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


May The Forth Be With you …

I know this is late but then everything on this blog is late, but I absolutely love what Heathrow Airport did on 4th May.

I love it for many reasons.

But the main one is they did it right.

Sure, you could argue what they did was to hijack the day and gain some extra publicity … and I’m sure that was part of their motivation … but what I really like about it is how they went for the highest common denominator, not the lowest.

While the board features names most people will understand – R2D2, Wookie, Death Star, Han Solo, Leia – they have also used elements that only the true Star Wars nerd will get … like the name of the planets, the measurement of time and the weather conditions.

What this means is that not only will they get ‘mass appeal and coverage’, they will also make the hardcore nerds feel good about it … feel they’re dealing with an organisation that really gets them rather than just pretends to.

In a World where marketing is too often expressed as a constant stream of generalised noise … those who show their authenticity through actions and behaviour will win big every time, because as we saw in our America In The Raw study, the future of brand differentiation is going to be less about unique product attributes and more about demonstrating how you truly understand your audience.

Or said another way, resonance not [pretend] relevance.

So well done Heathrow, you deserve to be in a galaxy far far ahead of your competitors.

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Weigel And Me …

As some of you know, I trained to be a teacher.

Admittedly it took me 5 years to qualify instead of 2, but my plan was that I would eventually leave this industry and become a teacher in the areas of creativity and innovation.

Then I started, and ran, The Kennedy’s, Wieden’s creative talent incubator and it all changed.

Not because I discovered I didn’t love teaching – quite the opposite – but that I love doing it through chaos, not order.

Now given most teaching jobs prefer the latter more than the former, that put me in a bit of a predicament … carry on with my plan and risk not enjoying myself or find another outlet.

Well, the reality is I’m a long way off leaving this industry, but if I am going to teach, I need to do it on my terms, not an education boards … especially as more and more teachers are being graded by their students which has to be one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard.

So why am I writing this?

Well I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while and thanks to the experience I’ve had with the Advertising Planning School on the Web [APSOTW] and HOALA, I realized one area I like helping people learn, is advertising strategy.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “the last thing Campbell needs to teach is ad strategy” and you’re right, that’s why I’ve somehow managed to convince the best advertising strategist in the World to do it with me.

Yes, that’s right … the majestical Professor, Mr Martin Weigel.

Now Mr Weigel’s brilliance is well documented – hell, I even wrote a love letter post about him not that long ago – which is why even if you ignore everything I say [which, let’s face it, we all know you will] you’ll still learn really valuable stuff from it.

I should point out, we’re not leaving our jobs* – this is a little side hustle business, where a couple of times a year, we’ll turn up in a country to see who is interested in doing a couple of days planning workshop – but it is something we both are very passionate about doing because we both feel there is not enough training going on in the industry these days.

Yes, there are schools of planning and yes, there might be the odd training workshop at an agency, but at a time where more and more brands seem to favour efficiencies and process over creativity and possibilities, we believe strategic radicalism is needed more than ever which is why we want to offer something that will help planners reveal, release and exercise their most dangerous mind.

We’re still finalising our first session, but if you want to know more [if only to start pre-seeding it with your bosses, hahaha] then visit here and put your name down so we can send you information when things are finalized or if you want to talk about your organisation’s training needs [whether you’re on the agency or client side] drop us a note at info@weigelcampbell.com

I’m super excited to be doing this, especially with a man who I bloody love to death, so I hope people/agencies will see the worth in it or our egos are about to get deflated quicker more than one of Jordan’s implants.

All this leaves me to say is a big thanks to the wonderful Mercedes – Martin’s much, much better half – who ordered us to do this because she thought we’d be good at it, though I have a feeling she talked to Jill and decided this was their way to get us out of their homes.

Now that’s the sort of strategy we could all learn from.



It’s Monday. Time To Get Drunk …
April 2, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Advertising, Creativity, Culture, Entertainment, Marketing

Yes I know it’s Monday, but as much as that’s a horrible thought, the good news is that by April Fools Day falling on a Sunday, you haven’t had to put up with one of my tragic joke posts.

Or should I say especially tragic joke posts.

The reason I wanted to make that point clearly is because of this …

I know … a Queen-loving tee-totaller and an ex-alcoholic lead singer sounds like this should be a massive joke, but there you go, another example truth can be stranger than fiction.

I will be taking orders soon ….



Strategy Is Knowing What Not To Do …

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, when I was in NY, I was invited to speak at design gods … Pentagram.

Whenever I’m asked to speak at something, the first thing I think is ‘why?’

The second thing I think about is ‘what right have I got to talk about this subject?’

And the final thing is ‘what am I going to talk about’.

In the case of Pentagram, I didn’t know what I could say that would be of any interest of them.

Then I remembered the only reason they asked me to come is because of my relationship to a certain, famous rock band so instead of doing a deck – where, let’s be honest, they would be judging the design of each slide rather than listening to what I said – I bought 12 iconic albums on vinyl [they’re the ones in the picture above] and talked about the relationship they had with the music and the fans of the music under the heading, ‘Design is not decoration’.

Now I have no idea if they actually learnt anything from my talk, but it certainly created a bunch of conversation and debate and for me, that’s a big win.

Actually, getting out alive was the big win, but seeing some of the most talented design people in the World talk about the relationship between music, design and fans was something I’d pay for just to witness.

Which is why one of the best lessons I learned about strategy is less about what you are going to do and more about what you’re going to sacrifice.



Differentiation …

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing a lot about differentiation, including a theory that suggests that while it continues to be vitally important for brands, the way they are going about it is utterly, utterly wrong.

But day 2 of post writing in a New Year is far too early to lay down such heavy subject matters so instead I’ll leave you with this …

Now I admit I stole this photo from a friends Facebook update, but I love it.

Window cleaning from men in kilts.

Bloody genius.

Differentiating while making a statement about sexism in culture all at the same time.

Though I appreciate that second part might be me attributing reasons they might not have had.

But there is something magical in the ridiculousness of it all, something that makes you smile and actually want to have them come over to your place to wash your windows.

And yet it still feels better than the way a lot of big companies approach differentiation.

Maybe it’s because they seem to own the madness of it – laughing with the audience rather than have them laugh at them with statements like ‘no peeking’ – whereas other organizations try and justify their differentiation-for-the-sake-of-differentiation in serious overtones … trying to imply their small and insignificant improvement is the second coming of Christ.

So here’s to the Men In Kilts for reminding us that being serious about what you do doesn’t mean you have to serious about who you are.



Social Media That Is Actually Social …

For a long time I’ve had a problem with social media.

Actually I should rephrase that …

For a long time I’ve had a problem with people who claim social media is all that matters.

Part of it is because too many companies have approached it as free media.

Part of it is because too many agencies have approached it like it’s a magazine.

Part of it is because ultimately, everything can be social, not just things on certain platforms.

And that’s why, for all the hype it gets, the amount of social media campaigns that have actually been truly social [as in, gained traction and awareness beyond their core audience eco-system] is relatively small.

Please note I’ve said ‘campaigns’, not one-off tweets … which, apart from the fact the idea of a ‘campaign’ on social is kind of an oxymoron … makes it even smaller.

And then if you add ‘successful’ to that group of criteria, it gets even smaller … with arguably only Ice Bucket Challenge and #MeToo being worthy of acclaim, which, let’s not forget, were both causes dedicated to righting human wrongs.

Which is why I have fallen in love with this social media campaign from Doncaster County Council for naming their 2 new grit-spreading trucks.

Please read it.

Read all of it.

I know it’s super-long but I guarantee you will love it.

Every single line and suggestion.

For me, it’s single-handedly the best social media campaign of 2017.

No, seriously … because a conversation from Doncaster County Council about their Road Gritters achieved over seven million impressions in 48 hours.

Seven. Bloody. Million.

I love this campaign for so, so many reasons.

I love that they treated their audience with a brain.

“We would like your name suggestions for two of our new gritting vehicles, please. Keep em clean and be original – we’d prefer not to spend the next few days trawling through responses of Gritty McGritface and Gary Gritter. 🙄”

I love that the people running it were empowered to respond to negative comments with wit and focus rather than – as is the norm – to back down and beg for forgiveness when someone challenges them.

“For those who say the council shouldn’t be wasting their money on this, we say getting the community interested and engaged in how their town runs is a good thing”

I love there mischief and humor with lines including …

“When you look at your grandchildren, what side of history do you want to tell them you were on? #DoncasterGrittingWorldCup”

But most of all, I love that one of the winning names was …

Gritsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Anti-Slip Machiney

… proving there is justice in the World.

Yet again, we see a campaign from an organisation that doesn’t have ‘social media experts’ dictating their approach being more successful than the output of an entire industry who claim to be the most informed people in their field.

Why?

Well, as much as I have met some truly brilliant social media strategists in my time, the fact is the vast majority fail because they forget the importance of understanding one key element in creating a social media campaign.

People.

Look, it’s not just the social media industry that is making this mistake, everyone in communication is … preferring to rely on data than some good, old-fashioned, get-in-the-weeds exploration and discovery.

This is not some anti-data rant, it’s just in our quest to drive speed and efficiencies, we are walking away from understanding the texture that makes any data worthwhile … the stuff that helps you develop ideas that feels it comes from the culture rather than an observer of it.

The Doncaster County Council campaign should serve as a reminder everyone about how to make great comms.

In these days where it seems the emphasis is on the platform, the reality is we’re all still trying to connect with humans so spending time to really understand how they think and do stuff is still the key to making ideas that makes a difference.

Not purely in terms of optimizating effectiveness, but in terms of how people feel, think and act.

You know, the stuff that makes sustainable differences to companies rather than this short-termism we have all fallen victims to because to quote John Le Carre, a desk is a dangerous place to view the World..



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.”