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


Letting Rock Stars Get A Taste Of Reality …
February 28, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, EvilGenius, Metallica

As you know, I have a side gig where I basically get paid to be shouted at by members of a famous heavy metal band.

Well, strictly speaking, it’s one member … along with their management team, Q-Prime.

In all seriousness, they have been nothing but supportive, even when they absolutely detest what I’ve done for them but recently I received a text that may just be the best text I’ll ever get.

Even better than the one I got from Richard Summers at Wieden, who I had sent to visit China’s 6 fastest growing cities, who messaged me to say it was so cold, he had to steal toilet paper from the youth hostels – I had insisted he stay at – to keep himself warm.

Here it is.

Just helping you to keep it real boys.

Ahem.

Happy leap year weekend everyone … to make it sweeter, know there’s no blog posts until Wednesday as I have to nip off to the US.

America’s loss is your gain.



They Don’t Write Copy Like This Anymore …

… and they should, even if it’s about a terrible football team in an outer suburb.

Have a look at this …

How good is that?

No corporate, bland, fake-aspirational rubbish here … nope, just the sort of language a West Ham supporting, Dagenham-residing away-ground visiting fan would spout to their mates day in and day out.

Hell, it even talks about another brand [Persil], cheating the system, pub crawls, beer, alternative transport, violence and derogatory names for the are they come from. [Dagenham dustbin]

All this in a car ad. It’s amazing.

Given we live in an age where data is supposed to be able to tell us everything we need to know about a specific audience so we can create highly targeted communication just for them, this ad is more targeted than anything I’ve seen recently. And there’s two reasons for that …

The first is they acknowledge the role of the car is to transport people to-and-from locations. They don’t claim – as is the current fashion – that owning that car should be considered the pinnacle of their existence and achievements, it is simply a great way to go on journey’s to destinations where something they love takes place.

Refreshing.

The second is because instead of speaking in current favoured style of ‘corporate faceless brand to generic, middle-of-the-road, mass market audience who all aspire to live the same generic, bland aspirational lifestyle as one another’ … this speaks in the voice of ‘travelling footie fan to travelling footie fan’.

Our industry likes to talk a lot about authenticity, but it seems we have forgotten what that actually means.

This ad works because it speaks in the voice of where the car was [then] made and who [then] made the car.

Dagenham.

A proud, working class town where West Ham football club was the central pillar that fed the dreams, community and escape for the area … which is why even the endline, ‘spirit of the terraces’ is brilliant.

Of course it’s too ‘bloke’ focused and linking driving and drinking is never a smart thing to do – let alone the ‘service station fracas’ but when I – a Nottingham Forest supporting, West Ham hating bloke – see that ad, I feel something … imagine something … and that’s far more than I can say for most car advertising I’m exposed to these days.

And while the Ford Cortina was always designed to be a working class wagon, this ad makes it aspirational.

Not in terms of promising you a faceless, sophisticated life of beige bland … but because it owns who it is and is proud of it.

As I wrote a while back, when you own who you are, not only does it mean no one can own you, but you find you attract rather than have to continually chase.

Given the standard of current Ford ad, maybe they could do with going back to Dagenham.



Add To Society, Don’t Just Take …

That quote is from my Dad.

I love it.

Not just because it’s from him, but because what it means.

You see he taught me – through his actions and behaviour – that the key to pretty much everything and anything is spending time really getting to know people rather than just focusing your attention on chasing the answers you want from them.

Given my Mum had a similar view means I guess I was always destined to place greater value in the authenticity of subculture than the simplistic, convenience of a focus group.

The reason I’m saying this is that everyone is banging on about the importance of speed, efficiency and optimisation, but are forgetting there’s a huge difference between information and insight … which may explain why society has so much but values so little.

What makes this even more frustrating is companies spend billions each year attempting to ‘earn loyalty’ from customers by trying to do things that they think are more personal to them … which is why I would suggest that if they’re serious about resonating with their audience [rather than just being mildly relevent] they could do with being more like my Dad. And Mum.



What Vending Machines Say About Us As People …

So I went to a pub recently and needed the loo.

While there, I couldn’t help but notice the array of products available in the vending machine.

Condoms.

Mints.

Headache pills.

Deodorant.

Have vending machines in pub toilets always offered this range of goods?

And more importantly, do the owners of vending machines placed in pub toilets think all British men are ‘sex pests’?



Moronic Monday …
February 24, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Health, Jill

I’m at that age where you think every pain is terminal cancer.

Cracked nail? Cancer.

Aching knee? Cancer.

Overly tired? Probably cancer.

To be fair, there was a time when I did have the ‘big C’ but that was long ago, caught early and I‘ve been all clear for over 20 years.

However when I saw a groove appear in my head – literally in the top of the skull – I feared the worst.

Consulting Dr Google didn’t help, with diagnosis ranging from my skull caving in to the cliched impending brain tumour.

Just as I was about to start planning my goodbyes, Jill looks at me and says, “You know it’s from your glasses when you rest them on top of your head when you’re reading” … and suddenly life is full of colour and optimism and our life insurance doesn’t get cancelled.

So as bad as your Monday may feel, be grateful you don’t have to work with me and my moronic self diagnosis.

Of course, if you read this and you do work with me, then I have no sympathy for you.



Anyone Can Be A Billionaire. Apparently.

Have a look at this …

According to Inc, the secret to becoming a billionaire is simply doing one thing.

ONE!!!

But what could that one thing be?

They talk about J.K. Rowling … so is the one thing writing a collection of wonderful books around a single character that became their version of the Bible for a new generation?

Well it can’t be that because it would mean there would be only one billionaire in the whole wide world and given I personally know 3 [albeit in the sense I know them and they try to deny they know me] that means that can’t be right.

So what is it?

What is the single thing that links JK Rowling – who, apparently, isn’t a billionaire anymore – Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jay-Z and Mackenzie Bezos to name but a few?

Well, according to the worst clickbait article since anything on the Daily Mail, they – wait for it – backed themselves.

Yep … that’s it.

That simple.

Have an idea … ignore the doubters … don’t sell any percentage to any other partner or party and watch the billions roll in.

Now to be fair, independence is a key element to success.

The moment you sell any part of your company, the purpose of your purpose is no longer in your hands.

But independence alone doesn’t guarantee you will become a billionaire …

Dan Wieden may be extraordinarily rich and has been insanely vocal about keeping Wieden independent, but he’s not at billionaire status whereas Phil Knight – who is – has done it while NIKE shares can be bought by anyone, anywhere.

This article is everything I hate …

It has cherry picked stories to reinforce their blatantly flawed argument, which means either they’re stupid or they think their readers are.

Yes it is important to back yourself.

Yes it helps if you own the rights to what you do.

But even before this, is the need for an idea … something you believe in that is expressed in a way others have not seen or achieved.

That’s maybe the most important bit and even then, it doesn’t – contrary to what Inc implies – guarantee success.

As I said, I somehow know a few billionaires and while they absolutely had an idea they backed, they still had to overcome a huge amount of barriers and obstacles. Some did it on their own … some did it with outside help … but the reality is their success is not down to a single thing, but a combination of a good idea, excellent timing, a dollop of luck, some belief and support from an external party [whether that was vocal or financial] and an ability to achieve distribution on a mass scale, in a relatively short period of time.

The reality is it’s not easy to become a billionaire.

If it was, we’d all be doing it and then being a billionaire would not be rich, it would be average.

To suggest anything otherwise is utterly ridiculous.

In fact it’s damaging …

I know a bunch of brilliant people who have fantastic ideas who will never make billions out of them. Hell, some may not even make hundreds.

Not because they’re not smart or business savvy, but because the path to success is down to many factors and even then, depends on how and when it happens and the hope the goalposts don’t change for the time you have your opportunity.

But then there’s those who don’t do what they do for the financial goal.

They don’t equate success with how much money they make from their idea.

For them, success is the ability to simply do what they believe in … whether that’s full-time or as a hobby.

But imagine if they were to take the bullshit Inc are spouting on face value?

Suddenly they would feel that regardless what they do or why they do it, they have fundamentally failed.

That somehow they didn’t back themselves enough.

That their wealth is a public display of tripped up.

They won’t, because they’re smart, but what it means is that while Inc [and their ridiculous clickbait] may think they are the friends of entrepreneurs, their actions and attitude show they are the absolute opposite of it.



When Distinction Ends Up Being The Same …

Once upon a time, endlines meant something.

They were distinct, explained a brands value or purpose.

And more often than not, were packed with personality.

Then Dan Wieden fucked it up for everyone.

You see his famous JUST DO IT became the benchmark for all brands.

Marketing Directors craved a line that summed up who they were in 3 words.

The number of words was more important than what it said … which is why you now get this …

What a pile of shite.

Bland, contrived, sameness …

Literally doing the opposite of what it is supposed to do.

Designed to appeal to the ego of the board rather than the hearts of the audience.

All because we have fallen into the trap of believing simplistic equates to effectiveness.

It doesn’t.

Simple might do … but simplistic is the lowest common denominator that requires zero thinking because it makes zero impression.

It’s why I sit here and can remember endlines from my childhood more easily than end lines I watched 10 minutes ago.

Handmade by Robots … for Fiat.

Refreshes the other parts other beers can’t reach … for Heineken.

Do you love someone enough to give them your last Rolo … for, ahem, Rolo.

Of course there’s a few modern endlines that work … GoPro’s ‘Be A Hero’ for example [though they went and fucked it up by changing it to utter blandom] … but in the main, companies seems to like endlines that sound like they know what they’re doing but don’t really say much at all.

At cynic we used to call these ‘Yoda Statements’, but what is even scarier is consultants are being paid a fortune to come up with this sort of twaddle.

That’s right, companies who claim to know how to help business grow are coming up with statements that literally make companies blend into everything else.

And yet they still are valued more highly by clients that companies who know how to push, provoke, inspire and capture the imagination of culture through creativity.

If anything tells you how mad the World is, surely one of them is that.