Filed under: Comment
One of the things I love about Asia – not just China – is their brutal approach to truth.
OK, so the name of this store is obviously a ‘lost-in-translation’ thing, but generally speaking, if you go into a place and they don’t think they have anything for you, rather than waste time, they’ll come straight out and say:
“We have nothing in here for you”.
At first it can be quite confronting.
It sounds rude.
But after a while, you realise that their comments are not designed to hurt you, but to save you – and them – time.
No sycophantic niceness.
No attempt to sell you something that looks – quite frankly – ridiculous and pointless.
Just an obsession with telling it how it is so both parties can move on with their life.
Now if only brands could be so clear cut about what they do/offer, rather than showering society with a multitude of bland, empty platitudes.
People don’t want them or believe them.
So either give us stuff we are genuinely interested in [rather than what you want us to be interested in] or just walk away till another day, because regardless what you think, no one is falling for what you’re selling.
Filed under: Comment
No, I am not letting the food industry off the hook.
Or the governments with their insane food subsidy programmes.
But I’m certainly not blaming the escalator companies.
However, when we allow ourselves to believe we’re entitled to a life of utter convenience and comfort, it’s not that surprising that we have ended up in a situation where the declining standard of health is one of the biggest dangers facing our future.
Just like I said a while back that it’s not google making us stupid, it’s us making us stupid … the same goes for our obesity epidemic.
It might be nice to shift all the blame on to someone else.
It might be easy to say we’re just a pawn in big business’ evil game.
But rarely does something happen unless you want it to and taking notice when something terrible happens – whether to you or someone else – is a dangerous game to play.
As I said, I know there are external factors that influence our choices – and I absolutely appreciate there are socio-economic situations and conditions that impact many people’s lives – however I believe obesity is as much an attitude problem as it is a bad food problem so next time you see an escalator, take the stairs.
Oh, and before anyone says it, I know I am the last person on the planet who has the right to say this with a straight face … but nothing, not even seeing your 36 year old mate almost die a few weeks ago from a torn aorta, aneurysm and mini-strokes, changes your perspective like the impending birth of your first child.
Hell, the kid isn’t even born and he/she is changing my life … I’m doomed!
But not as much as them. Boom Tish.
Filed under: Comment
A while back I wrote about how stressful it must be to suffer from incontinence and how brilliant supermarkets are at packaging – and then selling us – unrelated products because they exploit the ‘romantic notions’ we have in our heads about certain moments and situations, even though they will never, ever turn out as we hoped.
Well recently I saw something in a supermarket that linked the learnings of both these posts and while I appreciate it could have been the work of some evil, genius joker … I still think it shows more consumer insight and cross-selling brilliance than most people in adland could ever hope to achieve.
Filed under: Comment
While Tom Waites – and I’m sure you will have guessed – is not the sort of singer/songwriter that appeals to my sophisticated ear [ahem], I can’t help but find myself agreeing with what he’s saying in this quote.
It’s especially bad in my industry, where in our quest for acceptance and credibility, we are grasping onto any piece of information like a drowning man clings to a passing piece of wood … without always understanding that sometimes, we’re holding onto noise rather than knowledge.
And don’t get me started about the confusion between money and happiness.
Sure, money makes life easier, but happiness is a totally different state of mind – often only realised when something precious is taken away from us and then you realise you have been preoccupied with glitter, not substance.
Though I don’t agree with everything Mr Waites says.
For a start, there’s a lot of people who don’t even have any money, let alone guns.
Freddie Mercury would never have made that mistake.
But that aside, well done Mr Waites, I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said, though that could also be because I talked about a similar thing way back back in 2011.
I know, that piece of news has probably devastated you … but on the bright side, it might inspire you to write another of your depressing little ditties which I’m sure some Guardian-reading, wannabe hipster [who drives a BMW and works in the city] will be pleased to hear.
Filed under: Context
So a long time ago – before most of you were born – Mick Jagger and David Bowie got together to do a remake of the classic ‘Dancing In The Streets’.
It was massively successful.
Anyway, for some reason, some cheeky sods have taken the video and removed the music.
In an instant, they’ve made Bowie & Jagger go from global rockstars to weird old men who probably need to be arrested.
[And here’s the original if you’re interested]
The reason I think this is interesting [and I appreciate I might be the only one, probably because everyone has known this for decades and I’m just incredibly slow] is because it highlights the importance of context.
Of course you could – quite rightly – argue the example I’ve used actually highlights the importance of music … but the point I’m trying to make is that too often, we don’t take into account contextual influence, we just march forward with the blind belief our work will be so brilliant, people will flock to it and embrace it regardless of where and how it appears.
This is especially dangerous in Asia – as anyone who has read Richard Nisbet’s excellent Geography of Thought will know – because the cultural norm is to determine actions and response by associative cues and contextual frames of reference.
But there is a positive in all of this and that’s simply the fact that while great can be turned into a shit sandwich by failing to appreciate or understand contextual attributes and elements … it also means mental can be turned into something awesome, just by identifying the right context attributes and elements.
In other words, don’t write off the ‘exciting, but mad’ when you see it.
Explore and experiment with it … because you might just find a place where it turns into commercial genius.
Filed under: Brilliant Marketing Ideas In History, Comment, Human Goodness, IKEA
So I recently saw a campaign that IKEA did to help a local dog shelter.
Basically they put life sized cutouts of the shelters dogs around their store – on beds, on the sofa, sitting around the dining tables – so that as people walked around, they could see the pooches in a home environment and maybe get tempted to adopt one.
Better still, IKEA ensured that there was a code placed around the collar of each cardboard cutout pooch so that interested parties could get more information and organise an appointment to see them directly at the shelter.
Such a sweet, simple, lovely idea.
Of course, you could argue they should have done it with cats given they were the star of one of my favourite ever ads … but given they were once my public enemy #1, this is a lovely gesture that lets me forgive their past sins.
OK, so I have no idea how many homeless dogs have been adopted which means you could throw the whole ‘awareness counts for nothing’ argument I continually use, back in my face … however there’s a massive difference with this and the clearly defined, commercially-focused, business goal that many companies try and justify.
But all that aside, I think it will have had some sort of positive effect.
You see a long time back, a friend of mine – who runs an animal charity called Halo – asked for help to try and encourage people who were interested in getting a pet to go to him rather than a commercial business.
Sadly I didn’t think of the IKEA idea, but what I did say was that he could take ‘cute’ photos of the animals he had in his shelter and put them on instagram with a #tag.
Given animals are one of the most popular categories of instagram [along with, semi-ironically, food] people picked up on it rather quickly and before he knew it, he was getting comments, interest and offers from all over the World.
Of course, having someone in Australia contacting you when you’re in America is of little use … but he was able to use them to help drive even more awareness and over a period of 3 months, he re-homed 28 animals and raised a significant amount of donations for his charity … all for a cost of a few instagram photos and some emails.
With that in mind, I’m sure/hopeful the cardboard cutout dogs also had a positive affect on finding homes for those homeless pooches, just like I am sure/hopeful it had a positive effect on the perception of IKEA … because when people see a company doing something good for no other reason than they believe it’s the right thing to do [especially for the helpless], it makes society feel more positive and loyal towards them than any amount of contrived, bland ‘we care’ advertising they care to churn out.
Filed under: Comment
As you get older … meet more people, have more experiences … you find yourself ‘grouping’ your life into bite-sized chunks.
We self segment even though in terms of what we are told friendship should be, there probably shouldn’t be any level of separation between them at all … they’re either a friend or they’re not.
Though given I have some stupid rules about when I can define someone as a mate, I’m the last person who should talk.
The reason I say all this is that one of the big things I noticed when I came to Asia was how many people here segmented their lives into micro groups.
For every big group, there’s a bunch of subsets such as:
School friends who like to party.
School friends who are foodies.
School friends who work in similar industries.
OK, I’m generalising and I’m also not explaining my point at all – mainly because I’m not sure what it is, but I know there is one somewhere – but that aside, all this post was actually trying to do was to justify this photo …
… even though what it actually shows is how the Government segments their industry rather than how their people segment their networks.
And for the record, I’m still looking for the ‘advertising practitioners’ hospital in China, though something tells me it might end up being this.