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


It’s Been An Honour …

After 7 years, today is my last day at Wieden+Kennedy.

Just as traumatic is that in 6 days, it will be my last day in China.

Or said another way, it will be my last day living in Asia-Pacific after 22 amazing years.

There’s honestly too much to say.

Too many memories to write about.

Too many people to thank and talk about.

So instead I’ll just say it has been the time of my life.

An amazing, spectacular, wonderful adventure both personally and professionally.

From marriage and babies to being part of work that defined World Cups and Olympics.

Wow.

It’s absolutely fair to say I will miss every bit of it but I’ll take the memories because it means I had the experience and for that I am truly grateful.

Now, because we’re in the middle of mad moving mode, this blog will be on a little hiatus for a few weeks.

Probably about a month. [Though we all know there’ll be the odd post here and there]

On the bright side, when it’s back – probably sometime in June, in time for my birthday [ha] – you’ll get to read posts that won’t just be about planning, but how I don’t understand how to make anything in America work.

I honestly think I’m going to find it harder to acclimatise to America than I ever did to China.

Hell, I can’t even order a cup of coffee without getting confused about their cup sizes.

So with that I want to sign off with a few little thank-you’s.

The reality is a huge amount of people made my time here amazing, however there’s some who had an even bigger influence and I want to call them out because the adventure I had – and am about to embark on – literally wouldn’t have been possible without them.

My wonderful planning team. Past and present. Every day was a genuine fucking honour. The awesome Kennedys. It was seriously the professional highlight of my last 12 months. Thank you. And that definitely includes you Juni. Kel Hook. For hiring me. You changed my life and I’ll never be able to thank you enough. Jason White. Thank you for supporting me even when I caused destruction. John Rowe. For being brilliant in every possible way and making my time at W+K Tokyo so good, I never wanted to leave. NIKE. I know that might sound corporate toady, but as I have nothing to gain from saying it, it means it is true. 99.7% of every person I met or worked with at Wieden+Kennedy worldwide … whether they are still here or long gone. Martin Weigel. You’re a cantankerous, warm hearted, brilliant man. Just propose to Mercedes and get on with it. Whiteside. Because you’re awesome and funny and humble and deserve so much and yet are happy with what you have. Clare Pickens. I love you. I literally fucking love you. [But stop cutting your hair because it makes you look shit] Sandi Hildreth. For being awesome and gorgeous and loving the same sort of rubbish music as me. Claudia Valderrama. For looking out for me even though you told me I was a “pain in the ass”. W&W, Azsa, Arlene and Max … for making sure I stay excited – and in awe – about the birth of amazing ideas. Gerber, for somehow – and I’m not sure how – influencing me to get tattoos. I came here with none, I leave with not enough. Simon Pestridge. Thank you for everything. In many ways, you changed my career and opportunities. You’re more than a great client, but a friend. Kim Papworth. For that talk that was totally worth the wait. Luhr. For being Luhr. Stech. For making your 6 months here, the most exciting 6 months for me full stop. David Terry and Paul Colman for trying really hard to be ‘alpha-males’ but actually being fucking sweethearts. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Joe Staples. He won’t understand why, which is why. MJ. No, not Micheal Jackson or Michal Jordan, but Matthew Jung … for being a phenomenal Nike and Converse client who backed us to do the best work we can do every-single-time. Karrelle. For pretending to still be British when he’s basically American. Steve Tsoi for still welcoming me to the table even though I never made life easy for you or your team. Scott Silverman. You had nothing to do with China, but if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have had the chance to be here. Chris Jaques. You also had nothing to do with China, but if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have had the platform to show others what I could do. What I could be. Dan Wieden. For not actually firing me even though you said, “You’re fired” every time you saw me. And starting a place that is so special amongst special companies. Xiaoli. For everything you have done for us, but most specifically for the love and care you have shown my son. China … for being so important to global business that you gave me access and exposure to the sort of senior leadership few in the World will ever get to experience. The amazing, warm, slightly crazy people of China. I will absolutely miss everything about your unique ways. Except the spitting and the plane delays. And finally – and most importantly – my beloved Jill, Otis and Rosie. Without you guys, none of this other stuff would have mattered.

OK, the Gwyneth Paltrow bollocks is over … and to prove it, have a look at this.

Do you know what it is?

That’s right, it’s one of the 600 stickers I have had made that I have spent the last 5 weeks hiding throughout the refurbished Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai office. And I mean ‘throughout’ … including various W+K hangouts, like Baker & Spice, Jamaica Blue and Little Catch.

That should make their life a pain in the ass for a few years.

It will be like I’ve never gone.

And with that, it’s time to go.

It’s been a lot of fun. Time for an adventure in LA. God help us all.



They’re At It Again …

I know … I know … you would think I am over the whole ‘pram marketing’ thing by now.

Not just because I’ve written a ton about it [here and here and here and probably many other places] but because Otis is 2 and doesn’t need one anymore.

But I’m not.

Not while they keep putting out bullshit like this …

Like everything iCandy do, there’s so much that just pisses me off.

Let’s start with the colouring of the ad.

Orange.

ORANGE.

Who the fuck would want an orange pram?

I’ll tell you who, the pricks who own a lime green Lamborghini.

Yeah, those folks who are so bloody egotistical that they make sure absolutely no one can miss them.

Having a supercar to nip down to the post office to buy some stamps isn’t enough.

They need it in a shade of vomit that means even blind people can see it.

But that isn’t even the most annoying bit.

Look at that claim.

ABSOLUTELY FUTUREPROOF.

Errrrrrrm, does it turn into a bike?

What about a car?

Or a house?

Does it turn into anything OTHER THAN A BLOODY PRAM?

No, no it doesn’t … but yet again, iCandy have spouted a load of marketing twaddle because they don’t want to be in the pram business, they want to be in the innovation business and while I have no doubt that to give a pram 30 different configurations is quite an achievement, it’s still a pram and the innovation isn’t that soddin’ innovative.

But hey, they won’t matter to the fools who buy it … the same fools, as we identified earlier, who buy a lime green Lamborghini.

Because to them it won’t matter if they never use any of the configurations available to them because the purpose of purchase is not to ensure their child is protected and comfortable while being transported between the gym and the chip shop … oh no … for them, it’s all about being seen by everyone around them and being able to bore their ‘friends’ with a list of the prams features they will neither use nor understand.

Once upon a time there was a famous advertising slogan for the telecommunications company Orange that said:

The futures bright, the futures orange.

Well, thanks to iCandy, we have an updated version of that.

The futures bright, the futures fucked.



Pepsi’s April Fools Ad Is Brilliant …

Well done Pepsi.

Where so many brands made their April Fool’s ad obvious as hell, you’ve gone with subtlety.

The use of a multi-cultural audience was brilliant.

I loved how you made sure they were all stunningly attractive to ensure minorities would find it even harder to feel like they belong.

Comedy gold.

And then you gave them all incredible creative talent to really rub people’s noses in it.

But not just any creative talent … you have them play Cello’s and use DLSR’s to show they have sophisticated taste as well as cash.

Lots and lots of cash.

You cheeky, cheeky monkeys.

And what can I say about that demonstration!

The most passive, bored-looking demonstration of all time.

Even when members of the crowd are supposedly struck by an overwhelming desire to express their creativity – like that scene from 80’s TV show, Fame – you can’t help but feel their version of self expression would be to play musical statues.

Seriously, whoever came up with that should win an Emmy.

I especially like the way you incorporated the Pepsi colours and logo in so many of those signs to really take-the-piss out of social movements.

Less, ‘stick it to the man’ and more ‘we are owned by the man’.

Brilliant.

I must admit, while I was enthralled, I wasn’t sure what the demonstrators were supposed to be demonstrating about.

Sure there was that banging soundtrack going on about ‘live for now’, but surely the opposite of ‘living for now’ is shuffling your feet in a demonstration rather than actually doing something you enjoy.

No wonder they looked so bored and walked like extras from ‘The Walking Dead’.

And that’s when you played your trump card … Kendall Jenner.

At first, I must admit I was confused.

Surely Kendell Jenner is the absolute opposite of raw, youthful energy?

But then you brought us right back into the humour by suggesting she would shun her luxury lifestyle to join a march that no one knows whats for, simply because some bloke with a cello strapped to her back smiled at her.

A bloke she would never encounter in normal life because she makes sure she never has to mingle with the common class.

Get these copywriters writing for Saturday Night Live NOW!

Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, you upped the game again.

My god, are you insane?

Slowly we see the crowd of about 37 people come face to face with some nondescript Police Force.

I say nondescript, but they’re definitely not American.

Oh no, even you know not to take the piss out of the US Police Force.

I hold my breath wondering what is about to happen.

Then Kendell appears again …

And what’s she got in her hand?

Yes, a Pepsi. A can of fucking Pepsi.

She walks right up to the Policeman and hands it to him.

SHE FUCKING HANDS IT TO HIM!!!

Better yet, you make it so he takes the can and then takes a swig.

The crowd go wild.

Kendell walks backwards and disappears into the crowd.

What a twist … WHAT A FUCKING TWIST!!!

The 37, blue wearing, multicultural, creative practicing teens weren’t demonstrators at all, they were simply spreading the Pepsi word.

They were like Mormons.

Pepsi Mormons.

Absolutely amazing.

I tell you, this ad shouldn’t just win advertising awards, but also comedy ones.

I bet all of comedies greats are looking at this right now and clapping their hands in awe.

Nothing can beat this. Nothing.

Not even Pepsi’s previous attempt at comedy genius – the one where they linked the Mona Lisa’s smile to their logo design.

OK, so some may say the humour is too subtle, but come on, no one would believe that highly paid marketers and agency creative directors really think this reflects the attitudes and behaviour of modern day youth. I mean, apart from being utterly preposterous. it would be totally embarrassing.

No, this is comedy gold, pure and simple. Even the fact they launched it after April Fools Day is hilarious.

Thank you Pepsi for giving me the best laugh of 2017, though you should know being laughed at is not the same as making people laugh.

Pepsi: the choice for a generation that doesn’t exist.



You Can Never Be Rich Enough …

So I was reading a business mag [I know, I know] and saw this …

In some ways, I am kind of impressed that a company would be so blatant in its ‘greed is good’ approach.

Let’s be honest, most brands – even super luxury brands – kind of steer away from talking about cash so literally.

Instead, they use words like ‘exclusivity’ or ‘precious’ or ‘craftsmanship’.

I get why …

Not because they think talking about money is vulgar, but because they’re scared if they put a price against their brand, a competitor could say “we are even more expensive than them”.

Yep, that’s the kind-of fucked-up world we live in.

So when I saw this ad, I have to say it grabbed my attention by it’s sheer confidence/arrogance.

It’s an ad for the ambitious. The hungry. The never satisfied.

It’s an ad for those who want to change the World and get reap the rewards of it.

Or that’s what they’d like to convince themselves it is.

In reality, it’s an ad for the sort of guys who don’t give a shit about others.

The types who fuck others over and think that by saying “it’s just business”, it relinquishes them from all blame.

The people who believe money defines who they are and who others are.

The folks who say they want to change the World but really mean want to change their world.

There’s probably millions of these people out there.

They probably now hold ExcelAir in the highest of esteem.

I kind of admire that.

I kind of admire the balls of ExcelAir to ignore the sensitivity of the times and just go for it.

But I’d still rather shit in my hands and clap.

Especially when it’s delivered in an ad that looks like Stevie Wonder art-directed it.



About As Subtle As A Banana Put Down A Pair Of Axl Rose’s Leather Pants …

Saw this recently on Linkedin.

Do you think it’s an employee randomly singing the praises of his company.

Or an employee who is doing this as a blatant attempt by his company to look good?

Either way, I want to smash the smarmy, corporate toady in the face.




Would You Trust Someone Who Trusts Me?
December 14, 2016, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Brand Suicide, Comment, Egovertising, Marketing Fail

So a while back I got an email from a journalist at Bloomberg Businessweek.

To be honest, I thought it was a joke, because they asked me if I’d be interested in writing an article on some of the WORST advertising that has run in the US over the past 20-30 years.

After determining it was a genuine request from a genuine journalist, I jumped at the chance.

Sure, it was going to be a tongue-in-cheek article hidden away in the back of the magazine … but who wouldn’t want to do it! Hell, I’d go as far as to say I was made to do it.

So after making sure my choices didn’t insult any existing or past client [or their competitors, so I didn’t look like a sneaky fuck] and explaining I was going to do it from the perspective of a bad idea, strategy or execution – because I wouldn’t know the actual effectiveness the work had on the business – this is what I submitted …

“Video Game” by Jack In The Box 2016 [Click here to see]

Jack In The Box ads sort-of got me wanting to work in advertising. They were irreverent, mischievous and – in their own way – very honest. The latest stuff is rather sad. They’ve lost all their personality and charm and are doing their very best to create communication that doesn’t even have the ability to leave a bad taste in my mouth. If the 20 year old version of me saw this, I’d want to become a CPA rather than enter advertising. And this is coming from someone who once got 2% in a maths exam.

“Big Game” by PayPal: Super Bowl 2015 [Click here to see]

The whole premise of this ad is that ‘Paypal is new money’. What a shame they spend the next 55 second ignoring the fact that to use their service, you have to have access to old money. You know, the stuff that will actually pay for that wi-fi selfie-toaster you think is a great idea to buy. At 3am. After drinks.

“The Portrait With Steven Tyler” by Skittles: Super Bowl 2015 [Click here to see]

I love Aerosmith. And Skittles. Or I should say I used to, until I saw this. Maybe Steven Tyler charged so much money they didn’t have enough cash left to pay for the agency to do what they do best. Or maybe Mr Tyler blew so much of his cash living the ’70’s dream’ he has to take whatever he can get to pay the bills.
That would certainly explain his appearance on American Idol.

“Shape Up With Brooke Burke” Sketchers 2011 [Click here to see]

Nothing kills a bad brand like good advertising. I can’t remember who said that, but Sketchers found out to their cost when it was discovered their ‘shape up shoes’ didn’t really shape you up unless you actually moved your legs. A lot. Doing something called, ‘exercise’.

“What Can Brown Do For You” by UPS 2002 [Click here to see]

I get it, UPS like the colour brown and they want everyone to know it. But when I think of brown, I think of 1970’s cars, dirt and [thanks to my 22 month old son] ] nappies. I don’t know if I had millions to spend I’d try to associate my brand with those unsavoury items. But then, I don’t think the ‘attempt at humour’ at the end is appropriate or funny either. Questionable strategy. Pretty bad delivery.

“Kenyan Runner” by Just For Feet: Super Bowl 1999 [Click here to see]

Some white dudes in a 4×4 seemingly chase a black runner through a barren plain. Someone drugs him. They watch him fall over. Then they lean over his body menacingly. Seriously, how did no one think this was in utterly horrific taste.

“Calvin Klein Jeans” by Calvin Klein 1990’s [Click here to see]

I honestly don’t know if these ads [which were eventually pulled] were trying to appeal to America’s youth or middle aged perverts.If the former, I’m not sure they would have been that successful. If the latter, then I am pretty certain it kept prosecution lawyers in business for a few years.

“Can’t Get A Man” Lux Soap 1940’s? [Click here to see]

I would love to meet the people who wrote this ad. And approved it. And accepted it in their publications. Actually, scrub that … I would love my wife to meet them. And Cindy Gallop. And as they both punched them hard on the nose, I’d be there cheering them along.

___________________________________________________________________

To be honest, I thought it was quite good.

As I am sure people who know me would agree, being cheeky without being too nasty is something very difficult for me, so imagine my surprise when the article came out and I saw they had done this …

Can you see it?

It’s the small bit on the bottom right hand side of the page.

Yep, not only did they tuck it away at the bottom of the article that was tucked away at the bottom of the magazine … they cut down the amount of ‘entries’ by over half and had edited the hell out of what was left as well.

And you know what … I don’t care, because while it is a jokey article tucked away in the jokey section of the magazine, my name appears in Bloomberg Businessweek and that is something I literally never thought would happen.

Sure, some may say that because last year my name appeared in some semi-serious books and I was awarded a fairly serious award, I’m on a downward spiral based on this years achievements … but in a weird way, this feels even more valuable, mainly because it isn’t an industry publication and for me, that’s ace because it’s utterly mental, hence it gets this overly long blog post.

But don’t worry, tomorrow is the last post of the whole year. Yippee!



Putting The Con In Icon …

There are a lot of people who think that in the digital age, nothing can be kept secret.

Maybe they’re right, but that doesn’t hide the fact that some people can keep their secret from being found out for a pretty long time.

Case in point is Elizabeth Holmes – the much lauded, self-made billionaire of biotech start-up Theranos.

That’s her in the photo.

While many have written about her, her story is really one about confidence.

Or should I say the dark side of confidence … both in terms of how she used it and how many fell for it. That said, it is also a story about the fear of missing out and how cash can blind the judgement of many otherwise sensible people.

[But, fortunately, not all]

It’s a truly scary story though I must admit, the thing that shocked me most was learning there was a guy in the US – admittedly a Brit – who had never worn a pair of jeans.

Anyway if you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to read it … it’s a modern day version of the Emperor’s new clothes.