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


In China, Clarity Is King …
March 31, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, China, Chinese Culture, Comment, Culture, Insight, Marketing

I love this country.

It has it’s quirks, but doesn’t everywhere?

In terms of the industry I work in, it’s a place that has a bunch of unique challenges.

One of them is that the ad business is still relatively new here while another is that commercially, the rules of marketing are quite different to those in the West.

That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just different.

Now if I was to explain what these differences were in very simplistic terms, I would say that the reason so much communication is either straight to the point is …

+ Make sure you get everything you can today. Tomorrow can wait till tomorrow.

+ Stick with what has worked in the past. Different means inviting risk to the outcome.

+ The execution is the idea.

+ Spoon feed your message to the audience. Leave nothing to chance or interpretation.

+ Doing what the boss wants or expects ensures job security.

As I said, I am being very generalistic and not everyone has followed this path … but the fact of the matter is this approach has paid huge dividends for many companies throughout the country, however I still believe the key reason for this is down to 2 things:

1. China’s rapid economic growth meant people were looking for places and ways to spend.

2. The ad industry looked to fill their pockets, rather than educate for the future.

Given the countries economy is slowing down [albeit at a rate most Western nations would kill for] it will be interesting to see how this manifests itself in terms of marketing, communication and consumer behaviour.

Will brands start to look longer term rather than short?

Will companies start to look for ways for leading rather than following?

Will marketers want to interact with their audience rather than just speak at them?

Will more of society choose brands based on values rather than perceived status?

Will the shift from ‘what you have’ to ‘how you live’ permeate the whole of the country?

I honestly don’t know – especially as there are many parts of China still experiencing rapid changes to their standard of living – but what I am pretty sure of is something will happen because contrary to popular belief, there is no one who understands the value and perception of brands like the Chinese and if there is less money to go round, they’ll make sure they spend it on the things that have sustainable value, not just superficial status.

Which means we could be entering an exciting time in China’s marketing evolution.

Or just more of the same.



Beauty Is Brick Deep …
March 30, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Cunning, Design, Insight

So I was passing down a street in Shanghai recently when I saw this building …

Now you might not think there is anything striking about it – and you’re probably right – however those wooden strips that are covering the facade are new and have somehow managed to turn a pretty average looking building into something a bit more interesting.

I don’t know how much that update cost, but I bet it will more than pay for itself thanks to some easily impressed foreigner being happy to pay a higher rent for an apartment in there.

This is a classic mistake of a new expat.

They look at a building and see something that looks new and modern and so hand over masses of cash expecting everything to work smoothly.

Or should I say, everything to work as they had wherever they lived before.

But the thing is, while the apartment or building may have been updated, the infrastructure providing the utilities probably won’t have been [and even if they have, it will only be in the building and not the whole street] so soon they’ll soon find themselves living in an expensive and beautiful home that is riddled with problems because they failed to remember the rule ‘beauty is only skin deep’.

Or where apartments are concerned, brick deep.

But hey, with millions of people falling for ads that are all image, no substance, I guess we shouldn’t be too hard on the gullibility of your ‘fresh off the boat’ expat.



Just Shut It …

First of all I don’t know if this is true.

I’ve enquired, but I’ve not had a definitive answer yet.

I hope to god it is though.

Not just because Kanye West does my bloody head in … not just because NIKE are my client and pay my mortgage … but because in a World where brands fold at the merest hint they’ve upset someone with something they’ve said/done, it’s a welcome relief to see one stand up for themselves, regardless of the implication.

So Kanye and NIKE have some history.

It culminated with Kanye going to work with Adidas and despite the fact he’s done very well out of that collaboration, he never misses a chance to act like a spoilt child towards NIKE.

Recently, at the ridiculous launch party of his new album he [allegedly] tweeted this:

Minutes later, it is alleged NIKE responded with this:

Now some people would say NIKE should have kept quiet.

That opening their mouth took them didn’t just take them down to Kanye’s level, but potentially alienated millions of people.

But I have a very different point of view.

I think it’s awesome they defended themselves.

I think the way they [allegedly] did it was bloody wonderful.

Sure, some may see it as petty, but I see it as cheeky and mischievous and as I’ve written before, I think those traits are incredibly undervalued by brands in terms of their commercial appeal and value.

And I think it’s as likely to attract millions of people rather than alienate.

Hell, if I didn’t wear Birkenstocks, I’d have rushed out and bought a whole bunch of NIKE’s stuff to congratulate them on such an epic smackdown.

But I also know if I did that I may harm the companies reputation far more than some childish chants by Mr Kardashian.

So well done NIKE, I am just praying it wasn’t some [early] April Fools joke.



Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad …
March 28, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Mum & Dad

Today would have been my parents 52nd wedding anniversary.

I miss them.

I miss them so much.

I especially miss seeing them interact with each other.

I’ve almost forgotten what it was like – except for a few moments burned into my memory, more to do with when my Dad had his stroke than when they were both well – but I remember the laughter they filled the house with every day and to be honest, that’s a great memory to have.

If I was a religious person, I could say that they are at least together again.

But sadly I don’t … however if you’ll excuse a moment of hypocrisy [and yes Dad, I can see you rolling your eyes], I’m going to still hope they are.

Happy anniversary Mum and Dad, my World is emptier without you in it.

Rx

Comments Off on Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad …


When Clarity Leaves You Conflicted …
March 25, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Communication Strategy

Yes I’m back … aren’t you glad?

As I mentioned on Monday’s post, I’ve been in Singapore for the last few days and while I was there for work – well, judging the global Effies which I would imagine no one who reads this post regards as work, it was nice to be walk around the old haunts.

Sure, hardly anyone I knew there is still now and yes, there was still that feeling of being a stranger in my home town – even though it’s not my home town and I only lived there for 4 years – but I have a special place in my heart for the city state and it was good to see it again.

But I’m not going to talk about that.

Nor am I going to talk about the standard of entry I judged.

Nope … I’m going to talk about this:

It’s an ad for a laundry near my house.

When I saw the poster, I have to admit it stopped me in my tracks.

That’s a good thing isn’t it?

Hmmmmmmn … I’m not so sure.

You see while I get exactly what the poster is trying to communicate and I appreciate the cheekiness of how they did it … I can’t help but feel it’s a bit shit.

I don’t know if showing an innocent dog having its creases removed by a boiling hot iron really makes me feel good about the company it represents.

Of course I know they didn’t really do that and I also know you could easily argue that no one wants an ’emotional bond’ with their laundrette – they just want someone who will and iron their clothes effectively – but this poster bothers me because implied animal cruelty aside, I can’t help but feel it’s lazy rather than right.

If I worked for TBWA I would say it as a great example of ‘disruption’ … but I don’t and as I’ve said many times, disruption is easy, the real benefit for a brand is when it’s distinctive.

Or as Dan Wieden says, when a brand discovers the power of their own voice.

Maybe it’s because I’m an animal lover, maybe it’s because I’ve become a Dad or maybe it’s because I’ve lost all sense of imagination … but despite the clarity of the message, I don’t like it and I’d love to know if it’s just me or if you also have an issue with it.

And yes, I appreciate no one should think or write this much about a place that irons your bloody shirts.

Sorry.

Oh, and talking of sorry … I should warn you that after 2 weeks of temporary posts thanks to some work travel, I’ll be here all next week. What a way to ruin your weekend eh.



The Best News For Your Monday …
March 21, 2016, 5:20 am
Filed under: Comment

… is that I am away till Friday.

Yes, I know I was away last week, but you luck-in yet again!!!

However for the people of Singapore, I have the worst news for your Monday.

I’m coming to visit.

Proof that one persons positive is another persons nightmare.



Design Problem Solvers …
March 18, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Design, Innovation, Insight

After the madness of Monday, you’d think the Police would have picked me up and thrown me into a cell.

But no.

Idiots.

While normally I would take this as a sign that I can push things even further, even I accept there’s only so much anyone can take of my best friends penis [pun, most definitely not intended] so today I’m slowing the pace down and getting to something you may find interesting. Or at least more interesting than the subject matter of yesterday’s post.

I’ve written about my admiration – and occasional derision – for designers many times.

This is not purely because my wife is one, but because when they truly overcome – or solve – a problem, they do it in the most ingenious of ways.

Design helped Apple increase their brand value.

Design helped SONOS create a static logo that produces sound.

Design helped make the World laugh.

OK, this last point is taking the piss … but you get the gist of what I’m saying.

Anyway, the reason I am saying all this is because I recently saw another bit of brilliant design.

This …

Yep, stairs that have wheelchair access built right into them.

Simple, brilliant and effective.

As with many ingenious ideas, the solution seems so obvious.

As with many obvious ideas, it needs someone special to realise it.

Think sharp. Execute simple.