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


The Future Has Different Rules …

As I’ve written before, I didn’t go to University. I knew pretty early on that I didn’t want to continue my formal education.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t/don’t like to learn, it just means I find it far more powerful when it’s not in an academic environment.

I still remember telling my parents my decision and being slightly scared.

They desperately wanted me to go so I was worried they would see this as a slight on them – which is absolutely not what it was meant to be.

They asked for my reasons and when I told them, they said that they would support my decision as long as I applied in case I changed my mind.

So I did.

And I got accepted.

But I was still sure not going was the right thing for me, so my parents – while obviously disappointed – supported my decision and never brought it up again.

Looking back now, I feel that must have been very hard for them.

At that point, going to university was the fast track to a career and yet – as another act of their love and confidence in me – they pushed me to follow the things that genuinely interested and excited me and hoped it would all work out.

I’d say it did.

But now I’m a dad and while Otis is only 3, the thought of education looms large.

Would I do the same thing as him?

Of course I want to help equip my son in the best way possible for the life he wants to lead and one of those ways is to provide him with a good education. But the fact is I’m vehemently opposed to private education and while general access schools can be very good, the reality is private tends to offer better opportunities simply because of the funding and the facilities … which leads to an interesting conflict.

What’s best for my son versus what’s true to me?

Given Otis is so young right now, the decision will ultimately be mine and his Mum’s, but once he’s older, what do I do if he chooses a path I feel is not in his best interests.

Sure, it worked out for me, but the World was different back then and then I saw the ‘god’ instagram above – a sentiment that was absolutely reinforced by our recent America In The Raw research – and realised that by the time he has to make some choices, he will be far more aware of what he needs to do to increase his odds of success than his Mum or me.

But then I realised something else …

It’s not just about acknowledging their view of their World will be better than yours, it’s also backing your parenting.

When my Mum and Dad supported my decision, they were ultimately supporting how they raised me.

They believed the values and smarts they’d instilled in me were the right ones to enable me to make the right choices … and while I know they would have been there if it all fell down, that sense of confidence and belief probably enabled me to go to places I might otherwise not have done. Places I might not otherwise have felt I deserved to be.

And that’s why backing your team is everything.

Of course you have to instill values and standards into them, but once that’s done, you have to back them including what they think is right – even if you don’t – because if that doesn’t happen, you’re literally stopping their potential rather than liberating it.

Thank you Mum and Dad. Again.

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The Beauty Of Madness …

Last week, Nike dropped an ad.

A 3+ minute ad.

THREE MINUTES, ARE THEY MAD?

Well yes they are because it’s the most magical 3+ minute ad you will see in a long, long time.

I know you might say I’m biased because [1] it’s Nike [2] it’s by Wieden and [3] my beloved ex-collegue, Paula Bloodworth, worked on it … but I’m not saying it for those reasons, I’m saying it because it’s sheer gloriousness.

Sport.
Culture.
Authenticity.
Eccentricity.
London.

You watch it and you are sucked in. You’re smiling, laughing, nodding, relating.

Whether it’s how outsiders see different parts of London to the madness some young athletes have to go through to be noticed.

There’s so much to love about it … though I have to say my favorite parts are definitely the female footballer, the ice-hockey player and the guy at the end on the bike who swipes the ball away.

Brilliant casting, writing, everything.

An ad that shows how great advertising can be when it’s injected with madness, authenticity and originality. Not to mention fun. Not in terms of what the ad is – though it’s full of that – but in terms of feeling how much fun everyone had making it.

An ad that not only shows the elasticity of NIKE’s brand voice, but their ability to be culturally authentic while staying true to who the brand actually is.

Right there is why Wieden is so fucking good.

It’s not just that they’ve made an ad people around the World will love – even if they won’t understand it all – it’s that they’ve made an ad that people in London will truly get.

An ad that is for them.

About them.

Bursting with all the swagger, humour and contrast that makes that city what it is.

I’m sure they knew they had something special at the very beginning but when it started actually coming together, they must have got super excited.

And nervous.

I remember going through all those emotions when we were creating Blackcurrant Tango.

But as I’ve said before, the best feeling in adland is when you think a piece of your work is going to be either amazing or a disaster

Nothing in-between.

Because it means whatever happens, it’s going to make a statement.

And this ad does.

Without doubt it is my favorite NIKE spot in a while [acknowledging a huge amount of them of late have been extra good] and I’m so happy for all my friends who were a part of it.

In fact the only thing wrong is when they say ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’ when we all know a Nottinghamer can.

Ahem.



Favourite Days …

Can you remember some of your greatest days?

I don’t just mean the big ones, but the ones that should have been a ‘normal 24 hours’ but somehow turned into something different.

Better.

Seminal.

Jill recently sent me a photo that captures one of those days.

Yes, that’s me watching TV.

More specifically, watching Forest.

Live.

Playing Arsenal.

In the FA Cup.

Fallen giants versus FA Cup holders.

Championship team versus Premiership establishment.

Managerless versus longest serving manager.

And we won.

4-2.

FOUR BLOODY TWO.

More than that, we won in style … so much so that a blind Arsenal fan, who was at the game, expressed that he had finally found a positive to being blind because he didn’t have to see how much Forest bossed Arsenal on the pitch, but only hear it.

But as much as that is most definitely a big and memorable event, that’s not what made it seminal for me.

It’s that little head resting against my body on the sofa.

Yep, that’s Otis.

Watching the game with me.

His first ever football match.

Where his Dad’s beloved Nottingham Forest, won.

Now I appreciate this isn’t the same as when I was a kid and started watching Forest.

Back then, they were not just winning against the champions, they were the champions.

First of the league, then of Europe and beyond.

Their success cemented my love of the reds … taking it beyond just geographic loyalty and into more personal identity.

And even though they have fallen so far from those heady days – where they have had 26 different managers in the time Arsene Wegner has been boss of the gunners – I still love them and hope this match, where Forest secured an unlikely yet thoroughly deserved victory in front of a 3 year old living in Manhattan Beach, means he will love them too.

Maybe I’m being massively unfair on Otis.

Maybe I’m setting him up for a lifetime of disappointment.

But then, when you hear stories like this that come out of matches like that, it does teach you that the events of the past don’t have to dictate the events of the future if you commit to always doing your best.



Ricky Gervais Has Forgotten What Made Him Famous …
August 25, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Culture, Empathy, England, Entertainment, Relevance

So yesterday I wrote about The Office and how David Brent may – or may not – have been influenced by 80’s cricketer Ian Botham.

I love that show so, so, so much so I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when I watched the movie Life On The Road.

Now to be fair, Ricky Gervais said this was not meant to be an extension of The Office, but it did feature the character David Brent so it’s pretty obvious I’m going to make comparisons.

When I first heard of the film, it was like hearing an old friend was coming into town and the trailer definitely raised my expectations but when I sat down and watched the final film, I was left underwhelmed.

I should point out this was not purely because it wasn’t anywhere near as funny as The Office, it was because Ricky Gervais had fundamentally changed the character of David Brent.

As I wrote yesterday, the genius of David Brent’s character was that while he was a delusional, terrible manager … his heart was in the right place which is why the people around him, put up with him.

However in Life On The Road, Brent became a bit of a dick – highlighted by the fact the people around him openly hated him – which resulted in you having little sympathy for the character because his cringe-worthiness was driven by arrogance rather than misguidedness.

This slight shift in character changed everything … and while Ricky Gervais may argue that the desperation to become a Rock Star would result in you becoming a more aggressive character than trying to be a manager of a paper-merchants [in Slough], I can’t help but feel it’s because Gervais has become disconnected to normal life, that made The Office so amazing.

Of course, that is to be expected given he is a multi-multi-millionaire and has the lifestyle that is about as opposite to the one he had when he wrote The Office, which should serve as a great reminder that one of the greatest skills anyone can have is to know when to walk away.

Though when I wrote about the guys at ATTIK, they said it better when they said …

“It’s like retiring from football and ten years later expecting to play against younger guys, it wasn’t the way to go.”



Was The Office A Documentary?
August 24, 2017, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Culture, England, Entertainment

The Office.

No, not the American rubbish, the original British classic.

God, what a show … hysterical, cringeworthy and with something that anyone who has ever worked in an office, would relate to.

Then there was David Brent.

Good natured but utterly delusional.

A terrible manager who thinks he’s a brilliant manager.

While there were elements of his character that I am sure viewers recognised in their bosses, you would never imagine one real-lif person could
contain all those traits.

Well, that’s what I thought as well until I watched this old video of English cricketer, Ian Botham.

It’s 16 minutes long … but if you need an added incentive to watch it, here’s one of the amazing quotes Mr Botham says to a TV audience of students.

“People don’t realise there are more deer in this country now than there were in days of Henry VIII. Fact.”

Sit back. Enjoy. Cringe.



When It Comes To Revenge, Be Like An Elephant …
February 5, 2017, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Australia, Culture, Cunning, England

Annnnnnnnnnd I’m back.

Don’t worry, I’m not that happy about it either.

So when I lived in Australia, I worked with this guy called John.

I really liked him … he was smart, fun and an all round good chap.

Only thing was he really, really hated all things British.

Oh the banter we had.

In the end, we played a weekly game of pool and if I won overall, he had to fold up the Australian flag to just leave the Union Jack [ie: “get your shit stars off our flag”] and if he won, I had to salute it.

We did this for years and even though my ‘crowning moment’ was when England beat the Wallabies at the 2003 Rugby World Cup final [oh, how I loved wearing my England top the next day], he never missed a chance to piss on his countries Queen.

So imagine my joy when after 10+ years, he got in contact with me to say his niece was coming to Shanghai for a law firm and would I mind giving him my details so she has someone to contact if she gets in trouble.

To be fair to him, it absolutely killed him having to ask me … but he knew no one else and was forced to reach out.

Being the kind, generous soul that I am, I obviously agreed.

With just one condition.

This.

On Facebook.

Left for 15 minutes.

And the moral of the story?

Don’t fuck with petty half English assholes, with a memory for revenge.

Talking of elephants and revenge, here’s one of my all time favourite ads …



From Protectors To Feared
February 24, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Culture, England, Police

So someone I know recently sent me this …

Putting aside that it’s sad this sort of thing even needs to be said, it’s a smart move.

Of course, doing more in the community would probably help them change perceptions more effectively … not to mention get them some more positive PR … but with funding cuts and more expectations placed on them by local governments, it can be argued they’re doing as much as they can, hence the need to do ads like this.

When I saw it, it reminded me of something I heard in a Michael Moore documentary.

There were some people in France who said something like …

“Our government are frightened of us but in America, it seems the people are scared of their government”.

The reason I say it is because when I was growing up, I respected the Police.

They were the people I’d go to if I was in trouble. The people I was nervous of upsetting. The folks who made sure everything and everyone was safe. It’s part of the reason I was desperate to be one until 14 … where I discovered the seductive powers of the electric guitar.

OK, so that could also be because I grew up in a good area, before Nottingham evolved to being Europe’s most dangerous city per capita.

But nowadays, the Police are seen as the enemy.

Not just in the bad areas, but every area.

The people to fear.

The folks who are out to get you.

The ones who only look to protect the rich.

Which is why they have to put out posters like the ones above. To remind people that’s not who they are or what they do.

It’s sad.

On the bright side, they’re not in America … because with the shit that is reported their on a seemingly daily basis, the Police would have to go and hand out cheques before anyone would ever trust them again.

Which proves that you can spend years building up positive credit, but a few bad moves and it can all fall apart … which is why brands love using research like link testing, because they think it protects them from making mistakes when all it actually does is stop them saying or doing anything of cultural significance or impact.

And when we live in a World where we look to spend money on things that WON’T change anything, you have to say we’ve reached peak madness.