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


Why A Retro-Theme Is A Licence To Print Money …
February 21, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

How about that for a blog post title eh?!

It almost sounds like I’m being sensible and serious doesn’t it.

OK, it also sounds like I’m talking tosh … so let me explain.

A little while ago, I found myself at Newark international airport in New Jersey.

It was early and so fancied breakfast before my long flight home so I popped into a themed diner called ‘Ruby’s Diner’.

As you can see from the pic, Ruby’s was themed like a 50’s American diner – the sort of thing I saw as a kid via programs like ‘Happy Days’.

So I went in and sat down, only to be thrown a menu of high-priced, high-fat crap by a waitress who literally looked like she begrudged me being there.

In other words, I was paying literally hotel prices for B&B food.

And then, when you got the food, you realised the plate – while huge – was full of the cheap stuff and the thing you actually wanted was so small, you needed a magnifying glass and a GPS unit to find it.

Now I get why they do that … it gives the illusion of ‘value’ while actually all being about profit, but what really got me was the environment and facilities of the place, because they seemed to have taken the spirit of the ’50’s so much to heart that they made it look like they hadn’t done anything to the place for 60 years.

Of course that’s not possible given that while the airport was founded in the 20’s, it didn’t become what it is today until 1973 … however here’s the thing, if you went to a typical, run-of-the-mill restaurant on the high street and were charged top dollar prices for cheap and basic food in a cheap and basic environment, you’d run out the door and never go back … however because it’s packaged as a ‘retro-themed’ establishment, that cheap and basic environment, service and quality suddenly transforms itself into ‘an enhanced experience’ and you walk away feeling happy, because you’ve kidded yourself you’ve just had a trip into nostalgia.

Let me tell you, you haven’t.

You’re simply another victim of the retro-themed, marketing-driven con.

In fact, if you are like me – and ate at a retro-themed restaurant inside an airport – you’re even more of a mug, because those places already charge a premium because they know the customer is ‘trapped’ inside the building.

Actually, scrub that … you’d still not be quite as bad as me because I work in marketing, so I should have been able to spot this ‘trick’ a bloody mile off.

So next time you are tempted to go eat at a themed restaurant – especially an American diner themed restaurant – just remind yourself that once you sit down, you’re going to get so ripped off, that the 20+% tip that American culture has decided is an acceptable amount to pay someone for simply taking your food and throwing the plate in front of your eyes, is going to look the bargain of a lifetime.

Marketing. Sometimes, it’s just sheer evil bloody genius.



Has Rolls Royce Just Pulled Off A Moment Of Genius Or Tackiness?
February 20, 2014, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

I know Rolls Royce are owned by the Germans, but I still regard them as a quintessentially British brand. Yes, I know that’s mental, but I do … possibly because my Father loved them and dreamed of one day owning a yellow one with white-walled wheels. [Don’t ask]

Anyway, I recently saw that they were launching a new model called the ‘Wraith’.

Look at it.

Imposing … powerful … demanding of attention and yet, still in possession of refinement.

Fuck, that sounds like the German football team.

Those bloody Krauts.

But that’s not what I’m conflicted about, no … what is bothering me is this:

Can you see it?

Can you?

Look at the roof.

Yes, those really are lights … 1340 of the little buggers … designed to make it look like the stars at night, so even when it’s too cold or too rainy to have the roof down, it can still give you the illusion you are driving ‘al fresco’.

Is that cool?

I have to say, I like the idea of it … but I also worry it could be the motoring equivalent of this:

Of course it doesn’t really matter as I’ll never sit in one, let alone buy one – but I’m interested to know what you think.

Have Rolls Royce just added an element of luxury that separates them from every luxury car brand wannabe or have they basically turned their brand into the equivalent of Blackpool Pier … which, for those not in the know, is like saying Nottingham is Monte Carlo.



Why Bad Grandpa Should Make All Of Humanity Breathe A Big Sigh Of Relief …
February 19, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Have you seen the film Bad Grandpa?

It’s a bit like Borat in the way the central character – in this case Johnny Knoxville – goes around in disguise causing trouble while cameras capture the horrified reactions of the general public who don’t know they’re being filmed.

If you have seen it, I’ll get to the point of this post in a minute, however if you haven’t, here’s a little taster of what it is all about …

So as you can tell, the movie is basically about the twisted – yet loving – relationship between a cantankerous, cranky, loveable pervert grandfather [played by Knoxville] and his sweet, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth, mischievous, grandson [played by Jackson Nicoll]

Throughout the film, they get up to all sorts of scrapes … from defecating in a family restaurant to entering a child’s pageant show [with the little boy dressed as a girl before launching into a full-on stripper routine to Warrant’s ‘Cherry Pie’] … however unlike Borat, which basically exploited stereotypes and cultural differences, the beauty of Bad Grandpa is that the overriding feeling you get at the end of it, is how utterly wonderful society is.

From showing how people are genuinely concerned about the well being of a kid seemingly on his own in the city through to a biker gang actively caring about the feelings of an old man who they believe has had to leave his grandchild with his loathed son-in-law, the movie inadvertently reveals the best of humanity.

I know that sounds mad, I know that might not actually be what Knoxville and the Jackass/MTV gang intended, but it does.

At a time where the media likes to present the World as a cesspit of hate, violence and crime … the movie Bad Grandpa will not only give you a lot of [guilty] laughs, it will also remind you there are far more good people out there than bad and as long as we all play our part in keeping it that way, there’s a chance things might not be as bleak as they sometimes appear.



Screw You Mills & Boon, Here’s Rob Campbell…
February 18, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

After writing a post on Friday about how I think Valentines Day is the absolute opposite of love, a friend of mine sent me this video of what love really is.

What a shame the couple in the video only have a 58% chance of staying married.

Mind you, with one having a Dutch accent and the other having a Scottish accent, they only have a 10% chance of ever understanding what the other person said.

Oh well, despite all that, I have to say I was moved by how the whole thing went down and I particularly loved how the happiness of the occasion swept through – and was shared – by the audience and cast members.

Nice.

We need more happiness in the World.

I know it’s always there, but under the tsunami of fear being peddled by our media, we often don’t see it.

If Valentine’s day was about celebrating the feelings of love demonstrated in the video above, then I’d be all for it – but as I said on Friday, it’s not – because all companies want to do is flog scared men some overpriced cards, flowers and chocolates whereas real love, at least for me, is about emotional generosity and that’s something you show with your heart not your wallet.



LG Need To Get Out More …
February 17, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Have a look at this global ad for LG Ultra Flat TV …

Not the best ad in the World is it?

It gets worse when you see the headline they’re using, “The Best View In The World”.

No it isn’t.

I know a shitload of views that are better than that.

Sure, it’s OK, but if that’s supposed to be a reflection of how awesome the new LG TV is, I’d be very disappointed.

And just for the record, I’m not being petty because when I saw that ad, I recognised the weirdly shaped building that’s on the left-hand side of the ad … at the front of all the other buildings. I recognised it, because for 4 years, that’s where I worked when I did my WPP adventure and let me tell you, as nice as the view was, it wasn’t the best I’d ever seen in life.

In fact, as much as I love Singapore – and I do – I don’t know if there was any place there that I would even put in the top 100 ‘best views in the World’.

And that’s my problem with statements like that, it’s bullshit.

Maybe if they said, “The best view in the World … for now” I’d be a bit more accepting, but even then it’s hugely rational and incredibly ambiguous.

Buying a television may not be as a pressured a decision as it once was … and the advancement of screen and function seems to know no bounds … however, if all you’re going to do is churn out some bog-standard ad that seems to not know whether it is selling how flat the screen is [no, I don’t get that either] or how brilliant the image is, then you are selling both your marketing and your product short.

As you can tell, I’m very happy about starting this week.