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


Brexit Airways …

So a few weeks ago, I was in Amsterdam and about to fly to London.

I was quite excited because apart from going ‘home’ for the first time in well over a year – even if it was just for 18 hours – I was going to fly into London City airport for the first time and I was interested to see it.

OK, that’s not why I had chosen to pay the higher fair – I had to be in the city at a specific time – and so that airport made things super convenient for me.

About 30 minutes before we were going to board, a member of British Airways came up to me and asked …

“Mr Campbell, would you be interested in catching a later flight that lands at Heathrow. We will provide you with a €25 voucher if you do.”

Now for those of you who don’t know, Heathrow Airport is not in the middle of London and while it is obviously well served with transport links, it’s a much longer journey and probably costs more than the €25 they were offering.

Because of this, I asked …

“Does anyone ever accept that offer?”

The representative looked at me rather sarcastically and said …

“Yes, lots of people actually”.

Now maybe I was a bit jet-lagged.

Or maybe I just didn’t choose the right words.

But I found myself replying with …

“That must explain why you’re no longer the World’s favourite airline”.

OK, that was a majorly dick move, but I still can’t work out how an airline thinks it’s OK to offer an alternative flight that goes to a completely different airport and a voucher that doesn’t come close to covering the higher price I’d paid for my ticket [so I could fly to that specific airport], let alone the probable cost of getting into the city from this new destination.

I get things change and alternative plans have to be made, but brands need to remember that the best way to deal with screwing up is to offer a genuine level of compensation, not something that literally rubs salt into the wounds.

Have they learnt nothing from their war with Virgin?

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It Seems I Am The Fine Line Between Famous And Infamous …

How is your 2018 going so far?

I know it’s still early days – but is it looking good or bad?

Well, if it’s looking positive, I’m about to ruin it for you and if it is looking dodgy, I’m going to help you solidify your opinion.

Why?

Well, a few weeks ago, a nice guy called Paul McEnany asked if he could interview me about my career.

While I’m sure his reasoning for his request was to help planners learn what not to do, my ego said yes even before my mouth did … and while the end result is the bastard love child of rambling randomness and base-level swearing, it’s the perfect way to justify your pessimism for 2018 or to ensure your optimism for the new year doesn’t get too high.

So go here and errrrrm, enjoy [if that’s the right word for it, which it isn’t] and after you’ve heard my crap, listen to the brilliant interviews with people like Gareth Kay, Russell Davies, Richard Huntingdon, Martin Weigel and the amazing Chris Riley because apart from being hugely interesting and inspiring, you’ll get the added bonus of [1] undeniable proof I’m a massive imposter and [2] the knowledge that if I can have some sort of semi-successful career in advertising, you certainly can.

You’re welcome.



Know Your Audience …

When the internet first started, you often found your inbox full of ‘newsletters’ from companies who had sent you stuff simply because you once showed an interest in what they were doing.These newsletters invariably talked about what the company wanted you to be interested in, rather than what you were interested in – which is why they would often end up in the trash, without even opening them.

To be honest, I thought the worst of those days were over, but then last week I received this …

Now, as I am sure most of you know, I don’t drink alcohol.

Nothing.

In fact, not a sip of alcohol has passed my lips since NINETEEN EIGHTY FIVE!

That’s 32 years … longer than some of you have been alive … so putting aside the fact I never showed an interest in this company, the opening 2 sentences of their ‘personalized email’ has 2 major mistakes:

1. It’s not perfect for me.
2. Which is why it’s hard to get hold of me.

So while I like my colleagues and I especially like them when they’re drunk so I have more embarrassing shit to have on them, I wouldn’t buy this for myself – or them – which suggests that the ‘newsletter tsunami’ that I thought had died a long time ago, is not only alive and well … but has evolved to pure business scam, which is hardly likely to make me trust them, even if they had something I wanted.

I can only imagine they were drunk when they put me on their newsletter list.

That or they’re fucking idiots.



Plane Crash Advertising. Again.

I’ve written a lot about how bad airline advertising is.For an industry that is selling escape, adventure, discovery and recuperation – I’m shocked how terrible it is.

Sure, there’s exceptions … Virgin has always been strong [and not just because I was involved in so much of it] and the S7 work from Wieden Amsterdam was wonderful, but the majority are the sort of bland rubbish I’ve ranted about from Singapore and Turkish airlines.

Well there’s a new shit airline ad challenger in town and it’s Lufthansa.

What. The. Hell?

Everything about this piece of awful bemuses me.

The only reason being on a plane at sunrise/sunset is better than being on a rooftop bar with your mates is because you get a better view.

That is literally it.

Sure you might be going on holiday.

Sure you might be sat in business class.

But in terms of that fleeting 60 seconds you get to see the sunset/sunrise, I can assure you it’s better to be at a rooftop bar with your mates.

Even more so if you’re talking about watching the sunrise … because the only reasons you’re awake at that time are shit.

1. You’re jet-lagged to hell.

2. You’ve been woken up mid-sleep to be served some sloppy breakfast that is way too early for you to digest.

And yet they still have the audacity to say ‘air travel engineered around you’.

No it’s not.

Unless this ad was created to appeal to an uber-niche target audience that get sexually excited at seeing sunsets, there is absolutely no evidence Lufthansa engineer their air travel around their passengers needs.

Maybe I should test it.

Hey Lufthansa, I really like spending the day with my family and I hate having to go through all the hassle of getting to the airport and then dealing with security so could you bring your plane near my house and wait for me for when I’m ready to fly?

Could you?

Please … after all, you engineer air travel around me.

You silly, lying, bad-marketing fools.



When Marketing Is Nothing More Ego And Delusion …

Once upon a time, the attitude of marketing departments was to continually communicate ‘new news’, even if it was only of value to themselves.

It didn’t matter what was said, the goal was to keep in the public eye at all costs.

A bit like Madonna in the 1980’s.

Anyway, over the years – possibly driven by rising media costs – this trend died down and there was a greater focus on speaking when you actually had something to say.

Sure, there was the odd bit of self-indulgence, but overall marketing departments actually marketed their brand rather than their ego.

Of course, when social media happened, we saw – and continue to see – a return to the bad old days, where brands speak to themselves about things even they don’t really care about.

Part of this is because they regard social as ‘free advertising’ and part of it is because their competitors are doing it and they don’t want to be left behind.

That doesn’t mean social is bad, it just means the way it is used often is.

But all that pails into insignificance compared to something I saw recently.

Something where I cannot fathom why they did it and who they think will care.

What am I talking about? This …

That’s right, a photo library company is talking about how they’ve changed their watermark.

Their fucking watermark.

And then they make it sound like we’d actually want to pay them to have the picture WITH the watermark.

WITH IT!

Who are these idiots?

It’s not even a nice watermark so when they say ‘say goodbye to cheap-looking watermarks’, the fact is [1] you wouldn’t be and [2] they seem to have forgotten the whole point of using a photo library is so you can have access to images THAT FEATURE A WATERMARK.

And just when you think things can’t get any worse, they use – quite possibly – the worst ever headline I’ve ever read.

Look at it.

LOOK AT IT.

If you hate watermarks and never want to see one again, the chances of you wanting to see an updated, ugly watermark is exactly zero.

Why Photologo?

What was your thinking on this?

What do you think people are actually going to say, think or do?

This isn’t ego, this is makes Donald Trump’s delusion look utterly sane in comparison.

In the World of ridiculous marketing stunts, this has to go down as one of the worst, especially because even if you’re some mental case and love watermarks, the reality is you can download the pic with it for free.

FREE!!!

Which all says to me that the owners of Photologo are the most insane people I’ve ever ‘met’ and I can only assume that the people who convinced them this was a good idea also own APAC Insider Magazine.



When Brands Are Fucking Delusional …

OK, full disclosure, this is old.

OK, I know ALL my posts are old, but this is old even by my old standards.

I found this photo from an Australian supermarket in my emails and I still can’t quite believe a company would do this and not think people would find it insulting.

No, your eyes do not deceive you, Woolworths Australia thought it was a good idea to print point-of-sale material that laughed at the madness of spending $10 on a BBQ chicken, when theirs are only $9.88.

A saving of 12 cents.

A saving of 1.2%.

Look, I know they say ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’ but come on …

Do they honestly think someone who wasn’t going to buy a BBQ chicken will suddenly want one because they are saving 12 cents on it?

Or do they think someone who shops at another supermarket and wants a BBQ chicken will make a special trip to Woolies to save that 12 cents?

I literally don’t understand this.

And then there’s the fact that the cost of producing and distributing that point-of-sale probably added about 12 cents to the cost of those BBQ chickens, so all this means is Woolworths aren’t actually the fresh food people, but the foolish food people.



Is Innovation The Fast Track To Corporate Fucking Stupidity?

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about how so many of the great ideas I’ve seen have come from the minds of designers rather than adfolk.

Where so many in my industry look to create eye-candy, designers are approaching their task in terms of solving the clients fundamental problem in the best and most visually interesting way.

There’s a lesson for many of us to learn in that.

However it’s not all great for designers.

Like that Pepsi bullshit from years back, there’s still examples where designers are taking the piss more than a catheter.

For the latest example, may I present to you Vodafone.

Whether we like them or not, our lives are very dependent on the telecommunications industry.

Sure, we might not use their service to make phonecalls anymore, but our smartphone addiction means we need their data so we can instragram our food at every possible moment.

Now obviously the telco industry doesn’t like being seen as just a ‘service provider’.

Part of that might be because of corporate ego, but the main reason is likely to be that for them to grow, they need to be regarded as an innovation company … someone who creates the future as much as serves it.

Whether you think that’s bollocks or not is up to you, but the reason I’m saying it is because that’s kind of the explanation Vodafone used for creating their new logo.

“What new logo?” I hear you cry.

This one …

“No Rob …” you reply, “… you’ve made a mistake, that’s the old logo”.

Oh no it isn’t folks, that’s the new one.

No seriously.

I swear to God.

Oh hang on, I don’t believe in God … OK, I swear on my heart.

Still don’t believe me?

OK, if you want absolute proof, here’s the old logo for comparison.

“But … but isn’t that basically the old logo just with the colours inverted?”, you stutter.

Well, I would agree with that assessment however we would both be wrong because apparently it is a new logo and, when you hear how the people at Vodafone describe it, it represents a new dawn for the company and it’s role and goal in society.

Here’s Ben Macintosh, Vodafone Australia’s customer business director …

“The changes represent the company’s ability to ‘innovate for the future ‘and supply choice for customers. The wants and needs of our customers have changed, and with that we’ve changed too. We challenge the status quo and push the boundaries to give people something that they won’t find anywhere else.”

I swear to god this is not an April Fool.

This really is their new logo and Ben Macintosh really did say that.

Look, I get Apple generated billions in extra revenue by simply adding a small ‘s’ to their otherwise near-identical product but this is a whole different scale of idiocy.

For me, there’s only 2 possible scenarios …

Either the branding company [which, let’s be honest, is not a design company] are fucking delusional or Vodafone is.

Whatever the truth, if I was a shareholder in the former I’d be buying more shares in them for their ability to charge millions for taking 10 minutes to literally invert the colours of their clients existing logos and if the latter, I’d be selling my shares as fast as I could possibly get rid of the worthless bastards.

On the bright side, I’m about to make a fortune as a branding consultant and my 1997 copy of Microsoft Paint.