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

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September 10, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

So I recently got an email from a client who said he’d read an article I’d written about digital advertising.

To be honest, I couldn’t even remember writing it – but having cast my eyes over it, what is interesting [at least to me] is that it seems my viewpoint may still actually have a modicum of relevance, despite the fact it came out 3 years ago.

Please note that while I fully acknowledge I have a ridiculously sized ego, I’m not saying this because I’m trying to big myself up – oh no – I’m saying it because it’s a sad indictment on how many brands and agencies use digital.

Or more specifically, how unimaginative many brands and agencies are when it comes to using digital.

Anyway, here it is … I’d be interested to hear what you think, especially the people who are serious digital folk, not the ones who simply have it on their business card and use terms like ‘social engagement’ and ‘viral strategy’ over and over again.


Recently I was misquoted as saying “Digital is too hyped”.

Accident or not, that bothered me a lot.

Not because I work for a company that proudly and passionately believes in the power of digital. Not because I live in a country – China – that uses digital on a scale that is hard to comprehend. But because it was wrong.

While I’m no digital expert – I have been surrounded by it in one form or another for 35+ years and involved in it for 18 … seeing it metamorphosize from ‘new media’ to ‘media’ to ‘a part of life’ and I have been very vocal about how pervasive, persuasive and powerful it can be.

Let’s be honest, digital has infiltrated our lives in ways other mediums can only dream about. It is now the only thing that can continuously and consistently get around the ‘personal firewalls’ we’ve placed in our minds to filter out all the unwanted messages and noise that surround us.

Like [bad] ads.

That’s power and influence.

That’s wonder and amazement.

The issue I have – and the single word that was missing from my quote that would have made everything alright – is “BAD” digital is too hyped.

The stuff that doesn’t reflect the audience.

The stuff that doesn’t add value to people’s lives or clients commercial objectives.

The stuff that’s done for the ego of the client rather than the meaning of the audience or the brand.

The stuff that is trying to brainwash rather than engage, delight, inspire, motivate and empower the audience.

The stuff that feels like it was done with the same approach as banner ads in the mid-90’s.

The stuff that’s been done by people who think as long as its on digital, it’s alright.

The stuff that thinks good digital marketing is different to good marketing.

The stuff that confuses quantifiable with effective.

You see good digital needs work.

It needs meaning and understanding … meaning and understanding of people that goes beyond just their digital and social media habits.

In my mind, some people get too focused on the next big thing and forget that it has to do something that adds value and meaning to the audience and the brand.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is an amazing thing, but in marketing terms, it’s not what it is, it’s what people can do because of it.

There are countless examples of brands that get it right … commercially sound, creative digital ideas … but sadly there’s also a number of hyped up stunts, whose goal appears to have been to attract some PR for what has been made rather than what has been achieved.

Digital is still a relatively young medium and yet it’s already infiltrated many people and cultures lives – and while I question how some people approach it, there’s a ridiculous amount of stuff that gives a glimpse of what it is and what it can be – and that should be hugely exciting for all of us which is why I believe it it so important to always approach digital with the highest of standards and meaning, because if we fuck it up, we’re only fucking ourselves.


45 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Is this how you’ve justified to Jill your purchase of new iphones and an iwatch?

Comment by DH

how soon after they were announced do you think he contacted baz? hes such a pathetic, transparent fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

I know I would say this, but I prefer the Moto 360 watch.

Comment by Pete

toady fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

No, I justified it by her being in Australia and leaving me with my credit card.

Comment by Rob

I’d love to see how your brain is going to cope with choosing to wear a $400 piece of tech versus your $10 million dollar wanker watch. #wankerworldproblems

Comment by DH

2 wrists. 2 watches.

Comment by andy@cynic

if he can fit them on his wrists after hes put on his ten fucking thousand Nike fuel band bullshit.

Comment by andy@cynic

The lowest scoring Fuel Band on the planet.

Comment by John

its got to be fucking charged to register pointless fucking points.

Comment by andy@cynic

Ha … well to be honest, I’m not that keen on the iWatch – or Apple Watch, as they call it. Don’t get me wrong, when Baz gives me one [spot the subtle hint] I’ll happily take it, but I might actually prefer the Moto 360, at least in terms of looks. But to Andy’s point, I have 2 wrists so whichever I end up with, no watch will suffer.

Talking of suffering, I hate where Apple are going with their ads. I am all for simplicity, but when their end line is ‘bigger than big’, that moves it into simplistic territory which might make average creatives happy, but does absolutely nothing for the brand, the product or desire.

Comment by Rob

its justin fucking timberlake and jimmy unfunny fallon. theyre turning into a social club for every elite cock i cant fucking stand. and the ads shit. from crazy ones to that pile of fucking shite.

Comment by andy@cynic

That said, let’s not forget Apple basically just did a show launching a new product that probably got a billion dollars of global publicity for free.


So basically it doesn’t matter what shit ad they do, everyone knows about what they’re doing and are hungry to find out more.

Compare that to Samsung who launched a new product last week that no one knows about and – even when they spend 100 million bucks to advertise it – will probably not give a damn.

That’s the difference between a company who has a unified culture and vision and a company who is there to simply manufacture technology for profit.

Comment by Rob

“It needs meaning and understanding … meaning and understanding of people that goes beyond just their digital and social media habits.” is one of your better thoughts.

Comment by Billy Zero


Comment by Pete


Comment by John

you didnt say if the client thought it was a load of old bollocks. i want to hate it but its a shitload less bollocks than the fucker from akqa I heard talk today. last fucking time i do that but i only went for the free sandwiches.

Comment by andy@cynic

I hope you put him right.

Comment by John

i wouldnt waste the fucking energy. it would be like trying to get a republican to like mexican immigrants.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’ve changed.

Comment by DH

yes. i dont give a fuck about destroying the things that are fucking meaningless. if im going to kill, im going to make it worth my fucking while.

Comment by andy@cynic

Was he British?

Comment by John

Just like Apple didn’t say the battery life of their watch. Sometimes, it’s better to hold back than to inform. Ahem.

And why the hell were you at an AKQA thing? Was it a public thing or were you invited? Either possibility scares me … but probably not as much as you scared them. Ha.

Comment by Rob

how many fucking times do i have to say it. free fucking sandwiches. and they were shit. wpp procurement are now in fucking control.

Comment by andy@cynic

I believe it’s more relevant than ever before.

Because the hype of big data, predicitive analytics and neuro-whatever are powerful incentives to do lazy work, work that hit the proxy marks without providing ANY commercial value.

Proxy marks like we had with the Facebook/Twitter frenzy, where comments, shares and likes and ‘content’ were enshrined as having a 1.00 correlation with business results without any further analysis or evaluation of such claims.

I agree 100% with new Billy, most digital ads have no meaning whatsoever, they lack almost every aspect of human communication and treats people like subjects in a Pavlovian experiment.

Ok, maybe not… but you get my point.

Comment by Miguel

I like it Rob. Considered, insightful and balanced. I especially like the premise that to make great digital ideas, you have to look outside of digital habits. So obvious but so rarely done. At least in digital advertising projects.

Comment by Pete

Heard some people say digital behavior has no relationship with ‘offline’ behavior. It’s like they talked to two different people, the one on his Facebook account and the one watching Sherlock’s… FFS

Comment by Miguel

thats because too many digital dudes arent fucking human. never trust someone whose sexual history consists purely of fucking youporn.

Comment by andy@cynic

Why does that makes sense in my head?

Comment by Miguel

That’s why I don’t trust Billy.

Comment by DH

I’ve had more ass than Ron Jeremy.

Comment by Billy Whizz

You mean you have an ass like Ron Jeremy, surely?

Comment by Rob

has a face like ron jeremys ass.

Comment by andy@cynic

This part of the thread is more exciting than the new iphones.

Comment by DH

Fuck you all.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Excellent read Robert. Like many of the other commentators have stated, you speak more sense than many of the specialists within digital advertising.

Comment by Lee Hill

thats not because campbells smart but because digital specialists are subhuman twats with goldfish brains.

Comment by andy@cynic

Great points.
I did cringe when I read people were already in a queue outside Apple stores.
That said, I’m sure I’ll specify an Iphone 6 from my new employers

Comment by Northern

Just tell Baz you want one, I’m sure he’ll be good for it.

Comment by Rob

New employers?

Comment by John

As long as they aren’t taller than him.

(Sorry Baz, I couldn’t resist. Please don’t deny me what’s (at least in my head) what’s rightfully mine)

Comment by Rob

What? I was referring to NP’s reference to “new employers” – I thought you were in the business of noticing subtle signals!

Comment by John

I might be in the business of that but it doesn’t mean I’m good at it. I thought you would have realized that by now.

Comment by Rob

Even then, he knew.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

Hi matey … who knew and what did they know. You can’t be referring to anyone on this blog. By the way, you still owe me a post. Ha. Don’t worry, I know it’s the least of your concerns but it would be amazing to read. Hope all is well.

Comment by Rob

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