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


Some Scams Might As Well As Have A Neon Sign On Them, Flashing Scam …

Just like great PR is never seen.

And great conspiracies, always feel plausible.

Great scams should never let you doubt their validity.

Yes, I know a while back I wrote that Bernie Madoff had said that success is as much down to the individuals greed as the scammers ability to appear legitimate … but fundamentally, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Which is why the ad above is probably the criminal equivalent of infant school.

Let’s face it, you don’t call yourself ‘Mystery Shopping’ if you’re going to tell everyone what they’re getting and the likelihood that SONY would allow an external company to promote to all and sundry that you can play on their yet-to-be-released new gamer machine is – and I appreciate I may be being a bit cynical here – ABSOLUTELY ZERO!

On the bright side, it does show clients that as professionals in communication, adland is much better at manipulating people than criminals. Or at least amateur criminals.

So at least we have that going for us. Ahem.

Sorry gomysteryshopping.co.uk, you’re going to have to up your game.

Or at least not make such stupid, basic mistakes.

Wait for all the consultancies that will now approach criminals with proposals to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Now they’re definitely not ‘amateur’ criminals.



Bosses. Remember Your Behaviour Teaches Your Team How To Behave …

Next week I start blogging properly again.

I know, you can’t wait can you. Ahem.

However last night I spoke to a friend of mine who had just been majorly fucked over at work.

Not by a client. Not by a colleague. But by her boss.

That’s right, the person who is supposed to both develop their career and be a role model for how to approach work had just undermined them in the worst possible way.

Hence this post … which I’m not letting any comments on, because I’m still on ‘holiday’. Even if I’m seemingly working harder than I have in ages. [No sarcastic comments please!]

So let’s get on with this shall we?

I have a very simple rule.

The person who writes a deck, gets to decide what’s in the deck.

Sure, there will be discussions and debate amongst the team.

Yes, the goal is always to make it as concise, sharp, provocative and interesting as can be.

And without doubt, the journey to finish line will pass through a huge amount of quality-control along the way.

But fundamentally, the person who writes it – or will be presenting it – is the person who has the final say of what’s in it.

I was trained this way.

I have lives this way.

I practice this way.

But I’m seeing – and hearing – a lot of managers who have a very different approach.

Sure, they get their teams to write a deck … but the difference is, they don’t engage in that part of the process, they just come in at the last minute and change the deck as they see fit.

Without consultation.

Without negotiation.

Without explanation.

And what makes this worse is that in many cases, these managers only have a small perspective of what is going on and so often their views are inherently flawed.

But I’m not going to talk about that, I’m going to ask one question.

WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?

Nothing undermines a team like the public destruction of all they’ve been working on.

Nothing causes a team to lose respect for a boss more than an act that shows zero respect towards them.

Nothing demonstrates delusion than believing your knowledge and abilities are better than those working on the business 24/7.

Of course a managers job is to stand for standards and quality.

Of course their job is to ensure the company always presents itself in the best possible light.

But this isn’t how you do it …

In fact this is literally the worst way to do it … even if you have a successful meeting.

Because the role of a manager is to elevate your people, not undermine them.

Guide them. Develop them. But do it in a way where they feel backed and protected … which ultimately means being honest with them, letting them solve the problems you have with their work – rather than just doing it yourself – and making sure any arguments are done behind closed doors, rather than publicly or launched on them with utter surprise.

Hell, I’m working with the most successful music management duo in music history – working with some of the biggest rock stars in the World – and they manage to do it, so why the opposite of this is happening in adland again and again is beyond me.

Please don’t think what I’m saying is managers must just stand on the sidelines, blindly and wildly clapping whatever their team produces, like some management version of Paula Abdul.

As I said, you can disagree with them.

Argue with them.

Even change stuff with them.

But you shouldn’t do it like some tin-pot dictator who feels you automatically know better than them and have no one to answer to, fear or consider.

Unless you’re a total prick.

Once upon a time, I had a manager – but not my manager – totally fuck with my work without telling me.

When I asked why they did it, they said, “I don’t have to explain my actions to you”.

I literally laughed in their face before saying, “good luck with your manager of the year application”.

Let me be clear, for all the talk we hear in companies that state ‘our people are our greatest asset’, the reality is you’re not a team when you expect everyone to serve you or think you can ignore everyone around you.

Every team may need a manager. But every manager needs to remember, they need a team.

Treat them with respect or find yourself on your own.

Comments Off on Bosses. Remember Your Behaviour Teaches Your Team How To Behave …


Fifty Not Out …

I know what you’re thinking …

Or should I say, I know what you were hoping.

That hitting 50 and having 10 days off would make me re-evaluate what I’m doing?

That I’d start to value afternoon naps versus writing stupid blog posts.

Well, if I was smart, maybe that would be the case … but I’m not, so here I am.

To show my age has done nothing to extinguish my pain-in-the-ass spirit, I thought I’d post about a little project I have going on.

It kind of comes out of the Corporate Gaslighting work I’ve done and basically relates to what seems to be the skills, modern management values most.

Now there are plenty of very, very good leaders out there …

But, and this is only personal opinion, it seems there are far more bad.

Now I appreciate some will view what I’m doing and say the people I’m describing are not bad, they are simply ‘optimising’ their position. However, managers should achieve their success based on what they enable their people to achieve rather than trying to ensure the spotlight falls just on them … so because of that, I stand by my view.

What’s scary is these attitudes and behaviours are so common that someone thought – when I posted one on social media – that I was celebrating them rather than mocking them.

That scares the crap out of me.

But not as much as the idea employees are being trained – consciously and subconsciously – to do this to further their career.

But I would like your help …

What am I missing?

What are terrible management practices that are being sold as ‘sensible’.

For example, with the blame thrower at the top of this post, I added the following:

If you don’t own your mistakes, let someone else own it. #LessonsFromModernManagement

And for this …

… I added this ‘lesson’:

It’s more effective to manage up than manage your standards. #LessonsFromModernManagement

But what else is there?

I’ve got one regarding the benefits of doing whatever someone wants you to do as well as destroying others careers is it proves you were made for success … but as I really want to turn this into some sort of alternative management book type-of-thing, I need a ton of them.

I know they’re out there.

I know I can come up with a lot myself.

But if you have any suggestions, I would be so grateful.

It may help someone not become the sort of manager that appears on Corporate Gaslighting.

Or allow someone who is suffering from this sort of ‘leader’, to realise they’re not to blame.

So I hope you can help.

Over to you …



And You Thought The Mouldy BK Burger Ad Was Provocative …

The fast food industry is having a hard time.

As tastes change and a more healthy lifestyle becomes more desirable, it is getting more difficult for them to operate as they once did.

While some brands are evolving their offering – like McDonald’s – others are taking a more pragmatic perspective.

The most famous, recent example is the BK Mouldy Burger which ignited all manner of debate – often with people quick to say it won’t work without anyone actually knowing what the goal of the work actually was.

Well in South Korea there’s a burger company that makes BK look positively innocent.

It’s not just how they used Supreme to inspire their logo in a way Uncle Martian would be jealous of.

Nor is it their audacious copyright infringement of famous cartoon characters to talk about themselves.

And it’s not even their proud claims of being ‘100% Beef Meat’.

No … it’s none of those, it’s their utter confidence of their product over their competitors.

Take a look …

Amazing eh?

Not just the aggressiveness … but the choice of words.

Linking the words ‘burgers’ and ‘shit’ makes a mouldy burger look positively appetising.

Then there’s the fact it’s in English.

When I lived in China, there were a bunch of stores that used English in their copy.

Sometimes it was for the audience it was targeting.

Sometimes it was because they thought it made them look ‘sophisticated’.

But a lot of the time – as I think is the case here – they did it because it enhanced their ‘authenticity’.

Given burgers are very American, I feel their idea was that by using English and being aggressive in their tone, they encapsulated the American spirit and as such, could say their burgers were authentic.

Of course, given Burger King and McDonald’s are also American slightly undermines that idea, but hey – it doesn’t seem they really put too much thought into how they came across.

I must admit, when I saw it, I couldn’t help feel it was like a Viz fake-ad from the 80’s.

Viz – for those who don’t know – was/is an English ‘adult-humour’ comic.

Years ago, I approached them about starting an ad agency.

They said no, which still disappoints me as not only were their spoof ads brilliant, but based on both Billionbox and BK’s recent work … there’s more and more brands seemingly trying to copy their style but without the brilliance, clarity, humour or memorability as them.



Saying You Care Means Nothing If Your Actions Show You Don’t …

One of the things that has shocked me since coming back to England is the amount of gambling that goes on here.

Not just in terms of people actually doing it, but brands trying to get people to do it.

It’s everywhere.

Football shirts. High Streets. Apps. TV shows.

I know it shouldn’t really shock me as there has been so much written about it in the papers, but the sheer volume has blown me away.

Another thing that has blown me away – for equally bad reason – is the way the gambling companies are trying to portray themselves as good citizens.

That all their ads say, ‘When the fun stops, stop’ – or some variant of it – might sound like they care, but apart from the fact there’s countless stories of them actively encouraging people who are demonstrating the have a problem with gambling to keep going, it makes no sense.

Because the moment you realise gambling has stopped being fun, you’re pretty likely to be in the grip of addiction.

Or said another way, it’s too late.

Once upon a time, I was in that place.

I was young and the amount of money we’re talking is minute … but I was in a full-on addiction to fruit machines.

I was still a student and working part time as a pot washer, and within seconds of receiving my weekly pay packet, I’d be feeding all of it into a fruit machine.

Occasionally I would win big (£25) but most of the time I’d spend my weeks earnings within minutes – leaving me without a penny.

Now I’m lucky, I was able to stop – mainly because credit was not readily available back then, because if it was, who knows what shit I would have got myself into – but I can still remember how much I hated myself when I lost but how excited I was when I was about to begin.

And yet, despite knowing what I was doing to myself, I was unable to stop myself for months.

While I would not wish that on anyone, it was a hugely valuable lesson.

It taught me I have an addictive personality and helped me to manage what I do and don’t expose myself too.

Sure, I buy a shitload of pointless gadgets, crap t-shirts, guitars and Birkenstocks. But it’s also why I haven’t tried any alcohol since my last taste 34 years ago, why I’ve never tried any drugs and why I never tried smoking – though that one was easier, as I’ve always hated the smell.

I do believe that people have to take some responsibility for the decisions and actions they take – but addiction is something we have to accept, skirts the rules of logic.

You become helpless and need controlled.

And given the impact certain addictions can have on people is loss of health and/or loss of livelihood and family … having a note in small letters at the end of an ad that has spent 29 of the 30 seconds celebrating the excitement and glamour of gaming – and then puts all the burden of managing addiction on the victim – seems pretty shit.