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


When Your Confidence Shows Your Insecurity …

So I was in San Francisco Airport recently when I saw this …

Putting aside the fact there is a Christian bookshop in an airport, I find their attempt to validate their religion through the use of the word ‘science’ hysterical.

Of course they’re not the only one who do it … ad agencies have a long history of labelling departments with pompous monikers to give it an air of validation. Or importance.

But here’s the thing, adding the word ‘science’ doesn’t make any religion scientific … just like adding the word ‘innovation’ to a media department doesn’t mean their media plan suddenly rivals the output of Silicon Valley.

In fact, a religion using the word ‘science’ is particularly offensive given they have spent decades basically declaring war on any scientist who has dared to disprove the things they believe without question.

Look, I’m all for people following a belief system – and I appreciate there’s times where getting others to embrace what you follow is valuable – but when you use terminology that represents the opposite of what you believe, all you’re doing is creating more walls rather than less.

Of course there may be another reason they did this.

Maybe it has nothing to do with winning others over and is simply to make themselves – and the people who follow them – feel even more important.

And if that’s the case, then they doubly deserve the ridicule they get, because anyone who believes the only way forward is to ignore the views of others has no idea how to truly make a difference in the World.

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I say all this but maybe there is a God because there will be no blog posts for you to suffer on Monday and Tuesday as I’ll be traveling. Now you can really enjoy your weekend, can’t you.



If Your Brand Voice Is Your Weapon …

… then many brands are killing themselves with theirs.

I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m shocked how few brands really understand ‘tone’.

They either confuse it with a template look or using a corporate monotone full of buzzwords.

Brand voice is not a look.

It’s not even a tone.

It’s the expression of your individual values and beliefs, communicated in a way that resonates with the culture around your category.

Of course NIKE is probably the best example of this.

Regardless what they do.

Regardless what sport they’re talking about.

Regardless how an execution looks.

The moment you see or hear it, you feel it.

And ‘feel’ is the key word here.

That is no accident.

In fact, I’d say we often spent more time on the voice than the strategy.

They know the athlete so well that it is reflected in all they do.

And maybe that’s the problem so many brands face, because they don’t know their audience very well.

They define them in broad, ambiguous ways that are convenient for the brand to embrace.

It’s either that or the fact many brands seem to have values and beliefs that are designed to not alienate any potential customer … without realising they don’t resonate with anyone either.

There’s only one thing worse than a brand patronising it’s audience and that’s one that doesn’t even realise they’re doing it which is why brand voice – or tone – isn’t something you get by just scribbling some random words on a creative brief, it’s a commitment to finding it and then doing it right because to paraphrase Dan Wieden, great brands don’t discover the power of advertising, they discover the power of their own voice.



I Am A Muse …
August 9, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Marketing Fail, Standards, Brand Suicide, Talent

So a while back, Marcus [remember him?] sent me this …

Like him, I immediately thought it looked like me.

Then I looked again and I am convinced it’s me.

Sure, the glasses are wrong, but the rest is scarily right … so scarily right, I swear it has been taken from this video.

Now of course, there is a chance this is all one massive coincidence which would mean one of two things.

1. There is someone very, very unlucky out there.

2. If this ad career goes to shit, my calling appears to be in Tech Support.



I Know They Say Too Much Coffee Can Be Dangerous But This Is Ridiculous …

When I was younger I loved pocket knives, especially swiss army knives.

Not because I was a mugger – though I am from Nottingham – but because I found the way all the different elements came together in one small package, fascinating.

While I have grown up since those days [as have Swiss Army Knives, judging by this monster] I still find my eyes drawn to them when I see them, which is why this caught my attention.

But then, I looked a bit closer and saw it was a special edition.

And then I looked closer still and saw it had a picture of something that looked like a bloody Nespresso pod on its blade.

There’s a simple reason for that, because the image is supposed to be of a Nespresso pod, because this knife is made from recycled poncey coffee pod packaging.

I have to be honest, I didn’t know what to make of this.

Without doubt, one part of me thought it was bloody awesome, and yet another part of me hated it because by pointing out the specific material they recycled to make their product, I felt it was some sort of ‘official’ alliance and suddenly it was less about helping the earth and more about exploiting it.

Of course I knew I could be wrong – as I usually am – however when I looked into it, I found this descriptor on the Victorinox website:

“Two Swiss innovators, one directional collector’s piece. Meet the Pioneer Nespresso Livanto: a Swiss Army Knife with sustainability at the heart of its design blueprint. The second limited edition from this unique collaboration between Victorinox and Nespresso, it fuses a solid eco conscience and heritage with intricate engineering. This utility piece features scales crafted from 24 recycled coffee capsules in a striking bronze hue. It’s where green living meets coffee culture and intrepid adventure.”

… and in an instant, Victorinox and Nespresso left a horrible taste in my mouth, even worse than their coffee but – thankfully for them – not as bad as their ads.



Why Linkedin’s Secret Sauce Will Leave A Totally Horrible Taste In Your Mouth …

I’ve written a lot about Linkedin in the past.

None of it, let’s face it, that complimentary.

Part of that is because of what some users view as professional and part of that is because they show a total lack of understanding of who their users are … but it also doesn’t help its become a place where bullshit head hunters blindly contact you about bullshit jobs.

Or worse, where they ask you for names of people they can then bombard with their bullshit jobs.

Continuing the theme of bullshit and Linkedin, have a look at this …

WHAT. THE. FUCK?

Seriously, what are they talking about?

Why are they going on about ‘secret sauce’?

Why are they trying to make it sound that the average schmuck can have the same power and influence over Linkedin as THE PEOPLE WHO OWN LINKEDIN?

And given no one actually knows what they’re talking about, why would anyone care how Linkedin uses Linkedin to market their secret sauce … let alone the fact that given no one knows what their secret sauce is, it must mean Linkedin is absolutely shit for marketing.

I swear to god this is nothing more than a bet some people had in Linkedin to see how many times they could put the word Linkedin into an ad. Because any other reason just doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

This is another perfect example of when companies try and act in a way that is totally inauthentic to them. Embrace your boringness Linkedin, because at least it will make me think you’re self aware, whereas now, I just think you’re a bloody idiot.



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.