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


The Final Countdown …

So I feel this week is where I start walking across the bridge from where my life has been to where my life will be.

In the next 3 weeks, my life is going to change quite a bit.

On Wednesday, I stop working at a place I have loved.

Less than a week later, I stop living in a home, in a city, in a country that I have loved.

A place where my son was born and where – in many ways – my life changed forever.

Then thanks to timezone madness, later that same day, my entire family – wife, son, cat – arrive in Los Angeles.

A place that feels a trillion miles away from where we have been.

A place that we will be calling home.

While I don’t start work for another 2 weeks, there will be so much to sort out.

Bank accounts … phones … cars … a home … while ensuring we create the time to explore and discover our new surroundings as a family.

And then, just 3 weeks later, I officially start my totally new and exciting adventure.

Wow, that’s a lot of change in a very short time … but apart from the fact we’ve done this sort of move countless times before [albeit without a child in tow] it feels exciting.

OK, so there’s also a bunch of headaches we have to contend with … and the reality is we won’t be able to truly feel ‘settled’ until we have a home, with all our furniture inside and a basic understanding of how everything operates in LA … but as I mentioned before, to have this opportunity at my age is one I feel truly fortunate to have, so as long as we’re together and happy, we can deal with most things.

But I’ll tell you something that didn’t make me happy.

HSBC.

Yes … I know I’ve written about them many, many times before and if I was sane, I would have stopped working with all their offices rather than just the ones in China and Australia … but I didn’t, so I accept some blame for what I am about to whine about.

So when you move to the US, one of the biggest obstacles to settling there is that you need a good credit rating.

Everything – and I mean everything – is dependent on you being seen as ‘financially credible’.

Without a good credit rating, you will find it hard to get a place to live, a car, a credit card … you name it, you’re screwed.

This issue is only magnified if you are new to the country because not only do you start with zero, it takes a hell of a long time to earn it.

But then I got told HSBC – the World’s local bank – could set you up with a US bank account and the credit history you had earned in one country, could be transposed to America.

Result.

So I call up HSBC in Hong Kong and ask them if they can do it.

“Of course we can sir, it only takes about 10 days”.

I was so thrilled that I didn’t quite hear what they said next.

“… you just have to come into the branch to discuss it”.

I quickly woke up and enquired if they meant ‘any HSBC branch’.

“Oh no sir, you have to come to the branch you opened the account”.

I told them that might be difficult as I lived in Shanghai so was there any alternative – like going to a Shanghai branch instead.

“No”.

That was their response. No.

I asked if they could check and call me back and they said they would.

They didn’t call back.

I went through the whole thing again.

Same answer.

Could you check and call me back?

They said they would. They didn’t.

In the end, I had to fly to HK to get them to do it.

Yep, I had to buy a ticket so I could get on a plane and fly 2 hours just so I could go to the brand and hear them me “Why do you want to open an account in the US?”

How I restrained myself from saying “Because I want to launder all my ill-gotten gains and apparently you’re good at that, I do not know …

OK, so it wasn’t as bad as the time ANZ Bank in Australia made me fly from Singapore to Sydney so I could given them a cheque to buy a bloody house, but it’s up there.

Was it worth it?

Who the hell knows … I guess we’ll find out in a week, but for a bank that has continually acted illegally, I find it laughable they’re such sticklers for protocol on relatively small matters, but not nearly as laughable as their claims that they’re the ‘World’s Local Bank’.

Look at that, I haven’t even moved to the US yet and I’m bitching.

There’s hope for this blog yet …



The World Hasn’t Gone Mad, It’s Gone Ridiculous …

A week today is my last day at Wieden, so what I’m about to write shouldn’t matter. But it does.

You see, last week I received an email from a rather well known publisher.

A publisher of books.

They wanted to ‘have a chat’.

So obviously I was kind of intrigued so I called them and do you know what they said …

THEY WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A BOOK OF MY BLOG POSTS!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Despite the utter stupidity of that suggestion, I am not going to deny my ego was well and truly stroked … which is why they brought me down to earth when they added “We don’t want all your posts, just the ones where you have something others will find valuable to read”.

Putting aside that with that filter, it’s going to be more pamphlet than book, I still find it rather exciting and can only assume their business model is built on the belief that people will pay a couple of quid to get to the few posts that are worth reading rather than spend hours traipsing through shite looking for them.

Hmmmmmn, not the best investment argument I’ve ever heard.

But here is where you come in.

You see I’ve been asked to choose the 100 posts that I think are valuable.

I know, 100. Talk about being optimistic.

Anyway, if this goes ahead, they want to pitch it as a business book [I swear I’m not making this up] … which I assume means less posts about my best friends penis size and more about businessy-stuff. I’m pretty sure that down the line, I’ve written a few of them – whether it was on strategy, creative briefs or recruitment – however in the unlikely event there’s a post on here that you remember as having some value, could you let me know because I sure-as-hell don’t want to spend months going through 10+ years of rubbish only to realise there’s nothing on here that I actually like anymore.

Ta.



They’re At It Again …

I know … I know … you would think I am over the whole ‘pram marketing’ thing by now.

Not just because I’ve written a ton about it [here and here and here and probably many other places] but because Otis is 2 and doesn’t need one anymore.

But I’m not.

Not while they keep putting out bullshit like this …

Like everything iCandy do, there’s so much that just pisses me off.

Let’s start with the colouring of the ad.

Orange.

ORANGE.

Who the fuck would want an orange pram?

I’ll tell you who, the pricks who own a lime green Lamborghini.

Yeah, those folks who are so bloody egotistical that they make sure absolutely no one can miss them.

Having a supercar to nip down to the post office to buy some stamps isn’t enough.

They need it in a shade of vomit that means even blind people can see it.

But that isn’t even the most annoying bit.

Look at that claim.

ABSOLUTELY FUTUREPROOF.

Errrrrrrm, does it turn into a bike?

What about a car?

Or a house?

Does it turn into anything OTHER THAN A BLOODY PRAM?

No, no it doesn’t … but yet again, iCandy have spouted a load of marketing twaddle because they don’t want to be in the pram business, they want to be in the innovation business and while I have no doubt that to give a pram 30 different configurations is quite an achievement, it’s still a pram and the innovation isn’t that soddin’ innovative.

But hey, they won’t matter to the fools who buy it … the same fools, as we identified earlier, who buy a lime green Lamborghini.

Because to them it won’t matter if they never use any of the configurations available to them because the purpose of purchase is not to ensure their child is protected and comfortable while being transported between the gym and the chip shop … oh no … for them, it’s all about being seen by everyone around them and being able to bore their ‘friends’ with a list of the prams features they will neither use nor understand.

Once upon a time there was a famous advertising slogan for the telecommunications company Orange that said:

The futures bright, the futures orange.

Well, thanks to iCandy, we have an updated version of that.

The futures bright, the futures fucked.



Welcome To Delusional …

I get pester power.

I understand how that dynamic can work and works.

I also know the airline industry is very competitive and the A380 hasn’t been as super-successful as was originally expected.

But – and it’s a really big but – I’m not sure that tactic will convince an airline carrier to suddenly start buying A380’s.

Not just because those planes – or any plane for that matter – are the sort of thing you buy on a whim, but because most airline travellers tend to choose the carrier rather than purely the plane they will be travelling on.

And then there’s the bullshit of their domain name.

iflya380.com

Look, I know the actual name of the plane is A380 – as in Airbus 380 – but the inclusion of the ‘a’ makes the domain name sound like it’s the passengers who fly the bloody thing.

As in I FLY A 380.

Why couldn’t they change it to ilovea380.com or itravela380.com?

Yes, I know I’m sounding John Doddslike, but it makes something bad even worse … and don’t even get me started on how utterly boring the website actually is when you go to it.

Honestly, what do they think this campaign is going to do?

What the hell are the KPI’s for this campaign?

And seriously, how the hell are they justifying ‘the passengers favourite’.

I would absolutely kill to know the thinking behind this work because in a weird way, it has put me off Airbus and A380’s … and judging by fact they’ve only received 14 emojis – of which at least 1 is ‘shocked’ – it would seem I’m not the only one.



The Gift That Keeps On Being Held Back …

So after the big news on Friday – at least big news for me – I thought I’d start this week with evidence that while my life will be changing, this blog will remain painfully the same.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from an industry magazine – based in Asia – saying I qualified for this.

To be honest, I was kind-of excited.

I love Wired and to get it free was going to be a lovely gift.

They even highlighted I didn’t need to provide ‘credit card’ info which meant it wasn’t a scam.

Hurrah!

So I quickly clicked on the link.

All they needed was my address.

That’s it.

Yes …

And so I quickly filled in the form, pressed send and then saw this on the screen.

“THIS OFFER IS NOT AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE IN YOUR REGION”

Eh?

What?

I did it again.

Same result.

I checked the email once more.

Clicked on the link once more.

Filled in the form once more.

Same result. Every single time.

Now I appreciate it’s not Mercury Magazine’s fault as they weren’t the people who sent me the original email, but you’d think that the company who did – who, let’s remember, are based in Asia – would have checked the people in their fucking region could receive what they’re supposedly offering them.

But it appears they didn’t … which means the special place I have in my heart for them, is one of hate, rather than love.

All because they were either lazy or stupid.

It blows my mind something as basic as this could be so badly done, which should serve as reminder to everyone in the industry that if we want to regain the respect we once enjoyed, it’s about what we do rather than what we say.



Details … Details … Details …

Maybe it’s because I’ve broken the screen on my iPhone 7 three times.

Maybe it’s because I work in advertising.

Or maybe it’s because I’m a sad bastard …

But this ad bothers me a lot.

No … it not the terribly contrived ‘real life’ image.

Nor is it the fact 25% of iPhone 7 owners are clumsy fucks.

It’s the fact the company – Tech 21 – make such a deal of being iPhone 7 specialists AND THEN USE AN IMAGE IN THEIR AD THAT ISN’T OF AN iPHONE 7!!!

Why?

Seriously why?

Don’t tell me there isn’t a stock shot available because I did a quick look and theres loads of them.

No one behind this campaign comes out of this looking good.

The agency look like they were lazy bastards and the client looks like they don’t care.

Seriously, why should I trust a company about their iPhone 7 protection when they don’t even know what an iPhone 7 looks like.

This sort of thing drives me bonkers.

Literally bonkers.

It’s not hard to get this right.

It’s the least they should be doing.

If I was a competitor I’d absolutely jump on this.

Mind you, if I was at the agency/client behind it, I’d be jumping on people’s heads.

So come on adland, let’s not give people even more ammunition to question what we do and how valuable it can be for business. Seriously, get a fucking grip.



If You’re Going To Hijack, Do Something Interesting …

The ‘hijack’ strategy is now being used by so many brands that you have to ask if it’s even effective anymore.

OK, so when it’s done really well, it still has the power to impress … but so many brands are now doing it in such a half-baked way [often relying on the occasion to make the impact rather than the work] that a lot doesn’t even make a dent.

What’s even more annoying is this trend for brands to enter debates with no other purpose than to push their own agenda.

They don’t contribute to the debate.

They don’t add to the debate.

They don’t even care about the debate.

It’s all take, take, take … even though the media loves to claim “the brand is taking a stand about issues facing society”.

I’m looking at you Dove and your #AlternativeFacts ad … even though you’re far from being the only guilty party.

However there’s some brands who at least have the decency to make their exploitation amusing.

Sure, you could say Dove did that with the ad I’ve just criticised them for … but lets be honest, they’re not exactly known for going outside of their lane in terms of topicality and even though they could have easily turned this into a legitimate ad about their product credentials, they chose to go for the lowest common denominator. Possibly because it’s also award season soon. Possibly.

And that’s why I like this idea from Chinese teabag brand, inWE …

Yes, they are jumping on a bandwagon.

Yes, they are trying to gain free publicity from it.

But at no point do they try and claim it is some sort of political statement, which allows you to enjoy it for exactly what it is.

A bit of fun.

And the irony of this is it makes the brand far more likeable than all those others who try to hijack a cause or occasion to show they care.

Because most don’t, not in a way where they will sacrifice their profit for their cause.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe in the power of ‘brand purpose’.

But saying you care and committing to it are – sadly – very different things which is why it’s kind of refreshing to find a brand who isn’t trying to claim it’s saving the World but simply having some fun with what they do.

Which some would argue is a ‘brand purpose’ … but then they tend to also be the sort of folks that call humans, brands.

They’re not. They’re humans.