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


Half Way Mark …

How the hell is it June already?

It literally seems like two minutes ago that I was making that epic Christmas ‘Baywatch’ special with my best mate Paul.

You don’t know what I’m talking about?

Weird, as it was a Youtube phenomenon, with an amazing 38 views as of the time of writing.

Oh well, here we are … 6 months into 2018, how has it been for you so far?

I’ll tell you how it’s been for me after I’ve seen how many presents I receive from you on my birthday – which happens in just 12 days time.

Subtle aren’t I?

And yes, this may well be the worst post I’ve ever written.

Well, I could say that if I hadn’t included the ‘career car crash’ film in the post. With it, I think it’s fair to say it absolutely is the worst post I’ve ever written, and that is saying something, especially when I compare it against the iPod singing, Scorpions disaster.

[Which was all your fault Marcus]

Anyway, after all that horror, I wish you a good weekend and if it has deeply disturbed you, remember if I’ve been able to have a semi-decent career with this alarming lack of judgment, you’re going to be just fine.

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Am I An Annoying Prick Of A Colleague?

OK, so we all know the answer to the question in this post.

But despite hiding hundreds of stickers around my old office … making packing tape with my colleagues face on it … creating badge/buttons with the face of another colleague on them … sending annoying all staff emails … giving annoying art to designers … proudly buying and displaying horrific art for my team to witness every time they step into my office … buying Useless Boxes for people … continually taking bad instagrams of my workmates … crafting terrible ‘personalized’ clothing for leaving presents and basically being a class-1 dick to all and sundry, I’m still not sure.

Or should I say I wasn’t sure until I had a stamp of my signature made so I could stamp colleagues birthday cards to show that personal touch without much effort, as demonstrated by Leigh’s errrrrm, forehead.

So if you think Monday is horrible, be grateful it isn’t being spent in the same office as me.

Always a silver lining.



Qantas. Cultural Appropriation And Revulsion At The Same Time …

So recently Qantas launched their Perth-London direct flight.

This is definitely a game-changer for the air industry so I get why they wanted to celebrate it.

But Qantas being Qantas – as I’ve written about many times, such as here and here – couldn’t help but snap defeat out of the jaws of victory by reinforcing the past when this was a story all about the future.

Based on the picture above – taken at Heathrow Airport when they were about to embark on their maiden London-Perth flight – when Qantas say they’re the ‘Spirit of Australia’, they’re saying their country is about surfboards, kangaroos and what suspiciously looks like a white guy made up to look like an aboriginal.

All they need is a ball-tampering cricketer and Paul Hogan and they’ve completed the bad cultural cliche set.

For an airline that’s never suffered a catastrophic accident, it’s good to see Qantas PR are doing their best to ensure they still have plenty of other types of plane crashes to talk about.



Plane Crash Advertising. Again.

I’ve written a lot about how bad airline advertising is.For an industry that is selling escape, adventure, discovery and recuperation – I’m shocked how terrible it is.

Sure, there’s exceptions … Virgin has always been strong [and not just because I was involved in so much of it] and the S7 work from Wieden Amsterdam was wonderful, but the majority are the sort of bland rubbish I’ve ranted about from Singapore and Turkish airlines.

Well there’s a new shit airline ad challenger in town and it’s Lufthansa.

What. The. Hell?

Everything about this piece of awful bemuses me.

The only reason being on a plane at sunrise/sunset is better than being on a rooftop bar with your mates is because you get a better view.

That is literally it.

Sure you might be going on holiday.

Sure you might be sat in business class.

But in terms of that fleeting 60 seconds you get to see the sunset/sunrise, I can assure you it’s better to be at a rooftop bar with your mates.

Even more so if you’re talking about watching the sunrise … because the only reasons you’re awake at that time are shit.

1. You’re jet-lagged to hell.

2. You’ve been woken up mid-sleep to be served some sloppy breakfast that is way too early for you to digest.

And yet they still have the audacity to say ‘air travel engineered around you’.

No it’s not.

Unless this ad was created to appeal to an uber-niche target audience that get sexually excited at seeing sunsets, there is absolutely no evidence Lufthansa engineer their air travel around their passengers needs.

Maybe I should test it.

Hey Lufthansa, I really like spending the day with my family and I hate having to go through all the hassle of getting to the airport and then dealing with security so could you bring your plane near my house and wait for me for when I’m ready to fly?

Could you?

Please … after all, you engineer air travel around me.

You silly, lying, bad-marketing fools.



When Marketing Is Nothing More Ego And Delusion …

Once upon a time, the attitude of marketing departments was to continually communicate ‘new news’, even if it was only of value to themselves.

It didn’t matter what was said, the goal was to keep in the public eye at all costs.

A bit like Madonna in the 1980’s.

Anyway, over the years – possibly driven by rising media costs – this trend died down and there was a greater focus on speaking when you actually had something to say.

Sure, there was the odd bit of self-indulgence, but overall marketing departments actually marketed their brand rather than their ego.

Of course, when social media happened, we saw – and continue to see – a return to the bad old days, where brands speak to themselves about things even they don’t really care about.

Part of this is because they regard social as ‘free advertising’ and part of it is because their competitors are doing it and they don’t want to be left behind.

That doesn’t mean social is bad, it just means the way it is used often is.

But all that pails into insignificance compared to something I saw recently.

Something where I cannot fathom why they did it and who they think will care.

What am I talking about? This …

That’s right, a photo library company is talking about how they’ve changed their watermark.

Their fucking watermark.

And then they make it sound like we’d actually want to pay them to have the picture WITH the watermark.

WITH IT!

Who are these idiots?

It’s not even a nice watermark so when they say ‘say goodbye to cheap-looking watermarks’, the fact is [1] you wouldn’t be and [2] they seem to have forgotten the whole point of using a photo library is so you can have access to images THAT FEATURE A WATERMARK.

And just when you think things can’t get any worse, they use – quite possibly – the worst ever headline I’ve ever read.

Look at it.

LOOK AT IT.

If you hate watermarks and never want to see one again, the chances of you wanting to see an updated, ugly watermark is exactly zero.

Why Photologo?

What was your thinking on this?

What do you think people are actually going to say, think or do?

This isn’t ego, this is makes Donald Trump’s delusion look utterly sane in comparison.

In the World of ridiculous marketing stunts, this has to go down as one of the worst, especially because even if you’re some mental case and love watermarks, the reality is you can download the pic with it for free.

FREE!!!

Which all says to me that the owners of Photologo are the most insane people I’ve ever ‘met’ and I can only assume that the people who convinced them this was a good idea also own APAC Insider Magazine.



Is Innovation The Fast Track To Corporate Fucking Stupidity?

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about how so many of the great ideas I’ve seen have come from the minds of designers rather than adfolk.

Where so many in my industry look to create eye-candy, designers are approaching their task in terms of solving the clients fundamental problem in the best and most visually interesting way.

There’s a lesson for many of us to learn in that.

However it’s not all great for designers.

Like that Pepsi bullshit from years back, there’s still examples where designers are taking the piss more than a catheter.

For the latest example, may I present to you Vodafone.

Whether we like them or not, our lives are very dependent on the telecommunications industry.

Sure, we might not use their service to make phonecalls anymore, but our smartphone addiction means we need their data so we can instragram our food at every possible moment.

Now obviously the telco industry doesn’t like being seen as just a ‘service provider’.

Part of that might be because of corporate ego, but the main reason is likely to be that for them to grow, they need to be regarded as an innovation company … someone who creates the future as much as serves it.

Whether you think that’s bollocks or not is up to you, but the reason I’m saying it is because that’s kind of the explanation Vodafone used for creating their new logo.

“What new logo?” I hear you cry.

This one …

“No Rob …” you reply, “… you’ve made a mistake, that’s the old logo”.

Oh no it isn’t folks, that’s the new one.

No seriously.

I swear to God.

Oh hang on, I don’t believe in God … OK, I swear on my heart.

Still don’t believe me?

OK, if you want absolute proof, here’s the old logo for comparison.

“But … but isn’t that basically the old logo just with the colours inverted?”, you stutter.

Well, I would agree with that assessment however we would both be wrong because apparently it is a new logo and, when you hear how the people at Vodafone describe it, it represents a new dawn for the company and it’s role and goal in society.

Here’s Ben Macintosh, Vodafone Australia’s customer business director …

“The changes represent the company’s ability to ‘innovate for the future ‘and supply choice for customers. The wants and needs of our customers have changed, and with that we’ve changed too. We challenge the status quo and push the boundaries to give people something that they won’t find anywhere else.”

I swear to god this is not an April Fool.

This really is their new logo and Ben Macintosh really did say that.

Look, I get Apple generated billions in extra revenue by simply adding a small ‘s’ to their otherwise near-identical product but this is a whole different scale of idiocy.

For me, there’s only 2 possible scenarios …

Either the branding company [which, let’s be honest, is not a design company] are fucking delusional or Vodafone is.

Whatever the truth, if I was a shareholder in the former I’d be buying more shares in them for their ability to charge millions for taking 10 minutes to literally invert the colours of their clients existing logos and if the latter, I’d be selling my shares as fast as I could possibly get rid of the worthless bastards.

On the bright side, I’m about to make a fortune as a branding consultant and my 1997 copy of Microsoft Paint.



When Culture Bleeds Into Culture …

You know you lived in Shanghai when you’re driving, see the sign above and think it’s a Chinese street name rather than how American’s roadsigns say ‘pedestrian crossing’.

I wish I was joking, but I’m not.

How I passed my driving test is anybody’s guess.

I’ve got to be honest, while I am really enjoying my time in the US, I am finding it harder to adapt to certain things than I thought I would.

Not just because I feel my frame-of-reference is more Asian based than American, but because there are some things I am being subjected to that I just never encountered before.

To be honest, this is a post for another day – because it’s actually been quite challenging for me – but let me just leave you with this as a ‘teaser’ for next time.

I had just been in a very, VERY boring meeting with someone.

When I got out, I was asked how it had been.

I replied, “I feel I’ve just been brain raped”.

Their mouth almost hit the floor. Literally hit-the-floor.

Trust me, there’s so many more stories like that. I’m amazed I’m still allowed in the country.