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

I Don’t Like Golf, Wine, Computer Servers or BMW’s!!!
January 8, 2007, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Comment

plane wing

In the last 12 months, I have flown a rather scary 178 times … and with all those flights, I have visited 23 different countries and 35 different cities.

I think it’s fair to say that means I fly quite alot.

And eachtime I go into an airport … regardless of which city or country I’m in … I get bombarded with ad upon ad upon ad and yet for all this communication, guess how many ‘ads’ have I actually noticed.


Now given my job, I tend to notice communication, so it’s somewhat alarming that in the majority of cases, the ads just haven’t grabbed my attention.  I should point out that it’s not because they’re all bad [though there is an alarming volume of totally shite ones] it’s because in the majority of cases, the ads just aren’t relevant to me or my life.

Now without sounding like too much of a tosser … I’m doing fairly well for myself.

I have a wonderful home … a house in Sydney … money in the bank … a bunch of handmade guitars … more technological gadgetry than the R&D department of SONY … and to be honest, it’s far more than I deserve, however – and here’s the interesting bit – despite all this material possession, none of the brands in the airports, mean a thing to me.

I would rather drink bleach than own anything Louis Vuitton.

I’d be a complete prat if I bought financial products based on a billboard.

I don’t drink alcohol.

I don’t smoke cigarettes.

Hate golf with a passion. [Well, unless it’s the midnight golf we used to play at Edwalton golf course]

Don’t like sailing.

Think Rolex’s and Tag’s are try-hard.

Not exactly the Ralph Lauren wearing type.

Think anyone with a Vertu phone is a cock. [They’ve just launched one at 330,000 quid!!! I mean, how insecure must you be to want to buy this????]

Don’t give a damn about integrated phone systems’.

Or secure servers.

What is it that makes the brand owners / media planners think that all people who use airports alot aspire to associate with these brands? 

Have they not looked at how people [especially ‘business people’] USE airports? 

Whilst I hate the thought of being defined as a ‘businessman’, with the amount of flying I do, I guess I ‘qualify’ as one [how scary eh? haha!] and I can say my relationship with airports [and I don’t think I’m alone in this] is purely functional – it’s get in, get out. 

And yet according to brand managers/media planners, as we walk through passport control, security and the boarding gate – we make plans to buy Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren shirts, update our financial portfolio, buy some whisky and a 200 pack of fags, check out some new golf clubs as well as some sailing gear, update our watch, trade in our Motorola for a Vertu [as long as it is also an integrated phone system] and last but not least, suddenly become our companies IT director and buy some new servers.

OK … OK … I’m being a prick [SHOCK, HORROR!] but it just astounds me how much money is spent on a media channel that has little or no consumer involvement.  Sure, I bet the airport supplies tons of impressive numbers detailing how many high-income people pass through it’s facilities each and every year … but this OPPORTUNITIES TO SEE’ argument is bollocks and outdated.  By that reckoning, I could put an ad on a Motorway lamp-post and then charge thousands of $’s by saying that each and every month, millions of high-earning drivers will pass by it. Total and utter con.

And it gets worse …

Being such a frequent flyer, I am a platinum member of the airline ‘club’. 

All this basically means is that I am allowed to check in via the 1st class aisle regardless of the ‘class’ I’m flying, scoff free food in the lounges and get a free quarterly magazine.

And despite being told by the airline that my ‘individual needs’ are always their priority [not to mention ‘Relationship Marketing’ experts claiming their discipline allows customised communication to be delivered to customers specific needs] what do I get?   Yep … a glossy magazine that has page upon page of golf, wine, investments, BMW’s, Louis Vuitton articles, interspread with page after page of golf, wine, investments, BMW’s, Louis Vuitton advertisements.

As I said, I’m doing alright … but am I that different to other supposedly is a higher-income earners [or more likely, a higher-debt earner, ha!]?   And even if I am – why do fucking ‘server’ companies advertise in airports?  I mean, just how many finance directors/IT directors go through every airport?  I can’t imagine it’s thousands upon thousands … which could mean these ads are some of the most cost inefficient ads in history.

And then there’s the fact almost all the ads talk in the monotone of the corporate mission statement.






To be fair, some brands are trying to at least change abit – in tone of voice if nothing else. 

In the car to my hotel, I saw Hilton’s new magazine … HILT … as in, ‘Live Life To The ….’

You can tell Paris’ influence from the cover can’t you? 

What a shame the content is the same old tat like every other ‘wannabe-status-obsessed mag’.  Seriously, you couldn’t tell the difference between this and a million other mags … and then there’s the issue that a predominantly business-focused hotel is trying to position itself as the hotel for the jetset community.  Sure, the young are getting wealthier and wealthier but it’s not exactly going to appeal to the corporate accountant who chooses which hotels staff will stay at based on factors that don’t include ‘hipness’.

Now there’s big debate over at Gareth’s and Marcus’s blogs about ‘sod the relevance, entertain’ … and whilst I appreciate that entertainment IS incredibly important [and many of these ads could do with a big dollop of it] I still say that regardless of how entertaining an ad is, if it’s not relevant to my needs [and environment] it’s never, ever going to persuade me to change my habits.   And even if these ads make me think more favourably towards a particular brand … I have to ask what the fucking point is if I am never going to buy the thing? 

And companies have the nerve to say ad agencies don’t understand about being financially-responsible!

Look, can someone … anyone … tell me why airport advertising has been deemed ‘the venue for the wealthy’ when it’s ability to actually make an impression has to be even less than a TV ad on Channel 5 at 3pm!   A while back, I wrote about how brands with ‘real status‘ communicate … and let me tell you, there’s not one ad in a single airport that expresses itself in these ways – despite all trying to be seen as ‘badges of success’.

With some clients still questioning the validity of the internet for communication … I find it amazing that so much money can be spent in a channel that has little relevance except being a location that people travel through. What it seems to prove is that much communication [both interms of creation and location] is driven by the ego of the client – both in who they think they are and who they think is interested.

Years and years ago, Andy and I were invited to Harrods to talk to them about their communication needs. 

When we asked who their core customers were, we were told it was ‘the top 5% of the UK’s wealthy’.  In reality, a huge proportion of their customers were/are tourists … people who buy a bunch of souvenirs’ so that they can tell their friends they’ve been to the World famous store and then walk around their neighbourhoods with the famous green bag. 

The reality with many of these ‘luxury brands’ is that it’s all driven by perception … or should I say delusion … and its effectiveness has to be questioned.

No wonder so many consumers don’t like ads when such a high proportion of them are boring, uninteresting, rational pieces of shit … targeted at individuals who are about as far removed from reality as any Hollywood A-Lister.

Ooooooh, I feel so much better after that so here’s a picture of a Malaysin Popstar I saw on the television … or is it North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-Il trying to update his image? 

27 Comments so far
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Handmade guitars…nice.
My dads mate used to make guitars and basses, they were known in the area for being amazing instruments; ive always wanted one but cant afford them. (He recently turned down an offer of £10k to make a single guitar). Any nice makes/models?

I agree with your sentiments entirely, but as im working I cant spend time typing a reply now…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Wonderful post and bang on. Your holiday has obviously done you good.

I saw the Marcus post on Gareth’s site and I know what he is saying but I think your comments were absolutely right.

Companies won’t pay a load of money for us to just entertain people. It might be nice, but it’s not very practical. OK, so consumers might like it (and even then I’m not 100% sure) but the shareholders (who are ironically the same people) wouldn’t when their profits fall for spending tons on communication that has no reason for being.

I also think with so much product placement in movies today, ads are more preferable in some cases because at least people know what their intentions are. How many films are ruined because a brand is trying to associate themselves with a particular character with all the subtelty of a brick.

I believe ad agencies are not just in the entertainment business, they’re also in the selling business and when they get it right, it can be a very powerful and interesting result.

At CPB (and HHCL and Mother before that) we are forever getting blamed for doing entertaining ads with little or no substance but every client we work with always gives us specific business goals to achieve, which is why everything we do is created to attract customers to do what is needed to keep the client profitable.

Same with your Sony stuff.

It’s entertaining so it achieves mass cut-through but you know there is a specific message you are getting across; a message that is relevant to the specific consumer you need, delivered in a fresh and interesting way.

I think you said it at that conference from hell; insight and imagination can change the World which is why I think a small bunch of agencies make continually great communication, wherever and however it appears.

Maybe Marcus has been exposed to too much rational advertising. He is in Germany isn’t he?

And I’m also very impressed with your flying numbers, that’s probably more than some pilots do. Hope you’ve got good insurance, your odds of a plane crash must be plumeting, hopefully not like your next plane home.

Comment by Pete

Rob has more guitars than Clapton and plays better than him too.

I have no idea who they are made by but I know they’re beautiful. We used to call them the coffee tables. Get him to send a picture to you and you’ll see why.

Comment by Pete

Wow, sounds impressive. Im trying to save up for guitar number 2, so to have a collection like that is amazing.

Maybe if you guys take some business from him he’ll have to flog them cheap and I can get some bargains… 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I should mention Orange’s cinema work here.
Its very funny, but it keeps its relevance and sells the brand at the same time. Its the only “pre-movie sponsorship” ad that ive ever seen that covers those three bases.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’ll see what I can do for you Rob. Way back when, he was quite the heavy rock guitarist. Guitars, Marshall amplifiers all over the place. He even had long hair but that is a very long time ago.

Comment by Pete

Haha great!

I bet there are some classic 80s rock photos about then. I think we will have to request some…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I saw a photo of Rob from around 1989 and I seriously could not tell it was him. It was fucking frightening but in a really funny way.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Right after my review, I’ll find it and post it up. But only AFTER the review.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Brilliant. Please do.

Was he like “Rob ‘The Rawk’ Campbell?

I wonder if Andy has a secret past, like the world Tap Dancing champion or something odd like that…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

If you do it before the review and get sacked, be safe in the knowledge that we’ll give you your old job back if only for being such a brilliant evil bastard.

Hey, you should come over to Miami with George and Andy in a couple of weeks. It’s been ages since we last caught up.

Comment by Pete

I’m not sure if that is a compliment or not Pete. Besides, you couldn’t afford me now 🙂
Yeah, Rob was Mr Rawwwwwwwwwwk and Andy told me that when they were at HHCL, to piss him off, he wore a plastic flower out the back of his jeans because Morrissey did it and he knew Rob fucking hated The Smiths. Andy is my God.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Pete, I’ll try and head over when the guys go, would be good to have a beer. HNY.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Genius. This rivalry goes waaay back doesnt it!
Andy just went up a point in my cool book.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I remember that. How could I of forgotten. What an evil genius. Hope to see you, gotta shoot so speak soon.

Comment by Pete

Way, way, way back. Infact, Andy blames Rob for screwing up the relationship with one of his fiances though to be fair, Andy has changed wives / partners like we change socks. So yes, there’s a lot of history there. George deserves the Nobel Peace prize.

Comment by Pete

Ouch. I’ve heard about Andy and his collection of wives though!

It does sound like George should be in the UN!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I didn’t know that! I’m definitely coming to see you now.

George came back to work today after the festive break and said he deserved the Nobel after keeping calm despite having the inlaws for over a fortnight. I think they sound worse than when Andy and ROb are together. Catch you soon Pete

Comment by Billy Whizz

Im looking forward to when they both turn up to My Brain Hurts, should be one hell of an amusing evening!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

So I make a big post about brands and their self deception regarding who they are and who they attract and all I get is a nice little conversation about my hair, Andy’s marital state and a few guitars.

Typical … and if people in the industry think that little of the issues, then I daren’t imagine how little the consumer cares – which sort of backs up my point in a really weird way!

Gotta go – another plane to catch – quelle surprise!

Comment by Rob @ Cynic

“Rob has more guitars than Clapton and plays better than him too.”

Ah, I see what you did thurr!

Nice post Rob, very true.

Comment by Age

I’ve got to this post too late, nothing to add, but my word, you’ve started the new year on form. if you believe, however, that it will deflect from the 10 questions shame, you are very, very wrong.

Comment by Northern Planner

How could I not remember my promise when you keep reminding me on the blog and Fred, Andy, Billy, Katerina and George tell me on a daily basis.

I did say I’d give it till the 11th … and I just keep my fingers crossed 10,000 new questions come in by then.

Comment by Rob

Age … just understood your comment.

Your subliminal influence must have stretched to Miami given Pete blatantly ripped off your blogs bio.

Comment by Rob

Hehe, ah but Luca, he has already been tagged; and HOW! (see earlier post)

Maybe you need to do 15 questions now Rob? 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer

It would seem [according to Mr Mortimer] that I’ve started a new trend and made ‘tagging’ a malicious act, ha!

Hi Luca – come stai? Thanks [I think] for the ‘tag’ – though I hope you didn’t do it just because of your highly desirable award. How have you been? Hope all’s well and Happy New Year etc etc.

Because you’ve tagged me … would you like to ask me a question that I have to answer?

Go on … that way I might be able to get out of answering a load of questions I don’t want to answer.

Don’t know what I’m on about? Go here …

And no Mr Mortimer, I am sooooooooooo NOT going upto 15 questions – I can only screw up my life so much, ha!

Comment by Rob

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