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


You Can Tell How Much A Restaurant Cares About Their Customers By The Questions They Ask …

Way back in 2014, I wrote a post about my favourite restaurant in Shanghai – Din Tai Fung – and how their ‘comments card’ only had a satisfaction scale that went up to good.

In the post I mused why the company might be so stingy with levels of praise customers could bestow on their excellent staff and suggested it was to ensure the company was always in a position of control.

I loved Din Tai Fung.

In fact it was one of the big reasons I was sad to leave China, so you can imagine my happiness when I discovered they had opened a branch 8 miles from where I live.

Din Tai Fung – the American Edition – is very different to the classic Taiwanese offer I enjoyed over 7 glorious years in the Middle Kingdom.

For a start it is trying to look much trendier.

No Taiwanese/Chinese celebrity cartoons on the walls, instead all earthy tones and oversized lampshades.

Then the choice of food is very different and it doesn’t seem to have as much attention to detail.

The dumplings texture is not as delicate, the soy sauce isn’t as high quality, the ginger looks half dead and the chili sauce is almost sweet.

Then, just as you think they can’t screw things up any more, they serve cocktails. COCKTAILS.

And all for a price that is at least double that of China.

But as much as I can just about cope with that [as it still makes me feel happy] I can’t cope with this …

Yes, I’m talking about their comment card.

Sure, I know that gives the impression they want to improve – but when you read it, you notice a couple of things.

1. The scale of satisfaction is much, much broader.
2. The range of questions is much more general.

In the Asia version of the comments card, there is a huge emphasis on the quality of the food.

The texture. The flavours. The noodle quality.

Each food type is open for critique whereas the US version is simply summed up as ‘food quality’.

Now I get why the US would do that … it’s more concise and doesn’t ask the customer to judge a bunch of criteria … but the Asian version highlights something else.

Food enjoyment is much more than just taste and presentation.

Consciously or not, people constantly and continually are evaluating their experience, so if you want to show you actually care about their perspective – actually care about improving things – then you have to offer them options in the way they will be considering their food.

And they’re right.

I am absolutely the opposite of a foodie snob, but 7 years in China taught me the difference between good dumpling texture and bad.

To simply ask me ‘food quality’ as a blanket question for the overall experience is simplistic to the extreme.

Which is why the US Din Tai Fung will continue to serve me dumplings that are not as delicate as they should be, offer me soy sauce that isn’t as high quality as it should be, ginger that is not as vibrant and fresh as it should be and chili sauce that is far too sweet to complement the food they are serving.

America used to be the blueprint for service.

Asia – or should I say, some elements of Asia – are miles ahead.

Advertisements


Not Everyone Gets It …

I’ve written a lot about the state of tourism advertising.

To be honest, there’s very few categories that do it worse.

A mass of generic vignettes that shows every possible activity you can do with a bad line stuck at the end that generally tends to be some over-promising superlative placed before the name of country the ad is about.

There have been a few exceptions.

The original ‘100% Pure’ New Zealand campaign is one, but there’s not been many more.

Which is why I loved this poster that appeared in Helsinki …

OK, so they are preaching to the converted – given anyone who saw it happened to be there anyway – but it’s just a great way to make someone feel special and welcomed.

I love it.

I love it for so many reasons.

I love how they celebrate their visitors while also acknowledging they’re bloody nutcase.

I can imagine a tourist seeing that, agreeing it was a mental thing to do and then walking away smiling … feeling better about their decision and themselves.

That’s pretty impressive. Especially for a poster.

Which all goes to show that brands that are self aware can connect to culture better than brands that are bland egomaniacs.



The Final Countdown …

So today is the first of December.How the hell has that happened?

Wasn’t it February 2 weeks ago?!

I suppose the good news is there’s only going to be 2 more weeks of blog posts for the year.

Which – given I only write this rubbish on weekdays – means 10 more posts.

And two of those will be sentimental claptrap … one for Otis’ birthday on the 11th and then some shit ‘2017 wrap up’ … which means you only have 8 truly pathetic posts to endure.

Christ, it’s like I’m giving you your Christmas present early.

But no, I’m going to give you more.

Much more.

Are you ready?

So recently I was sent a TV ad for Rolls Royce.

You didn’t think Rolls Royce made those did you? Neither did I.

And while the song ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ is an inspired choice, the rest of it is utter pants.

Like utter, utter pants.

It’s absolutely obvious they’re trying to appeal to a younger audience, but the end result says far more about the insecurities of the marketing team at RR – and their agency – than the people they want to engage.

Seriously, I’ve watched it countless times and I’m increasingly coming to the opinion that the only thing they’re actually selling is a ‘colour option’ on the car.

Have a look at this …

What the hell?

Like seriously, what the hell?

It’s like the worst of pretentious fragrance ads interspersed with the most terrible choices of product shot.

Like that analogue clock.

A bloody analogue clock!!!

The whole thing seems to go from being dark and moody to a 1980’s conservative MP in the blink of an eye.

What are they actually trying to say?

More so, who are they actually trying to say it too?

As I mentioned, the choice of music is brilliant. There’s such a powerful idea in the whole thought around ‘for those who want to rule the World’ – and while you could argue Bentley did it before with their brilliant, but scam, ‘Middle Finger’ print ad, that’s still no excuse for making a bad version of a James Bond movie opening title sequence or a very, very, very bad version of Dunlop’s brilliant 1993 ‘Tested For The Unexpected’ ad, just without the charm, wit, self-awareness or story.

Rolls Royce are amazing car makers.

They have incredible attention to detail, quality and – as the star roof demonstrates – a sense of drama.

Nothing in this ad conveys this. Nothing.

All this ad shows is a brand suffering some sort of identity crisis.

Wanting to appear relevant but showing they don’t really know how to be because they mistook an aesthetic for authenticity.

They deserve more.



Plane Crash Advertising. Again.

I’ve written a lot about how bad airline advertising is.For an industry that is selling escape, adventure, discovery and recuperation – I’m shocked how terrible it is.

Sure, there’s exceptions … Virgin has always been strong [and not just because I was involved in so much of it] and the S7 work from Wieden Amsterdam was wonderful, but the majority are the sort of bland rubbish I’ve ranted about from Singapore and Turkish airlines.

Well there’s a new shit airline ad challenger in town and it’s Lufthansa.

What. The. Hell?

Everything about this piece of awful bemuses me.

The only reason being on a plane at sunrise/sunset is better than being on a rooftop bar with your mates is because you get a better view.

That is literally it.

Sure you might be going on holiday.

Sure you might be sat in business class.

But in terms of that fleeting 60 seconds you get to see the sunset/sunrise, I can assure you it’s better to be at a rooftop bar with your mates.

Even more so if you’re talking about watching the sunrise … because the only reasons you’re awake at that time are shit.

1. You’re jet-lagged to hell.

2. You’ve been woken up mid-sleep to be served some sloppy breakfast that is way too early for you to digest.

And yet they still have the audacity to say ‘air travel engineered around you’.

No it’s not.

Unless this ad was created to appeal to an uber-niche target audience that get sexually excited at seeing sunsets, there is absolutely no evidence Lufthansa engineer their air travel around their passengers needs.

Maybe I should test it.

Hey Lufthansa, I really like spending the day with my family and I hate having to go through all the hassle of getting to the airport and then dealing with security so could you bring your plane near my house and wait for me for when I’m ready to fly?

Could you?

Please … after all, you engineer air travel around me.

You silly, lying, bad-marketing fools.



Fuck You Parking …
November 29, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

I was in NYC recently when I saw this …

After taking the photo I hung around because I hoped to see if the other car could get out of that space … because if it could, then it truly deserved to be called a ‘Smart Car’.

And if the Smart Car owner didn’t turn up, I hoped to see the Volvo driver who parked like that.

The absolute selfish dick of a Volvo driver.

Because I wanted to ask him/her why they did it.

And hear their excuse.

Such as “… that pole behind the car wasn’t there when I parked”.

Or “… someone must have pushed my car closer to that other one”.

Or even “… this is New York, we are all about looking after ourselves.”.

But after 10 minutes I got bored, so I’ll never know.

Story of my life.



And They Say Journalism Is Dead …
November 28, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment

If anyone wants to know what my hometown is like, this was on the front page of the Nottingham Evening Post website recently.

I think that tells you everything you need to know.

Suddenly your life looks a whole lot more positive now doesn’t it?

You’re welcome.



Mondayitus …
November 27, 2017, 7:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment

Monday.The start of another long week.

A week of deadlines, expectations and disappointment.

What happens on Monday’s sets the tone for how the rest of the week will turn out.

To make it worse, this blog has come back after giving you almost a week of peace.

If the thought of all this depresses you, then I might have something that can help you.

You see instead of me ranting about something no one cares about – even me – I’ve decided to show you a video of someone starting their journey in the worst possible way. Suddenly all the things that could trip up your Monday and ruin the rest of your week have just disappeared.

You’re welcome.