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


Brexit Airways …

So a few weeks ago, I was in Amsterdam and about to fly to London.

I was quite excited because apart from going ‘home’ for the first time in well over a year – even if it was just for 18 hours – I was going to fly into London City airport for the first time and I was interested to see it.

OK, that’s not why I had chosen to pay the higher fair – I had to be in the city at a specific time – and so that airport made things super convenient for me.

About 30 minutes before we were going to board, a member of British Airways came up to me and asked …

“Mr Campbell, would you be interested in catching a later flight that lands at Heathrow. We will provide you with a €25 voucher if you do.”

Now for those of you who don’t know, Heathrow Airport is not in the middle of London and while it is obviously well served with transport links, it’s a much longer journey and probably costs more than the €25 they were offering.

Because of this, I asked …

“Does anyone ever accept that offer?”

The representative looked at me rather sarcastically and said …

“Yes, lots of people actually”.

Now maybe I was a bit jet-lagged.

Or maybe I just didn’t choose the right words.

But I found myself replying with …

“That must explain why you’re no longer the World’s favourite airline”.

OK, that was a majorly dick move, but I still can’t work out how an airline thinks it’s OK to offer an alternative flight that goes to a completely different airport and a voucher that doesn’t come close to covering the higher price I’d paid for my ticket [so I could fly to that specific airport], let alone the probable cost of getting into the city from this new destination.

I get things change and alternative plans have to be made, but brands need to remember that the best way to deal with screwing up is to offer a genuine level of compensation, not something that literally rubs salt into the wounds.

Have they learnt nothing from their war with Virgin?

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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.



It’s Called Artificial For A Reason …

So this is sort-of following on from yesterdays post.

Specifically the last line of yesterday’s post.

The bit about AI/VR.

You see a few weeks ago, I was invited to speak on a panel about the future by Frog Design.

No, I don’t know why they asked me either.

Anyway, it was a great panel and I learnt a lot of stuff but where things got a bit sticky was when the subject of AI came up.

OK, I was the reason it all got a bit sticky, but that’s because I feel companies are approaching AI with the sole goal of enabling the lazy.

Yes, it’s still early days but automating the most common/basic of tasks feels such a waste of potential.

I get they have to get people used to things before they can push them to new things, but to focus on such mundane tasks doesn’t naturally push the industry to explore the bigger possibilities of it.

My suggestion was that I’d like to see it being used to take people to new places.

New opinions … thoughts … possibilities … experiences.

More inspirational intelligence than artificial.

When you ask for news headlines, it reads you how different news sources see the same story.

When you ask for a countdown, it plays you music you haven’t heard before until the timer is up.

When you ask for the weather, it tells you some places you can go to, to take advantage of the climate.

In other words, make you benefit from the AI beyond the fact it’s performing a function that saves you approx 0.3 seconds doing. Kind-of like the premise behind user-unfriendly tech I wrote about a while back.

Of course to do this means that they have to do more than just follow the data.

It means they have to add something to it.

Context. Insight. Humanity. Creativity.

Things that companies are seemingly valuing less rather than more.

To be fair, Amazon are trying to do this with some of the more quirky aspects of Alexa … but I still would like to see more being done, because not only does this add real value to the tech, it means brands have a chance to build additional value with their audience rather than sit back and watch their engagement get less and less.



Stop Pushing Percentages And Start Celebrating Possibilities …

One of the things I’ve always hated is reading planning decks filled with charts and graphs.

Don’t get me wrong, it is very important to ensure your strategy is grounded in truth, but pages and pages of data and percentages says you lack confidence in what you’re saying rather than you have a conviction for it.

There are so many tips and tricks to ‘presenting’ strategy – of which I’ll be talking about some of them at the upcoming HOALA conference in Amsterdam – but having a story that takes the audience on the journey of your strategy in a way that both excites and informs is the absolute basic requirement.

Excites … because if the recipient doesn’t see the potential for what’s in it for them, then there’s no point presenting.

Informs … because if they don’t see it baked in reality, then they will regard all you’re doing as trying to sell fantasy.

I’ve seen far too many presentations that only deliver on one of those attributes and the reality is the work either never gets made or you wish it never was made and that’s why getting someone to buy your strategy requires real thought and ‘beating up’ before you commit anything to paper/powerpoint/keynote/film because as Ronald Reagan said, if you’re explaining, you’re losing.



Drop Box Fell On Their Head …

So recently I was served this ad by DropBox …

Look, I use DropBox and I find it useful but in all the years I’ve used it … I’ve never once thought it had unleashed my creative energy.

It’s an internet box.

To send/store files.

To others.

If that’s unleashing creative energy, then opening a banana is unleashing your creative energy and I’m pretty sure it’s not unleashing anyones creative energy.

And yes, I really did write ‘creative energy’ that many times in a single sentence.

Look, I get people want to make their brands interesting.

I get ‘creativity’ is one of the buzz words of the marketing community.

But please … all this is doing is making a mockery of themselves and marketing as a whole.

DropBox has a valuable role.

DropBox has a bunch of uses … from making it easier to steal office files when you leave a company to sharing information with your mates in an instant.

The only creative energy it unleashes is the creativity of your password making skills.

So stop it DropBox, own what you do because you do it well and there’s a lot of ways you could explain it that doesn’t make you sound like a bunch of sad sods. Especially when you say creativity in the most boring looking ad I’ve seen in ages.



Thank You For Pretending To Pay Attention …

So I was listening to the radio recently when an ad for Charles Schwab – the investment people – came on.

And do you know what the message was?

‘We really listen to what you’re saying’.

Now I understand the importance of listening [believe it or not] but is that really the big reason to use Charles Schwab?

Isn’t that one of the basic bloody pre-requisites of being a good financial advisor?

What next, ‘we always check our biro’s are working so you can sign all our paperwork’.

I get financial institutions don’t want to commit to actually saying they make you any money – or even selling you a policy in your interests rather than theirs – but come on, isn’t this just a bit insulting?

Not only that, it smacks of a company that is only hearing what they want you to say rather than what you’re actually saying.

What’s your point of view on the financial markets?

What’s your point of view on money?

What’s your point of view on cryptocurrency?

Tell me anything, except when you come into my home, you’re listening.



Since When Has 12 Gone Into 54?

Yes I’m back.

I can’t say much about the papers I judged except that the posts I’ve written about past entries I’ve judged still seem insanely relevant.

[Like this or this]

So let’s get back to that blog post title.

What the hell am I talking about?

Well, it’s not another demonstration of my terrible maths skills, it’s actually about toilet paper manufacture Charmin, who claims 12 rolls of their loo paper is the equivalent of 54 other brands rolls.

What?

Look, I get they have a few more sheets than other brands, but the equivalent of 42 rolls?

Are they having a laugh?

Even when I look it up, I can only find this:

Ultra Charmin Ultra Soft Toilet Paper 12 Mega Rolls.Charmin Ultra Soft Mega Roll toilet paper is the softer* way to get clean, in a roll that lasts longer**. It has comfort cushions that are softer and 75% more absorbent*. You can use less*. Charmin Ultra Soft Mega Roll toilet paper is 2-ply and also septic-safe. We all go to the bathroom, those who go with Charmin Ultra Soft Mega Roll toilet paper really Enjoy the Go! (*vs. the leading bargain brand, **Charmin Double Roll)

Even this doesn’t explain it … and even if it did, I’d say they’re talking about their ‘double roll’ range which surely would mean it’s the equivalent of 24 rolls rather than 54.

To make matters even more confusing is that if you look the brand up on Amazon, it say’s 12 rolls is like 48, and while that is also obviously bollocks, at least the maths would make it sound sort-of plausible.

But whether it’s 48 or 54, the bit I don’t get – apart from how they are even claiming this – is that if each ‘mega roll’ is the equivalent of at least 4 other rolls combined, how the hell do they still fit on toilet roll dispenser?

I cannot tell you how much this is bothering me.

What am I missing???

Is this a future effectiveness award winner or an Enron contender?

Answers gratefully received.