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

For Tina …
January 31, 2013, 9:05 am
Filed under: Comment

I know we didn’t really know eachother very well.

I know this outcome was ultimately – and sadly – expected.

But I was still incredibly upset to hear the news.

Incredibly upset.

And while I know writing a post does nothing, I felt I had to.

To mark today.

To honour your bravery, beauty and smiles.

You made a big impression on many. Not just Tim, but everyone.

That’s not the generosity of sadness speaking, that’s the truth.

It was way too soon. It was way too unfair.

Comments Off on For Tina …

Why Kodak Could Only Capture Moments, Not Memories.
January 31, 2013, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment


One of the most overused terms ever known.

It’s up there with ‘love’ and ‘revolution’ and ‘fun’ … and like those words, quite often it’s used in either the wrong context or with absolutely no understanding of what it actually is.

My basic rules of what constitutes an insight are:

+ They are about WHY people do or think or act in a particular way, NOT a descriptor of what they do, think or act.

+ If should take no more than 2 sentences – at most – to explain.

+ In a perfect world – when they hear it – people should nod, smile and say an enthusiastic “yes, that’s so true”.

Now I know some of adland think ‘insight’ is old, boring and creativity limiting – but I couldn’t disagree more.

In fact, I find it laughable that so many people are banging on about ‘global consumer truths’ … because if anything is limiting, it’s that.

It’s also utterly wrong because the way people express those ‘global human truths’ is very dependent on economy, culture, background, societal expectation etc etc.

In my experience, an insight is utterly liberating …

It gives you something you can grasp on to … something you can push up against … something that can create an idea with inherent tension, not just stating the bleeding obvious.

That said, I do agree there’s no such thing as ‘one super insight’

As I said 5 years ago, insights can come from many places and in my opinion, the problem is that too few people are willing to actually go looking for them … preferring to sit in the comfort of their office, hanging out with like-minded individuals and rehashing some research findings that were ultimately designed to confirm rather than reveal.

Ooooh, I got a bit feisty there didn’t I. Apologies.

Anyway, the reason I am saying all this is because I just read something from Alain de Botton that I loved:

OK, that quote doesn’t really explain ‘why’ our childhood is connected to biscuits, light, smell & textures – but lets be honest, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what he’s saying.

While a photo may stimulate certain memories of our childhood, it doesn’t do it with the all-encompassing power of smell, touch, taste & sound.

A lot of this is, in my view, connected to ‘frames of reference’ – those early experiences that set the benchmark/agenda for how you view situations/products/categories in later life … which is why my childhood will always be connected to Bourbon Biscuits, Cans of Tizer, patterned carpet, a golden light streaming in my bedroom because my yellow curtains weren’t totally pulled together and the sound of the Flymo mower on a Sunday morning.

Good memories. Warm memories. Powerful memories.

Which I suppose means all those instagram photos we take have fuck all to do with us capturing future memories life and everything to do with being a generation of egomaniacs.

Damn those insights.

You Know You’re Maturing When You Watch Others Achieve Success With A Sense Of Pride, Not Pettiness …
January 30, 2013, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

Once upon a time, I worked with a guy called Cass.

Cass was a ginger haired [despite trying to cover it up with dirty-blonde hair colouring] Scouser who was full of piss and vinegar.

He was also a Tranmere Rovers fan.

Despite all those deficiencies, he was fortunately blessed with a brilliant mind, good humour and a massive dollop of empathy which is why I not only put up with him, but ended up learning a hell of a lot from him.

To be honest, I have been trying to figure out a way for us to work together again for years, but every time I’ve got close to making it happen, he’s found a way to avoid it happening.

Told you he was smart.

Anyway, his latest attempt to build an obstacle to our partnership is to form his own company. The Station.

I’m not going to say how successful it will be because [1] that’s obvious and [2] it already is … but I will say how utterly proud I am of him.

I know this makes me sound like his Dad, but I don’t care.

When you’ve been doing what I do for as long as I’ve been doing it, you meet a whole host of people – some good, some bad, some ridiculous, some awesome – but literally from the moment I met Cass, you could tell he had something special.

Sure there was the odd issue or two [‘Mental Oriental Noodles’ and the ‘Paddle Pop Mit’ were particular highlights/lowlights] but that aside, his energy, passion, creativity and intelligence meant everyone he worked with – and for – ended up in a much better place creatively, commercially and professionally.

Yes, he’s that good.

The bastard.

I’ve always been a big believer in people starting their own company – if only so they can understand the bigger issues clients need to think about when making their decisions – however few people actually do anything about it.

There’s a load of reasons for that – some good, some bad … which is why anyone having a go should be be applauded.

However Cass has done something more.

He’s started a business with real purpose, passion and belief.

A business that stands a chance of actually changing something rather than simply claiming something.

To be honest, I think I can take credit for that.

Not because I taught Cass well, but because he was there at the start of cynic and probably learnt everything you shouldn’t do when starting a company.

I always told him he was too good [& too opinionated] to work for someone else, now everyone is going to learn why … and that excites me more than you would ever know.

When Will I Learn To Keep My Big, Stupid Mouth Shut?
January 29, 2013, 6:07 am
Filed under: Comment

As seen in Campaign.

And sadly, that’s not a one off either …

In their ‘end of year’ special, amongst all the very serious quotes talking about the future of the industry was this ‘gem’ …

If anyone has read Pratt of The Argus, I think I know what Henry Pratt felt, except this is all of my doing which makes it even more pathetic.

Rob Campbell. Lowering the tone of adland since 1989.

How To Destroy Bob Marley’s Legacy …
January 28, 2013, 6:01 am
Filed under: Comment

… by simply pointing out that his advice for finding a good woman …

[See it more clearly here]

… could also be for finding a good client.

Sorry Bob. Blame the lovely Rebecca in Portland, because she’s the one that sent me this.

How Thick Is The Line Between Blessing & Curse?
January 25, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So recently, Led Zeppelin were inducted in the Kennedy Center Honours – an honour given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture.

Anyway, as part of the induction, Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart took to the stage [with about 10,000 other musicians] to perform Led Zepp’s iconic ‘Stairway To Heaven’.

Now I know some people on here will regard that song as the sort of hairy, ancient rock that should be killed off … but fuck them … it’s a timeless piece of music majesty.

Anyway, while watching it, you couldn’t help notice how moved Robert Plant was during the performance and it got me wondering what was going on in his head …

Was it the sheer power of the performance?

The amazement that a song they wrote in early ’70, was still being played – and loved by people of all generations?

The shock that a song they wrote in early ’70, could still have so much energy?

The wonder that a song they wrote back in early ’70, was being played for the President of the United States?

The emotion of knowing it literally couldn’t get ‘bigger than this’.

Or was it just the simple realisation his impact on World history was assured?

Imagine that … doing something that stands the test of time. That lives forever. That others want to perform, protect and nurture.

It’s not like in adland – where many look at the flaws of other people’s work and then hack shamelessly away at it to suit their own purposes – it’s almost like this piece of music is revered, where people want to perform it while staying true to its overall spirit and essence.

Like an act of love.

An act of respect.

It must be one of the most amazing – and humbling – feelings on earth.


PS: I also find it fascinating that when the camera pans to the remaining members of Led Zeppelin – apart from seeing how old they are – they always appear to show their reactions almost in a chain reaction style, never in parallel. At first it appears they’re all quite independent from each other, but the other way of looking at it is that each one has some sort of invisible ignition that sets the others off.

The best way to explain what I mean is at 4 minutes 24″.

Even though they are all sat in a similar location, watching the same event unfold in front of their eyes … first John Paul Jones reacts … then Robert Plant & finally Jimmy Page. I know this might sound like I’m talking hippy nonsense, but I still find it interesting.

Walking Hypocrites …
January 24, 2013, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

I’ve written countless posts about how people are inherently hypocritical.

Saying one thing but acting in another.

Demanding action in one area, but insisting their situation isn’t affected.

Shouting about democracy but not liking it when the result doesn’t go their way.

We are all like this – everyone – but I am still amazed how many people only see this trait in others, not themselves.

Actually, I’m even more amazed that there are researchers out there who don’t even recognise this behaviour in others – which might go some way to explain why so many focus group findings could have been found by a blind man, but I digress.

The reason for all this is that I recently was in a meeting when a man I’d never met before, walked in holding this glass …

Cop a load of that.

1. He’s telling everyone he’s a Virgo.

2. It goes on a massive rant how brilliant & hard working Virgo’s are.

3. It has the audacity to say they are modest and shy.

Modest and shy?


Now I know what you’re thinking, “But what if that isn’t his glass?”

Well that’s a fair enough question – even though anyone in their right mind would do all they could to avoid using that glass – but when I saw it, I asked him if he was a Virgo and the funny thing is, he was genuinely surprised that [1] I asked and [2] I was right.

Who are these people???

Now I appreciate he didn’t do it to be a showoff – he was an extremely nice, gentle and kind gentleman – but the fact he didn’t realise [1] bringing a glass to a meeting that basically screamed ‘Virgoan’s are the greatest people in the entire Universe’ and [2] we’d naturally assume he was born a Virgo, highlights how people often see themselves very differently to how the rest of the World see’s them.

To be fair, a lot of that is the brains fault given it has been designed to protect our memories and ego regardless of reality, but still, not realising a glass like that would make you look an egotistical dick rather than a diligent and humble hard-worker is quite amazing.

So next time you’re in a meeting and people are throwing out facts about their life or thoughts … remember what they’re saying, might not always be as singleminded as they might like to believe. Focus group facilitators take note.

With all that in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank you lot … my wife … my friends … my clients … my colleagues … who all keep me very, very aware of my utter hypocrisy at every turn. I suppose that makes me a lucky man, even though I probably need to spend a bit more time trying to convince myself of that fact.