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


Viagra By People Who Are Massive Dicks …

As you read this, I’ll be on a plane to America – again.

Given I’m not back till Friday – and then there’s a long-weekend in the UK for Easter – that means there won’t be any posts till Tuesday. Hopefully I will have digested all the chocolate I intend to eat by then. Not to mention have got over the excitement of having my new car – which, is exactly the same as my old car – but that’s a post for another day.

Till then, I leave you with this …

So I recently saw this ad for a viagra type product on the tube …

How horrifying is that eh?

OK, it’s not quite as bad as the Eddie viagra ad I wrote about a while back … but it’s close.

From the terrible ‘When Harry Met Sally’ reference to the racially questionable ‘erect dreadlocks’, it’s the sort of rubbish you’d expect to see in a first year ad students book.

And I’m probably being unfair to first year ad students.

But even worse than that is that it comes from a company called manual.

Maybe it’s just me, but the words ‘manual’ and ‘viagra’ seem to be polar opposites.

I don’t know why, but when I see the word manual – in the context of intercourse – I think more of masturbation than copulation … and yet that is what they decided to call their company.

Weird.

At one point I was going to say that even that wasn’t as weird as ending the body copy of the ad with the words ‘Good News, Man’ … because I initially thought it another racist slur towards the guy with the dreadlocks … however having seen a few more of their executions, I see they say this in ALL their ads, even when it features a man without long hair.

Though I note none of them show their hairstyles pointing up.

Everything about this campaign smacks of a company that doesn’t know what erectile disfunction means.

From their ads communicating the effect of the product rather than the emotional benefit for the user, through to the fact the opening line on their website is, Hard Isn’t Always Easy.

I appreciate its an ad on the tube.

I appreciate most ads on the tube are even worse.

But this overly simplistic approach to communication is not building long term business, just a short-term transaction.

Maybe that’s fine for the founders … maybe they’re in it for a good time rather than a long time … but if you think how a strong brand can command a price premium and disproportionate audience loyalty, it blows my mind how few companies seem to care about this.

Oh they will claim they will.

They’ll say all the right things about thinking for the long term.

But the reality is to do that, you have to plant seeds [excuse the pun] for the future and many of these new companies are simply in continuous harvest mode.

Maybe they’re adopting the old saying of ‘make hay while the shines’ … I just hope they realize the other side of that is ‘prepare for your demise, because it’s coming’.

Happy Easter everyone …



Why Trust Is The Single Most Important Word In Business …

One of the things that makes me smile is when I hear – or read – Western articles talking about how things like iPay will change the way people spend/transact forever.

The reason for my amusement is not just because this has been happening in China for at least 2 years, but that iPay is a massively inferior product when compared to something like Wechat wallet.

Now, to be fair, lots has been written about Wechat.

From how it has become a hub for almost every aspect of daily life in China – from messaging, to ordering food and taxis to spending, borrowing, investing or sending money – right through to it’s ability, in 2016, to transact more mobile payments in 14 days that eBay & Amazon did globally in an entire year.

[UPDATE: During the 2017 Chinese New Year, Wechat say 46 BILLION red packets [envelopes with money] were sent through their app over the 7 day holiday period. This represents 5 times the volume that occurred in 2016]

And all that is true and fascinating … but unless you live here, I don’t think anyone can truly grasp the way China has embraced technology based spending.

What makes it even more amazing is that prior to Wechat, China tended to be quite protective in how they used their money.

They were one of the slowest nations to embrace internet banking.

There’s millions upon millions of people who still won’t put their money in a bank.

And yet Wechat has come about and despite not being a bank, if has fundamentally changed consumer habits and sentiment regarding their cash.

Which has fundamentally changed retail habits and sentiment regarding how they offer service to their customers.

So how did they do it?

Well, there’s a bunch of reasons.

Without doubt one is they appeal to a different generation to those who were there before.

A generation brought up in the digital age.

A generation who have a ‘I want it now’ mentality.

But it’s more than that.

You see Wechat’s genius was they refused to take any advertising for years.

In a nation where making money is everything, Wechat resisted the lure of ‘easy cash’.

This might not seem a massive thing, but to the people here, it felt like they’d found a brand that actually cared about them.

A brand that wouldn’t sell them out to line their own pocket.

This gave Wechat an integrity few brands could ever hope to achieve – especially in such a limited period of time and in a place as suspicious as China – so when they launched their ‘wallet feature’, there was no doubt people would embrace it because the level of trust in them was so high.

Of course there’s many other reasons for their success – and arguably, Wechat did this so they could ultimately win the long game with advertisers and partners – but with so many brands talking about ‘changing behaviour and perceptions’, it’s worth remembering part of Wechat’s success is as much because of what they didn’t do, as it is what they did.



The People’s Republic Of Shopping …
November 12, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Brilliant Marketing Ideas In History, China, Culture, ECommerce, Internet

So yesterday I talked about Singles Day.

Well, in the last 24 hours, more than US$13 billion dollars was spent, with almost US$4 billion in the first hour alone and US$1 billion in the first EIGHT MINUTES!!!

Let’s say those numbers again.

US$1 billion in 8 minutes.

US$4 billion in 60 minutes.

US$13 billion in 24 hours.

Look, I know China doesn’t officially celebrate Christmas [though more and more retailers are pushing it, in a bid to make even more money] but that is a bloody enormous amount.

Anyway, I recently came across a buyer guide by Chinese company Alibaba.

Alibaba – founded by the irrepressible Jack Ma – is a phenomenon.

From very humble beginnings as an online retailer, he managed to overcome a skeptical government … set up one of the most amazing delivery infrastructures ever seen anywhere in the World … educate 1.4 billion people about the ease and convenience of online shopping … kick out eBay [which is an interesting story in itself which you can read here] help entrepreneurs throughout China sell to China and the World … make his company bigger than Amazon and eBay combined and end up as one of the richest – and most powerful – men in the World.

Not bad for a business set up in 1999.

Anyway, back to the tutorial.

Over 10 pages, Mr Ma’s company explains how they have an app/business that will make life easier and more enjoyable for you.

Unsurprisingly, it focuses almost exclusively around spending money.

I say unsurprisingly because that’s what Jack Ma’s businesses focus on … mainly because he knows that’s what Chinese society focuses on.

It’s a match made in heaven.

Buying products … buying food … buying holidays … buying materials … buying entertainment … buying with others … if you have the desire to spend, one of Mr Ma’s companies will find something that you will like to buy.

Then he has a bunch of apps/businesses that allows you to pay for what you’ve bought, track what you’ve bought and then tell others what you’ve bought to help kick start their spending mania too.

And if he doesn’t get you with any of that, he’s started a film business so one way or another, you’ll be trading with him.

Mind you, if his movies are anything like the storyline he has created in this ‘buyer guide’, Hollywood doesn’t have too much to worry about quite yet. That said, a friend saw a rough draft of the new Bridget Jones Diary script, and from what he told me, there isn’t that much difference between the two.










As much as the West likes to heap praise on people like Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma is in a different league.

Whether it’s the level of success he has achieved, the inventiveness of the businesses he creates, the way he helps millions of people find their own success or the overall adoration he gets from the general public [because on top of everything else, he’s a huge philanthropist] … Alibaba is proof that China is far more innovative than most give it credit for.

It also explains why most advertising in this market is focused on what it can sell today rather than build for tomorrow, which is why there is an attitude in this country of ‘good enough is good enough’, because the belief is if you hesitate, you lose.

But it will change. It has to. The only issue for debate is when and my guess is Jack Ma will know before the rest of us.

This is why this country is such an amazing place to be.

And mental. Most definitely mental.