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


A University Ad That Doesn’t Act Like A University Ad. Or At Least Not A Typical One …

University drives me nuts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of education but as I’ve written many times before [ie: here, here and here] they’ve gone from being a place for learning, debate and discussion, to being a place that – according to all their advertising – wants to be a production line for the rich and successful in business.

From we to me, as it were.

The only thing that is worse than this is universities focus on profit rather than learning.

I’ve said this many times, but I find this horrific.

Education is an investment in more than the individual, but the country as a whole.

Their knowledge helps countries grow and prosper, but by governments ignoring that and encouraging Universities to look at what they do in terms of ‘how much can you make out of people’, everyone suffers.

And I include universities in that statement because there will come a time where people realise the value of their degree – especially in comparison to the debt it means they incur – will ultimately make them question if it was worth the effort.

And yet the universities keep pumping out ads saying they’re for the elite.

The next generation of business leaders.

The entrepreneurs and power brokers.

Even though that’s obviously bollocks given how many people go to university versus become the next Zuckerberg etc etc.

Which is why I liked this ad for the University of Pheonix.

Yes it taps into my sentimental bullshit, but I like it because it’s not about supreme business success, but giving you choices.

In a World where working in one industry for the rest of your life is becoming obsolete, the idea of preparing people to be able to adapt is a good one.

Because we are entering a period where for the majority of people, success will be about survival – which is tragic but that’s what happens when Governments view the younger generation as a cost rather than an investment in everyone’s brighter future.

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Successful People Can Tell Whatever Story They Want …

Whether you like him or hate him, Gary Vaynerchuk has made a very big impression in a very small period of time.

As with anyone in this position, he has attracted his unfair share of fans and haters.

A few weeks ago, there was an article that challenged the story he tells people.

Not just in terms of it’s message [Anyone can achieve their goals if they’re prepared to work hard for it] but his background.

As we all know, there are always 3 sides to any story – your side, their side and the truth – and while it is true many people who have dreams and work hard DON’T achieve their goals, I felt it was pretty harsh of the author to pick on that given that there’s literally no other way to achieve your goals … just some are lucky and some [most] aren’t.

But this is where I do agree with author of the article, because they correctly highlight ‘successful people get to tell any story they want’.

I find it amazing how many successful people reimagine history.

It’s not hard to work out that their goal is to ensure people view their achievements through the lens of their unique brilliance – whether that is attitudinal or through their acts.

Of course both of those elements would have had a part to play in their success, but to not acknowledge the luck they enjoyed is to create a narrative that is as deluded as most of the Linkedin write-ups I read.

That said, not everyone is like that …

Many, many years ago I met a very, very successful man.

He had made his fortune in air conditioning and when I asked him what he felt he owed his success to, he said, “1976”.

Basically, he had owned a small firm specialising in fans and air con. Business was OK but not setting the World alight until the summer of 1976, where the UK experienced it’s hottest summer on record.

In that summer, he created the foundation for his future fortune.

It wasn’t that people just wanted a way to immediately cool themselves down, it made companies realize they may need to have a solution for future summers in the office.

Yes, he had worked very, very hard during this time – and subsequent years – but as he said to me, he had always been working hard … it was the good fortune of extreme weather that made his efforts experience greater rewards.

In other words, luck.

And while he still downplayed the effort he put in to be successful, I remember even back then how refreshing it was to hear someone being humble about their success rather than claiming it was down to their unique abilities and vision.

Which is why I still follow the advice of my dad, which was always listen to the opinions/advice/experience of others but remember a good percentage of what they say – even if not intentional – is probably what they wish they did rather than what they actually did.



I Am Just Sharing An Article Because That’s What You’re Supposed To Do On Social Media …
October 10, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Advertising, Agency Culture, Comment, Marketing, Marketing Fail

I don’t know if the article I’m linking to is true.

To be honest, it doesn’t matter if it is or if it isn’t, because I have no opinion on the matter.

Definitely not.

The only reason I’m sharing it is I have been called a social media whore in the past and this is my attempt to ‘upgrade’ myself to a social media escort.

The fact the article has some vague link to the industry I work in is purely coincidental, but as we’re here, I feel there are 3 things I should add:

+ I worked for WPP on 2 separate occasions.

It is a huge organization full of great companies and smart, talented people.

In my time there, my overall experience was generally positive.

+ WPP have done nothing illegal.

Immoral perhaps – given one of their agencies also did this anti-gun campaign – but not illegal.

+ While I appreciate that a corporation has a legal obligation to make money for their shareholders, a companies ‘values’ means nothing if you don’t live by them.

For the record, these are WPP’s values:

WPP & its operating companies have as their core values honesty, integrity & respect for people. These core values determine the way we approach business & they define the principles in which we expect our people to behave in the conduct of our business.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this story.

Or should I say, it will be interesting to see what happens next with this story.



America Has A Portion Control Problem …

As many know, America is the most obese nation on earth.

When you know this, I guess it’s less of a surprise when they say anyone who spends 2 weeks in America will put on approx 8 pounds in weight.

I could talk about the many, many reasons that contribute to this situation – from poverty to profit to, as I read recently, that the biggest fear for anyone who has guests is running out of food … hence they overcook by significant amounts.

Anyway, this is all an excuse to show you this picture …

As you can see, it’s a mountain of onion rings.

If you look carefully behind them, you’ll see the look of shock on my sons face.

Now you may think that is an optical illusion, but it’s not … it really was that big.

But here’s the amazing thing.

That wasn’t a portion of onion rings … that was a half portion.

HALF!!!

Seriously!!!

Apart from the fact if you ate that amount there isn’t enough toothpaste in the World to stop your breath smelling of onion for 19 years, that was the starter.

The bloody starter.

Now I like onion.

I bloody love onion.

But even I couldn’t eat more than a few strands and so there was an enormous amount left which – I presume – was then thrown away.

A while ago – 3+ years to be exact – I wrote about the insane portion control of the Hard Rock Cafe in NYC.

What made it worse was they were running a campaign at the time about stopping hunger.

Well given that obesity is a cause of so many illnesses in America – illnesses that have a huge, detrimental affect on the economy – I can’t work out why the government don’t mandate portion sizes at restaurants. Yes, I know for many people, they take what they don’t eat back home … but how much of that is actually eaten versus kept in the fridge for a few days and then thrown out.

The irony here is that fast food restaurants – the ones who often get the most abuse – are way, way, way better than more ‘formal’ restaurants.

Part of that is because they don’t want lawsuits against them … part of that is that they know their audience so well that they know how much they actually eat and part of that is that they have a huge number of stores, so they don’t have to win on quantity but simply offering the convenience of giving people what they want when they want it.

But these big ‘restaurants’ aren’t like that and that’s why I feel they are particularly guilty of creating food wastage.

For me, it is one of the worst things in society.

We have people hungry and we have people getting ill because of obesity.

It wouldn’t take much to actually start helping to reduce this, but sadly America has been sold the belief that quantity always trumps quality and until that attitude starts changing, then the allegedly most powerful country on Earth, will continue to act in a way that seems weak.



James Blunt Might Be Becoming My New Hero …

I know … I know … I really did write that blog post header.

And yes, I really am talking about James Blunt, the man that can make a choir on Songs Of Praise [is that still going] look like Black Sabbath in their prime.

But don’t forget, this is a guy who is disarmingly self aware.

A guy who uses his self-depreciation to turn you from a hater into a fan.

OK, not a fan of his music but – as I wrote here – a fan of who he is.

And recently I saw something that just makes me like him more …

Yep, that’s James Blunt on Tinder.

A man who people think has got laid more than a $2 crack whore in a room of drunk and horny jocks.

OK, so getting laid a lot is part of the ‘rock star’ cliche, but I still find this move to be brilliant.

Not just because he has found a way to make money from his perception.

Not just because he partnered with platform that is the epitome of his perception.

But because he has shown that when you deal with the commentary others have about you directly, you don’t just rob them of their ammunition, you give yourself a chance to change that perception.

I’ve talked about this a lot – I called it the 8-Mile strategy, after the Eminem movie, specifically the end rap battle at 6 minutes 40 seconds – but it’s also something else I wrote about.

The power of unplanned planning.

Unplanned is where a brand speaks in seemingly obvious terms.

Not in terms of what they do, but in terms of what people think you do.

For example, when Scalextric – the model car racing brand – embraced the perception the only reason men want their little boys playing with Scalextric is because it gives them an excuse to play it for themselves.

Did you click on the link?

Seriously, you should – it not only demonstrates what I’m blathering on about, it’s a great ad.

Great because it’s funny. Great because it’s relatable. Great because it doesn’t fall into marketing bullshit.

Can you tell I really, really like it?

So why do I think this approach works when the industry is seemingly so obsessed with talking about bigger purpose stuff?

Because in my opinion, it’s easier to nudge people’s perception of you if you talk in the context of how they already view you rather than spending millions trying to convince them that who you are is totally different to what they believe or are willing to accept.

It is, in some ways, the ultimate demonstration of honesty.

A lot of brands could learn from that.



Inspired By …

My whole family are connected to the law.

Not the bullshit, sharp-suit, high-charging wankers we hear so much about these days, but the guys fighting for genuine justice.

My father in particular hated what the legal industry had become … from being a discipline that fought for justice to one that now tries to keep problems going so they can keep charging exorbitant fees.

So what has that got to do with the picture of these Gummy Pandas.

Well, I saw these in a local Starbucks and I just thought how mad this was allowed to exist.

We all know it’s a take on Gummy Bears.

We all know they’re trying to steal business from Gummy Bears.

We all know they’re trying to make people think they’re getting Gummy Bears.

OK, so it’s a bloody sweet that you don’t really pay much attention to … but if this was a person, it would be identity theft and yet companies continue to pay huge amounts to law firms to protect their hard work when anyone can set up what is basically a duplicate brand by simply changing a letter or – in the case of Uncle Martian – not even putting in that effort.

Anyway, the real reason I’m writing this is because I wanted an excuse to link to my favorite ever Amazon reviews for [Sugar Free] Gummy Bears and I assure you, it’s way, waaaaay, waaaaaaaaay more enjoyable than this post.



A Car Ad On Social Media That Doesn’t Totally Suck …
September 13, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Advertising, Cars, Comment, Creativity, Marketing

On face value, the title of this post is quite a big call.

But, when you remember there’s so little good car ads about, it’s not that hard to ‘stand out’.

And while the visual element of this Porsche ad is pretty boring, there’s something about that line of copy I really like.

In just 12 words, it’s managed to capture the sense of awe a Porsche should make you feel.

And while you could argue these 12 words could be used for any car brand, when you know that Frederic Porsche once said …

“I want to build cars that are not something to everyone but everything to someone”

… you realize how good that copy is.