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


Viz Makes Mondays Bearable …
February 20, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Viz

I love Viz.

I love them with all my heart.

I had the great experience of doing some work with them years ago, when I was trying to convince them to partner with cynic to be part of the creative department. My theory was anyone who could create such evil genius could create amazing advertising.

Alas they weren’t into it. Probably for the best.

But that still doesn’t stop me being in awe of their brilliance, vulgarity and sheer immaturity …

Hope the above #TOPTIP makes your Monday slightly less shit than your typical Monday.



Sometimes The Audience Finds You …

So I recently read an article on the UK distributors of Danish store, Tiger.

Tiger is often referred to as ‘Posh Poundland’ as it sells all manner of stuff.

Anyway, in 2005, a husband and wife – with no business experience whatsoever – decided to pour all the money they had into buying the rights for the brand in the UK.

They openly admit it was very difficult and they made many mistakes but 11 years later, they sold it for an estimated 40+ million pounds.

So far so good, but what really interested me was something they said at the end of the interview …

How brilliant is that.

It’s also a great lesson in thinking about your audience.

Too often, our industry defines audiences by the segment we believe are the most likely to want to buy our brand/product.

While that makes perfect sense, the problem is we are often end up being pretty generalistic in who we define our audience to be … often because our clients are petrified of putting limitations on their sales potential. The other problem with this broad audience approach is that it tends to end up being the audience for the whole category, which means we end up pitting ourselves directly against our competition.

What I love about this Tiger example is – albeit by lucky accident – they realised their was a very specific segment who were attracted to this product. A segment that liked it for reasons beyond what was expected, and yet was something that actively drove them to buy.

Now I admit it takes balls to do this.

It also takes absolute honesty.

And confidence.

But when defining audiences, it’s always worth remembering the motivations for purchase are often very different to what we would like to think they are. Of course we know this, but when in front of a client, it’s amazing how often we either temporarily forget or simply choose to ignore.

By being absolutely open to who could/should be interested in our clients brands, we not only stand the chance of making work that truly resonates with a particular segment, but one that automatically differentiates you from the countless competitors all trying to steal your share, which is why I still love the V&A London museum ad from the 80’s, where Saatchi’s [in their absolute pomp] realised the thing people liked most about the place was the cafe, which led to them running ad’s with the bravest ‘endline’ you may ever see …




A Lesson On The Folly Of Focus Groups From Cameron Crowe …

For some of the younger readers of this blog, you may be wondering who Cameron Crow – the person I reference in the title of this post – is.

Well, he’s a famous film writer/director, responsible for movies including:

+ Almost Famous
+ Jerry Maguire
+ Singles

OK, so he’s also responsible for the car-crash that was Vanilla Sky, but let’s ignore that …

Anyway, I recently read an interview with him where he talks about how he came up with the name ‘Jerry Maguire’ and it’s fascinating.

Not really because of the story behind the name, but what he says at the very end … how movie companies now operate and what the outcome of their modern-day marketing approach would result in.

The thing is, I can so imagine the focus group/movie company preferring ‘You Complete Me’ to ‘Jerry Maguire’.

I can hear the feedback …

“Who the hell is Jerry Maguire?”

“Jerry Maguire is such a boring name, so it must be a boring film”.

“I can’t think what a film called Jerry Maguire would be about?”

“You Complete Me sounds so romantic”

“You Complete Me sounds like a film that is happy and positive”

“You Complete Me is a film I want my whole family to see”

And while I accept I’m being biased – having seen the movie many times – I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have wanted to see a movie called ‘You Complete Me’, even if it still contained one of the iconic scenes of my generation.

[Which would probably be left on the cutting room floor these days, see below]

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of research … but focus groups aren’t really about that, they’re about being progress killers.



When You Admit Your Faults, You Win Their Love …
February 15, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Cunning, Marketing, Marketing Fail

On Monday I posted about a company being massively unsubtle in their attempt to look good.

Today I talk about a company who is blatant in highlighting where they screwed up.

And I have much more compassion towards this company than the former.

So a friend of mine recently saw this in his local store in Portland.

Putting aside the fact that most people by now should know Coconut Water is a massive hype, there is something inherently charming in the fact they are acknowledging they fucked up.

OK, maybe if you’re Steve, you might think differently … but in a World where no one seems to want to admit a mistake, a wrong doing or a less-than-favourable result, it’s massively refreshing.

Certainly more refreshing than Coconut Water.



For Those Who Say President Trump Wants To Take America Back To The 1950’s …
February 7, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Culture

… if you look at this Superman poster from that era, you will see that America was far more inclusive and compassionate towards others than it is today.

And we all know how intolerant it was back then.

Given all the stuff Mr Trump said throughout his campaign and in his early Presidential days, I think it’s fair to say the 1950’s is still too liberal for his liking.

God … what has America got itself into?

Actually, that’s not the biggest question.

How did America end up walking so far from what it believed and represented?

And they have the nerve to still say they’re the land go the free.

[Good job I know there’s more good people there than delusional, gun-toting, nutcases]




When It Comes To Revenge, Be Like An Elephant …
February 5, 2017, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Australia, Culture, Cunning, England

Annnnnnnnnnd I’m back.

Don’t worry, I’m not that happy about it either.

So when I lived in Australia, I worked with this guy called John.

I really liked him … he was smart, fun and an all round good chap.

Only thing was he really, really hated all things British.

Oh the banter we had.

In the end, we played a weekly game of pool and if I won overall, he had to fold up the Australian flag to just leave the Union Jack [ie: “get your shit stars off our flag”] and if he won, I had to salute it.

We did this for years and even though my ‘crowning moment’ was when England beat the Wallabies at the 2003 Rugby World Cup final [oh, how I loved wearing my England top the next day], he never missed a chance to piss on his countries Queen.

So imagine my joy when after 10+ years, he got in contact with me to say his niece was coming to Shanghai for a law firm and would I mind giving him my details so she has someone to contact if she gets in trouble.

To be fair to him, it absolutely killed him having to ask me … but he knew no one else and was forced to reach out.

Being the kind, generous soul that I am, I obviously agreed.

With just one condition.

This.

On Facebook.

Left for 15 minutes.

And the moral of the story?

Don’t fuck with petty half English assholes, with a memory for revenge.

Talking of elephants and revenge, here’s one of my all time favourite ads …



Sometimes Crazy Is The Most Sensible Thing In The World …

So a while back I saw this weird looking thing being advertised everywhere.

It’s that thing at the top of this page.

At first, I was captivated … it looked like the ultimate gadget.

And then, on closer inspection, I realised it literally did nothing.

That’s right …

No wifi.

No bluetooth.

No nothing.

Just a bunch of buttons and balls to press, roll and click.

Seriously, who would need this shit?

People with game controller addiction?

People with pen clicking obsession?

People with nothing better to do?

And then I saw the manufacturers had created this terrible video to help explain things …

Look, I know the ‘fidget cube’ is relatively cheap … but contrary to the video’s claims, ‘fidgeting’ is not actually an addiction and so you have to ask if people really need something like this over – say – ‘tapping their foot’ repeatedly.

So I bought one.

And you know what … it’s fucking amazing.

I know … I know … my taste is hardly the barometer for mass acceptance, but remember, I am saying positive things about something that literally has no wifi, bluetooth or web access and I’m a guy that has bought robot balls and a mug that will digitally tell me what I’m drinking even though I CAN TASTE WHAT I AM DRINKING.

I’ve bought loads of them now.

In multiple colours.

And while that may make me look a fucking idiot, the fact is there’s a valuable lesson in all this.

No, it’s not that ‘Rob spends his money on tat’ [though that is also a learning] it’s the fact that if someone had told me about it, I’d have dismissed it as ridiculous.

An over-engineered solution to a problem that isn’t really a problem.

And yet the reality is, I didn’t just buy it … I use it all the time and I truly feel it has helped me focus more.

I know that sounds mad and I swear I have no commercial interests in it … but on top of everything, it reinforced a lesson I have continually pushed upon The Kennedys, which is never kill an idea until you’ve tried it.

Never.

Not just because you may find it actually could end up being something awesome, but even if it doesn’t, it often opens up doors of opportunity you never would have seen before.

The older I get, the more I realise ‘try before you kill’ is one of the most important lessons you can learn.

Especially for planners.

Especially for planners who want to help create something that can change something.

Even if it ends up being something people ridicule.

Until they try it.