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


You Can Tell How Much The Finance Industry Thinks Of Us By The Products They Try To Sell To Us …

OK, I know banking is an easy target but – as anyone who has read this blog over the years will know – I am more than happy to throw darts at them.

Recently I came across this gem from Nutmeg … one of those financial institutions who give themselves a cool name so they can pretend they’re ‘down with the people’ when everything they say and do demonstrates the opposite.

Have a look at this …

Apart from the fact that they say nothing about what they do or how they do it – because, let’s face it, compound interest is hardly a unique offering – I’m just surprised they are saying that if you leave £20,000 for 40 years you’ll get over £140,000 at the end of it.

First of all, £20,000 is a lot of money.

Secondly, putting £20,000 away that you’ll never touch is an amazingly big ask.

Thirdly – and I don’t want to sound a dick – but I don’t know if £140,000+ sounds that much after a wait of 40 years.

Sure, I wouldn’t say no to it and I appreciate it represents a huge growth on your initial investment, but after removing the £20,000 you put in at the beginning, that works out to be a return of £3,000 a year.

OK, that’s not bad, but it’s certainly not enough to live off and certainly not the ‘most powerful force in the Universe’ that Einstein supposedly said.

And let’s not forget that little bit of copy at the top of the ad that say’s ‘Capital at risk. Forecasts are not a reliable indicator of future performance’.

Yes, they really are saying that everything they’ve just said could be a load of bollocks.

Imagine what else you could do with that strategy …

“Eat chips 10 times a day and could be beating admirers off with a shitty stick*”

[* Your health is at risk. Forecasts are not a reliable indicator of future performance]

Or what about this …

“Buy this skin care and you will look 30 years younger*”

[* Your self esteem is at risk. Forecasts are not a reliable indicator of future performance]

Why hasn’t someone thought of using this cross-category before???

But getting back to Nutmeg … my question is who is this ad aimed for?

Is it for people who are worried about their future and will put all their life savings away to get £140,000 in forty years time – ignoring the fact, that in 40 years time, £140,000 will be worth around £2.77 in todays money?

Or is it aimed at the wealthy … who can afford the investment, but probably expect even higher returns?

Honestly I’m not sure, but one thing I am certain of is that a financial organisation who doesn’t tell me why I should choose them over every other financial institution that also claims if I give them my money for 40 years, they’ll [hopefully] give me more back – but no guarantees – doesn’t stand much chance of getting any of my money.



If You Want To Learn Insight, Listen To A Criminal …

I work in an industry that spends billions of dollars per year looking for insight.

You’d think for all that cash you’d discover some absolute corkers – but we don’t.

There’s a whole host of reasons for that.

Part of it is because this industry still mistakes insight for what people do as opposed to why.

Part of it is because some clients believe some insights may stop sales opportunity rather than open it up. [Hence the rise of ‘global human truths’ despite their fatal flaw of ignoring the importance of local context]

Part of it is because some believe that unless an insight is positive, the work will be negative. [Which is obviously bollocks, unless you use insights literally rather than laterally and even then, that doesn’t mean the work has to come out like that]

Part of it is because some in the research industry act like the legal industry and realize there is more money in keeping the question going than actually answering the question.

There’s a whole bunch of reasons, and while I believe insights can come from anywhere – I still believe those that reveal people’s beliefs, motivations and behaviours are often the most powerful of them all.

As anyone who has ever worked with/for me will know, I call these ‘dirty little secrets’, because in my experience, they tend to reveal far more than just why people do things, but the circumstances that led to this belief.

It’s not easy … it’s not always perfect … it always requires other work to validate, explore or exclude it … but I will continually push my lovely colleagues to investigate and discover, because when you reveal a dirty little secret, you are already on the road to making work that will be different and powerful.

The reason I say this is because I recently read about Ponzi-scheme King, Bernie Madoff.

While he comes across as a cold, calculated, sociopath … his intellect can’t be disputed.

When asked how he pulled off the biggest financial fraud in history, he said this …

“I succeeded because when you offer people a deal that’s too good to be true, they never want to look too hard into the facts. They say it’s because of trust. I say it’s because of greed.”

There’s a lot of truth in those 2 sentences.

There’s a lot of creative opportunity in those 2 sentences.

I don’t mean to make work that exploits even more people, but to make work for [say, a bank] that can build the sort of conversation that gives them a real chance to prove they have their customers best interests at heart.

But it won’t happen because too many clients think ‘negative insights’ leads to negative work [which is utter bullshit] and most banks already know what Mr Maddoff said, because that’s how they continue to screw the taxpayer out of cash to line their own pockets.

Shame, because a financial institution that decided to be utterly transparent and then communicated, “the reason we tell you everything is we don’t want you to blame us for anything” might be quite a refreshing change.



Technology Stops You Putting A Firewall Around Your Grief …
March 14, 2015, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Bank Ads, Comment, Death, Mum, Social Media, Technology



So obviously this has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. Hardest and most horrible.

On top of the pain and trauma of losing my Mum and having to make decisions that directly impacts my history and future … I’ve been fucked over by those bastards at HSBC [again] as well as needed an emergency root canal.

But through all the pain and horror I’ve gone through in the last few days, there has been some light.

Of course having my wife, son and closest friends near me has helped enormously.

Part of me wanted to just run away, roll into a little ball and cry and cry and cry … and while they have all encouraged me to grieve openly and proudly, their love, laughter, smiles and – in the case of my son – innocence has helped me see some glimmers of light amongst all the darkness.

Then there’s work.

They’ve been amazing. Everything you want to be true about Wieden+Kennedy is. They are people who care, genuinely care, and their compassion and understanding for what I am going through has been both comforting and breathtaking.

But I want to talk about something else.

A few days ago I wrote about how technology is making death harder for me to compute.

How the constant reminders of my Mum’s presence in my life was both a blessing and a curse.

And I still feel that, I truly do.

But it cannot be denied that technology has offered me something else in some of my darkest days.

Not just in terms of being an outlet for me to express all I am feeling but that it offered me a chance to see how many people cared about me and cared about my Mum.

In all honesty, I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I’ve received over the last 5+ days.

People I know. People I know but have never met. People I don’t know and have never met. It’s been both amazing and unbelievably comforting.

I appreciate death is an awkward subject to discuss because no one can say anything that makes it better and most people are scared of saying something that makes it worse – and that is why I’m so touched by how many people have thrown aside concern and reached out to me in messages, comments and texts.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I have honestly appreciated every single word. Every one of them. Of course I wish you didn’t need to write them but I am overwhelmed with what I have received.

I am aware that as a 44 year old man – and a father to boot – I should be strong to tragedy at this point in my life … able to face adversity with strength and stoicness but I’m not. I’m a weakling.

I have cried rivers of tears and howled in emotional pain over and over again. I have done this both in private and, embarrassingly, in public as well.

I feel totally destroyed and shocked. I still can’t believe this has happened and feel that I’m living in either a dream or some weird parallel universe where on the other side, the other version of me is visiting my mum in hospital who is recuperating well from a successful operation.

It is all too complex and confusing for me to grasp and when you take into account that I need to decide what I’m going to do with my family home – a place where my dads ashes are scattered – the weight of expectation and pressure feels almost overwhelming.

And yet I am – in my own way – getting through things and a big part of that is because of all the love, support and compassion that has been thrown at me.

Frankly I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it. I know what my Mum did to deserve it, but not me. And yet people’s generosity of support has been amazing and I’m genuinely humbled and feel cared for by it all.

Media likes to present the World as a cold and miserable place. Where selfishness is the norm. They are wrong. The World is full of kind and caring people and I have been fortunate to experience this first hand at a time where I felt my whole World was collapsing around me.

So thank you to you and the people who made the technology that allowed you to reach out me.

Of course it doesn’t take all the pain away, but it stops everything looking so bleak and I can assure you that would be exactly what my Mum would want for me.

Comments Off on Technology Stops You Putting A Firewall Around Your Grief …


As Today Is Supposedly The Day Everything Scary Comes Out …
October 31, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Bank Ads, Comment, Crap Campaigns In History

… have a look at this.

Yes, it’s a bank trying to sound supportive and inspirational.

Actually, it’s not just a bank … it’s Citibank, the company who has been bathed in all manner of scandals from wrongful selling of financial products to the wrongful use of their customers cash and countless things in-between.

If you can’t read the copy properly [which in some ways, you should be grateful for], here it is in all it’s patronising, contrived horror-story glory …

If they were being honest, they would add the following at the bottom of all that fawning praise for the next generations potential:

“… and Citibank will turn down your dreams for helping the World with cures for illness or opportunities for technology because we only help the big boys unless you are willing for us to weigh you down with so much debt that you’d have to turn into the next Google to stand a chance of actually making your dream a commercial reality.”

Though now I come to think about it, the next generation won’t even get a chance to be turned down for a loan, because Citibank will have burdened their family with such high mortgage and credit card debt, they won’t be able to be sent to a school or university that can help them nurture their dreams, ambitions and hopes for a better, happier future.

I find it fascinating that banks – after all the widely acknowledged shit they have done and caused – continue with this head-in-the-sand approach to marketing.

If Citibank were as clean-as-a-whistle, I’d get it [though they should be telling people that rather than some meaningless, bland corporate-talk beigeness] but they’re not and they’d stand far more chance in getting people to believe them if they followed what I call the 8 Mile strategy and took on all the stuff people could say about them, to rob them of the power that they have over them.

But sadly the financial industry don’t admit failure or fault. They have been told by their highly paid lawyers, it’s better to stick it out, regardless of the anger it causes, than try to put the past right and face paying out money.

And that is why I hate banks.

I shouldn’t hate banks. What they do – in theory – is a wonderful thing … but those days are long past, which is why society has to put up with this sort of marketing bollocks that does more to alienate than attract. But they don’t care, because it’s to keep them in the delusional bubble they reside in which is why the only good thing I can say to Citibank about this campaign, is that at least they’re not HSBC.

Bank advertising. The scariest thing you’ll see this halloween.