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

Practical Insight Beats Self Congratulatory Planner Insight …
February 26, 2008, 7:09 am
Filed under: Comment

I get kind of fed up of hearing planners talk about the ‘amazing insights’ they’ve discovered only to see them present work that is …

1 Exactly the same as the category

2 What the brand has always done

3 Just an ad

I know me ranting about this is nothing new however whereas before I thought Tesco’s were the most creative company [interms of developing product/services around cultural/lifestyle insights] I have now decided it’s internet ‘gadget’ shop, Firebox.

On first impressions Firebox seems to be a one-stop-shop for every piece of self-indulgent pile of ‘man-tat’ you could ever hope to find, however on closer inspection you realise they are an organisation who know their customers better than many research companies / ad agencies could ever hope to achieve and … here’s the killer … they don’t just talk about it, they use this knowledge to create things that resonate, engage and excite.

One thing they’ve done recently that I love – and not just because it came from the head of our dear Bazza – is the ‘biscuit tea mug’.


Here is a mug that allows you to internally ‘store’ 3 digestive biscuits [the amount most people tend to use per mug of tea] so you can have a ready supply of dunking material as you walk around the office. Genius.

And how did this come about?

Mainly because Baz saw people continually going backwards and forwards to the kitchen to get tea ‘supplies’ and when he looked into why, he found …

1 They couldn’t dunk if they were holding other biscuits in their hand at the same time

2 Too lazy to get a saucer [more to do with not wanting to wash up/make desk messy]

3 They didn’t want colleagues to see them holding a bunch of biscuits at the same time [especially women]

4 People didn’t like leaving them on their desks [i] dirty [ii] people steal/borrow them. 

… so by taking all these learning’s/insights – and adding abit of his disgustingly brilliant creative mind – Bazza came up with the ‘biscuit tea mug’ idea, which we then developed and talked to a distributor about, who inturn licensed it to Firebox and the rest is [fingers crossed] tea-quaffing-biscuit-dunking-money-making history!

Now I know NP has announced he’s just appointed an official office tea mug, but something tells me he’ll want one of these – and I hope he gets it because everytime there’s a sale, we get a % of the cash, hahaha!

Something else Firebox have just launched – this time without the help of Bazza – is the brilliantly mad Wi-Fi t-shirt.

With more and more mobile devices having inbuilt wi-fi – there is a greater need for people to find out if they are in range of a Wi-fi spot.

Now there’s lots of ways to do this – including turning the bloody device on – however as we’re all such a bunch of time-poor bastards/princesses, Firebox has created a t-shirt that tells you there and then whether you can save on your mobile bill and surf via Wi-Fi.

Sure it’s a gimmick and there’s other devices on the market that perform exactly the same sort of thing – however it’s tailor-made for a Firebox type-of customer and more importantly, helps build their brand persona by demonstrating what they believe rather than just saying it via advertising.

Last example interms of creating fate rather than hoping to influence it is this double iPOD charging clock radio …


Many households today have a couple of iPODS and yet more often than not, one tends to dominate the ‘charger’ whereas the other tends to be left till it goes flat.

Well thanks to this device, that no longer has to be the case because this product allows both iPODS to be charged at the same time and – because musical tastes differ – lets each iPOD be set for a different alarm times using different wake-up songs.

The thing is, the insight behind this idea wouldn’t of been something new – it’s probably been around as long as iPODSs – however only one company made something from it whereas the others focused more on aesthetics and/or pointless ‘added value features’.

Now I know you’re thinking, all these examples represent the height of laziness – I mean not holding 3 biscuits in your hand, turning on a Wi-fi device or charging your iPOD is pathetic right? – however this isn’t about humanities devolution towards ‘minimum effort’ [that’s for another day] this is about how insight/consumer understanding can/should be used to help clients develop financially viable products/brands [as opposed to just their advertising] because not only can these things have more impact on society than the majority of communication created, but it also demonstrates the worth of agencies and planners because if we don’t start making more stuff happen, we’re going to be sidelined for ever.

Everything’s Bigger In America …
February 25, 2008, 5:24 pm
Filed under: Comment

Following on from my earlier post about sexism in marketing, here’s a little story of someone who doesn’t have to worry about being patronised …

Daughter: My friends and I want to go out tonight.

Mother: Where are ya’ll going?

Daughter: To the cowboy bar on the edge of town.

Mother: I don’t think you should, there’s been a lot of trouble there and people get hurt.

Daughter: But Mom!! Please!! I’ll be okay.

Mother: No, your life is more important than going out.

Daughter: But Tina is going with us…

Mother: Well, in that case, it should be okay ..  ya’ll have fun!



Please note that any resemblance to Andy is purely coincidental. Personally I don't think it looks anything like him, but for some reason Marcus has suggested it does!

[Thanks to the lovely Charlie for this!]

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Sexism Is Alive And Well …
February 25, 2008, 7:42 am
Filed under: Comment

As seen in the inflight magazine of a Thai airline …



With this sort of attitude, I’m surprised they don’t offer kitchen appliances amongst the perfumes section given that’s what they obviously think women are all about.

Yes I’m being harsh – and sadly there is still alot of ‘traditional gender role’ attitudes in Asia – but I am sick to death of brands/companies falling into mass cliché territory to separate their male/female customer base.

A while back I was asked by a magazine what I thought about female skewed advertising [ie: products that are ‘unisex’ but in communication are being targeted towards female customers] and I said I was appalled how many brands talk to women in superficial terms like “This computer is made for you because it now comes in pink” – and you know what, a load of agencies gave me shit for that.


OK … so there’s some women out there who don’t care what they buy/use as long as it matches their fucking nail polish [like there’s men out there who don’t care as long as it has tits in the ad] but to treat the masses in such a way is incredibly insulting – not to mention ignorant.

What’s even worse is this mass prejudice communication has the potential to start influencing how women act – educating them that the only things that are important are material possessions, pretty colours and selflessly working for your family. 

Of course there’s nothing wrong with that – but the potential loss of identify, passion and opinion is enough to set the female gender back 100 years – or in Asia’s case – 30!

Spice Girls Return

For Huh’s benefit, I should point out I am generalising … I know there are a lot of very independent, smart, beautiful women throughout Asia – however it cannot be denied ‘gender roles/expectations’ are alive and well in the region and this is leading to all sorts of inner and outer conflict/turmoil as women battle to find their own identity whilst staying true to the fundamental Asian value system.

Where are the brands that treat women [and men for that matter] with respect and honour?-

The ones that don’t fall into clichéd anti-men/anti-women territory, but communicate in interesting, relevant and engaging terms?

Sure there are some brands that do that – but to me, there seems a whole lot more who trade in the evil that is lowest common denominator thinking.

Whose to blame?

Well lots of people to be honest.

From the Governments who don’t take on the issue with any great gusto … to the media who present this way of living/thinking as ‘normal’ … to the clients and agencies who continue to force this rubbish down our throats … to the consumers who [too often] blindly accept it … to the research companies who happily ‘validate’ it all because they are seemingly becoming more concerned with keeping their clients happy [to maintain their contracts] than doing what is right and looking deeper – however as I’m going into areas that are better saved for another day, I’ll leave it there – besides my dinner should be on the table and I won’t want it to get cold! 🙂

Impending Death: Always A Nice Way To Start The Day/Week …
February 25, 2008, 7:39 am
Filed under: Comment

Nice to know I only have about 40 odd years left of suffering Andy’s bollocks, ha!

Brought to you by the ever-happy Singapore Straits Times!

Dog Obedience Class …
February 22, 2008, 7:06 am
Filed under: Comment


Click here to mix it like a mongrel …

And when you’ve done that, find out how much shit has been going on in the World while you’ve been frivolously enjoying yourself.

[Thanks to Age for the ‘Life’s Shit’ link which I blatantly stole, ha!]

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