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


James Blunt Might Be Becoming My New Hero …

I know … I know … I really did write that blog post header.

And yes, I really am talking about James Blunt, the man that can make a choir on Songs Of Praise [is that still going] look like Black Sabbath in their prime.

But don’t forget, this is a guy who is disarmingly self aware.

A guy who uses his self-depreciation to turn you from a hater into a fan.

OK, not a fan of his music but – as I wrote here – a fan of who he is.

And recently I saw something that just makes me like him more …

Yep, that’s James Blunt on Tinder.

A man who people think has got laid more than a $2 crack whore in a room of drunk and horny jocks.

OK, so getting laid a lot is part of the ‘rock star’ cliche, but I still find this move to be brilliant.

Not just because he has found a way to make money from his perception.

Not just because he partnered with platform that is the epitome of his perception.

But because he has shown that when you deal with the commentary others have about you directly, you don’t just rob them of their ammunition, you give yourself a chance to change that perception.

I’ve talked about this a lot – I called it the 8-Mile strategy, after the Eminem movie, specifically the end rap battle at 6 minutes 40 seconds – but it’s also something else I wrote about.

The power of unplanned planning.

Unplanned is where a brand speaks in seemingly obvious terms.

Not in terms of what they do, but in terms of what people think you do.

For example, when Scalextric – the model car racing brand – embraced the perception the only reason men want their little boys playing with Scalextric is because it gives them an excuse to play it for themselves.

Did you click on the link?

Seriously, you should – it not only demonstrates what I’m blathering on about, it’s a great ad.

Great because it’s funny. Great because it’s relatable. Great because it doesn’t fall into marketing bullshit.

Can you tell I really, really like it?

So why do I think this approach works when the industry is seemingly so obsessed with talking about bigger purpose stuff?

Because in my opinion, it’s easier to nudge people’s perception of you if you talk in the context of how they already view you rather than spending millions trying to convince them that who you are is totally different to what they believe or are willing to accept.

It is, in some ways, the ultimate demonstration of honesty.

A lot of brands could learn from that.

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Finally, Something Useful On This Blog …

Yes it’s a national holiday in America and yes, I said there would be no post today … but the thought of you not having your daily dose of my blog joy broke my heart so I am doing this for you.

I know, I should be knighted.

Ahem.

Anyway, the wonderful Mark Sareff has written a book.

I’ve written about Mark before because apart from being whip smart, he’s also one of the nicest people on the planet.

[Though I appreciate being being one of my friends and mentors may undermine that declaration a bit]

Anyway, while Mark may not be the best known names in planning, he is – in my opinion – the best planner in the industry and so anything by him is going to be interesting and useful and that is exactly what his book is.

It’s full of fantastic strategy nuggets of awesomeness based on real-world experiences.

It’s fun and quick to read and best of all, it’s free so if you are at all interested in smart thinking without the intellectual bullshit, then download it here … it just may be the first useful thing I’ve ever done for anyone on here.

Right, back to my holiday.



When Your Confidence Shows Your Insecurity …

So I was in San Francisco Airport recently when I saw this …

Putting aside the fact there is a Christian bookshop in an airport, I find their attempt to validate their religion through the use of the word ‘science’ hysterical.

Of course they’re not the only one who do it … ad agencies have a long history of labelling departments with pompous monikers to give it an air of validation. Or importance.

But here’s the thing, adding the word ‘science’ doesn’t make any religion scientific … just like adding the word ‘innovation’ to a media department doesn’t mean their media plan suddenly rivals the output of Silicon Valley.

In fact, a religion using the word ‘science’ is particularly offensive given they have spent decades basically declaring war on any scientist who has dared to disprove the things they believe without question.

Look, I’m all for people following a belief system – and I appreciate there’s times where getting others to embrace what you follow is valuable – but when you use terminology that represents the opposite of what you believe, all you’re doing is creating more walls rather than less.

Of course there may be another reason they did this.

Maybe it has nothing to do with winning others over and is simply to make themselves – and the people who follow them – feel even more important.

And if that’s the case, then they doubly deserve the ridicule they get, because anyone who believes the only way forward is to ignore the views of others has no idea how to truly make a difference in the World.

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I say all this but maybe there is a God because there will be no blog posts for you to suffer on Monday and Tuesday as I’ll be traveling. Now you can really enjoy your weekend, can’t you.



Why A Bin Is Better Than Earth Hour …

I’ve written about my skepticism of Earth Hour.

And while I appreciate any bit of good is good, I feel the problem with Earth Hour is that it lets people off the hook for the remainder of the year just because they turned their lights off for a few hours on a single day.

Recently I saw this …

Yes, it’s a bin.

A simple bin in the airport.

But what I love about it is the fact it says LANDFILL, rather than rubbish.

Maybe this is nothing new – maybe this is just a byproduct of having lived in China for the past 7 years – but by ensuring I knew exactly what was going to happen to what I put inside it, it made me look at what I was doing.

I’d like to think I give a shit about the environment, but I can honestly say that bin had a stronger effect on me than Earth Hour. Not only that, but that bin won’t let me off the hook for the rest of the year. It will be there – every time I pass it – reminding me that my choices will determine how much I poison the planet.

The other thing this does is highlight my big problem with adland … which is that it loves to communicate problems rather than solve them.

When a bin [and let’s remember, this is not the first time this has happened] produces more effective solutions than much of adland – and certainly what adland awards at shows like Cannes – maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what we view is creativity.

Please don’t think I am pissing on the power of communication or ignoring the importance of craft and exploration – of course I’m not – but for an industry that celebrates the freedom of creativity, it’s amazing how limited we are in our execution of it.

Of course part of that is our ego – because not only do we like to think that we can solve all the problems of the universe, but we feel simply ‘renaming’ something is beneath our creative brilliance, despite it potentially being more effective than a Worldwide campaign asking us to turn our lights off for the night.

I think this is why I loved Fearless Girl and Mr Parking Ticket Nerd because at the end of the day, they have understood our industry is at it’s most powerful when we’re at the creative end of business rather than the business end of creativity.



James Blunt Is Sharp …
August 1, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Cunning, Empathy, Insight

James Blunt.

Yes, his music is horrific but I have to admit, I find his self-depreciation very amusing.

Anyone who tweets, “If you thought 2016 was bad – I’m releasing an album in 2017” is alright by me.

But there’s something about him I like even more about him and that’s his openness to career highs and lows.

For a man who sold millions of records, I can’t imagine what it must feel like being the opening act to that other massively annoying songwriter, Ed Sheeran.

Sure, you could argue he’s going to be playing to massive crowds wherever he goes.

Sure, James and Ed seem to have a bromance going on, so he gets to hang with his mate.

But I know people in adland who wouldn’t take a job – even if their livelihood depended on it – if they thought it would make them look like they were taking a step backwards, so given Mr Blunt works in an industry that regards acting like a diva as acceptable, that makes him pretty special in my book, at least in terms of character.

Of course, when you have been in the army and seen incredible horror and are a multi-millionaire playing to thousands of people around the World every night – even if you’re relegated to ‘opening act’ status – I guess that career low isn’t that hard to deal with.

But hey, while I won’t listen to his songs, I will happily read his tweets.



(M)adland …

So I’ve been asked to speak at a McKinsey conference.

No, I’m not exactly sure why either.

Anyway, while they want me to talk about creativity, my goal is to cause debate and conflict among these highly paid, process driven, business brains which is why my presentation will be called, “You Wouldn’t Understand …” and I’ll be focusing on the magic of chaos.

Now I’m under no illusion the audience will regard me – and the industry I represent – as a bit of a joke, which is why I will do my usual 8 Mile strategy of owning all the prejudice and negativity they could throw against me so I rob them of their ammunition and force them to listen rather than judge.

And that’s where I need your help.

Of course there’s a bunch of stuff I could say, but I’m interested in things that go beyond just the process or thinking of creative development, but the ridiculous ways adland conducts it’s business.

To start you off, I want to leave you with a quote from a friend of mine, a new business guy at a super-successful agency’ that said this to me:

“I will travel miles to talk about myself to someone for free”.

When you see it like that, it’s pretty insane … ignoring the fact many management consultants do exactly the same thing except they call it a ‘business audit’. [Though to be fair to them, they then charge a fee that makes this sort of cold-calling pay for itself]

Anyway, any other suggestions or examples will be very, very welcomed and remember, you’re fighting for creativity here. And my personal vindictive satisfaction.



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.