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


The Con Goes On …

Back in March I wrote that APAC Insider Magazine had nominated Cynic for an Australian award, despite us ceasing to be a legal entity in 2010.

Well, today I got an email telling me ‘we were still in the running’ and they would be sending details for the award decision and ceremony.

Of course it’s all a load of bollocks, but imagine if you were a small company and thought you were honestly up for an award, you’d probably do whatever they asked because when you’re starting out, you’re continually looking for anything that reaffirms your decision to go it alone.

As I’ve written before, starting your own company is one of the best things you can ever do, but the journey – especially at the beginning – is incredibly fragile and this sort of thing has the potential to bring it all down.

Of course, there’s an argument it could also lift some people up … but if you win an award from a magazine who wants to nominate a company that died 7 years ago, you have to ask if the ‘award’ is something you really want to be associated with.

So, given these fuckers are exploiting the insecurity of small businesses, I’ve decided to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Sure, I’m going to continue going along with their ‘award’ – mainly because I’m genuinely interested to see how far their con goes on – but I’m going to do something else.

I can’t go into specifics right now, but let’s just say APAC Insider Magazine have received an email announcing their nomination for the International Magazine Publishers ‘Promotion of the Year’ and we’re going to see how they like a taste of their own medicine.

#PaybackIsGlorious



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 …



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.



Credit Where Credit Is Due …

One of the things that has always bugged me about adland is the ad ‘credit list’.

Sometimes you’ll read about a one-off print ad that has a longer credit list than a bloody movie.

Seriously.

Look, I get the importance of having your name on things – this is an industry obsessed with that – but it kind of gets ridiculous when people are mentioned because they put the stamp on the invitation for the client launch.

That’s why I always loved that Mother credited everything as Mother.

Sure, you could claim it robbed those involved in the making of the work from getting the credit they deserved – but I can tell you for a fact, there’s no way those people would be anonymous for long.

Of course the worst is when people take credit for things they didn’t really do.

Or big themselves up to make it sound like they were instrumental in what was created.

With that, I want to tell you a story that I heard from my friend – and creative extroidinatire – Kash Sree.

A long time ago – in the 80’s to be precise – there was a phenomenal writer called Richard Cook.

The creative director he worked for was notorious for not giving credit to the people who deserved it and had left Richard’s name off numerous previous pieces of well received work.

One lunch, the creative director handed Richard an ad and asked him to write some copy for it before he got back.

Richard – in a demonstration of his talent – wrote the piece over his lunch break.

It’s the ad at the top of this post.

The ad went on to win countless awards.

In an award-obsessed industry, Richard wasn’t exactly surprised that the creative director yet again denied Richard had anything to do with the work. So Richard unleashed his weapon.

He simply stated if anyone needed proof that he was responsible for the ad, they should read the first letter of every paragraph of the copy.

I’ll save you the bother. It spelled out ‘Richard Cook wrote this’.

Genius.



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.



Lazy Disruption …

Right now, in supermarkets across super-conservative Singapore, is this …

Yep … that’s a real thing.

The product originates from the UK but – unsurprisingly – had it’s advertising banned there on the grounds of indecency.

[Which is why I’m kind of scared what they mean by 100% natural]

The fact it has been able to run this sort of thing in Singapore highlights the authorities there are either ultra-naive or super-broadminded.

Given the Red Dot Nation is not renowned for its liberalness – despite things like this getting through the system – I assume the introduction of a hoverboard in the visual convinced the powers-that-be that this was a genuine ad for a brand celebrating an active lifestyle.

Idiots.

But not quite as idiotic as the immature boys/expat wankers who’ll buy the stuff thinking they’re being witty. On the positive, the moment they’re seen with a can, they’ll be more hated than a Nottingham Forest owner. And trust me, that’s seriously hated.



You Can Never Be Rich Enough …

So I was reading a business mag [I know, I know] and saw this …

In some ways, I am kind of impressed that a company would be so blatant in its ‘greed is good’ approach.

Let’s be honest, most brands – even super luxury brands – kind of steer away from talking about cash so literally.

Instead, they use words like ‘exclusivity’ or ‘precious’ or ‘craftsmanship’.

I get why …

Not because they think talking about money is vulgar, but because they’re scared if they put a price against their brand, a competitor could say “we are even more expensive than them”.

Yep, that’s the kind-of fucked-up world we live in.

So when I saw this ad, I have to say it grabbed my attention by it’s sheer confidence/arrogance.

It’s an ad for the ambitious. The hungry. The never satisfied.

It’s an ad for those who want to change the World and get reap the rewards of it.

Or that’s what they’d like to convince themselves it is.

In reality, it’s an ad for the sort of guys who don’t give a shit about others.

The types who fuck others over and think that by saying “it’s just business”, it relinquishes them from all blame.

The people who believe money defines who they are and who others are.

The folks who say they want to change the World but really mean want to change their world.

There’s probably millions of these people out there.

They probably now hold ExcelAir in the highest of esteem.

I kind of admire that.

I kind of admire the balls of ExcelAir to ignore the sensitivity of the times and just go for it.

But I’d still rather shit in my hands and clap.

Especially when it’s delivered in an ad that looks like Stevie Wonder art-directed it.