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


Aspirational Averageness …

This is kind of an addition to the post I wrote a week or so ago.

You see I recently read a business magazine and almost every article – and I mean EVERY article – had a story about a company that was obviously trying to position themselves as ‘against the ordinary’.

Now while I appreciate anti-ordinary can be manifested in many ways, I couldn’t help but think that all the brands featured were selling products that were the epitome of ordinary.

Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Ordinary is both misunderstood and underrated which is why I think it would be great if a company actually embraced and celebrated that’s what they did … however in the context of the companies featured in the magazine, they were suggesting that what they did elevated them beyond all comparison.

I get why they would want to do this.

I get the commercial value of being seen to do this.

But if you’re going to claim it, your products and brands should demonstrate it and in the great majority of the companies featured in the magazine, the absolute opposite was true.

There are probably a ton of reasons for this.

From the ego of management to the job protection strategies of the people below them to the revenue fear of the agencies they work with … but that still doesn’t escape the fact the stuff they made was about as bland as a beige Volvo.

To paraphrase that old joke, isn’t it disappointing the people who know how to create extraordinary products and brands decided to end up making beige and boring instead.



Reading Tests For The PornHub Generation …
November 6, 2019, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Fashion, Porn, Pornhub

I recently received a t-shirt.

I don’t know who it is from.

I don’t know if I will ever wear it.

But for what it lacks in fashion, it makes up for it in intriguing.

Have a look …

How many of you read it incorrectly.

Then when it told you that, how many of you realized you had read the acknowledgement of your mistake incorrectly as well?

While there are many scientific reasons for this, another reason is our seemingly endless obsession for speed.

Speed trumps everything these days.

We’ve been led to believe speed lets us do more, achieve more, become more,.

And while I don’t doubt there are situations where that is true, it is also leading to more mistakes, more misunderstanding and less appreciation of what we have and should enjoy.

I accept I am literally the last person who should say this – just like I accept this is rather a deep conversation for a t-shirt that has purposeful spelling and grammar mistakes – but the genius of it is that it tells us we have made a mistake by making us make another mistake which forces us to accept we are addicted to the rush rather than just idiots who make the odd slip up.



The State Of Adland In A Picture …
November 5, 2019, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Advertising, Attitude & Aptitude

Happy week ahead.



Happy Birthday Mum …

Yesterday would have been my Mum’s birthday.

My Mum’s 87th birthday.

That means she has been gone 4 years and frankly, that seems incredible.

So much has happened in that time …

From moving countries twice.

To changing jobs twice.

To selling our family home to buy a new one.

And while I am in a much better place than I was after the tragic days that she died, I still am prone to being hit by moments where her loss is almost overwhelming for me.

I wish she could have met Otis for real.

I still remember her words when I called her minutes after he was born.

I was incredibly emotional and she was so tender towards me.

Making sure I was OK, Jill was OK and Otis.

Asking if the baby crying in the background was her grandson.

Telling me how happy she was and how happy she was for us.

How she loved the name Otis.

And while she was alone in her home in Nottingham – wishing madly that she was with us – she still told me to go and be with Jill and my son because she was the most compassionate, thoughtful person I have ever known.

While Mum saw Otis on video chat, sent me countless emails/SMS’s about him and – for a brief while – was in the same room together [though sadly it was after she had passed away] … the fact is they never were together in the flesh and I would have loved to have seen that happen.

To see her face as he called her Nona.

To watch her smile he wrapped his arms around you and gave her a big hug and kiss.

To look at my Mum reading her first grandchild a story or walking him through the gardens and explaining the flowers or just watching him run around like a tsunami and then look at me with that look in her eye that tells me everything.

How he’s perfect.

How she loves him so much.

How she is so proud of me and Jill.

How happy she is right at that very moment.

That would be the best present for her – not to mention for me – and while none of those things will be able to happen for real, I will think about them tonight when I’m home and giving Otis a big hug and kiss, because while there are many things I can do a whole lot better at, my Mum [and Dad] taught me one thing I am very good at.

How to love.

Happy birthday Mum, I miss you so much.

Hope you and Dad are laughing and holding hands.

Rx



If You Want To Be Treated With Respect, Treat Others With Respect …

I appreciate what I’m about to write is something deeply important to me.

I’ve written about this situation before.

[Actually there’s tons of posts about it, so if you’re interested, click here]

Hell, I even started a lobby group to try and stop it.

But a few weeks ago, I was reminded how much needs to be done.

Or said another way, how bad this situation is becoming and – if government figures are to be believed – how much bigger it will become.

I am talking about homelessness.

More specifically, societies apathy towards it.

Now I posted this story on Linkedin a while back and was met with a bunch of abuse.

People saying I was trying to ‘big myself up’ for giving to the homeless.

People saying I was threatening and bullying to those who don’t.

People telling me to remember that we are all going through situations others can’t see – and so to expect everyone to help is bordering on ridiculous.

I get it … I’ve written about that too [though I can’t find the bloody link to the post that specifically dealt with this] and I accept that while I was not in any way trying to ‘big myself up’ about giving to those who need it, I get it could be construed that way – especially if you don’t know me.

But – and it’s a big one – while I absolutely appreciate it can be confronting to have someone stand in front of you asking for help [and that may also trigger all manner of personal issues from people’s past] the actions and reactions I’ve seen over the years [and specifically in the last year of London public transport] would seem to suggest that either the vast population of London is going through that or they.just don’t care.

Are there other possible reasons for it?

Of course.

Lots.

But my point is that ignoring the homeless has seemingly become the ‘method’ and all I am endeavoring to do is to shock people out of this malaise and maybe realize their situation – however bad – is not as bad as theirs.

Please note, I’m not even talking about money or food, just acknowledgement that the person in front of them exists.

Nothing brought this home to me again than a situation a few weeks ago.

An elderly homeless lady very politely went around the tube asking for help.

Every one of these people, every single one acted like she didn’t exist.

Didn’t even lift their eyes up.

Fortunately I had some money and food on me so I was able to help but even if I didn’t, I would have had said I was sorry I had nothing. Not to make myself feel better but for her to know she was seen … that she existed … that she mattered.

Now I know some will say there are many people who pretend they’re homeless and make a ton of money out of it – but apart from that being the bullshit spouted by the Daily Mail – anyone who has to ask strangers for help day in, day out just isn’t doing well.

Let’s hope it never happens to you.

Let’s hope you never feel like you don’t exist and have no value.

Let’s hope the people who have countless reasons not to give don’t close their mind to the issue at hand.

As the title of this post states … if you want to be respected, if you complain about people not giving a shit about other people, then maybe you want to start with your behaviour rather than blame everyone else.



Goodbye Otis Inheritance …

Last year, when I joined R/GA, I wasted my sons inheritance by having an array of stickers made for the team.

Of course I did it under the guise of expressing our planning philosophy and approach, but really it was so they could cover their laptops in them like the vandals I wanted us to become.

Or something.

To be honest, even as tools towards hooliganism, they were still better than the stickers and badges I have had made previously. Even the one’s I did to say goodbye to America.

Well a year has passed and I’m still here [fools] so I thought I’d waste a bit more of Otis’ inheritance by having some old-school tech made for them.

That’s them at the top of this page.

To be honest, I’m still trying to work out the reason for them but I think it has a lot to do with basically being cheap as chips [go on, say it, “like me”] … so cheap in fact, that I had some made for a Mike and Sam – a wonderful creative team here – who have the misfortune of sitting opposite me.

And they say I don’t know how to win friends and influence people.



Anything Is Easy If You Don’t Want It To Last

I am unashamedly a believer in brand.

I know there is a huge amount of talk about its commercial value, but – like the talk about whether we need ‘insights’ – there is plenty of evidence to suggest it continues to drive companies growth and revenue.

And while there are accademics, like Byron Sharp, who have proven people are far less loyal than they claim, the fact remains that loyalty – whether emotional or transactional – has significant value in building sustainable success for a brand.

But here’s the thing many brand owners forget.

To stand any chance of loyalty from your audience you need to be loyal to them.

Continuously.

It’s not good enough to simply offer discounts and early access.

Sure, that can help, but audiences know exactly why you’re doing it.

Real loyalty – by which I mean there is an almost irrational connection to a brand – is born from brands acting in ways that prove why people should care and keep believing in you.

Behaviour not just words.

Progress over the comfort of repetition.

Authenticity not just chasing popularity.

Telling beautiful stories not just spouting facts or contrived ‘ads’.

As I said, there are some marketers who say none of this matters in a world where digital enables them to have ‘direct to consumer’ relationships at a fraction of the cost of brand building.

I get it. It’s quick and it can be powerful which explains why every day there seems to be a new company claiming it will disrupt the category.

But where they go wrong is not realising disruption without distinction [ie: brand building] doesn’t create long term sustainable value, it just creates new commoditization.

In such an extremely competitive, highly-pressured, fast moving world, I would argue that brand has never been so important to stand a chance of having a stronger future.

And while this might all sound hypocritical given I work for a company who is trying to invent the future of marketing – which includes building new ways to have D2C relationships for clients, finding new ways to interact with subcultures through digital and passionately believes in disrupting categories – the fact is we never do this without an obsessive focus on the authenticity of the brand and how we can help it create the future culture wants to follow rather than just exploiting the offers of the present.

For me, the real issue is we are seeing is companies wanting all the good bits of brand loyalty without much of the effort, for which I leave them with this story I heard when living in China.

The successful farmer plants their seeds and nurtures them in the knowledge that when it comes time to harvest, their crop is bigger and healthier. It takes time, but it is always worth it.