, even if all you got was an ill-fitting shirt, a Christmas jumper or – as I got – a fake door … public holidays are nothing to sneeze at and guess what, in a matter of weeks, I get another one courtesy of Chinese New Year.

Oh yes …

Anyway, like many people out there, I have some goals I’d like to achieve in 2012 and I hope, unlike many people out there, I get to actually see them through.

Of course I’m not going to tell you what they are because I’d rather fail in private than in the full glare of a blog no one reads or cares about but what I can tell you is that I hope in December, I can look back on the year and feel I’ve accomplished 50% of what our friend Niko has been accomplishing in the last few months.

I like Niko.

I like him a lot.

Sure he can be a petty, pain-in-the-ass with an ability to start an argument in an empty house … but he has also given me more good ideas over the past 4 years than anyone else I know, and I know plenty of people who have bloody great ideas.

As is typical with adland, they dismissed him because he had no ‘traditional adland experience’ which is why I’m over the moon he has given them all the finger by not only starting his own company, but by getting funding from a South American Government.

That might sound dodgy, but it’s not and even if it was, it’s more than most people in adland have achieved – be it at work or off their own endeavors – which is why I am really happy watching him get filthy rich while everyone else talks about ‘the ad or the theory they wished they’d done/come up with/rehashed’.

I’ll let him tell you about his latest venture … but one thing I will say is that people would be better off looking towards him for inspiration than 90% of the adfolk the industry likes to put on a pedestal.

Choose your role models carefully, they can hold you back as much as push you forward.