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

It’s Not Business, It’s Personal …
July 30, 2008, 7:57 am
Filed under: Comment

A while back I wrote about how difficult it is to run global / regional brands.

The main thrust of my rant was that not only do you have to get a grip [and manage] cultural differences, but you also have to counter the various corporate attitudinal differences – which tends to mean that apart from a focus on ‘getting the money in’, there’s little consistency in approach.

To highlight my example, I discussed how SONY Malaysia were systematically destroying their corporate brands vision, strategy and goal by embarking on some terrible advertising for Vaio.

28/12/2007 I’d rather be an orphan!

Now I know I shouldn’t care because I left that account when I/we ended our WPP experiment – but the thing is I do care, I care alot – and what kills me is that it seems SONY Malaysia’s terrible attitude towards brand building and treating people with respect and intelligence is spreading to Singapore.

Normally when I go to the Funan Mall – one of Singapore’s dedicated technology shopping centres – I get very excited because I know I’ll be seeing/buying more pointless shit that will keep me happy for oooooooh, 10 minutes, however on this occasion, I felt sick before I even entered the doors because hanging proudly at the entrance was this …

ย 21/07/2008




So according to SONY [or should I say SONY VAIO … coincidence? I think not!] the colour pink makes you [1] more romantic and [2] more beautiful.

Well no offence, but Barbara Cartland was liberally coated in the stuff and she looked fucking terrible … though to be fair, she did write a load of soppy guff that sold in the millions.

And what the hell is luxurious pink?

Is that like ‘Tuscan Red’ … which is basically red with a poncy name? Designers have a lot to answer for I can tell you … ๐Ÿ™‚

Now while I am sure there are some people out there who really, really, really want a pink computer [Emah for example!] I doubt even they would buy one JUST because of it’s fucking colour.

And if they did, would you really want stupid bastards walking around associating with your brand?

Well actually if you’re embarking on this sort of strategy, we know the answer to that – however selling your brand/product purely on the basis it comes in a particular shade of pink undermines any premium price you hope to achieve.

Look, I know that when iMac first offered different colour โ€˜flavoursโ€™, it was a novel approach because before that, computers had only been available in grey or black โ€ฆ however as I said previously, we live in multi-coloured โ€˜everythingโ€™ times, so this approach is particularly weak, especially when every other computer manufacture – including the super-cheap-and-nasty – offers the same option.

It is a very fine line between brand consistency and profit – however they are not mutually exclusive – and if SONY carries on letting it’s VAIO subsidiary fuck up their brand, then they only have themselves to blame if they go back to the wilderness they were so recently an inhabitant of.

I love SONY – not just because of what I/we did for them – but because I adore their products and when I see this kind-of activity, it makes me ill because it’s the actions of the desperate and/or totally misinformed.

I’m sure there’ll be someone who retort this approach has had a positive short term effect on sales, however to them I would counter by saying it’s the long-term ramifications you should be worried about – but then when organisations only focus on the end of the month, I’d only be wasting my breath wouldn’t I?

Brands keep going on about how hard it is to achieve consumer loyalty, but what do they expect when they subject them to lowest common denominator communication day after day after day?

Hmmmmn, I wonder how much of this approach is a byproduct of how the marketing manager/director is treated/respected by their boss?

As one client once said to me, “shit is handed down in direct proportion to what he is experiencing himself” – which means if the CEO isn’t getting laid, we all suffer ๐Ÿ™‚

30 Comments so far
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this is more like it, no more nicey nice shit, just a good hard hitting campbell rant and i fucking love the client quote, thats max isnt it.

just remember rob, giving a shit is a strength not a fucking weakness and its one of the reasons sony gave you the business in the first place and why they might be doing it again very soon, pending lawsuits permitting, lol

Comment by andy@cynic

Emah would buy one solely because it was pink, but that just proves your argument.

Comment by John

Apple, on the other hand, make black computers and implicitly dare you to pay more money for them. And people do.

Comment by John

i blame baz

Comment by andy@cynic

Well naturally Bazza is to blame – but putting that aside for a moment – you are absolutely right John [about Emah and Apple] … but then I did say [both here and on your blog] that I feel Apple’s philosophy and values are changing and they’re becoming more like an FMCG than the brand that built its reputation on quality, purpose and pragmatic innovation.

Ambition is good but greed is blinding and they seem to be moving towards the Gordon Gekko side of the fence – though I am sure I am in the minority in thinking this way, but only time will truly tell if I have a right to say this or am talking my usual unmitigated bollocks ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by Rob

Oh and yes Andy, it was most definitely Max with that comment.

The other famous one being the ‘Remember guys, I have the shit umbrella so no crap will ever land on me”

What a lovely man he was ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by Rob

You should post/ use more such quotes, they realy are MAX ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by bhaskar

I’m a long time fan of this blog but this is my first comment so I hope the regulars treat me gently.
I have worked in marketing services for a long time and it is very that I meet more apathetic brand directors than passionate ones.
I am confident one of the reasons you are so successful is because your passion and enthusiasm are infectious. Even when you are being highly critical, it comes across as someone who wants to improve things for all parties rather than just wanting a better ad.
Keep up the good work and writing, I am sure Sony will be calling on your input once more.

Comment by Chris Sykes

Pink as beautiful girly colour is default for creatives who don’t have a clue how to do anything original. (or clients who dont have a clue)

Comment by Rob Mortimer

How many times have I told you not to write on my blog Uncle Sykes ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for the kind words – you obviously have been out in the sun abit too long but as no one else is nice to me, I’ll gladly accept it. Hope you write back again soon – you should be safe, Andy and Billy are away for a few days and Marcus is being positive, ha

As for you Mr M – I said a similar thing to your comment in a magazine a while back and got slagged off by some planner at McCann HK [or somewhere] saying I was being elitist and arrogant. Nice eh – and he’d know being a patron of the World renowned ‘demand strategy’

Comment by Rob

Chris, do you really exist? Or are you one of Rob’s nom de plums and he’s trying to get some positive words in here?

Whatsoever, I absolutely agree with Rob. I don’t like Sony. Probably because I don’t like the brand voice. It’s not telling me anything interesting or warm about Sony. Sony is a cold, technical brand. And a millions balls or a zillion gallons of foam won’t change that.

But it’s hard having your own voice when you have to attach to so many markets and different cultures. And it’s even harder to maintain your voice when you’re getting more and more successful. Like Apple. They lost it. Me thinks.

Comment by Seb

i’d still do molly ringwald, ginger and pink is to good to pass up, devoid of creativity or not

Comment by nh

If Chris is me – then NH is you Seb ๐Ÿ™‚

And how can you say you agree with me then say you hate SONY?

I love ’em – but I do get your point which is why I was so excited about the stuff I was starting to do with them … but we still had a mile to go and it seems now there’s 2 miles to go, ha!

Comment by Rob

I wanted to state that I agree with the points you made. Though I might missed the “but” before my expression of dislike for Sony.

Their products are way to expensive and not very compatible. For exmaple I do like some of their cameras but these little bastards don’t take SD-Cards. But SD-Cards are the only ones with built-in USB connector what eases getting pics on my MacBook. So it won’t be a Sony for me.

Anyway I think a brand needs something to stand for. Something they believe in. And every piece of communication should breathe this belief. It may breathe it in different languages and different cultural contexts but it definitely has to. The only thing Sony does is sweating out colours right now. Saying nothing.

But it’s hard to find these belief in big companies. If you’re looking at smaller ones you can find it brilliantly executed. The likes of innocent and howies are a good example. Honda did it quite good in the UK one or two years ago. But they seem to have lost that momentum.

Comment by Seb

That ‘but’ was quite important wasn’t it, haha!

Honda’s best move was changing the look of the Civic – it allowed WK’s work to actually mean something – I hate how adland forgets that … but I agree with your points though you do know SONY have wifi cameras which would make linking to your Mac even easier.

Jesus, I should be charging for that publicity ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by Rob

Rob, seb still has principle’s so don’t drag him to our/my level. let’s keep this blog nice and clean ๐Ÿ˜‰ (just like molly is)

Comment by nh

Hondas still look shit.

Comment by Seb

It’s like with ideas.
You can have a good idea.
But if you can’t make it look good to others,
it’s a shit idea.

Comment by Seb

Really? That’s horribly ignorant, even in a place that loves tacky. Most women don’t actually like pink in that way, its just a signifier for ‘female’ that is used by lazy people.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Wouldn’t that be an indulgent idea then?

Abit like what most agencies call a BIG IDEA – which tends to be a small idea with a fancy name created so the ego of the company or the individual can be fulfilled.

Not always – but often.

And NH – just because NP has changed his moniker to NORTHERN, doesn’t mean you can take it over ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by Rob

Absolutely Mr M …

But SONY aren’t the only guilty ones, remember this?

Comment by Rob

it’s called brand resurrection, I bring in totally new demographics, cash rich moral bankrupt easteners looking to settle up north..He and you can thanks me later

Comment by nh

I thought the word “indulgent” was only used by Hรคagen-Dazs and other ice creamies. And now you.

Campbell, you have changed.

Comment by Seb

This blog exemplifies indulgence.

Comment by nb

You make that sound like a bad thing Seb ๐Ÿ™‚

But don’t worry, I wrote my final 2 rants of the week [this ‘house husband lark is brill!] and you’ll be happy to know I’ve returned back to the errrrrrrm, prick you always regarded me to be.

And NB – or should I say Tom Cruise – that’s the best compliment I’ve ever had, ha!

Comment by Rob

Slam Dunk.

Comment by nba

Actually Rob, my second comment was referring to the planner at Mccann HK!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

sadly, i can imagine a whole swag of australian suburbanite women buying this computer because it is pink and pink is ‘in’ right now.. girl power, or something.

lowest common denominator by far. in fact, it’s mass consumerism at its worst – unit shifting. it seeks not to elevate, educate, improve or innovate, but only to prove its mettle by being the most, not the best.

Comment by lauren

As I said Lauren, there will be some stupid bastards who buy this product purely based on its colour but having them walking around associating with the brand will hardly be the best publicity on a bigger, longer scale – it would be the equivilent of me wearing a D&G outfit ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by Rob

i have a habit of just re-stating what you’ve said in a different way, don’t it? sorry bout that.

and i think you should kit out in D&G, head to toe – a big puffy jacket, with bling on your sunnies and a shit-hot pair of white trainers. you could continue to remind me of charles frith ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by lauren

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