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

As Today Is Supposedly The Day Everything Scary Comes Out …
October 31, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Bank Ads, Comment, Crap Campaigns In History

… have a look at this.

Yes, it’s a bank trying to sound supportive and inspirational.

Actually, it’s not just a bank … it’s Citibank, the company who has been bathed in all manner of scandals from wrongful selling of financial products to the wrongful use of their customers cash and countless things in-between.

If you can’t read the copy properly [which in some ways, you should be grateful for], here it is in all it’s patronising, contrived horror-story glory …

If they were being honest, they would add the following at the bottom of all that fawning praise for the next generations potential:

“… and Citibank will turn down your dreams for helping the World with cures for illness or opportunities for technology because we only help the big boys unless you are willing for us to weigh you down with so much debt that you’d have to turn into the next Google to stand a chance of actually making your dream a commercial reality.”

Though now I come to think about it, the next generation won’t even get a chance to be turned down for a loan, because Citibank will have burdened their family with such high mortgage and credit card debt, they won’t be able to be sent to a school or university that can help them nurture their dreams, ambitions and hopes for a better, happier future.

I find it fascinating that banks – after all the widely acknowledged shit they have done and caused – continue with this head-in-the-sand approach to marketing.

If Citibank were as clean-as-a-whistle, I’d get it [though they should be telling people that rather than some meaningless, bland corporate-talk beigeness] but they’re not and they’d stand far more chance in getting people to believe them if they followed what I call the 8 Mile strategy and took on all the stuff people could say about them, to rob them of the power that they have over them.

But sadly the financial industry don’t admit failure or fault. They have been told by their highly paid lawyers, it’s better to stick it out, regardless of the anger it causes, than try to put the past right and face paying out money.

And that is why I hate banks.

I shouldn’t hate banks. What they do – in theory – is a wonderful thing … but those days are long past, which is why society has to put up with this sort of marketing bollocks that does more to alienate than attract. But they don’t care, because it’s to keep them in the delusional bubble they reside in which is why the only good thing I can say to Citibank about this campaign, is that at least they’re not HSBC.

Bank advertising. The scariest thing you’ll see this halloween.

Why Doesn’t The Daily Mail Just Call Themselves Buzzfeed And Be Done With It?
October 30, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

The Daily Mail.

A newspaper that celebrates quality, balanced journalism.

A newspaper focused – and committed – to report on the issues that matter for their readers.

Or so they claim.

OK, so I admit they have broken some major stories in their time.

Stories that needed to be told but required major investigative journalism to be revealed.

Which makes it all the more sad they also have told stories like this – possibly the most pointless news story of all time.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a journalist there.

A journalist that actually studied the craft rather than got where they are because they posted some weird shit online a few times.

They must feel similar to someone who studied robotic engineering for 10 years in a bid to one day work at NASA and explore the Universe only to end up in the R&D department of a consumer products company where they spend their days creating crappy pretend-robot toys that are bought by 40+, sad bastard, men.

Like me.

But I digress.

So a while back – for reasons unknown – the powers-that-be at the Daily Mail decided to show the World they could scrape the barrel of news journalism to a whole new level. Or should I say depth.

For a couple of weeks – amongst all the stories of the Kardashian’s or the prejudiced bullshit they like to propagate – they ran some stories about people or animals that looked like people or animals from cartoons, regardless of the fact that:

1. They didn’t.
2. Who the fuck cares.

In all honesty, can anyone tell me who would give a damn about this or this?

OK, maybe 5 year olds … but seriously, what the hell were they thinking?

Fortunately they seemed to stop, no doubt acknowledging the damage it was doing to their credibility, let alone internal morale … and then, just when you thought sanity had prevailed, they put out this.

Yes, a cat who they say resemble Tom Selleck from his Magnum PI days … a TV show that stopped in 1988.


At a push, I could just about see why putting Disney look-a-likes in the paper could work … maybe a Mum or Dad would show it their kid in a bid to get them interested in the news [OK, I know that’s bollocks, but I’m trying] … but to put a picture of a cat that looks NOTHING like a television actor who last appeared in a show almost THREE DECADES ago, is insane.


Daily Mail, just admit you don’t give a damn about news.

Go on, do it.

Your goal is to be an ad revenue hub, where you role is to get as many audience numbers – regardless how superficial – as you can so you can sell them to brands and media agencies who claim to seek efficient, targeted, relevant and resonant channels for communication, but would sell their grandmothers lung for 10% more audience reach.

I appreciate publishing is in a terrible position.

I appreciate you have thousands of people in your employment that need a monthly salary.

I’m not knocking any of that.

But do you honestly think you can ever do a serious story again now the population of the planet views you – especially your online offering – as as the British equivalent of Buzzfeed?

Maybe the powers-that-be should have refered to Newton’s 3rd law before undertaking this ‘downmarket strategy’ … for every action there’s a reaction.

But maybe the powers-that-be only care about what happens while they’re there, because – like many brand managers and politicians – they know once they leave in a couple of years, it will be somebody else’s problem.

An Ad That Made Me Pay Attention …
October 29, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: seminar ads

So I was on a plane recently, flicking through the in-flight magazine, when I came across this:

And I have to say I liked it.

Not just because of the [very true] provocative statement, but because it was clean, simple and centred around a clear idea which meant it stood out from the countless other ads in the magazine.

What’s even more impressive is that the company behind it, Karrass, are a seminar company.

Sure, they say they are a negotiation training company … but they do it through seminars, so for sake of argument, I’ll leave it at that.

Now normally, seminar ads – whether they help train your negotiation skills or your money management – are more likely to cause an epileptic attack rather than an appreciative stare.

They cram every inch of their ad with impressive quotes from various media or previous attendees or push the ‘ticket hotline’ more than a dealer pushes crack.

In other words, like this:

So well done to Karrass, not only did you use creativity to differentiate yourselves from the competition and the countless other communication that was thrust in my face, you also proved your credentials by negotiating with my brain so that it would give a shit about your company which is more than 95% of the stuff out there manages to achieve.

School Results …
October 28, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So yesterday I posed a question.

The question was, In a short and succinct manner, please provide an example of a risk.

Of course most of you ignored me … or insulted me … but some of you responded and to you I’m grateful.

Oh, and congratulations to Andy who demonstrated he still has the mental age of a teenager by being the closest to the ‘best answer’ … acknowledging ‘best answer’ is highly ambiguous and it really means just being similar to the answer the 15 year old student responded with – which is below.

As I mentioned yesterday, this all stemmed from an article I read about school exam questions and the reason I asked that specific question is because I saw how one student answered it and I thought it was evil genius.


And what’s better is the teacher gave the credit – which is doubly impressive.

For the record, I wouldn’t have answered it that way and that’s why this kids response made me remember that in an industry where we continually try to add layers of drama and flair to everything we do, sometimes, the most creative response to a problem is the most practical.

Of course, you can only do that if you truly understand the problem and the objective, but if you do, you can be utterly mischievous, creative and effective all at the same time.

A Little Test …
October 27, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So I recently read about school exam questions.

I was crap at exams so I found them both interesting and intimidating.

That said, one question in particular stood out, so I thought I would see – if any of you can be arsed – what your response would be to it so that I can compare it to what I would have said and what students have said.

There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s a stupid little test so that I can compare how you would respond with kids of 15. And me.

So if you are so way inclined, could you please answer this question in the comments below:

In a short and succinct manner, please provide an example of a risk.

That’s it, I’ll put up what I said and what student said tomorrow.


Why Period Pain Is Made Worse By Advertising …
October 24, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

A while back I wrote a post about a company that was trying to remove the taboo regarding periods.

In the post, I questioned whether it was going to achieve it’s goal because having spent quite a long time working in this category, the information and insights gained from hundreds of interviews, seemed to fly in the face of what they were doing.

Well recently I saw something that makes them look like they were respectful and resonant because there’s a campaign that, in all honesty, is one of the most stupid things I’ve ever seen.

Have a look at this:


Did you click on it?

Seriously, you have to.

Here’s the link again for the people who are too lazy to scroll up.

Seen it?

No, your eyes didn’t deceive you, it really is an app to allow girls on their period to ‘share their moment’ with their friends.

What the hell were they thinking?

The justification for this campaign was explained as this:

“Pads are something all women buy, but not something they usually take out and play with. Nobody in the segment was using mobile to engage with consumers, and we saw a unique opportunity to reach out and establish a more intimate connection”.



Let’s look at that statement for a second.

On one level the spokesperson is saying that because no one had done it before, that was all the justification they needed to do it.

Errrrrm, did they not consider that there may be a reason no one has done it before?

Maybe the reason is young women don’t want to broadcast their period to the wider World.


Then there’s the brilliant comment that this idea helps the brand reach out and establish a more intimate connection with their user base.


You’ve made an app that lets girls tell the World they’re on their period.

Even the most open, confident women doesn’t want to do that and in China, there is a whole world of complex cultural issues that make many women – and young girls – fear their period, not want to promote it. Even if they can do it via one of their beloved cutesy emoticon stickers.

Unsurprisingly, a man was behind all those quotes.

Oh but hang on Rob, the press release talks about the great results they had.

“Since the campaign launched in August, the app has been downloaded 280,000 times. Those who downloaded it, have used it more than 10 times. Meanwhile, the number of online brand mentions jumped 21% to 5.74 million after the app launched.”

Again, a couple of things.

While many in adland would state that those “results” are very favourable, there are two points that need to act as filters.

1. China has approximately 690,000,000 women … which means 280,000 downloads is incredibly small.

2. Brand mentions is an incredibly ambigious metric given this would classify as one and it’s hardly complimentary.

Without doubt, there are issues and taboos that advertising can help remove – and where periods are concerned, there’s a whole host of issues and taboos that need dealing with – however, as this campaign shows, the sad truth is that the real reason adland says they are keen to take on these issues is because they see the chance to make some self-serving, cheap-publicity, award-gaining bullshit.

In other words, they don’t really give a shit about the issue, just the industry applause.

And what gets me more is that according to the credits, not 1 … not 2 … but 3 planners were involved in this.


What the hell?

I can’t wait for the next stage of the campaign, it’s probably going to be a special edition of China Idol where all the contestants are on their period.

Seriously, periods are a massive issue and while I absolutely agree that to change attitudes and opinion, you have to take the issue head-on – and this issue, especially in China, desperately needs dealing with – but that doesn’t mean you just blindly go into something just because it hasn’t been done before or is the absolute-opposite of the cultural convention.

That said, the agency behind this has done a bunch of good, good work over the years. This, however, isn’t one of them.

So to the people behind it, my advice is not to enter this into any awards, because if you do … you’d better hope I’m not on the jury.

Introducing The Steve McClaren Of Advertising?
October 23, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

If you can be arsed, I’d love you to watch a video.

I know it’s long, but it’s absolutely, unequivocally, categorically worth listening to.

However, if you haven’t got the time to watch it all, please … please … please watch from 28 minutes 30 seconds to 32 minutes.

I’m not going to say a thing about it, I simply offer it up to you so that I can hear your viewpoint on how a senior member of the advertising community is promoting our role, purpose and attitude to the wider World.

To avoid any confusion, I don’t want any comments about Saatchi or the work shown in the presentation [which, for the record is generally good], I am just interested to hear what you think about what Mr Roberts says and how he says it … acknowledging it’s always difficult to present to people where your native language is not their native language

That said, after I watched it, I couldn’t help being reminded of this, hence the title of the post.