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


The Future Of Adland Is Warm, Fuzzy And Colourful …

And before you think I am taking the piss with that title – which I am, a little bit, especially as with Corona, few people are out on the streets and no one knows what is going to happen with the entire industry, though it’s not looking good – I noticed this more than the majority of ads, even though they have had millions of pounds spent on audience research, concept testing, UX development and communication planning.

That’s not to say that stuff doesn’t matter – it obviously – but when the objective is to ‘fit in’ rather than ‘stand out’, you end up with crafted beige rather than ideas that literally demand to be noticed and explored.

Of course, it’s better if the way you grab people’s attention is with stuff that emotionally intrigues them rather than just makes them snort in derission, but even that is still better than walking past and not even noticing it, let alone not giving a shit.

You can tell it’s going to be a positive week can’t you?

Well don’t be in too much despair as I have 3 bits of good news for you.

1. It’s my FIFTIETH birthday on Friday.

2. There won’t be any posts all of next week as I’m on holiday.

[Though there will be messages of love to Jill and Paul who both have birthdays that week]

3. I am on holiday because Paul and I thought we were going to have a joint 50th involving traveling to different countries, but with Corona, it means I’ll actually be spending it at home … with a cup of tea … watching loads of episodes of Come Dine With Me. Christ Almighty!!!

See … told you I could cheer you up, even if everything is on fire around us.



When Marketing Goes Bonkers …

So at the time of writing this post, we are all still in quarantine at home.

That means we are all still on endless zoom calls – where the only ‘entertainment’ we get is choosing some ‘crazy’ background, which – if I’m being honest – got old within 5 minutes of it happening so is now at near death levels of annoying.

But don’t worry, I’ve found something that is even worse.

This …

Yep, it’s Banana Republic rebranding their scarves as ‘video chat accessories’.

Seriously, what the fuck!?

What next, cups being sold as ‘video chat objects d’art’?

Or maybe pens being rebranded as ‘video chat conversation markers’?

Or even posters being pushed as ‘video chat mood enhancers’?

ARGHHHHHHHH!

The worst thing is I can imagine a planner coming up with something like this.

You know the sort, the ones who sell toothpaste as ‘smile architects’ or some other bollocks.

Look, I get in these tough times, they want to exploit any opportunity to drive some revenue … but it’s just shit isn’t it?

It’s also bollocks.

Because if they were going to sell any video chat accessories, surely they would be better off selling trousers or skirts because if anyone is like me, they’ve been wearing nothing but shorts for the last 6 weeks.

Banana Republic. You slipped on your own banana skin with this one.



How Not To Stop A Virus …


Corona virus is pretty bad.

We have seen pretty bad viruses before – hell, I got most of them – but this one has the World genuinely concerned.

Conferences cancelled.

The cruise liner industry destroyed.

Business’ everywhere dramatically affected.

Billions wiped off the stock market.

And while you can argue that governments haven’t really handled the situation as well as they could, the reality is they’ve also handled it a lot better than expected.

Especially China … who definitely learnt from their terrible handling of SARS.

What’s interesting is companies have also got on board with their responsibility.

Encouraging people to work from home.

Putting people in self-managed quarantine if they’ve been to a country with an outbreak.

Everyone seems to be taking this seriously … though sadly, not everyone is quite grasping how to do it well.

Case in point.

I walked into a clients building recently and was immediately handed a piece of paper by a building security guard about how to minimise passing/getting coronavirus … which, ironically, may literally be one of the worst ways to avoid passing/getting coronavirus.

I know they say it’s the thought that counts, but they could do with a bit more thinking.



Saying You Care Means Nothing If Your Actions Show You Don’t …

One of the things that has shocked me since coming back to England is the amount of gambling that goes on here.

Not just in terms of people actually doing it, but brands trying to get people to do it.

It’s everywhere.

Football shirts. High Streets. Apps. TV shows.

I know it shouldn’t really shock me as there has been so much written about it in the papers, but the sheer volume has blown me away.

Another thing that has blown me away – for equally bad reason – is the way the gambling companies are trying to portray themselves as good citizens.

That all their ads say, ‘When the fun stops, stop’ – or some variant of it – might sound like they care, but apart from the fact there’s countless stories of them actively encouraging people who are demonstrating the have a problem with gambling to keep going, it makes no sense.

Because the moment you realise gambling has stopped being fun, you’re pretty likely to be in the grip of addiction.

Or said another way, it’s too late.

Once upon a time, I was in that place.

I was young and the amount of money we’re talking is minute … but I was in a full-on addiction to fruit machines.

I was still a student and working part time as a pot washer, and within seconds of receiving my weekly pay packet, I’d be feeding all of it into a fruit machine.

Occasionally I would win big (£25) but most of the time I’d spend my weeks earnings within minutes – leaving me without a penny.

Now I’m lucky, I was able to stop – mainly because credit was not readily available back then, because if it was, who knows what shit I would have got myself into – but I can still remember how much I hated myself when I lost but how excited I was when I was about to begin.

And yet, despite knowing what I was doing to myself, I was unable to stop myself for months.

While I would not wish that on anyone, it was a hugely valuable lesson.

It taught me I have an addictive personality and helped me to manage what I do and don’t expose myself too.

Sure, I buy a shitload of pointless gadgets, crap t-shirts, guitars and Birkenstocks. But it’s also why I haven’t tried any alcohol since my last taste 34 years ago, why I’ve never tried any drugs and why I never tried smoking – though that one was easier, as I’ve always hated the smell.

I do believe that people have to take some responsibility for the decisions and actions they take – but addiction is something we have to accept, skirts the rules of logic.

You become helpless and need controlled.

And given the impact certain addictions can have on people is loss of health and/or loss of livelihood and family … having a note in small letters at the end of an ad that has spent 29 of the 30 seconds celebrating the excitement and glamour of gaming – and then puts all the burden of managing addiction on the victim – seems pretty shit.



I’m In A TV Ad …

Well that was quite a week.

Otis is doing OK.

He’s feeling much better and we’re hugely relieved.

Even though the risk of kids suffering severe health issues due to corona is very small, seeing your child not well is always hard – made 10,000 worse with the media all revelling in making it sound like the bloody plague.

That said, it means we are in quarantine for another fortnight, but them so is the whole country.

Fortunately Jill and I don’t look like we have caught anything, but then it’s a 2 week incubation so who knows.

On the positive, if I do, it will mean I’ve hit the virus jackpot – which is something to be proud about. Maybe.

So back to the title of this post.

Scarily, it’s entirely accurate.

To be honest, I’ve been in quite a few ads in my time.

Blackcurrant Tango.

Triple J.

Even a Nike spot.

But never have I been one of ‘the stars’ … but I am now.

Take a look at this.

The best bit is this ad was seen by someone in Portugal who was as shocked to see me in it as I was when to find myself in it. Though I note they used a photo that doesn’t really show my face … which is obviously very wise indeed, but not quite as wise as it would have been to not invite me to talk with Mr Gladwell in the first place.

Which was going to be my long way of saying this is the last post for a week but Corona Virus screwed with the conference so now you will see me on Monday.

And you thought the effects of Corona couldn’t be any worse!