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

I’ve Seen The Light: Rock ‘n’ Roll, (Red) and Arrogance In Advertising.
January 18, 2007, 12:20 pm
Filed under: Comment

Hello … well you’ll be happy I’m out of my depressive lull, and I’m now back and ready for some fighting action.

In the next few weeks, I am hopeful to be able to explain just what I mean by that statement – but there’s exciting things happening in my/our background and one of them is the brilliant news we’ve just been awarded [without a pitch] the absolutely wonderful DISCOVERY Channel throughout Asia Pacific.  

Not only do they have one of the greatest ‘products’ on Earth, they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met … however the best bit [for me at least] is that the idea we’re developing with/for them, is one of the most exciting I’ve ever been involved with – and given I’m an old fart whose worked on some rather famous campaigns … that’s saying something.

Anyway, enough of all that, I want to comment on a couple of things starting with how (Red) have missed the point. Again.

So a couple of nights ago, I went to see one of the most creative bands in the World right now, Muse.

They were absolutely astounding – their level of musicianship is quite extraordinary and their songs, arrangements and use of musical dynamics make them a band whose inventiveness is right up there with Pink Floyd and Queen.



Whenever I go to a gig, I love the moment just before the band hits the stage, because the crowd are whistling, cheering and screaming in feverish anticipation and it creates what I can only describe as human electricity.

And for the bands about to perform, this energy surge must be absolutely addictive, because whilst I never got to play to the size of audiences that Muse/Floyd/Queen did/do … I did experience the feeling of  15,000 people going mad [in a good way of course, ha!] for something I’d just performed for them – and it’s a feeling beyond all levels of normal comprehension.  [Yeah … yeah … so they were really cheering D’arby, le Bon or Kershaw – but I can pretend my guitar playing made all the difference to their experience can’t I!!!]

Annnnnnnyway ….

… when I got to the gig, I was quite surprised to see that (Red) MOTOROLA had a corporate hospitality tent there.

(Red) talk about how they want to help end poverty … they talk about how they want to help the poor prosper … but here they are, proudly supporting facilities for the privileged few. 

Now if (Red) said their mantra was ‘Robin Hood: Steal From The Wealthy [&/or Label Obsessed] To Help Provide For The Poor’ … then I’d understand it [and I actually think it would be more powerful and interesting] but they don’t and the whole concept just smacks of being nothing more than a marketing stunt which, admittedly helps some of the poor poor [which is a good thing] but probably benefits Bono and his aspirational brand owning friends, to an even greater degree. [which is a bad thing]

To be fair, the corporate tent was more a Motorola thing than a (Red) one … but if the organisation and it’s supporters are serious about it … then they should ensure the brand is not used in areas that just aren’t appropriate to the cause.  Sure, Motorola can sponsor the event … but being so blatant in their corporate hospitality? Nah … don’t think so.

One of the other things I found really interesting at the gig was how people watched the show.

Many centuries ago … when I was a much younger man … the gigs I went to had a very enforced policy of ‘NO PHOTOGRAPHS’.  Infact, if you ever wanted a memento of the gig, you’d have to either buy an official programme or send off for the snaps of one of the ‘official photographers’.

However nowadays we all tend to have mobile phones with cameras in them … so apart from the fact it means the amount of work for ‘official concert photographers’ is now probably next-to-nothing, it also means many people go to concerts and watch them via the small screen of their mobile phone. Mad! [And yes, given I’ve attached loads of photos of the gig on this post, I do appreciate I am showing myself to be one of these ‘weirdo’s’]

Finally … when I was walking home from the gig … I came across this ad for ‘BROTHER Colour Printers’ …

What the … ???????

Can someone … anyone … tell me what the fuck the people behind this were thinking.

Lets look at the copy of the ad again …


Like twins who understand eachother completely, we know you best. Especially your need to complete various tasks quickly and efficiently. Brother is the brand you can depend on.

First, WHY do they know us best.

Secondly, if they think all we actually care about in life is completing tasks quickly and efficiently, then they need their heads kicking.

Thirdly, with this level of arrogance, I would say Brother are the brand you can rely on … but for patronising, condescending, mindless, misguided, self-important, dillusionary stupidity!

This is a perfect example of what is going wrong in corporate land … a complete lack of understanding of your place/role in people’s lives and minds … and as far as I am concerned, the people who briefed it, wrote it, approved it and booked it, should all be shot, cut up into little pieces and then chucked into the sewer where they belong.Years ago we had a South African printer client who wanted to do some ads about how great they were. When we looked into the mindset of the consumer [business, not home] … we found people only knew the name of their printer if it was continually failing them.With this in mind – and an idea based around our clients reliability – we did a sweet campaign based around the thought of “We Don’t Want You To Ever Know Our Name”.Now I’m not saying this was the best comms idea in the World … but when you look at what the big corporate printer companies are coming out with today, maybe it was better than we gave it credit for.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … planning is about UNDERSTANDING AND REPRESENTING HUMANITY … it is not about justifying the beliefs of misguided, ego’d or arrogant corporate types… and until [some] ad agencies get a backbone, then we’re going to continue seeing the decline of advertising [both interms of creativity and credibility] … which is very sad, because in the right hands, it can still be one of the most powerful investments for any business.

See … I told you I was feeling better, ha!

20 Comments so far
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I love Muse and am really glad that you said they were great, its always disappointing when you find a band you love are actually shit in person. Did they have other musicans on stage because their sound is massive. Tell me it wasn’t backing track shit.
I really love your (Red) idea. Use the wealth of the brand obsessed to invest in the poor. Far better than the tone of voice they are using and maybe that’s because of Bono, because it just doesn’t feel genuine to me.

Comment by Pete

I remember that printer idea you guys did. Have you still got the work because if memory serves me, it was really interesting and I want to use it in an internal for VW.

Comment by Pete

Hi Mate … they were great.

If they had a charismatic frontman [like Freddie Mercury] they’d be one of the biggest bands in history because their talent and singing ability is astounding [I have never heard such pitch perfect vocals and harmonies and their singer/guitarist/pianist is quite simply the Mozart of his generation. Virtuoso doesn’t do him justice and rather than make me jealous, he just made me awe struck] but their crowd connection could be better – THE DRUMMER DOES ALL THE TALKING!

No backing tapes – but they do have a keyboard player in the background … mainly because they use so many complex electronica arrangements for their rhythm foundation and this way, the sounds on their album can be replicated in the live set.

Truly astounding …

Talking of astounding … I was going to send you the work because I liked the idea of saying “CP&B Need Me To Maintain Their Fame” but when I thought about it, I decided to tell you to bugger off and stop being a ‘cheeky giiiit’

Comment by Rob

THat ad for the printer is the single worst thing I have ever seen. What the fuck has the identical twins thing got to do with anything? Talk about grasping for creative straws.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I saw Muse back in 2000 when they werent that well known, and they were amazing back then; they must be incredible now.

I love how the lighter has been replaced by the phone as rock ballad tool…

And you are right of course, that ad is terrible.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Don’t know much about Muse and I don’t know whether to believe all your praise because Rob (Campbell) also loves Queen (or “early Queen” because even he can’t stand by the shit they did in the 80’s)
I do agree that the phone is the new lighter of the rock crowd because when I went to see Saigon Kick, some fucker nicked mine along with a packet of fags.
You must be the most clever planner in the World for knowing that and I want to know why we haven’t hired you yet.

Comment by Billy

I was at that concert and I think you summed them up pretty much as I saw it. With a bit more crowd interaction, they’d be bigger than the overated Coldplay and U2’s of the World. Love your site, it’s my first time commenting but I’ve been following it for a while. I’m in HK working for your least favourite ad agency (DDB) but I’ve just resigned so maybe one day we can have a beer or twenty. Keep up the good work, we need more people who speak sense and speak up.

Comment by Marcus King

Careful Rob, I can smell the potential of the Oprah Davies gene raising its ugly head again.
I’m going to have to check this Muse mob out but Marcus, you can never put U2 and COldplay in the same reference because as much as U2 have been sliding quicker than Liz Hurley’s looks, they still have a past with moments of genius where Coldplay are and always will be a bunch of toffs with a nice line in Radiohead riffs.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Billy I couldn’t agree with you more and you should check out MUSE.

WOW 2 comments in one day, I better pace myself, don’t want to over do it.

Comment by Marcus King

Do you know what I like about my blog – that people who comment tend to ignore the underlying issue I am trying to rant on about, and simply talk about stuff – often with nothing to do about the post at all.

It’s like a Counciller blog where you can just release. Genius.

No doubt, if I was talk about human values and used Schindler List as a graphical reference point, you’d all end up commenting on how black & white makes everything look classy.

That’s not a complaint, but it does show the intellectual relevance you credit with me … which is probably

Comment by Rob

Muse are fantastic. Their first album was a little Radiohead, but everything since has been genius.

And Rob, my parents saw Queen supporting (yes, supporting!) Mott the Hoople back in the REALLY early days.

Oh and thanks Billy!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You’re so right, the first MUSE album was abit generic but the others have massively evolved – even though the new one [their best yet] does have moments of basically being Queen’s ‘SHEER HEART ATTACK’ album from 1973/4! Ha.

I AM Queen mad … ‘early Queen’ as Billy so kindly reiterated … and have seen them about 80 times and no, that is not a typo!

And you’re right Billy, maybe we are being slack … so lets fire you so we can afford Mr Mortimer shall we?

Comment by Rob


I was in London at We Will Rock You. We had front row seats, it was really exciting. My girlfriend (who had asked to go see it) turned to me as it was about to start and said “Im not sure if ill enjoy this, I dont really like Queen…”

Comment by Rob Mortimer

God bless the women in our lives …

If Jill had told me after flying her to Graceland that she was infact joking about her passionate love for ‘The King’, I don’t know whether I’d of been as calm as I know you were. It’s the Italian blood from my Mum, makes me rather emotional at times like the one you have just described.

Hey – how much do you like and know about HK? I know that’s an ambigious question, but tell me what your gut says.

Comment by Rob

Haha, luckily she loved it, and we went again a year later!

I love the place, both my girlfriends mum and dad are from there. Id always wanted to go, and I finally got to last year (flying VA of course!).

As my gf has relatives there (right on the border with China too), so I got to see so many different parts of HK, and at the Lunar New Year no less.

I know quite a bit, and I have good sources for what I dont know! Why?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

An idea … let me have a think about it and get back to you.

Comment by Rob

Haha, ok!

Sounds intruiging if not worrying!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

He’s back, oh he’s back, but don’t think that getting all reflective and emotional is a bad thing, please.
I walk this world amazed by companies who forget you have to be what you say – Motorola take note.
Well played on The Discovery Channel, looking forward to seeing the work.
Brother isn’t worth a comment. We lost a pitch recently for a computer periphrals company – people thoughs their product was crap, but instead of re-educating them, they arrogantly thought they could cover that up with a preachy campaign about how eco-friendly is was. Sigh.
Muse are okay I suppose.

Comment by Northern Planner

Great post.
Muse really are an “future band” with their rock/electronica sound. Plus their stage shows, complete with the lighting effects are mind boggling. I remember seeing them a few years ago and I swear at the moment that distortion pedal was flicked for the Stockholm Syndrome I thought my head was going to explode. Incredible.

Comment by Age

Maybe I should turn this blog into the Muse Appreciation Society as we all seem to be able to talk more about them than adland, hahaha … plus it would have the added bonus of keeping Billy and Andy away because they don’t know what the hell we’re talking about.

Comment by Rob

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