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


When We Put Our Heads Up Our Asses …

So this is hard for me because it not only involves an agency I like very much – Droga5 – but it also involves a number of personal friends.

So over the past few months, there’s been a campaign for Email marketing platform, MailChimp.

Not that you’d know it, because the campaign has been about creating seemingly random ads for things with names that kind-of sound like MailChimp but never actually say it.

Hence we’ve had all sorts of things like FailChips and SnailPrimps placed all around NYC.

And why?

Because when the brand sponsored the hit podcast ‘Serial’, someone in the promo mispronounced the brand as “MailKimp” and Droga5 thought that could be a fun way to advertise the brand.

That’s right, spend a shitload of cash doing a bunch of things that never actually mentions the brand name or relates to what the brand does.

This is how a Mailchimp exec explains it …

“We used mispronunciation as a creative device to inspire all kinds of different executions, knowing that people would be curious about what they were seeing and search for more information”.

What?

WHAT?

Now I accept there is a good chance I might be wrong, but are people that curious?

Do people give a flying fuck about this sort of thing?

Maybe they do, which means I can’t help but wonder how they felt when they discovered what it was really all about.

Were they pissed off they’ve just been part of a marketing scam?

Or maybe they ended up being massively disappointed by what they discovered it all to be about.

Or did they go, “Wow, that’s amazing” and immediately sign up for their service, even if they didn’t need it.

I have a feeling it’s not that likely to be the last option.

Don’t get me wrong, I know people love to ‘discover’ stuff, but I’m not so sure that means they love discovering they’ve just been had.

All of this feels like the people behind the campaign either watched one too many bad spy movies or took Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘tipping point’ a tad too literally.

But it gets worse.

Much worse … because this ‘strategy’ of mispronouncing the brand name – according to the credits released with the campaign – required 7 strategists.

SEVEN.

What did they do?

What is the bloody strategy in any of this?

I appreciate that sometimes the biggest insight is there isn’t one … but even then, you don’t need 7 strategists. Hell, even if you were doing a campaign to solve world hunger, you wouldn’t need seven strategists.

WHAT IS GOING ON!?

I love Droga5 and I massively respect my friends who were involved in this campaign, but this all smacks of early dotcom advertising and we know what happened to the majority of those brands.

Actually I’m wrong, because at least those ads focused on people remembering the name.

This isn’t advertising, it’s anti-advertising and while the industry might think that’s something cool and worthy of aspiring too, in the real World – or at least The Guardian – they know it’s a great advertisement for saying our industry has its head up it’s own ass.



Among The Bullshit, There Are Nuggets …

OK, I openly admit that is the worst post title ever.

But hang in there.

The reason I said it is because – let’s be honest – our industry can talk a lot of shite.

Not only that, we can – and often do – spend an inordinate amount of time ‘discussing’ stuff that should be pretty simple and obvious to solve/decide.

I have a friend who found himself spending 2 years of his life – TWO YEARS – sitting in various meeting rooms around the World, listening to his clients discuss whether the word “refreshing” should be included in their brand onion.

For a water brand.

No, seriously.

Even after doing this job for almost 30 years, I still haven’t been able to work out if the mind-numbingly relentless monotone of discussion is due to internal politics or individuals who realise that stopping decisions actually generates greater revenue.

However, while the way many go about this stuff can be rightfully ridiculed, the reality is the issues being discussed are often important – at least from a brand perspective – which is why the next time someone say’s brand hierarchy is a load of bollocks, show them this …

Just make sure you then don’t spend 2 years discussing what the right bloody answer is.



Simple Advertising Is Great Advertising …

I’m 46.

I’m a husband.

And a father.

I supposedly hold down a senior job at a highly respected company.

I have responsibilities … mortgages and a bunch of other things ‘older people’ should have.

And yet despite all that, when I saw this ad for Hot Wheels, I totally got what they were saying.

Oh Hot Wheels.

When I was a kid, they were the toy cars to have.

Matchbox made the practical but Hot Wheels made the sexy.

The daring.

The souped up.

The ‘fuck, that looks cool’.

Kids who were good at maths would play with Matchbox but kids who could play the guitar would have Hot Wheels.

I must admit, I am shocked at all this emotion coming out of me despite the fact I haven’t bought – or played with – a toy car for at least 36 years. And that’s why I love this ad so much, because in an instant – and without showing any product whatsoever – I get it.

I totally get it.

Given this ad appeared on a motorway, I am assuming Hot Wheels actually want to target people like me.

Their goal being to awaken my memories of their brilliant toy cars and introduce my kids to them.

It could be because a while back I read Hot Wheels was a billion dollar company under threat.

Not from other toy car competitors, but because parents didn’t know how to play toy cars with their children. Especially Mum’s with boys.

[Don’t call me sexist, this is what they said]

Whatever the truth is, this ad worked for me.

It not only reminded me how much I loved Hot Wheels, it made me want to play with them with Otis. Which all goes to show that while the features of a brand can be copied, it’s spirit and values are always unique.



Why Differences Are Brilliant …

One of the things I absolutely love is when you hear a perspective on something that you never thought about.

Something that makes you stop and reconsider what you thought you know.

Not that it means your original perspective was wrong – as I’ve said before, there’s rarely a really wrong answer, just lots of degrees of right – but you just feel your eyes have been opened to something that you thought had no way of surprising you.

It’s like a revelation to me.

The reason I say this is because it happened when I read this interview with a bouncer …

Now maybe you’re thinking his statement was massively obvious, but I never looked at bouncers that way.

To me, they were there to stop trouble and maintain order.

Oh … and to look menacing.

[Except my best friend Paul is sometimes one and he is the opposite of menacing]

However, after reading “If you’re too drunk you’re not going to buy any drink”, I now realise their actions are as much about securing the profitability of the business as it is securing the reputation and environment of the premises.

In essence, they’re more than bouncers, they’re business managers.

Now of course, you could say this is a classic case of ‘reframing’, and maybe it is … but in my experience, it only works when it is born from a truth that people can immediately relate too, so even if that is the case, it’s still better than 95% of the stuff our industry has done.



If LinkedIn Is About Professionalism, What Do Some Of The Statements Their Members Post, Say About Professionalism …

Yes … I know I am the last person to talk about professionalism.

And yes … I know Linkedin is kind-of an easy target, but some of the stuff people are putting on there these days blows my mind.

If I was an alien and looking at the site for insight on humans, I’d come to the conclusion there’s 2 types out there, the egomaniacs and the totally lacking in confidence.

Have a look at this …

What?

WHAT?

If it was some kind of psychological experiment, you could just about put up with it – but it doesn’t seem to be. It literally appears a guy called Jason [In a moment of compassion, I’ve deleted some of his info to protect what little honour he has left] wants to crowd source how he should style his facial hair.

And if that wasn’t depressing enough, he’s received over 5000 comments for it.

FIVE THOUSAND.

Seriously, what the hell?

It’s so depressing that I hope he’s only doing this so he could find gullible fools to sell some shit product too.

Honestly, what next …

What tie should you wear to work?

What breakfast should you eat?

What condom should you wear?

On the bright side, if this is the standard of professionalism these days, then it just might mean I am no longer at the bottom of the table.

Sure, I might still be in the relegation places, but no longer at the bottom.

Thanks Linkedin.



Welcome To Australia, Please Put Your Watches Back 20 Years …

Before I begin, this is not Australia bashing week.

I know I wrote something about the place yesterday, but this is entirely coincidental.

Besides, laughing at the misguided taste of an Australian government department is not the same as laughing at the entire nation.

A nation where my wife originates.

A nation that my son holds a passport from.

A nation where I am classed as a permanent resident. For tax reasons. [Bastards]

OK? Good … so I will now begin.

Cynic stopped being a legal entity in 2010.

We had a great run and had a great time, but opportunities meant we wanted to explore other paths in life.

While we kept the website up, it was for nostalgia purposes rather than any belief we would one day restart it again.

Besides, legally we wouldn’t be able to do that because the name – and all property of it – belongs to someone else now.

So imagine my surprise when I received this …

Yep, seven years after putting the shutters up, an Australian award group have recognised our brilliance. Or something.

Of course it’s bound to be a scam because business situation aside, the website is very dated and so to be nominated for anything other than ‘website best maintained in mothballs’ there’s no way we should be on any list.

But of course I’ve accepted the offer because I am very keen to see how far this goes.

I appreciate competition is tough these days … but I am astounded how many emails/letters I get from companies that have obviously done no due diligence. The amount of companies who write to me without realising I’m based in China is amazing.

Let’s be honest, if these companies can’t get their basic information right, then why would I believe they could do a good job for me?

Given the importance of reputation, I am shocked how many organisations don’t seem to give a shit about it. And I appreciate that’s saying something coming from me and my Birkenstocks.



Why You Should Never Ask Normal People To Act In A Video As A Normal Person …

As most of you know, I love car-crash internal videos.

I love them for so many reasons …

The ridiculousness of ego.

The appalling lack of judgement.

The desperation packaged as confidence.

While I’ve written about so many of these things over the years, my favourite has always been Singapore’s Media Development Authorities corporate snuff video.

Or it was until I saw this …

No, it’s not a spoof.

It’s actually meant to make working in the Australian Department of Finance look attractive.

Apparently it cost $4,000 … having looked at it, that’s still $3,995 too much.

What were they thinking?

OK, I get what they were thinking, but how did they think this was good enough to release?

Hell, they should have known it was going to be a pile of fucking awful the moment they saw the ‘script’.

But no …

And then there’s the decision to use the real employees in it.

I appreciate the attempt to make it authentic, but people can’t act being people.

Hell, even Keanu Reeves – a Hollywood actor – finds it hard to act being a person.

I get some intern may not realise the stupidity of agreeing to appear in something like this … but what about the senior guys? Unless they had a gun put against their head, they should have absolutely refused to do it.

Hell, if they were threatened with death, they should have taken that option because the embarrassment of appearing in something like this – or even working in a place that does something like this – is potentially career destroying.

All in all, this is going to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

They could have saved it if they came out and said, “guess we should stick to working with the numbers that run the country, rather than act”, but no they’ve said nothing which means they might think this is really good.

Oh dear.

The lack of self-awareness within companies and organisations that supposedly understand or represent the masses is mind-blowing.

Worse, their lack of appreciation that everything you do say’s something about you to all who experience it is bordering on insanity.

But on the bright side, their blindness is my light.