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


Let Them Learn, Don’t Teach …

As many of you know, I spent 5 years trying to pass a bunch of teacher qualification so I could one day be a lecturer at MIT.

It should have taken 2.

And while I [eventually] passed and have done the odd lesson here and there, the reality is I find the whole thing very difficult.

Part of that is because I’m a bit thick, part of that is because the students I’ve worked with are ridiculously smart [one is 21 and re-engineering the pace maker for fucks sake] … but the other part is that so much of the ‘higher education industry’ seems to be focused on teaching, rather than on helping students learn.

Of course, both of those are interconnected, but for me, it’s about the core motivation.

If it’s about ‘teaching’ … then your focus is communicating the curriculum within the time allowed.

If it’s about ‘learning’ … then your focus is on enabling the students to grasp concepts that they can then use with their own free will.

I am absolutely in the latter camp, which is why I’ve found MIT a bit of a struggle and why I’ve found The Kennedys such a joy.

Of course it doesn’t help there are systems in place where the students ‘grade’ the teacher.

Seriously, how stupid is that?

I appreciate there’s some bad teachers out there, but to give students the authority to pass judgement based on their experience is ridiculous.

Of course, in a perfect world they would be able to do this objectively, but as we all know, so much commentary these days is from a subjective point of view so you could be a great teacher who is given a bad grade by students simply because you didn’t give them the grades they desired because they didn’t warrant them.

Now I’ve made a distinction between higher education and more junior – but that’s not to say they don’t suffer the same issues – but the reason I write this is because of that article at the top of this post.

Despite the author inferring they found it educational and inspirational, I’m not sure that approach would be allowed today.

I appreciate it is fairly radical, but handled correctly, it not only helps students learn, but it opens a debate that would help them truly understand.

To me, that is what education is about …

Giving students the tools to challenge, destroy and liberate stuff … because if we don’t give them that, what hope has society to move forward, let alone stand up against those who wish to do us harm?



Among The Bullshit, There Are Nuggets …

OK, I openly admit that is the worst post title ever.

But hang in there.

The reason I said it is because – let’s be honest – our industry can talk a lot of shite.

Not only that, we can – and often do – spend an inordinate amount of time ‘discussing’ stuff that should be pretty simple and obvious to solve/decide.

I have a friend who found himself spending 2 years of his life – TWO YEARS – sitting in various meeting rooms around the World, listening to his clients discuss whether the word “refreshing” should be included in their brand onion.

For a water brand.

No, seriously.

Even after doing this job for almost 30 years, I still haven’t been able to work out if the mind-numbingly relentless monotone of discussion is due to internal politics or individuals who realise that stopping decisions actually generates greater revenue.

However, while the way many go about this stuff can be rightfully ridiculed, the reality is the issues being discussed are often important – at least from a brand perspective – which is why the next time someone say’s brand hierarchy is a load of bollocks, show them this …

Just make sure you then don’t spend 2 years discussing what the right bloody answer is.



APSOTW Assignment: Turning Shit, Into Gold …

So it’s been ages since we did a planning school on the web assignment and it’s all my fault.

Well, not totally mine – Andrew and Gareth can take some of the blame too [I’m nice like that] – but still, I feel bad about it.

In a desperate attempt to make amends, I officially launch the first APSOTW project of 2017.

As usual, it’s open to anyone … people in advertising, people who want to be in advertising and people who were in advertising and never want to think about it ever again.

Seriously, everyone is invited – from any background or discipline – because the goal of the program isn’t just to help make people be better, but to help people ‘have a go’.

As usual, we will have a bunch of top professionals reviewing all the work.

We totally understand how intimidating this could be for you, but the purpose of involving some of the best in the biz is because we want to help you be better and what better way of doing that than to give you direct commentary from folks who are widely regarded as being some of the most successful or interesting.

So what’s the assignment?

Well we wanted to go back to basics with this.

There’s a lot of talk about planning … what it is and how you do it … so we decided it would be good if we put the fun and imagination back into the assignment. Get the discussion about planning to be about opening creative opportunities rather than closing them.

With that, here it is:

___________________________________________________________________________________

The tourism industry is incredibly competitive. With low-cost flights, it has become even harder for England’s seaside towns to be attractive, especially to families and especially out of the typical ‘summer season’ months.

The Skegness Tourism Authority – the local government department responsible for boosting tourism in the seaside town on the outskirts of Lincolnshire – feel this pressure more than most. For years the small town has suffered from a negative reputation.

Bad beach. Bad weather. No real reason to visit other than accessibility to a beach for people located in the middle of the UK.

With no money to dramatically improve facilities, the Skegness Tourism Authority have approached you with one simple challenge:

How can we position Skegness to appeal to short-stay* tourism, especially over winter?

* Short-stay tourism is any visit with a duration of between 4-24 hour.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Yes, I know if this was a real brief, there’d be plenty of reasons to push back on the client, but let’s ignore that for now.

Right … there’s a few ‘rules’ …

You can provide your response in any format you choose, but to guide you …

If a presentation, it should not be more than 12 slides.
If a video, it should not be more than 6 minutes in duration.

Whatever you do, your presentation must cover the rationale for your positioning idea.

Please remember this is a positioning exercise so you don’t have to provide any creative or media and all submissions should be based on Skegness’ reality, so no suggestions of ‘importing’ events into Skegness to make it topical.

In essence, if Paris is the city of love.

And New York is the city that never sleeps.

Skegness is _________________?

All submissions should be sent to this address by April 20th.

Have fun … not just because this is something where any answer has the potential to be the best answer, but because it’s a tourism assignment and going somewhere for no other reason than you want to do something different should feel enjoyable.



Simple Advertising Is Great Advertising …

I’m 46.

I’m a husband.

And a father.

I supposedly hold down a senior job at a highly respected company.

I have responsibilities … mortgages and a bunch of other things ‘older people’ should have.

And yet despite all that, when I saw this ad for Hot Wheels, I totally got what they were saying.

Oh Hot Wheels.

When I was a kid, they were the toy cars to have.

Matchbox made the practical but Hot Wheels made the sexy.

The daring.

The souped up.

The ‘fuck, that looks cool’.

Kids who were good at maths would play with Matchbox but kids who could play the guitar would have Hot Wheels.

I must admit, I am shocked at all this emotion coming out of me despite the fact I haven’t bought – or played with – a toy car for at least 36 years. And that’s why I love this ad so much, because in an instant – and without showing any product whatsoever – I get it.

I totally get it.

Given this ad appeared on a motorway, I am assuming Hot Wheels actually want to target people like me.

Their goal being to awaken my memories of their brilliant toy cars and introduce my kids to them.

It could be because a while back I read Hot Wheels was a billion dollar company under threat.

Not from other toy car competitors, but because parents didn’t know how to play toy cars with their children. Especially Mum’s with boys.

[Don’t call me sexist, this is what they said]

Whatever the truth is, this ad worked for me.

It not only reminded me how much I loved Hot Wheels, it made me want to play with them with Otis. Which all goes to show that while the features of a brand can be copied, it’s spirit and values are always unique.



Why Differences Are Brilliant …

One of the things I absolutely love is when you hear a perspective on something that you never thought about.

Something that makes you stop and reconsider what you thought you know.

Not that it means your original perspective was wrong – as I’ve said before, there’s rarely a really wrong answer, just lots of degrees of right – but you just feel your eyes have been opened to something that you thought had no way of surprising you.

It’s like a revelation to me.

The reason I say this is because it happened when I read this interview with a bouncer …

Now maybe you’re thinking his statement was massively obvious, but I never looked at bouncers that way.

To me, they were there to stop trouble and maintain order.

Oh … and to look menacing.

[Except my best friend Paul is sometimes one and he is the opposite of menacing]

However, after reading “If you’re too drunk you’re not going to buy any drink”, I now realise their actions are as much about securing the profitability of the business as it is securing the reputation and environment of the premises.

In essence, they’re more than bouncers, they’re business managers.

Now of course, you could say this is a classic case of ‘reframing’, and maybe it is … but in my experience, it only works when it is born from a truth that people can immediately relate too, so even if that is the case, it’s still better than 95% of the stuff our industry has done.



Lazy Or Stupid?

So recently, I saw this ad in Shanghai …

Can you see the problem?

Have another look?

Yes … apart from the words CAR FREE DAY, they’ve literally used Lorem Ipsum for the rest of the text.

And for those who don’t know what Lorem Ipsum is … it’s dummy text used by the advertising and printing industry when space has to be left for copy but it hasn’t been written yet.

Now I appreciate we’re in China so there’s a small possibility the people behind the ad didn’t speak English so didn’t realise the difference.

But I have to be honest, I don’t really believe that.

And even if it was true, what about the people who commissioned the work?

Seriously, this might be one of the laziest/stupidest things I’ve seen in a long, long time.

This is an amazing country that is developing at an incredible rate but when I see stuff like this, I am reminded so much of it’s progress is based on the aesthetic because under the surface ‘good enough, is good enough’ still permeates so much of what passes as standards.



If LinkedIn Is About Professionalism, What Do Some Of The Statements Their Members Post, Say About Professionalism …

Yes … I know I am the last person to talk about professionalism.

And yes … I know Linkedin is kind-of an easy target, but some of the stuff people are putting on there these days blows my mind.

If I was an alien and looking at the site for insight on humans, I’d come to the conclusion there’s 2 types out there, the egomaniacs and the totally lacking in confidence.

Have a look at this …

What?

WHAT?

If it was some kind of psychological experiment, you could just about put up with it – but it doesn’t seem to be. It literally appears a guy called Jason [In a moment of compassion, I’ve deleted some of his info to protect what little honour he has left] wants to crowd source how he should style his facial hair.

And if that wasn’t depressing enough, he’s received over 5000 comments for it.

FIVE THOUSAND.

Seriously, what the hell?

It’s so depressing that I hope he’s only doing this so he could find gullible fools to sell some shit product too.

Honestly, what next …

What tie should you wear to work?

What breakfast should you eat?

What condom should you wear?

On the bright side, if this is the standard of professionalism these days, then it just might mean I am no longer at the bottom of the table.

Sure, I might still be in the relegation places, but no longer at the bottom.

Thanks Linkedin.