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

New Is Always Resisted …


3 letters that can inspire all manner of emotions in people.

When it is associated with something you already like, you tend to be happy … excited even.

However, when it is associated with a fundamental change to what you already know and/or do … then the general response is skepticism or outright distain.

I recently did a presentation to a client of ours about the need to do 3 fundamental things when looking to push into new territories.

1. Remember society knows what they want, they just don’t know how to articulate it.*

2. Make your UX as intuitive as possible so people can move from the present day to modernity without feeling insecure.

3. Prepare to ride waves of criticism.

There were two big reasons I wanted to remind my client of this.

One is that I recently read an interview with a tech journalist who said his biggest challenge was not to review brand new technology as if it was fully developed technology. He has to remember his view should be about potential, not realisation.

The second was this …

Interesting eh?

I don’t know when that article was written.

To be honest, I’m not even sure that article is real … but given the name of the ‘journalist’, the visual design and sarcastic ‘riddle of email’ that is placed at the bottom of the piece, it does seem the sort of shit The Sun newspaper would have peddled.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate how mad ‘the internet’ and ’email’ must have sounded back then – mainly because I was living through it – however, instead of having the distain of The Sun, I distinctly remember how excited I was about what I was hearing.

Maybe that was because of my age.

Maybe that was because of my love of gadget tech.

Maybe that was because I was seeing science-fiction becoming reality.

Whatever the reason, it served as an important reminder to me to listen before I dismiss.

Of course, there’s lots of new things that turn out to be a pile of shite … and sometimes that is because they are literally, a pile of shite … however societies skepticism to ‘new’ plays a huge role in whether things take off or not [acknowledging there’s a whole host of other elements] which is why the next time someone offers up something that challenges your tradition, think about what they’re trying to solve before you judge how they’re doing it … and who knows, maybe adland can be part of something new rather than packaging up someone else’s new.

* I say this because people constantly quote Henry Ford’s “If I asked people what they wanted, they’d say a faster horse” … and yet, if they had said that, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what they’re saying is they want to get from point A to point B faster than the current modes of transport available to them. In other words, they were giving big clues to what they wanted without even realising it.

Anti Positioning Is Enticing …


That thing that planners, marketers and advertising in general spends eons going on about.

Of course I understand why … having a clear and concise territory that you play in helps society associate you with a role/purpose that, hopefully, will pay dividends in the long run.

Now the thing with positioning is it’s as much about sacrificing what you’re not going to be as it is defining what you are.

As much about who you’re not going to appeal to as who you will.

For the last 25 years, I’ve been a massive advocate of that until I saw this …

The photo – and quote – comes from a band called Illust8ors.

I don’t really care if you’ve never heard of them, but that reference is amazing.

Rage Against The Machine and Maroon 5.

Two bands that should never, ever be in the same sentence and yet – despite all you would think – it makes me want to check them out rather than shut the door on them.

Who knows if they mean what they said.

Who knows if their music is like Rage Against Maroon 5.

But I will soon … because while some may say they’ve positioned themselves broad, they’ve achieved exactly what a great positioning does … pull people in.

Life Works In Mysterious Ways …
October 18, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Culture, Documentary, Film

So I recently watched the above documentary.

I bought it because quite frankly, there premise was utterly amazing.

Amputee, John Wood, finds himself in a battle to reclaim his mummified leg from entrepreneur Shannon Whisnant, who found it in a grill that he bought at an auction.

No, it’s not a pisstake, it’s utterly real.

But what follows is an amazing story that deals with issues of love, loss and the quest for meaning in your life.

It’s utterly brilliant and if you can find it, I cannot recommend watching it enough … because apart from it being an amazing story, it is a wonderful reminder of what my parents drummed into me – everyone has a story.

Here’s the trailer …

For The Perfect TV Dinner You Need The Perfect TV Dinner Pan …

As I’ve written many time before, society is going through an ‘immediate gratification’ phase.

Whether it’s turning to the internet or food delivery services or credit cards … we all want what we want NOW.

Doesn’t matter about the implications or the accuracy, we don’t want to wait for anything. Ever.

I say all this because yesterday, I received this in my mailbox …

Yep, it’s a TV dinner frying pan from a company called Amazing Pan.

To be honest, the name Amazing Pan is a bit of a stretch given all they’ve done is compartmentalise a normal frying pan so you can shove a bunch of different foods in it … but given I’ve never seen one of these before, maybe I’m being a bit harsh on their ingenuity.

OK, on the plus side it’s a product that is still encouraging people to actually do something rather than hand it to them on a plate [though, in a weird way, they’re also doing that as well] but who the hell needs a product like this:?

Seriously, how hard is it to use a few extra pots and pans?

What next … a tooth brush that doubles as a toilet brush?

Actually that already exists, or at least it did when I decided to teach my awful housemate when I lived in Wollongong, Australia.

Yes, I know I’m going to hell, but I work in adland so that was always guaranteed anyway.

Think Impossible …
October 14, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

So this post came about because as part of The Kennedys, we spend the last Friday of the month watching a film.

The first one we watched was a Japanese animation movie called Paprika … and when I asked Juni – my partner in crime and film expert – why she chose it, she said the thing she loves about animation is the fact anything is possible.

I liked that sentiment … and it led to me telling them a story about a British TV presenter called Brian Cant.

Brian was one of the hosts of a children’s show called ‘PlaySchool’.

[Not to be mistaken with this one]

Anyway, there is a famous story that when he auditioned for the show, he was asked by the director to pretend he was rowing in a boat.

So Brian sat on the floor and pretended to be rowing before he suddenly stopped and cast an imaginary fishing line.

“What are you doing?” asked the director.

But Brian ignored him because he was now pretending he had caught something.

Everyone watched as he acted like he was struggling trying to reel in his imaginary ‘catch’.

Bit by bit, he stood up before finally – and with an over exaggerated fall backwards – he sat back on the floor with a look of contentment on his face.

“What are you doing?” asked the director again.

But Brian ignored him a second time because he was inspecting what he had found and in his lovely voice he proclaimed …

“I’ve caught a wellington boot” … and then he proceeded to tip it out over the side of the boat and went,

“Urgh … it’s full of custard”.

The director had enough and told him to stop.

“Why would you find a wellington boot, let alone a wellington boot full of custard in the sea?” he asked.

To which Brian said, “Because in a child’s imagination, you can”.

Of course the director realised he’d been thinking like an adult so Brian immediately got the job and ended up being the longest serving [and my favourite] presenter throughout the show’s incredible 24 year run.

So what is the point I’m making …

If you’ve watched the video above, you’ll know kids think in ways we don’t.

And while some of their ideas are mental, some have the power to trigger stuff we might never have considered without their spark.

I think the same is true of animation.

It lets things happen that normally can’t happen, but the other way of looking at it is it opens up possibilities that may create new possibilities.

I know I sound like a mental, but I’ve previously written about finding inspiration from unexpected sources and the more I think about it … and the more I hear the same people being celebrated week after week … the more I think we all need to look in new places.

Of course I’m not saying the people of our industry who inspire our industry are bad – or wrong – but seriously, when was the last time we had someone new that really came through?

Think about it?

Either our industry is stopping them have a platform or there aren’t nearly as many as we should be demanding, let alone expecting.

So with that I leave you with this, next time you have a problem that you are trying to work out, forget thinking in the real world, think in imagination and see where it takes you.

China For People Who Don’t Want To Be In China …
October 13, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, China, Comment, Culture

I don’t know why he sent it to me, but the occasionally nice John Dodds sent me this video.

I must admit, I kinda hate it.

I get China can be daunting.

I get it is a frantic, confronting and complex place with many ‘ways’ that are totally opposite to what Westerners are used to … but I also think that is why the best way to experience the place is to just go with it and see where it takes you.

The people are incredibly kind and helpful.

Sure some will look at you in a weird way.

Sure many won’t be able to understand a single word you say.

But if you’re open to them, they will be incredibly open – and kind – to you.

Oh, and at 4 minutes 19 seconds, if you look to the right – at the white block of apartments – you are near my place. Except it’s behind those buildings and you enter it from a totally different location so there is literally no point for me to mention this. But since when has that ever stopped me.

OK, I’ll go now …

This message was brought to you by the ‘Please Renew Rob’s China Visa’ department.

If You Want To Feel Really Old …
October 12, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Attitude & Aptitude, Culture, Film, Happiness, History, Music

… read the first 2 lines of this article on the 25th anniversary of the brilliant movie, The Commitments.

Scary eh! Almost as scary as the fact The Commitments is 25 years old.


Then I remember how good that movie is and realise there won’t be many films made today that I’ll want to see in 25 years time, which helps me feel a teensy bit better about being an old fart. Which is handy, because on top of the first 2 lines of that article making me feel ancient, I’ve been spending the past few months working with Spotify and after every meeting I feel super excited and oh-so-old.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about – or just want a dose of nostalgia – cop a load of this: