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


Strange Combinations …

Maybe it’s because I only have one working eye.

Maybe it’s because I’m an complete and utter idiot.

Maybe it’s because they’re both basically in black and white.

But when I saw the above ad at a local tube station, I thought it was all for the same product and couldn’t work out why the fonts were all different.

On the plus side, it made me take a closer look which means it’s immediately more effective than most of the ads I see underground.

As I said recently, tube ads are terrible.

Boring and rational as hell … with some occasional loose ‘riding the tube’ reference.

Boring while pretending to be wild and wacky … with some occasional loose ‘riding the tube’ reference.

Boring because they think they can get away with writing the longest, long copy ads in history, regardless that they make it feel like watching paint dry.

For such a captive audience, you’d think agencies and brands could find a way to enhance the passengers journey rather than letting their ego get the better of them and make them think they’re sitting their patiently waiting to read about another app launch that does exactly the same as the other 10 apps rationally explaining their role with some ‘crazy’ visual attached. Seriously, when the only reason I notice an ad is because I thought a whisky brand had made a milk product, you know it’s time we look at what ‘engagement’ means in our industry.

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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.



Love Bores You To Death …

So now my life is spent on the tube, I get to look an endless stream of terrible ads.

In the main, the vast majority are basically brochures shoved into a small space.

No thought about the audience.

No interest in capturing the imagination.

Just blatantly taking the piss by ramming down what they want to say regardless of who will be exposed to it.

While the example above for eHarmony.com is not one of the worst, it’s not great.

Putting aside the vast amount of copy on there, I don’t like the idea that their version of love is finding someone who is basically a duplicate of you.

Is that love?

Sure, having things in common is important, but isn’t it the differences that makes things magical?

I know for a fact that Jill has made me a better person simply because she is not me.

Her view of the World.

Her experiences.

Her hopes, dreams and ambitions.

The last person I can think I’d want to be with is another version of me.

OK, so they then end their ad by saying ‘meet that one person you never thought you’d meet’, but even though that gives a nod to your ideal partner having as many differences as commonalities, they’re still selling the idea that there’s only one person in the World right for you … which is not only bollocks, but emotionally manipulative.

But if that’s not bad enough, it’s the fact they say they ask 150 questions for each member.

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY!

Look, I get love is complex, complicated and deeply personal but 150 questions?

Jesus …

I wouldn’t mind, but according to some, you can make anyone fall in love with you if you just ask them 36 questions.

I know there have been a bunch of relationships that have formed because of eHarmony, but I wonder how many of those occurred simply because 2 people were in the right mindset for a relationship rather than because of the answers of their 150 questions.



If Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery, Is Duplication The Equivalent Of A Marriage Proposal?

So today was supposed to be the APSOTW results, but I’m still waiting on one more bit of feedback. I really, really hope that will come in soon so we can put everything out next week.

Sorry.

Fortunately, I can fill this post with something else …

Not as good – or as wanted – as the APSOTW feedback, but pretty mind blowing all the same.

When I lived in China, there was an unspoken rule that if a company did something successful, there would be hundreds of copycats in the blink of an eye.

I wrote about this a bunch of times with possible this one being the finest example of it.

Well, while it hasn’t happened quickly and it’s only been copied once, it has come to my attention that a planner in China has paid me the ultimate compliment by blatantly copying my old blog header [designed by Jill] for their own thing … including the name of it.

Take a look at this …

I suppose I should be offended but I think it’s bloody fantastic … though I do worry about the ramifications for this persons career.

Not because someone who is paid to have original thought has shown they would rather steal, but because to openly and publicly associate with Queen, Birkenstock, Nottingham Forest and me is basically ruinous.

This is not the reason why I haven’t mentioned their name in this post – though if you work in advertising in Shanghai, you might recognize this senior positioned, big named agency planner by her face – it’s because their posts are way better than mine [even they draw the line at copying them] and I don’t want to lose the last 3 people on here who come along to insult me.



Hanging On To The Past …

I appreciate I am the last person who should be writing a post with a title like this one, but recently – when I was in Hong Kong – I saw this billboard …

Now I get that once upon a time, HK was indeed a gateway to China and … in some categories, like law and, to a degree, international finance, it still has a significant role … but China is not this closed off country anymore, in fact I could argue it’s more commercially minded than HK so it seems this is the worst headline you should use to try and attract clients.

Without doubt there’s a role for advertising in HK airport for people traveling to China – especially Chinese tourists – but it’s not because they don’t have options there, hell they have more options that any other place in the World, it’s that you might help them want your option more than the countless others they’ll have available to them the moment they land.



Social Media Reveals How Stupid You Are By Showing How Stupid You Think People Are …

Now I appreciate I am a social media whore and have posted all sorts of rubbish in the past, but even I would never do something like this …

I honestly don’t know who is the bigger idiot …

Nescafe for thinking this is a good idea.

The agency for coming up with this idea.

The couple – who occupy that unique space of un-influential, influencers – who decided to commemorate their engagement by selling their souls for a few quid and appearing in a social media post for an international coffee brand while pretending [1] it’s totally natural to commemorate your engagement by appearing in a social media post for an international coffee brand and [2] it’s totally believable to have a staged photo of you in bed, despite the fact there was a photographer in the room with you..

Some other questions are:

+ Why are they not looking at each other?

+ Why is he so, so, so brown?

+ Judging by how tensed up his arms are, just how heavy is that cup of coffee?

+ Why is he cradling his cock?

Seriously, this might be the most z-grade version of Hello magazine that ever lived.

Everyone involved in this – and I mean everyone – needs a bloody big smack in the head.



World Cup Advertising Plane Crashes …

I thought it had been well documented that any ad agency commandeering a song to try and show how ‘fun’ they are was a recipe for disaster.

Well, it seems that lesson has only been partially learnt, because while this sonic shitshow is not being performed by – or on behalf – of an agency, an agency was behind its creation and the end result is the sort of disaster that is more likely to cause hooliganism than fandom.

Seriously Qatar Airways, what the fuck were you thinking?

I know airline advertising is notoriously bad [except my old Virgin Atlantic stuff, of course] and World Cup spots tend to not be too far behind [except NIKE, though for some reason they’ve decided not to do anything yet which is either going to be a masterstroke of surprise* or a New Coke moment] but this piece of awfulness reaches a low that even Donald Trump at his most ambitious would be hard pressed to pull off.

Cliched.

Contrived.

Vacuous.

Lazy.

Devoid of any idea, energy or – for that matter – strategy.

Ladies and gentlemen. Boys and girls.

Please welcome an ad that was made to ruin your Monday …

* Please be a masterstroke of surprise. You are always the ones who define the World Cup.

Talking of NIKE and World Cup ads, maybe someone should tell the agency behind Iceland Air’s World Cup spot, that while people say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the reality is imitation is the laziest form of flattery.

Look, I know Write The Future was 8 years ago, but there’s this thing called the internet that means people can easily see and compare the work and while your production values are good – certainly compared to that Qatar disgrace – it’s still a blatant bloody ripoff that does you [and your agency] more harm than good.