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

Words With No Meaning …
February 23, 2007, 10:30 am
Filed under: Comment, Uncategorized

As seen in the window of a clothing store in Singapore

Maybe I’m missing something … maybe they’re being ‘ironic’ … but how can a black dress [the fashion stable for 99.4856% of the female population] be something that is ‘daring’ and will cause women to feel they’ve ‘re-invented’ themselves?

Marketing wank at it’s best … even the model looks average. [though admittedly in Singapore she’d be a bit of a ‘freak’!]

I hate the way the comms industry has taken away the real meaning of certain words. 

For example REVOLUTION is no longer about fighting against a political wrongs … oh no … now you’re likely to see it used in an ad for socks or fucking mittens! 

When will companies realise that what is important to them, quite often means fuck-all to the consumer and simply adding a word like REVOLUTION isn’t going to make the slightest bit of difference!

To counteract this sort of behaviour, our creative briefs have 2 very important questions within them …

1 What is the customers attitude towards this brand? 

2 What is the customers attitude towards this category?

Doing this ensures we never make the mistake of assuming a well known/used brand means it is well liked and important in consumers minds.

A perfect example was when we worked on a Colgate project … 

1 What is the customers attitude towards this brand? 

It is a well trusted, well known and well used product for people of all ages, all demographics. 

2 What is the customers attitude towards this category?

While having nice teeth is very important to people, in the big scheme of things, toothpaste choice is not something people spend any time thinking about – except Mum’s and even then that tends to be on behalf of their kids teeth [who don’t regard it as overly important] rather than themselves. 

Infact its purchase tends to be when people are on ‘automatic shopping pilot’ – as it has little significance to the masses and brand choice is probably dictated by the purchasing habit of the previous generation.

So instead of ending up doing the usual self-indulgent ad that only appeal to [1] Colgate Marketing Executives and [2] The odd Mum … we knew the only way we could broaden their market share was to create communication that resonated with consumers ‘lives’, not just their ‘teeth cleaning habits’ – which led to the infamous [well, infamous for Colgate] ‘People With Ugly Mouths, Don’t Get Laid’ ads. 

[Yeah … yeah … so Colgate didn’t end up buying the campaign, but in testing it achieved the highest recall rates in Colgate Palmolive history. Oh well …]

All I am saying is that to achieve greater success, it’s not just about understanding the consumers relationship with the brand – it’s about understanding the consumers relationship with the category … because it doesn’t matter if you are the undisputed brand leader for the last 1000 years, if the consumer doesn’t regard your category with any real level of importance in their lives, you’re not going to make any communication that drives your growth other than [if you’re really, really lucky] a short-term spike.

Honesty gets you better work, loyalty and results … I encourage you to tell the harsh truths [if you’re not already!]

Now as I’m off to Delhi for about a week, I’m not sure how much updating I’ll be doing [no, not because I’ll be on the loo, but because I have back-to-back-to-back meetings!] so can I take this opportunity to promote a great post by the brilliantly talented Fred about CNY and the outrageous cost of Abalone.

Oh and Billy, hope today’s op goes well my son – we’re all thinking of you.

And when you get a chance, can you please tell me whether Andy is having me on or not about including a few porn movies in the gift pack we sent you.  If he’s not, our insurance company will probably revoke our policy and then we won’t be paying for your little surgical procedure.  Yes, be afraid, be   v  e  r  y  afraid, ha!

Finally, with the Oscars coming up, I thought I’d highlight one of the worst-acted [actually, one of the worst-everything] ads EVER. 

Excellent camera work … genius script writing … beautiful use of gratuitous female sexuality …  no, it’s not a cliché-ridden beer ad, it’s a cliché ridden construction ad instead.  Enjoy. Sort-of.  [Thanks Jonno for sending it to me, I won’t ask how/why you found it!]

75 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Jonno Fletcher, Walker, Hopkins or Lum?

Based on its content, I am betteing on Hopkins.

Comment by Pete

This is why this blog has become part of my required reading. FUCKING EXCELLENT POST!

Dear God that ass, sorry I mean, ad is the greatest creation ever!

Comment by Age

here here on Age’s comment – although haven’t watched the ad yet – too grumpy to have a sense of humour about gratuitous t&a.

and wanted to add johnny walker (black label) to the list of brands saying nothing. current promo happening in sydney at the moment (and possibly melbourne – age?) consists of huge black billboards plastered around martin place station (centre of financial district) which have ‘keep walking’, the JW logo and ‘seriously black. seriously [something else.. tuned out, boring]’.

apart from being the slogan of ch. 10 tv here, ‘seriously’ anything says fuck all! actually, maybe i need to jam said ads with ‘we take ourselves too…’.

johnny walker is a brand that could do so fucking much with their promo. i hear it’s a top shelf product, so why waste all that fucking money and energy creating something so fucking bottom shelf that it might as well be boxed wine? idiots.

did i mention i had a shit week? less swearing next week rob, i promise. enjoy delhi 🙂

Comment by lauren

oh I like this post. I like it alot. I feel a rage burning inside…there’s a rant coming on, so buckle up.

When you live in a foreign country you quickly realise that the english language is considered “cool”. You hear odd English word being dropped, often totally out of context, in a conversation as a tool of coolness. This is ok when it’s a couple of 15 year olds, and it only mildly bugs me when grown-ups do it.

But what really, really, REALLY FUCKS ME off (sorry) is when the ad industry do it. And they do it all of the time. To be cool. To give the product a little bit of edge (whatever that might be) and to make it “international”.

The thing is, altough the agency and the marketing director may (and that’s a BIG may) understand the nonsense they’ve written, tests have shown that the average German on the street (regardless of age, race or gender) can parrot the English words but they have NO IDEA WHAT THEY MEAN. No idea. None what so ever!

There’s a brilliant German word for this: “Inhaltsfeindlich” which means, directly translated, the enemy of the content. As a native english speaker we can look at the text “dare to reinvent” and think it’s just plain naff. As people with a moderate grasp of marketing things we could get in a rage about it being super-naff. When your a native English speaker with a moderate grasp of marketing things, who lives in a foreign country and THEN sees this stuff you just go plain ape-shit.

The thing is, and this is what is so disgraceful, the “consumers” see and just don’t understand it. They can’t connect to it. They just accept that it’s there but on their merry way thinking “that’s probably not intended for me”.


Comment by Marcus Brown

oh, and sometimes they make words up. Not English words, but German words. Words that sound English. I’m not joking, they do it all the time. Ferrero did this a while back. They wanted to list all the things in “Kinder Country” (see what I mean). The problem is the German word for Cereals is “Getreide” which is never ever used in ads because in sounds like something you would feed to farm animals. And they really REALLY wanted to use the words Cereals. So they made a word up…”Cerealien”.

Comment by Marcus Brown

Age I am both flattered, honoured and a teensy-bit scared by your kind comments. I will have to stop myself getting a big[ger] head – which is especially hard as Billy is not around [well, he IS around, he’s just not available at the moment] to remind me not to become Oprahesque.

And Lauren … I bloody hope you have a good weekend because it sounds like you’ve had a particulary bad week and as I like you, I don’t want to read your anger/pain/frustration.

Oh and don’t worry about swearing … I do it all the time and it actually makes me feel all warm and nice inside. [Reminds me of Nottingham, ha!]

Comment by Rob

Pete … yes, you’re right, it was Jonno H.

Had his ‘mark’ all over it didn’t it!

No wonder he and Andy are such good mates, ha!

Comment by Rob

And Lauren … yeah, the JW campaign has a huge opportunity to do fantastic things [even if it is based on no rational truth] but I wouldn’t hold your breath to see it happen as the people behind the brand [Diageo] aren’t interested in bringing an idea to life in interesting, relevant and engaging ways – they just care about flogging whisky [predominantly to the Asians who that particular campaign was created for] using traditional advertising channels that ultimately goes nowhere longterm.

Comment by Rob

Marcus – as usual you are spot on.

Doing work across Asia means I/we are continually working with a variety of different cultures – all with different native languages – who may or may not have an appreciation of the English language.

The only way to ever get something through is to get them to buy ‘the idea’ rather than a set of specific words – because otherwise you will find yourself caught up in meeting hell as hundreds of clients all discuss the merits of a single word [ie: Positive vs Optimisim] or worse … run along and do crazy, inappropriate shite because their interpretation of something is completely different to what was intended.

It can be a total nightmare – but there is something I quite like about it as well because you are creating ideas without boundaries as opposed to ads reliant on copy.

Maybe I should put up our ‘WE ARE / WE’RE NOT’ chart because it has really helped our clients in understanding any intricacies we have regarding personality etc. Mind you, I originally did it for Mini in the US so bang goes my theory of this only being an Asian issue, ha!

Comment by Rob

does the ‘seriously’ thing work for the asians then? ‘cos relating to marcus’ rant (which i think is just as fan-bloody-tastic as the post to which it responded) does ‘seriously’ mean anything to them either? is being a ‘serious’ product a positive aspect in asia that i’m missing out on ‘cos i’m a white girl from the ‘burbs? i’m guessing the answer is probably not. idiots. althought i’m guessing their kind are the whole reason why cynic exist, so maybe i should be nice to them.

and thanks for your concern about my well-being rob – you’re too kind. i’ll be ok. work is over for a few days and i’ve got awesome plans to veg-the-fuck-out. back to my usual self pronto.

Comment by lauren

Yep, well played Rob.I always loved Hyundai’s ‘prepare to want one’as one of the worst ever.
Innocent are preparing to spread into Europe apparently. I like that they’re immersing themselves in each local culture before they think of translating any of the humour, lines are anything.

Marcus, your ace.

Comment by NP

Hi Lauren … yeah veg – it’s the Australian way!

When I said the JW campaign had been done with a focus on Asia [the biggest whisky market in the World] I meant their brand campaign [Keep Walking – which relates to the fundamental Asin cultural value of continual progression] not the poxy ‘Seriously’ bollocks you’re talking about.

Now that sounds totally wank.

I hate when brands say something with no meaning … or should I say when brands say something where they don’t MAKE it mean something. [Lets be honest ‘JUST DO IT’ could have been bollocks if they hadn’t spent so much time, money and effort to give it a specific meaning in the minds of consumers]

The Channel 10 ‘SERIOUSLY’ was created by ATTIK the oh-so-cool design house … proof that mediocre marketing people buy style over substance – even if the consumers can see right through it.

Bitter? Moi? Yep.

Comment by Rob

Wait till I rant about the Microsoft VISTA launch. Oh God … I am angry … maybe influenced by years of visiting Coke in Atlanta and being told about the ‘WOW factor’ – a term that had no meaning, depth or intrigue.

But that’s not my problem any more. George looks after Coke, hahaha

Comment by Rob

Oh Windows Vista. Let me have a go. LET ME HAVE A GO!

Morning NP.

Comment by Marcus Brown

see what you’ve done now rob… worms, can, open..

Comment by lauren

Go on Marcus … go for it …

Comment by Rob

Ok. So here’s the deal. They did nothing. NOTHING. No TV, no print… nada. Now this wouldn’t have bothered me, in fact I was quite happy about it considering that I don’t give a shit about Vista, or Microsoft (although they used to be a client of mine…maybe that’s why).

But I’m sitting down on the evening of the Vista Launch with my lovely lady and we’re ready for our night of death, destruction, murder and post mortems on TV. Yup, it’s crime night on the tele. Great. Microsoft sponsored every single show. “Post Mortem…presented by Microsoft Vista”. It was just ridiculous. Mind numbly dull too.

And don’t even get me started on Microsoft’s “people ready business”. This campaign, the whole thing, is just crap. It could be for PeopleSoft, Oracle, IBM or SAP. “People ready business”, has no meaning what so ever. You know what they’re trying to do, and, like Sacrum, they’re close – but miss and it hurts so bad. And then, because they have about the imagination of an air-conditioning system, they go and make it look like an IBM ad, just so we know that’s about “IT”.

And I hate the music.

Comment by Marcus Brown

I feel rage. RAGE do you hear?

Comment by Marcus Brown

Proof that too many media people do not appreciate the consumer ‘fuck off’ effect – and just blindly spend billions of dollars getting their clients brand infront of people’s eyes – regardless that often it ends up stopping people wanting to EVER associate with the brand/product they’re pushing in the first place.

[Hence NAKED are good and STARCOM are shite]

Comment by Rob


Comment by Marcus Brown

Interestingly, Palmolive has just been voted one of the least trusted brands in the world…

Its definitely true about words being devalued, in the same way the word “celebrity” has been dragged through the mud this decade.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Rob … do you have any info on that Palmolive thing? Anything you can send me? If you haven’t, no probs.

Comment by Rob

ok – my turn for vista rage:

you didn’t get print ads marcus? lucky you!! i walk past a few bus stops on my walk to work and the ‘wow factor’ is plastered all over all the ‘street furniture’ and it’s fucking insulting – they’re the ugliest ads i’ve ever seen. in fact, it looks like they’ve been designed in Word (which they probably have, ‘cos their designers would probably have to use Microsoft or nothing’).

furthermore, any brand that has to use the word ‘factor’ in their campaign is already fucked. apart from physicists, who uses that word anymore? apart from care factor: zero!

perhaps they’re marketing to the supposed ‘uncool’ generation. the “not-so-savvy types” that have stuck with MS since the DOS days – people like my stepfather who helped develop the damned systems. Guess who rang me 3 months ago gloating about his new MacBookPro.. lol! suckers!!

Comment by lauren

It was in yesterdays papers, was a survey of thousands (i think) of brands. Barclays and Spar were bottom.

I can scan the newspaper page in and email it to you tomorrow if thats any help. If not I can try and find a web version of it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Anything you can do would be fantastic Rob – but please don’t go to any trouble … it’s only for a moment of evil, unproffesional revenge.

Comment by Rob

Your Stepdad helped develop Microsoft software?


Oh hang on, you voted sausages … oh OK, I’ll let you stay for now.

My anti-VISTA rant will come as soon as I have negotiated Delhi Belly! [Nice image for you all!]

Comment by Rob

No worries, thats the best type of use!
Ill send it to you tomorrow.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

ish, early stuff for mainframes and networks and implementation of servers, not the development of the trainwreck that is was the PC dictatorship.

and hey! guilt by association!!I didn’t develop Microsoft software! [been a Mac kid my whole damn life and have racked up a few conversions in my time too]. so there.

Comment by lauren

OK Lauren – you can stay – though why you would want to is beyond me, we can’t give freebie Apple stuff out. Well, we can – but it only finds its way to us, hahaha!

Comment by Rob

Thanks Rob …

Revenge is a dish best served publically.

Comment by Rob

Rob (Campbell) are you going to do what I think you’re going to do?

Comment by George

You can bet your sweet ass [???!!!!] on it.

Comment by Rob

I’m starting to like the tension in this post. It’s building up quite nicely.

Comment by Marcus Brown

Well at least it will give our legal team some more practice I suppose. And can we keep my “sweet ass” out of all future communication please?

Comment by George

What am I getting involved with?!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You can bet your manly ass on it.

Is that better George?

Tense, Nervous Tension? Contact Rob and his band of wonderfully ‘interesting’ yet smart friends.

Comment by Rob

Don’t worry Rob … you are simply ‘supplying the bullets’ … I’ll be doing the firing. Or should I say killing. [Lets hope it’s not at myself!]

Comment by Rob


Comment by George

Well get over it and get on your bloody plane!

See you tomorrow night.

Comment by Rob

Sure that radio doesn’t have SW frequency on it? You can tune into BBC World around the globe if so. Used to use it all the time before the internet in Asia and still do for beach holidays.

Comment by Charles Frith

Charles, nice comment. Wrong post.

Comment by Marcus Brown


Comment by Rob

Haha! Very true, SW is far more global…

Guns dont kill people, bullets do.. *insert Chris Rock quote*

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Don’t you start as well Mr Mortimer!

And sure, bullets kill people – but they’re bullets shot from a gun aimed by a person. And you are helping me do some shooting, hahaha!

Comment by Robert

On my way. What other reason could there be for being up so bloody early? See you Saturday and whatever happens, don’t let me drink tap water.

Comment by George

What other reason?

What about your 3 beautiful nightmares that don’t believe in sleep?

And don’t worry, your tap water consumption [or lack of it] is assured. Unless you become drunk and then it would be too funny to watch.

See ya my son.

Comment by Rob

oh damn. you mean i vote for sausages and while my hours away writing inane comments and i don’t get an ipod, iphone or ibook? talk about deception!… ha!

looking forward to seeing this ‘revenge’ exacted.. love the smell of a squirming Multinational Corp[se] in the morning…

Comment by lauren

Oh yes, that’s right.

I’m a good Dad really.

Comment by George

I’ll trust this shooting is for a good cause!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Of course you are George … of course you are …

Sorry Lauren, no guarentees of freebie Apple products, but if you pop into any of our offices, we will allow you to gently rub your hand along some of the goods. Ha.

And Rob … one mans good cause is another mans evil … so decide for yourself what side you think it is. Ha.

Comment by Rob

Morning Marcus. And yes, the Vista stuff is absolute bollocks – expensive bollocks too.

..and where’s my Iphone Rob?

Comment by NP

Funny you should talk about iPhones as I am going to see one in 2 weeks – if I can steal 265 of them without them finding out, you can have one. You can’t say fairer than that …

Comment by Rob

266… 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer


Comment by Marcus Brown

I’m sure I would be one of the people who would be benefiting if you managed to “borrow” 265 iPhones, but if I have misread our long friendship, make me 268.

Comment by Pete

Pete has just told me you boys are getting freebie iphones. I should have known you guys could blag stuff from them.
Can you put me down for one please. Actually you should make it 2 or the wife will kill me. Remember you owe me.

In all seriousness, I hear you are interested in the marketing conference we’re doing. We’d love you to be part of it so try as hard as you can, it would be great to have you there as well as see you.

Safe travels.

Comment by Colin Drummond

if it makes you feel any better about the 270 phones you’re trying to swindle – i don’t want one.

Comment by lauren

It’s 1:51am here in Melbourne Australia. I just logged on to watch that ad again before I go to sleep.

Comment by Age

Lauren are you blind? The iPhone is even more stunning than Angelina Jolie in a bikini in my backyard.

Age are you single or just weird? Go to sleep man.

Comment by Pete

Hey Lauren, I’ve seen you have been busy passing all sorts of comments on other peoples blogs. Hope it has relieved you of your bad week anger, sounds like you had a shocker. Was it Rob bringing up the Microsoft Vista thing? He definitely owes you an iPhone now and if you don’t want it, I will be kind enough to take it off your hands. Night.

Comment by Pete

Problem is everyone and his dog (woof) wants one… starting to put me off.

Why cant Europe get those ridiculous 7 megapixel Samsung and LG models that only Japan and Korea seem to get?! I still love my Sharp 903 though, optical zoom on a mobile…genius.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

hey pete – not blind, just don’t get hyped about mobile phones full stop and am playing the cautious card. and i also agree with you rob m – the hype always leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

spent late last night zoning out on the net and decided to say hello to everyone – sorry i didn’t get round to you pete, promise i will pop by later 🙂
bad week wasn’t due to rob and the vista card, or rob and the anything card – i reversed my friends’ band hire van into a scissor-lifter: smashed the rear windscreen to bits and dented the panel. (not to mention the sausage fiasco) but it’s all OK now. have a good weekend everyone.

Comment by lauren

Hi Rob, Lauren & Pete …

Apple are hoping the iPhone [just like the iPOD] develops into a ‘massperation’ product, where it doesn’t matter how many people actually own/want it … it still appeals to the masses – because apart from being a well designed, well performing product, it lets people feel a sense of belonging with [real & wannabe] likeminded people/communities.

Apple basically adopt a classic challenger brand strategy in all they do [even when they are a brand leader] but instead of utilising an ‘aggressive attitude’ [like many challenger brands do] they harnesses the power of optimisim, positivity, humanity and community [acknowledging the all important ‘individuality’ element can be handled by the actual product useage/customisation of the customer]

God, that is almost a serious answer … has India already ‘enlightened me’?

Judging by this answer for Lauren … no it hasn’t.

Hey Lauren, don’t be down about the truck crash. That’s probably the most Rock ‘n’ Roll thing they’ve ever done so instead of being upset, they should be bloody happy and grateful. The new Oasis and the Stones – all because of you.

Comment by Rob

I’ll resist mentioning women and their driving skills as you sound like you’ve had such a enough week, you might murder me.

Comment by Pete

I dont think i’ll mention my band highjinks on here, in case my folks read it! Considering we only did about 15 gigs ever we got up to a lot…!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Go on, I’d love to hear it … and lets be honest, your folks are hardly likely to come to this blog are they!

Comment by Rob

Haha.. well maybe!

Lets see shall we:

The aftershow party for our second gig, there was about 20 people there. I think I was the only person who didnt vomit over my bandmates house. And that was because I was passed out…

On the way back from one gig, five of us were packed in the van. Me and Dan sat on the amps in the back going down the motorway… our driver was smoking a joint as he was driving.

He stopped for petrol and the police pulled into the station. So we ducked, and he acted as casually as he could in going to the station, buying a loaf of bread so to look sensible!

He paid, jumped in the van and we zoomed off before they could notice anything suspicious.

Theres two…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That’s what living is all about … maybe we should start a ‘band stories’ blog … I am sure there would be billions of great ones – like the time I was playing a gig and suddenly realised our short sighted bass player was no longer playing along to the song.

When I looked over to find out why, I saw what he hadn’t … the stage wasn’t as wide on his side as it was on mine so he had simply walked right off and was at that moment, clutching a badly bleeding leg, haha

Comment by Rob

another time i was this same bands’ driver and i was driving their gear home as they decided to stay and get wasted on more free beer. i had to take a few of our other friends home who were a bit too plastered to keep going, and as we were driving over the spectacular sydney harbour bridge, one of them was spewing her guts out the window and down the side of the van. \m/. the hire company loved it 3 days later too.

Comment by lauren

You are Liam Gallagher aren’t you. But in female form. Hmmmmn, maybe Suzi Quattro would be a better fit, ha!

Comment by Rob

joan jett is my preferred comparison, but suzi quattro is ok i guess..

Comment by lauren

Better than being Celine …

Comment by Robert

fuck yeah [excuse me while i vomit out of my own window]

Comment by lauren

Ew… Celine.
She makes me wants to stab my ears with a pencil.

I did get to watch the extraordinary moment when the singer of Taking Back Sunday swang his mic around and smacked the bassist in the face!

I must gig again soon…I miss it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

[…] of the things that drives me nuts about marketing – and sadly, planning – is the way words are thrown out without ever giving any thought to what they […]

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