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


I Miss Medium-Long Copy …
June 21, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Over the years I’ve written about the power of long copy.

And John Dodds has continually reminded me that no one reads it.

As I’ve said countless times in response, it’s not about the length of the copy, but whether it is interesting to the reader. Sadly – with so many ads these days fixated on saying what they want the reader to be interested in rather than what is actually interesting to them – it means Mr Dodds argument stands.

Anyway, the reason for this is that I recently saw an old ad for Porsche that I kind-of loved.

Would it work today?

Well it certainly would be different from the cold, clinical and contrived ads they currently put out. Or should I say the cold, clinical and contrived ads ALL the luxury car brands put out.

But I’m not sure if saying you can drive your own German Police Car is something that the average middle-aged, bald, fat man would be inspired by. Especially at the price a 911 is these days. But hey, when the alternative is this Police Car in Balmain, Sydney, Australia … the Porsche looks like Heidi Klum in a room full of red-headed stepchildren.

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A Reminder Why Grammar Is Important …
June 20, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Standards

… as seen in a store toilet in Australia.

Unless, of course, they really meant the toilet could only be used by disabled, elderly, pregnant children … which, in that case, means they should be located in Nottingham not Australia.



Just When You Thought It Was Safe …
June 19, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Family, Fatherhood, Otis

So I’m back.

I know … I know … the thought horrifies you. If it’s any consolation, it sort-of horrifies me too.

A huge amount has happened in the month or so I’ve been in LA, but the most important thing is we have settled.

To be honest, it’s been quite quick.

While Jill and I have done this a few times – as has the cat, Rosie – for Otis, it’s been a big change and the kid has handled it brilliantly.

Sure he’s missed his friends, toys and beloved Yaya … but he’s been awesome and I couldn’t be prouder.

I am a massive believer that one of the key criteria for success – or survival – is the ability to adapt to changing times.

That doesn’t mean you have to change your standards or your interests or even what you love, it’s just that you have to embrace the new rather than desperately hold on to the past.

That might sound hypocritical coming from me – a bonafide sentimentalist – but the reality is, my willingness to go where things excite me has enabled me to have the experiences I’ve had and hope still to have … so seeing my son be so positive about such a dramatic change of environment makes me feel he is already setting himself up for a life of adventure.

OK … OK … so maybe I’m overthinking all this, especially as Otis didn’t really have many options available to him once his parents decided to move to LA … but seeing him reach out to kids his age in a bid to bond and form friendships is wonderful to see.

Of course I feel a tinge of sadness witnessing it because I know part of his behaviour is because he feels a sense of isolation and I did that to him and I hate that I did that to him … but watching him adapt to his situation on his own accord is brilliant, especially when so many agencies are still trying to act like it’s the 1980’s.



The Cockroach Of Advertising Blogging Is Back …
June 16, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude

So on Monday, this blog will start again.

I know … you hoped it would be gone forever, but in the 4 weeks I’ve been in LA, I’ve met prostitutes, gang members and police officers so I feel equipped to deal with all your shit.

And before you start sharpening the knives to stick in my back, please know I have shown you the greatest level of respect I’ve ever shown anyone in my life. You see last Monday it was my birthday and I could have started the blog then – but no – I chose to save you by holding myself back till this coming week.

Well, that and the fact I know none of you would have got me anything.

That said, it is my beloved best mate Paul’s birthday today [not to mention it was Jill’s yesterday] so I wish them both a spectacular day. You might have to deal with my shit but I love you both very, very much.

And with that gesture of love, I leave you to enjoy your weekend … even though I’ve ruined it with news of my resurrection. So to speak.



It’s A Fine Line Between Surviving And Thriving …

I’ve survived my first week.

Or I think I have … maybe they are just preparing to tell me to go back to China at the end of the day.

Talking of China [subtle eh] …

Just before I left Shanghai, I was asked if I would write an article about my 7 years in China.

Originally it was meant to be an overview of my experience and what I felt the industry could learn from it. As that sounded far too hard/pompous/wanky, I chose to ignore the brief and write something else.

Given I would always encourage someone who has the opportunity – and interest – to go to China, I thought it might be worth me posting on here, if only for the fact it saves me having to write something new which means I won’t give the impression to my new employer and colleagues that all I do is write blog posts and plan my holidays. Ahem.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I’m a cliché.

I have succumbed to the classic ‘7 year itch’ … except instead of walking away from a wonderful wife and son, I’m walking away from a wonderful country and company.

Yep, I’m leaving China and Wieden+Kennedy.

So if they’re so wonderful, why am I leaving?

Well it’s not because I’m having a midlife crisis – where my head has been turned by something that is ultimately going to lead me to destruction – it’s for a whole host of painfully sensible reasons.

But that’s not what this article is about because Mumbrella asked me to write about my time in China … a kind-of ‘what I’ve learnt and what are the implications for the industry moving forward’ type-of-thing.

The trouble is, I know those things tend to ignite the same sense of dread as hearing a colleague ask, “do you want to hear about my dream?”, so I’ve decided to ignore the brief and write a love letter instead.

I’ve absolutely loved my 7 years in China.

In fact I’d go as far as to say it has been one of the best times of my life – both personally and professionally.

Sure, a big part of that is because of Wieden, my clients and the fact my awesome son was born here … but the whole experience has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Being able to see the huge shifts that have gone on first-hand feels like a total privilege.

I’m not just talking about the obvious stuff, but things like creativity, cultural diversity and technology.

Few things will ever make me as happy as being able to tell the West there’s areas where China is literally miles ahead of them … areas they were convinced they were dominant in.

China did that for me.

Of course there’s been challenges along the way … brands who prefer convenient answers over doing the right thing and a general attitude of good enough is good enough to name but two … but overall, it’s been an incredible and special time.

I’ve had a chance to do things I never thought I’d ever be able to do.

I’ve worked on projects with brands I will forever be proud to be a part of.

I’ve made friends with people who I will always want to be close to.

I’ve re-learnt almost everything I thought I knew.

And on top of all that, I’ve seen an industry start to realise what it is capable of being on it’s own terms, not others.

Not bad for a bald bloke from Nottingham.

Now, anyone who knows me is probably freaking out how positive this article is, so I’ll leave you with 7 things [one for each year I’ve been here] that I hope the industry will stop doing.

This is not because I want to my cultivate a grumpy-bastard image, but because as much as things have improved over the years, the industry is in a fragile state and if we don’t keep pushing forward we could start slipping backwards.

[Yes, I appreciate there’s more than 7, but hey, this is new, optimistic LA version of me. Ahem]

1. No more decks saying ‘China is big’. Everyone knows that. Even a myopic Trump supporter living in Boise, Idaho knows that. And while I’m at it, can Westerners stop throwing the word ‘Confucius’ on every 3rd slide.

2. The clichés of casting. Seriously, if an alien landed here and watched the ads, they’d never know this is a country with incredible diversity and nuance.

3. Please, please, please no more toilet paper ads acting like it’s a symbol of status and sophistication. It’s not. It’s something you clean your arse with.

4. You might not believe it, but there’s more ways to connect to culture than HTML5. Honestly.

5. To the planners who act like they’re academic intellectuals … stop! You’re not fooling anyone and you’re undermining a discipline that needs to be recognised for uncovering exciting creative opportunities, not spouting shit read from a business magazine.

6. Stop with the scam. It’s embarrassing and it is killing the industry for all of us. We all know who does it and I don’t give a shit if they’ve paid for a small store in Wuhan to run their ‘idea’, it’s still bullshit.

7. I know they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it isn’t. It’s lazy and sells the industry short – not just financially, but creatively. There’s a bunch of incredibly talented people here who given the space and time, will reward us with something new and great.

That’s it. Not that hard really…

So with that I say thank you China.

I leave a better person than I came and I’m going to bloody miss you.