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


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 …




When You Admit Your Faults, You Win Their Love …
February 15, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Cunning, Marketing, Marketing Fail

On Monday I posted about a company being massively unsubtle in their attempt to look good.

Today I talk about a company who is blatant in highlighting where they screwed up.

And I have much more compassion towards this company than the former.

So a friend of mine recently saw this in his local store in Portland.

Putting aside the fact that most people by now should know Coconut Water is a massive hype, there is something inherently charming in the fact they are acknowledging they fucked up.

OK, maybe if you’re Steve, you might think differently … but in a World where no one seems to want to admit a mistake, a wrong doing or a less-than-favourable result, it’s massively refreshing.

Certainly more refreshing than Coconut Water.



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.



When It Comes To Revenge, Be Like An Elephant …
February 5, 2017, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Australia, Culture, Cunning, England

Annnnnnnnnnd I’m back.

Don’t worry, I’m not that happy about it either.

So when I lived in Australia, I worked with this guy called John.

I really liked him … he was smart, fun and an all round good chap.

Only thing was he really, really hated all things British.

Oh the banter we had.

In the end, we played a weekly game of pool and if I won overall, he had to fold up the Australian flag to just leave the Union Jack [ie: “get your shit stars off our flag”] and if he won, I had to salute it.

We did this for years and even though my ‘crowning moment’ was when England beat the Wallabies at the 2003 Rugby World Cup final [oh, how I loved wearing my England top the next day], he never missed a chance to piss on his countries Queen.

So imagine my joy when after 10+ years, he got in contact with me to say his niece was coming to Shanghai for a law firm and would I mind giving him my details so she has someone to contact if she gets in trouble.

To be fair to him, it absolutely killed him having to ask me … but he knew no one else and was forced to reach out.

Being the kind, generous soul that I am, I obviously agreed.

With just one condition.

This.

On Facebook.

Left for 15 minutes.

And the moral of the story?

Don’t fuck with petty half English assholes, with a memory for revenge.

Talking of elephants and revenge, here’s one of my all time favourite ads …



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.



An Oldie. But A Semi-Goldie …

This is one of those ads that is constantly referred to as being a perfect example of perfect advertising.

David Ogilvy was behind it – spending 3 weeks doing nothing but reading about the car – before producing that amazing headline.

OK, so there is some conjecture whether he came up with it or not, but regardless, it’s one hell of a headline.

But here’s the thing, when you read the rest of the ad, I’m not sure if its worthy of all the accolades bestowed upon it.

Sure it comes from a different time [as the $13,995 price tag highlights] … and yes, some of the ‘features’ they mention were probably cutting edge back then [power steering for example] … but after you get past that epic headline, what you actually have is an ad that is just a list of product features.

While there are still nods to the sense of craftsmanship and technology within that list – for example, you can have a telephone as an optional extra – I can’t help but feel that all the romance the headline conjures up in your mind disappears once you get to the details.

Maybe that’s because it appears the strategy was not actually to communicate the sophistication and craftsmanship of the car, but to change the perception of it being only for the super-elite … the one’s who are chauffeured around rather than drive themselves.

Hey, I could be wrong, but the fact they use that hilarious image of a ‘Dad’ picking up the kids from the local shop after school – not to mention they state in the copy that you don’t need a chauffeur to drive it – means I might have a point.

Now I get I have no right to criticise the wonderful Mr Ogilvy and the fact this ad is continually referred to implies it was hugely successful … but when I was reminded what the actual ad looked like – rather than just hearing that headline – I couldn’t help feeing that I find this scam ad for Bentley far more appealing.

[Though I accept that just might be my Nottingham heritage shining through]



I Lied …

Yes, I know I said I’d finished writing this blog for the year, but someone sent me something that has compelled me to write one more rant.

Besides, I’m in advertising … so you shouldn’t expect us to be honest.

Ahem.

Anyway, I honestly don’t know if you will consider this a Christmas gift or horror, but you will always remember it … of that, I am absolutely sure.

So remember ages ago I said that the Gerard Butler manifesto for Hugo Boss was one of the worst things ever written?

Well, it still is … but this is definitely pushing it for first place.

The only reason Gerard wins, is because I think – or should I say, I hope – the people behind this are trying to take the piss.

I must admit, I have a niggling feeling that might not be the case – I worry, they were inspired by Gerard rather than want to ridicule it – but it’s Christmas and so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt … especially because their website features a video where they definitely have a twinkle in the eye about what they’re doing.

However, if this was written in January, there’s no way I’d be so gracious and I’d be having a aneurysm explaining why this sort of thing represents the the worst of advertising … contrived self importance mixed with a large dollop of contrived shock value.

Or said another way … the strategy that got Donald Trump elected.

Seriously, there are so many other ways they could have done this.

So many ways they could have made it fun and less cringeworthy.

But no, they decided to follow the same path as that aftershave that supposedly smells of a sweaty vagina.

A path that says as much about the people behind the brand as those who will embrace it.

Anyway, have a look at what the hell I’m talking about.

It is most definitely NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK … but you have to see it.

Then try and enjoy your Christmas, wherever you are.

Or just go back to what was supposed to be my last post and pretend this never happened.