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

There’s No Accounting For Taste …
December 30, 2008, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Potential Darwin Awards

… Slideshare have highlighted my PSFK preso on their homepage.

I can only assume it is an act of sabotage by one of their competitors as there’s no other plausible explanation for it. Oh hang on, there is … it could be one of my enemies [of which I obviously have loads] who see this as a way to get Sorrell, WPP and/or Getty Images to sue me. The sneaky little buggers!

I know it’s not much and that if I had an ounce of ‘cool’ I’d act all nonchalant about it, but the reality is I’m quite chuffed [and shocked] because I still believe no one [other than my Mum and even she’s questionable at times] gives a damn about what I think, let alone would encourage someone else to read it.

[As you can tell, that doesn’t stop me ranting on like a madman though, ha!]

Of course by tomorrow the link [and this post] will be irrelevant, but like the time I got 2% in my maths exam, it’ll live on in my [and my Mum’s] memory forever, ha!

Comments Off on There’s No Accounting For Taste …

Q: Was Mick Hucknell Right When He Sang ‘Money’s Too Tight To Mention’? A: No.
December 30, 2008, 9:48 am
Filed under: Comment

So we’ve recently been doing some work – like every other agency – regarding how the recession [or as we like to say it, ‘how life is today’] affects consumer attitudes and spending.

However our research has got quite different results to that of the JWT’s, O&M’s of this World …

Without doubt consumer spending has been hit … you’d have to be an idiot not to realise that … however we believe it’s more a case of the redistribution of spend than the complete reduction of it.

In places like Hong Kong, the culture is seemingly hot-wired to spend … so whilst there are a few there who have morphed into the ultimate frugal machine … the majority are still seeking out emotional ‘highs’ from material acquisition each and every day.

Now as I said, because of the economy, people’s choices are being influenced in different ways … however rather than staying at home and putting their cash under beds, the reality is each and every day many people are out there seeking out brands/products that can give them a similar emotional high as they achieved when times were good and they could embrace more ‘big ticket items’.

Ironically, that doesn’t always mean they end up spending less …

What we’ve discovered is that short-term memory plays a very important part in how people define ‘value for money’.

Photo: Doris & Rocque

Sticking with HK for a moment …

The price of bread has recently experienced inflation rates not seen since Russia circa 1980 …

Given the price of bread is relatively cheap, these high inflation rates means prices have gone from approx 60 cents to around $2 … which admittedly is alot in percentage terms, but still quite manageable for the average person.

Now here’s the thing …

Because people can still remember when bread was much cheaper, they no longer define it as being ‘good value for money’ so they are seeking out breakfast alternatives that can provide them with both functional and emotional benefits – of which Macca’s breakfasts [starting at $3.50] is proving to be exceptionally popular.

Yes, you read that right … people in their thousands are spending MORE money than they did before [on breakfast] because they see the ‘base level food group’ [ie: bread] as being too expensive when for a little bit more, they can enjoy a breakfast that helps them feel more indulgent and upmarket.

[No, I’m not joking]

I’m sure Freud would claim these are the actions of people looking to delude themselves that they are still successful when all around them the news is acting like its 1929 again … but for brands like Macca’s, this ability to capitalise on the increased costs of fundamental food groups is a boom.

Of course not every person is acting this way …. and their actions and attitudes are continually changing [even down to their behaviour by daypart] … however this recession is proving a boom for the shopaholic culture because now they can now indulge in their favourite activities and actually buy more for less.

Photo: Shutterberry

Yes brands are claiming their profits are being badly hit … but you only have to look at and see that people are still spending cash … and the only reason this might not translate to an equal rise in profits is because they’ve either [1] already discounted their prices in a sheep-following act and/or [2] people are choosing different types of brand/products to give them their rational/emotional high.

Hell, there is a whole group of people who have never had it so good …

No, I’m not talking about the uber-wealthy, I’m talking about Mr & Mrs Average … the one’s who’ve lived within their means … because suddenly their mortgages are cheaper, their food at the supermarket is cheaper and the petrol to run their 2 cars is cheaper. Infact, if they don’t get made redundant in 09, this economic downturn could be one of the greatest periods for financial stability and advancement in their life.

Don’t get me wrong … times are tough, consumer spending has been hit and hopefully people are getting a better perspective of what really is important in life … however this blanket attitude of commercial doom & gloom should not be applied across all segments because for every car and house industry that is suffering, there is a fast food or holiday category that is booming.

Believe it or not, this post was not written in an attempt to say brands should keep advertising [I find it ironic agencies keep putting out that argument when they openly express they are doing all they can to cut back on their own spending … though I do think they should continue communicating, they just need to do it in new and relevant ways, of which TV ads is not one of the most effective] … it is simply to say there is still money is out there and if companies spent the time to truly understand the changing attitudes of people in the current climate, they may find they can survive without having to automatically rely on price reduction.

Saying that, if you are a car manufacturer, you’re fucked and if further proof was needed, have a look at this …

Yep, some Sydney Police Forces are buying Fiat’s as their squad cars.

Sure it’s funny but think of the poor communities that these Police are meant to protect. You can bet your bottom dollar the crime rates in those suburbs are going to go through the roof because crims will know there’s not a cat in hell’s chance they’ll be caught by some copper in a Noddy car. I’d laugh too if this photo wasn’t taken in the locality of where we’ve just bought a house. ARGH!

Right, that really is the last post till I move countries, so till then … happy new year, though I don’t know how happy we can be about it, not unless you own the Macca’s breakfast franchise in HK, ha!

[PS: Read Faris’ view on the economy … I particularly like [and agree with] his bottom up, not top down approach … though how long that will last is anyones guess]

[PPS: Our full report will be coming out soonish, so if you want a copy, let me know – it has some very interesting findings even if I say it myself, including why ‘recession is good for marriage’, you heard it here first, ha!]

[PPPS: I realise this post conflicts with what I said yesterday. Can’t a man change his mind or is that only the right of the female population, ha!]

You Know The Economy Is Bad …
December 29, 2008, 8:36 am
Filed under: Comment

… when even our dear old St Nick is trying to earn a few extra bucks by pimping himself out to all and sundary when this was once his most profitable time of the year.

How sad it has come to this … the banking industry has a lot to answer for.

Rob  Santa by you.

[Hope you all had/having a nice break … enjoy it, I have a feeling 09 is going to be a right bitch, ha!]

I Know I Said I’d Written My Last Post For The Year …
December 18, 2008, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Comment

… but I’m advertising so you should know my promises are worth jack shit.

Anyway, to end the year on a positive note … here’s the [probably done by Landor] rebranding of some companies currently experiencing economic hardship!

Hey, it makes more sense than Landor’s ‘Tide’ explanation …

Happy fun times, see you in 09!

Walking Off Into The [Boiling Hot] Sunset …
December 17, 2008, 7:30 am
Filed under: Comment

Photo: Tony Kemplin

So today is my last post of this year …

Consider it my present to you … ha!

Yes I know it’s still quite a while till Santa’s/Jesus’/Alcoholic Anonymous big day [delete as appropriate] but I’ve just got back to Singapore after weeks and weeks of travel and I only have a couple of days before I bugger off to Sydney before popping back to pack up my house and move to Hong Kong.

Because of this, I probably won’t be ranting till Feb [what I mean is I won’t be ranting on this blog till Feb, if my move is anything like any of my previous moves, I’ll be ranting rather a lot in public] but when I’m back I’ll be putting up the next A[P]SOTW assignment and with a bit of luck, I’ll of convinced a rather famous person to be one of the judges. And no, I’m not talking about Gary Glitter!

Anyway I was going to write about all the stuff that’s gone on this year and compare it to what I said for my last post of last year – but that’s almost as boring as hearing someone go on about their dreams – so suffice to say it’s been a very eventful time both from a World perspective and a personal one and I am very glad that Mr M finally achieved what he had been working towards for so long.

[And lets not forget the exciting things that Marcus and Lauren have been doing/achieving … I expect next year will be their years!]

A couple of days ago Andy asked me what my professional highlights of 2008 were for me – and after I went on about Google, Sunshine, PSFK and a whole host of other things both, the bastard turned to me and said,

“That’s interesting but I find America voting in a black president the most inspiring and hopeful”

What a bastard … in a few words he made me look even more of a self-obsessed bastard than I already am, though it made him look like a Miss World contestant. Metaphorically speaking of course, ha!

Photo: KK_WPG

Now whilst I’ll still be popping back into Singapore every now and then, I do have to admit I am sad to be leaving.

That doesn’t mean I’m not excited about going to live in another new country… Hong Kong is an amazing country … however I’m sad because it means yet again, I’ll be a stranger in a place I considered home.

Now I know I’ve had a few rants about Singapore … and I still worry where the country is heading given the general populations myopic view of itself, the younger generations sense of entitlement and the governments continued lack of imagination and trust in its people potential [though to be fair, they have to live up to the genius and vision of LKY] … however it is a wonderful country that offers [most] people a fantastic standard of living and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here.

Of course there are other reasons why this country will always have a special place in my heart …

Putting work aside … this was the place where Jill and I moved in together for the first time [as we’d only met a few weeks before I was due to move to Singapore] … where we got married … where we adopted a cat …

I’ve met some wonderful people … people I count as real friends … had some amazing [and weird] experiences and got to travel throughout a region which I can say is one of the most amazing, creative and vibrant places on Earth.

In short, Singapore got me falling in love with Asia.

Now I admit that when I first came here I only planned on being around for 2 years.

Lets be honest, the only reason I came here was because of opportunity … however now I find myself choosing Asia over a very nice life in San Francisco.

I know a lot of people think I’m mad for that – at least professionally – and without doubt from a work point of view, Asia has been one of the most frustrating times of my career … however putting aside the people and the culture, there is talent in this part of the World that is truly fantastic and I am sure with guidance, encouragement and an injection of commercial bravery [which is going to be the hardest thing, at least from a commercial creative point of view] I believe they will be able to give the West a real run for their money.

Is this misguided?

You might well think so, but apart from the fact the financial strength of the World is returning to Asia, there are 2 key things that make me believe it …

1/ I have been involved in some things in Asia that were genuinely good – not from a local perspective – but from a global one.

2/ Lets be honest, apart from a few notable exceptions, there is very little going on in Western adland that is really worth shouting about. Seriously, how many ads do you see that really blow you away? It’s one of those situations where sometimes, it really was better back in the “old days” and I am perfectly aware that was a time where planners were people who sat in a council office and decided where to build local factories.

It’s not going to be easy, but I can honestly say I’m going to do all I can to wipe the smug and delusional smiles off a lot of Western Ad Agency CEO’s … including Andy’s … so if you really want to test yourself, I say get on a plane and come to Asia, because it’ll blow your mind in all its frustrating and liberating glory.

So that’s it – time to move on – so to all the people in Singapore, I thank you for your kindness and graciousness and say I am leaving your wonderful country as a big fan … a big fan with a PR card so be scared, I could come back, ha!

YAY, Campbell’s Going!

To the rest of you … the fools who read/comment on this blog [why????] … I wish you all a wonderful festive season and hope 2009 is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, even if that means you’ll end up having far better things to do than pop along here and take my rants into complete tangents.

This year I was lucky enough to meet Charles and Dodds [lucky in the ‘loose’ sense of the word, ha!] so I hope next year I get to meet some of the rest of you, even if that’s not exactly high on your list of things to do.

All the very best and here’s to you, me and every other bugger for a happy, healthy, exciting, interesting, challenging and safe 12 months.

As a final act of 2008, I would like to have a little bit of fun ….

Basically I want to do the ‘alternative A to Z’ of advertising with every person contributing to at least one letter.

Only rules are that you have to try and keep it as much in alphabetical order as is possible … and I hope when I check this blog sometime in the new year [who am I kidding, what I mean to say ‘when I check this blog when Jill’s back is turned’], it’ll make up a list that represents the real version of adland … not the carefully constructed pile of delusion most in the industry hang their hat on.

So to get things going, I’ll start with …


… over to you …