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


Sometimes Technology Scares Me …

… no, I’m not talking about the fact a t-shirt company was able to use my data from Facebook and serve me an ad of a product featuring my hometown and my favourite band …

… I’m talking about the fact they think I would want to be seen in that t-shirt.

Yes, I know I have the taste of a 1980’s Australian pub singer, but even I wouldn’t wear that.

Big data might help companies get an idea of what their audience do, but it fails to understand what they like.

For all it’s cleverness, the way the data is interpreted – and used – by so many companies is embarrassingly simplistic.

Not simple. Simplistic.

A strategy of simply mashing random interests together is not a strategy, it’s an embarrassment.

Jesus …



Boredom Makes Me More Stupid …

A while back, I wrote about how I was a marketing victim.

Well it appears I haven’t learnt a thing.

For reasons I literally do not understand – other than it was very late at night and I had been forced to wear proper shoes all day [no, really] because I was in Beijing and it was -11 – I found myself buying a bloody chakra bracelet from a Facebook ad.

I know, I know …

In my defence they were offering it at a 60% discount [probably because they knew it was utter crap and even they felt bad at selling it for full price] and it looked kind-of nice …

… but I appreciate these are not really much of a defence.

Anyway, when I got back to Shanghai, my purchase was waiting for me.

I must admit, I was kind-of nervous to open it … not just because I knew what I’d done was daft, but because Jill was looking at me with a ‘who are you?’ expression on her face.

So I opened it and while I admit that it sort-of looked like the picture in the ad [in the way the burger Michael Douglas ordered in the movie Falling Down, sort-of looked like the image on the restaurant menu] … let’s just say that for a guy who works in advertising, I’m still pretty damn good at falling for advertising.

I blame wearing shoes.

Yeah … it’s all shoes fault.



Sometimes Crazy Is The Most Sensible Thing In The World …

So a while back I saw this weird looking thing being advertised everywhere.

It’s that thing at the top of this page.

At first, I was captivated … it looked like the ultimate gadget.

And then, on closer inspection, I realised it literally did nothing.

That’s right …

No wifi.

No bluetooth.

No nothing.

Just a bunch of buttons and balls to press, roll and click.

Seriously, who would need this shit?

People with game controller addiction?

People with pen clicking obsession?

People with nothing better to do?

And then I saw the manufacturers had created this terrible video to help explain things …

Look, I know the ‘fidget cube’ is relatively cheap … but contrary to the video’s claims, ‘fidgeting’ is not actually an addiction and so you have to ask if people really need something like this over – say – ‘tapping their foot’ repeatedly.

So I bought one.

And you know what … it’s fucking amazing.

I know … I know … my taste is hardly the barometer for mass acceptance, but remember, I am saying positive things about something that literally has no wifi, bluetooth or web access and I’m a guy that has bought robot balls and a mug that will digitally tell me what I’m drinking even though I CAN TASTE WHAT I AM DRINKING.

I’ve bought loads of them now.

In multiple colours.

And while that may make me look a fucking idiot, the fact is there’s a valuable lesson in all this.

No, it’s not that ‘Rob spends his money on tat’ [though that is also a learning] it’s the fact that if someone had told me about it, I’d have dismissed it as ridiculous.

An over-engineered solution to a problem that isn’t really a problem.

And yet the reality is, I didn’t just buy it … I use it all the time and I truly feel it has helped me focus more.

I know that sounds mad and I swear I have no commercial interests in it … but on top of everything, it reinforced a lesson I have continually pushed upon The Kennedys, which is never kill an idea until you’ve tried it.

Never.

Not just because you may find it actually could end up being something awesome, but even if it doesn’t, it often opens up doors of opportunity you never would have seen before.

The older I get, the more I realise ‘try before you kill’ is one of the most important lessons you can learn.

Especially for planners.

Especially for planners who want to help create something that can change something.

Even if it ends up being something people ridicule.

Until they try it.



Lies, Damned Lies And Kickstarter …

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote about this so I guess it’s time for another post about another massive lie peddled from a kickstarteresque company.

Yes, I know I ranted about them earlier this week, but I can’t help myself.

Have a look at this …

Let’s move past the fact they have the audacity to claim a lens – held on with a bloody bulldog clip – gives you the equivalent standard of a US$4000 camera [unless they mean a US$4000 camera held onto a smart phone with a bulldog clip] and let’s instead focus on the image they are using to sell ‘said’ item.

Look at the screen of the smartphone.

Such incredible quality.

Such incredible clarity.

Such incredible focus.

Wow, maybe they weren’t joking when they said this simple attachment could make an expensive DSLR redundent.

But hang on, something isn’t right.

That super sharp image doesn’t seem to relate to the ‘live’ image going on in the picture.

Sure, they’ve blurred the shit out of it, but I’m pretty all the action is going on in the middle of the court, not by the net.

OK, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, I do only have one good eye.

But there’s something else bothering me. Hmmmmn, what could it be?

Oh I know, it’s that perfect image on the phone.

Look, I have an iPhone and if I so much as zoom a bloody milimeter on it, everything looks like I’m trying to do an impression of a Tony Scott movie, so either the person holding the phone/lens in the photo has the steadiest hand ever created – especially as they are located on the other side of the court – OR THIS IS A PILE OF BULLSHIT.

I know I’m in adland so look at these things a bit more closely than the average punter, but that shouldn’t mean brands don’t care about this sort of thing.

Why would you supposedly go to all this effort to make a great product and then short-change the work that is designed to tell the World about it?

It’s like my issue with people who spend weeks working on a pitch but don’t rehearse it until the last 5 minutes.

All that effort, wasted.

Of course it’s because people still believe that ‘the quality of the product/work/idea’ will shine through.

In a perfect World – maybe – but in the real World, how you present something is often of equal importance to what you are presenting. Sometimes, even more important.

When I was at HHCL, one of their tenants was the quality of advertising had a commercial benefit on the brand.

In short, the better the work, the more people were interested in you.

Now I appreciate that some may challenge that view, but I passionately believe that what you do says more about who you are than what you say … so while the creators of this lens may claim it can single-handedly put Canon and Nikon out of business, the fact their communication is so obviously bullshit makes me think you’re more likely to find this attachment inside a cheap pack of Christmas Crackers than a high-end photographic store.

Which means if you actually end up buying it, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

And this is coming from someone who paid $100 for a remote control ball!!!

Have a great weekend, only 50 odd weeks till Christmas.



When Design Goes Wrong …

I must admit I’m kind of happy to write this post.

You see, over the last couple of years, I’ve been writing endless odes to the creativity and ingenuity of designers … even proclaiming them to be far better at problem solving than most ad agencies.

Which is why I was so happy when someone sent me this milk packaging from Tesco’s.

I hope it’s real. Can someone please tell me it’s real.

[Though to be fair, based on the milk ingredients, it’s ‘on brand’. Literally]



Kickstarter Is The Modern Boy Who Cried Wolf …

To all you poor souls that hoped 2017 was going to be better than 2016, I have some bad news for you.

This blog is back.

I know … I know …

Look, I’m pretty sure you had a good festive season and a drunk New Year – not to mention some time off work – so rather than condemn me as a person trying to ruin your 2017, see me as a kind soul trying to prepare you for the misery the next 12 months has in store.

It’s going to be an interesting year … what with Trump as President and a bunch of other stuff [which I’ll talk about at another time] but to continue with my theme of compassion, I will ease you into the pain of this blog with a little rant.

Kickstarter.

I know, I’ve written about them before … but I came across something recently that really takes the overhyped biscuit.

Shoelaces.

Bloody shoelaces.

I can just about live with the fact they call them ‘reimagined’, but ‘this changes everything?’

Really?

Give me a break.

Sure, it might change it for people who have difficulties like the elderly or the handicapped [am I allowed to say handicapped?] but using a picture of an able-boded, youngish male seems to imply they literally mean every single person – regardless of age or physical capacity.

Better yet, they use a picture where despite having these ‘new-fangled’ shoelaces, you need to bend down and use your hands to ease your foot into the shoes … which begs the question, WHAT’S THE FUCKING POINT.

I liked Kickstarter.

I’ve bought a ton off Kickstarter.

But sadly, I’ve had more disappointing experiences than positive.

Sure, that’s not entirely their fault as they simply act as a hub for the companies trying to raise capital, however it seems that rather than be more stringent in the quality control of companies they allow to use their site, they have decided to take a course of action that involves hyping up average products at an inflation rate that resembles Russia in the mid-1990’s.

This approach may keep some people coming in, but it is increasingly turning people off … because when all their ads on social media promise products that are going to revolutionise/change/evolve/solve/innovate the World as we know it, what they actually say to people is, ‘here is some more bullshit for us to ignore’.

Maybe these shoelaces do change everything.

Maybe they are the product that will bring World peace.

But when you associate with a boy who has cried wolf too many times, you end up being ignored by everyone.

Entrepreneurs, take note.

Oh it’s good to be back.



Devious Comparison …

The picture above was sent to me by a mate of mine.

Forget the fact that there would be a massive amount of people who don’t even know what a cassette is … comparing a USB drive with a tape cassette is unfair comparison evil genius.

What next … comparing how far a plane can travel in an hour with how far people can walk?

Or maybe compare how many apps you can fit on an iPhone 7 256gb with a dial telephone?

And what the hell is the ‘limited edition’ element of these USB’s?

The colours?

Or the fact they come in packaging that has the words ‘limited edition’ written on it.

The worst thing is this will be successful.

Of course, part of this will be because they are cheap, but they will still sell by the bucketload and while many marketers will say this highlights how agencies are ‘out of touch’ with how to win at business, I would respond by saying they should look up the word ‘commodity’.