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

It Seems I Am The Fine Line Between Famous And Infamous …

How is your 2018 going so far?

I know it’s still early days – but is it looking good or bad?

Well, if it’s looking positive, I’m about to ruin it for you and if it is looking dodgy, I’m going to help you solidify your opinion.


Well, a few weeks ago, a nice guy called Paul McEnany asked if he could interview me about my career.

While I’m sure his reasoning for his request was to help planners learn what not to do, my ego said yes even before my mouth did … and while the end result is the bastard love child of rambling randomness and base-level swearing, it’s the perfect way to justify your pessimism for 2018 or to ensure your optimism for the new year doesn’t get too high.

So go here and errrrrm, enjoy [if that’s the right word for it, which it isn’t] and after you’ve heard my crap, listen to the brilliant interviews with people like Gareth Kay, Russell Davies, Richard Huntingdon, Martin Weigel and the amazing Chris Riley because apart from being hugely interesting and inspiring, you’ll get the added bonus of [1] undeniable proof I’m a massive imposter and [2] the knowledge that if I can have some sort of semi-successful career in advertising, you certainly can.

You’re welcome.


Differentiation …

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing a lot about differentiation, including a theory that suggests that while it continues to be vitally important for brands, the way they are going about it is utterly, utterly wrong.

But day 2 of post writing in a New Year is far too early to lay down such heavy subject matters so instead I’ll leave you with this …

Now I admit I stole this photo from a friends Facebook update, but I love it.

Window cleaning from men in kilts.

Bloody genius.

Differentiating while making a statement about sexism in culture all at the same time.

Though I appreciate that second part might be me attributing reasons they might not have had.

But there is something magical in the ridiculousness of it all, something that makes you smile and actually want to have them come over to your place to wash your windows.

And yet it still feels better than the way a lot of big companies approach differentiation.

Maybe it’s because they seem to own the madness of it – laughing with the audience rather than have them laugh at them with statements like ‘no peeking’ – whereas other organizations try and justify their differentiation-for-the-sake-of-differentiation in serious overtones … trying to imply their small and insignificant improvement is the second coming of Christ.

So here’s to the Men In Kilts for reminding us that being serious about what you do doesn’t mean you have to serious about who you are.

Out Of The Times …
June 22, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Culture, Marketing, Marketing Fail, Positioning, Sport

The Times.

One of the icons of newspapers and journalism.

Not just in the UK, but across the whole World.

Sure, there have been scandals along the way – not to mention the Murdoch ownership – but overall, it is still a paper that commands huge respect which is why I found this recent ad of theirs on Facebook rather baffling.

Yes, I know football is a global sport worth billions of pounds a year.

Yes, I know The Times have a football writer, Henry Winter, that is highly revered.

Yes, I know that Facebook audiences may be more likely to react to a football story than a journalism story.

But …. come on.

It’s the fucking Times.

And while having a global perspectives has never been so important as it is today, I’m not sure football – or Jose Mourinho for that matter – is going to drive the subscriptions they crave, especially when there are so many more topical [and important] issues they could push against … whether that’s the politically motivated movement to promote anything that challenges a claim as false news or even the tragic terrorist events that have taken place in London in the last few days.

While I appreciate the need to broaden your audience base is vital, chasing them never leads to long term success because ultimately you are handing over your destiny to people who could change their allegiance in a heartbeat, especially when there are so many other alternatives all vying for your attention.

As I wrote a while back, if you don’t commit to what you were created for, then how can you ever expect your audience to commit to what you stand for.


A Reminder That Expertise Doesn’t Mean Acceptance …


A fantastic camera brand with unquestionable credibility.

Now of course, many camera brands are under threat from the increasing quality – and convenience – of smartphone cameras, which is why many are trying to diversify their portfolio to counter any potential profit loss.

Based on this ad, it appears NIKON are trying to do this as well.

Of course, as we have seen from GOPRO and countless other brands … the ‘live action camera’ category has been growing at an incredible rate and while you could argue NIKON might be a bit late to the party, their credibility in cameras stands them in good stead.

Except it doesn’t.

You see what NIKON have failed to understand is that the ‘live action category’ is very different to the photographic category … sure, they both involve needing a lens to capture the action, but fundamentally the rules are different, the values are different and the culture around it are very different.

As I wrote here, GOPRO’s success is not just because they were one of the first to exploit this market, but because they were part of the culture that created this market.

They understood who these people were.

What they do.

What they want.

What they feel.

This knowledge influenced everything … from their positioning [the utterly brilliant, ‘Be A Hero’] through to the style of advertising they created.

The fact NIKON’s ad shows an image that comes from the perspective of watching others do something, highlights how they have failed to understand the audience they are talking too.

All they’ve done is transfer their photographic approach to their communication … but the audience they need to engage have a totally different set of values and aspirations.

Of course it would be hard for them to achieve this given GOPRO have already nailed it with their ‘in the middle of the action‘ photographic style … but that’s the difference between a brand that looks at a category as a sales opportunity versus a brand that is born from the culture it plans to engage with.

As I’ve said many, many times … culture is far more important than category.

Don’t let anyone tell you different.


PS: Happy Australia Day … a day where you are not just legitimately allowed to get pissed before 10am, but positively encouraged to be. Have a top day. And a top hangover tomorrow.


When Product Descriptions Make You Feel Ill …

So I was in a supermarket recently when I saw this.

While I am a huge advocate of cleanliness and healthiness and I absolutely appreciate the cleaning properties of vinegar – I’m not sure if this is something I’d find appealing when looking for a product that I’m going to use on my most sensitive regions.

OK, two things.

1. I appreciate I WOULDN’T be using it on my sensitive regions.

[Sorry for that image]

2. Like Listerine [until they came out with the orange flavour, which is still madness personified] I get that some products need to leave you with an ‘ugly tingling feeling’ so you emotionally feel you have been cleaned. So to speak.

But seriously, is vinegar the sort of thing you’d want to use on yourself?

Maybe it’s because I’m a bloke – and an English bloke – but the word vinegar conjures up images of chips and while I would love to eat a bag of them covered in Sarsons [not that overpriced, poncy stuff] I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want my nether-regions to smell of them.

I wonder if that means this product isn’t available in the UK given vinegar’s strong association with dodgy food.

Actually I wonder if any normal person would spend this much time thinking about this subject?

Alright … maybe I’m a sad, weird freak but this product stopped me in my tracks, but that could also be because the naming is some of the weirdest I’ve ever seen in my life.

It starts off all nice and angelic with ‘Summers Eve’.

Oh that’s a nice name … it paints pictures of a beautiful evening sky, full of beautiful colours promising a bright tomorrow.

Then they throw in ‘Douche’.

OK, that kind of ruins the picture a bit because at best you think of someone you know who is a total idiot and at worst, you think of something a woman uses to clean her privates.

Then they double down with ‘Extra Cleaning Vinegar & Water’.

And with that, the beautiful evening sky has been replaced with the feeling of needles being jabbed where you never ever want them jabbed.

Seriously, that naming combination has to be the weirdest ever.

Surely they could have thought of other ways to talk about douche’s and vinegar given they’d come up with such an evocative product name.

But no. They didn’t which is why instead of Summers Eve, they should have called it Winter’s Worst and be done with it.


Anti Positioning Is Enticing …


That thing that planners, marketers and advertising in general spends eons going on about.

Of course I understand why … having a clear and concise territory that you play in helps society associate you with a role/purpose that, hopefully, will pay dividends in the long run.

Now the thing with positioning is it’s as much about sacrificing what you’re not going to be as it is defining what you are.

As much about who you’re not going to appeal to as who you will.

For the last 25 years, I’ve been a massive advocate of that until I saw this …

The photo – and quote – comes from a band called Illust8ors.

I don’t really care if you’ve never heard of them, but that reference is amazing.

Rage Against The Machine and Maroon 5.

Two bands that should never, ever be in the same sentence and yet – despite all you would think – it makes me want to check them out rather than shut the door on them.

Who knows if they mean what they said.

Who knows if their music is like Rage Against Maroon 5.

But I will soon … because while some may say they’ve positioned themselves broad, they’ve achieved exactly what a great positioning does … pull people in.