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


Founders Day …
April 30, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Founders Day

So today, at Wieden Shanghai, it’s founders day.

Founders Day is a day that celebrates the beginning of Wieden+Kennedy.

The actual day is supposed to be April 1st – the perfect day to start this company – but as this is China, we’re a bit late.

It’s a day to remember why we’re here. What we do. What is expected of us.

It’s also a day to go a little bit ridiculous.

OK, a lot ridiculous.

Anyway, today is our 10th anniversary in China.

Ten years.

A huge amount has happened over that time.

A huge amount of work has been created.

A huge variety of clients have been in the building.

A huge amount of talented people have worked here. [And me]

And while many said we would only survive a year before running away with our tail between our legs, we’re still here … still doing interesting things … still not conforming to the stereotype of advertising.

Now it is fair to say that China and Wieden are not natural bedfellows.

One believes money can change the World whereas the other believes creativity can change the World.

And without doubt, there have been tough times and challenging times over the years … but it just means things are even sweeter when you create something that makes a difference for client, culture and creativity.

So for that and that alone, today is a day worth celebrating.

Especially as it will annoy the hell out of the haters.

Happy Founders Day.

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If You Have Nothing To Say, Just Sell An Attitude …
April 29, 2015, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment, Crap Campaigns In History, Fake Attitude

I am fed up of ads that are trying to represent an attitude without any justification for it.

Car companies are especially bad at doing this.

They spend millions of dollars trying and make their bland piece of metal look interesting by spouting attitudinal clap-trap that means absolutely nothing.

While I appreciate no one wants to be inauthentic, this sort of bollocks is the embodiment of it.

However I recently saw something that took fake attitude to a whole new level of rubbish. Have a look at this:

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Seriously, who says things like “exhilarating fashion and movement is always with me”?

Actually no, there’s another – more important question – what the hell does it even mean???

To make matters worse, it’s not even a celebrity saying that shit, it’s some invented character – designed to personify the image and attitude of the audience Ricoh are trying to attract.

Some points …

1. Even if a celebrity did say that, it would be bollocks.
2. Given someone made this statement up, it means it’s super, sad bollocks.
3. This tells us more about the client than it does the audience they’re trying to attract.

And don’t even get me started on how confusing it is to have an ad for Ricoh featuring a camera by Pentax. I know they’re the same company, but it looks schizophrenic. No, scrub that, it looks stupid.

Look I know the role of marketing is to ‘market an image’, but if you do it without any element of truth influencing your brand you just end up undermining your value and your potential … because as much as society don’t give a shit about advertising, they give a shit about not looking stupid and this sort of superficial, contrived nonsense won’t fool anybody.

Or at least I hope it won’t.

But maybe I’ve got it wrong.

Maybe they knew exactly what they were doing.

Maybe they realised that was little point trying to position themselves as premium and aspirational when every other brand tries to do the same and instead, chose to target a difference audience segment altogether.

It certainly would explain how they ended up with this car crash of an ad though if that is the case, then I’d suggest they update their endline to be more representative of their strategy.

Ricoh: for the delusional, confused, stupid and gullible.



Everything Wrong With Advertising In A Single Ad …
April 28, 2015, 6:25 am
Filed under: Crap Campaigns In History

I literally don’t know where to start.

It might be the most perfect bad ad ever created. EVER CREATED.

What am I talking about? This.

Yes, I know it’s a social media post, but it’s still an ad.

Something – let us not forget – that is supposedly created to help cultivate or encourage a commercially beneficially change of attitude or behaviour with a specific audience for a specific brand.

Through that lens, let’s look at that ad again.

Seriously, is there a single thing OK with it?

The headline is shit.

The premise of the headline is shit.

The language used in the headline is shit.

The picture is shit.

The ‘call to action’ of NEW PHONE. OWN IT. is shit.

The contrived ‘yoof’ tone when it’s so obviously coming from a uber-corporate company is shit.

Actually, ‘shit’ is the wrong word. It’s stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I absolutely hate every single thing about this piece of communication.

For me, it is pollution … pure and simple.

If anything, it has the absolute opposite effect Telstra would want from it.

It doesn’t make me want to buy a new phone.

It doesn’t make me want to buy a new phone from them.

It makes me not want anything to do with TELSTRA.

Triple whammy!

I know in the 50’s, the approach to marketing was ‘find ways to give your audience new news’ but apart from that being a different time in terms of consumerism, it was also a different time in terms of ability to engage with your audience.

In a World where the ability to connect and engage with an audience is almost constant, brands need to understand the secret to building some sort of audience value is knowing when to use that right as opposed to trying to brainwash them with meaningless shit like this.

For the record, that right should only be executed when you have something to say that directly addresses what people want to know/hear/learn from you … as opposed to what you want them to know/hear/learn from you.

Of course the reason this sort of rubbish happens is because there’s still a ton of brands out there who think social media is brilliant because it lets them ‘push’ all their marketing out to the World for free.

For them, effectiveness is not about ‘return’, it’s about hypothetical value which they will say is calculated by financial outlay, divided by potential audience size … which is handy, because this sort of work is going to achieve them absolute zero return.

Which is why I bet TELSTRA did this themselves.

At least I hope they did … because if an ad agency was behind it, then they need to go kill themselves immediately.



Winston Churchill Gives Planners One Of The Best Bits Of Advice They Will Ever Get …
April 27, 2015, 6:25 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment, Planning

Remember, it doesn’t matter how clever you say your strategy is, if you don’t have anything to measure it against. And you certainly can’t say it was smart if you are unable to fundamentally – and independently – demonstrate how it advanced the commercial needs of your clients business. Just a reminder before you enter all those effectiveness awards and try and claim ‘increasing likes’ is proof of strategic success.


I feel so much better now. Thank you.



How Keira Knightly Helped Me Remember What I Love About Planning …
April 24, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

I love Keira Knightly.

Love her.

She’s talented, gorgeous, funny and … OK, she’s just bloody gorgeous.

But she is also smart because she said this …

Now I know what you’re thinking, I only like it because she said it, but that’s not true.

Sure, I am also an atheist and yes … one of the things that bugs me about many religious people is how they view anyone who doesn’t believe in God as basically living a hedonistic lifestyle with no social conscience or regret … but the reason I like it is because it makes you think.

As Keira states, people who don’t believe in God are arguably more likely to live a honourable life because they know they can’t simply say “I’m sorry” and the slate is wiped clean, they have to live with the consequences of their actions.

And while many religious people may dismiss that opinion out of hand [with many probably refusing to give an explanation] it’s the fact she raises a point that challenges convention – while still being relevant to that convention – that I find so wonderful.

For me, that’s what planning is about.

It’s about asking questions that can be turned into infectious ideas that make people think and reconsider.

That doesn’t mean you are being disrespectful … in fact, I’d argue it’s the absolute opposite, because by spending time thinking about something and then asking questions about it, it shows you have a willingness to know or understand more, which – at least for me – is the very definition of respect.

But many don’t see it that way.

They see it as destructive … rebellious … disrespectful.

Of course, how you conduct yourself is key to how others view your motives … but it’s this ability to find perspectives that make people look at things they’ve taken for granted in new ways, that still genuinely excites me.

This is not the same as ‘disruption’.

It used to be, but disruption – at least in modern advertising terms – has become about shock or irrelevance.

No, what I’m talking about is the ability to shine a light of consideration on something that demands to be seen, heard, considered and discussed.

And that’s why I love planning because when it’s done right, it acts as the ignition to infectious creativity, powerful commerce and engaged culture.

We live in times where brands want to spoon-feed.

Where the thought of asking an audience to ‘think’ is seen as a negative.

When did that bullshit attitude begin?

An audience that thinks is an audience that cares.

An audience that cares is an audience that is valuable.

An audience that is valuable is an audience that changes your future.

Making people think and reconsider isn’t bad, it’s a sign you’re worth giving a shit about.

So thank you Keira, you reminded me what I love about my job and for that, I love you a little bit more – but don’t worry, it still doesn’t qualify as stalker standards. Yet.



You Know You’ve Made It When …
April 23, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’ve been doing this planning lark for a long time.

And while it is very un-British of me to say, I think I am pretty good at it.

Not as good as some … like the people I know who have never been planners before and yet suddenly get a job in an agency as the head of the department, but good all the same.

While I’ve had my fair share of accolades over the years, I recently saw something on Linkedin that made me think, “I’ve made it”.

Can you see what it is?

It’s that thing on the far right hand side of the page.

The one with the headline, ‘Are You A Head of Planning?’

This might help:

Yes, I know I’ve had my fair share of weird experiences with Linkedin in the past, and I also know that the brain tends to dismiss reality when it is being complimented, but I’m a head of planning so it must be targeted at me, which means I – little ol’ Rob Campbell from Nottingham – has the chance to be in the ‘Who’s Who’ book of Bristol.

Yes, Bristol.

Fucking Bristol.

Putting aside the fact the Who’s Who is a massive money making con and the only people who go in it are ego-maniacs with low self-esteem, who the hell would want to be in the Bristol edition except for someone who lives in Bristol?

Even then, who from Bristol would want to be in a book featuring countless other ego-maniac/low self-esteem individuals who all have weird accents and evaluate ‘success’ by how many times they’ve crossed over the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the last month.

Look, my ego could put Bono to shame and my low self-esteem would keep a psychiatrist in business for decades, but even I wouldn’t want to be in this. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t want to be in the Nottingham edition either [though I might give it 0.2 seconds more consideration than I gave this] … which basically highlights 3 problems with digital :

1. Digital marketing is not as precise as many like to claim.

[Yes, it’s better than most of the ‘old approaches’, but it’s still got a shitload of flaws in it, of which one is that we now have so much quality data available to us, it has become harder to distinguish between what can give us answers and what will throw us off the scent]

2. Big Data should be renamed Broad Data.

3. Linkedin really do hate me.



Millennial Mental …
April 22, 2015, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment, Millennial

So Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a feature where they analyse the clothes of various people in business.

However in all honesty, I think the real criteria for appearing in the section is your ability to spout a load of pretentious bollocks that makes you look more like a dick than a fashionista.

I’ve written about this before however I recently saw a guy whose mutterings just screwed with my brain.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls … let me introduce you Pierce Thompson, a 25 year old brand strategist in NYC.

I know I don’t know Pierce.

I know this is massively immature of me to call him out like this.

I know I am the last person on the planet who should talk about fashion but …

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

He’s 25 for fucks sake.

TWENTY FIVE … why the hell is he sounding like a pretentious 40 year old?

Seriously, his comment about ‘what inspired him today’ could be a line from ‘The Office’.

And don’t get me started about the whole ‘high pant leg’ thing.

Look, I know this is childish. I know his comments could well have been played with by the magazine editors and I genuinely do think it’s cool to have a massive passion … but I’d love to ask him, as a brand strategist, what he thinks this interview has done for his brand.

Hey, maybe – probably – I’m totally wrong.

I’m a 44 year old man, who has the dress sense of a 13 year old and has never sounded professional in my life … however I hope when my son is 25, he is living, experiencing and exploring life rather than sounding, acting and living the lifestyle of a 40 year old middle manager at a multinational corporation.

Look, I know times are different to when I was Pierce’s age.

I know professionalism is something to be respected and embraced rather than rejected and ridiculed.

And I know that to stand any chance of earning a decent salary at some point in your life, you have to start your career early and try to stick with a particular industry.

But still, he’s 25 … why isn’t he doing stuff that he’ll regret when he’s older?

Or maybe he is. Ha.

Of course, now I have gone on that little tirade, it means my son will most definitely follow Pierce’s lead just to piss me off.

But hey, there’s worse kinds of rebellion, just ask my parents.