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


This Is Getting A Bit Embarrassing Now …
May 31, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Why that blog title?

Well funnily enough, it’s not because of the photo, it’s because this is the last blog post for 2 weeks.

And why 2 weeks, I hear you cry … albeit in a very relieved voice.

Because, errrrm, there’s another holiday in China.

No, I’m not joking, there really is.

I swear to god it’s never been like this before, but thanks to the good ol’ Dragon Boat festival, we get a few more days holiday to go with the loads of other few days holiday we’ve had so far this year.

So if it’s only for a few days, why am I being a slackass for 2 weeks?

Because next week, I’m in Australia for this … which, regardless what you say, is work … and then I go traveling for work which [cue violins] includes me being away for my birthday.

I know that when you get to my age, the obvious thing is to pretend you don’t even have birthdays, but as I have the maturity of a 12 year old, I still look forward to it even if the best presents I get are now bought by myself.

So thanks to the Chinese Government decreeing 2013 is the year of the retiree … the lovely people at Mumbrella deciding their uber-good conference needs some ‘light relief’ and W+K coming to the conclusion that I should actually do something to earn my salary for once, you get 2 weeks of peace and quiet.

Now I appreciate that when I say there will be no blog posts for a period of time, I tend to squeeze one or two in – and I’m sure this will be no exception – because apart from the fact I’ll want to celebrate my uber-important day, I will also want to acknowledge my wonderful wife’s birthday on the 15th as well as the birthday of Paul – my massive cocked best friend – on the 16th.

So small blog posts aside, this blog is now closed till June 17th so to paraphrase a really bad sales promotion radio ad, ‘it might be my birthday but you are getting the presents’.

Cue: Your abuse.

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There’s A Fine Line Between Being Seen As Inclusive And Wanting To Run Away From Your Twattydom …
May 30, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Crap Campaigns In History

Imagine you’re the CEO of a thriving travel firm … say Tumi.

Business is good.

You’re respected.

You’re viewed as being professional to the core.

Your image is one that competitors and companies alike, all hold in the highest regard.

Now imagine you’re the CEO of an financial services organisation.

Despite the ‘little dramas’ of the past few years, business is good.

You know you still have to work to do on ensuring mass respect, but you figure that by being consistently professional, your image will dramatically improve and you will soon get back your title as one of the best in the business and financial World’s.

Now imagine both CEO’s are having dinner together.

It’s a pleasant little bistro somewhere in Europe. Possibly Zurich.

Now imagine an advertising executive has joined them.

They’re having a lovely time … chatting, sipping wine, eating overly-expensive pieces of meat.

Within a few hours, they have covered an incredible array of subjects … from favourite holiday destinations to how they can reduce their marketing expenditure to what happened in last nights episode of ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’.

Suddenly, out of nowhere and at precisely the same time, both CEO’s have an aneurism.

One second they’re chatting about their families and business, next they’re slumped in their chairs gurgling like a baby.

The ad exec – sensing his chance to make a name for himself – immediately loosens their ties, gives them glasses of water, calls an ambulance and then gets them to sign a piece of paper.

That piece of paper is a contract … a contract for him and him alone to do all their advertising … a contract that promises he will reduce their advertising expenditure by finding a way to do communication that jointly promotes their individual companies … a contract that states reducing their marketing costs is more important than maintaining their image of integrity and professionalism.

Maybe this is all a figment of my imagination, but how else can you explain this:



Why Telling The Truth Makes People Want You More …
May 29, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Ages ago I wrote a post about the benefits of unplanning … basically shunning all the re-framing, re-positioning, re-everything and taking on the perceived truth head on.

My argument is that it is often easier to get people to go on a journey with you when you’re talking about their existing viewpoints than trying to get them to let go of what they [believe] they know and take on an entirely different viewpoint.

I still stand by that – and while not every brand/campaign/idea needs to adopt it – in a World where so much parity bullshit is shouted at the masses, coming out from behind the marketing curtain can, in the right circumstances, be the best communication strategy you could have.

What am I talking about?

This …

In a World where one of the least trustworthy industries is real estate [though they rate more highly than adland] this ad by ‘Dave’ would make me call him.

It’s not just that he has a sense of humour – which he definitely does – but by highlighting he is NOT the real #1 realtor in his geography, it makes me like him – and weirdly – trust him more.

I know … I know … that sounds fucked up, but there’s logic to it. Honest. Albeit fucked up, twisted logic.

Many years ago I wanted to buy a house in Sydney.

I found one I liked so I went to the real estate that represented them.

While we were talking, I said that I wanted to hire an outside party to negotiate the price of the house for me.

The real estate agent looked confused and told me, “In Australia, we do all the negotiating for you”.

On hearing this, I picked up one of their brochures and pointed to the ‘tag line’ they featured prominently at the top.

WE GET SELLERS THE BEST HOUSE PRICES IN ALL OF BALMAIN

When I explained that this indicated to me that they represent the sellers interest more than the buyers and that while I’d use them to sell my house but not buy my house – you could literally see a lightbulb go off in their head.

Which is why I like that Dave is NOT the #1 realtor in his district because maybe that means he’s not as cut-throat as everyone else and actually gives a damn about people, not just profit.

Maybe.

Regardless, I’d give him a call which means he’s in with a chance – which is more than I’d do with most other real estate ads promising a never-ending stream of bland ‘professional’ statements.

In an industry that is constantly looking to differentiate their clients brands from the competition, often the biggest – and most effective – thing you can do is simply strip back all the marketing hype and tell the truth.

Who’d of thought … and not a proprietary tool in sight.



Has The Past 20+ Years All Been A Dream?
May 28, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So you lot take the piss out of my love of Queen … Birkenstocks … ‘fashion’ … Nottingham Forest … and I assume the reason you do that is because they’re are all old and irrelevant bastards, however after reading the latest edition of FHM UK [I know, I know] and seeing these ads …

… I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe all of this has been a dream, like that entire season of Dallas with Bobby Ewing, because each and every one of those ads feels very much like the look of the 80’s.

From the fleck in the suit of the Topman model through to the overly boxy sunglasses of the stupid River Island guy and basically everything about that Police ad … it’s all straight out of 1984 … which means this is quite a mind fuck, because while it would say that I am not the most unfashionable person that you all think I am, it would also mean you don’t exist because I’m actually only 14 and haven’t failed my O levels yet, let alone moved to China and written this thing called ‘a blog’.

Jesus, maybe the movie Inception – which hasn’t been made yet – is a documentary on my life or maybe this is simply the worst blog post I have ever written in a sea of terrible blog posts.



The London Underground Understands Insight Better Than Planners …
May 27, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I’m writing this from the lovely Philippines – or, more precisely, Manila.

The last time I was here, I found out the man I was sat next to on the plane was a Nottingham Forest fan [he was also a very senior officer at the HK Police] … a bomb exploded at one of the Embassy’s … I got taken to one of the weirdest places I’ve ever seen and – a few weeks later – a friend of mine got kidnapped for a week.

And I was only there for the day!

This time I’m here for a bit longer so I hope it will be a bit less dramatic because I’d like to have a good meeting, see some friends, enjoy the richness of the culture and the compassion of the people, re-experience the madness of the city at full speed and reacquaint myself with the countries creativity which – in my opinion – is some of the best for insight and emotion across the region.

Anyway, I digress.

How unusual eh!

So what is this rant going to be about and what has it got to do with that picture at the top of this post?

Well it’s this:

First it was Lucille Ball … then it was authors … and now it’s London Underground signs.

I wonder when modern adland will start saying stuff that’s as concise, interesting and insightful rather than the proprietary tool bollocks so many of us seem so keen to spout. Or the state-the-fucking-obvious diatribes like ‘Mum’s love their kids’. Or ‘global human truths’ which are anything but.

Two weeks ago I was so positive in my Monday morning post. I knew it couldn’t last.



Press The Pause Button …
May 24, 2013, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Yesterday an unthinkable incident occurred in London.

I literally cannot comprehend it. It has deeply upset and affected me.

As if it wasn’t bad enough, I now have to listen to extremist groups try and exploit the situation for their own self-serving purposes.

I don’t believe this has anything to do with religion or terrorism.

Those labels are convenient tags used by governments, media and racists.

As I wrote a while back, I am firmly of the opinion that people are inherently good.

That said, I do believe it would help if the millions of good, law-abiding Muslims stood up and said this is not what they – or their religion – condones. That they say they will always warn the authorities about anyone they believe could potentially use their precious faith to justify acts of unspeakable horror.

I know they shouldn’t have to, but if anything, it might help pour cold water on the attempts by the far right to cook up trouble and hatred.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe people are already doing this.

Maybe it would have no affect at all.

I am utterly confused and upset.

While I am not a religious man, I do believe that at it’s core, religion – all religion – is about doing good for humanity rather than harming it, which is why I get upset when people try and use these sorts of incidents to try and present ‘good religion and evil religion’.

The Christian faith in particular – or should I say, certain people within the Christian faith – have a very nasty habit of using these situations to try and make themselves look superior, which is utterly contemptible given they have a history littered with incidents that counter everything they supposedly stand for.

At the end of the day, I just do not believe these acts are done in the name of religion.

I firmly believe the people who undertake these sorts of terrible deeds would do them regardless – using whatever excuse they feel justifies their actions at that particular time.

That said, I do think it’s time we had a calm, honest, non-confrontational debate about why certain people use Islam as their ‘excuse’ for these acts of horror [if only to highlight how that has little to do with it] but then I also believe it’s time we stopped automatically going with the convenient ‘reason’ for these incidents – which admittedly is often provided by the perpetuator – and started looking at the other, potentially bigger, causes.

Social depravation.

Social segregation.

Social isolation.

Social inequality.

While there is nothing good that can come out of the incident of yesterday, there was one thing that gave me faith about humanity – and that was the women who shielded the body of the dead man and challenged the attackers about their actions.

Compassionate, dignified and courageous.

A lesson to us all – regardless of where we come from or what we believe.

Thank you ladies. RIP soldier.

Comments Off on Press The Pause Button …


What’s In A Name?
May 23, 2013, 6:04 am
Filed under: Comment

Names.

Without doubt they’re very important.

They can provide ‘clues’ into what you believe, represent, offer.

They can also open or close doors for you in the future.

Names are important … but the one thing we cannot forget is that they are also very dependent on the context they appear in and the standards by which they operate.

One of the things that bothers me hugely is how quickly people judge without context.

I often say to clients that if we brought them the line, ‘Just Do It’ … I’m almost certain they’d chuck us out of the room because they’d say things like:

“Just do what?”

“It sounds demanding.”

“It sounds negative.”

But as we all know, when nurtured and developed over time, people don’t see it as that, they see it as a statement of action and potential … a statement that is a liberator not a dictator … a statement that is universally liked and revered … a statement that has helped NIKE set themselves apart from every single brand on the planet. Not just in the sports category, but in every category.

Why am I saying all this?

Well because I recently saw something that highlights the importance of context.

There it is, the original iPhone.

Yes, years before Apple’s ubiquitous product came along, there was this big, lumpy piece of plastic.

Sure it wasn’t portable.

Sure it wasn’t very pretty.

Sure it wasn’t very innovative.

But at a time where the internet was still in its mass market infancy, it let you connect to the World in ways that were beyond comprehension just a few years earlier.

So what happened to it?

Nothing. It died on it’s ass.

I have no knowledge why that was the case … maybe it was a lack of distribution, a ridiculously high price-point or simply because it was a crap product … but my reason for highlighting this is because according to some branding companies, a massive contributor to the success of a company is all down to the name they have.

Of course they would say that because it means they can charge huge amounts of cash for [mental] companies to use their ‘proprietary tool’ to identify a brand name that will be distinctive, relevant, powerful and a absolutely, definitely, unquestionably, certifiably dead-set, super-hit.

What a load of fucking bollocks.

Don’t get me wrong, having a good name is important, but to think [1] that is the most important things [2] that the name can affect success entirely independently from what the brand does or makes, is utterly insane.

So next time someone says an idea is “too negative”, “too aggressive”, “too self focused”, “too distinctive” … remind them that it’s not about the name, but about the behaviour and the power to shape that is not just in their hands, but in their ambition.