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


Conversational Parasite …
August 19, 2009, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’ve been in HK for about 7 months now and putting aside the issues I’ve written about previously, the country is a great place to live – full of excitement, colour, vibrancy and creative people.

However there’s a few things that I miss and one of those is the difficulty to listen in to other people’s conversations.

OK, so it’s easy if they speak English … even American … but when the majority of the population speak an entirely different language – one I am endeavouring to get a grip on – I know I am missing out on tons of ‘stuff’.

To be honest, this desire to hear other people’s conversations isn’t just because it’s obviously very useful for work, it’s because I’ve always found it very interesting for life.

Whilst the work issue is a major one, having lived/worked in none-English speaking countries for quite a few years, I’ve been able to find ways to help me get around this issue whilst still picking up the subtleties and intricacies of conversation and none-verbal communication … but as this is the first time I’ve lived in a country where English isn’t the main language – and I have little desire to spend all my time hanging around the people who only speak the ‘mother tongue’ – I spend an inordinate amount of time people watching, wishing I could easily understand what it was they were saying, even if in reality they are probably talking about [1] how shit Speidi were on ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’ or [2] why the freaky 4-eyed white guy is staring at them.



For A Miserable Bastard, I’m Quite Happy Today …
August 18, 2009, 6:26 am
Filed under: Comment

First of all congrats to my dear Freddie who has just joined BBH as one of the big wigs in planning.

It’s brilliant news – and couldn’t be a better match if I married Megan Fox and Angelina.

Of course the real reason he took up their offer is so he can be near our beloved killer dwarf, Emah, again – but what pleases me more is that even though Freddie is an uber-talent, the lovely folk at BBH were able to see past the fact he either wears his pants way too high or frequents office parties like he’s Elton John circa 1977.

Anyway, it’s top news and it makes me stupidly happy – both for Freddie and my mates at the black sheep.

Talking of BBH …

The global planner survey is in and they have been labelled as the agency with the best planning department … closely followed by Crispin, WK, Goodby and Fallon.

I suppose the 2 biggest surprises are that TBWA, Saatchi, DDB and McCann are nowhere to be seen [which is a bit unfair given I know people in all those places who are bloody brilliant] AND that enough planners felt Sunshine was a decent enough planning bunch that the author of the report felt it worthy of giving it a mention.

This makes me very happy … not just because I have bragging rights over my lovely [and stupidly brilliant] boys & girls at cynic but because for a company just under a year old, it’s quite nice to be noticed.

So to whoever said such nice things [excluding my Mum] I thank you and we’ll see what we can do to live up to the praise, because quite frankly, we haven’t done shit yet.

But we will. Oh yes, we will. 🙂

[gigya width=”425″ height=”355″ src=”http://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=plannersurveyresults2009-090813104403-phpapp01&stripped_title=planner-survey-results-2009″ quality=”high” wmode=”tranparent” ]



High Achieving, Multi-Taskers Make Me Sick. And Jealous.
August 17, 2009, 6:00 am
Filed under: Comment

I remember my Dad bet me 50 quid I couldn’t do the Rubik’s Cube.

Well, one day, I spent about 15 hours non-stop on it – and even though I didn’t know how I managed it, I succeeded … though there was little point because my ol’ man was so convinced I cheated [such faith in his son eh!] he didn’t pay up.

I should of sued.

Anyway, I bring this up is because I’ve just been mentally violated/humiliated by this …

What a smart, smug, multi-tasking little shit.

But here’s the thing …

Years ago, while working on Smarties, I did a lot of stuff with young kids [not in the Michael Jackson sense, obviously] and the thing I loved was their ability to notice and place huge emphasis/value on things that were incidental to whatever it was they were viewing/experiencing.

Whereas adults would watch Harry Potter and see a 4-eyed virgin with shit hair and an inability to magic himself up some contact lenses even though he’s supposed to be some sort of Wizard genius … the little un’s would notice things like how the clouds are moving behind him, how some schoolkid is flicking peas at his mate at the dinner table and how the cleaning lady is being spit roasted whilst snorting cocaine off a teachers tits.

Or so I’ve been told.

OK, so this news won’t be new to any of you [that kids notice the details, not that Harry Potter is basically a porn flick] but wouldn’t it be great if agencies and clients adopted the same approach when trying to sell stuff to ‘adults’ rather than the spoon-fed drivel they seem so keen on producing each and every day?

I still get seriously shocked when companies produce boring, unimaginative, unemotional and self-focused pieces of blandom and then act all surprised/hurt/angry when they fail to motivate any interest, let alone action.

Alright, so the agency behind the rubbish should take some of the blame … however whilst mainstream advertising might not be as effective as it once was, I could argue that it has as much to do with what companies want to subject on the masses as it does with the changing media habits of the people.

As I have been known to say, “a bad brand always blames the agency” … but then a client once said to me, “a bad agency always blames the client” but he was wrong because some of them also blame the research.

🙂



Money Doesn’t Make You Live Longer …
August 14, 2009, 6:16 am
Filed under: Comment

Before I left for my break, I heard the very sad news that a very talented Creative Director at Leo Burnett’s Malaysia died of a stroke.

She was 51.

Now I know stokes can be brought on by a multitude of things, but I wonder how much of it can be attributed to work day stress?

Of course I appreciate stress affects people in different ways … and that the things that cause people anxiety can vary immensely … however in a World where organisations are putting more and more pressure on their staff to work longer hours, take on more responsibility and drive better and more efficient results … should they also be taking some responsibility on the effects they are having on that individuals health?

Yes … I know many companies have some token health care scheme, but I’m talking preventative care, not reactionary.

You see, I feel some companies think that because they pay a salary, they have a right to dictate whatever they want from their staff – regardless of the impact.

What bugs me even more is that many of these companies will have a mission statement that states something like “our staff are our greatest asset” …

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR …

A few years ago – in an act of evil – I asked a friend of mine who works at a global charity group to do a study on the average hours worked by an advertising account executive versus how much pay they received and do you know what he found? That in many cases, the corporations they work for are employing ‘slave labour’.

Yep … the exploitation of humanity is not just limited to certain fashion brands, it is alive and well and standing there for us all to see.

And here lies my issue.

Whilst I know money is very important – I believe companies have a moral duty to offer their staff more than just cash.

Yeah … I know I’ll have things like holiday’s and training thrown back in my face … but let’s be honest here, most companies hate giving their staff time off, and the training they give – especially in adland – is a joke, especially when compared to many other industries.

Hell, I might think the banking industry is a home for the sort of delusionists who in Victorian times, would be locked up in hospital and never seen again, but interms of training – my god, they’re good. Of course WHAT they train people is open to debate, but it is something they are really committed to and makes the token gestures of adland look even more weak.

But it’s more than that.

There’s this attitude that if someone complains about workload, they are immediately labelled as weak and/or a trouble maker.

Of course I know some people can be lazy fucks – but I’ve seen many people, me included – who have been given ridiculously big and demanding tasks just because the company they worked for felt it was a way to maximise their profitability because they’d dropped their pants on the fee they agreed to give the client.

Not that they’d admit to that. Oh no … it’s always sold as ‘an opportunity’ … a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ chance to impress.

I know … I know … without money we’d have no jobs … and whilst I know that’s true, I’m a bit fed up of how companies trot that excuse out everytime they want their people to do something beyond their job description.

So what am I suggesting?

Well I think it might be useful if companies send their staff to learn stress management techniques and then allow them [or evaluate them] to ensure it is maintained on a regular basis.

It doesn’t matter if it’s yoga, talking to psychologists or boxing … I’m talking about giving people the ability to learn ways to ‘manage’ their internal pressures – pressures that go beyond the workplace – but affect the workplace.

I’m not suggesting this because if people can manage stress, they can then be given more work … I’m saying it because in our battle to have some kind of work/life balance, just having the ability to ‘switch off’ when you finish work is something that could have big health benefits for many people.

And what does the company get out of it?

Well apart from happier, more energised employee’s who can start to make a bigger difference with their clients because they are able to look at the bigger picture rather than get bogged down with niggling things that eat them up from the inside … they are able to probably negotiate cheaper staff health insurance because their staff are less likely to fall ill.

Infact, when I think of it, I believe this sort of approach should be mandated by clients – especially those who work in the health industry – even though in reality we all know they like sick people more than happy and healthy.

But seriously, how strong a message would it send to adland if one of these billion dollar pharmaceutical companies said they would only award their business to an agency who had processes in place that made sure their staff’s mental and physical wellbeing was being catered for?

And how positive would the team working on the account feel about their client?

Sure, when they start demanding bigger logo’s and headline changes at 11pm it might all go down the toilet, but you get that from most clients so at least you’d feel this was someone who had helped you get something more out of your agency and life.

Maybe.

OK, I know I haven’t thought it all through and in no way am I suggesting the sad death of Yasmin had anything to do with the pressures her agency put her under … but in these challenging times with companies needing to be ever more efficient and effective, I believe making sure your staff are healthy and happy is both a corporate responsibility and a corporate advantage – even though I bet if I asked most people what would make them happier in the workplace, they’d say “more cash”.

I really was born in the wrong era wasn’t I!



Curiosity Killed The Apathy …
August 13, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’m back … back after the shittest holiday since my honeymoon, and let me tell you, that was a ‘gold medal’ in totall and utter shittiness.

Swine flu is a total bitch – but what makes it even worse is that it ruined a holiday I needed/wanted more than you could ever imagine.

To make it worse, I found a post I had written PRIOR to my departure that detailed what I was expecting to feel when I got back … shows what I know eh.

So enjoy reading what I thought I’d get out of my holiday, safe in the knowledge that in reality, I ended up being more underwhelmed than Jill when she said “I do”.

Photo: Pat Dollard

Hello lovelies – how the hell are you?

Hope you’re well – even though I know now I’m back, you’re probably all rushing for some anti-biotics at this very moment.

Anyway, I want to thank everyone who took up my reverse blogging challenge – I’ve not read them yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve come up with and I’ll write my 2 pennies worth directly on your blogs/comments.

Despite not writing a post for almost 2 weeks, I was actually only away for about 6 days – and whilst it went in the blink of an eye, I’m almost happy it was so short.

No – it’s not because I am a [1] workaholic [2] sad bastard … but because having such a short break meant if I didn’t abuse every second I had, I’d end up letting something I really craved slip quietly away into the distance.

Why?

Well I’ve said it before, but the pressures and expectations we now place [and have placed] on our lives means that for many of us, the purpose of a holiday has changed from a period of exploration and discovery to one of recuperation and rest.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

Now there’s nothing really wrong with that – and if people want to spend their precious 2 weeks holiday eating, drinking, sleeping, shopping and sunbathing then that’s cool, even though I can’t help but think it’s quite like what we probably all do at home albeit with better weather/different fashion – but for me, doing this is pretty sad given ‘a break from the everyday’ is something we seemingly all covet so highly.

OK, I’ll be honest, part of me would have loved 6 days of sleep and slobbery and if I’d been away for 3 weeks, I’m sure I’d of tried to mentally organise my time so I got this ‘in’ … but because I didn’t have the luxury of time, I made sure I did things/met people who were new and fresh rather than purely focus on the [admittedly lovely] old and familiar … and you know what, despite now resembling a Dad who has had to raise 8 kids on his own for the last 10 years – I feel I’ve had a much longer break than I actually did … not because I’m physically refreshed, but because mentally and emotionally I feel energised.

I’ve said it many times that my parents have always pushed me to experience a life, not a lifestyle – and whilst I’ve generally been pretty good at maintaining that, it’s only when you actively force yourself to explore life – you realise how little you know, how many great things there are still to experience and how much you’ve let the pendulum of your work/life balance slip into the danger area.

Jesus, I am sounding like a hippy Vicar aren’t I … and there is the very real chance this post is to help me feel better about having such a pitifully short break … so let’s wrap it up there and hope that tomorrow, I’ll be more Rob Campbell than Oprah bloody Winfrey.