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


It’s Been An Honour …

After 7 years, today is my last day at Wieden+Kennedy.

Just as traumatic is that in 6 days, it will be my last day in China.

Or said another way, it will be my last day living in Asia-Pacific after 22 amazing years.

There’s honestly too much to say.

Too many memories to write about.

Too many people to thank and talk about.

So instead I’ll just say it has been the time of my life.

An amazing, spectacular, wonderful adventure both personally and professionally.

From marriage and babies to being part of work that defined World Cups and Olympics.

Wow.

It’s absolutely fair to say I will miss every bit of it but I’ll take the memories because it means I had the experience and for that I am truly grateful.

Now, because we’re in the middle of mad moving mode, this blog will be on a little hiatus for a few weeks.

Probably about a month. [Though we all know there’ll be the odd post here and there]

On the bright side, when it’s back – probably sometime in June, in time for my birthday [ha] – you’ll get to read posts that won’t just be about planning, but how I don’t understand how to make anything in America work.

I honestly think I’m going to find it harder to acclimatise to America than I ever did to China.

Hell, I can’t even order a cup of coffee without getting confused about their cup sizes.

So with that I want to sign off with a few little thank-you’s.

The reality is a huge amount of people made my time here amazing, however there’s some who had an even bigger influence and I want to call them out because the adventure I had – and am about to embark on – literally wouldn’t have been possible without them.

My wonderful planning team. Past and present. Every day was a genuine fucking honour. The awesome Kennedys. It was seriously the professional highlight of my last 12 months. Thank you. And that definitely includes you Juni. Kel Hook. For hiring me. You changed my life and I’ll never be able to thank you enough. Jason White. Thank you for supporting me even when I caused destruction. John Rowe. For being brilliant in every possible way and making my time at W+K Tokyo so good, I never wanted to leave. NIKE. I know that might sound corporate toady, but as I have nothing to gain from saying it, it means it is true. 99.7% of every person I met or worked with at Wieden+Kennedy worldwide … whether they are still here or long gone. Martin Weigel. You’re a cantankerous, warm hearted, brilliant man. Just propose to Mercedes and get on with it. Whiteside. Because you’re awesome and funny and humble and deserve so much and yet are happy with what you have. Clare Pickens. I love you. I literally fucking love you. [But stop cutting your hair because it makes you look shit] Sandi Hildreth. For being awesome and gorgeous and loving the same sort of rubbish music as me. Claudia Valderrama. For looking out for me even though you told me I was a “pain in the ass”. W&W, Azsa, Arlene and Max … for making sure I stay excited – and in awe – about the birth of amazing ideas. Gerber, for somehow – and I’m not sure how – influencing me to get tattoos. I came here with none, I leave with not enough. Simon Pestridge. Thank you for everything. In many ways, you changed my career and opportunities. You’re more than a great client, but a friend. Kim Papworth. For that talk that was totally worth the wait. Luhr. For being Luhr. Stech. For making your 6 months here, the most exciting 6 months for me full stop. David Terry and Paul Colman for trying really hard to be ‘alpha-males’ but actually being fucking sweethearts. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Joe Staples. He won’t understand why, which is why. MJ. No, not Micheal Jackson or Michal Jordan, but Matthew Jung … for being a phenomenal Nike and Converse client who backed us to do the best work we can do every-single-time. Karrelle. For pretending to still be British when he’s basically American. Steve Tsoi for still welcoming me to the table even though I never made life easy for you or your team. Scott Silverman. You had nothing to do with China, but if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have had the chance to be here. Chris Jaques. You also had nothing to do with China, but if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have had the platform to show others what I could do. What I could be. Dan Wieden. For not actually firing me even though you said, “You’re fired” every time you saw me. And starting a place that is so special amongst special companies. Xiaoli. For everything you have done for us, but most specifically for the love and care you have shown my son. China … for being so important to global business that you gave me access and exposure to the sort of senior leadership few in the World will ever get to experience. The amazing, warm, slightly crazy people of China. I will absolutely miss everything about your unique ways. Except the spitting and the plane delays. And finally – and most importantly – my beloved Jill, Otis and Rosie. Without you guys, none of this other stuff would have mattered.

OK, the Gwyneth Paltrow bollocks is over … and to prove it, have a look at this.

Do you know what it is?

That’s right, it’s one of the 600 stickers I have had made that I have spent the last 5 weeks hiding throughout the refurbished Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai office. And I mean ‘throughout’ … including various W+K hangouts, like Baker & Spice, Jamaica Blue and Little Catch.

That should make their life a pain in the ass for a few years.

It will be like I’ve never gone.

And with that, it’s time to go.

It’s been a lot of fun. Time for an adventure in LA. God help us all.



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.



Welcome To Delusional …

I get pester power.

I understand how that dynamic can work and works.

I also know the airline industry is very competitive and the A380 hasn’t been as super-successful as was originally expected.

But – and it’s a really big but – I’m not sure that tactic will convince an airline carrier to suddenly start buying A380’s.

Not just because those planes – or any plane for that matter – are the sort of thing you buy on a whim, but because most airline travellers tend to choose the carrier rather than purely the plane they will be travelling on.

And then there’s the bullshit of their domain name.

iflya380.com

Look, I know the actual name of the plane is A380 – as in Airbus 380 – but the inclusion of the ‘a’ makes the domain name sound like it’s the passengers who fly the bloody thing.

As in I FLY A 380.

Why couldn’t they change it to ilovea380.com or itravela380.com?

Yes, I know I’m sounding John Doddslike, but it makes something bad even worse … and don’t even get me started on how utterly boring the website actually is when you go to it.

Honestly, what do they think this campaign is going to do?

What the hell are the KPI’s for this campaign?

And seriously, how the hell are they justifying ‘the passengers favourite’.

I would absolutely kill to know the thinking behind this work because in a weird way, it has put me off Airbus and A380’s … and judging by fact they’ve only received 14 emojis – of which at least 1 is ‘shocked’ – it would seem I’m not the only one.



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.



Do As I Say, Not As I Do …

As you know, I utterly love China.

Sure, there’s some things I’m not that keen on … the pollution and the copyright infringement to name a few … but apart from that, it’s amazing in so many ways.

The speed of change.

The integration of technology in daily life.

The TV programs that show a young girl make animals fall asleep on National TV.

All this from a communist country.

I know, everyone talks about China in terms of its mass consumption, and I get that, but make no mistake, China is a communist nation.

Sure, it doesn’t always appear that way.

[Though much of that is based on our prejudice of how a communist country should look]

And it doesn’t always act that way.

[Though communism never said the people couldn’t all be rich. Though that is far from being the case here so that’s not an argument I can make with a straight face]

But the fact is, it is … even if it is only demonstrated by the sorts of signs I saw above.

Though – to be fair – the sign isn’t really telling people to not spend their money on material possessions, but to warn sightseers [I took this at The Bund] of dodgy tourist guides.

But hey, since when has this blog – or advertising – been about ultra accuracy. Ahem.



Pepsi’s April Fools Ad Is Brilliant …

Well done Pepsi.

Where so many brands made their April Fool’s ad obvious as hell, you’ve gone with subtlety.

The use of a multi-cultural audience was brilliant.

I loved how you made sure they were all stunningly attractive to ensure minorities would find it even harder to feel like they belong.

Comedy gold.

And then you gave them all incredible creative talent to really rub people’s noses in it.

But not just any creative talent … you have them play Cello’s and use DLSR’s to show they have sophisticated taste as well as cash.

Lots and lots of cash.

You cheeky, cheeky monkeys.

And what can I say about that demonstration!

The most passive, bored-looking demonstration of all time.

Even when members of the crowd are supposedly struck by an overwhelming desire to express their creativity – like that scene from 80’s TV show, Fame – you can’t help but feel their version of self expression would be to play musical statues.

Seriously, whoever came up with that should win an Emmy.

I especially like the way you incorporated the Pepsi colours and logo in so many of those signs to really take-the-piss out of social movements.

Less, ‘stick it to the man’ and more ‘we are owned by the man’.

Brilliant.

I must admit, while I was enthralled, I wasn’t sure what the demonstrators were supposed to be demonstrating about.

Sure there was that banging soundtrack going on about ‘live for now’, but surely the opposite of ‘living for now’ is shuffling your feet in a demonstration rather than actually doing something you enjoy.

No wonder they looked so bored and walked like extras from ‘The Walking Dead’.

And that’s when you played your trump card … Kendall Jenner.

At first, I must admit I was confused.

Surely Kendell Jenner is the absolute opposite of raw, youthful energy?

But then you brought us right back into the humour by suggesting she would shun her luxury lifestyle to join a march that no one knows whats for, simply because some bloke with a cello strapped to her back smiled at her.

A bloke she would never encounter in normal life because she makes sure she never has to mingle with the common class.

Get these copywriters writing for Saturday Night Live NOW!

Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, you upped the game again.

My god, are you insane?

Slowly we see the crowd of about 37 people come face to face with some nondescript Police Force.

I say nondescript, but they’re definitely not American.

Oh no, even you know not to take the piss out of the US Police Force.

I hold my breath wondering what is about to happen.

Then Kendell appears again …

And what’s she got in her hand?

Yes, a Pepsi. A can of fucking Pepsi.

She walks right up to the Policeman and hands it to him.

SHE FUCKING HANDS IT TO HIM!!!

Better yet, you make it so he takes the can and then takes a swig.

The crowd go wild.

Kendell walks backwards and disappears into the crowd.

What a twist … WHAT A FUCKING TWIST!!!

The 37, blue wearing, multicultural, creative practicing teens weren’t demonstrators at all, they were simply spreading the Pepsi word.

They were like Mormons.

Pepsi Mormons.

Absolutely amazing.

I tell you, this ad shouldn’t just win advertising awards, but also comedy ones.

I bet all of comedies greats are looking at this right now and clapping their hands in awe.

Nothing can beat this. Nothing.

Not even Pepsi’s previous attempt at comedy genius – the one where they linked the Mona Lisa’s smile to their logo design.

OK, so some may say the humour is too subtle, but come on, no one would believe that highly paid marketers and agency creative directors really think this reflects the attitudes and behaviour of modern day youth. I mean, apart from being utterly preposterous. it would be totally embarrassing.

No, this is comedy gold, pure and simple. Even the fact they launched it after April Fools Day is hilarious.

Thank you Pepsi for giving me the best laugh of 2017, though you should know being laughed at is not the same as making people laugh.

Pepsi: the choice for a generation that doesn’t exist.



When You Can Tell A Company Has Lost It …

I’ve written a lot about GoPro.

I’ve bathed them in adoration … highlighting how they were born from their community, which enabled them to create communication that literally inspired the growth of their community, not to mention a whole new multi-billion dollar industry.

I’ve also written a bunch about how other brands simply don’t get it … like Kodak and Nikon.

So it absolutely breaks my heart that GoPro are fucking up.

I’m not just talking about their product issues – or their reluctance to innovate – but the one thing they used to do flawlessly.

Their ads.

Look at this …

OK, they’ve kept their ‘in the middle of the action’ imagery.

And yes, they’ve kept the message mercilessly short.

But look at it … that visual hardly screams ‘live action’ and that message is a perfect example of corporate blandom and passiveness.

However there is an even bigger question.

Why – just why – did GoPro walk away from their absolutely brilliant ‘Be A Hero’?

I honestly think that is one of the best lines since Just Do It and yet, within a few years, they’ve seemingly walked away from it and for what?

To keep things new and fresh?

If that’s what they think then they have utterly failed.

It might be new but it’s certainly not fresh.

‘Be A Hero’ was brilliant because it perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the brand and the people who use their products.

It was a line that could last a lifetime. I genuinely believe that.

This obsession with an annual ‘relaunch’ is ridiculous.

That isn’t how you build something … but it is certainly how you destroy it.

Look, I know end-lines don’t make a brand, but they do effect how culture views them.

I know some people don’t agree with that – thinking end lines are old hat – but my response is if NIKE walked away from Just Do It and replaced it with something like ‘Feel Amazing’, I’m pretty sure everyone would think they’ve lost their spirit and edge.

A bit like going from ‘Be A Hero’ to ‘Capture Different’.