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So that was 2013.
I don’t know about you, but it was an OK year.
Certainly not one of my best, but far from being one of my worst.
To be honest, despite such highs as taking my Mum to see the Northern Lights … seeing Andy’s delightful daughter overcome her terrible illness … appearing in a book [and amazingly, not in a bad way] … pulling off a half-decent April Fools joke … going to Disneyland [for work!!!] … being reminded I work in a great company with great people … being the winner of losing … … discovering great people and finding out that someone you think is great, really is great … buying my bike … seeing a few genuinely wonderful campaigns – and some not-so-wonderful – and finally, the 10,000 holidays China decided to bestow on it’s people, there were a few lows.
From seeing people I adored unexpectedly die [including this wonderful man] … to hearing about people I didn’t know, die in the terrible of ways … to saying goodbye to great colleagues [not forgetting you Sue!] … to finding out Morrissey was actually quite nice [even though his biography makes him sound the sort of twat I thought he would be] … to having my much anticipated catch up with Northern and Freddie being snatched away at the last moment.
Then there’s the issue that a bunch of you come on here each day and abuse me which – if I’m being honest – I don’t know if it’s a high or a low. Ha.
But all in all, 2013 has been a good year and I hope it was for you guys too. Who the hell knows what 2014 will have in store, I’m sure it won’t have – sadly – as many holidays, but in a World of uncertainty, the one thing we can all cling on to is the knowledge I’ll be writing some utter rubbish on this blog and you’ll be taking the piss out of it.
Finally, I want to say goodbye to a colleague of mine who is leaving us after 3 years.
Ryan Gerber turned up in China with a reputation.
To be honest, his reputation was built on this video from his previous employer, R/GA, but as far as I was concerned, anyone who wore sandals, liked Iron Maiden, looked a bit like Officer Poncherello from CHiPs and was 3 feet 2″ tall couldn’t be too bad.
I was only semi-wrong.
Ryan has the ability to have an argument in an empty room. He’s loud, obnoxious, opinionated and rude.
In other words, he made me look professional and well behaved.
No wonder I adored him.
Anyway, he is moving on and I have to admit, I am sorry about that.
Despite him being almost solely responsible for my purchase of a Zakk Wylde Gibson Les Paul [just so I could match his black and white version] a ridiculous iPad arcade machine ‘case’ and the most pointless back massage tool I’ve ever seen, it’s been a fun and eventful ride with some experiences in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Detroit that I will never forget and will always associate with him.
He leaves having caused a trail of glorious destruction – both to the agency and the country – however I am sure he would agree that his greatest achievement has been turning a tattoo virgin planner into the sort of inked beast that most people would cross the road to avoid.
Yes, I’m talking about me and my arms of colour, which is – unsurprisingly – why my mother doesn’t like him very much.
So with that, I wave goodbye to my fake-American friend and wish him well.
It’s going to be a hell of a lot quieter without him so to ensure I always remember his unique patronising tone, I will add the last bit of work we did together, that he not only wrote – but voiced as well.
Take care Ryan, see you in LaLaLand.
So with that over-indulgent sentimental post, I bid you all farewell.
Thank you for the laughs and – where necessary – the support and may 2014 be bloody awesome, just not quite as awesome as mine.
Happy eating, drinking, present opening and present exchanging.
Filed under: Comment
A few weeks ago, this picture was doing the rounds and causing all sorts of hoopla …
Now, even though the company in question has issued a press release saying they are a true equal opportunity employer – it doesn’t look good does it.
OK, so they could argue that out of all the people they employ, the men at the top are the most qualified for their job … their female colleagues may openly agree with that point of view … or they may simply say their ‘meet the team’ photo doesn’t convey the true nature of their business and it has given them a wake-up call … hey, all of those could be true – however unlikely – but the fact of the matter is that while that picture may make some men think, “that’s how it should be”, I think it’s pretty sad.
Well three reasons.
1. I work in an industry where the number of female leaders is remarkably small.
[I got told less than 10% but I’m not sure how true that figure is, I’d imagine it should be less]
2. I work in a country where gender roles are fairly defined.
[Though in business, there is a massive percentage of females in positions of power here]]
3. I am a Westerner, heading up a planning department in China.
In essence, I am triple-guilty of what the guys at CellularSolutions have done, intentionally or otherwise.
Sure, it’s amazing that someone like me – a bloke from Nottingham with no formal academic qualifications – has been able to experience so many different and wonderful cultures … however, I must admit to being embarrassed that so many advertising leaders in this part of the World are  white and  male.
Now this post is not meant to be anti-men or anti-Westerner and I am a firm believer that you hire the best for the job, not what will look best to the casual observer … however with so many people in adland – especially in Asia – being similar to the group that was there before, it means we’re either not bringing people through quickly enough or it’s becoming a closed shop.
For the record, I believe/hope it’s the former rather than the latter – and I’m not just saying that because I am a white male in an agency ‘leadership’ position based in Asia – however I have always felt success for me in Asia is when I’ve been able to make myself redundant and while that doesn’t mean I’m going to resign any day soon [sorry W+K], I do feel that day is coming closer and I am genuinely excited about it … excited to the point where for the past few years, I’ve been preparing myself for what will hopefully be my subsequent career, something some of you are aware of and something I hope I don’t fuck up by not being qualified enough.
Anyway, I digress.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suddenly advocating an industry where only people from the home nation should work in that nation, but by the same token I’m not advocating an industry where the people at the top so poorly represent the culture of the home nation.
Of course, part of this situation is because the majority of ad agencies in Asia are owned by companies based in the UK, France and US so, just like countless industries and companies from other nations including Chinese/Asian firms – they tend to prefer having senior representation from people who have ‘grown up’ within their company culture … people they know and trust … and I get that, that kinda makes sense, however all that aside, for an industry that claims to be creative and liberal, I find it amazing we’re in a situation where women are still so poorly represented at adland boardroom level and for that to keep happening, I have to wonder if there is another reason other than the best qualified person for any given job at any given time is – by pure coincide – always a man.
And you thought government was out of touch with representing the masses …
I know this post goes from gender inequality to cultural inequality then back to gender inequality and I know it’s a highly sensitive subject so I just hope my rant doesn’t get misread or misunderstood because as I said, it’s not meant to be anti-men or anti-Westerner, just pro-equal chance. [Which I also know is almost impossible to administer, especially when the people making the decisions tend to be so highly represented by one particular group. In other words, this blog post is even more daft than my usual ones. Bugger]
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So recently I was cooking some dinner [because I am such a new age man] and as I reached for the salt, I saw this:
Yes, that really is a Facebook fan page for a salt manufacturer.
Now I appreciate people may like salt on their food, but that’s very different to being a Facebook fan of it.
So I went over to check it out and found they have 86,456 fans.
EIGHTY SIX THOUSAND!!!
That’s more than Lionel Richie’s clay head from his ‘Hello’ video!!!
“But what do they talk about”, I hear you cry.
Well this is the thing, you see while Morton are trying desperately to promote the ‘cool factor’ of their product … from saying ‘it’s the only rock humans eat’ to pimping out their instagram page [no, that’s not a joke] … the ‘fans’ aren’t comparing salt facts or recipes, they’re literally taking the piss and it’s brilliant.
To be honest, all this correspondence between ‘fans’ seems to be a relatively new phenomenon because there’s pages and pages of posts that some poor Morton salt social media monkey has churned out that have been ignored, however recently it appears people have decided to jump on and just have a laugh and in all honesty, the fact Morton has just let them get on with it makes me sort-of like them.
Yes, I am admitting to liking a salt manufacturer. Jesus.
I know it’s an American company, but it all feels eccentrically British … and that’s why I’m a bit conflicted because when I first saw Morton’s had a Facebook fan page, I scoffed in dismissive delight, however now – admittedly because of the fans, rather than the brand – I have signed up to their fanbase army and I don’t feel in the slightest bit embarrassed about admitting that.
Jesus, I’ve even written a post about it!
If only this blog had more than 5 people who visited it – and they weren’t rude, dismissive pricks – this could almost turn into a classic social media case study.
You know the sort, no sales impact, but masses of superficial brand love.
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One word that can have an amazing effect on people.
For some it’s sheer delight … the belief that destiny will be fulfilled.
For others it’s sheer terror … the feeling that life is about to be constrained and torturous.
Being hyper-generalising for a moment, the former view feels the domain of young women whereas the latter is the young male perspective.
Hey, I did say I was being generalising so don’t hold me to it.
Carrying on with the cliche-view for a moment, these viewpoints could be because apart from wanting to have that ‘princess’ moment, women have an underlying fear of being ‘left on the shelf’ whereas for men, it’s the fear of ‘missing out on opportunities’ with that gorgeous filmstar that you just happen to bump into and feel an immediate and overwhelming chemistry with.
Of course it’s all bollocks, another example of how our emotions rule us against logic and reason which is why I love a sign a NYC jeweller has put in their male bathroom.
Whether someone reads it or not is immaterial to me, I just love that  they did it and  they placed it in the bathroom where a lot of men in the engagement-ring-buying-process end up under the ‘guise’ of needing a wee [yes, I really did say ‘wee’, deal with it] but actually going in there so they calm down, look at themselves in the mirror and say, “I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this, let’s do it”, before splashing some water on their faces before getting on with one of the best – and most expensive – decisions they’ll ever make in their life.
When I was buying Jill’s engagement ring, I was so freaked out by the whole thing [in a good way, I should add] that I got called back to the jeweller on FOUR different occasions because of mistakes I’d made on the cheque, including once where I’d SPELT MY OWN NAME INCORRECTLY!!!
Getting married is a big thing. A very big thing.
It stirs up a hornets nest of feelings and thoughts – and that’s when you know you’re absolutely sure you want to be with the person you love for the rest of your life, let alone when you feel you might be about to make a massive mistake.
And that’s why I like that sign because it captures the fears and nervousness of people – or, more specifically men, then helps calm them down.
Gives them clarity and perspective.
Then pushes them out the toilet door so they can go and spend a bloody fortune on an engagement ring even though the wife-to-be feels it is perfectly acceptable to return the favour by buying a $3.99 wedding ring from the local Argos.
But I digress.
Anyway, marriage is a wonderful institution, however if you listen to Aziz Ansari’s – and to be fair, Groucho Marx – perspective on it, you may find that particular term may be more appropriate than you first thought:
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So this, for many people, will be the last full week before the festive holidays.
It will certainly be the last week I’ll be writing my rubbish until 2014.
Jesus, I still think 1995 was only a few years ago … which at least explains my dress sense.
Anyway, it’s still a Monday and because of that, my low standards are even lower than usual [I know, amazing eh!] so instead of spouting more planner nonsense, here’s a picture that explains the point I was trying to make in this post, in a nano-second of the time.
While you can definitely pay too much for some things, you can also definitely pay too little too … and when all you do is base your decision on cost – because you don’t appreciate the factors that separate good from bad – you are setting yourself up for a terrible fall.
And on that happy note, I’ll leave you to enjoying the depression of Monday morning … which is doubly painful this time because it’s on the week before Christmas. That is unless you’re out every night, getting hammered and using the excuse you’re simply ‘celebrating the festive cheer’ with colleagues … even though you haven’t spoken to half of them for the past 6 months and you don’t even know the name of the new guy in accounts.
The even worse news? The posts don’t get better later in the week. Sorry.
Filed under: Comment
You’d think that having just come back from my 214th holiday of the year, I’d be happy and have nothing to complain about.
But it’s not my fault, it’s when companies put things like this out and try and say it’s a case study in creative effectiveness:
Are they being serious?
I hope not because putting aside the fact the ‘results’ are either ridiculously ambiguous or are of no true commercial value to the client other than stroking their precious ego, the fact is there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that any one of those 3000 bottles of ‘hot sauce’ had any direct effect on their clients business.
Maybe its because the case study was badly written up?
Maybe … but as I assume the ‘data’ being quoted came from the agency, I can’t see how this could be reported without their involvement.
Maybe it’s because the client didn’t want to release all the data?
Maybe … but that makes the case study pretty worthless given there’s little context to evaluate the true level of success achieved.
Maybe it’s because some people think this is what constitutes a ‘case study’?
Sadly, this is quite possibly the case.
I cannot tell you how angry this sort of thing makes me feel.
It’s exactly this sort of thing that makes adland a laughing stock in business because what we’re actually demonstrating is we don’t even understand the fundamentals of what business is supposed to be.
+ Did Ford make all their employees swear to secrecy prior to the launch of the car?
+ Was every press release banned from ever mentioning this car?
+ Were all Ford salesman kept in the dark about the impending launch?
+ Were all dealerships under strict orders to not feature collateral or examples of the car?
+ Did every car industry magazines/website agree to not mention the car?
+ In other words, were the 3000 bottles of hot sauce the only exposure this car had in terms of communicating it’s availability?
My guess is no.
My guess is that there was a lot of exposure that was used to communicate this special edition vehicle to the people of NZ.
In fact, I’d say the results are quite poor given a ‘special edition’ normally encourages people to act quickly and immediately … but as they don’t say how many cars were actually available, we will never know.
The thing that bugs me with this – apart from the fact the case study is more flawed than Seal’s face – is that adland loves to take all the credit when things are [allegedly] good but so bad at taking the responsibility when things go bad.
Sure, everyone is a bit like that, but adland has made it an art-form … however when they take credit for ‘good news’ that is questionable, they just make themselves look like fools.
Don’t get me wrong, I like that they tried to explore new ways to launch a car, but the information they are using to communicate this story doesn’t – in any way – show it had any impact on the end result. None. Nada. Zilch.
What this means is that if they say it did, they need to show it and prove it because as it stands now, this is nothing more than a case study for creative gimmicks, not creative effectiveness.
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A while ago, I wrote about UK motorway service station toilets.
Well a few weeks ago, I found myself back in one – not because I’m a pervert – but because I needed to use the ‘facilities’.
So I walked in, walked up to a urinal and as the ecstasy of ‘mid-flow’, I looked up and came face-to-face with this:
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against penises – hell, I [allegedly] have one – but having a mans cock in his underpants at my eye level is not something I really find comfortable.
Almost as uncomfortable as being caught by a guy walking into the toilet and seeing me taking a photograph of this poster.
Apparently it was trying to communicate an incontinence product – and that’s all well and good – but I don’t know if this ‘execution’ is the best way to connect to the audience.
No, not because it is insulting, demeaning or a cause for unleashing your own inadequacies – but because I don’t think it communicates the audiences issue [or how they feel about the issue] or even the products benefit.
Now even though I’m 43, I am not incontinent [yet] … however, I have experienced times in my life where I’ve been literally bursting for a wee [yes, I said ‘wee’, deal with it] so I have some sort of appreciation regarding how stressful and confronting that is.
That sense of ‘danger’ or ‘fighting to keep control’ is horrible, so I can’t imagine how someone who suffers from incontinence must feel experiencing that situation every day.
And that’s why I find this ad so bad.
Not because they’ve put a man’s ‘package’ at the eye level of its audience … but because it doesn’t come from a place that demonstrates they have any understanding of the feelings of discomfort or confrontation people with incontinence [probably] go through, which has resulted in an ad that doesn’t communicate this product can give these individuals the confidence they seek.
In short, they’re shouting rather than communicating.
Or said another way, they’re craving attention rather than giving meaning.
What a load of pants.