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


Sometimes The Audience Finds You …

So I recently read an article on the UK distributors of Danish store, Tiger.

Tiger is often referred to as ‘Posh Poundland’ as it sells all manner of stuff.

Anyway, in 2005, a husband and wife – with no business experience whatsoever – decided to pour all the money they had into buying the rights for the brand in the UK.

They openly admit it was very difficult and they made many mistakes but 11 years later, they sold it for an estimated 40+ million pounds.

So far so good, but what really interested me was something they said at the end of the interview …

How brilliant is that.

It’s also a great lesson in thinking about your audience.

Too often, our industry defines audiences by the segment we believe are the most likely to want to buy our brand/product.

While that makes perfect sense, the problem is we are often end up being pretty generalistic in who we define our audience to be … often because our clients are petrified of putting limitations on their sales potential. The other problem with this broad audience approach is that it tends to end up being the audience for the whole category, which means we end up pitting ourselves directly against our competition.

What I love about this Tiger example is – albeit by lucky accident – they realised their was a very specific segment who were attracted to this product. A segment that liked it for reasons beyond what was expected, and yet was something that actively drove them to buy.

Now I admit it takes balls to do this.

It also takes absolute honesty.

And confidence.

But when defining audiences, it’s always worth remembering the motivations for purchase are often very different to what we would like to think they are. Of course we know this, but when in front of a client, it’s amazing how often we either temporarily forget or simply choose to ignore.

By being absolutely open to who could/should be interested in our clients brands, we not only stand the chance of making work that truly resonates with a particular segment, but one that automatically differentiates you from the countless competitors all trying to steal your share, which is why I still love the V&A London museum ad from the 80’s, where Saatchi’s [in their absolute pomp] realised the thing people liked most about the place was the cafe, which led to them running ad’s with the bravest ‘endline’ you may ever see …




Lies, Damned Lies And Kickstarter …

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote about this so I guess it’s time for another post about another massive lie peddled from a kickstarteresque company.

Yes, I know I ranted about them earlier this week, but I can’t help myself.

Have a look at this …

Let’s move past the fact they have the audacity to claim a lens – held on with a bloody bulldog clip – gives you the equivalent standard of a US$4000 camera [unless they mean a US$4000 camera held onto a smart phone with a bulldog clip] and let’s instead focus on the image they are using to sell ‘said’ item.

Look at the screen of the smartphone.

Such incredible quality.

Such incredible clarity.

Such incredible focus.

Wow, maybe they weren’t joking when they said this simple attachment could make an expensive DSLR redundent.

But hang on, something isn’t right.

That super sharp image doesn’t seem to relate to the ‘live’ image going on in the picture.

Sure, they’ve blurred the shit out of it, but I’m pretty all the action is going on in the middle of the court, not by the net.

OK, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, I do only have one good eye.

But there’s something else bothering me. Hmmmmn, what could it be?

Oh I know, it’s that perfect image on the phone.

Look, I have an iPhone and if I so much as zoom a bloody milimeter on it, everything looks like I’m trying to do an impression of a Tony Scott movie, so either the person holding the phone/lens in the photo has the steadiest hand ever created – especially as they are located on the other side of the court – OR THIS IS A PILE OF BULLSHIT.

I know I’m in adland so look at these things a bit more closely than the average punter, but that shouldn’t mean brands don’t care about this sort of thing.

Why would you supposedly go to all this effort to make a great product and then short-change the work that is designed to tell the World about it?

It’s like my issue with people who spend weeks working on a pitch but don’t rehearse it until the last 5 minutes.

All that effort, wasted.

Of course it’s because people still believe that ‘the quality of the product/work/idea’ will shine through.

In a perfect World – maybe – but in the real World, how you present something is often of equal importance to what you are presenting. Sometimes, even more important.

When I was at HHCL, one of their tenants was the quality of advertising had a commercial benefit on the brand.

In short, the better the work, the more people were interested in you.

Now I appreciate that some may challenge that view, but I passionately believe that what you do says more about who you are than what you say … so while the creators of this lens may claim it can single-handedly put Canon and Nikon out of business, the fact their communication is so obviously bullshit makes me think you’re more likely to find this attachment inside a cheap pack of Christmas Crackers than a high-end photographic store.

Which means if you actually end up buying it, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

And this is coming from someone who paid $100 for a remote control ball!!!

Have a great weekend, only 50 odd weeks till Christmas.



An Oldie. But A Semi-Goldie …

This is one of those ads that is constantly referred to as being a perfect example of perfect advertising.

David Ogilvy was behind it – spending 3 weeks doing nothing but reading about the car – before producing that amazing headline.

OK, so there is some conjecture whether he came up with it or not, but regardless, it’s one hell of a headline.

But here’s the thing, when you read the rest of the ad, I’m not sure if its worthy of all the accolades bestowed upon it.

Sure it comes from a different time [as the $13,995 price tag highlights] … and yes, some of the ‘features’ they mention were probably cutting edge back then [power steering for example] … but after you get past that epic headline, what you actually have is an ad that is just a list of product features.

While there are still nods to the sense of craftsmanship and technology within that list – for example, you can have a telephone as an optional extra – I can’t help but feel that all the romance the headline conjures up in your mind disappears once you get to the details.

Maybe that’s because it appears the strategy was not actually to communicate the sophistication and craftsmanship of the car, but to change the perception of it being only for the super-elite … the one’s who are chauffeured around rather than drive themselves.

Hey, I could be wrong, but the fact they use that hilarious image of a ‘Dad’ picking up the kids from the local shop after school – not to mention they state in the copy that you don’t need a chauffeur to drive it – means I might have a point.

Now I get I have no right to criticise the wonderful Mr Ogilvy and the fact this ad is continually referred to implies it was hugely successful … but when I was reminded what the actual ad looked like – rather than just hearing that headline – I couldn’t help feeing that I find this scam ad for Bentley far more appealing.

[Though I accept that just might be my Nottingham heritage shining through]



Kickstarter Is The Modern Boy Who Cried Wolf …

To all you poor souls that hoped 2017 was going to be better than 2016, I have some bad news for you.

This blog is back.

I know … I know …

Look, I’m pretty sure you had a good festive season and a drunk New Year – not to mention some time off work – so rather than condemn me as a person trying to ruin your 2017, see me as a kind soul trying to prepare you for the misery the next 12 months has in store.

It’s going to be an interesting year … what with Trump as President and a bunch of other stuff [which I’ll talk about at another time] but to continue with my theme of compassion, I will ease you into the pain of this blog with a little rant.

Kickstarter.

I know, I’ve written about them before … but I came across something recently that really takes the overhyped biscuit.

Shoelaces.

Bloody shoelaces.

I can just about live with the fact they call them ‘reimagined’, but ‘this changes everything?’

Really?

Give me a break.

Sure, it might change it for people who have difficulties like the elderly or the handicapped [am I allowed to say handicapped?] but using a picture of an able-boded, youngish male seems to imply they literally mean every single person – regardless of age or physical capacity.

Better yet, they use a picture where despite having these ‘new-fangled’ shoelaces, you need to bend down and use your hands to ease your foot into the shoes … which begs the question, WHAT’S THE FUCKING POINT.

I liked Kickstarter.

I’ve bought a ton off Kickstarter.

But sadly, I’ve had more disappointing experiences than positive.

Sure, that’s not entirely their fault as they simply act as a hub for the companies trying to raise capital, however it seems that rather than be more stringent in the quality control of companies they allow to use their site, they have decided to take a course of action that involves hyping up average products at an inflation rate that resembles Russia in the mid-1990’s.

This approach may keep some people coming in, but it is increasingly turning people off … because when all their ads on social media promise products that are going to revolutionise/change/evolve/solve/innovate the World as we know it, what they actually say to people is, ‘here is some more bullshit for us to ignore’.

Maybe these shoelaces do change everything.

Maybe they are the product that will bring World peace.

But when you associate with a boy who has cried wolf too many times, you end up being ignored by everyone.

Entrepreneurs, take note.

Oh it’s good to be back.



I Lied …

Yes, I know I said I’d finished writing this blog for the year, but someone sent me something that has compelled me to write one more rant.

Besides, I’m in advertising … so you shouldn’t expect us to be honest.

Ahem.

Anyway, I honestly don’t know if you will consider this a Christmas gift or horror, but you will always remember it … of that, I am absolutely sure.

So remember ages ago I said that the Gerard Butler manifesto for Hugo Boss was one of the worst things ever written?

Well, it still is … but this is definitely pushing it for first place.

The only reason Gerard wins, is because I think – or should I say, I hope – the people behind this are trying to take the piss.

I must admit, I have a niggling feeling that might not be the case – I worry, they were inspired by Gerard rather than want to ridicule it – but it’s Christmas and so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt … especially because their website features a video where they definitely have a twinkle in the eye about what they’re doing.

However, if this was written in January, there’s no way I’d be so gracious and I’d be having a aneurysm explaining why this sort of thing represents the the worst of advertising … contrived self importance mixed with a large dollop of contrived shock value.

Or said another way … the strategy that got Donald Trump elected.

Seriously, there are so many other ways they could have done this.

So many ways they could have made it fun and less cringeworthy.

But no, they decided to follow the same path as that aftershave that supposedly smells of a sweaty vagina.

A path that says as much about the people behind the brand as those who will embrace it.

Anyway, have a look at what the hell I’m talking about.

It is most definitely NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK … but you have to see it.

Then try and enjoy your Christmas, wherever you are.

Or just go back to what was supposed to be my last post and pretend this never happened.



A Kodak Moment Is Now An Embarrassing Moment …

Kodak.

A company that once was synonymous with photography that is now synonymous with failure.

There are a million stories detailing their demise, but fundamentally, it wasn’t because they couldn’t innovate [they were one of the pioneers of digital photography], they didn’t want to bring it to market because they didn’t want to kill their photographic developing business, even though that business was going to kill them if they continued with it.

But this post isn’t a bad history lesson, it’s about the new Kodak … the lean, mean, technology machine.

Have a look at this …

Yep, it’s the World’s first 360 degree action-camera with 4k picture detail.

OK, so you could say bringing out a device like this, years after GoPro blew-up the market, shows Kodak still have a habit of being late to change, but at least this time they are trying to offer a fundamentally better product than what is currently available – not to mention leveraging the 360 degree market, that seems to have come from nowhere.

But even that isn’t what this post is about.

No, what this is about is that based on this ad, Kodak still think it’s the 1980’s.

A few years ago, I wrote how one of GoPro’s strengths was how they were part of the culture they were making products for. This authenticity separated them from the countless other brands that tried to jump on the bandwagon – even when they had arguably better products.

Two years later and it seems some brands still haven’t grasped the importance of focusing on the culture, rather than the category.

Look at that ad. Look at it.

It’s fucking horrible.

If a photo of the London skyline from a bloody restaurant wasn’t bad enough [what the hell is ‘action cam’ about that???] … what about the utterly terrible shot of the product.

A brown square with a shitty dome on top.

It looks like a crap 1950’s robot toy that you’d find in a Kinder-Surprise.

What the hell were Kodak thinking?

And then there’s the product name and the font choice.

PIXPRO … using a stencil type font in a desperate bid to look cutting edge.

If your product is the ‘future’, you don’t need to use a shitty font because people will work it out for themselves. And even if you decide you absolutely, positively, desperately want to do it … my advice is to not use a font that is synonymous with the 1982!

And what’s that line … ‘Brings You Closer’.

What does it even mean?

Here is a product that gives you 360 degree views [which, arguably, they don’t even show in the ad] and they use that line.

Mind you, here is a product that gives you 360 degree views in 4k quality, and they don’t even help you understand what 4k quality means to the recipient.

There is so much they could do to make people want to know more – even using an old-school print ad – but no, they’ve gone for the worst advertising you could get.

Apparently the product is quite good … but sadly for Kodak, with a name that represents the past rather than the future and an ad that reinforces that perspective, I think the only view they’ll be seeing is their once great name growing smaller and smaller into the distance.



It’s Red Nose Day Every Day …

I’m back. Which means the operation went well.

Otis is still in Australia but he’s doing well and has starting dancing again so his Mum and me can breathe a massive sigh of relief.

With that in mind, let’s get back to more bland, boring stuff … starting with this:

I’ve always been of the belief that whether it’s an ad or a film or a product … it’s the details that really define who you are.

They can demonstrate the standards of the brand … the quality of the product or the stupidity of the ad agency amongst countless other things.

You see while society is often distracted by the big and the shiny, it’s the little things – often hidden in the shadows – that truly demonstrates whether the people/brands you are associating with, value you as much as they are asking you to value them.

I truly believe that, but the fact of the matter is I’m only saying it so I can post this picture …

At first I thought it was just a genius and cunning idea by the brand/agency to make their fairly bland ad stand out, then I saw the website was partially obscured and realised that it was just another example of lack of craft and care.

If they do that to their ads, I daren’t imagine what that means Cake Box do to their food.