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

Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
March 28, 2007, 6:44 pm
Filed under: Comment

Hmmmmn, what happens if you walk into your Regional Finance Director’s office and find his shirt, trousers, socks AND PANTS hanging up?

You fear for your eyes …


You know what, it’s probably best not to ask what is going on – he told me, but I am still in shock at seeing a West Ham fan in a pair of ‘corporate shoes’.

Another day in the craaaaaaaaazy world of advertising!

WOW: That’s Really Shit …
March 28, 2007, 8:03 am
Filed under: Comment

OK, so a few years ago I had the ‘experience’ of working with Coca-Cola in Atlanta – and boy, what an experience it was.

You see this is a brand with a severe chip on its shoulder … it cannot grasp that much of what it does is NOT the height of cool or that their massive sales are NOT a representation of having mass consumer adoration.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s an incredibly successful brand … but alot of that is to do with its monopolistic distribution rather than their advertising and communication.

And yet they continually fail – or choose to ignore – this point.

Personally I think it’s down to ego. 

You see in many countries, the bottling and manufacturing sides of Coca-Cola are completely separate entities … so for someone who works in Coke Marketing, it will be almost impossible for them to give any credit to the bottling side of the business because they may feel it undermines the importance of what they actually do.

Hang on … there is a point to all this.

Anyway, I used to go to meeting after meeting at Coke HQ and almost always hear the same thing being spouted by some little-experienced, myopic, consumer-ignorant, brand-blinkered brand manager.

“We want work that reflects the size and stature of the Coke brand, something with the WOW FACTOR!”

And every single time, I would ask the same question,

“Can you tell me what a WOW FACTOR actually is?”

To which I’d be met with either sneers, an arrogant laugh or some fake coughing – followed by a myriad of overly-complex descriptions of what this mythical ‘WOW FACTOR’ was.

The funny thing was that they’d go on and on and on about wanting to impact culture – lead people to a happier place – and then, when it came to approving our ideas [including one that is possibly the best idea we’ve ever developed], they felt the only thing they needed to do was a television ad. Yeah, very WOW FACTOR eh!!

So why am I going on about this?

Well it’s because I hate these marketing-department-type-terms [ie: ‘WOW FACTOR’] because in the real world, they mean nothing.

Hell, in the 2 years I was worked with Coke, not once was there a unifed view of what this term meant, though it seemed to us it basically represented a ‘feeling’ that excited them – more often than not because it made Coke look good against Pepsi.

Anyway, this is not about Coke … I will have to save that for a day when cynic no longer work with them, ha … this is about fulfilling my promise to Rob Mortimer and writing about Microsoft and their astoundingly brilliant, creative pile-of-Vista-launch-shite, “WOW”.

What I love about Bill Gates company is that they have an almost magical ability to take stuff that is genuinely good, and fuck it up.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Windows XP, XBox, Zune or now Vista … this is a brand that invites the Fuck Up Fairy to come and visit each and every time.

Take their new campaign …

Did you watch it?

So according to Microsoft, their Vista product gives you the same feeling as watching a rocket take off, discovering new lands, seeing the magnificence of nature … in short, it is the next Wonder Of The World.


OK … so I am sure Vista might make a few things more possible for us all, but the software doesn’t give the WOW FACTOR, it’s the content the software allows you to create that makes that happen. Another example of company ego coming to the fore.

Why don’t they go the whole hog and say, “Hey Earthlings, you should feel very lucky we decided to do make our Vista software because you are petty, insignificant ‘things’. Cough up a fortune and we – and only we – will put a little life into your sad, lonely lives. Without Microsoft Vista, you are nothing … nothing, do you here”.

People with outrageous salaries and reputations came up with this rubbish.

They will have been paid an absolute fortune to research, develop, test, re-research, redevelop, re-test concept after concept and then – somehow – come up with the most nonsensical, pointless ad campaign [possibly] in history.

I hope you are all pissed off.  I am … I mean, how come those fuckers can get paid millions to make a load of crap when I do it in my toilets for free each and everyday? Hell, the only WOW I have gotten from Microsoft, is, “WOW, another load a complete bollock advertising!”

If I was Gates [a man who I had started to actually respect given his charitable endeavours] I’d be pissed … because not only is this campaign unlikely to change consumers view of the Microsoft organisation [which IS important given they are broadening out into other areas of consumer electronics ] it also undermines his stance on helping the World’s poor because they are spending hundreds of millions on insipid, uninspired communication.

If Apple launched this campaign, it would still stink but because they have a history of liberating consumers creativity, we could probably just about mentally rationalise it … however when a brand like Microsoft does it, it almost acts as an ad to NOT associate with Microsoft – which as far as I can remember, is not a good thing.

This is corporate ego at its worst – giving no tangible reason why I should even want to find out more about Vista, let alone buy it … and so as far as I am concerned, the people behind it [both client and agency side] should be publically flogged till they swear on their families lives, NEVER to subject humanity to such mindless twaddle again. 

On the other hand, it does give Steve Jobs and Apple great material for their ads …


A Message From Dr Smug To Everyone In Adland …
March 27, 2007, 6:16 pm
Filed under: DR Smug Says ...

Brought to you with the Marcus & Rob “Don’t Ignore Your Brain” Association.

How Not To Get A Job In Mainstream Adland …
March 27, 2007, 9:00 am
Filed under: Comment

Lipfird Twins

Following Marcus’ post about too many people mirroring their icons rather than expressing their own views … I got thinking and realised that while this industry talks about embracing varieties of opinion, in reality it tends to rely on ‘safe intelligence’ – which is possibly why so many people trying to get into the industry say what they think the person opposite them wants to hear, rather than what they truly believe.

And hey, who can blame them.

Even with my track record at some of the most recognised creative greatest agencies in the World, there was a period in my working life where I couldn’t get a job for love nor money … and without doubt, the main reason was because I expressed opinions that were dramatically different to the management of the agencies I was seeing. [I was labelled a ‘trouble maker’ – best compliment I’ve ever had!]

Sure it all worked out in the end because I started cynic [as opposed to selling out my principals and joining an agency with a ‘name’ but no vision] but there was a time where I got so despondent, I started regretting having only worked at ‘maverick’ agencies … when in reality what HHCL, Mother and Crispins had taught me was the importance of seeking, encouraging and embracing all forms of opinion – because with insight [and a chunk of intelligent bravery] you could move the culture not just the category.

Magnifying glass 

Anyway, for what it is worth, I thought I’d write about what I look for in a colleague and what I think we are expected to do as professional comms people. I have no idea if it will help anyone – and I acknowledge my ‘criteria’ may be quite different to what others seek – but I just want to encourage people to be true to themselves, not just the ‘trends’ being spouted by the planners in the blogging community.

From my point of view, there are 4 things more important than practical experience or excessive intellectualism [ha!]

1 Empathy [the ability to truly relate and understand the needs/wants/fears/loves etc of people – not just the specific consumer category]

2 Ingenuity [the ability to discover new ways to do/explore/prove/understand ‘stuff’]

3 Opinion [having one – preferably because of what you’ve done in numbers 1 and 2]

4 Action [doing stuff, rather than just saying stuff]

I like people who have lived life – not just a lifestyle – people who have experienced highs, lows, crap jobs, great jobs … stuff other than JUST advertising!  Of course academic knowledge of adland is valuable – but interms of relating to a Mum with 3 kids who survives on $100 per week, it can often be more of a hindrance than a strength.

We recently hired an ex-IKEA Children’s bed designer and made him a planner because he knew more about kids than any researcher or ad person we’d ever met. Sure he was nervous about joining because he wasn’t sure if what he said would be relevant – but our view was [and is] that he’d soon learn if he spoke bollocks [we’re not backward at being forward] and in all likelihood, he’d be teaching us really interesting stuff which is always a joy.

I should also point out I believe our job IS to make clients richhowever I believe success comes from understanding and appreciating the masses which is why I encourage my teams to always look for ways that can/will motivate people to act in our clients short AND long term interests [short term = sales / long term = brand value] whilst also adding some REAL benefit to them. My attitude is that motivating ideas are out there, you just have to have the ability to see them, understand them and action them.

At the end of the day, success in communication is about being relevant and resonant – which is why I like people who are human beings who happens to work/want-to-work in adland, rather than adpeople who happen to frequent in humanland

If you want to be a management consultant then go learn the a bunch of ‘business terms’, if you want to be a planner, then go and live life and then tell me what you know and think.

Power from the people to give it back to the people …

Have I Become Singaporean Or Imelda Marcos …
March 26, 2007, 9:41 am
Filed under: Comment

I am pathetic.

There are a myriad of reasons why I can say that but for the interests of this post, I’ll just keep it down to one. This one.

OK, so for the last 11 years or so, I have done nothing but wear Birkenstocks/Papillio sandals.

Told you I was pathetic!

Infact over those 11 years, the only exception I’ve made was at my Dad’s funeral and even then I had to think about it!

It doesn’t matter the weather, the location, the client, the country, the function … me and my ‘Birkies’ go everywhere.

Anyway, there is one particular style I like and even though my wonderful colleague Emah say’s “… they’re soooooo 1995” … it’s the camouflage version.

Maybe it’s because it helps me feel masculine?

Maybe it’s because it helps me pretend I’m tough?

Probably it’s because I am sad with zero appropriate fashion sense!

Because – as Emah say’s – the style is so out of date, you now can’t get them out here so in a blind panic, I turned to that wonderful friend of the weird for help.  The internet.

Watching Germany-Sweden


While they may be well known for their efficiency, sausages [YAY!] cars and lederhosen … the Krauts have many faults including their choice of music, dictators and – luckily for me – fashion.

Within nano-seconds, good ol’ google had hooked me up with a place in Germany that not only still had them in stock, but actually celebrated their style. Genius.

With just a few presses of my computer keyboard [and some numbers courtesy of my flexible friend] I ordered 3 brand spanking new pairs because – in true Singaporean-sale-obsessed-mode – they offered free international delivery, even though I was already saving about $40 a pair compared to local Asian prices.All good eh?

Well it gets better.

So in I come to the office after the latest of my wild adventures when I find not one … not two … not three … not four … not five … BUT SIX boxes of shoes, each containing exactly the same style I wanted.


Best bit is …

1 I had only paid for 3

2 it debunked the myth that Germans are accurate at everything.

Unfortunately my Italian side came out so I sent them an email telling them of their mistake and informing them to deduct my credit card for the difference as [for reasons best known to God] I’ll be keeping them … however as all the girls in the office have been taking the blatant piss, the question I need answering is, DOES THIS MAKE ME A WOMAN?

I know this is the most pathetic, pointless, self-obsessed post EVER … but it’s my blog and I can ponce-about-like-a-pansy if I want to.