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


Taking The Piss, Literally …

I survived my first July 4th.

To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult given it was basically spending the day eating hamburgers wrapped in stars and stripes napkins.

In fact, I’m quite looking forward to next years already.

Anyway, when I lived in Sydney, there was this myth about someone called ‘trough boy’.

The legend goes that during the Mardi Gras festival, he would wrap himself in clingfilm, lie in the trough of pub urinal and beg people to piss all over him.

I never found out if it was true, but I bring this up because recently – while seeing George at Google – I saw this in their toilets. [Sorry, I mean ‘bathrooms’]

Now you might be wondering what I’m talking about – and I accept it’s not nearly as cool as the million other posts I’ve written about toilets – but what struck me was the high level of branding on this anti-splash toilet aid.

OK, so it works on a similar principal to the ‘fly’ that a Swedish airport painted on their urinals so men would aim their piss at it rather than let it fly all over the place [which was costing them a fortune in cleaning bills] but I must admit seeing their brand name proudly embossed on their product feels strange.

Actually scrap that, what feels weird is their name/logo looks like it suits a tech company more than a hygiene company … which says more about my prejudices than it does about them.

And so I decided to look into them and found out AirWorks is a product, not a brand and it’s made by a company called Hospeco who – if you look at their website – have an image much more in keeping with what I would imagine them to be.

And where am I going with all this?

Well, as normal, nowhere except to say in a world where brands are absolutely petrified of incurring any negative commentary from society, imagine being a brand where your objective is to literally have society piss on you.

If that wouldn’t lead to the greatest creative work ever, I don’t know what would.

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The World Hasn’t Gone Mad, It’s Gone Ridiculous …

A week today is my last day at Wieden, so what I’m about to write shouldn’t matter. But it does.

You see, last week I received an email from a rather well known publisher.

A publisher of books.

They wanted to ‘have a chat’.

So obviously I was kind of intrigued so I called them and do you know what they said …

THEY WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A BOOK OF MY BLOG POSTS!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Despite the utter stupidity of that suggestion, I am not going to deny my ego was well and truly stroked … which is why they brought me down to earth when they added “We don’t want all your posts, just the ones where you have something others will find valuable to read”.

Putting aside that with that filter, it’s going to be more pamphlet than book, I still find it rather exciting and can only assume their business model is built on the belief that people will pay a couple of quid to get to the few posts that are worth reading rather than spend hours traipsing through shite looking for them.

Hmmmmmn, not the best investment argument I’ve ever heard.

But here is where you come in.

You see I’ve been asked to choose the 100 posts that I think are valuable.

I know, 100. Talk about being optimistic.

Anyway, if this goes ahead, they want to pitch it as a business book [I swear I’m not making this up] … which I assume means less posts about my best friends penis size and more about businessy-stuff. I’m pretty sure that down the line, I’ve written a few of them – whether it was on strategy, creative briefs or recruitment – however in the unlikely event there’s a post on here that you remember as having some value, could you let me know because I sure-as-hell don’t want to spend months going through 10+ years of rubbish only to realise there’s nothing on here that I actually like anymore.

Ta.



Sometimes The Audience Finds You …

So I recently read an article on the UK distributors of Danish store, Tiger.

Tiger is often referred to as ‘Posh Poundland’ as it sells all manner of stuff.

Anyway, in 2005, a husband and wife – with no business experience whatsoever – decided to pour all the money they had into buying the rights for the brand in the UK.

They openly admit it was very difficult and they made many mistakes but 11 years later, they sold it for an estimated 40+ million pounds.

So far so good, but what really interested me was something they said at the end of the interview …

How brilliant is that.

It’s also a great lesson in thinking about your audience.

Too often, our industry defines audiences by the segment we believe are the most likely to want to buy our brand/product.

While that makes perfect sense, the problem is we are often end up being pretty generalistic in who we define our audience to be … often because our clients are petrified of putting limitations on their sales potential. The other problem with this broad audience approach is that it tends to end up being the audience for the whole category, which means we end up pitting ourselves directly against our competition.

What I love about this Tiger example is – albeit by lucky accident – they realised their was a very specific segment who were attracted to this product. A segment that liked it for reasons beyond what was expected, and yet was something that actively drove them to buy.

Now I admit it takes balls to do this.

It also takes absolute honesty.

And confidence.

But when defining audiences, it’s always worth remembering the motivations for purchase are often very different to what we would like to think they are. Of course we know this, but when in front of a client, it’s amazing how often we either temporarily forget or simply choose to ignore.

By being absolutely open to who could/should be interested in our clients brands, we not only stand the chance of making work that truly resonates with a particular segment, but one that automatically differentiates you from the countless competitors all trying to steal your share, which is why I still love the V&A London museum ad from the 80’s, where Saatchi’s [in their absolute pomp] realised the thing people liked most about the place was the cafe, which led to them running ad’s with the bravest ‘endline’ you may ever see …




Fill-In-The-Blanks Creative Brief …
October 23, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Creative Brief, Creative Development, Standards

A long time ago, I wrote a post about how to write a creative brief.

Given how popular the post was [a first for this blog], it seemed that I was not alone in finding writing creative briefs, a nightmare.

Anyway, I got quite a few emails saying it had helped, so I was glad because as painful as they are, they are also important to do.

So a while back, someone sent me another persons perspective on how to write a brief.

While I would never encourage this sort of approach, I have – sadly – seen many in my time that seem to have followed a very similar path … which means I don’t know if I should find it funny or terribly sad.

Oh I know, I find the person who wrote the article funny, but anyone who follows – or has followed, consciously or not – very sad.

Perfect.

Anyway, take a look … and if you feel you have done something like this in the past, wash your mouth, eyes, ears and brain with soap please.

Last thing …

If it wasn’t awesome enough that it’s Friday, I can also tell you that there won’t be any blog posts on Monday, Tuesday or even Wednesday.

How good is that eh?

Well, it’s good for you but it isn’t for the people of Amsterdam because I’ll be there.

Well, I’ll be there on Monday … I’ll be flying back Tuesday.

Wieden might be the best agency in the World, but they’re pants at making travel plans.

Anyway, enjoy the peace, I’m off to connive with Mr Weigel and if possible, go to Utrecht to finally see the bloody Windmill that has been my bank managers enemy for the last few years.

And yes, it’s the one in the picture. At least it looks pretty, which is the least it can do.

See you Wednesday. Happy weekend.



Corporate Punishment Is A Workshop …

Many years ago, I started a blog that showed photos of all the conferences that were being held in the hotels I was staying.

I [stupidly] thought that over time, you’d be able to get an idea of when companies were undertaking their strategic planning.

I very quickly realised I was wrong.

The reason I say this is because I recently attended a client conference and when I walked into the hotel, I saw a noticeboard detailing all the companies who were having a meeting there that day.

Nothing strange about that.

And then I saw this.

WHAT THE HELL IS A WRITING BREAKTHROUGH CONCEPT WORKSHOP?

I would understand a writing masterclass … I would even understand a conference on how to develop breakthrough concepts … but a workshop on writing breakthrough concepts?

I wonder if L’Oreal understands this makes it sound like they’re admitting their products do nothing and it’s all in the fancy writing.

I can imagine the workshop now.

“This might be some $1.99 hand lotion from Boots, but through the power of the writing breakthrough concept, it suddenly transforms itself into a scientifically proven cell rejuvinator for elegant, smooth and soft hands”.

Seriously, when I see stuff like this, I die a little inside.

But not as much as the attendees probably are. Boom Tish.



It’s called ‘brief’ for a reason …
August 17, 2012, 6:13 am
Filed under: Comment, Creative Brief

Creative briefs.

The bane of my fucking life.

I hate them. HATE THEM!

But – and it’s a very important but – you have to do them because they not only provide the framework and inspiration for creative teams to start creating their magic, but they become a piece of historical reference on the brand that ensures people won’t post rationalise the execution and miss out all the little bits that made all the difference.

That said, the debate of what should and shouldn’t go in a brief still rages and I find that sad because at the end of the day:

+ You should never be a slave to the briefing format, the briefing format should always be a slave to you.

+ Different people like different levels of information so a ‘one size fits all’ mentality, is totally and utterly ridiculous.

+ A short brief shouldn’t be an excuse for ignoring the real issues that need to be addressed & conveyed.

+ A long brief shouldn’t be an excuse for not being clear, concise and interesting.

+ Regardless of what you are being asked to do, a brief should always be interesting, informative & inspiring.

Because of this, we have a few different briefing ‘formats’ here.

Some are designed for more junior guys to ensure they’ve done all the critical thinking necessary … some are designed for clients to ensure they give us what they need, rather than what they want … but all cover 6 critical questions.

1. WHAT IS THE GOAL

What is the end objective? I don’t mean the execution but the business result.

In short, if they say, “We want some TVC’s”, ask why and don’t stop till you get some real reasons with some real quantifiable goals.

2. WHAT IS THE BARRIER

What are the key issue/s that are stopping this from happening right now.

It might be people’s attitude and behaviour … it might be a competitors product or distribution.

Maybe it’s an issue with our brand or communication or even a product quality or lack of innovation story.

Whatever it is, find the fundamental issue and write it down.

3. WHO DO WE NEED TO TALK TO, TO CHANGE THIS?

Who do we need to engage in conversation? Who do we need to inspire, inform, push?

Don’t just write a bunch of stats or bland statements, explain how they think, live, worry, behave.

Let people feel the person not just read a bunch of cold, clinical bullet points.

4. WHY WILL THEY CARE

This is where blunt honesty is needed.

You can’t write this from the perspective of what the brand wants them to think, it has to come from the audiences mindset. If you’ve done your homework for the previous question, you’ll know the answer to this … and if you’ve done your homework well, you’ll know the answer is not going to be some marketing hype/bollocks, but something that satisfies a real need in their life – be it emotional, physical or mental.

5. SO WHAT’S OUR STRATEGY?

Detail the macro approach you are taking to achieve this brief. It should be short, precise and full of creative mischief.

ie: Deposition the key competitors as ‘old success’ by making XXX the badge for ‘new, entrepreneurial achievers’ … or something.

6. WHAT’S THE KEY POINT OF VIEW

Based on the goal, the barrier, the audience and the strategy – what is the brands point of view on the issue they need to address.

It should be something that is obviously based on truth but also full of tension and pragmatism.

ie: “You can’t change tomorrow if you don’t act today” … or some other z-grade sounding Yoda impression.

Don’t rush it. Take your time to really craft it because apart from needing to be relevant to the task in hand, it also serves as the creative ‘jump off point’ and if you’re going to help your colleagues do something that is powerful and interesting with it, you’ve got to ensure they really feel the tension and energy of what they can play with or play off.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

You might ask why things like ‘tone of voice’ are not mentioned.

Well sometimes they are … sometimes they’re not … it depends on a number of factors, however at W+K, we place great importance on ‘brand voice’ so a few abstract words like ‘fun, upbeat & lively’ are not really going to cut it.

I should point out that how you brief your colleagues is another incredibly important part of the creative process.

If you give them a piece of paper and tell them to “read this”, you’re almost doomed before it’s even had a chance to begin.

While the brief should be inspiring on it’s own merits, it’s always good to think of ways to let your colleagues really understand what you are trying to get across.

That might mean you present it in a different location or environment to the office … that might mean you put them in situations where they can really feel what you’re trying to convey … that might mean you get interesting – yet relevant – people in to chat to them before you go through your hard work, but whatever you do, it’s always worth putting in that extra little bit of effort because it will genuinely pay dividends to the work that comes out the other side and that is ultimately what you’re going to be judged on.

At the end of the day it’s worth remembering there is no such thing as a perfect creative brief because ultimately, it’s about what you put on it – or how you present it – rather than what it looks like … however what I can say is that from my experience, as long as you have a culturally provocative point of view running all the way through it [obviously based on truth rather than ‘marketing truth’] then you stand a much greater chance of creating something that affects culture rather than just adds to the blunt, advertising noise.