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

Use It Or Lose It …
June 8, 2007, 7:06 am
Filed under: Comment

I like using my brain … admittedly it’s not particularly great … but with the brilliant people around me, it’s ‘kept on its toes’ so doesn’t get overly tired, lazy or boring 

Why am I saying this?

Because I am sad about how little ‘thinking’ is going on in adland these days.

No, I don’t just mean from planners [more of that in a future post] but in all areas of the industry … including suits, creatives and researchers.

Maybe it is luck or attitude, but over the years – as part of our solution to clients business problems and/or specialist projects – we’ve been involved in such things as the design of jumbo jet interiors, creating [non-harmful] military weaponry, identifying new distribution channels, creating the positioning for an international space agency, imagining how televisions of the future could look, developing food* and beer brands, dreaming up television content and making toys to name but a few.

And unashamedly I am proud of that fact because while many agencies talk about creating media neutral, business problem solving ‘ideas’ – I can say we’ve done it and continue to try and do it.


I’m not slagging off traditional media channels/solutions – far from it – I am just saying that too often ad agencies think the solution IS traditional advertising when in reality, it’s what you do to communicate your ‘motivating idea’ to the masses.

Anyway I’ve gone on and on about this issue in the past[quick recap: move culture not categories] so I’ll get to the point of this post.

 “I am brilliant”

Today we got a brief that ‘Mr Self Proclaimed Idea’ would probably wet his knickers over to even touch, let alone work on ….

“From the ground up, create a motorbike [for country ‘X’] that will create mass consumer demand”

Now THAT is a brief … that is a fucking exciting and brilliant brief [no I can’t tell you who it is yet Arun!] … and it demonstrates that if you live by what you say rather than say just what is fashionable, then great opportunities will come.

This is what advertising and planning should be about – using your brain to make great things happen because of insight, imagination and bravery. It’s not that hard to do … it’s just a matter of mindset and collaboration … yet in many companies, it seems splitting the atom with a hammer would be easier!

So if your brain is in danger of turning to mush where you are working, then I ask you to fight for it … because not only do you, your clients and society deserve it …  but because you’ll help stop Network CEO’s like big Kev [above] from crying at night as the smaller agencies around the World continue to humiliate them and with their screaming PR machines of hot-air.


* Mr M … your Northern Tea, Cream and Digestive Biscuit ice cream gets tested next week. Andy say’s it’s wicked so fingers crossed!

156 Comments so far
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Great post Rob and what a great brief, I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

As I see it, most agencies don’t get to do the sort of thing you do because ultimately they don’t know how to get remunerated and if truth be told, the whole “idea” proposition is classic marketing exaggeration rather than fundamental truth.

The sad thing is that in most agencies, there will be a couple of people who think like you/us, but the way their company is structured means that apart from the odd self serving PR stunt, they just look at agencies like cynic etc with jealous eyes and an updated CV.

I am proud to work in an advertising agency, the problem for our competitors is that we define advertising as more than just a television spot. Maybe they’ll get it, but they’ll have to get rid of their infrastructure top management first.

Keep it up mate, you were always the flag waver for total ideas and it makes me happy none of that passion and enthusiasm has gone despite your gaining years 🙂

Comment by Pete

I may come out of best behaviour for this post.

Comment by Marcus

I think you’re bang on Pete … and the sad thing is that I believe everyone has the right [not to mention the moral obligation] to use their brain and do stuff that makes a difference rather than shuffle paper and do the same wallpaper rubbish we have trained ourselves [and I mean the public, not the ad community] to ignore.

And Marcus … I know you are on ‘best behaviour’ … but you are a smart, experienced bloke who SHOULD express his point of view in this matter because it is too important to just keep your trap shut about.

I know you want to … I know you’ll have great things to say [even if you disagree with my view] and I know you can do it without going into HULKBROWN mode – so for everyones sake do it … this is an issue affecting everyone and not just those in the ad industry.

Comment by Rob

What a great brief.

Not only does it mean thinking widely, it also does what we have discussed a while back and integrates the ‘ad agency’ into R+D as well as just promoting something they have already finished.

Thats something I like about where I went for my interview, they think more widely than most agencies appear to. In our project they completely took tv away so we HAD to think in other ways.

As the future marketing summit appears to have vanished out of thin air since I was there, I feel like I/we should organise an event for people who really are this passionate about ideas. It would be great to watch, and we would probably learn a great deal too.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Look around you. Just look. Look at the work being done and the people doing it. Look at the WAY it’s being done. Look at the pressures, the processes and the so called “Best Practices”. Look at the templates, the transparency and the accountability. And don’t forget the benchmarks.

It doesn’t matter if you work in printing, car hire, catering or farming the pressures are the same and the impact on making things happen is immensely negative. Ideas are, at least for me, about making things happen the current culture of restraint and “managing expectations” ensures that nothing ever happens and everything remains the same.

It is, therefore doubly alarming when creative industries such as advertising flirt with the symptoms I have just described. I think in this industry, more than any other, you can see the how acute the impact of rational P&L based (management) consultancy thinking is. If you then couple this with the general age, experience (both in terms of work and life) and education (and by this I mean the rubbish that most universities call curriculum) it hardly surprising that the industry is in the state it’s in.

It’s not about bravery, it’s about being able to do it. Literally being able to DO it and not hanging around in your six-sigma swim lane flow chart waiting for the “YES-NO” loop to finally get around to you.

Comment by Marcus

p.s I’m glad I got a Public Image Ltd. line in there.

Comment by Marcus

Mr M … that’s a top idea … but the ideas have to be able to work on a mass market level, not the one-off’s that people clap at but never go anywhere because it’s more about indulgence than practicality.

For example on this bike brief, because the country in question has bad roads and suffers with monsoons, we’re wondering what would happen if we made the vehicle with bigger wheels to counteract this.

In essence, could this be the first 4×4 on 2 wheels? Ha.

Of course we have no idea yet as it’s still so new and we haven’t pulled together the wider team [including engineers etc] but there is method to the madness rather than doing PR stunts which are more beneficial for the agency than the client/society.

Maybe that could be Interesting 2.0?

Comment by Rob

Lets hope so.

Bring on Advertising 2.0, or even 3.1.

I agree, but I think there are so many people who dont understand the way forward. Im sure if we could get (for example), you, Pete, Richard Huntingdon etc into one day and didnt charge extortionate prices there would be plenty of takers.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I like what you’re suggesting Rob … but to be honest, I don’t think we should EVER charge for this sort of talk because it is an investment not just in our futures, but the whole industry.

I know that sounds very dramatic, but I really believe it and I know George and Pete feel the same – which is actually why we’re talking about this area in a joint talk in a few weeks.

It won’t be like the conference you’re suggesting, but it is to get a bunch of the industries so called ‘biggest players’ to realise they are only screwing themselves if they continue to talk but don’t actually encourage their organisations to ‘do’.

Comment by Rob

It should be an emergency summit.

Comment by Marcus

Nice idea.

Its not that I would want to charge, I just dont think it would be possible (certainly for me with no real money to invest in it!) without charging and sponsorship.

Im not talking £1000 conference though, more £100 to cover costs kind of thing.

The cost of venue, food, transport/speaker costs, advertising/promoting would have to be covered… but I think it could work.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You’re right Marcus, it should be an emergency summitt and don’t worry about costs Mr M, because I am sure a bunch of the smaller, more passionate agencies/people would happily ‘sponsor’ stuff – I know cynic certainly would.

Comment by Rob

Then again when the bill for the item I’ve bought comes through, they may change their mind.

More about that next week. Oops!

Comment by Rob

Actually, I’m quite serious about the emergency summit idea. Because I believe that it really is an emergency. I’d like us to think impossible on this one. Really shot for the stars and, with all due respect, ask us to forget about who is going to organise the sandwiches.

The kind of thinking jail that I talk about in my comment above seriously impacts the lives of people. Take for example the pharmaceutical industry. My eldest daughter suffers from Type 1 Diabetes and we know that the pharmaceutical industry as a whole has absolutely no interest, and I mean no interest, in the development or support of treatments that could lead to curing this illness. Then there’s the petroleum, automobile and aviation industries with their environmental impact.

The inability to think and generate truly meaningful and useful ideas is actually destroying us.

Comment by Marcus

The Emergency Summit:

Is a Lack of Meaningful Ideas Killing Marketing and the World.

If we could get Rob C, George and Pete onboard (and Cynic/CPB as sponsors) we would have a good basis to start getting other sponsors.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

We can give it some paid entry, but invite people we respect and think understand for free.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Pete is with Andy … I’ll call them tonight and talk about it.

We should also get WhatIf on board – they’re a fantastic company … behind some of the best ideas you’ve ever seen [even though other companies have taken the ‘credit’ for them] and are people who – for reasons I still don’t get – really like me.

Comment by Rob

Haha, sounds good to me!

Surely I’ll have to get a job if I can help organise an advertising related conference! 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Fucking brilliant thread. I’m in total, total agreement with Marcus on this one.

People need to realise that through ideas they can change the world. Too many people in too many industries (especially advertising – for the most part I scoff at the notion that agencies have changed the world or are ‘ideas companies’) need to think bigger.

Not big ideas, but ideas that mean things to people, that can foster mass awareness.

Comment by Will

And yes. Two thumbs up from me about any conference.

Comment by Will

Yes … I do think this has some power so I’ll talk to Jo @ WhatIf as well.

But the real power will come when we get more than just marketing people, but company heads who practice what they preach … and I know a couple who might be up for it too.

Finally, what do you think of your ice cream Mr M … I’ve not had it, but Andy said it is [and I quote] fucking magic.

Comment by Rob

Anyone client side you can get involved would be brilliant, really brilliant.

I think a conference on the real issues in marketing, with a strong focus on the emergency of ideas Marcus said would be great.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

…and excellent. I hope to try it soon!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Ideas that liberate people not just maximise corporate profits.

Comment by Rob


Even (in a sense) “Profiting through honesty and integrity of ideas”

How by not focusing on profits you can actually increase them (in both a financial and moral/social sense)

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Perhaps, then.. it’s not ‘Greed is good’..

But ‘Green is good’.


Or ‘There’s some profit in ethics’. 😉

Comment by Will

Thats the spirit! 🙂

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’ve never written proper tag lines. Probably a damn good thing for the wider world.

Comment by Will

Cant be worse than some of them out there Will!
At least you make a good planner!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

We’ll find out about that this afternoon Mr M…

Comment by Will

Can we avoid this being a ‘green’ thing … I think we should focus on this being a humanity thing – talking about how companies/agencies need to really understand the needs/wants/fears of society so that they can create ideas which truly have value in their lives [which equals profit] which inturn encourages real brand loyalty and a demonstration of what ad agencies can do better than almost any other industry.

Comment by Rob

I agree.
I think we replace the idea of green with honesty, integrity, and ethics.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

True Rob – I just liked how it rolled off the tongue. 😉

What about:

Oh the humanity! A cynic conference.


Comment by Will

That implies one company though, whereas I think this is about everyone and where they should be.


“Oh the Humanity” is great.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

It’s not what you say it’s what you do …

It’s not what you make, it’s why you make it …

It’s not just about now, it’s about tomorrow …

Comment by Rob

This should not be a cynic only conference … this should be the ‘Live Aid’ for consumers inflicted by marketing.

Comment by Rob

It’s not a conference. It’s a summit.

Comment by Marcus

“Its not what you do its the way that you do it, thats what get results…”

Oh The Humanity!
[Using Honest Ideas to Create Profit]

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Summit or other… 😉

I explained to Rob that I like the word conference because it will help bring the counter element in to provoke debate.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I can see the merits in both conference and summit – but this is Mr M’s concept so I believe he should have ultimate decision once he’s heard the comments from those around him.

Comment by Rob

No – it should be for all. Consumer, marketeer, agency.

Summit adds a bit more importance to proceedings, I agree. Makes it more of a crisis meeting.

Comment by Will

But it can’t come across as some angry ‘consumer group’ … it needs passion, pragmatism and power and for that, I will ask George to speak to a certain person who could guarantee a lot of impact

Comment by Rob

I too see the merit in both terms.

I think we want to actually be more of a summit. But at the same time that word might put off the people whose minds actually need changing.

Go George!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

It’s all levels of stress – the worry is that ‘summit’ appears TOO much like a crisis, or non participatory (that only the best and brightest can participate).

Conference though, again, is slightly flawed – is it participatory?

(Note: I’m not saying this to be a bastard/contrary…I’m just thinking out loud)

Comment by Will

Will & Rob – You both went through a phase of writing taglines for this idea. Why?

Comment by Marcus

OK … we can sort out conference/summit later – the issue is we have an idea [not a tagline] that is both vitally important to the industry and to the consumer and yet what we are saying is nothing new, it just never happens – so we need to be in a situation where we can understand why that is the case, how to overcome it and why that has value beyond just the financial for organisations.

Comment by Rob

As an English student (and someone who has been trained to write sentences to clarify things when doing planning), it’s fairly natural.

The writing and thinking I admire the most has brevity and clarity. The tag line still has merit there in my eyes.

It’s not definitive by any means (God, I hope not), but it helps me sum up roughly what I’m thinking.

Comment by Will

To try and focus into a sentence what it is about!


1. A meeting for consultation or discussion.
2. An exchange of views.
3. A meeting of committees to settle differences between two legislative bodies.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Rob – I’m going to send you an email later on with ideas of how we can show ‘value beyond the financial’… it sort of relates to what I’m doing at the moment.

Comment by Will

Rob M – as for Conference, it’s not the dictionary definition so much. It’s the tone of the word, and how formulaic and overused it seems to be.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t dislike it…but I’m thinking about a wider reaction.

Comment by Will

Cool, thanks Will. Be good to have you on board as well.

I agree with you about the word, im just wary of whether the more oldschool agency people will attend a summit. (They certainly missed the excellent Future Marketing one) Whereas they may think they see more merit in a conference.

I think we should research it a bit before deciding.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Oh, I’ll help all I can.

And I understand your concern – but I think it really depends who is involved in the event.

I’m going to use a Wayne’s World 2 quote with a straight face:

‘If you book them, they will come’.

Idea first though, and we have that, IMO.

Comment by Will


The good thing is, if we can get RC George and Pete we already have three good speakers, and can build from there.

Do not eat the red liqcourice…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I feel rather sad right now. Depressed even. Can anybody work out why?

Comment by Marcus

Because we automatically reached for what we knew?

Because you feel it’s different from your earlier sentence:

‘The inability to think and generate truly meaningful and useful ideas is actually destroying us.’

Comment by Will


Might help.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Have a look at your comments. Watch what happens.

Comment by Marcus

I can … we’re getting off the subject.

Look, I don’t mind tag-line summations if they truly are a summation of what you are trying to say with the attitude you wish to say it [My “Enemy Of Average” prop for the radio station that ONLy played new music comes to mind], but we’re going off track and while I always value free comment on this blog, I do think this is too good and important an idea to get lost in issues that ultimately aren’t moving us forward.

I hope you realise I am saying this because of my passion for the concept rather than being a sad old twat.

Comment by Rob

I dont really see what you mean Marcus.

As far as I can see the idea hasnt changed.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

To me the original concept was about passionate people with passionate ideas making them heard.

Regardless of summations and name changes that is still the core for me.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

No no, I understand. Arguing language semantics has blurred (along with tag lines etc) does risk swamping the idea, and going off track.

It probably has something to do with the fact I’m writing something on that very topic at the moment, and it’s intruding.

I’m going to get back on with finishing it off, then will check out the thread again.

Comment by Will

I think Marcus is saying we’re talking in taglines, and not thinking about the elements we want/need to do or address.

The problem with taglines is that quite often it deals in broad brushstrokes and the little things that can make all the difference get forgotten.

I know that’s not the case … but if we think about the reasons WHY we need the summit/conference and how/who/what we can do to make this issue much bigger than a few hours spent in a room somewhere on Earth, I am sure it will be even more beneficial.

Again, I am saying this [as I know Marcus is] because of the importance of what you have suggested, not because we’re old farts.

Comment by Rob

I agree.

Though im wary of telling people exactly what they should write about, because that way you risk defusing some of their passion.

But lets think then. What are the specific issues we think are important here:

1. Why marketing needs to be more honest to engage people

2. Preventing your ideas from being restrained

3. Why passion seems to sit uneasily with corporate life

Comment by Rob Mortimer

And why consumers are sold what companies want to sell them rather than what they want [and you know what I’ll say if you throw the Henry Ford quote back at me, ha!]

Comment by Rob

Yes. He didnt even say it.

I really really want this to work.
But I really dont want to just preach to the converted. We need people who disagree to provoke debate and hopefully passion; and maybe we might just nudge some people forwards.

Anybody know people from Howies?!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You are bang on Rob … a conference of like minded people is an ego-fest, not a meeting to make a difference, so that is one of the fundamental issues to get a grip on – and how to manage it.

I’m going to go home and call the boys so I look forward to seeing how this develops [not just today, but over the weeks] and I hope the other ‘usual suspects’ put their 2 pennies in … it’s been very quiet from them recently, ha!

Have a good weekend – this is going to be pre-occupying mine, ha!

Comment by Rob

this idea is very important. I’m committed to it. Have a good weekend all – I’m off now.

Comment by Marcus

Same here, especially as I wont be in London yet!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That bit of news Mr M, is a travesty of sense, judgement and intelligence. Lets show them what you’re made of with this conference – though they probably won’t understand that either given they talk innovation but really they grip onto the past like a fat boy holds on to a Jaffa Cake.

Comment by Rob

*pictures Andy with vice like grip on a tub of jaffas*

😉 Just joking Andy…a BOX of jaffas…


I wouldnt say they are that far in the past, just not as progressive as some people think they are.

But still. Im all set on this conference summit idea. Full steam ahead Thomas…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That’s the spirit mate …

If we are going to make a positive difference – a positive difference to industry and society – then it’s time to fight because remember, anger is our energy [repeat to fade]

Comment by Rob

You could be wrong Rob, you could be right…

It would be highly ironic to make a difference to the industry without evenbeing in it!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Mate … you will be in the industry by then, or re-creating it!

Comment by Rob

I bloody hope so!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m going to listen to that song right now. This, if it is what I think it is makes me very sad and very angry.

Comment by Marcus Brown


Your success is evidence of the solution. Do it, chat about it over beers or broadband by all means but just do it, don’t talk about it – certainly not at a conference.

As you succeed, others will see the reasons for your success and replicate/imitate. You can’t change the industry if it doesn’t want to change so just change your bits and inspire others to do the same in their bits.

Comment by John Dodds

But I think the industry needs changing.
And if they dont change they cant say they werent warned!

Besides which, as Marcus rightly mentioned there are wider issues involved.

If you are angry about what I think you are angry about then thanks Marcus. 🙂

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I am very sorry to hear your news about the interview Rob, but very happy to see your passion to get this conference or whatever you guys are going to call it, up and running.

I am sure you know this already, but please consider us in and if history repeats itself, Rob and Andy will have started a riot within 10 minutes, but then that’s why we set the company up in the first place. Positive destruction.

Pete is hanging out at our office at the moment and as we have a call with Rob in 20 minutes, I’ll see what he says and suggests to keep the momentum going.

Well done for this Rob and well done to you Marcus for your great observations, suggestions and usual passion. Anger is our energy indeed.

Comment by George

Thanks George 🙂

If we can start an ad riot i’ll consider job done!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

usual suspect #3 reporting for duty, sir!

as you probably guessed, i have an opinion on this. but i’m fucking exhausted, so it will have to wait.

until then – preaching to the converted is not fucking good enough.

bon nuit!

Comment by lauren

Hello Lauren … where the hell have you been young lady?

Don’t worry – there’ll be no ‘preaching to the converted’, we’re here to start a battle, not a mutual appreciation society.

However, when you wake up from the land-of-nod, I do want to hear your thoughts as we need to make sure we create a view that covers all the fundamental points but allows us to take the message [and the apathetic industry] and force better thinking, imagination and consideration of society.

I always wanted to make cynic political, but I wasn’t allowed [ha] so maybe this can be our platform to make a difference, not just talk about making one.

Comment by Rob

Hah, and if it does start a riot you can tell Sir M it wasnt your fault 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m sure you may have come across them in different places but just to note, there are some people who have some very sympathetic ideas that contribute to this discussion. One is Johnny Vaughan at Anomaly in NY and the other is a bunch of ex Fallon people out of Minneapolis under the name of Zeus Jones. Doing rather than saying and branded utility are ideas that seem to extend into these areas.

Comment by Charles Frith

evening. i’ve been busy washing dishes, hanging out with my 77 year-old nanna who’s here from Australia, and writing up proposals.

but about your post..[**rant warning**]

the absolute lack of true vision and proper guts in “Advertising” is one of the main reasons that “Advertising” leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, except those in “Advertising” giving out the blow jobs.

there are a miniscule amount of ad companies that give a fuck about anything other than the bottom line and the fact that the global industry is pretty much at the mercy of 5 Chairmen of the 5 main boards is fucking disgusting. i can’t work out whether the industry knows how much power it wields and is being carefully crafty, or has no idea what the fuck it has in its hands and has got stage-fright, but the fact that it is the last in the chain to actually speak to people (that’s “consumers” for the cheap seats) and try to do something meaningful is appalling.

i’m disgusted on a daily basis that companies who commit bad business practices, appalling human rights abuse, environmental sabotage and financial treason still get supported by the industry (and don’t give me that ‘paying the rent crap’ because slavery ‘paid the rent’ for years and who has slaves these days?).

in fact the chance for “Advertising” to really make a fucking difference in the world (and get a better rap sheet in the process) is so damned ripe at the moment that it will either hide its head in the sand, by continuing to wank on with the backslapping and ego-based fucking around, or it will take a deep breath and make some really important changes about the way in which “Advertising” operates.

What if WPP decided that none of its companies would take or pursue business from any company that paid less than minimum wage to any of its workers? or maybe it would sack all the clients that weren’t passed by the Rainforest Alliance? Can you imagine what that would look like? (and that’s just 1 of the big 5, right?)

And could I say all that if i worked for an agency? No, because I would be beholden to my salary, which is the main problem with the state of it all. People working in it can’t criticise it ‘cos they might get the sack or if they get the sack, might find it difficult working elsewhere. And those that do critique it don’t work with companies big enough to make a difference. Or, are foul-mouthed artists from the Antipodes who get tarred with the ‘idealist’ brush.

And a conference is really just perpetuating the same stuff, again and again, right? “Advertising” goes to conferences, they listen, they nod, they twitter, take notes, blog, etc, but at the end of the day, nothing changes if nothing changes.

And maybe that’s the way the industry likes it, thanks very much.

guten nacht.

Comment by lauren

Possibly so. But its a sad day that people stop trying to make a difference, however futile it may be.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

it’s certainlly not a slag off of the idea of having a discussion about it, rob. in fact, i am absolutely behind addressing these issues – well done for bringing it up. and i was hoping it would be an encouragement to do something that will actually crack something – even if it’s a hairline fracture.

Comment by lauren

first thing is its very fucked about your news mortimer, very angry. second is that i agree with charles theres a few people and agencies out there who believe, live and sell ideas rather than just doing/relying on traditional ads (rob wasnt saying otherwise) but theyre still in the minority despite an industry fill of ”claims” to the contrary. Third is i think the lack of training in the industry (in all departments of ad and client side) is crippling creativity, brands and profit potential. fourth, i love the summit idea as long as it doesnt turn into an egofest and we set specific goals to try and achieve and fifth, i love lauren. not because she swears alot, is passionate, is a chick and uses her imagination to great creative effect, but because she can see what the majority of the industry really is. a bunch of old men talking about futute but really doing all they can to keep the output firmly in the past as this control helps them keep their money making machines turning, creating continued growth for their corporate and personal profit goals and maintaining a share price which by all rights should be faultering, not growing. right fucking michael moore arent you lauren. its not about ideas are better than advertising, its that advertising should be about ideas but things like ego, channel, profit, validation and safety/mediocrity have dilutted the equation. this has reawoken me, and im ready for a fucking riot.

Comment by andy@cynic

Wow, lots of passion, positivity and ideas here – love it. I will have to come back and have a proper read of all the comments. Just when I started to think that I could never work in Ad Land again, you guys have proved to me that there is a very positive side to it, and there are great people within (or breaking into) it.

I think that it is important to “be the change you want to see in the world” and it appears Cynic is actually doing this which is great full stop, but excellent for Ad Land. Advertising is all about spreading messages, & this is why I love your conference/ summit idea as you are spreading a very positive message. Preaching to the converted is a mutual appreciation society, however, sometimes this can be a positive first step to bring a group of likeminded people together to discuss a great way forward. If you can also ring in some of the ‘big 5’ then fantastic.

Demonstrating how you can make money in Ad Land in a positive way is fantastic. Talking is good, but showing is so much better.

I used to work for an enviro charity & I met lots of people who would say “what difference can one person make?” A lot of people use this as an excuse never to take a first step and just to let waves of apathy wash over them. It is empowering when you realize that there is something positive you can do to make a difference to whatever issues really peeve you off.

I think that what you guys are doing is saving the world from mushy brains. I know mine would have rotten if I hadn’t just quit, but quitting shouldn’t be the solution. I think you guys are on the right track.

Rob, you guys have a great brief to work on.

Anyway, gotter run, today is my 2nd last day here and then I am on holiday for 1 whole month back in Aus. Rob, if I don’t pop back in before your Birthday have a wonderful day – although I really believe birthdays should last a month!

Comment by Jade

Andy is ready for war… we are prepared 🙂

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Let’s not get confused in all our well intended attempts to make a difference to the world.

The most advertising can do about a social cause is raise awareness about it, or get people to call a toll free number or, check out a web address.

Unless we get briefed by a client who wants to launch a new, environmentally friendly motorcycle in China to ensure more kids travel to school from rural villages, or a client who wants to recycle mobile phones, all we can do by ourselves are great ads for Amnesty International and the Red Cross etc.

If we want to make a difference, we should start an ‘activist’ ideas agency. One that develops big ideas to help the planet and help humanity and get clients to sponsor us.

Otherwise, all we do is capitalistic and commercial – from fitting out airplanes, to designing a great new retail concept etc. Highly interesting but near negligable humanitarian/ environmental benefits.

So, I’d love to be involved in ‘ideas for the planet’ (‘oh! the humanity’ i think your calling it, right?) with you 🙂

Comment by Brenda

Andy has got my head thinking about there is no point having an ego fest. What are the deliverables? Well just as a suggestion as we relentlessly measure awareness, market share, likability and other dimensions. Surely there must be a metric for measuring good. i.e. What good did it do? OK so 99.9% are going to have pavement level scores but unless its measured there’s no comparison, no way to gauge it and no goal or competitive target to reach. I’m not saying every piece of marketing communications has to score on this dimension but there’s no harm in having a slide at each presentation for ‘how much good did we do’.

Lauren I hear you. All business and not just marcomms puts wealth creation at the centre of the model but theres an interesting social index by WPP call Reputationz and its primarily about measuring the corporations’ perceived levels of responsibility. Its done from a vested self interest perspective but its a sign that things are starting to move. They will move as people realise that wealth creation for wealth creations sake creates divison and superficial happiness.

Getting back on brief that motorcycle thing is v. sexy. I’d recommend getting out the old classic by Theodore Levitt on marketing myopia – Its in Wikipdia. I do dream of cities built around people first! Good luck folks.

Comment by Charles Frith

Oooooh this has caused alot of debate – and good debate at that. Hell, even Andy is talking sense, though to be fair, he normally does – it’s just that for some reason, he seem to prefer to present himself as RUDE_ANDY on this blog, ha.

OK, some comments to the comments …

Brenda, I’m confused. You see I know how bloody brilliant you are so I can only assume your comments are an attempt to protect the honour of your paymeister [Mr Kev] who has continually failed to live up to his big-talking other than re-hashing accepted norms and then ‘rebranding them’ in an attempt to be seen as some sort of pioneer.

OK, I do understand where you are coming from however an ad agency CAN make a bigger contribution to society than just doing ads … the majority just don’t do it because they don’t know how to do it.

The reasons for this seem to be because

1 their clients only see them interms of doing ads

2 agency fee structures are developed in such a way that doing ads are the only way to get decently remunerated

3 they don’t educate/train their employees how to think interms of ideas rather than ads. Sure they SAY they do, but that is so not the case.

And I should point out that what I am suggesting is not just about helping humanity [though I do hope to be able to announce a really exciting venture that is absolutely focused on this] it’s about fulfilling clients needs by putting the real consumer opinions/needs into the equation, not just focusing on what the client WANTS to think they need.

So yes, whilst designing the interior of a jumbo jet was not helping the masses of society, it did truly benefit the people who flew with them because we understood the real issues that were affecting them – and not just focusing about adding comfort or inflight choices. [Changing whern parents of small children got fed on a flight almost single handidly generated a 6% increase in consumer loyalty]

However as I said, I do believe agencies CAN help society in the process of helping their clients – and while we’re doing some stuff with Michael Moore, Discovery Channel, Virgin and NASA in this area – one of the best examples is probably what LOWES did for TESCO’s in the UK.

Of course they did ads and the like, however with their clients full support, they looked at issues affecting the wider community and ended up developing ‘ideas’ [ie: books for schools / DVD shopping trolleys / carbon credit card] that truly benefited the masses … to the point where TESCO’s influence and adoration is now powerful and influential than the UK Government.

Was this profitable to Tesco’s?

Of course it was … and this brings up the issue as regards remuneration versus helping society.

You seem to imply that helping humanity and being a corporation are mutually exlusive – and whilst that certainly seems to be the case, it’s not.

Apart from the issue that all organisations – be it WPP or AMNESTY – need money to survive, the fact is not about how much cash you make, it’s about how you made it and what you did with it once you got it.

I have no problem making my clients shedloads of cash as long as the way we helped them truly benefited their customers and – in certain circumstances – the wider community as well. Hell, everyone of us wants to be rich – we just don’t want to ever do it by just going after the money, we’d rather drink bleach.

And this raises another interesting issue.

Whilst many people want their companies to do ‘corporate responsibility’ schemes … a great many of them are also the shareholders who want their returns each and every year.

We’re all guilty … and so from my perspective, if you can develop an idea that helps clients whilst also helping customers, communities and societies at the same time … then you are doing something really powerful and beneficial, which is why I am against many companies who always believe the 30″ TVC is the answer to all problems.

Again, I’m not anti-ad … how can I be … I just believe you need a real idea before you go off and do commercials – so whilst our motorbike WILL have ads, it’s to spread the word about how great the ‘idea’ is, rather than the ad being the idea in the first place.

[PS: Brenda, when we did work for Childline, we focused our attention on identifying an idea that could actually make a difference to their goal, not just get their already-known message out to the people. Sure we did ads, but they were not our starting point and your implication that all an agency can do [especially with clients like AMNESTY] is get the message out to the masses through great creative, is what I believe is holding the industry back. Why can’t you express ideas that enhance what the clients wants you to achieve for them? When did we become ‘literal’? Why is it wrong to have an opinion? What saddens me is their are tons of clever, passionate people in adland but are often pigeon-holed [by their own companies, let alone the clients] into being ‘ad people’, so the brilliant ideas they have – that could make more of difference than an ad – are often relegated to ‘after work drinks’ rather than core ideas presented in meetings with the client]

Oooooh, that got me going didn’t it. Hahaha!

But I do love you still Brenda. Honest, hahaha!

Jade: Have a great break … please keep intouch and thanks for your birthday wishes, though at my age, it’s more Birthday commiserations, ha!

And Charles, Y&R have developed an analytic called ‘ENERGY’ which is probably the best potential measurement of ‘consumer positivity ‘ out there. And the best bit is it’s not focused on the advertising [though it does incorporate it into its calculation] it’s how the brand behaves and what it does.

I am hopeful more of this area of research will be developed … but I guess that will require marketers to stop treating the bottom line as the bottom line, because to move ahead, you sometimes have to stop and take stock again.

I like where this post/comment is going … more please.!!!

Comment by Robert

This is all getting very interesting.
Its only 8am so my brain isnt fully awake yet… will comment later!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Come on Rob … comment … I’d hate to think I went on such a massive rant for no reason.

Comment by Rob


I think its just as naive to assume all business is bad as it is to think that all business is good.


Whether we do anything or not, businesses will be divided into good and bad. Sometimes the bad is forced to do less bad things to survive. Hopefully we can force them to change a little, and maybe even shift them a little towards good.

I hope the Discovery Channel project comes off. I think it would be a wonderful example to both ad agencies and companies that they can both profit and make a difference for the better.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

“Why can’t you express ideas that enhance what the clients wants you to achieve for them? When did we become ‘literal’? Why is it wrong to have an opinion? What saddens me is their are tons of clever, passionate people in adland but are often pigeon-holed [by their own companies, let alone the clients] into being ‘ad people’, so the brilliant ideas they have – that could make more of difference than an ad – are often relegated to ‘after work drinks’ rather than core ideas presented in meetings with the client”

Fucking right.

It’s fear though, I’d say. Fear about security, fear about the next pay cheque, fear about being treated as an outcast in the agency.

As you say Rob, ad agencies need to move beyond being simple 30 second factories if they are ever going to change the world again.

However, I’d say for that to happen, they need to ditch the public perception of advertising (and some of it is very very near the mark) of it being wanky and ‘creative’ in the worst sense – self indulgent, self important tripe.

Ad agencies need to change, need to evolve to do good. Perhaps not even be called ‘agencies’ any more, I don’t know.

One thing’s for sure, changing the world by being the mouthpiece of a radical company is great – but changing first…well, I’d say that’s even more important.

Comment by Will


I think the problem is that advertising has always descended from selling.

But nowadays you cannot think of advertising that way and succeed regularly. Life isnt that simple. You have to engage people, interact with them, even inspire them, and that will create the interest and loyalty that will lead to sales.

Agencies that make a 30 second sales vehicle might succeed a bit, but could they do much better…almost certainly.

For example: Innocent putting funny messages on their bottles has probably had a huge part in their rise. I know it the difference that makes me buy them over P+J etc.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That’s good … I was worrying this issue would lose its momentum but it obviously isn’t. And Brenda IS a top planner, so this is not an attack on her, just her comment, ha [I’m joking Brenda, you know me!]

Saying that, she is EXACTLY the sort of person we need to involve in this if we are to make any impression at all.

And Mr M … the Innocent example is how a little thing can make the biggest difference on a persons relationship with a brand – and it still astounds me why people overlook these opportunities over and over again.

This is not slagging traditional ads, it’s just things can go much much futher if you want it/encouraged to/believe in it.

[I would say Apple’s packaging is more impactful than their ads and it certainly helps create a special bond with customers – they actually feel they are unveiling [and that is the right word] something special and important – which has the byproduct of allowing them to charge more for their product].

It’s just about understanding human needs rather than just focusing on company profit needs. [Money comes as a byproduct when you do something right and with imagination and relevance – at least in my experience it does, but then that could also be a byproduct of the agency and clients that ‘educated me’]

Comment by Rob

Companies say “Oh look, we’ll make fancy products and packaging like apple” without understanding that the way apple look at these ideas is totally focused on the customer.

How will they react when they see it, how can we make them enjoy unwrapping it, how can we make the packaging easier for them to identify – understand – enjoy.

Traditional ads can be so effective at identifying with people, and yet they so rarely are.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

It’s the ultimate waste of money – telling people things they don’t care about, relate to or want … and all because companies [and agencies] don’t look at people with openness and believe their own self importance. Tragic … which is why ideas often don’t get bought but self-indulgent ads, do.

We have to make this happen – and hopefully I’ll have a motorbike to prove how it can be done better, not just how it can be done basically.

Comment by Rob

I think the self-indulgence comes in when agencies believe that they can create desire, somehow.

Be it through a overly folksy ad which doesn’t directly tell (but still kind of does, if you watch it) or one which forces people to like something, desire creation can be the best or the worst thing about advertising – if the product is new and there legitimately will be a desire/need for it, great.

Charlie Brooker has something interesting to say about this:,,2100054,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=4

Btw, you should sticky this on your blog to keep the debate fresh.

Comment by Will

Will … I think you raise a very valid point there – the perception of ad people is very, very rarely about being good human beings, but individuals that lie, manipulate and aim to profit at others expense.

Whilst that is not true [well not in all cases] it is an issue that both undermines the value of creativity AND advertising … but then if it is too ‘easy-to-understand’, clients then start to believe they are creative gods and get involved in areas they shouldn’t, ultimately screwing up any potential of success the campaign had in the first place.

I think trust is one of the most important words in adland, it’s a shame there isn’t much of it – maybe because people forget you have to earn it, rather than expect it straight from the off.

Comment by Rob

Good idea Will … I will … and you should do it on yours too!

Comment by Rob

I will link to it – I don’t think blogger allows you to sticky things, but a link will appear in my sidebar at some stage.

Btw, I’ve sent you an email this morning, to the original cynic address. Did you get it, or has the server been monkeying around still?

Comment by Will

I wonder if perception is a part of it… because people imagine ad people to be suited salesman, does that affect how agency people see themselves?

Trust Honesty Integrity Involvement, all so important, all so underused and underutilised.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hi mate … our server has been mental but its supposidly all back on line. Can’t check till tomorrow [long story] but will let you know if I don’t get it.

Also, Pete @ CPB just called and has asked me to talk about this issue at their mini-conference in Cannes [yes, I know, total wank] so there seems to be some momentum building – we just need to keep it going till we can finalise and announce the summit, or whatever we decide to call the bloody thing, ha!

Right, better go – need some sleep – so speak tomorrow and have a top day.

Comment by Rob


A sumference? A confermit?

We want to keep it going but also avoid burn out.

I hope to have some outline drafts for the event ready v soon.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You’re so right Rob … it’s keep it on the boil, not burn it out.

Right, I’m off but one thing that’s funny/weird is that I’ve just got an SMS from someone [don’t know who, don’t recognise the number] that said, “WHO APPOINTED YOU THE RULER OF PLANNING YOU FUCKER”.

Nice eh?

I am guessing it was because of my rant in today’s post – which means it was probably one of the guys who I was dismayed at from last weeks conference. Or Andy, ha!

Don’t know why, but that makes me proud and happy … which is another reason why we have to take this issue onto a bigger scale because we can fuck off even more of the mediocre little turds that flow throughout our industry.

As Andy said in Miami a few years ago … THERE’S GOING TO BE A RIOT, haha!

Comment by Robert

I think the notion of the ad man as someone who would either a) sell you snake oil or b) do mountains of cocaine still abounds, to be frank.

Doesn’t help that it isn’t viewed as a profession by some:

Trust can be reclaimed though – if only agencies were a bit bloody better at self promotion (though that’s a damn difficult route to walk down, I think).

Honesty? Any company which obviously sells something will be viewed with a little bit of mistrust. Especially as ad folk view media through advertising ‘eyes’ – ‘what can we do to brand facebook’ etc. I think that honesty is nigh on impossible to achieve – though that shouldn’t stop us trying.

Involvement is the way we get 1 & 2 in my view.

Rob – brilliant news about the mini conference at Cannes. Keep us updated as to your plans.

Rob M – just re-reading, your view about ‘advertising 3.1’ is right on the money. Change perceptions of the next generation, and you’ve got it.

Comment by Will

Rob – re: the SMS – I am reminded of my mother’s adage (paraphrasing Thumper in Bambi): ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’.

Shows that your message/thinking is getting through, which is bloody brilliant.

Oh Lord of Planning. 😉 Hehe..

Comment by Will

Thanks Will.

Problem is most agencies see self promotion as “boasting about our clients and posh office” instead of “people love our work, we make a difference AND increase sales for our clients.”

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Don’t worry guys … anger is my energy whether it comes from within me or aimed at me, haha!

And self promotion fails because quite often, agencies take themselves oh-so-seriously AND don’t acknowledge how things like sales force, distribution strength have contributed to the end result. It sounds like spoilt little children and does them more harm than good. That’s my issue with alot of ad effectiveness awards – but that’s a rant for another day, ha!


Comment by Rob

Worth a look in a slightly off-topic regards to this post.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

how much does a full-page colour ad in Campaign costs these days? Or maybe the Financial Times/Financial Review? I’d like to think they might also be good places to say a few things that need to be said.

don’t worry about this debate losing heat. I, for one, am intent on seeing something arise from this.

and andy, I hope you weren’t suggesting that i was a short, fat bearded lady with that ‘michael moore’ comment, ‘cos if so, we’re through, mr. 🙂

Comment by lauren

Dont worry Lauren, we will more than take care of that once we get the details sorted.

We will take this underground and bring it back up nearer the time. But if you want to be involved just say so. Im sure we could enhance the confermmit with some angry art installations!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Good point Rob … and I’ve been talking to 2 journo friends of mine [neither in adland press] and are more than happy to help us when we’re good and ready!

Comment by Rob


What we need to do is create a list of people.

a: Who will help organise
b: Who might be able to speak/ take part in discussion / add something to the event
c: Who can help us promote it

If you want to send me names/any details/what they might be able to do and i’ll XLit!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Nice … I’ll set some time aside so I can really have a good think about who would be ‘useful’, ha!

I also have written a rant into MEDIA mag [Asia’s Campaign] which touches on the subject [without going into detail] so we’ll see what that stirs up when it comes out on Friday.

I’m sooooooooooooooo up for this!

Comment by Rob

Sounds good.
Im certainly up for it. We need to get a venue and a couple of known speakers, then start looking for sponsorship/backing.

And if we dont get that then we’ll find another way!!

If I can get a list of people ready, that will help organise things. We need to start preparing now as venues may get booked up quite early.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Cool … well lets all have a MSN/Skype conference soon and talk this through.

Sounds good?

Comment by Rob

Sounds good to me.
Not that I know anyone on here’s MSN address!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

goldenfish-brown [at] hotmail [dot] com

Comment by Marcus

Thanks. Will add it when I get home!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

triggerhappy12 [at] hotmail [dot] com

Comment by Will

blind_git [at] hotmail [dot] com

Comment by Robert

I’d like to be in if time permits and I can chip in something constructive.

Comment by Charles Frith

Thanks. Will add you all later!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Gee wizz, who’d have thought my quick rant on the blog would have generated so much excitement!

First, happy birthday Rob. You’re born on the same day as my Dad who is a top guy. So I will not be too harsh with my comments forthcoming 🙂

Second, of course I don’t believe the 30″ ad is the only thing that an agency should focus on. I didn’t believe that in 2001 when I first joined adland and I certainly don’t believe that now!

You mention that “ad agencies can’t get beyond ads because”:

“1. Their clients only see them in terms of doing ads”. My response is, not true. Increasingly clients are asking for ideas beyond ads. So, we aren’t being hero’s by going outside TV ads.

“2. Agency fee structures are developed in such a way that doing ads are the only way to get decently remunerated”. I don’t know about this area.

“3. They don’t educate/train their employees how to think in terms of ideas rather than ads. Sure they SAY they do, but that is so not the case.” Again, I say not true. Look at Folgers ‘Happy mornings’ in the U.S which encouraged young people to drink more Folgers coffee not only through TV but using other interactive ways to connect with this audience, the launch of Lexus hybrid cars in Australia, the Launch of Lexus IS in the U.S where 75,000 photos were uploaded onto a huge screen in Times Square to create an image of the Lexus IS, or the Michael Powers campaign for Guinness – all interesting campaigns outside traditional advertising.

So, I should make clear that what I am talking about is beyond advertising. Beyond traditional business, and beyond thinking about the consumer. I don’t care only for designing better aircraft, or more consumer friendly retail shops, or better pack designs, or anything of the sort. That is all lovely, and well done to everyone who does these great things, (I’m one of them) but frankly I think the world is in deep shit politically and environmentally. And I am past feeling great about myself if I have made consumers lives better by improving their consumption habits.

We need to tackle the big problems. The closest anybody has got to that this year in my opinion is EARTH HOUR in Sydney ( Or WWF Cracking the biodiversity code ( or Al Gore’s: An Inconvenient Truth.

Tesco’s is probably another good example thinking about the community. (And read the article in The Guardian, Tuesday Jan 27th, 2007 “If Tesco and Wal-Mart are friends of the earth, are there any enemies left”). Because it shows how two great companies have seriously changed tack and are now thinking more about the world they inhabit.

Somebody on the blog incorrectly implied that I was superficially talking about corporate citizenship and the whole ‘business is bad’ argument. I’m past that stage!

Today we are talking about return on ‘involvement’. I believe the future in even big behemoths like Du Pont, GE is in biological sustainability and they know it! They need to be involved socially, environmentally, culturally. And for companies like Tesco and Wal-Mart we are seeing a blurring between their consumer communications and what they are actually doing as a company to give back to communities and the earth. It’s becoming one and the same.

That’s my interest. Environment and all other good stuff.

I don’t care anymore about benefitting consumers and designing better retail shops. That’s all great but I want to work (if could find the opportunity!) to advise corporations on their environmental and social policies and blend that into marketing. If any of you know about a job like that anywhere, please let me know.

(And by, the way, I am not a slave to the corporation. Yes Kevin Roberts is my CEO but that never stops me from speaking my own mind! But Saatchi & Saatchi are doing great work outside of advertising: Check out how we are re-designing Hallensteins retail in NZ; and how we designed Trelise Cooper, a NZ retail store for children’s wear. Also check out Saatchi upstart and the campaign they did for; and check out the campaign for Telecom NZ http://www.Rubbish; and when Saatchi & Saatchi London and South Africa were recently asked for help from Habitat for Humanity, rather than develop communication, they volunteered to build homes themselves and raise money for grandmothers and their grandchildren who had been orphaned by AIDS). So, it’s not all bad stuff that the big bad corporate ad agencies are doing!

What I meant by my Amnesty comment (of course I didn’t imply that a TV ad is all we can do!) I meant to say that instead of relying on client briefs and reacting to the cry for help, agencies should be instigators and should use their innovative and creative ideas to come up with MOVEMENTS like or – instead of only communications.


Comment by Brenda

As soon as I saw “return on involvement” I knew you were at Saatchi!

I saw Kevin Robert’s presentation at this years Future Marketing Summit.

I agree with you in most of that. The problem is that a lot (not all) of big businesses who are making positive moves are only doing because they are forced. Ideally we need to change them from reactive response to actually thinking about honesty and integrity ideas as part of their business.

Theres no point in being carbon neutral if you use sweatshops, pay your employees too little to live on, deny them healthcare and fly your ceo everywhere in a private jet…etc

Integrity isnt something you can just switch on. If WalMart and GE werent going to lose customers would they be bothered about the environment? I seriously doubt it.

Advertisers have a key role here. They have to make the companies understand that these days you cannot fake honesty. People will KNOW if you lie to them, if you trick them. This is why agencies are so key to the future of business, people have changed, and they are the intermediary that can and should make the difference. Sadly too few are yet. Hopefully next year we can change some of that.

Im not sure exactly how much of this we are going to be able to cover at the Confermmit, but I think we have plenty to think about.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Brenda, I know where you are coming from – but pretty much all the examples you gave are advertising ideas outside of the more traditional channels of advertising whereas what I am suggesting is doing stuff that has no reliance on advertising to achieve consumer involvement and client success.

The difference is focusing on the consumer needs first and finding a way to make the clients brand ‘fit in’ with that rather than do what the client wants and just connecting to consumer category habits.

Look I like Saatchi’s – they have done and continue to do, great stuff – but for all the talk and examples the company spout, the reality is that in the main, it mostly thinks interms of ‘ad’s [even if it uses untraditional comms channels] and when it does something dramatically different, you can’t help but feel it’s done more for their own PR purposes than anything else.

[Not always, as a couple of your examples prove, but even then I bet they are the exception and were driven more because the client asked for it rather than Saatchi’s suggesting it was the best way to achieve their business goal. But I apologise if I am wrong]

As I said, alot of this is because it is unbeliveably hard to find a way to be remunerated outside of normal models – but if you really want to make it happen – and the client really understands its power – then there’s a way to make it happen, as cynic and quite a few others can testify.

And for what it is worth, I was involved with the – both interms of the concept and the execution so you can’t hate me too much, hahaha!

PS: Tesco’s have a position for the job you desire … and whilst they may be doing things for commercial reasons, at least they recognise its importance and do it with consistentcy, focus and pragmatism.

Comment by Rob

You were?
I never heard about that…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Yes … but not with cynic, the ‘other’ lot, ha!

Comment by Robert

Still, at least you are more Geldof than Bono…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Well you lot were calling me the Bob Geldof of adland weren’t you, haha!

Comment by Rob

With good reason so it seems!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Didn’t end poverty though did it …

My initial suggestion was to encourage people to hold off from paying taxes until their Governments agreed to negate 3rd World debt – but I was “advised” that it would be best if we tried to find an alternative idea or I’d probably meet with a nasty accident or go down in history as the first adman who got America to embrace communism, ha!

Comment by Rob

Haha. Genius.

Ironic really when you consider its only 1 or 2 countries out of those in the G8 that are anywhere near donating what they promised.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You’re so right Mr M …

It’s a shame so many people feel satisified to hear ‘promises’ of support even though the reality is that it is very rarely acted upon.

When the Tsunami happened a couple of years ago, billions were promised – and yet what actually got through was a fraction of that – mainly because countries were promising cash they didn’t have just so they could look good on a World stage and douse the cries of their people to help.

It was like an auction … if one offered 10 mill, someone had to offer 11 … and so on and so on … and the only losers were the ones who had already lost everything.

That should be Michael Moore’s next movie, “Pants On Fire” – the promises declared that were never going to happen, ha.

Right, I’ve had a great day and am going to go to sleep before my blood pressure rises with the anger of this issue and I end up frothing at the mouth. PLUS I want to see what/if Brenda say’s to our comments to her comments to our comments, haha!

Comment by Robert

Michael Moore and Al Gore should team up…

I personally find it shocking that the US is still incapable of sorting out the mess left in New Orleans. The richest and most powerful government in the world cant fix ONE of its own cities after a natural disaster its reduced funding helped to make so devastating.


Comment by Rob Mortimer

Guess I’m in for an interesting dinner next week then eh! Ha

Comment by Rob

go to bed.

Comment by Marcus

But I’m excited with my presents …

Oh OK then Dad …

[except I’m older than you. Bugger, how does that work???]

Now Marcus, to get things back on track, have a look at what has been written on this post and then add what you think based on where everyone is going …


Comment by Rob

You are not wrong. I was at this talk before I went on hols and this very clever guy from WPP talked about the value of selling skills with images and pictures – ‘clients are getting pretty good at doing what we do, but we can still charge them a lot of money if we can show them we can do visual media better than them’ PAH!
What he was saying was let’s create some more defense against us losing our artificial place in the food chain we enjoyed in the 1980’s.
I absolutely agree that you need to start what you’re going to make/develop.
It’s okay to make it and then find some connection with people’s lives that isn’t there – but that’s hard and you’re stuck with what’s been made.
Brand stuff needs something great to wrap around first! How hard was Imac advertising? – show the product. No one could get computers that that also existed as a beautiful accessory. No one could get computers that LOOKED simple and mimimal. THAT was the innovation.
So I agree that the future is NPD. That might be with added services around what you sell tha help you live your life, but it’s better to make something that fills a gap people didn’t know they had. Is that marketing? I don’t know. But surely the best way to create something people want is not to just make something and hope we can MAKE people want it.
If I started a computer company I’d make laptops that looked feminine, that women could accesorise to change match their outfits.
Or I’d make one for old people that was dead simple, with extra large keys and an operating system that was great for people who use glasses and hate overcomplication.
You bloody go for it.

Comment by NP

Thanks for that mate … and while I agree with what you are saying, I still think the issue is finding things that connect to people’s needs beyond just the category because too often marketing has been about ‘inventing’ reasons why people should buy product X [and trying to brainwash that belief with million in advertising] when in the real World, it has little or no value in their lives.

This doesn’t mean you go out, ask people what they want and then go away and do it literally – as we know, quite often they don’t know the answer or they are limited to what their frame of reference has been – the issue is having planners who can understand what society is really saying rather than taking everything on face value.

Hence when Henry Ford said if he’d asked people what they wanted they would have said ‘a faster horse’, a half decent planner would have realised they were interested in being able to get to places faster than they currently were and if there was a way to do it [accepting things like safety etc] it would tap into a consumer desire which they knew they had, but couldn’t articulate properly.

Invention is everything – I just am against alot of advertising invention because it’s more angled towards corporate fulfilment than consumer. I am not saying that doesn’t work – it plainly does – but I think my way [hahaha] actually builds consumer support, belief and loyalty.

Comment by Rob

Totally – it’s finding gaps in people’s lives, not the competitive set.
It’s just that I think that starts at NPD. Totally agree there’s no point in asking people what they want.
It all comes back to being open minded and looking really, really hard.

Comment by NP

You asked – you get.

I’d like to pick up on the green advertising thingy. It makes my blood boil and I’ve basically been saving it up for a “Jerry Maquire” post of my own (which I will post when I’m out of best behaviour). But I’ll give it my best shot here in shortened form.

The advertising industry is like a polymer – it’s a substance made up of a whole bunch of molecules that hold it together. Initially the polymer is supple and is flexible but over time it becomes old and brittle and it eventually snaps. Then the original formula is discarded, new ingredients or molecules are added and the process starts again. I believe that the molecules of the advertising industry have NEVER been ideas but the business units or channels that they SAY produce the ideas. It consultant speak that’s called the bottom line or the P&L.

For me the new “green” advertising movement is nothing more than the “new media” or “digital” movement of the mid-nineties. The green movement in advertising is mouth paste or a tooth brush that you can scrub your tongue with – it’s an extension for something that has nowhere else to go. It’s another USP that has been identified to differentiate agency (company) ‘A’ from agency (company) ‘B’ and it’s being used in exactly the same way that new-media was used to bolster floundering revenues – “you have to do this because everyone else is – and it’s expected from you”.

I really want to say it again – it’s an extension for something that has nowhere else to go.

Selling green advertising to clients today is as irresponsible as it was selling new-media to clients back in the mid-nineties and the reason for this is so painfully simple that it still amazes me that we sold anything back then at all; you simply don’t have the client base – which means that nobody cares about it. There was nobody there.

Clients do worry about it because corporate responsibility is basically keeping up with the Jones’. But if you REALLY think about it (especially those of you who live in the UK) nobody cares. In fact the whole thing makes them angry. Look at the fuss when a local council wants people to separate their rubbish, go to Tesco’s and watch them fill up those plastic bags. Watch your next door neighbour get in his car to drive to the news agent, or leave the motor running on a cold winter’s morning.

We (collectively) simply don’t care. And we don’t care because we don’t need too and we don’t care because we don’t HAVE too. Yet.

Whether you like it or nor, this whole discussion is a political discussion and the fact that a bit of green has been thrown in highlights the point. There is no where else to go. Sooner or later (probably later) the advertising industry will have to recognise that it, as a model, is snapable. The industry has to start pro-actively doing things instead of watching, waiting and pouncing onto rafts that are floating on currents that basically go nowhere.

If it doesn’t it won’t have any clients because they’ll start doing it buy themselves.

Ideas are political. Changing things is political. Thinking outside of a channel is radical.

Brenda, you make my blood boil (but I love you in a Web 2.0 way).

Comment by Marcus Brown

But isnt that because it requires effort? Its not a lack of desire to help, but a lack of energy?

Buy energy saving lightbulbs…same shelf, easy peasy. Fitting solar panel? er… cant be arsed.

What I never understand about the advertising model is that the people who are meant to understand the consumer, understand their needs and desires, who get paid for knowing those things…design ads and ideas that the big suited CEO will like!

Thats like buying a petrol car and filling it up with diesel because it is more economical. Its SO stupid, SO backwards.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I love it when Marcus rants with purpose, it’s great. All I will say on this matter is that too many brands actually enter into none-traditional channels [whatever that may be] because they don’t want to be left behind, rather than wanting to move ahead.

Again, a lot of this is driven by fear of shareholder anger if it all goes wrong [we all have to take a long, hard look at ourselves – too many champagne socialists as I’ve about written plenty of times in the past] but even if the reasons for embarking on new areas is for less than humanitarian reasons, should we argue that they are doing it – accepting it is better than them continuing on their current path of consumption?

Not only that, but legally, CEO’s of listed companies have a duty to do whatever is in the best interests of the companies profit – so whilst they may wish to embark on more caring programs, if they are not financially beneficial for the company they represent, they can go to jail.

The CEO at BP acknowledges that his decision to become a ‘Beyond Petrol’ corporation was driven by a business opportunity [because of future energy issues] rather than anything alteristic – but should we slate him or admire him given his lead forced others to start moving in that direction because as I said at the beginning of the post, no one wants to be left behind?

In a perfect World we’d do this because we know it’s right, but in a perfect World, teachers and nurses would get paid more, we wouldn’t need drugs to cloud the despair and disappoint of life and I’d be a billionaire. 🙂

Comment by Rob

While I remember, I think it might be worth referencing HHCL in this.

As there are a few ex HHCL people involved (you, Pete etc), it might be worth mentioning the continuation of that spirit in what we do.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Good idea Rob … but I think it would have more use in demonstrating how cultural infiltration was more impactful for building the iconic brands than the category infiltration that seems to be the standard in todays market.

Comment by Rob


I think it will be useful for people to maybe classify the attitude of the event. Otherwise they might not be sure if they are going to be bored or shouted at. The referencing of that spirit will help define it without taking anything away from the aims.

(i think…)

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I really like this post and don’t want people to lose sight of it. Can you put a link to it from your main page Rob? We have to make this happen and we can talk how next week.

And just so you know Rob M, Andy was also at HHCL, it’s where he met Rob and annoyed him with his Morrissey sunflower/backpocket scam. Thought I should point it out incase the bad tempered man feels ignored. 🙂

Comment by Pete

Having worked at both Saatchis and cynic, I think the difference between our company and the one Brenda works at is clients come to us for help to connect with people where hers tend to want help on communicating to people.
There’s a big difference between the two and while I enjoyed my time at Saatchis, my brains used much more now because I have more interesting clients, briefs and colleagues to inspire and challenge me everyday.
You should come to us Brenda, you’d enjoy it and we need more women around the place too. Jx

Comment by Jemma King

Thanks Pete!
Glad you want to be involved 🙂

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hi Jem. I really like the way you described the difference between working with us and Saatchi’s, and if you weren’t about to have your mid-year review, I’d think you were almost being truthful. See you when I get back and lets see if we can make that divide even greater.

Comment by George

[…] is some thinking going on over here that I think you should know about. You will notice that I’m rather passionate about it and […]

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