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


The Con Is Revealed ….

So as any poor, regular reader on here knows, I’ve been getting emails from APAC Insider magazine saying that Cynic was in the running for a Business Excellence Award in Australia.

Now while this is flattering, you’ll also know that Cynic legally closed their doors in 2010 so APAC Insider are basically a bunch of con-merchants.

Well, now I have unequivocal proof of it because – as I suspected we would – we won.

Yep, Cynic – a company that has not been in legal existence for SEVEN YEARS – has won a Business Excellence Award.

Now they may claim our excellence is in the fact we sold the company, but frankly, this would have been more believable if they’d not left a 7 year gap before bestowing us with their award.

But that’s all by-the-by because I know what you want to know what we won.

Is it a massive trophy?

Is it a huge cheque?

Is it a staring role at a lavish ceremony?

No, it’s this …



That’s right, our ‘prize’ is the chance to get a discount to advertise in their magazine.

A magazine that gives out prizes to companies that don’t exist anymore.

A magazine no one has heard of.

Oh hang on, they also give you a ‘digital certificate’ that you can put on your website. Oh that’s alright then … I mean, who wouldn’t want to advertise a bullshit magazine’s award on their website that basically say’s We’re a bunch of gullible fools.

I hate this company … I hate what they are trying to do to small business.

Sure, the small companies might have some blame to share if they do it, but as I wrote a while ago, when you’re just starting out, you are so desperate to feel you are moving forwards, you tend to grasp onto anything that feels like a positive step.

That’s what those fucks at APAC Insider magazine are exploiting and managing to get away with it.

But there is some good news because last week I received an email from them expressing their interest in being nominated for the International Magazine Publishers ‘Promotion of the Year’, so maybe they’ll be learning their lesson more quickly than we all hoped.

And I’ll be there applauding them when they get their moment in the spotlight.

Advertisements


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.



When Priceless Has A Price …

So I was driving into work a few days ago when I heard MasterCard talk about their priceless causes campaign.

Apparently every year they choose a charity they are going to help and in a bid to raise money for them, they launch campaigns to try and get additional support from their customers.

OK, so you could argue this is a blatant attempt to look less like a bunch of money-hungry bastards, but it’s better than nothing, so we’ll let that pass.

But I’ll tell you what I won’t let pass and that’s them placing a limit on how much they are willing to donate.

Yep, even though they call this program ‘Priceless Causes’, the reality is they do have a price and in the case of their chosen charity, STAND UP TO CANCER, it’s 4 million dollars.

Oh it gets even worse than that …

First is the fact that 4 million is the maximum they’ll pay out and given the criteria they have stated to make a donation, there’s a chance they’ll get a way with a lot less.

Then there’s the fact their donations are directly linked to their customers spending [on their MasterCards of course] you could say every cent they hand over [and they’re literally giving 1 cent for every $10 spent] is coming from their customers pocket rather than theirs.

Why didn’t someone say anything?

Sure, the potential of 4 million dollars is a good thing … but apart from the fact the CEO of MasterCard was paid over $15 million dollars in 2015, it’s pretty shit to talk about ‘Priceless Causes’ and then put a price on it.

I should be happy about this campaign.

I should be glad a financial institution is doing something good for others.

And yet I’m left with the overwhelming impression that all they’re doing is stealing from the pockets of society. Again.



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.