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


Cliche’s Doesn’t Always Mean Truth, It Can Also Mean Popular Misconception …
September 11, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Over the years, I have written and ranted about how much I hate the way Western media portrays China and how much this is affecting how their readers view the Chinese population.

Of course, it’s driven by fear and misunderstanding [not to mention hypocrisy, given everyone demands cheaper products and higher share returns] but that still doesn’t excuse the shit they keep heaping on this magnificent country.

Yes, madness and pain exists and yes – like every other country on the planet – there are some terrible, terrible people who live here … but that doesn’t mean every person, company or product in China is created with the sole intention of disrespecting or destroying other people’s lives or livlihood.

Anyway, the reason I say this is because Leon – of Method Planning infamy – recently sent me this sign from a construction site:

I’m not sure if any of you can read mandarin so let me translate for you.

Please be aware of safety. If you’re in an accident, somebody else will sleep with your wife, beat up your kid and spend your pension.

Now I know that can sound like massive fear-mongering – and to a degree it is – but everyone here who has seen it has found it amusing … not because of it’s ‘honesty’, but because of the cheeky way they’re getting people to appreciate the importance of safety.

And before anyone say’s they shouldn’t need a sign to tell workers to look after themselves … I would like to point out that most construction sites in the Western World have signage reminding people to be conscious of safety standards.

Anyway, the reason I post this is because, in some small way, this sign sticks two fingers up the prejudice of Western media.

While they keep printing articles that try and brainwash Western culture into thinking this country doesn’t care about standards or people or emotion, this kind-of-says otherwise.

China has many issues, but fundamentally it’s an amazing place filled with amazing people so rather than base your opinions on the mad ramblings of the Daily Mail – who have probably never even been here – come and visit for yourself because as Northern said, if you want to understand culture, you have to play in the jungle not in the zoo.

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Last thing, I know today will be an especially tough day for Dave – not to mention Andy – so I hope it goes OK. Or as OK as it can be. Thinking of you both … and not in a bad way for once.



Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah …
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.

TURNING A MEDIUM INTO A GREAT

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.



Are We More Football Lazy Than Crazy?
September 9, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

I saw a statistic recently that said every year, 22 million people visit the theatre in London which is twice as many who attend Premiership football matches.

Or said another way, 21,999,000 more than see Forest each season.

Of course, when you take into account the size of the television audience – both domestic and international – as well as the revenues generated by footie, the reality is thespianfest is no comparison to the English national game, but the point of this post is that even though many people say ‘perception is reality’, the other way of looking at it is ‘perception can make you blind to other opportunities’.

Anyway none of that really matters because I just wanted an excuse to show this video of Stuart Pearce walking down the tunnel of his first match in charge of the current Forest team.

Even though being a football manager is basically a game of ‘how long will you survive’, he will be able to look back on this day and know how much he meant to some people … which at the end of that day, is something we all would like to know we achieved.



The Communist Party, Party …
September 8, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

… what I’m trying to tell you is that today is a national holiday in China.

No, I’m not joking and yes, I am slightly embarrassed about it … but, as I am sure you have noticed, not so embarrassed that I am not taking them up on the holiday.

To be honest, it has nothing to do with communism, it’s ‘cultural’ because today is the mid-autumn festival, also known as the moon cake festival … a time of year where people all over the country consume pastry cakes filled with – amongst other things – duck egg yolk.

If you are trying to work out if that is disgusting or not, let me tell you that I ended up getting a tattoo of a moon cake so I didn’t have to subject myself to the annual taste-bud abuse.

And for the record, the tattoo guys did think it was bloody mental but I don’t care – it allowed me to show my cultural appreciation without having to show my cultural appreciation, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, the bad news is tomorrow is NOT a holiday so there’ll be another post – but given you get them even when I’m on holiday, I guess you’re used to mental abuse.

Happy Monday … but not as happy as mine will be.



Happy Birthday Freddie …
September 5, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Today would be Freddie’s 68th birthday.

SIXTY EIGHT.

While some of the members are still touring under the Queen name, the irony is, I don’t think they would be if Freddie was still alive.

Before he died in 1991, he stated he didn’t think he’d tour again because he felt running around the stage in a leotard at his age was ridiculous.

To be honest, it was ridiculous when he was doing it in his 20’s, but somehow he managed to pull it off.

That said, I can’t believe it’s 23 years since he died.

I was devastated when I heard the news but in some ways, by dying so young [he was 45] he ensured his legacy would continue which he probably would have loved given he once sang, “it’s better to burn out than to fade away”.

Of course it doesn’t have to be that way, when Jagger or Richards pops their clogs, their legend will continue despite the fact they are already pensioners … but there’s something different when someone dies when you feel they still had so much to give.

Who knows what he would have come out with in later years – however given his duets with people like Montserrat Caballé – I know it would have been interesting, regardless of how successful it ended up being.

But it wasn’t meant to be which is why I will spend the day listening to my favourite song of his [a song, just to maintain the level of depression of this post, that I want played at my funeral] and wish him a happy birthday.



An Unexpected Visitor …
September 2, 2014, 9:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Dad

I know I said I wouldn’t be writing a post till I’m back from the US, but something has just happened that I want to write about.

The good news is it has nothing to do with Queen, Birkenstocks, Nottingham Forest or planning so that has increased the odds of this post being less tragic by about 99.87%.

Anyway, blame it on jet lag or just the fact I’m in Portland, but I was a bit bored so decided to check my Linkedin account.

Because I’m a curious [read: nosy] person, I looked at who had been looking at me and suddenly time stood still. This is why …

You might not be able to see it, but it’s the person on the far left of the page.

The reason that person made my life momentarily pause is because my Dad’s name was Roger Campbell … the same as the project management consultant who visited my page, even though I don’t know him and he obviously doesn’t know me.

It was so strange to see his name pop up into my life like that.

Of course I think about him all the time and my Mum sometimes calls me Roger instead of Robert … but to have his name inject into my everyday life was different.

It wasn’t something associated with the past, it was in my present.

In some ways, that’s exactly what I’ve wished would happen for the past 15 years.

Where he is just ‘there’ … part of my life, asking me questions, making me laugh, making me think, asking me to explain just what I actually do.

But it wasn’t my Dad … it was someone who just shared his name, but to be honest, it doesn’t matter, it was warm and comforting and a reminder that he is as much of my life today as he always was.

I miss him.

I miss him so much.

I wish he was here to be part of my life.

To be part of Mum’s life.

To meet Jill, Rosie – the cat – and his soon-to-be-born grandson.

But he’s not, well, not in the way I wish he was … but given I wrote about him on Monday and it would be his 76th birthday on September 17th, I feel he’s letting me know that as much as I think of him, he is thinking of me and that makes me happy.

Well, happy and sad … but definitely in a place of peace.

So Roger Campbell, project management consultant … thank you for visiting my linkedin page, you made me happier than you could ever imagine.



How The Hell Is It September 1 Already?
September 1, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

What’s worse is that means I only have 3 months and 8 days till the little one introduces himself to the World and all I/we’ve done so far is get a pram [that cost more than my first car] and casually move some furniture around.

Shiiiiiiit.

Anyway, talking of babies and fatherhood … when I was a kid, one thing my Dad liked to do was read the lyrics of my favourite bands songs in a very dry and straight way.

Trust me, nothing ruins a classic track like ‘Highway To Hell’ [yes, an AC/DC song just to prove I’m not totally Queen obsessed] than having someone read the lyrics in a beautiful, rich English voice that has a slight hint of curiosity … as if they are reading back to you all the depraved things you’ve admitted you’ve done.

The reason I say this is because I was recently riding to work when Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded’ came on my iPhone.

For those of you who don’t know the song, it’s this:

Anyway, despite having listened to that song for decades, I paid notice – possibly for the first time – to the lyrics and was taken aback at how utterly pre-pubecesent they were.

Well, I’m hot blooded, check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I’m hot blooded, I’m hot blooded

You don’t have to read my mind, to know what I have in mind
Honey you oughta know
Now you move so fine, let me lay it on the line
I wanna know what you’re doin’ after the show

Now it’s up to you, we can make a secret rendezvous
Just me and you, I’ll show you lovin’ like you never knew

That’s why, I’m hot blooded, check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I’m hot blooded, hot blooded

If it feels alright, maybe you can stay all night
Shall I leave you my key?
But you’ve got to give me a sign, come on girl, some kind of sign
Tell me, are you hot mama? you sure look that way to me

Are you old enough? will you be ready when I call you bluff?
Is my timing right? did you save your love for me tonight?

Yeah I’m hot blooded, check it and see
Feel the fever burning inside of me
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I’m hot blooded, I’m hot blooded, I’m hot

Now it’s up to you, can we make a secret rendezvous?
Oh, before we do, you’ll have to get away from you know who

Well, I’m hot blooded, check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I’m hot blooded, I’m hot blooded

Hot blooded, every night
Hot blooded, you’re looking so tight
Hot blooded, now you’re driving me wild
Hot blooded, I’m so hot for you, child
Hot blooded, I’m a little bit high
Hot blooded, you’re a little bit shy
Hot blooded, you’re making me sing
Hot blooded, for your sweet sweet thing

Jesus christ …

Seriously, when you read them as if you were reading a text book, it all feels so different.

For a start you think it’s the delusional ramblings of a 18 year old man about to go out on a Saturday night.

Then you start thinking it’s about a dirty old bastard trying to hit on a 17 year old.

Then you work out it’s some horny bastard who wants an affair.

Then you finally realise it’s basically a song about stalking and unwanted sexual attention.

In short, it’s a song for people the Police should be paying close attention to.

And what the hell was he doing going out with a temperature that high. Madness.

I suppose what’s even worse is Mick Jones – who wrote the song – was 34 at the time.

THIRTY FOUR!!! No wonder he’s had more marriages than Elizabeth Taylor. Or Andy.

Anyway, let this as a lesson to you all, never … I mean NEVER EVER … read the lyrics of your favourite song, because like meeting your heroes, you’re only going to end up feeling disappointed and wondering why the hell you devoted so much of your time and attention on something that you have now discovered is so shit.

Oh, and for the record, if all this means I’m slowly turning into my Dad – then I’m very happy about that – because he was a brilliant man and if I’m half the father to my son as he was to me, he’s a very lucky kid indeed.

And with that bit of sentimentality – plus the news there will be no more blog posts till Friday because I’m currently on a plane to the good ol’ U S of A – I wish you all a good week.