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

Report Card … A[P]SOTW Synopsis!
July 13, 2007, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Advertising [Planning] School On The Web

First of all an absolutely huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge apology for taking so long on this. I have all sorts of plausible excuses but the reality is that is all they would really be … so sorry for being such a slack shit.

Secondly … because of holiday/work commitments, not all the judges were able to go through the assignments – most of them did – but a few couldn’t and they apologise profusely.

[I also wanted to get some of the regular mob who comment on my site to have a look, but because I’d been such a slack bugger in sorting this out, it would of meant an even longer delay in getting the results out so more apologies – to you and to them!]

Third – and finally – I want to thank you all for taking the time out to do this project … I appreciate it was rather different to the ones before, but I hope you enjoyed it and I hope mine/judges comments prove useful.

If at any point you wish to discuss the feedback or anything else going on in your life [probably best if we stick to career issues, ha!] then feel free to email/call and I promise I’ll do all I can to help as soon as is possible.

OK … lets get to the ‘reviews’ and in no particular order, we’re going to start with …


The premise of Rachel’s strategy was to target new-wealth Russians because not only are they seeking ways to demonstrate their wealth, status and machismo to the outside World  … but owning a classic ‘Americana’ brand has the added benefit of subliminally demonstrating that the owner is a Russian who has metaphorically, beaten the West!

I have to say we really liked this idea … but whether it would prove to be a cost efficient strategy is open to interpretation given the high cost of distribution and importation tax.

Saying that, the way you analysed the problem was fresh and interesting and even though you didn’t explain what comms idea would come out of this strategy, we were very happy you started with a core thought that would probably motivate interest regardless of whether mainstream communication was involved or not.


The insight that formed the backbone of Age’s campaign was around masculinity – more specifically that in society today, the roles between men and women are blurring.

This is a fair insight however what it turned into was a very advertising-reliant idea … and while it certainly played true to the insight and what the Hummer brand personality is – it led to communication that was rather expected.

That is not a criticism per se, just an observation … though giving most people probably already think Hummer is for macho men [read: small-cocked, war-lovers] it probably wouldn’t make someone who had never thought of owning a Hummer change their mind.


First thing I have to say is that this was BRILLIANTLY presented. 

Presentation is soooooooooooo important and while it is not an excuse for substance, that shouldn’t be an excuse for shoddy presentation.

Now Seb is a creative … however he identified a lot of really great insights which goes to show you don’t have to have the word ‘PLANNER’ on your business card to understand what’s going on in people’s heads/lives. [Just like you don’t need the word ‘CREATIVE’ to come up with interesting ideas]

However, when it came to deciding upon his core strategy/idea – the advertising side of him seemed to come to the fore because he went with the more ‘IN YOUR FACE’ [and dare I say it, expected] direction of ‘HUMMER DRIVERS ARE HATED SO LETS PREPARE YOU FOR THE BACKLASH’.

Now while this campaign would probably win a bunch of awards, make super memorable advertising and put Hummer into the minds of all … we just don’t feel that at the end of the day, it would absolutely push someone to buy a Hummer over another car.

Like AGE, the campaign seems to be leveraging the existing perception of Hummer … and while that is all fine and dandy … it probably wouldn’t change the mind of someone who already has a pre-conceived negative view of the brand.

The thing is, whereas Rachel focused on a particular segment/mindset who would find this campaign approach/promise aspirational, you seemed to be targeting anyone who could drive a car which is why I feel your solution was more about ‘advertising’ than identifying a truly motivating idea that would produce great advertising as a natural by-product.


We liked this. It was short, sharp, straight to the point and with a strategy that wasn’t reliant on advertising for it to work.

The insight was hardly the most unique [Driving and owning a Hummer automatically makes you an Alpha male – causing envy, respect and fear in others”] but what Dinko and Zelinko did was turn it into an idea that really understood a key factor in turning a potential consumer into a real consumer.

Basically their concept was put potential ‘Hummer owners’ behind the wheel of the car, place them in environments where they can show off to the wider World and then wait for them to buy as they’ll love the ‘star power’ the car gives them.

Of course there are a few flaws in this proposal …

1 Has it got real scale?

2 How do you get the people to want to test drive the Hummer in the first place?

3 It’s basically a test-drive strategy.

But for appreciating that no one will buy a car purely based on an ad, you get praise … especially as the brief was ‘HOW CAN YOU ENCOURAGE MEN TO BUY A HUMMER OVER OTHER 4×4 VEHICLES’ rather than how can you get people to have awareness over other 4×4 vehicles.

Without doubt the Hummer has more ‘look at me’ status than many/most other 4×4 vehicles, but we question whether this idea would dramatically increase sales given the people who ‘seek attention as they drive’ would probably already know/want the car in the first place.


We really liked Veena’s cultural insight [“Real success is long-lasting, so it can be exhausting to achieve”] but because she didn’t explain how she got/validated this, we can’t be sure how appropriate it is.

The other thing we really liked was her summation of her campaign idea ‘MAKES OTHER 4×4’s LOOK LIKE SISSY’s’ but as her communication executions didn’t really link to the insight or the campaign idea, we question whether they would be effective in making someone specifically buy a Hummer over a competitive 4×4.

We loved the campaign idea because we really felt it could make someone who had never considered a Hummer, look again and we honestly believed that if you had focused abit more on the executions, you could have a corker marketing/communication plan on your hands.


Niko had a lot of interesting facts and figures about car purchase in the build up to the Hummer strategy … but where we felt the idea fell short was that …

1 It seemed very reliant on initially targeting existing Hummer owners

2 It involved a convoluted solution [a cross between Army Bootcamp and becoming a member of the Mafia] which sounded very interesting but wasn’t very practical.

We can’t help but feel Niko had the concept and then looked for ways to justify it … and while it was certainly one of the most pragmatic ideas we received, its effectiveness [both interms of investment and return] is open to question.

While we would always encourage bold thinking … we suggest that in the future you re-look at your idea and ask yourself …

1 Is it relevant and resonant to the consumer?

2 Is it practical to execute?

3 Will it really achieve what we need to achieve?


We liked the insight about ‘Men Being Intimidated By Confidence’ but again it manifested itself into quite an expected advertising-reliant idea.

Sure, it absolutely played true to the perceived Hummer brand personality – however we questioned it’s ability to change the mind of someone who had previously been against owning a Hummer / dramatically increase the sales of people already pre-disposed to the Hummer positioning.

The thing that I think we were most frustrated by is that we believed if the insight had been delved into more, it could of led to an idea [whilst still being true to ‘TOUGHER THAN TOUGH’] that would separate the car from its usual MACHO CAR persona and  attract people who would normally favour another sort of 4×4 brand.


David’s presentation was very thorough, thought out and validated … but to be honest, it’s ‘flow’ sometimes went abit backwards and forwards. 

However that didn’t matter because when it came to his insight and execution, they linked perfectly and resulted in a core idea that was both innovative, interesting and guaranteed to gather attention regardless of advertising or not.

[A Hummer simulator located at dealerships that would allow people to experience the ‘extremes’ the car can endure even if the only off road they would ever do is driving into their garage]

A really nice and simple idea [even though it would probably cost quite abit] that would definitely encourage people who might otherwise regard the car as vulgar and aggressive, to test drive – which is half the battle. 

Of course whether this would lead to definitive sales over another 4×4 is open to question – but we believe with some tweaking, the campaign expression could be crafted to include some of the unique elements of Hummer which could ultimately prove desirable over the competitive set.

One thing we would warn David about is not trying to take on too much. 

The insight, strategy and core idea were enough – going into how the ads would/should look was probably a step too far … and even though it all linked in with the overall campaign idea, it came across as abit clichéd and could of actually ended up making the client focus on the execution rather that the power of your thinking.


What I find interesting in this is that just like Seb, you’ve identified a bunch of really interesting ideas and then went for the most ‘creatively pragmatic’ direction which is basically a “FUCK YOU” to people who think HUMMERS are for gas-guzzling, gun-toting wankers. 

I am all for pragmatism and boldness in creativity but at the heart of your idea is an advertising concept rather than something that would achieve motivation regardless of communication – and whilst it would generate tons of PR, awards and talkability, it would not necessarily translate into sales.

Saying that, you are the only ones who really took on an ANTI-ENVIRONMENTAL approach … and while that would probably work VERY well in some countries/cities [Texas?] in alot of other markets, we felt the social-pressure to be ‘responsible’ may actually minimise sales rather than increase them.

Again, your presentation was absolutely top notch … short, sharp, straight to the point and all on one page, fucking marvellous … but I would bet money you had the idea [FUCK GREEN] before you did any research into the market, haha. Go on, admit it … don’t worry, Andy does it all the bloody time, ha!


With Roop’s concept, we found real similarities to the situation we faced when reviewing Veena’s assignment. 

Even though it was quite generic, we loved the insight [“Men love spending money on machines that reflect their status, but don’t like spending additional money on maintenance”] and we liked the fun of the general concept [‘SUMMER HUMMER’ – where basically you can hire a Hummer over the summer period] but while in principal it all makes sense,

in reality we think it might not be that practical [abit like communism, ha!] The key issue to us is about the financial viability of this program … it sounds awfully like a hybrid lease/maintenance program except Hummer will make less money from the vehicle than they otherwise could expect/need.

We are sure it would be incredibly successful but Hummer would probably be bankrupt after 2 summers worth! [Which might be your master plan on behalf of Mr Al Gore]

Like Niko … we love the boldness and the imagination of your concept, but we would suggest that in future, you spend time ensuring the concept will really achieve what is needed as opposed to being something people would talk about but probably never exeute. 


I know I said I’d give you some more time because you were ill, but unless you’re knocking on deaths-door, you’re abit too late now! Ha.


The premise of Petra’s idea was to offer fake weaponry accessories to leverage the Hummer’s war credentials.  According to her, things like gun turrets, machine guns and camouflage paint jobs were all highly sought after and as the only vehicle that would allow people to live out their ‘Arnie fantasies’, this would motivate more sales in the highly competitive 4×4 category.

On first impressions we went WHAT THE FUCK … however as a couple of judges have worked on this category [and even on Hummer] we knew that some of what she was suggesting was indeed correct [so points for that] however ultimately we question its appeal to dramatically increase sales given Hummer probably already resonates well with people who have a fascination with War and/or Arnie flicks.

Still, ten points for inventiveness, it made me smile which is always a good thing.


So there you have it … the review of all the assignments is over … and putting aside the fact that quite a few came back with classic advertising solutions [as opposed to an idea where imaginative advertising could promote the ‘idea’ to a wider audience] I have to say we are pretty chuffed with what you all came back with.

Sure quite a few were pretty similar in ‘idea’ … but that doesn’t mean they are wrong [as I said at the initial brief, there is very rarely a wrong answer – just lots of different ways to achieve the goal], they just were leveraging the perception of Hummer that already exists in the marketplace.

[Saying that, if this was a pitch, you would of needed to find a way to ‘stand out’ from the crowd – which would be either reliant on your creative work or [because creativity is so subjective] the innovative ways you conducted your research/insight gathering]

We are especially happy some creatives took part in all this because we’re sick of this planner vs creative vs media vs account service attitude that is going on and feel it is important to remember how collaboration is the foundation for great communication.

Some planners need to realise that if they don’t make sense or inspire the wider comms team [including the client], then it’s not intelligence, it’s indulgence … and asking for others input is not diluting the solution or showing weakness, it’s actually representing professionalism and openness.

Right … after that little rant [ha!] we need to appoint a winner … and after alot of deliberation and consultation, we’ve decided that both Rachel and David should be crowned ‘best in class’. [BOO! shout the rest of the people, ha!]

This is not to say the other assignments weren’t great – they most obviously were – but Rachel and David had ideas that had scale, appealed to people outside of traditional Hummer owners and would work without being reliant on advertising and for that, they get the prize*.

So Rachel and David, if you’d like to email me with your details, we’ll get something sent out to both of you very soon.

All that leaves me to say is thanks to Russell for entrusting this to me … I hope you found the reviews fair [I appreciate they were tough but we went into this aiming to improve your abilities, not just pat you on the head and say ‘well done’] and I encourage you to look out for the next assignment from the quite wonderful NP sometime very soon.

Hopefully I’ll get to do this all again soon [though you lot may feel differently] … and I promise next time I’ll be more efficient with the report, ha!

Have a great weekend …

* Don’t be too excited/disappointed, it’s not that good at all, ha!

41 Comments so far
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now i understand why ive not been able to get hold of you all fucking day. how long did that take to write?
as usual its informative and constructive which just makes me sick as nice guys like you just shouldnt be in positions of power.
well done all, and thats from one of adlands most cynical critical fucks. 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

Good write up Campbell. Well done everybody and that’s from the guy who now works in a fucking shed.

Comment by Marcus

Well done David, positive comments from Rob are worthwhile things!

..and well done Rob, looks like the project gained some exciting ideas.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

campbell is the florence nightingale of advertising, a nice comment from him is expected, its me who people should aspire to hear positive things from. but itll never fucking happen. 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh dear … Andy’s jetlagged again!

And to all those reading this post, don’t forget to go to …

… it’s not a A[P]SOTW assignment, it’s a life assignment.


Comment by Rob

Cmon Andy…get your blog going again

Comment by Rob Mortimer

maybe i could start the worlds first pay for fucking view blog

Comment by andy@cynic

Well that was unexpected!

Thanks for the feedback, that must have taken a while to get through. Good to know my Uni course is actually teaching me the right sort of stuff. ha ha!

Comment by Dave Mortimer

I think people already pay for viewing fucking blogs Andy…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Andy … that comment was sheer genius and what scares me is you’d probably get some mugs coughing up the cash. Me for one. But only upto $3 for a year’s access.

David … congrats mate, send me an email with your address and I’ll get your pressie/prize sorted ASAP.

And don’t worry, I won’t let Andy see it or you’ll be inundated with porn subscriptions before you know it.

Comment by Rob


You wanna tell them or should I campbell?

Comment by Marcus

Have the glory Mr Brown … ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK

Comment by Rob

Tasty snack task force ready SIR!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

The post is great. But, as you can see, there is a comment in there that is not in line with the Sausage Empathy Standard.


Comment by Marcus

But this isn’t fighting for sausages … this is fighting against ignorance.

Comment by Rob

Yep. This is actually VERY serious. So do have a look at what is being said.

Comment by Marcus


Comment by Rob Mortimer

Mr M … I and everyone else … salutes you!

Comment by Rob

You like the comment then? 🙂

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Sausage Gunnery Sergeant Seb has fought.

Comment by Seb

nothing fucks me off more than blinkered yanks with loud fucking mouths. apart from when the us sent him to invade a country, i wonder how many fucking times lewis has gone outside his borders. and then i wonder how many times he said “its so much fucking better back in the us”

Comment by andy@cynic

You know what Andy … sometimes I absolutely love you! More loyal [and ferocious] than a dog, ha!

Comment by Rob

Folks … I am sorry this post has deviated from your brilliant work, please feel free to comment/email but also please see what it is we’re so upset about.

Comment by Rob

I’m so fucking angry about this.

Comment by Marcus

Thanks Rob. Appreciate for your comments. Got your point. BTW will Mr. Al Gore love me more for the master plan? 😉

Comment by pooR

You are Al Gore’s hero … ha!

Hope you understand where I am coming from and by all means, we can talk ‘off-blog’ if you want to ask/be more specific.

Now for God’s sake, turn off your computer AND HAVE A WEEKEND!

Comment by Rob @ Cynic

Still hours to go before the computers get turned off here.

Comment by Marcus Brown

You mean your shed has electricity? What the fuck were you complaining about then! Ha.

Comment by Rob @ Cynic

Rob there is a generator that we need to crank up every time minutes. If we don’t the power cuts out and we loose all pow

Comment by Marcus Brown

How funny that you end your previous post with the letters POW.

I am sure you meant ‘power’ but given you are working in a shed, in Germany, it doesn’t half sound like you’re making a Prisoner Of War statement.

Hang on … these comments are back to their surreal normality and while normally I’d be very happy about that [1] this is a post that should be celebrated for a bunch of people’s hard work [2] there are links in these comments that are very serious and need focusing on and [3] I need to go and disappear for the weekend.

Right, have fun – speak soon.


Comment by Rob @ Cynic

Also get yourself an UPS, it will save lot of physical energy. 🙂

Comment by pooR

hey Rob, cheers for the feedback I appreciated it. I think you summed up my own feelings about my submission pretty well.

It’s been good to read your comments and thoughts on everyones work too, insightful. Thanks.

Comment by Age

Thanks to Rob (and the rest of the evaluators) for the feedback,it looks like a scary amount of work went into this.
i’m wondering if Rob’s been too nice to give harsher feedback though !!
This was such GREAT fun! so i hope the next assignment is coming up soon !!

Comment by veena

Age … Veena … the feedback is a general overview from all the judges.

Sure we could have been a bunch of evil, cynical fuckers but what would the point of that be … we want to help you shine even brighter, not rip out all your passion and confidence.

Not only that, but as there is rarely a wrong way to answer something in adland [just lots of different ‘right ways’ which can only be evaluated interms of probable short/long-term effectiveness vs investment] we don’t have a right to say something is totally crap, because there’s probably an example of something similar working somewhere in the World, ha!

I think the feedback is firm but fair … but if anyone is into S&M, let me know and I’ll get Andy to give you his feedback in his normal, non-respectful, tactless way. 🙂

Comment by Rob @ Cynic

hey rob, thanks for the great feedback. we enjoyed working on this a lot. and the feedback is very rewarding, we actually know what to improve.
Have a lovely sunday and we cant wait until the next assignment.

btw. yes we had that idea before research, you’ve got us! 🙂

Comment by Waldemar

Waldemar … thanks so much for doing the assignment, I’m really happy quite a few creatives did it and I look forward to reading/seeing your next one – plus there’s the added challenge of working out whether you jumped to the idea or did alittle research before hand, ha!

Comment by Rob @ Cynic

Got to love those German creatives.

Comment by Marcus

This article on ‘High-Testosterone Marketing’ Suggests that there are physiological insights that could have been applied to this campaign – including dayparting!

Comment by Christiainio

thats all very well and good christianio, but why the fuck didnt you do the assignment then?

Comment by andy@cynic

Great stuff. Maybe it’s because I’m a creative but I personally liked Jai and Wal’s ‘Fuck Green’ idea the best. However, I see why it would be a little incongruous with general social perception and would not necessarily increase sales.

I would love to have a go at the next one?


Comment by Nick Tasker

Hi Nick … can I direct you to as NP [who owns that blog] is doing the next A[P]SOTW and its just started. Have fun and good luck …

Comment by Rob

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