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


What Happens When Brands Think Their Soul Is An Unnecessary Expense …
June 30, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

You see that picture above?

That’s what Nickelodeon studios used to look like versus what it looks like today.

From colourful playfulness to bland corporate box.

From a place that was a magnet for kids to a place that resembles the sort of establishment parents warn their kids of going to.

OK, so that studio closed down in 2005, so the change in look is understandable, however I’ve seen far too many companies who view living their brand values and beliefs as an expense rather than an investment, which means:

1. They don’t mean what they say, they’re just saying it because it’s making them money.

2. They’re undermining their potential from the very start.

How the hell did it get to this?

Oh I know, accountants.

The people who are paid to minimise cost rather than maximise value.

The people who have been trained to ignore emotion and only focus on the rational facts.

The people who only care about Wall Street, not the people whose dollars can influence how Wall Street look at you.

Don’t get me wrong, I know money makes the World go round.

I know that you can easily spend way too much on stuff.

But when you are a brand – like Nickelodeon – whose very existence was built on their ability to represent, attract and influence a particular, hard-to-reach generation … then acting like the antithesis of your soul doesn’t seem such a smart decision.

Of course the tragedy is we live in a World where business celebrates short term gains, because no one stays around long enough for any of the long term pains.

What a mixed up World we live in, which is why we should be extra grateful for brands like GoPro, who are a culture more than just a company.



Sophisticated Stupidity …
June 27, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Crap Campaigns In History, Hong Kong

A man on a beach.

You can tell he’s cool because he’s wearing a hat.

And his shirt is untucked and unbuttoned.

And he is bare foot.

He’s staring up towards the sky with a look of awe on his face.

You don’t know what he’s looking at, but it’s got to be something amazing.

He’s too cool to be impressed by any old rubbish.

Next to him is a cello.

Yes, a cello.

For reasons I’m not able to fathom, this musical instrument is able to stand perfectly straight without anything – or anyone – holding it.

Oh, and it’s also translucent.

Yes, you can’t get much cooler than that.

Next to the cello is a massively big woman in her underwear.

Seriously, she’s huge.

Maybe he’s a midget, but I’m pretty sure she’s super-tall.

But she’s not on the beach, she’s kind-of in a nondescript place.

I hope it’s somewhere warm because she could get a terrible cold.

She’s looking wistfully in the distance. As if she dreams of one day meeting a man on the beach who has a translucent cello.

You think I’m on drugs don’t you!

Or at least had too many cough sweets and got drunk on the minuscule alcohol content they hold.

Don’t laugh, that’s actually happened to me.

But no I’m not.

I’m not even overly-tired.

I have just described the utter bollocks of a Japanese lingerie brands ad running in HK.

I don’t know if a Hong Kong agency created it or if they are just running it there, but apart from a few exceptions [mainly people, but a couple of agencies] … it reminds me why I once described that place – in terms of adland, not the culture – as the big ideas ghost town.

Look at it.

What the fuck it is trying to say?

I have no idea, but what I’m fairly certain of – especially given the brand is named ‘Bon Luxe’ – is they’re desperately trying to appear ‘sophisticated’.

The cello.

The beach.

The hunk.

The woman.

The Eurasian heritage of the models. [because god forbid any pure Asian appears in the ads!]

The pompous ‘passions for perfection’ line.

The fake french ‘good luxury’ name.

It all smacks of some blinkered brand manager who doesn’t know the difference between natural and contrived.

Maybe someone should tell them the quickest way to look cheap and tacky is to try and fake sophistication.

And before anyone slags me off, a woman sent me this ad and she basically said what I’ve just ranted about for far too long.

And for the record, she’s hideously attractive so it’s not jealousy.

Plus she works for Tiffany, so she’s sophistication personified.

Annnnd – to put the cherry on top of the perfect life – she is married to a bloody race car driver.

No, I have no idea why she’s friends with me, but that aside … if she thinks it’s pants, then I think it’s fair to say I certainly can as well … so there.

God that was a long winded rant wasn’t it.

Well at least it’s Friday.

Happy Weekend.



They’re Called People, Not Pyramids …
June 26, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I could say something.

I want to say something.

But apart from the fact that nothing – and I mean nothing – could capture the level of distain I have for this sort of marketing terminology bullshit, it does a much better job than I ever could hope to achieve in highlighting how disconnected we can be with real people’s, real lives.

What’s worse is I’m sure it will be popular, so because I have a death-wish [or because – as some would say – I am only happy when I’m angry] I’ve signed up to endure every painful, empty buzzword minute of the whole thing … though if I manage to sit through the whole thing without being arrested, I’ll regard it as both an achievement and an embarassment.

My attitude has always been that if you can’t talk about people without relying on the use of meaningless industry buzzwords … then I question how much you actually know about people.

And that’s before I laugh at your fucking pyramid. Inverted or otherwise.



Awareness vs Meaningfulness …
June 25, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So like most of my posts, this one is talking about a topic that was discussed and dealt with an age ago, however a while back, this ‘ad’ was doing the rounds and was getting lots of praise from the creative community …

I must admit, when I first started watching it, I was laughing a lot.

And then I saw at the end, it was promoting a real brand and my smile turned to a frown.

Why?

Well, for one reason really – I don’t think it’s going to appeal to young girls.

Especially – and potentially exclusively – young girls who have just started their period.

A long time ago, I spent a fascinating year of my life listening to Mum’s and their daughters talk about periods.

While there were a whole range of opinions and learnings, the one thing that really stood out was how the daughters didn’t like to see tampon ads on television, or any medium where they may accidentally see it with their fathers or brothers in the room.

The fact is, for young girls, periods are full of angst, worry and concern … not helped by the plethora of myths, legends and innuendo that exist … so they would rather be spoken to privately than via a medium that screams at everyone.

While you could argue this spot takes the ‘taboo’ out of the issue of periods [which was the excuse was for this ad, even though this was a smarter way of standing out while being resonant], the reality is the only people who would say that are in adland industry because if anyone spent any time understanding what was going on in complicated and conflicted minds of young girls, you too would be left wondering who this ad was aimed at because the last person it’s going to convince is a young girl entering womanhood.

Funny?

Yes, for an adult.

Resonant?

For a young girl, probably less so.

And if anyone calls it ‘brave’, they’re totally missing the point of our job and the audience.

There is a lot of work that can be, and should be, done in this category … work that can truly challenge category conventions … but the irony is mainstream advertising is probably the last thing you should do because while it appeases the retailers who hold the key to distribution [which I appreciate is also very important], the irony is this approach ends up creating more issues and concerns in the heads of the very people it’s designed to connect with.

And yet I would lay money it will win a ton of creative awards next year.

Says a lot about what we value as an industry.



Banana To Go …
June 24, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Crap Products In History

Remember last week when I mentioned how banana company, Chiquita, had started putting ‘To Go’ stickers on all their fruit?

Well, whoever is the buyer of fruit for City Super in Shanghai has just undermined all their carefully laid repositioning marketing plans.

No pointless sticker for them, oh no, they just sell bananas that are so small, they make R2D2 look like King Kong.

So while Chiquita have to eat the cost of printing new stickers for their fruit into their business costs, the evil genius at City Super [in partnership with whoever is the delivery manager for all online orders] make even more cash by not only charging you the same price as a big banana, but without needing to pay for any stickers either.

Plus – and this is a big one for all those brand consultancy folk – in terms of positioning their fruit as ‘food on the go’, they’ve executed it with absolute purity because they’ve ensured their bananas are so small you can slip them into your jeans pocket while walking to work.

And I’m not talking the big pocket, I’m talking that super-small one that doesn’t serve much purpose.

Branding magnificence.

Or it could just be my attempt to ignore the fact I’ve just been played by my local supermarket, who are fast becoming the modern day equivalent of the Drive Thru “rip off”.



Queen Greatest Misses …
June 23, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Yes, I know when their Greatest Hits album – the biggest selling album in UK history came out, I wasn’t even a teenager.

But I can dream can’t I?

Besides … as mad as I look in that party hat, I still don’t look as weird as Freddie does in this.

OK, I do.

Bugger.



Goodbye Mr Gorgeous …
June 20, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

So today, after 3 years, we wave goodbye to the wonderful Tom Suharto.

Well, not goodbye – as we’re moving him to Portland to work on NIKE – but certainly au revoir.

Tom is a very special person.

I don’t mean because of his planning chops – though obviously they’re excellent – but because apart from being related to Indonesian royalty [which he never fails to mention, closely followed by an explanation that he is not associated with THAT Suharto], he is basically the most perfect man in the entire universe.

No, seriously, he is.

It’s not just that he possesses dashing looks.

It’s not just that he’s incredibly smart and articulate.

It’s not even that he created his own ‘pollution app’ and now views himself as a ‘developer’.

No … the reason he is so special is because he has a gorgeous wife, a darling son and cute puppy so when they’re all together, they basically represent the sort of ‘perfect family’ that every US television show dreams of casting.

Never a hair out of place.

Never a piece of spinach in their teeth.

Never any sign of crying, barking or arguing.

Frankly they should all make me feel utterly, utterly sick.

But they don’t.

Because they’re wonderful.

And I’m going to miss them all terribly.

Damnit.

Tom, thank you for absolutely everything.

You came in as a person with no planning experience whatsoever and thanks to me teaching you to do the opposite of everything I do, you leave with a wealth of knowledge and experience that sets you apart from the crowd.

Which means basically I made you.

And you owe me.

But I’m not going to ask for money – oh no – all I ask in return is you stay exactly as you are, because you’re a great person and a great professional.

I’ll miss you. But I’ll also make sure I make your life a misery by booking meetings in your calendar then cancelling them – just so you get an email. Which I know drives you mad.

And while we wave goodbye to a wonderful colleague … someone who made a massive difference to this department and office … I will deal with the pain of your departure by remembering that for all your perfection, I still saw the one moment in your life that you let your ‘perfect’ guard down and allowed me to capture this.

Be well my friend. Thank you for everything and I hope you enjoy your leaving pressie.

And of course our additional gift of your first ever tattoo.

[Before, During, After]

Hey, just making sure you can never forget us … even if you wanted to.