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


When Marketing Goes Bonkers …

So at the time of writing this post, we are all still in quarantine at home.

That means we are all still on endless zoom calls – where the only ‘entertainment’ we get is choosing some ‘crazy’ background, which – if I’m being honest – got old within 5 minutes of it happening so is now at near death levels of annoying.

But don’t worry, I’ve found something that is even worse.

This …

Yep, it’s Banana Republic rebranding their scarves as ‘video chat accessories’.

Seriously, what the fuck!?

What next, cups being sold as ‘video chat objects d’art’?

Or maybe pens being rebranded as ‘video chat conversation markers’?

Or even posters being pushed as ‘video chat mood enhancers’?

ARGHHHHHHHH!

The worst thing is I can imagine a planner coming up with something like this.

You know the sort, the ones who sell toothpaste as ‘smile architects’ or some other bollocks.

Look, I get in these tough times, they want to exploit any opportunity to drive some revenue … but it’s just shit isn’t it?

It’s also bollocks.

Because if they were going to sell any video chat accessories, surely they would be better off selling trousers or skirts because if anyone is like me, they’ve been wearing nothing but shorts for the last 6 weeks.

Banana Republic. You slipped on your own banana skin with this one.



And You Thought The Mouldy BK Burger Ad Was Provocative …

The fast food industry is having a hard time.

As tastes change and a more healthy lifestyle becomes more desirable, it is getting more difficult for them to operate as they once did.

While some brands are evolving their offering – like McDonald’s – others are taking a more pragmatic perspective.

The most famous, recent example is the BK Mouldy Burger which ignited all manner of debate – often with people quick to say it won’t work without anyone actually knowing what the goal of the work actually was.

Well in South Korea there’s a burger company that makes BK look positively innocent.

It’s not just how they used Supreme to inspire their logo in a way Uncle Martian would be jealous of.

Nor is it their audacious copyright infringement of famous cartoon characters to talk about themselves.

And it’s not even their proud claims of being ‘100% Beef Meat’.

No … it’s none of those, it’s their utter confidence of their product over their competitors.

Take a look …

Amazing eh?

Not just the aggressiveness … but the choice of words.

Linking the words ‘burgers’ and ‘shit’ makes a mouldy burger look positively appetising.

Then there’s the fact it’s in English.

When I lived in China, there were a bunch of stores that used English in their copy.

Sometimes it was for the audience it was targeting.

Sometimes it was because they thought it made them look ‘sophisticated’.

But a lot of the time – as I think is the case here – they did it because it enhanced their ‘authenticity’.

Given burgers are very American, I feel their idea was that by using English and being aggressive in their tone, they encapsulated the American spirit and as such, could say their burgers were authentic.

Of course, given Burger King and McDonald’s are also American slightly undermines that idea, but hey – it doesn’t seem they really put too much thought into how they came across.

I must admit, when I saw it, I couldn’t help feel it was like a Viz fake-ad from the 80’s.

Viz – for those who don’t know – was/is an English ‘adult-humour’ comic.

Years ago, I approached them about starting an ad agency.

They said no, which still disappoints me as not only were their spoof ads brilliant, but based on both Billionbox and BK’s recent work … there’s more and more brands seemingly trying to copy their style but without the brilliance, clarity, humour or memorability as them.



We Will All Be Judged …

A couple of days ago I wrote about how the reset button on society has been pressed.

How companies and people are actually working together to make sure humanity is being moved forward rather than being left to fend for itself.

Sadly, not everyone is acting in this way.

In fact, some are openly displaying they prefer profits over people.

That blows my mind both in terms of arrogance and stupidity.

Arrogance … because they literally think they’re better or more important than everyone around them.

Stupidity … because this thing will be over one day and people don’t forget.

While this is old news, there is a site that has been started who has the aim of making sure of that … didtheyhelp.com.

It’s a site that details if companies or celebs helped during this crisis.

We are at a point where society will support those who support them and not let shit behaviour be passed off as “it’s just business” anymore.

It may have cost the ultimate price, but we may end up coming out of this in a better place than we started.

I hope so.

Tomorrow is a bank holiday in the UK, so hope you have a happy and safe long weekend.



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.



The Top Shelf …

When I was a kid, the top shelf of the newsagent was what I imagined Las Vegas was like.

Naughtiness.

Adult stuff.

Things no one should mention.

What am I talking about?

‘Men’s’ magazines.

I’m not talking Playboy … but the very English, very low-rent versions that were all – weirdly – either named after Ford cars or luxury London streets.

Fiesta.

Escort.

Mayfair.

Park Lane.

In the early days, the covers were on display for everyone to see.

EVERYONE!!!

Young boys would walk into newsagents and stare at them while trying desperately to not look like they were.

For most people, that was as close as you would get to them because buying one – or even looking through one – was out of the question.

What if someone saw you?

What if someone you knew saw you?

Of course someone must have been buying them because they were produced for decades.

I know for a fact that ‘one-eyed’ – the newsagent opposite the Nottingham main police station – was a magnet for the pervs and the teens, because it was small enough and out of the way enough to get away with it, but I always wondered how many of these would be bought at major players like WH Smiths.

Over time, the covers got covered up.

Not just to protect the innocent, but to try and stop the objectification of women.

Of course, given The Sun still had ‘page 3’ and claimed to be a ‘family newspaper’ this meant it had absolutely zero impact … and even today you can see those attitudes are still alive and well in all walks of life thanks to so many companies – including those specific to women evolve and grow – having a vested interest in making women feel, or be seen, as offering only looks to the World.

Anyway, the reason I say all this is that I recently walked into a WH Smiths to buy Otis a magazine and was pleasantly surprised – and a bit shocked – to see the top shelf was just that, a top shelf.

No doubt part of this is because porn – or erotica, or whatever title you want to give it – is so readily accessible that you don’t need ‘specialist magazines’ anymore as opposed to society having a healthier, more balanced attitude towards women [or sex] but it was weird to see nothing but genuinely ‘family friendly’ titles on there.

What was funny was one of those titles was something I was interested in buying for Jill, but the context from my past meant it was almost impossible for me to grab it.

That’s right, a ‘word puzzle’ magazine was loaded with baggage from what the top shelf once meant to me and I wonder if that is something that reflects my individual weirdness or something bigger … where being placed on the top shelf of WH Smiths may be best for visibility but worst for purchase.

And before you think I’m a total nutter, remember the brilliant – but slightly mad – Clotaire Rapaille believes your first exposure to brands and experiences frames and defines the way you look at them forever.



Saying You Care Means Nothing If Your Actions Show You Don’t …

One of the things that has shocked me since coming back to England is the amount of gambling that goes on here.

Not just in terms of people actually doing it, but brands trying to get people to do it.

It’s everywhere.

Football shirts. High Streets. Apps. TV shows.

I know it shouldn’t really shock me as there has been so much written about it in the papers, but the sheer volume has blown me away.

Another thing that has blown me away – for equally bad reason – is the way the gambling companies are trying to portray themselves as good citizens.

That all their ads say, ‘When the fun stops, stop’ – or some variant of it – might sound like they care, but apart from the fact there’s countless stories of them actively encouraging people who are demonstrating the have a problem with gambling to keep going, it makes no sense.

Because the moment you realise gambling has stopped being fun, you’re pretty likely to be in the grip of addiction.

Or said another way, it’s too late.

Once upon a time, I was in that place.

I was young and the amount of money we’re talking is minute … but I was in a full-on addiction to fruit machines.

I was still a student and working part time as a pot washer, and within seconds of receiving my weekly pay packet, I’d be feeding all of it into a fruit machine.

Occasionally I would win big (£25) but most of the time I’d spend my weeks earnings within minutes – leaving me without a penny.

Now I’m lucky, I was able to stop – mainly because credit was not readily available back then, because if it was, who knows what shit I would have got myself into – but I can still remember how much I hated myself when I lost but how excited I was when I was about to begin.

And yet, despite knowing what I was doing to myself, I was unable to stop myself for months.

While I would not wish that on anyone, it was a hugely valuable lesson.

It taught me I have an addictive personality and helped me to manage what I do and don’t expose myself too.

Sure, I buy a shitload of pointless gadgets, crap t-shirts, guitars and Birkenstocks. But it’s also why I haven’t tried any alcohol since my last taste 34 years ago, why I’ve never tried any drugs and why I never tried smoking – though that one was easier, as I’ve always hated the smell.

I do believe that people have to take some responsibility for the decisions and actions they take – but addiction is something we have to accept, skirts the rules of logic.

You become helpless and need controlled.

And given the impact certain addictions can have on people is loss of health and/or loss of livelihood and family … having a note in small letters at the end of an ad that has spent 29 of the 30 seconds celebrating the excitement and glamour of gaming – and then puts all the burden of managing addiction on the victim – seems pretty shit.