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


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.



Why Car Ads Are Killing The Car Category …

I wrote about an old car ad recently, but I recently saw another one that reinforced how far that category of advertising has fallen over the years.

Look at it.

Ridiculous.

Noticeable.

Full of charm and character.

Pretty much sums up the 2CV.

When was the last time you saw a car ad like that?

Hell, when was the last time you saw any car ad that made you give a shit, fullstop?

Sure there’s Wieden’s – and one of my absolute faves – Born of Fire for Chrysler and BBH’s wonderful Audi Clowns … but they are the absolute exception in a World dominated with ‘aspirational lifestyle’ imagery, topped with a bland, meaningless version of Just Do It as an endline.

It’s so sad because cars offer so much more than status and lifestyle.

And yet, that seems to be all car manufacturers want to spout – which is weird for a whole host of reasons.

One is that the future of the category is under severe threat by a generation who not only favour other options, but are increasingly not even bothering to learn to drive.

Second is the World is waking up to the environmental damage cars do and yet the infrastructure for the alternative – electric vehicles – is still insanely poor.

Finally is the fact that companies are actively pushing to lower salaries and full-time staff while increasing zero hour contracts, so who the hell do they think will be able to afford the cars they make anyway?

All in all, the category is crying out for someone who will disrupt the industry.

From ownership to running costs to marketing and everything in-between.

There’s a couple of companies exploring the possibilities … Volvo in particular are being pragmatic in these spaces … but even that might not be enough when the car manufacturers talk to the same [old] people, in the same places, with the same premise.

The last time I saw a long term brand idea for a car manufacturer that genuinely injected freshness and authenticity into the category through their work was Crispin’s ‘Mini’ … and that was back in 2002!!!

So while I hate looking backward and think most of the industries problems are because they are obsessed with ‘progressing’ through the rear view mirror, where car ads are concerned, they might do themselves a favour if they chose reverse gear.



Maybe The Thing Making Us Be Apart Is The Thing That Can Bring Us Together …

So today, I start working from home due to the devastating spread of corona virus.

As someone who has lived through SARS, avian and swine flu, you’d think I would be fine with it … but the way the government and media have responded, I have to say has left me on edge.

It feels like 28 Days Later – as we hide, hoping the invisible virus won’t get us while looking suspiciously at anyone who is outside or has a casual sneeze.

Personally I don’t think the government are taking it seriously enough.

I also think a lot of people are being way too blase about it.

But what’s worse is that while many of us are going to be inconvenienced, the elderly, the homeless, the single parents, the temporary workers, the unemployed and the small business owners are going to face a horrific time and no one seems to be creating plans for how they can cope.

I’m addition, it’s showing the worst of society.

From that fat, lying, cheating bastard who is the President of America – to the rapid increase in gun purchase in the USA [seriously, WTF?] to the disgusting locust like behaviour going on in across supermarkets all over the World.

I tell you what, any of these people who ever negatively judged immigrants, refugees or boat people better not do that from now on.

Though what’s the betting they’ll claim their situation is different.

I guess they’re right.

Refugees, migrants and boat people are trying not to die. They’re just trying to continue living in comfort and wipe their arse with 3-ply.

But through it all there have been signs of humanity showing their best side.

Coming together.

Uniting.

Looking out for others.

From the wonderful singing that is happening on balconies across Italy to Waitrose making sure all small business suppliers are paid the next day to LVMH doing this …

Given there are some companies you’d expect to jump to societies help who are acting like absolute wankers, it’s even more amazing LVMH are acting so swiftly and generously.

When this all passes, some companies will discover profit before people ends up costing them profit and people.

It’s a strange time but we will get through it – but what will make it better is if we can find ways to help those who feel left behind.

I’m working on something and there’s options already in place for the elderly – like this – but if you have more ideas, please let me know.

Most of all, look after yourself.

So far, 2020 has a lot to improve on.



How A Toilet Company Pissed On Purpose. Literally And Metaphorically …

It’s Friday 13th, so what better day to write about the scary subject of ‘brand purpose’.

OK, so unlike Mr Weigel, I believe brand purpose does have a real value.

That said, like Martin, I don’t believe purpose can be manufactured – or changed on a whim – and I certainly don’t believe it can do what governments can’t.

A while back I wrote a post about where purpose is going mad and used an umbrella shop as an example of when it all goes to shit.

Well, talking of shit, I recently was in Denmark.

When I was at the airport, I needed the loo – so in I went and then saw this …

Look at that …

No, not the loo, but the purpose.

Together We Change.

TOGETHER WE BLOODY CHANGE!?

Change what?

I think it has something to do with saving water but … what the fuck?

It’s a urinal.

A public urinal.

Why are they trying to sound like they’re making an Oscar speech.

Let’s not forget, this is a device that has been made to catch wee-wee [don’t say this blog isn’t kid friendly] … it’s an important device but not one worthy of a purpose like that.

And what’s the ‘Together’ part of that statement?

Are they organising men to have a filter placed in their penises [don’t say this blog doesn’t use correct biological terms] to ensure the water they emit is cleaned at source?

All this was going through my mind until I looked around the bathroom I was standing in and saw the state of the floor.

Piss. Everywhere.

EVERYWHERE.

Which immediately made me realise I’d been too harsh on the toilet company and their grandiose purpose because what I think they meant when they said ‘Together we change’ was …

“Hey men, stop pissing on the floor”

… though they would have more luck if they used the genius fly on the urinal trick, rather than another pointless purpose that people laugh at rather than are inspired by.

Purpose has a place in brands.

Purpose can be very powerful for brands.

But the moment you think it can be anything you want it to be and you act like it’s not for commercially beneficial reasons, then the only people you’re kidding is yourself.



Go Your Own Way But Only If It’s The Way We Want You To Go …

So I was at the tube station recently when I saw this …

Seriously … what the hell is this rubbish?

Do they honestly believe people will believe this?

That they can get on the plane and either:

1. Tell the pilot where they want to go, regardless where the plane is supposed to be going.

Or …

2. Tell the pilot which way to go, like they’re in a cab?

What the hell is wrong with these airlines?

I mean I thought that horrific Lufthansa ad was peak crap, but this is possibly even worse.

At the very least, it’s a tie for plane crash advertising … though, to be fair, Etihad only have one stupid statement on their ad compared to their German competitor, who not only talks about ‘air travel engineered around you’ [lie] but follows it up by suggesting the experience on their plane is better than having a drink on a roof top bar at sunset. [another lie]

Alright … alright … I admit I have an allegiance to Virgin Atlantic after years of working on their ads and having a close relationship with some of the people at the company, but not only have I never proposed making work that suggests the passenger is in control of where they go or how they fly, I know if I did they’d not only not buy it, they’d fire me on the spot.

What are Etihad thinking?

Who is advising them on this rubbish?

Why is it the best airlines – Virgin Atlantic and S7 and occasionally, Delta aside – have the worst advertising?

There is so much to write about air travel.

There is so much to talk about what it enables people to see, feel, experience and learn.

I once read a stat that said air travel is the only method of transportation that has reduced in price [based on average incomes] over the years. Or said another way, airlines are more effective at helping cultures interact and learn about each other than the United Nations.

But what do they end up saying?

Nothing.

They say nothing other than bland lies that no one will believe.

I can help you Etihad. I want to help you. You’re a great airline that deserves so much better.

Call me … I won’t even ask for free upgrades. Probably.



Anyone Can Be A Billionaire. Apparently.

Have a look at this …

According to Inc, the secret to becoming a billionaire is simply doing one thing.

ONE!!!

But what could that one thing be?

They talk about J.K. Rowling … so is the one thing writing a collection of wonderful books around a single character that became their version of the Bible for a new generation?

Well it can’t be that because it would mean there would be only one billionaire in the whole wide world and given I personally know 3 [albeit in the sense I know them and they try to deny they know me] that means that can’t be right.

So what is it?

What is the single thing that links JK Rowling – who, apparently, isn’t a billionaire anymore – Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jay-Z and Mackenzie Bezos to name but a few?

Well, according to the worst clickbait article since anything on the Daily Mail, they – wait for it – backed themselves.

Yep … that’s it.

That simple.

Have an idea … ignore the doubters … don’t sell any percentage to any other partner or party and watch the billions roll in.

Now to be fair, independence is a key element to success.

The moment you sell any part of your company, the purpose of your purpose is no longer in your hands.

But independence alone doesn’t guarantee you will become a billionaire …

Dan Wieden may be extraordinarily rich and has been insanely vocal about keeping Wieden independent, but he’s not at billionaire status whereas Phil Knight – who is – has done it while NIKE shares can be bought by anyone, anywhere.

This article is everything I hate …

It has cherry picked stories to reinforce their blatantly flawed argument, which means either they’re stupid or they think their readers are.

Yes it is important to back yourself.

Yes it helps if you own the rights to what you do.

But even before this, is the need for an idea … something you believe in that is expressed in a way others have not seen or achieved.

That’s maybe the most important bit and even then, it doesn’t – contrary to what Inc implies – guarantee success.

As I said, I somehow know a few billionaires and while they absolutely had an idea they backed, they still had to overcome a huge amount of barriers and obstacles. Some did it on their own … some did it with outside help … but the reality is their success is not down to a single thing, but a combination of a good idea, excellent timing, a dollop of luck, some belief and support from an external party [whether that was vocal or financial] and an ability to achieve distribution on a mass scale, in a relatively short period of time.

The reality is it’s not easy to become a billionaire.

If it was, we’d all be doing it and then being a billionaire would not be rich, it would be average.

To suggest anything otherwise is utterly ridiculous.

In fact it’s damaging …

I know a bunch of brilliant people who have fantastic ideas who will never make billions out of them. Hell, some may not even make hundreds.

Not because they’re not smart or business savvy, but because the path to success is down to many factors and even then, depends on how and when it happens and the hope the goalposts don’t change for the time you have your opportunity.

But then there’s those who don’t do what they do for the financial goal.

They don’t equate success with how much money they make from their idea.

For them, success is the ability to simply do what they believe in … whether that’s full-time or as a hobby.

But imagine if they were to take the bullshit Inc are spouting on face value?

Suddenly they would feel that regardless what they do or why they do it, they have fundamentally failed.

That somehow they didn’t back themselves enough.

That their wealth is a public display of tripped up.

They won’t, because they’re smart, but what it means is that while Inc [and their ridiculous clickbait] may think they are the friends of entrepreneurs, their actions and attitude show they are the absolute opposite of it.



When Distinction Ends Up Being The Same …

Once upon a time, endlines meant something.

They were distinct, explained a brands value or purpose.

And more often than not, were packed with personality.

Then Dan Wieden fucked it up for everyone.

You see his famous JUST DO IT became the benchmark for all brands.

Marketing Directors craved a line that summed up who they were in 3 words.

The number of words was more important than what it said … which is why you now get this …

What a pile of shite.

Bland, contrived, sameness …

Literally doing the opposite of what it is supposed to do.

Designed to appeal to the ego of the board rather than the hearts of the audience.

All because we have fallen into the trap of believing simplistic equates to effectiveness.

It doesn’t.

Simple might do … but simplistic is the lowest common denominator that requires zero thinking because it makes zero impression.

It’s why I sit here and can remember endlines from my childhood more easily than end lines I watched 10 minutes ago.

Handmade by Robots … for Fiat.

Refreshes the other parts other beers can’t reach … for Heineken.

Do you love someone enough to give them your last Rolo … for, ahem, Rolo.

Of course there’s a few modern endlines that work … GoPro’s ‘Be A Hero’ for example [though they went and fucked it up by changing it to utter blandom] … but in the main, companies seems to like endlines that sound like they know what they’re doing but don’t really say much at all.

At cynic we used to call these ‘Yoda Statements’, but what is even scarier is consultants are being paid a fortune to come up with this sort of twaddle.

That’s right, companies who claim to know how to help business grow are coming up with statements that literally make companies blend into everything else.

And yet they still are valued more highly by clients that companies who know how to push, provoke, inspire and capture the imagination of culture through creativity.

If anything tells you how mad the World is, surely one of them is that.