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


Who’d Of Thought Dolly Parton, Metallica, W+K, Texas & Planning Could Produce Something So Beautiful?
May 31, 2012, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

I used to love TedTalks.

The Sir Ken Robinson and Barry Schwartz speeches literally blew my mind … and while there have been many others that have captivated and fascinated me, I’ve felt it’s slowly moved away from ideas that can change the World to being a publicity machine for people who are about to bring out a book.

Yes, that’s very unfair, but for some reason, it’s just lost me along the way.

And then I saw David Terry’s speech at TedX Portland.

I should admit I know David.

Actually, I should rephrase that, I adore David.

Not because he’s my offsider at W+K Portland – responsible for the planning that has helped drive some of the best work you’ll ever see anywhere in the World – but because he’s a wonderful man.

In a World where society calls someone ‘brave’ or ‘legendary’ just for kicking a ball or singing a song, Dave is someone who is actually deserving of both those accolades.

Not just because he’s smart, funny [in a very dry way] and as tough as fucking nails.

Not just because he was a roadie for Dolly Parton and Metallica.

Not just because he’s a loving father and husband to his family. [View ad at 1 min 2″]

Not just because he could beat the shit out of me with just a stare.

Not just because he say’s “mine” with the sort of force that could stop an army.

Not just because we share the same music tastes [except Queen. Sadly]

But because of this:

I know I’m biased … I know it’s not your typical ‘make the World better’ speech … but there’s stuff in there that can make a difference, not just to people in extreme situations like David, but anyone.

So now I love TedTalks again …

Sure, it might still have a pretentious streak running through it these days, but if it didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have this speech and without it, I feel I would have genuinely missed out on something beautiful, funny, valuable, legendary, moving, inspiring and brave.

As I told Dave recently, it might be his disease, but he’s my mate.

And I’m a better person for knowing him and hearing this.

Which is why I know he’ll win this in the end.

Because David is a fucking legend.



How Many Creative People Are Really Creative?
May 30, 2012, 6:14 am
Filed under: Comment

So every year, various magazines release their list of ‘creative people’.

Unlike adland, they look broad rather than narrow which is why every year, adland generally fails to appear anywhere on the list.

That said, even when they do, it’s often because of one campaign – which is probably why, this year, Fast Company decided to celebrate some guy at JWT Shanghai rather than Dan Wieden.

Look, I have nothing against Elvis Chau [#84] but with the greatest respect, as lovely as his Samonsite ad – not campaign, ad – is, I have to question whether that truly makes him more creative than say Vivi Zigler, President of NBCUniversal digital entertainment [#89] or Carla Schmitzberger, President of Havaianas [#97] or Sally Grimes, Global vice president of Sharpie [#100]

OK, so obviously Fast Company thinks it does – which is fair enough – but it makes me question whether Fast Companies criteria and methodology for working out who appears on this list might be a teensy bit flawed.

But this is not what this post is about.

For me, it’s far scarier that adland – an industry that sells itself on it’s ability to be commercially creative – continually fails to appear anywhere significant on these lists.

To me, that is what should worry us all.

OK, so some of it might be because we don’t have the same amount of publicists as others on this list do [Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Twitter’s Manager of Social Innovation – #21 – really???] but maybe it’s because we’re just not as creative as we like to think we are.

Yes, I’ve said it.

Maybe we’re just not that good.

OK, so some people obviously are but as I’ve said previously, anyone can do something of note every now and then, the real test of your creative skill is whether you can continually do it and do it in a way that affects culture, not just the advertising industry.

This obsession with pleasing our peers is literally fucking our future.

Adland is capable of doing amazing things.

Big … bold … powerful … meaningful and commercial things … but unless, as David Ogilvy said, we get back to craving the ringing of our clients cash registers rather than our peers applause, we’re forever going to stifle our commercial creative chops which could be another reason we don’t appear more regularly on meaningless ‘creative’ tables.

Though judging by some of who Fast Company celebrate, I doubt it.



For Every Rule, There Is A Counter Opportunity …
May 29, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

A very long time ago, when we had cynic, one of our clients was MTV.

They were an interesting client, mainly because they didn’t hire us to do ‘ads’, but to help them with their ‘commercial entertainment strategy’.

What this meant was that we got involved in a whole range of things including the mad world of television show concepting – which, on hindsight, was a bad move because it led to us starting our financially disastrous documentary company experiment, potent_flicks.

[And no Andy, it would not have been profitable if we’d turned it into a porn company!]

Anyway, the point of this post is to talk about a meeting we had with some MTV execs about ‘fan communication’.

This was back when companies had just worked out how much cheaper it was to send email correspondence rather than snail mail – which had resulted in an avalanche of pointless information being sent out because:

1. The recipient had once indicated they were interested in getting new information.
2. The company took this ‘request’ as an excuse to send them anything they wanted.
3. The brands ego was out of control and viewed all their info as amazing info.

So we’re at this meeting and MTV were asking us how they could make their email correspondence stand out from everyone else’s.

Of course the obvious answer was to only send stuff they knew was of interest to the recipient, but that wasn’t what the execs wanted to hear, so then George said something that even to this day, I love …

“Why don’t you send them a letter?”

“A letter?” said the execs in a mocking tone, “No one sends letters anymore.”

What the execs had failed to grasp was that was the exact reason why they should have done it.

The problem with our industry is that we have become obsessed with being associated with cool rather than being obsessed with understanding people’s attitudes & behaviour and thinking up ways to nudge/shift/change them in cool ways.

Of course a lot of this is because we’ve sold creativity so far down the river, that we think the only way we can remain relevant is if people think we’re at the forefront of what’s new [which let’s face it, we’re no where near most of the time] but it’s that attitude that is ultimately undermining what’s left of our cred, because if we simply got back to showing how we understand how to nudge/move/change people and societies thoughts/views/habits, we could get back to where we rightfully deserve.

Would a letter to MTV’s base have been good?

Well, dependent on what was in it, yes.

Would it have been more expensive than sending an email.

On face value – absolutely – however, effectiveness isn’t purely about the cheapest price, it’s about the cheapest price to achieve the goal you need achieving and if most people were getting email correspondence rather than letters [unless it was a bill or something painful] and most people were ignoring what was in their inbox, then a letter they would read and be affected by would be far more ‘effective’ than the alternatives.

The most important thing for adland to remember is that it’s not about being cool.

It’s about being clever.



How Pissing Can Explain How People Use Each Social Media Platform.
May 28, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

For the record, ‘pissing’ is a universally acknowledged research metric and anyone who says otherwise simply isn’t in the know. Ahem.



When The End Is Near, Everything Is Clearer …
May 25, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Over the years I’ve written a lot about death.

I’ve talked about my Dad’s death.

I’ve talked about the death of others.

I’ve talked about the music I want to have played at my funeral.

I’ve talked about the clarity death brings to us all.

I’ve even talked about what I want my wife to know once I’ve gone.

I’ve talked about a lot of things.

Contrary to what many may believe, it is not because I’m as depressed as a fart, it’s because I believe it’s very important to talk about death before it happens which is why I thought I’d show you this video – if only for the fact it highlights we shouldn’t wait till the end to start realising what we have, what we’ve done, what we love and what we’ve got.

It happens to us all.

Talking about it might help us treasure the moments well before the moment.