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


(M)adland …

So I’ve been asked to speak at a McKinsey conference.

No, I’m not exactly sure why either.

Anyway, while they want me to talk about creativity, my goal is to cause debate and conflict among these highly paid, process driven, business brains which is why my presentation will be called, “You Wouldn’t Understand …” and I’ll be focusing on the magic of chaos.

Now I’m under no illusion the audience will regard me – and the industry I represent – as a bit of a joke, which is why I will do my usual 8 Mile strategy of owning all the prejudice and negativity they could throw against me so I rob them of their ammunition and force them to listen rather than judge.

And that’s where I need your help.

Of course there’s a bunch of stuff I could say, but I’m interested in things that go beyond just the process or thinking of creative development, but the ridiculous ways adland conducts it’s business.

To start you off, I want to leave you with a quote from a friend of mine, a new business guy at a super-successful agency’ that said this to me:

“I will travel miles to talk about myself to someone for free”.

When you see it like that, it’s pretty insane … ignoring the fact many management consultants do exactly the same thing except they call it a ‘business audit’. [Though to be fair to them, they then charge a fee that makes this sort of cold-calling pay for itself]

Anyway, any other suggestions or examples will be very, very welcomed and remember, you’re fighting for creativity here. And my personal vindictive satisfaction.

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When Priceless Has A Price …

So I was driving into work a few days ago when I heard MasterCard talk about their priceless causes campaign.

Apparently every year they choose a charity they are going to help and in a bid to raise money for them, they launch campaigns to try and get additional support from their customers.

OK, so you could argue this is a blatant attempt to look less like a bunch of money-hungry bastards, but it’s better than nothing, so we’ll let that pass.

But I’ll tell you what I won’t let pass and that’s them placing a limit on how much they are willing to donate.

Yep, even though they call this program ‘Priceless Causes’, the reality is they do have a price and in the case of their chosen charity, STAND UP TO CANCER, it’s 4 million dollars.

Oh it gets even worse than that …

First is the fact that 4 million is the maximum they’ll pay out and given the criteria they have stated to make a donation, there’s a chance they’ll get a way with a lot less.

Then there’s the fact their donations are directly linked to their customers spending [on their MasterCards of course] you could say every cent they hand over [and they’re literally giving 1 cent for every $10 spent] is coming from their customers pocket rather than theirs.

Why didn’t someone say anything?

Sure, the potential of 4 million dollars is a good thing … but apart from the fact the CEO of MasterCard was paid over $15 million dollars in 2015, it’s pretty shit to talk about ‘Priceless Causes’ and then put a price on it.

I should be happy about this campaign.

I should be glad a financial institution is doing something good for others.

And yet I’m left with the overwhelming impression that all they’re doing is stealing from the pockets of society. Again.



Why Linkedin’s Secret Sauce Will Leave A Totally Horrible Taste In Your Mouth …

I’ve written a lot about Linkedin in the past.

None of it, let’s face it, that complimentary.

Part of that is because of what some users view as professional and part of that is because they show a total lack of understanding of who their users are … but it also doesn’t help its become a place where bullshit head hunters blindly contact you about bullshit jobs.

Or worse, where they ask you for names of people they can then bombard with their bullshit jobs.

Continuing the theme of bullshit and Linkedin, have a look at this …

WHAT. THE. FUCK?

Seriously, what are they talking about?

Why are they going on about ‘secret sauce’?

Why are they trying to make it sound that the average schmuck can have the same power and influence over Linkedin as THE PEOPLE WHO OWN LINKEDIN?

And given no one actually knows what they’re talking about, why would anyone care how Linkedin uses Linkedin to market their secret sauce … let alone the fact that given no one knows what their secret sauce is, it must mean Linkedin is absolutely shit for marketing.

I swear to god this is nothing more than a bet some people had in Linkedin to see how many times they could put the word Linkedin into an ad. Because any other reason just doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

This is another perfect example of when companies try and act in a way that is totally inauthentic to them. Embrace your boringness Linkedin, because at least it will make me think you’re self aware, whereas now, I just think you’re a bloody idiot.



Happy Birthday Rog …
July 26, 2017, 6:10 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Queen

Today is the 68th birthday of this lovely fellow.

If you don’t know who he is, it’s Roger Taylor – the drummer from Queen.

I don’t know how I’ll be at 68, but having seen him perform in concert at the amazing Hollywood Bowl only a month ago, I can tell you I doubt I’ll have as much energy as he has.

Hell, I don’t have as much energy as he has now.

I would love to sit down with him and talk to him.

Find our how he looks at his life.

How he feels playing songs he wrote in his 20’s and 30’s.

Anyway, as it’s his special day [and let’s not forget Mr Poodle Perm, Brian May turned 70 only a week ago, SEVENTY!!!] I will honour this man of rock by giving him his own 1970esque drum solo on this blog.

Not just any solo, but one he did with his son Rufus, the drummer in The Darkness.

While doing that must have been utterly amazing for both of them, even I can’t deal with 10 minutes of skin-bashing so I’ve edited it down to a more manageable chunk.

[You can thank me later]

And with that, I wish Mr Taylor a very happy birthday.



It Could Be Worse …
July 24, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude

Yes it’s Monday.

Yes, the weekend was no where near as good as we needed it to be.

Yes, we are starting to get inundated with Christmas stuff in the shops.

But on the bright side – apart from the fact there’ll be no post tomorrow as I’ll be on a plane – you don’t have friends like these.

Actually, I absolutely have friends like these. Damnit.



You Wish Your Child Was Like My Son … Asshole
July 21, 2017, 6:10 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Family, Fatherhood, Love, Otis, Parents

That photo is of my son, Otis.

He is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

He is cheeky, curious, kind, loving, beautiful and absolutely full of energy.

Now I’m sure most parents would describe their child like that, but based on a situation we experienced recently, it seems even other parents would regard Otis’ energy as being at another level.

Maybe it’s because he was restricted from going out in China because of the pollution.

Maybe it’s because he’s just loves being with other kids.

Maybe it’s because he is excited and curious about life.

Whatever it is, he can make the Energizer Bunny look like a sloth – and while we love seeing him run around and laugh – some other parents view this as a fault.

A few weeks ago, he was running around while some other kids were sat on the floor. He wasn’t bothering them, but in his excitement, he accidentally fell onto another child.

The reaction of both this other kid – and their parent – was extreme.

They acted like Otis had attacked them, even though he got up and [remember he’s only 2 1/2] said sorry and patted the child on the arm as a way of apologising. [We did the same … apologise I mean]

Apparently that wasn’t enough, because the parent came right up and ‘suggested’ Otis should be given a 2 minute time-out as punishment.

Fuck you!

Who the hell are you to try and dictate how we deal with our son?

Who the hell are you to try and curb his enthusiasm for life?

It was an accident. If it wasn’t, he would have been reprimanded, but he’s a sweet, caring, happy kid and all he did was fall over because his energy was running faster than his little chubby legs could go.

But as much as this parent fucked me off, it taught me a valuable lesson.

Before, when parents saw Otis running around like a happy lunatic, they would say things like, “He’s got a lot of energy hasn’t he?” and I would respond with a World-weary sigh and say something like, “You have no idea.”

But now I don’t.

Now I look at the person and say, “Yes, isn’t it awesome”.

Because it is.

As is my son.

And I’m not going to help a stranger feel better about their self-declared parental expertise by putting him down.



Give Me Something To Believe In …
July 20, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Over the years of this blog, I’ve written a bunch of stuff about ad agencies.

Good.

Bad.

Ugly.

But among the rabble, there’s been a few where I’ve celebrated when an agency has taken a stance about it’s own standards and beliefs.

There was the classic ad Chiat Day put out after losing a pitch.

Or the AMV internal memo that was sent out to stop forgetting the standards of work.

Or the ‘revolution’ manifesto that HHCL wrote when they were in their pomp, punk prime.

Or the time we destroyed cynic’s cash cow to allow us to rebuild the company we loved.

But what is interesting with all these things is they appear after they realized they’d undermined their greatest weapon – their creativity – in a bid to be more profitable or to win another client or to keep a present client happy.

No bitching about clients.

No throwing stones at the competition.

A moment of self-reflection that offered scary clarity.

Of course money makes the World go round, but the older I get the more I realize that the moment you don’t care how you get it or what you spend it on means the quality of work commences its downhill trajectory. And while that doesn’t mean an agency will go bust [there’ll always be clients who choose price over quality] it does mean they will see their greatest talent walk out the door. And then, when that happens, you have lost all your value and been reduced to ‘supplier’ status.

Over the years there have been agencies who have realized this and fought against it.

Not just the oldies that I’ve mentioned above, but some of the new and exciting like Droga5 and Adam & Eve.

And lets not forget my beloved Wieden+Kennedy who – despite the odd wobble – fight for their lives to retain their standards and values in all they do.

But the thing is few actually come out and say they realized they made a mistake anymore.

Everything is kept inside their four walls and the only way you know something happened is through the work they then go on to create.

To be fair, that’s probably the wisest response but there is something powerful in someone acknowledging their faults and how they are going to make changes that move them forward.

For me that honesty is liberating. Exciting.

The reason for all this is that I recently read an ad that Fallon put out years and years ago.

It’s different to what I’ve talked about in this post because it wasn’t about where they had fucked up, but more about who they were going to be, because this ad talks about their philosophy … a philosophy that was the foundation of some of the best advertising ever produced.

If they put that out today – even if I didn’t know anything about them – I’d want to work for them, because while the proof of the pudding is in the eating, we shouldn’t forget most people want someone or something to believe in.

[Read it properly here]