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

Old Is Bold …
April 30, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I’ve written in the past that I hate how so many in adland dismiss people over the age of 25.

I’ve written how there are many people over a certain age who have achieved more in our industry than most of the modern ‘cool-set’ put together.

I’ve also said how it’s interesting that 2 of the best creative agencies for the past 30 odd years were founded – and run – by people in the 60’s, despite the industry loving to say it’s a ‘young mans game’.

Now as I’ve always said, I’m not anti-young it’s just I don’t think we should be anti-old either.

People should be judged by what they have achieved and achieve which is why I find Wieden so special, because they never devalue age, they purely value creativity … and that’s why I always advise people to never just focus on what’s the shiniest new thing, but to also discover the people who influenced the shiniest new thing, whether they’re alive, dead or just the best kept secret of pragmatism and provocation.

Anyway, the reason for all this is that I recently read about someone who – while not in adland – is a revelation to me.

And he’s 94.


It’s not just what he has achieved – which is a huge amount – it’s his attitude to life, which if I’m being honest, is far more interesting, forward thinking and, in a twisted-yet-humouress-way, optimistic than I’d expect from a 30 year old, let alone someone 6 years away from a telegram from Her Majesty.

Anyway, I won’t go on … instead, I’ll just leave you with the article that showed you can teach old dogs new tricks, it’s the young pups that are often the problem.

Calories Speak Louder Than Advertising …
April 29, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

For the past 20 years, one of the things I’ve heard over and over again is how fat society is becoming.

There’s a ton of reasons for this, from portion sizes to government subsidies to questionable labelling to food additives to a society that now values convenience over wellbeing.

To be honest, while we all have to take a responsibility for the situation we’re in, it doesn’t help when companies and governments spend countless billions on ads claiming ‘they care’ when everything they do shows they don’t.

Unless when they say ‘they care’, they actually mean about their profits.

Case in point, this:

Now I’m not a nutritionist, but I’m pretty sure the cheaper item – burger, chips and a soda – is less healthy and more calorific than the alternative water and salad.

Sure, the burger and chips will no doubt taste infinitely better, but why even bother putting it on the menu if you’re going to charge a 40% premium.


Now I appreciate the restaurant chain in question would be able to point out a whole bunch of factors that justify the price differentiation – and maybe some of them might even be true – however, I’m fairly certain that if you did the analysis, the underlying reason would be that, bizarrely, selling burgers, chips and soda is far more profitable to them than salad and water … hence the price premium is driven both by the cost of the raw ingredients as well as their desire to get people to choose the higher profit item over the healthier produce item.

Of course, some of this price discrepancy will have been heavily influenced by the companies procurement policy – locking in farmers to supply specific items at very low cost – however Governments subsidy programs will also have played a role given they are constructed to overcompensate farmers for growing ‘corn’ rather than fresh vegetables … resulting in companies finding all manner of ways to use this raw ingredient to boost their profits, regardless of the health implications.

Oh, and for the record, corn is a major ingredient in everything from replacing sugar in soft drinks to making car tyres.

Which might be good for adaptability and usage but its bloody terrible for health.

This ‘we care, but we don’t do’ drives me nuts but what bothers me more is that while governments, farmers and fast food companies are obviously taking the piss, the health and weight-loss companies could be far more militant in their approach in dealing with this situation … but sadly they’re not, because the reality is they profit from societies problems so their strategy appears to be ‘help, don’t cure’.

I would love to help one of these companies profit hugely from taking this issue head on.

Any takers?

Spare A Thought For My Colleagues Today …
April 28, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

… because they’re in for an interesting ride for the next few months.

In honour of that, I dedicate this video to them, mainly because I know they will wish the oncoming weeks will pass by as quickly as it does in this:

It’s Been A Pleasure …
April 25, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So today is a sad day for me, because Jason White – my MD, and more importantly, my friend – leaves Wieden to become Mr Big at Beats By Dre.

It’s also a sad day for Wieden+Kennedy because not only has he been here for years – doing everything from managing the NIKE business during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, being the business lead for NIKE across the World and being the MD of this office for the past 3 years – he’s seriously amazing at what he does.

Seriously amazing.

And given he no longer has a say in my annual review, the fact I still say that shows how good he is.

It’s a massive loss for the company, the office and for me personally.

He’s one of those infectious people … as soon as he walks in the door, the whole mood of the room improves.

He not only makes you better than you thought you could be, he makes you want to be better than you thought you could be.

He manages to inspire, collaborate and lead all at the same time.

If that’s not annoying enough, he’s also prettier than Julia Roberts in her prime.

I should hate him, but I can’t. That’s how good he is.


But in addition to him teaching me stuff I thought I was too old to learn … in addition to him being supportive of all my strange, emotional, petty-bastard ways … in addition to never telling me to change my bad dress sense, language or birkenstocks … he’s been an amazing friend, someone who gives a shit about how I am not just what I do for him and that – in some ways – is the most brilliant thing about him.

We’ve gone through quite a few adventures in the time we’ve worked together … adventures that are probably best kept to ourselves … but what I can honestly say, is that it’s been wonderful, hysterical and memorable and there’s not many people I could say that about.

To sign off, I will attempt to capture the time we’ve had together in some pictures and a video.

I’m not going to give an explanation of what they’re about – not because it’s not for/about you – but anyone that knows either me or him will be able to work it out.

It’s been an honour to work for you and with you Jason and I hope one day I can call you a colleague again and not just a dear friend.

Have fun. Cause mischief. Enjoy your last Founders Day. [Till you come back]

After Twenty Five Years Of Work, It Seems I’ve Achieved More For Birkenstocks Than Adland …
April 24, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So a mate of mine just wrote to me saying he’d just been in Detroit for a meeting with one of the global heads of Chrysler/Jeep.

Somehow my name came up and the client said how I’d presented to their global board to get them to let us make this to which my mate asked:

“Did he dress up for it?”

To which, apparently, the reply was:

“If you mean did he wear birkenstocks and a t-shirt, the answer is yes”.

I know it’s immature … I know I should be striving to be known for my smarts or at least doing good work for them … but for some reason, this makes me really, really happy.

Of course, that could also be because I’m usually referred to as ‘that Nottingham idiot’ … but deep down, having some important global dude know I wear Birkenstocks is almost the ultimate accolade.

Pathetic I know, but given the German sandals are now fashionista’s best friend, I’m kidding myself that the reason he remembers me is because he thinks I’m some trend setter, rather than a bald, four-eyed, overweight British bloke from Nottingham who lives in camo Birkies and Queen t-shirts, whatever the weather, whatever the meeting.

Judgement Is In The Eye Of The Observer …
April 23, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So one thing I hear a lot about is how today’s young generation have a massive sense of entitlement.

A professor friend of mine deemed them, ‘the strawberry generation’ … ripe and full of promise, but easily bruised.

And I get why he said that, because from our perspective – people born in the 70’s and to a lesser degree, 80’s – that’s how it looks.

But here’s the thing, just because that is how it looks to us doesn’t mean it’s right because if you spend time talking to them, you realise they don’t see it as a sense of entitlement … they see it as a sense of ambition and focus.

Yes, some do believe they are smarter, hungrier and in possession of more skills and knowledge than any generation before them [which is, ironically, what every generation believes] but in China, what seems to connect many of them is this unquestionable focus on what they want to achieve [at least in terms of lifestyle] and they’re not going to waste a second longer necessary on getting there.

What we see as impatience, they see as purposeful.

What we see as a lack of loyalty, they see as protecting and progressing their ambitions.

What we see as complaining, they see as a lack of understanding.

Who is right?

Well, actually it’s less that and more a case of neither being wrong … but it’s an important reminder that there is a minimum of 2 sides to every story [emphasis on the word ‘minimum’] and unless you actively seek out the whole story, you’re choice will only ever resonate with 50% of your audience, which is not bad, but not great either.

Mind you, in this world of blandom, saying something that sacrifices 50% of the audience to be meaningful to the other 50% is kind-of wonderful. Go figure.

Explaining Something By Explaining Nothing …
April 22, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

So I saw the above sign in a bathroom in Shanghai a few weeks ago.

I can let them off for such a ridiculous statement because after all, English is not the native language.

Sure, you could argue that they could have got a proper translator in, but as I’ve said in the past, China makes more of an effort to welcome foreigners to its country than other countries do to make Chinese visitors welcome in there’s.

But that’s not the point, because as daft as that sign may read, I’ve seen far worse in the West.

From Marks & Spencer’s saying ‘Caution, This Bread And Butter Pudding Will Be Hot After Heating’ to Sears pointing out that hairdryers ‘Should Not Be Used When Sleeping’ … I see ridiculous amounts of superfluous and meaningless notifications being banded about and at least in the case of the China example, they were trying to be of some value to their audience.

Of course the reason behind the examples I’ve given is because lawyers were involved … where treating people as idiots is the best form of defence, which ultimately is the best evidence of what a brand really thinks of their customers irrespective of what their advertising may tell you.

Remember that next time you pick up some Sainsbury’s peanuts and it say’s:

WARNING: Contains nuts.