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

What Do You Get When You Cross Bono With Kanye West, Mussolini And All Of Adland? My Ego.
April 19, 2013, 6:13 am
Filed under: Comment

So following on from yesterdays post where I talk about the 10 steps to working successfully overseas [of which, if I’m being honest, there’s at least 100 more] I wrote in the UK edition of Campaign, I thought I’d continue with the blatant ego flag waving by talking about this …

The Stuff You Can’t Bottle by King Adz is a wonderful, wonderful book.

Not just because King Adz is a smart, informed and interesting guy, but because he got off his arse and travelled to a bunch of countries so he could discover what was going on there culturally and creatively and gain more insight into what makes those particular countries ‘tick’.

For all the talk our industry makes about ‘understanding people’, it never fails to amaze me how much they ignore or simplify cultural understanding.

Saying ‘China likes rice’ is not cultural insight, it’s lazy and embarrassing as is claiming everything can be nicely packaged as a ‘global human truth’ when the issue is far more about how people interpret and express those ‘truths’ rather than acknowledging that they love their children as much as the next person.

And that’s why I love this book because not only does it explore cultural differences between territories – and how that manifests itself into some sort of cultural creative code – but it also reminds you that London, NYC & Sydney don’t hold the monopoly on creating amazing ideas.

There’s so much in this book – culture, interviews, case studies – in fact the only downside is that I’m in it, ranting about China, but even people as clever as King Adz are capable of making the odd error of judgement along the way.

So if you want to get a little glimpse of all the exciting things happening outside your bubble, you can get The Stuff You Can’t Bottle here … and don’t worry, none of the proceeds go to me plus you can easily bypass my mutterings by simply ignoring all the brilliant stuff it talks about that is going on in China, just like most companies do.

32 Comments so far
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With all this publicity Robert, I assume we’re only days away before you have an agent writing this blog on your behalf. The book has been ordered and I will immediately turn to the pages on China as soon as it arrives.

Comment by Lee Hill

It would at least raise the standard of writing on here.

Comment by Rob

As if the publishing industry didnt have enough problems without including you in their books.

Comment by DH

You should be grateful for your shit shoe, fashion and music sense Rob, it stops you from being a dick. Or a bigger dick. You might aspire to Bono’s ego, but being aware of every one of your million faults is your saving grace.

How about that for reframing a problem. I could write the next dove ad.

Comment by DH

I’ve bought the book. I’ll get the money back off you in drinks in 2 weeks.

Comment by DH

2 weeks?

Comment by Bazza

Bad luck.

Comment by DH

His or yours?

Comment by Bazza

do you really have to fucking ask baz. i guess the reason the fucking parasite hasnt been in touch with you is because you havent got any new tech shit for him to try and blah off you. but then you havent had any of that since 2007 have you?

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m not buying it. If my ma found out that a loser like Rob could be in a book she’d start wondering how fucked my life must be if I can’t even achieve that.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Why is he called King Adz? Is he a king? Please tell me adz is for advertising. That would be ace. Rob in a book by a bloke who calls himself king advertising. That could only be beaten if his name was queen fan.

Comment by Billy Whizz

It’s not working Billy.

Comment by Bazza

If you think I’m going to ask what you’re talking about, you’re wrong. Not asking will fuck you up. Answering will fuck me up. I’m not a fuck up. Unless Jack D is involved but we’re not on speaking terms right now.

Comment by Billy Whizz

So you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Comment by DH

If it’s anything like your recent article in campaign, your interview/article will be quite different to everyone else’s interview/article. To clarify Rob, that’s a good thing. The others were informative and insightful but just felt very “London planner”. Smart but ever so slightly soulless. And I say that despite liking and respecting Gareth very highly.

Comment by Bazza

2013 really has been a fucking shit year so far hasnt it.

Comment by andy@cynic

That looks very interesting, shall add it to my book list. Ta

Comment by Rob Mortimer

It can only be a matter of time before you have your own television show. I’m imagining a cross between Letterman and King but with more swearing. The book has been ordered.

Comment by George

I have a face for radio.

Comment by Rob

Shanghai’s Most Wanted or Holiday 2013 more like.

Comment by John

You’re being very generous about yourself Rob.

Comment by DH

They’re being very nasty to you today aren’t they?

Comment by northern

Are they? I can’t tell the difference from a normal day.

Comment by Rob

Thanks for sharing this book though.
What’s funny about western folk not getting emerging markets (isn’t that term funny? Emerging. Especially China who probably view the industrial revolution as a blip in history) is that is also happens in reverse.
I have the dubious pleasure of working with brand managers based in India, Singapore and China (they fly to the UK, not the other way around unfortunately) and don’t ‘get’ western culture, nor do they care. Which must be some sort of karma.
Incidentally, that’s why Netto ultimately failed in the UK, they just though the English were stupid for spending more than they needed on food. While they might have a point, it’s never helpful to build a strategy where the jumping off point is how stupid your audience is.
Which is why folks who are dismissive of Iceland’s Stacy Solomon/Kerry Katona strategy are incapable of understanding how Mum’s under pressure admire them for making the most of what they have. They spend all day bemoaning celeb culture and instant fame for doing nothing , rather than looking at what that means for the people who actually buy the stuff they’re selling for doing nothing. Kerry Katona’s come back from being bankrupt, if that happened to me, I’d melt like warm Nutella.

Comment by northern

All great points … though I would say that Asia knows a hell of a lot more about the West than vice-versa. Sure, some is incredibly fucked up interpretations of reality, but a lot is far more insightful than the shit I hear coming out of Western guys when commenting on Asia.

That said, one of the scariest things for Western brands will be when China realises they don’t actually need to ‘adapt’ to Western marketing principles to succeed and can either [1] ignore all the complexities of the West and still – in some categories – be the biggest brand in the World or [2] buy the market and distribution channels and simply make what they want to happen, happen.

It might not be pretty, it might not be sophisticated, but at the end of the day, Asian business principles are far more focused on profit than adoration, despite all the cutesy characters and happy family imagery they like to churn out on their cliche production line.

Which is why you should buy this book. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

I’ve bought the book, on the Castrol dollar. Thankyou.

Comment by northern

You should buy 20 then. Mind you, given how often your company changes its name, you might find they deny knowing you when you put the invoice in.

Comment by Rob

they do that already

Comment by northern

And as it happens I’ve just steadfastly refused to do invoicing. They’ll be asking me to do the contact report next- in fact that’s a good idea, as contact reports rarely report the truth, just the truth that benefits the writer the most

Comment by northern

Like historians and effectiveness award entries.

Comment by Rob

Enjoying doing your marking I don’t guess

Comment by northern

Only who lives in a country know by a bunch of stereotypes know what you´re talking about. Curious about the book now and hopefully he doesn´t talk shit about Brazil. Or maybe he didn´t even mention the ‘jungle’.

Comment by Paulo Yanaguizawa (@pauloey)

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