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


When We Put Our Heads Up Our Asses …

So this is hard for me because it not only involves an agency I like very much – Droga5 – but it also involves a number of personal friends.

So over the past few months, there’s been a campaign for Email marketing platform, MailChimp.

Not that you’d know it, because the campaign has been about creating seemingly random ads for things with names that kind-of sound like MailChimp but never actually say it.

Hence we’ve had all sorts of things like FailChips and SnailPrimps placed all around NYC.

And why?

Because when the brand sponsored the hit podcast ‘Serial’, someone in the promo mispronounced the brand as “MailKimp” and Droga5 thought that could be a fun way to advertise the brand.

That’s right, spend a shitload of cash doing a bunch of things that never actually mentions the brand name or relates to what the brand does.

This is how a Mailchimp exec explains it …

“We used mispronunciation as a creative device to inspire all kinds of different executions, knowing that people would be curious about what they were seeing and search for more information”.

What?

WHAT?

Now I accept there is a good chance I might be wrong, but are people that curious?

Do people give a flying fuck about this sort of thing?

Maybe they do, which means I can’t help but wonder how they felt when they discovered what it was really all about.

Were they pissed off they’ve just been part of a marketing scam?

Or maybe they ended up being massively disappointed by what they discovered it all to be about.

Or did they go, “Wow, that’s amazing” and immediately sign up for their service, even if they didn’t need it.

I have a feeling it’s not that likely to be the last option.

Don’t get me wrong, I know people love to ‘discover’ stuff, but I’m not so sure that means they love discovering they’ve just been had.

All of this feels like the people behind the campaign either watched one too many bad spy movies or took Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘tipping point’ a tad too literally.

But it gets worse.

Much worse … because this ‘strategy’ of mispronouncing the brand name – according to the credits released with the campaign – required 7 strategists.

SEVEN.

What did they do?

What is the bloody strategy in any of this?

I appreciate that sometimes the biggest insight is there isn’t one … but even then, you don’t need 7 strategists. Hell, even if you were doing a campaign to solve world hunger, you wouldn’t need seven strategists.

WHAT IS GOING ON!?

I love Droga5 and I massively respect my friends who were involved in this campaign, but this all smacks of early dotcom advertising and we know what happened to the majority of those brands.

Actually I’m wrong, because at least those ads focused on people remembering the name.

This isn’t advertising, it’s anti-advertising and while the industry might think that’s something cool and worthy of aspiring too, in the real World – or at least The Guardian – they know it’s a great advertisement for saying our industry has its head up it’s own ass.



Lazy Or Stupid?

So recently, I saw this ad in Shanghai …

Can you see the problem?

Have another look?

Yes … apart from the words CAR FREE DAY, they’ve literally used Lorem Ipsum for the rest of the text.

And for those who don’t know what Lorem Ipsum is … it’s dummy text used by the advertising and printing industry when space has to be left for copy but it hasn’t been written yet.

Now I appreciate we’re in China so there’s a small possibility the people behind the ad didn’t speak English so didn’t realise the difference.

But I have to be honest, I don’t really believe that.

And even if it was true, what about the people who commissioned the work?

Seriously, this might be one of the laziest/stupidest things I’ve seen in a long, long time.

This is an amazing country that is developing at an incredible rate but when I see stuff like this, I am reminded so much of it’s progress is based on the aesthetic because under the surface ‘good enough, is good enough’ still permeates so much of what passes as standards.



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.




What – And Who – Are Trust Exercises Really For?

Years and years ago, I worked temporarily for a small company in Australia.

I hated it but I needed the money so each and every day I went there to destroy my soul.

I was not the only one.

So one day, this company announced they’d hired some specialists to help build trust between us all. The irony was there was already a lot of trust between us, it was the management we thought were dodgy bastards.

So off we go to some hotel where we are subjected to all manner of inane and condescending bullshit, when one of my colleagues announced …

“For this to work, we have to trust your bosses aren’t stupid and you’ve failed in achieving that”.

Within 2 seconds, pandaemonium happened and for all intents and purposes, we rebelled and all went to a coffee shop.

Of course management weren’t happy and a few people were fired and a lot of people were given written warnings – and while I am a big believer teams being built on trusting each other to help each other – that comes from the everyday environment, not some totally unrealistic experience in some nondescript hotel room outside of an industrial estate.

Half of the time the reason for doing it is simply for the management to say ‘they’ve spent money on training’ … which is VERY different from actually training … but none of this matters, because the only reason I’m telling this story is so I can justify showing this clip.



When Design Goes Wrong …

I must admit I’m kind of happy to write this post.

You see, over the last couple of years, I’ve been writing endless odes to the creativity and ingenuity of designers … even proclaiming them to be far better at problem solving than most ad agencies.

Which is why I was so happy when someone sent me this milk packaging from Tesco’s.

I hope it’s real. Can someone please tell me it’s real.

[Though to be fair, based on the milk ingredients, it’s ‘on brand’. Literally]



A Kodak Moment Is Now An Embarrassing Moment …

Kodak.

A company that once was synonymous with photography that is now synonymous with failure.

There are a million stories detailing their demise, but fundamentally, it wasn’t because they couldn’t innovate [they were one of the pioneers of digital photography], they didn’t want to bring it to market because they didn’t want to kill their photographic developing business, even though that business was going to kill them if they continued with it.

But this post isn’t a bad history lesson, it’s about the new Kodak … the lean, mean, technology machine.

Have a look at this …

Yep, it’s the World’s first 360 degree action-camera with 4k picture detail.

OK, so you could say bringing out a device like this, years after GoPro blew-up the market, shows Kodak still have a habit of being late to change, but at least this time they are trying to offer a fundamentally better product than what is currently available – not to mention leveraging the 360 degree market, that seems to have come from nowhere.

But even that isn’t what this post is about.

No, what this is about is that based on this ad, Kodak still think it’s the 1980’s.

A few years ago, I wrote how one of GoPro’s strengths was how they were part of the culture they were making products for. This authenticity separated them from the countless other brands that tried to jump on the bandwagon – even when they had arguably better products.

Two years later and it seems some brands still haven’t grasped the importance of focusing on the culture, rather than the category.

Look at that ad. Look at it.

It’s fucking horrible.

If a photo of the London skyline from a bloody restaurant wasn’t bad enough [what the hell is ‘action cam’ about that???] … what about the utterly terrible shot of the product.

A brown square with a shitty dome on top.

It looks like a crap 1950’s robot toy that you’d find in a Kinder-Surprise.

What the hell were Kodak thinking?

And then there’s the product name and the font choice.

PIXPRO … using a stencil type font in a desperate bid to look cutting edge.

If your product is the ‘future’, you don’t need to use a shitty font because people will work it out for themselves. And even if you decide you absolutely, positively, desperately want to do it … my advice is to not use a font that is synonymous with the 1982!

And what’s that line … ‘Brings You Closer’.

What does it even mean?

Here is a product that gives you 360 degree views [which, arguably, they don’t even show in the ad] and they use that line.

Mind you, here is a product that gives you 360 degree views in 4k quality, and they don’t even help you understand what 4k quality means to the recipient.

There is so much they could do to make people want to know more – even using an old-school print ad – but no, they’ve gone for the worst advertising you could get.

Apparently the product is quite good … but sadly for Kodak, with a name that represents the past rather than the future and an ad that reinforces that perspective, I think the only view they’ll be seeing is their once great name growing smaller and smaller into the distance.



Louis Vuitton Go Wrong …

Louis Vuitton.

A name that conjures all manner of images in the mind.

Luxury. Sophistication. Worldliness.Travel. Wealth.

OK, so in China, it’s also known as the ‘mistresses brand’, because in the old days of China, the only people who could get their hands on the stuff were the lovers of Government officials or international businessmen who bought it when on one of their numerous overseas trips.

Now while ‘perception may be reality’, there’s some perception you don’t want and LV have spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars on changing this.

Given their success in China, you could argue it has worked – however there are two things that I think are potentially going to undermine them.

One: In their quest to keep the cash rolling in, they’re opening more stores in ‘lower tier’ markets. While this is helping wealthy people in those cities buy their products more easily, it’s putting off their core audience because frankly, they don’t want to be associated with individuals from places they regard as ‘being underneath them’.


Two: This …

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

OK … OK … I admit I haven’t seen this first hand [a friend sent it to me] so there is a big chance it’s either a pisstake or associated with an upcoming movie but if not, why-oh-why would they do such a thing?

While some may find a cliche-looking gangster cool, I’m not sure it fits in with the image the average LV customer wants for themselves. And what do you think is in those suitcases?

A pair of pants and some inflatable arm bands?

Probably not … and yet they have the cheek to add ‘the spirit of travel’ to the bottom of the ad.

Where are they travelling too? Jail?

And what are those ‘weapon looking things’ in the arms of the cliched ‘hired help’?

If they’re not fancy umbrellas, someone is going to be getting into a lot of trouble.

Look, I get the luxury inflation rate has pushed brands to basically make ads showing people bathing in a pool of money while burning poor people in their big, open fire but I’m not sure going to this extreme is a good idea.

If the goal was to make LV owners look so successful they don’t give a shit what others think [“Fuck you money”, as I wrote here] then I would have suggested they follow the lead of the brilliant ‘spoof’ Bentley ad below, as opposed to associating with people who might kill you if you even look at them funny.