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

Spot The Difference …
October 20, 2009, 6:45 am
Filed under: Comment

You know what it means when I use these pictures …

… yep, the missus has spouted another glorious one of her JILLYISMS!

And before you all go on her side, think of the effect this behaviour is having on me … my life … my career … my sleep.

It’s a good job I love her madly and that she only spouts this nonsense when she’s tired or we’d be having to pay a little visit to Mr Divorce on the grounds of mental torture / despair / devolution.

In the words of Andy, I must be a Saint.

Profit In Peace …
October 19, 2009, 6:16 am
Filed under: Comment

I found this post in my drafts folder so it’s not as relevant as it could have been, however that’s never been a problem before so I’ll just get on with it.

OK, so a few months ago, the actor Patrick Swayze died.

I liked this man … not because of his movie roles [though ‘Point Break’ rocked] but because he seemed a really decent guy.

Yeah … yeah … so that impression was formed more around mass media commentary than anything more intimate, however in an industry that thinks nothing of marrying another person within 13 seconds of divorce, the fact he and his wife had been – seemingly happy – together for so many years helped solidify his ‘good guy’ image in my mind.

As most people know, Swayze died after eventually losing his battle with an aggressive form of cancer and – quite rightly – after his death, many people came out saying how sorry they were and how honourable a man he was.

However in this overly commercial World we live in … where respect plays second fiddle to profit … a number of companies saw his passing as an opportunity, not a time of sadness.

Of course this is nothing new …

Hell, you just have to look at how so many people act over a families will to realise this is not something exclusive to members of celebratory.

Anyway, so I was in HMV the weekend after Swayze died, when I saw this …

It’s bad enough that they thought this was an opportunity to make a buck literally days after he had passed away, but the fact there’s a sign on the top saying “THIS MONTH’S SPECIALS” seems a bit tactless.

What do the people at HMV do? Have a team of specialist newspaper obituary readers who are ready to leap into action the moment they spot a someone who has film/music/gaming credentials has died?

All this from an organisation that had the audacity to self-censor magazines on the grounds of bad taste.



But nothing takes the piss more than the way one of the Asian regional television networks is promoting Swayze’s last ever television show, “The Beast”.

As the promo starts, announcing when this new show will commence … a super comes on that says,

“In memory of Patrick Swayze”


Can you believe it?

Why don’t they go the whole hog and just say …

“If you don’t watch this show, you are basically mocking the dead you evil bastards!”

I know television is having a bad time of it at the moment – and ratings are King – but jeez, trying to guilt-trip the masses into watching is a pretty desperate strategy by anyone’s book.

It can surely only be a matter of time before every show starts off with a ‘In Memoriam’ message … featuring either the names of the actor/actresses who have passed away since it was made, or anyone associated with them who have now gone, from parents to pets.

Of course all of this pales into insignificance when you compare it to the exploitation that has been going on with Michael Jackson death … however this is the World we have now created, a World which sadly my industry not only endorses but encourages … and I for one think all this lack of empathy, emotion and respect is doing our society harm but then they do say money is the root of all evil.

I’m About To Be A Member Of The Low Rollers Club …
October 16, 2009, 6:24 am
Filed under: Comment

Have a look at the photos below and tell me where you think they were taken …

Any ideas?

OK I’ll give you a few clues.

1/ It’s a gamblers paradise.

2/ It has hotels like The Hard Rock, Venetian and MGM Grand.

3/ It’s full of big spenders, prostitutes and gloriously bad taste memorabilia.

Got it?

Yes … that’s right, it’s China.

OK, strictly speaking it’s a land ‘owned’ by China called Macau – but eitherway, it’s part of the communist governments ‘interests’ which is probably quite strange for some of you to get your heads around.

Well here’s something a bit stranger … it’s officially the gambling capital of the World.

Yep, little ol’ Macau is bigger than Las Vegas in terms of revenues taken.

Mad eh!

But the point of this post is not to highlight how by the time you read this, I will have gambled away everything I have managed to pull together over the last 39 years [that’s a joke Jill, stop packing your bags] it’s to draw the metaphor with how business talks about the importance of following a ‘carefully crafted strategy’ even though they will happily chuck it out in the blink of an eye if they think they can make some quick cash from another venture which may fly in the face of what they supposedly stand for.

Of course, few will ever openly admit that … and I’m all for companies making tons of cash … however when so many are so quick to criticise their agencies for going ‘off brand’, I find it quite amusing that if you scratch the surface [and sometimes you don’t even have to do that] you realise they go way more off tangent than most in adland could ever hope to achieve.

And I include Fallon’s “Trucks” ad in that. 🙂

Advertising Peep Show …
October 15, 2009, 6:21 am
Filed under: Comment

One of my fave shows is the UK comedy, Peep Show.

The basic premise is that you get to hear what the characters are thinking, even if in reality, they end up replying with something entirely different.

Anyway I bring this up because Matt pointed me in the direction of a clip that kinda reminds me of it.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide why …

For some reason, everytime I watch this clip, the song “War” by Edwin Starr comes into my head, except the lyrics change to …


“What are they good for”

“Absolutely nothing [with clients like these]”

Can’t work out for the life of me why that would be the case …

When It Goes All Wrong, You Make It All Right …
October 14, 2009, 6:08 am
Filed under: Comment

Have you ever heard of the phrase “The customer is always right”?

Pretty sure you have – and whilst I don’t necessarily agree with it entirely – it is a mantra spouted out by many companies all over the World, and yet based on my personal experience what they should be saying is “The customer is always right unless they are dissatisfied with something”.

There’s loads of companies like this … including the ones who publically pronounce their goal is to ensure satisfied customers, like HP, AMEX and IKEA … however that is a post for another day because today, I want to write about a great customer experience I’ve had, and yet it all had the potential to turn into a disaster.

Last week I decided to purchase a multi-gadget charger from Singapore Airlines.

Whilst I am generally good with making sure my plethora of electronics are full of juice, I’m travelling more than ever at the moment and I just want the reassurance that I’m not going to be in the middle of nowhere without the ability to connect to the outside World.

Yes … yes … I know that sometimes being able to ‘disappear’ is a wonderful thing [which is why I hate the fact airlines are allowing mobile phones and internet access in flight] however I want to choose when I am ‘offline’ rather than have it decided for me.

So anyway, I bought this product – a Lifetrons – and packed it in my bag to check out later.

A few hours later, when I got home, I decided to take a closer look at what I bought and after carefully unwrapping the outer packaging, I saw what can only be described as a sexy multi-gadget power charger.

You didn’t think this sort of thing could be sexy did you?

Well you’re probably right, but being a sad bastard it worked for me [see the pic above] … and I immediately set about ‘testing it out’.

All good … all very, very good.

Anyway, I wondered where I needed to put the batteries to ensure the machine always had enough juice to keep to resuscitating ‘technoxygen’ starved gadgets, and blow me – I couldn’t find it.

After looking and looking [which didn’t take long because it’s so bloody small] I did what no man does and turned to the instructions. [Sorry guys]

It was there that I realised the thing charged up via USB and that there was a special cable in the pack.

Except there wasn’t.

I looked and looked and looked.

I tried the multiple different attachments … but no, nothing, nada.

In short, I had a unit that would not charge up once it had used all its power charging up other things. Pah!

Now the thing is, these sorts of thing irrationally bother me … and as it was late, there was no one I could rant at … so with an impending trip coming up, I decided to see if I could order the missing item on Lifetrons website and talk to Singapore Airlines in the morning.

Good news, the cable was available for individual purchase and even better, there was an outlet in HK … so having parted with US$25 and leaving a note on the order form explaining my dilemma, I went to bed.

Next morning I get an email from Lifetrons confirming the purchase.

Except there was something different to this email.

You see whilst they were confirming the purchase, they said they couldn’t possibly charge me because ultimately this was a situation they had to take responsibility for, despite me purchasing it through a totally unrelated retailer.

But there’s more.

Not only were they going to send me the item, by courier, for free, they were going to include a little ‘travel pouch’ as an added apology.

And then they tried to call me [my phone was on silent] to say sorry and how apologetic they were.

[When they couldn’t get through, they sent me an email that expressed real genuine concern for my experience]

Christ … all this for a product that cost about SG$140 [3 quid 73 pence in ‘real money’]

When my brand new VW Golf GTI decided to shit itself after 6 months, I got nothing except a load of excuses and a long, unapologetic wait … and yet here is a brand I’d never really heard of going all the way to ensure I would be satisfied with their product and their brand and it’s worked because here I am saying Lifetrons are a bloody great company who make great products and have absolutely outstanding staff like Customer Service Manager, E Cheung.

To say I am a satisfied customer is an understatement – I am an enthralled customer – and yet, in reality, what they have done is nothing more than what all companies should do so it’s actually quite sad that a company who believes their responsibility doesn’t stop once the product has been made should make me feel so good about them.

But I do … I do a lot … so to all you HP, AMEX and IKEA’s out there, why don’t you stop annoying your customers by continually proving your words are often nothing more than just empty marketing statements and get Lifetrons to advice you how to build a real relationship with your customers because nothing makes people believe more than when something goes wrong and a brand fights to make it right again.

Of course half the problem is that companies don’t empower their staff to be able to ‘fix stuff’ when it goes wrong.

Whether this is because they don’t trust their employees judgement or morals … or simply hate the idea of paying out … is open to debate but for me, a company that has faith in their products DOES empower their staff to make things right because it means it simply doesn’t happen that much, which is in complete contrast to the way many companies operate their customer service departments, which is basically to regard them as a cat litter tray for angry and frustrated customers comments and complaints.

Anyway this isn’t the case with Lifetrons, so to them and E Cheung, I salute you – and as people who regularly read this blog will testify – I don’t do that very often at all.