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


The Worst Of Times Brings Out The Best. Sometimes …

So Corona is still going strong.

And I suspect it will be for some time to come.

As much as it has shown who are societies assholes – and, as usual, a lot are the usual suspects – it has also shown the humanity of business. Or at least some business.

Doing rather than saying.

Acting rather than claiming.

With the beautiful benefit being that these actions will speak for your organisation in ways your media budget could only dream of pulling achieving.

I’ve got to be honest, this has been a revelation to me.

Yes I know it’s exceptional times, but here we are … with company after company stepping up to the plate, doing what’s best for society while doing what’s best for their people.

Whether that’s giving health workers free food and drink and times where they get priority to shop in supermarkets through to paying the salaries of workers who have been told not to come to work until the worst is past or, as is the case with Fuller’s brewery [pic above], paying their landlords rents.

Hell, even the British government have made positive moves with protecting income for the employed/self employed as well as tenants rights.

It’s – to coin a phrase used 10 billion times already – unprecedented.

Of course that doesn’t mean companies who have not been able to do this are bad.

Some just don’t have the resources to do it.

But the key is how they handle the situation.

Companies who think “it’s just business” is a ‘get out of jail card’ to do whatever the hell they want, need to understand it’s always personal to the affected.

Everyone knows we face tough times … hard decisions will likely have to be made … so being considerate and generous to those who have to pay the price is absolute essential.

But there’s something else.

Something that became apparent as I watched Netflix’s Dirty money documentary series, Dirty Money, on loan shark Scott Tucker when he gave this remarkable answer to the question “are you moral a person”?

While we all hope CEO’s show compassion to their staff and customers, the reality is we know many don’t.

But this situation with corona has altered attitudes and states … shown the masses what companies can do and how they can do it … and so to those bad leaders who see corona as a chance to hide previous bad decisions and let go of people to ensure their bonuses remain unaffected, I say this.

You are being watched.

You will be judged.

And unlike the situations we’ve seen with the financial crisis, people won’t be so forgiving or feel they have no power to act.

The rule is painfully simple …

Respect the people and the people will respect you – even if you have to make tough decisions.

But if you treat people badly, this time you won’t be able to get away with it so easily.

The power dynamic will always be in favour of companies, but at a time where unions are slowly being pushed out – society finding its collective power to keep everyone a bit more honest … a bit more compassionate … can only be a good thing during such bad times.



The Daily Mail Is Another Virus We Must Get Rid Of …

Tomorrow I’ve written a positive post about some of the stuff Corona virus has revealed we are capable of being.

Today I’m writing about the worst of it.

Specifically The Daily Mail.

As we all know, they have become one of the most successful newspapers and internet destinations in the World thanks to their fear-mongering, shock-creating, prejudice-encouraging bullshit, all wrapped up in the illusion of being a family newspaper caring about family values.

If Donald Trump was a newspaper, he’d be The Daily Mail.

They have absolutely revelled in the corona virus.

Equally challenging the scientists viewpoints and then the people who don’t follow it.

They play both sides with such obviousness [see photo above] and yet they – like Fox TV – claim to be consistent, fair and balanced.

The fact they get away with it means either no one believes them or – as I fear – their readers don’t question a word they say.

While they like to focus their hate on minority groups, no one is immune from their hate.

Even the middle-England elderly readers – their core audience in the UK – cop it with headlines that suggest ‘they will all be left to die’ or ‘isolation till 2021’.

They are the embodiment of ‘take no prisoners’ …

For me, they are basically a far right political party.

However, unlike the far right, they have found a much more powerful way to operate.

They don’t openly show their hatred … oh no, they slowly and quietly infiltrate mainstream society so they can undermine the minorities, the unemployed and the poor by making prejudice, illness and poverty seem the words and beliefs of the irrational.

To be fair to them, they may not even realise it.

They are so myopic that they fail to appreciate other people have different circumstances.

Which is why they – like that other prick, Piers Morgan – don’t realise their commentary is so harmful because they’ve never experienced any of the issues they are so quick to either claim don’t exist or they would never advocate … like prejudice, racism and poverty.

As you’ll read in tomorrow’s post, corona has revealed the best of many companies and news organisations.

It has changed the dynamic between corporation and society.

It’s why I hope after this, the Daily Mail is seen for what it is, a social manipulator – a company who only acts in the interests of its owner and no one else.

A great villain for a Bond movie, but not a great company for society.



When Collaboration Goes Waaaaaay To Far …

In these days of working at home, the possibility of making a video-conference disaster are quite high.

I’ve already had some ‘incidents’ …

For example I was on a concall recently and Rosie – our cat – decided that would be the perfect moment to release the World’s biggest hairball right by the microphone of the laptop.

That went down well.

Then there was the moment Jill and Otis thought it would be fun to fire water pistols against the window I was working from. What they didn’t know was that I – you guessed it – was on a concall again.

The photo at the top of this post captures that moment.

Then there was the second ‘cat’ incident.

I was on a video conference with a client when I noticed them smiling.

“Hey Rob …”, they said, “… your cat seems to have climbed your wardrobe”.

Now given Rosie is so old she won’t even jump on my lap, I looked behind me to see what he was going on about.

“Oh,” I replied, “that’s not my cat, that’s a cuddly toy”.

The client laughed and said, “Wow, it looks very life like” to which I responded …

“I hope so, I paid a fortune to have it made to look exactly like my cat”.

He quickly changed the subject, but he had that unmistakable look in his eye … the look of, WHY HAVE I LET THIS LUNATIC WORK ON MY BRAND?

But for all those incidents, nothing – absolutely NOTHING – compares to this …

Do I feel sorry for ‘Jennifer’?

Sure. But my god, it made me laugh.

I know for a fact if I was on a zoom call and did this in front of my team, not one of them would say a word.

Not because they would be wishing they were blind, nor because they’d be vomiting on sight … but because they’d be busy instagramming the shit out of it.

And I don’t mind telling you, I’d be very proud of them for their evil genius.

Then I’d release all the bad instagram photos I’ve taken of them.



Kids Today …

So a while back, I wrote a post about Martin Bassot.

Martin worked for me at R/GA as a very talented comms/connections planner but then fucked off to Wieden+Kennedy.

Anyway, as part of his leaving present we gave him a jigsaw.

Of himself.

You see as one of his bucket list goals before he turned 30, he wanted to do a big jigsaw.

There’s 2 very big problems with the previous sentence.

1. He was incredibly talented and only TWENTY BLOODY NINE.

2. The other was he wanted to do a jigsaw as a life goal.

Christ!

Anyway, because I’m a bit of a prick, I found the photo of the one time he wore a suit for work [to pick up an award, the bloody corporate crawler] photoshopped it onto a pic of a ‘used car forecourt’ and made that the image of his jigsaw.

Zoom forward a few weeks and we caught up.

I told him it was because I wanted to see how he was doing, but it was really to make sure he was not letting Wieden down, as I still feel a ridiculous sense of loyalty to Dan, given all the mayhem I apparently caused when I was there.

So the call started off interestingly when the Crystal Palace supporting scum came onto the video chat sporting a background specially designed to provoke trouble.

[See photo at the top of this post]

He would have got away with it too had he not later sent me a photo of where he was at with the goodbye jigsaw.

Amateur mistake.

You see, at the time of writing this post, he has been gone from R/GA for 2 months.

THAT’S EIGHT WEEKS.

And not only was he working from home for most of that time, he had 2 weeks off sick …

That means, he had 1,344 possible hours to finish this jigsaw … and how much has he done?

This much …

And to think I thought he was one of the brightest minds I’d met.

Pah.

On the bright side, showing his jigsaw dyslexia to the World [or the 8 sad bastards who visit this blog everyday] is some sort of revenge for the Forest Shit zoom backdrop.

And yet I still like him and miss him.

I’m a saint. A bloody saint.

______________________________________________________________________________________

UPDATE:

Since writing this post, Martin sent me a message saying he had finally completed it.

Worse, he said it with a distinct ‘smugness’ in his tone.

OK, it was an SMS but I could still sense it.

So I sent him a 3000 piece jigsaw of this.

That’ll teach him.

Probably for the next year.

Cue: Evil laugh!



Knowing Who You Are Means You Know Where You Can Go …

After my post about Nike/Jordan, here’s another.

But before we get there … I need to take you on a little story.

Years ago, Wieden Tokyo were doing some research for Tabasco Sauce.

As part of the adventure, we went to the American south and interviewed chefs from the region.

One of them told us something that had a huge impact on me.

“The more confident the chef, the more simple your dish”

I love it.

For me, it communicates everything about belief and confidence.

Saying and doing exactly what needs to be said and done and not a sentence more.

Sadly this is a lesson that seems to have been forgotten.

Nowadays, companies have endless pages of terminologies, explanations and behaviours … often to disguise the fact that they don’t really know who they are or what they are here for.

I recently met a Venture Capitalist who told me the biggest mistake companies make is not knowing what business they’re in.

They think one thing but are something else.

And by not knowing this they undermine their present and their future.

However recently I saw something that showed me a company who ‘gets it’.

A company who has always ‘got it’.

Similar to the Apple memo I wrote about recently, this is a celebration of knowing who you are.

As you will have already worked out – mainly because I said it in the first line of this post – it’s NIKE.

Look at this document from the 70’s, entitled ‘Principals’.

One page.

Clarity and direction.

Fight and function.

All you need to know about what how the company behaves, what it values and what it believes …

I love it.

I love how it is so simple yet says so much.

I love how it acknowledges what it can control and what it can’t.

I love how it conveys the attitude of the brand through the battle it is undertaking.

I love how it celebrates the ugly reality of hunger, ambition and commitment while also advocating integrity and responsibility.

But most of all, I love how it acknowledges that they’ll make money as a byproduct of what they do rather than that being the focus.

And while they don’t mention the words ‘sport’ or ‘athlete’ anywhere in this page, it’s not hard to see what they are describing are the principals of building a team.

One that has a common goal, a common fight and a common belief and reliance on each other.

All on a single page.

Which is still their single page [albeit with an updated swoosh]

Because they are confident in know who they are and what they are about.

In these days where companies churn out endless pages about who they are … endless statements about what they do … endless updates to their terminologies, platforms and positioning statements, I find it interesting the companies that attract the most loyalty from audiences and the most jealousy from corporations are the ones who have been fiercely consistent about who they are, what they believe and what they stand for.

All expressed succinctly, yet passionately.

From Apple. To Nike. To Wieden.

Because the more confident the company, the less they need to say about themselves.



What Can Planners Learn From A Creatives Choice Of Music …

Sam, one of my creative colleagues, excitedly sent me a song that he said, clearly explains the relationship creatives have with planners.

He did add ‘bad planners’, but he was only feeling guilty after I bought him a Kit Kat.

While it would be easy to say he’s a prick – and he is, but more in his general behaviour and attitude than this moment of cheek – his point is an important one for planners to remember.

Our job is to be useful to the creatives.

Doesn’t matter what sort of creative they are – ad, design, tech, industrial, the answer is the same …

Useful.

Not dictatorial.

Not demanding.

But actually helping them to do something interesting rather than just right.

That means giving them the right problem to solve rather than the answer you want.

That means talking to them about the brief rather than presenting it to them.

That means understanding the nuance of culture not the generalisations.

That means giving them a direction rather than a specific destination.

That means remembering your job doesn’t stop when creative development starts.

That means always looking for ways to give them more stuff that can expand or deepen their idea rather than think ‘working with the creatives’ means sitting with them and pretending you are one of them”.

That means building things up, not tearing things down.

That means focusing on the work, not your ego.

That means being open rather than closed.

That means pushing creativity not agendas.

That means being clear, not complicated.

That means giving space not pressure.

That means loving the fuck out the work.



Used And Abused …

So I was recently interviewed for a podcast and one of the questions was, “what do your colleagues think of you?”

Of course, I replied that to answer that, they should talk to them rather than me … but then realised I could give an entirely accurate response.

Not with words, but images, so I sent them these …

These are Mike and Sam, a freelance creative team we have in the place.

They’re very talented – though I discovered their greatest talent is stealing my iPad and taking countless photos of themselves in the knowledge they will also show up on my iPhone is one of the main ones.

Sam. Again. This time using his deceptively long limbs to try and place my laptop in the ceiling.

After complaining to a couple of colleagues that my eye was in pain, I received this steampunk monocle to wear to a client meeting.

Followed up with Megan – who looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – sending me a photo of her doing an impression of me.

She claims it was her way of showing ‘sympathy’. She is lying.

And how do I know that?

Because a few days later, her and Amelia sent me an SMS that said this.

Nice eh?

Throw in photos where I am asked to put a small sheepskin mat that is normally placed on a motorcycle seat – so yes, I am literally having someones ass on my head – I think this just about sums up what my colleagues think of me.

Now of course I know you can’t show any of these pictures on a podcast … but you can convey what they capture in terms of respect and motivation … and they capture there is no respect or motivation.