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


When Thinking Isn’t Thinking …

I have long-written how Asian hotel hospitality – albeit in the better end of the hotel ranking system – absolutely trash their US counterparts in almost all aspects of comfort and service.

The same can be said for a whole host of things, including airports, infrastructure and educational standards … however recently, on a trip to the US, I saw something that basically summed up the whole madness of American standards, at least in terms of hotels.

To demonstrate the point, come with me on a terrible z-grade bit of storytelling …

We are in the boardroom of the Sheraton Suites Hotel chain.

The team are meeting on room design …

“Where should we put the full length mirror” asks one of staff members.

“There’s so much wall space – we’re in America, greatest land in the World – it could literally go anywhere” replied a duty manager.

This debate goes back and forth for a while before they determine they won’t be able to get to the answer by themselves.

So after opening a P/O number and conducting some internal questionnaires, they spend a further 6 days at a ‘mirror brainstorm summit’ offsite before deciding they needed external help.

Enter McKinseyBainBoston&Sons … management consultants that now can turn their hand to anything if the invoice has a minimum of six 0’s attached to it.

Off they go and do a full brand audit and interview process.

This takes 9 months.

Finally, after spending millions of dollars in expenses and time, the consultants come back and present their answer to the Sheraton Suites board.

Obviously they love it, McKinseyBainBoston&Sons are the pinnacle at whatever they do.

A grand party is set to announce the answer.

The whole company comes together.

There is lift music, average food and fake smiles before finally the time has come.

With great fanfare the envelope with the answer is opened.

“Place the mirror directly opposite the loo so guests can see themselves when they’re having a shit”

Everyone claps wildly.

Except anyone who stays there.

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Like Walking Across A Minefield In Clowns Shoes …

I have written a lot about scam in the past.

How it is destroying the credibility of our industry.

How the main culprits are the agencies behind the bland wallpaper we see each day.

How these scam places are devaluing the agencies who make amazing work for real clients.

Recently John Hegarty suggested that agencies found doing scam should be banned from award shows like athletes are banned from competing.

I absolutely love this idea.

I don’t think it will stop it happening, but it will severely reduce it.

But I’d go one step further.

Years ago Andy told me the judges of the awards are complicit in scam happening.

He said that they were so focused on being associated with great work, they didn’t care if it was real work.

I think he has a point which is why rather than just banning the agencies who do it, I’d ban the judges who award it.

Of course, the judges could say they acted in good faith and assumed the people behind the competition had evaluated it’s appropriateness.

And that’s fair, but the award competitions need entries and the horrid reality is that scam has paid the bills for many of them for too long so to expect them to rigorous in their validity might be a bit too much to hope.

But here’s the thing, scam isn’t even hard to spot.

Part of the reason for it is – as I mentioned – because it comes from agencies who are more known for their blandom than their pragmatsism.

The other reason is that in their quest to be provocative, the agencies often overstep the mark because they know judges love this sort of thing.

Have a look at this …

It’s about as perfect an example of scam you can get.

A visually driven idea [because unless the copy is in English, it will stop judges liking it]

A clear point of view.

Embracing topical events to make their point.

On face value, it all makes perfect sense – but apart from the fact that idea is as old as the hills – the use of a Muslim woman highlights the desperate attempt of the agency and creative team to be ‘award worthy’.

Sure, all the pictures reflect people following some sort of ‘ideology’ … but a skinhead walking away from other skinheads in a riot and a soldier walking away from other soldiers on their way to unleash war on some nation is very different to a Muslim woman walking away from a group of other Muslim women who simply appear to be Muslim women.

Talk about making a massive and insulting comment to women of the Muslim faith.

The implication that they are all blindly following an ideology designed to cause destruction to others – as seems the theme given the other executions – is both wrong and frankly irresponsible.

But who cares about that when there’s an award to win.

But then, those who enter the dark world of scam don’t care about anything.

Including thinking if their ‘idea’ actually is consistent or makes sense.

Name them.

Ridicule them.

Ban them.



When A Company Confuses Condescending Twaddle As Help …

I saw this at Fulham tube station.

What were they thinking?

Oh I know what they were thinking … they thought this made Aviva look like a company who wanted to help ‘the little people’ be like the successful pin-stripe suit brigade.

But the fact is, when it comes from a company run by the pin-stripe suit brigade, not only does it lose any sense of authenticity, it feels patronising, condescending and as judgmental as hell.

And if you think I’m being a dick, the fact the last line is a cold, hard and harsh ‘capital at risk’ … you know the real goal of this ad is to get more commission than to spread the wealth.

Or maybe that’s just me.



UBloodyShitheads …
November 8, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Corporate Evil, Marketing Fail

One of the things that makes me laugh is when financial institutions try and present themselves as caring about the World.

OK, so some genuinely do – but the big investment banks are highly questionable – and yet, despite countless proof their quest for profit trumps everything, they continue to spout this company line.

Well recently I saw one that reached new depths of tragic.

UBS.

Putting aside ‘Does Cancer Respect Wealth’ is a pretty cold and heartless way to ever communicate, this is not some statement declaring UBS is donating billions to find a cure – oh no – it’s an ad designed to do 2 things:

1. Stop anyone who is disgustingly wealthy feel guilty for being disgustingly wealthy.

2. Invite investment in companies trying to find a cure for cancer. Or said another way, it’s offering the chance to get seriously wealthy if one of the companies finds a cure.

They just can’t help themselves can they?

Look, I know money makes the World go round.

I know money can help solve things – as they so blatantly point out in their tweet, to make them sound like they’re the Red Cross.

But – and it’s a big but – the key is how you earn the cash and what you do with it and UBS don’t have a great track record in that. Sure, there are worse institutions out there, but I would rather they own what they’re trying to do rather than just badly spin it in an attempt to look like they care about humanity when the reality is they only care about humanity if they’re super rich and customers of theirs.



Marketing To The Religious Right …

Over the years I’ve written about some strange beliefs some strange people have.

For strange people, read overly religious, bigoted individuals.

First there was the gum that claimed to stop you masturbating.

Then there was the soap that made you a virgin again.

Well if that wasn’t weird enough, I recently saw this …

Now that is some headline.

It’s a headline that commands your attention.

It’s a headline that demands you delve deeper.

And when I did, I discovered that – similar to TBWA’s current approach to disruption – I left feeling more repulsed than attracted to the cause or the topic. Have a read of this …

I have read this a few times.

And even now – as I read it again – I come away shaking my head in utter dismay and disarray.

Because while I appreciate the authors beliefs are her beliefs [even though I find them unbelievably condescending, patronizing and judgmental] I also think she is fundamentally wrong because I’m pretty sure the main thing young men look for in young women is a pulse.

I’m not saying that’s right but neither is this sort of blinkered bollocks.

But here’s the thing, as blinkered bollocks as this may be … there’s a bunch of people who not only believe this, but live by it. And our industry needs to acknowledge this reality, because while we can judge all we like in our personal opinions, we have to keep an open and curious mind to what’s going on in our professional lives, because real life is a damn sight more complex, twisted and confusing than the nicely curated versions of what’s going that we like to present to the World.

If great communication is about resonance rather than relevance, then knowing the weird is way more important than knowing the convention.



Women Are Stronger Than Men …

A few weeks ago, I saw these 2 headlines being shared on social media …

Look at them!

Seriously, the fact women deal with this blatant – and subtle – prejudicial shit every single day and don’t want to kill every man they meet, is proof they’re stronger than any man can be.

I cannot tell you how much I really, really hope sperm stops depression in men as well as women.

Not just because depression is an incredibly debilitating illness, but the headlines and machismo bullshit we’ll see from all the misogynists around us, will be hysterical.

Though in a perfect world, it will be women’s pee that will be discovered as the ultimate ‘cure for all’ … because that would really fuck with them.

I’m so over this bullshit and I know I am not the only one … but as I discovered in my time in America, saying you don’t like something is not the same as doing something about it because we know the misogynists will keep doing their bit.



Welcome To Inauthenticity …

I’ve written about Gary Vee before.

And while I admire his ability to promote himself – and don’t deny his considerable entrepreneurial spirit – I feel he is entering that dangerous area where he’s starting to blindly believe his own voice, without any sense of objectivity.

Now there’s many successful people who are like that, but given he preaches on a platform of self awareness, I find this new chapter of his ego particularly unpleasant to witness.

What has raised my ire?

This …

Yep, he has launched his own range of sneakers.

Sneakers!

What the fuck?

Apart from maybe watching sport or having once ridden a skateboard, what credibility has he got to do that?

I could maybe accept it he had got some fantastic – and credible – people to help create them, but that is never mentioned at all.

Of course not, because even if that is the case, I doubt his ego would allow it.

And maybe that’s why he wants people in marketing and entrepreneurship to support him rather than athletes … despite the fact they’re made to look like the bastard love-child of Adidas and K-Swiss.

That’s right, it’s not enough for Mr Vaynerchuk to create a pair of ‘sneakers’ that’s been influenced/plagarised by one credible sports brand, he wants to double influence/plagarise … which kind of sums him up through and through.

Seriously, anyone who buys a pair of these is basically anti-sport and pro-asshole.