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

It’s Crazy Fun Blog Post Day. If You’re A Sad Sod.
February 29, 2012, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Comment

In the best tradition of Rolf Harris, can you see what it is yet?



No prize for getting it right, but it does mean you could apply as a code breaker for this mob. And just for the record, I only found out about this 3 hours before getting on a plane. Not the greatest example of planning there. Oh well. See you Monday.

Life’s Better When It Doesn’t Make Total Sense …
February 29, 2012, 6:09 am
Filed under: Comment

So today is the 29th Feb.

Leap year.

My friend Michael was born on Feb 29th about 36 odd years ago [I think] so by purist terms, he’s actually only about 9 … which, coincidentally, matches his mental age perfectly.

But here’s the thing, sometimes being ‘correct’ doesn’t mean you’re ‘right’.

What I mean is that I come across some planners who seem so obsessed with being seen as ‘correct’ that they miss the beauty and energy of the situation.

The perceived truth rather than the intellectual truth.

The grey area rather than the black or white area.

The emotional perspective rather than the rational.

Making sense and being right are not always the same thing and yet I know planners whose soul objective is to be pedantically right.

Of course, part of that is because our discipline has become a battlefield of intelligence wankdom – and while I would never devalue the importance of being clever – approaching work with the attitude that you are judge, jury and executioner ultimately leads to nowhere, especially when you end up so blinkered you can’t see how to make the bigger opportunity move forward.

Be authentic. Be true. But to paraphrase Lucille Ball, it’s important to remember that being correct and being right aren’t always the same thing.

Sponsors Bonkers …
February 28, 2012, 6:13 am
Filed under: Comment

Brands love sponsoring stuff.

Family Days.

You name it, they sponsor it.

Of course some sponsorship is both commercially valuable and creatively powerful – or at least one of the two – however there are a lot of times where the impression you are left with is it was done because the CEO likes it.

There’s two ways you can tell.

1. They run ads that say, “The passion [insert athlete, sports team, band, etc] has for [insert activity], matches the passion we have to make to make the best [insert cars, food, drink, chocolate].

2. They do stuff like this:

What the fuck?

Photocopier machines. Basketball players. The line, “Giving Shape To Ideas”.

Excuse me?

It feels like some weird school exam where they shove a bunch of random words together and your task is to find how they interconnect. Except in this case, they don’t.

As much as our job is to make the uninteresting, interesting – that doesn’t mean you have to go to such ridiculously bad extremes.

Years ago I was approached by a photocopier company.

While they knew who they needed to target with startling clarity, their approach – which basically swung wildly between facts about their reliability or contrived razzmatazz – just wasn’t cutting it.

Our approach was to start from scratch.

We spent a bunch of time with their salesmen, clients, office workers, secretaries and from all that a fucking awesome insight came out.

“The only reason people know the brand of the photocopier they use, is if it breaks down all the time”

It was with this – and the fact they were quantifiably more reliable than all the key competitive brands – that we ran a campaign entitled “Introducing the photocopier you’ll never know the name of” … and you know what, it worked gangbusters.

I’m not saying this to be a smug bastard, I’m saying this because if the purpose of communication is to try and help sell stuff on behalf of our clients, it’s not necessary to go out and sponsor a basketball team, nor spend copious amounts of cash on an outdoor billboard [errrrm, especially not spend copious amounts of cash on an outdoor billboard], it’s simply knowing who you need to talk to and what will influence them.

Not over the top.

Not hard.

Just the most basic principles of communication practice.

As I said, sponsorship can be great – especially when it enables you to ‘lock out’ competitors in high-sales environments – but there are far too many deals that have seemingly been done for no other reason than to satisfy ego or self interest … and while I don’t know the intricacies of the Konica Minolta / Basketball deal, I would give anything to see how they are going to evaluate the return on their investment, but then I have always enjoyed reading fiction.

Fuck You Stephen Hawking’s …
February 27, 2012, 6:30 am
Filed under: Comment

I know Mr Robot Voice is smart.

I know he’s smarter than 10 million versions of me.

He’s probably even smarter than John Dodds.


But is he as smart as Sebastian Schmeig?

Who is Sebastian?

No, it’s not the same Seb that – along with Marcus – used to represent the German contingent that shouted abuse at me on this blog.

Sebastian is a man who can basically explain the history of mankind – from big bang to Lindsey Lohan breakdown – in 4 mins 21″.


I know planners who take that long just to tell you their quadruple-barrelled name.

OK, so there’s a bit more to the story than that – and you can read it here – but if you’re more Playboy reader than Times reader and just want to look at the pictures, then check out his video of total, mental, evolutionary, trippy awesomeness.

Friday Feels Like _________.
February 24, 2012, 6:11 am
Filed under: Comment

When I was growing up, Friday was my favourite day.

It was the day before I got two days of play.
I would get my one can of fizzy pop for the week. [Tizer]
I got to watch one of my favourite shows, Grange Hill.

It was awesome.

But while those things were personal to me, there were at least two things that were almost common to all:

1. The TV show ‘Crackerjack’ [“It’s Friday, it’s 5 to 5 … it’s crackerrrrrjaaaaaack”]

2. The chocolate bar ‘Crunchie [“That Friday feeling”]

Now the weird thing is that the last time I saw – or tried – either of those things was probably 35 odd years ago … yet they’re still stuck firmly in my consciousness.

But this isn’t talking about how utterly old I am … nor is it about associative branding … it’s a request for you to give me some things that were deeply associated with your Friday, wherever you grew up or whenever you grew up.

The only request is that it’s not purely unique to you, like Crackerjack and Crunchie … it should be something that infiltrated the whole countries psyche.

I know I’ll get the usual filth and inappropriateness, but if there’s something genuine amongst all the rubbish, I’d be eternally grateful.

Well, not eternally, but definitely grateful.

The Power Of Ssssshhhhh …
February 23, 2012, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

The good thing about adland is that it’s full of people who like to listen.

The bad thing is that quite often, the thing they like to listen to the most, is their own voice.

And trust me, if anyone can say that, it’s me.

There was a scene in the movie 13 Days that had quite an effect on me.

It was when JFK had all his military advisors in a room, asking for their views and ideas of what to do regarding the build up of missiles in Cuba.

One by one, he heard representatives of the navy, army and air force express their opinion.

Then he listened to each of his Government advisors as they explained their point of view.

After all this – and only after all this – did he say what he thought and what they would do.

And what he decided they would do was not based on the recommendations of most of the people in the room.

He didn’t do this to cause offense.

He didn’t do this because he was weak.

He didn’t do this because he had no opinion of his own.

He did this because he valued the perspective of his colleagues in the room and appreciated that their background, expertise and unique viewpoint could change, impact or influence his decision.

Then he made his decision.

And explained why.

That’s leadership.

And that’s why it’s good to listen to your colleagues before you listen to your own voice – because at the end of the day, as long as you have good people working for you, you’ll be able to make better, more rounded and more effective decisions which will lead to better work, more acclaim, better job offers, more money and the delusion you’re even better than your already massive ego has deluded you into thinking you are.

Do You Know Your Neighbours …
February 22, 2012, 6:08 am
Filed under: Comment

I am passionately against sitting in departments.

I absolutely loathe planners sitting together … creatives sitting together … suits sitting together … etc etc.

I accept there are positives that come from it, but I believe there are even more positives not doing it.

From a planners perspective … it means you can’t fall into some pseudo-intellectual bullshit bubble … it means you stay connected to what is actually going on with the clients and the agency … it means you can contribute to conversations in real-time … it means you can hear – learn – different views and perspectives and, possibly most importantly, it means you can start forming deeper relationships with the people who ultimately can make your life a breeze or utter, fucking, hell.

Now I appreciate if you work in a company that departmentalises their office space, there’s not much you can do about it however if that’s the case – and even if it’s not – one thing you might be able to pull off is a ‘random desk swap’.

We’ve done it here a few times … where for one week, every planner swaps seats with another planner in the office for a day.

Every day, a new desk.

Every day, a new view.

Every day, a new set of colleagues.

Every day, a new set of conversations.

Of course, everyone else in the agency either [1] thinks you’re a fucking nutcase or [2] complains they can’t find you … but for such a simple exercise, you get quite a bit our of it.

You get to know more of your colleagues.

You get to know more of your colleagues a bit better.

You get to have brand new conversations about brand new things.

You get to hear some fresh thinking and some new viewpoints.

You get to see how the office works from different perspectives.

You get to be a sad bastard by realising you miss your old desk … old seat … and old colleagues.

We all get connected to certain things in our office … little memento’s that turn a desk into a sort of 2nd home [which is bloody scary if you think about it] … however doing something new, even if it’s just for a week, isn’t going to kill you and you might just find that you’re better off for the experience.

Unless you end up sat next to Ryan in our office. He’s a fucking nightmare.