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


I Just Can’t …
December 22, 2016, 8:13 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, End of Year

… leave this years blog on the low point of the talking penis post.

Even I have some sort of standards.

So with that, I will leave you with the ‘Best Of 2016’ Fail Videos.

You may think these will be as low as the talking penis post … but I don’t look at it this way.

What I’m giving you is something that is much, much better.

1. You will not want to bleach your eyes after seeing it.

2. You will – if you’re a bit of a bastard, like me – laugh.

3. You can feel happy that however bad your year was, it wasn’t as bad as theirs.

And with that, I bid you an official farewell until 2017.

I really mean it this time.

Enjoy saying goodbye to 2016 … because despite some good bits, it’s not been one of the best, however I know next year will be better.

At least for me.

And I’ll bore you with the reasons for that statement in the new year.

Oh I can tell you’re just sooooooo excited. Ha.

Toodle-pip.

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I Lied …

Yes, I know I said I’d finished writing this blog for the year, but someone sent me something that has compelled me to write one more rant.

Besides, I’m in advertising … so you shouldn’t expect us to be honest.

Ahem.

Anyway, I honestly don’t know if you will consider this a Christmas gift or horror, but you will always remember it … of that, I am absolutely sure.

So remember ages ago I said that the Gerard Butler manifesto for Hugo Boss was one of the worst things ever written?

Well, it still is … but this is definitely pushing it for first place.

The only reason Gerard wins, is because I think – or should I say, I hope – the people behind this are trying to take the piss.

I must admit, I have a niggling feeling that might not be the case – I worry, they were inspired by Gerard rather than want to ridicule it – but it’s Christmas and so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt … especially because their website features a video where they definitely have a twinkle in the eye about what they’re doing.

However, if this was written in January, there’s no way I’d be so gracious and I’d be having a aneurysm explaining why this sort of thing represents the the worst of advertising … contrived self importance mixed with a large dollop of contrived shock value.

Or said another way … the strategy that got Donald Trump elected.

Seriously, there are so many other ways they could have done this.

So many ways they could have made it fun and less cringeworthy.

But no, they decided to follow the same path as that aftershave that supposedly smells of a sweaty vagina.

A path that says as much about the people behind the brand as those who will embrace it.

Anyway, have a look at what the hell I’m talking about.

It is most definitely NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK … but you have to see it.

Then try and enjoy your Christmas, wherever you are.

Or just go back to what was supposed to be my last post and pretend this never happened.



So This Is It …
December 15, 2016, 6:25 am
Filed under: End of Year

So 2016, for this blog at least, is now officially over.

As usual, thank you to everyone and anyone who came by to read, comment or insult … I can only assume you did it out of boredom, charity or pettiness.

To be honest, I kind of forget that people outside of the ‘usual suspects’ read my rubbish. I’m always quite surprised when someone I haven’t met says they read it. On one hand it feels nice, then I tend to go into a bit of a mild panic as I realise that some of the things I may have written could have insulted the person I was talking to.

It happened recently.

I was in Japan and met this planner from the US.

As we got talking he mentioned 2 things.

1. He read my blog.
2. He worked on the Toyota account.

Rather sheepishly I asked …

“Did you do that hot air balloon thing I slagged off?”

Of course he had. Then he told me he had even shown it to his boss.

Oh goodie.

Now of course I stand by what I said – it was utter pants – however, because I forget this blog isn’t some private [low-end] club but a place where anyone stupid enough to click can visit, I tend to express myself in slightly more sarcastic ways than I would in public.

And before anyone takes me up on that last comment – namely colleagues and clients – I did say ‘slightly more’, I am perfectly aware I can be a petty, little sod.

Anyway, he forgave me … though I think that’s mainly because he wanted a job at Wieden. And it worked, because he now resides in our NYC office and not just because he laid on the guilt trip. Well, not totally, ha.

Which just leaves me to say this …

I hope every single one of you has a great Christmas or whatever festive season you may or may not celebrate.

Get drunk. Have fun. Tell the people you love, that you love them.

And as for 2017, let’s hope it is interesting for all the right reasons, because regardless how the past 12 months have been for all us individually, the World needs some time for calm, togetherness and compassion.

Thank you again. Till next year …



Would You Trust Someone Who Trusts Me?
December 14, 2016, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Brand Suicide, Comment, Egovertising, Marketing Fail

So a while back I got an email from a journalist at Bloomberg Businessweek.

To be honest, I thought it was a joke, because they asked me if I’d be interested in writing an article on some of the WORST advertising that has run in the US over the past 20-30 years.

After determining it was a genuine request from a genuine journalist, I jumped at the chance.

Sure, it was going to be a tongue-in-cheek article hidden away in the back of the magazine … but who wouldn’t want to do it! Hell, I’d go as far as to say I was made to do it.

So after making sure my choices didn’t insult any existing or past client [or their competitors, so I didn’t look like a sneaky fuck] and explaining I was going to do it from the perspective of a bad idea, strategy or execution – because I wouldn’t know the actual effectiveness the work had on the business – this is what I submitted …

“Video Game” by Jack In The Box 2016 [Click here to see]

Jack In The Box ads sort-of got me wanting to work in advertising. They were irreverent, mischievous and – in their own way – very honest. The latest stuff is rather sad. They’ve lost all their personality and charm and are doing their very best to create communication that doesn’t even have the ability to leave a bad taste in my mouth. If the 20 year old version of me saw this, I’d want to become a CPA rather than enter advertising. And this is coming from someone who once got 2% in a maths exam.

“Big Game” by PayPal: Super Bowl 2015 [Click here to see]

The whole premise of this ad is that ‘Paypal is new money’. What a shame they spend the next 55 second ignoring the fact that to use their service, you have to have access to old money. You know, the stuff that will actually pay for that wi-fi selfie-toaster you think is a great idea to buy. At 3am. After drinks.

“The Portrait With Steven Tyler” by Skittles: Super Bowl 2015 [Click here to see]

I love Aerosmith. And Skittles. Or I should say I used to, until I saw this. Maybe Steven Tyler charged so much money they didn’t have enough cash left to pay for the agency to do what they do best. Or maybe Mr Tyler blew so much of his cash living the ’70’s dream’ he has to take whatever he can get to pay the bills.
That would certainly explain his appearance on American Idol.

“Shape Up With Brooke Burke” Sketchers 2011 [Click here to see]

Nothing kills a bad brand like good advertising. I can’t remember who said that, but Sketchers found out to their cost when it was discovered their ‘shape up shoes’ didn’t really shape you up unless you actually moved your legs. A lot. Doing something called, ‘exercise’.

“What Can Brown Do For You” by UPS 2002 [Click here to see]

I get it, UPS like the colour brown and they want everyone to know it. But when I think of brown, I think of 1970’s cars, dirt and [thanks to my 22 month old son] ] nappies. I don’t know if I had millions to spend I’d try to associate my brand with those unsavoury items. But then, I don’t think the ‘attempt at humour’ at the end is appropriate or funny either. Questionable strategy. Pretty bad delivery.

“Kenyan Runner” by Just For Feet: Super Bowl 1999 [Click here to see]

Some white dudes in a 4×4 seemingly chase a black runner through a barren plain. Someone drugs him. They watch him fall over. Then they lean over his body menacingly. Seriously, how did no one think this was in utterly horrific taste.

“Calvin Klein Jeans” by Calvin Klein 1990’s [Click here to see]

I honestly don’t know if these ads [which were eventually pulled] were trying to appeal to America’s youth or middle aged perverts.If the former, I’m not sure they would have been that successful. If the latter, then I am pretty certain it kept prosecution lawyers in business for a few years.

“Can’t Get A Man” Lux Soap 1940’s? [Click here to see]

I would love to meet the people who wrote this ad. And approved it. And accepted it in their publications. Actually, scrub that … I would love my wife to meet them. And Cindy Gallop. And as they both punched them hard on the nose, I’d be there cheering them along.

___________________________________________________________________

To be honest, I thought it was quite good.

As I am sure people who know me would agree, being cheeky without being too nasty is something very difficult for me, so imagine my surprise when the article came out and I saw they had done this …

Can you see it?

It’s the small bit on the bottom right hand side of the page.

Yep, not only did they tuck it away at the bottom of the article that was tucked away at the bottom of the magazine … they cut down the amount of ‘entries’ by over half and had edited the hell out of what was left as well.

And you know what … I don’t care, because while it is a jokey article tucked away in the jokey section of the magazine, my name appears in Bloomberg Businessweek and that is something I literally never thought would happen.

Sure, some may say that because last year my name appeared in some semi-serious books and I was awarded a fairly serious award, I’m on a downward spiral based on this years achievements … but in a weird way, this feels even more valuable, mainly because it isn’t an industry publication and for me, that’s ace because it’s utterly mental, hence it gets this overly long blog post.

But don’t worry, tomorrow is the last post of the whole year. Yippee!



A Kodak Moment Is Now An Embarrassing Moment …

Kodak.

A company that once was synonymous with photography that is now synonymous with failure.

There are a million stories detailing their demise, but fundamentally, it wasn’t because they couldn’t innovate [they were one of the pioneers of digital photography], they didn’t want to bring it to market because they didn’t want to kill their photographic developing business, even though that business was going to kill them if they continued with it.

But this post isn’t a bad history lesson, it’s about the new Kodak … the lean, mean, technology machine.

Have a look at this …

Yep, it’s the World’s first 360 degree action-camera with 4k picture detail.

OK, so you could say bringing out a device like this, years after GoPro blew-up the market, shows Kodak still have a habit of being late to change, but at least this time they are trying to offer a fundamentally better product than what is currently available – not to mention leveraging the 360 degree market, that seems to have come from nowhere.

But even that isn’t what this post is about.

No, what this is about is that based on this ad, Kodak still think it’s the 1980’s.

A few years ago, I wrote how one of GoPro’s strengths was how they were part of the culture they were making products for. This authenticity separated them from the countless other brands that tried to jump on the bandwagon – even when they had arguably better products.

Two years later and it seems some brands still haven’t grasped the importance of focusing on the culture, rather than the category.

Look at that ad. Look at it.

It’s fucking horrible.

If a photo of the London skyline from a bloody restaurant wasn’t bad enough [what the hell is ‘action cam’ about that???] … what about the utterly terrible shot of the product.

A brown square with a shitty dome on top.

It looks like a crap 1950’s robot toy that you’d find in a Kinder-Surprise.

What the hell were Kodak thinking?

And then there’s the product name and the font choice.

PIXPRO … using a stencil type font in a desperate bid to look cutting edge.

If your product is the ‘future’, you don’t need to use a shitty font because people will work it out for themselves. And even if you decide you absolutely, positively, desperately want to do it … my advice is to not use a font that is synonymous with the 1982!

And what’s that line … ‘Brings You Closer’.

What does it even mean?

Here is a product that gives you 360 degree views [which, arguably, they don’t even show in the ad] and they use that line.

Mind you, here is a product that gives you 360 degree views in 4k quality, and they don’t even help you understand what 4k quality means to the recipient.

There is so much they could do to make people want to know more – even using an old-school print ad – but no, they’ve gone for the worst advertising you could get.

Apparently the product is quite good … but sadly for Kodak, with a name that represents the past rather than the future and an ad that reinforces that perspective, I think the only view they’ll be seeing is their once great name growing smaller and smaller into the distance.



If You Want To Come To China And Make A Fortune …
December 13, 2016, 7:45 am
Filed under: Comment

… then train as a chiropractor.

Consider this advice as my Christmas gift to you.

And yes, that really is all I’m going to write in this post.

Consider that another Christmas gift to you. God, I’m so generous.



The Last Week Of 2016 …

OK, so the title of this post is wrong given we have almost 3 weeks left before it’s 2017, but this is going to be the last week for this blog because [1] I’m going to be in LA all week [be afraid George, Pete & Baz … be very afraid] and [2] I can’t be arsed to write anymore.

Frankly, I can’t believe how quick this year has gone. It’s been stupendously quick.

And yet, when I look back at the past 12 months, I see a lot has happened … and I’m not just talking about my holidays.

From Bowie dying.

The worst Toyota campaign in years.

My favourite quote of the year.

A time of self realisation.

My best friends penis. [Hey, it wouldn’t be this blog if I didn’t reference that]

The power of design.

My beloved Mum’s first anniversary.

The launch of The Kennedys in Shanghai.

[With updates on whats going on here]

My failed April fool.

A reminder of the importance of empathy.

The best Rock n’ Roll mash-up. Ever.

China showing that for all their progress, a lot of it is only on the surface … here and here.

How Cannes is bringing the worst out of adland.

My amazing June consisting of an amazing conference in Paris, my wife’s birthday and a phenomenal holiday in too many places.

An idea that should be celebrated for it’s humanity.

My argument about what the ad industry needs to do to be relevant to the next generation of creative class.

… and recognising what new creative talent actually is.

Parenting.

The importance of fearlessness.

Saying goodbye to a couple of people who were very important to me. But only goodbye in the ‘I’m leaving Wieden’ sense. Ros and Paula.

As you can see, there’s been a lot that’s happened.

OK, so some you may agree with, some you won’t … but it’s important [for me, at least] to see it because the speed this year has gone, it would be easy for me to convince myself nothing has happened.

Recently I read an interview with ex-Take That star, Robbie Williams, that kind of summed up my attitude to working.

I know … I know … it’s Robbie Williams, but the fact is I have always liked him.

I’ve liked his attitude and his honesty – even when he’s ended up being screwed over by what he said – but for me, his viewpoint that ‘if the brain stops working, it’s all over’ feels very relevant to me.

You may not believe it, you may say there’s a lot of evidence to challenge it … but it’s something that feels incredibly true to me.

So true that 2017 is going to see quite a few changes for me … all in a bid to make sure my brain remains energised and exercised so that I don’t need a blog post to remind me that my days have been filled with stuff that has been interesting and exciting.

But that stuff will be discussed later, so until then, enjoy the final 5 days of this blog in 2016.