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


Coming Back To My Second, Second Home …
September 19, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So as some of you know, I’m in Singapore.

While many criticise it for a bunch of reasons – from its insular outlook to it’s over paternal approach to life – it has a special place in my heart.

Maybe it’s because I spent 4 years living here.

Maybe it’s because I still have many friends here.

Maybe it’s because I got married here.

Maybe it’s because I am still a permanent resident here.

Maybe it’s all those things and some more, who knows …

But despite being a country that contrives to make sure you experience more than a few frustrations living there, whenever I come back, it feels weirdly like home.

It took me a long time to try and figure out why … afterall, I’ve lived in a lot of places where I still have a lot of friends and, much to the annoyance of everyone except the taxation department, I am still ‘classed’ as a permanent resident … and then I worked it out, it’s because Singapore is so bloody small.

You see moving around a lot has it’s disadvantages.

Don’t get me wrong, it has an amazing amount of wonderful benefits and I have never regretted doing it for a second and would passionately advise anyone to do the same – but still, constantly moving countries means you sacrifice the ability to build deeper friendships and deeper roots.

Yes … yes … I know in this ‘digital age’ that is not supposed to be the case, but I think there is a massive difference between a friendship built on continuous interactions within certain physical environments and one where it is mainly through your digital exchanges.

But I digress.

The thing with Singapore – versus every other country I’ve lived in – is that it’s basically just a city. Sure, it would be classed as a relatively big city, but it’s still just a city.

And as with most cities, there is a central business district – even though in Singapore, this also doubles as the central shopping district – which means that whenever I visit and walk around the place [getting my fill of gadgets from Funan Mall or Sim Lim] I inevitably bump into someone I know.

And I like it.

A lot.

Sure, they might feel quite differently, but for me, casually bumping into someone I know feels nice.

It makes me feel like I belong to something … something bigger than just my family or work colleagues.

Please don’t think I’m saying I’m not happy with my family, of course I am.

The fact of the matter is “home” is ultimately wherever my wife [and cat] are.

All I am saying is that even though it’s entirely my own fault I move countries so much, the result is that I permanently feel I’m always one degree off being part of a genuine, fully-functional community which is why whenever I am in Singapore – due to its small physical dimensions – I get to experience what I’ve not had since I left Nottingham almost 20 years ago and it feels nice … very, very nice.

Whether that means we would ever move back here is another thing altogether, but despite that – and the fact it can also make me feel like a stranger in my own town, so to speak – it’s wonderful to be back and wonderful to see people who had/have an amazing impact on how I view, think and experience life … which, contrary to what many believe, is not the sort of thing you can do nearly as well hidden behind a computer screen.



Bad Insight Might Be A Damage To Your Health …
September 18, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’m in Singapore today, judging the effectiveness category at The Spikes.

Let’s hope the submissions I see are as insightful as this …

… and don’t have 700 pages of ‘evidence’ to prove they’ve been effective.

Why?

Because if you have to go to unbelievable lengths – exploring the minutest of details – to prove your work was successful, then I might start questioning whether your overall strategy was the right thing to go forward with.

And no, Facebook and Youtube likes and views, don’t count as ‘effective’ … nor do they represent a ‘return on investment’.

Seriously, the way some folks claim ROI is more imaginative than Harry Potter.

Maybe I’m being purist or petty or downright stupid … but in my mind, R.O.I. is not about the ‘added value’ a campaign achieves in terms of reach, frequency or exposure, it’s about the commercial value of what the brand gets back from the campaign – that’s why it’s called a RETURN!

Finally, let’s hope none of the agencies try and take all the credit for any campaign success they achieve because the reality is, there are a whole host of other factors that contribute to effectiveness and to not acknowledge them is bordering on ego-mania.

As you can tell, I’m in the perfect mood for judging, so let’s hope no one tries to pull a D&AD Pencils comment or Singapore’s nice and calm persona might be changed forever.



Happy Birthday Dad …
September 17, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Today would have been your 74th birthday.

Seventy four.

Amazing.

You’d of said you didn’t want any fuss but secretly, we’d know you want some.

Not necessarily from friends and family, but from us – Mum and me – and you’d of got it because you were our everything.

But we can’t spoil you today, at least not in terms of cards and presents and hugs.

So we will bathe you in our thoughts and love, because even though you’re no longer here, you’ll always be here.

In our hearts and minds.

Feelings and thoughts.

Happy birthday my dear Dad, I wish you were here to spoil.



To Anyone Who Describes Themselves As A Nerd …
September 14, 2012, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

Get it?

You’re not a nerd – you’re a just another wannabe fucking hipster trying to elevate yourself above the common hipster.

Pathetic.

Based on what really constitutes a nerd, very few people in adland are it or probably would want to be it [Steve, our old IT guy definitely excepted] but hey, this is just another example in a long line of examples where adland tries to repurpose the meaning of a word to suit their own ego, delusion and agenda.

A bit like rebellion.

Or innovation.

Or boldness.

Or creativity.

Or strategy.

Or bravery.

No wonder this industry is in the state it’s in if we can’t even be truthful to ourselves.



Careful Of Overkill …
September 13, 2012, 6:21 am
Filed under: Comment

For all companies talk regarding doing things with an attitude of ‘best practice’, the reality is many approach their role/goal with the attitude of what they can ‘get away’ with.

Of course they don’t consciously say that – and of course, there are commercial realities that they have to take into account – however in my experience, many companies would be better off focusing their efforts on simply executing ‘minimum practice’, i.e.: the fundamental elements that need to be done well, rather than continuously talking big but ultimately, always aiming small.

Don’t get me wrong, I want companies to push standards, expectations and quality – creating ‘new best practice’ than simply being on par with everyone else – but the reality is that can’t happen by just talking about it and, as we all know, over-promising, under-delivering is a recipe for disaster. Just ask Nokia.

But occasionally you find a company that wants to push boundaries … make new standards … lead the change … and that is hugely exciting but when that change is married with a completely misguided belief in your own importance – or worse, a completely misguided belief in how important you are in your audiences mind – then you will find you’re on a fast track to potential commercial suicide.

Case in point:

What that is a photo of is a neck pillow … you know, those things you stick around your neck when you’re on a plane in an attempt to get some sleep.

Now I appreciate that money doesn’t grow on trees and people can get irrationally attached to certain things – but is it really necessary to offer a service where a lost US$16 travel item will be reunited with its owner?

Maybe it is.

Maybe people become emotionally attached to their US$16 neck pillow.

Maybe Travel-Blue, the company who make the products that offer this service, know people don’t actually use this service but it helps them be differentiated them their competition.

Maybe this ultimately says more about me than Travel-Blue or the average person buying these things.

Maybe it’s a bit of all of them.

But if it’s to differentiate in the knowledge it will hardly ever be called upon, it’s evil genius [Kind of like the time I recommended to SONY that they should offer 50 year warranties on their fast-becoming-obsolete-thanks-to-smartphone-technology, Handicam. Though I’d also suggested they should communicate their High Definition Handicam to ‘alien conspiracy theorists’ under the justification that it would help them prove aliens live amongst us thanks to its amazing ability to capture every detail] … but if it’s because they think people want – and will use – that service, it’s possibly one of the greatest brand delusions [if not overkills] since Mont Blanc decided it was a good idea to launch a bloody aftershave.



Strategy Explained In A Picture …
September 12, 2012, 6:31 am
Filed under: Comment

Yes I know some people out there will say this is executional.

Yes I know some people out there will say this is tactical.

Yes I know some people out there will say it’s just a massive lie.

But at the end of the day, strategy is simply about getting from point A to point B in the most effective and efficient* way possible … so if the challenge was to make cars reduce their speed as they go down this particular street, then it could be argued this approach could help achieve that.

Anyway, none of this matters because the only reason I’ve written these pointless words is because I wanted a [bad] excuse to put this picture up on my blog because it amused me. Though I have to say, if I lived near this street, I’d fuck with everyones carefully laid plans by placing another sign directly underneath it that stated ‘OAP Home straight ahead’.

But that’s just me.

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* Yes, effective and efficient is an ambiguous term – which is why you have to identify the real business need/s prior to undertaking any work as this not only lets you focus on the areas that actually need impacting but allows you to identify and set the metrics that can evaluate and analyse the impact you will be making. But you knew that already. Oops.



A Day That Should Be About Peace, Not Pain …
September 11, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

So last year was the 10th anniversary of September 11th.

In the post I wrote about that fateful day, Dave wrote a comment that had a very profound effect on me.

9/11 was tragic and shit. I lost 9 friends and will be there on Sunday to remember them. When it happened I wanted revenge. I wanted America to be strong and decisive. I was wrong. Justice and revenge are very different beasts but I still meet people who can’t distinguish it. Families of the bereaved or victims of the attack I could understand, but it’s rarely them. The compulsion to get involved in matters you have nothing to do with is an American trait but using 9-11 to do that is unwarranted and unwanted.

With all the mudslinging going on between the Republicans and Democrats in the US election right now, it would appear nothing has been learnt and that’s another tragedy because as John F Kennedy said,

“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”

I just hope sanity rises above all the rhetoric, machismo and political posturing being banded about and – even more scarily – celebrated.

So to all the people who have to revisit a dark place they would rather not have exist today, I wish you well and hope the pain has been replaced with good memories of who you lost. It took me 10 years to start remembering the good times with my Dad rather than just focus on his last days so I hope the same has now happened to you, if not before.