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

Proprietary Prejudice …
February 23, 2010, 6:55 am
Filed under: Comment

I’ve not lived in Asia that long, but in the time I have been here, I’ve fallen in love with the place.

That doesn’t mean there’s not parts that are frustrating … but in a weird kinda-way, that’s half the reason I like it so much – especially from a professional perspective – because there’s beliefs, philosophies and activities that, from a Western perspective, make no bloody sense at all so it’s forced me to re-think and re-learn ‘stuff’ so I can actually get an appreciation of where these decisions and choices come from.

Of course the standards of creativity have a lot to be desired … or should I say, that standard of creativity that clients tend to buy, has a lot to be desired … but as I‘ve said in the past, whilst it might be harder to get great [traditional] advertising through the fear-driven, boss-appeasing marketing department, they are very open to big ideas as long as you can express it as a business opportunity rather than a creative one.

Saying that, there’s a whole heap of shit talked about the differences between Asian and Western attitudes – as I highlighted with the Halibut Fisher spoof research blog – but what pisses me off most is when a company comes out with statements that are so generalistic and/or simplistic that they are both meaningless and offensive to the extreme.

The reason I bring this up is because I have just been sent something that I find offensive in almost every way possible, however before I start to bitch about it, have a look for yourself …

Grey Research

Well done GREY … that couldn’t of been more offensively written if you’d got BNP to do it.


Well let’s start with the condescending headline, “How Do You Connect With Asians”.

Jesus, talk about making billions of people feel like they’re sub-human.

Who wrote this bollocks?

2/1 it wasn’t someone from this region … and in the unlikely event it was, then I can only assume they’ve spent too much time away from the place and developed the sort-of elitist attitude you tend to get with many an ex-pat.

Either way, here’s hoping they get hung up and whipped repeatedly for degrading a whole culture in 6 words – even though I do admit that is quite an impressive feat.

And then there’s this whole ‘Asian’s like short and simple’ declaration.

Now that just pisses me off.

If I look at that statement in a positive light, I would say all people – to a certain extent – like less clutter and confusion in their lives so how GREY can claim this is some sort of phenomenon is beyond me.

However if I look at their declaration with a more cynical eye, then I would suggest they’re saying Asian’s like simplistic rather than simple and if anything is guaranteed to make me angry, it’s that kind of bollocks.

To be fair, GREY aren’t the first company to make that sort of claim [which sort of devalues the value and quality of their proprietary research] because ever since I’ve been here, I’ve had people say “they don’t get complicated.”

Let’s get something straight, this is a region that has one the richest, most layered and complex cultures on the planet … where everything has some sort of meaning and implication … so to say billions of people only respond to the sort of Neanderthal grunts churned out by drunk, horny Australian men is pretty fucking offensive when you think about it.

OK … OK … so there is evidence that where advertising is concerned, the communication that is embraced and understood the most effectively is the stuff that has a single, clear message running through it … but again, isn’t that similar to most cultures and markets?

But let’s imagine that is not the case.

Is that the fault of the people – billions of people who let us remember, see importance in the slightest of subtleties – or the ad industry for boring them so badly with their inane communication, that no one really cares about the ad?

I know I am being over-the-top here … and I do know there are definitely some issues interms of how messages are understood in Asia versus the West … but it’s not because the people here are stupid, it’s because of things like frame-of-reference, education policy and their countries values and culture.

Alright … alright … GREY aren’t claiming this region is full of ‘thicko’s’, but the way the whole thing was written doesn’t exactly smack of a company acknowledging many of the amazing aspects of this region … plus I can’t work out how/why they have placed New Zealand in their list of countries covered by the research given they’re not exactly part of the ‘core region’.

I assume some cheeky Aussie thought it would be funny to put them in the list given they think [1] all Kiwi’s are a bunch of sheep fucking, half wits and [2] Aussies are the most brilliant, clever, beautiful people in the region, World, Universe and certainly don’t have anything to do with those ‘Asian’ folk who reside above their sun scorched island.

I should point out that I am not saying I am any sort of expert of the region … how could I be, I’m a bald bastard from Nottingham … however whilst I haven’t interviewed 33,000 people from all over the region, I would say my methodology for understanding – which includes continual conversations and interactions with journalists from Lonely Planet, teachers, taxi drivers and Police Officers – has led to insights where I wouldn’t have the nerve to claim “Asian’s prefer family orientated brands” is big – or new – news.

However all things considered, I think the thing that upsets me most about this is that the EYE ON ASIA study is usually pretty good … pretty good indeed … so I just hope the only thing that has gone downmarket is the ‘ad’ for the study.

82 Comments so far
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i dont know much about asian culture but i know a fucking lot about adland culture and this sort of shit is a great example of their self righteous, self congratulatory bullshit.

on the fucking brightside grey are normally so dull they make enya look like courtney love so at least this shows they are capable of saying something that doesnt immediately put you in a fucking coma. pity the fuckers have chosen this moment to pretend theyre tbwa with little of the talent to launch their version of disruption known as fuckwit disturbance.

you say this report is normally quite good but based on this badly written bullshit its more a manifuckingfesto for the bnp than fresh research for clients but then it does come from a company called gret who proudly boast more delusional, 1950s ad approach clients than even fcb or mccanns and thats something to be proud of.

you say you dont know much about your adopted home region but im willing to bet you could whip the ass of all the grey eye on asia reports put together and i should know because youve been boring me, george and the happy clappy nerds at mountain view to within an inch of our fucking lives for the last six weeks.

yesterday you claimed “far east” was prejudiced and i rightly thought you were sucking on the end of a crackpipe but with this whateverthefuckitis shit ad from grey you are right to name and shame even if i think youre being more respectful to them than they deserve because they’ve not been very fucking respectful to “those asians”. or “those kiwis”.


Comment by andy@cynic

That’s the problem with targetting – it causes you to focus on people as aggregated masses. Better to focus on what you produce and help individuals find it.

Comment by John

Between you and Andy, you’ve said all that needs to be said about this rubbish.

I can’t wait to read the report, maybe it will have more amazing insights like Asian’s like noodles, the number 8 and the colour red.

Comment by Pete

i dont know. give a kiss? lol! oh yeah, k.i.s.s… but seriously. it totally reads like they would be thicko’s. the ‘asians’, i mean, lol. as if they are only capable to process a short and simple message. and how can they even say “asians” like this and that as if that would not be somewhat common amongst people in general… also, grouping so many different people from so many different backgrounds together as asians… i mean, hey, they are from namely 16 different markets… sorry, not buying it… im probably going to get shot if i say that i would bet what the answers to the “why asian…” points are. and no, i havent read the study or any previous issues. so what do i know…

Comment by peggy

im surprised this report hasnt said said they think the same so they look the same. wankers.

Comment by andy@cynic

or they look the same, so they think the same, to keep it more superficial. okay, im waiting here for the men in the grey suits (assassination squad) to arrive.

Comment by peggy

i did it that way round so i didnt sound too much like a racist wanker so thanks peggy for saying what i was thinking. dont worry though, everyone knows those fuckers at grey started it. theyre probably responsible for ww1 & 2 too.

Comment by andy@cynic

come on, you do know that not all asians look the same. just like not all americans or europeans or africans look the same. and yes, grey started it, with their eye sight. and why are you mentioning ww1 and 2 here, eh?

Comment by peggy

fuck me peggy weve been playing together long enough for you to know im a sarcastic shit. have you been on the booze again? lol.

Comment by andy@cynic

hahaha, well, maybe… it may be a little surprising, but i am slightly more sarcastic, cynical, ironic, whatever than it seems. i guess, its some sort of language barrier absorbing that tone from time to time. thats probably better anyway lol. its all good.

Comment by peggy

oh, and you are welcome.

Comment by peggy

You’ve rightly lambasted it from a copyrighting perspective, but the research side of it is just as bad.

– If you’re going to carry out a study across sixteen countries of varying sizes, cultures and norms, why on earth would you promote a “total” sample finding?
– Similarly, was this the best stat they could get? It sounds like a universal truth – what are they comparing it to? 86% of these 33,000 may think this, but what if the comparable figure for “Westerners” was 97%?
– Are they trying to say that “Asian Brand Tribes” hold true across all sixteen markets?


Comment by Simon Kendrick

taking the piss out of grey is like taking porn from a baby, but no one said easy wasnt satisfying.

they started it so we should fucking finish it so keep putting the fucking boot in, its violence against prejudice.

Comment by andy@cynic

im not resorting to violence. im just resorting to my grey matter. the squad should be here any second now.

Comment by peggy

grey matter? hasnt this post proved grey doesnt matter. oh my fucking sides.

Comment by andy@cynic

i dont understand a fucking word of it but hes slagging off grey so i hereby totally fucking agree with everything simon said.

Comment by andy@cynic

I know what Simon is saying and I agree. If they absolutely have to generalise one of the most diverse and complex regions on the planet it might have a pinch of value if they at the very least compared it to figures that were relative to certain Western cultures so it would be possible to make some half valuable assumptions.

Maybe that is what they do in the actual report but that doesn’t mean it has value it just means it has more value than their horrendous ad implies.

Job well done Robert because what Grey have said is terrible and insulting.

Comment by George

What I find amusing is the manner in which some people [Grey] present Asia / Asians , as if it were a black box.

Comment by bhaskar

I’m just surprised no one at GREY picked up that they sounded very fucking condescending.

Comment by Rob

Give a German a sausage.

Comment by The Kaiser

Don’t forget some sour Kraut.

Boom tish!

Comment by Rob

86% of agencies prefer to simplify projects and free up more time for lunches and location scouting.

Comment by John

Oh for pity’s sake. I can’t decide whether to laugh or be very depressed.
On balance, any opportunity to mock Grey is a pleasure.

Comment by northern

Oh you should be depressed … it’s a fucking tragedy [I am assuming you’re talking about GREY rather than my post] … but given I am a big believer in revenge being a dish best served vicious, stop talking about “mocking GREY” and start doing it or has your new and wonderful Daddy spirit overshadowed your hard Northern bastard side?

[Which admitedly you have managed to keep quite well hidden in general]

Comment by Rob

My dark side reveals itself from time to time.
I wish I could add to what people said, but I can’t, good post, very good post.
I did something or other to do with hair (always bloody hair) last month…brand vision etc. Started well, proper brand out, cultural view etc, but then impossible to get anyone to engage with how DIFFERENT Asian culture is.

Comment by northern

People tend to only agree to things they understand – and because there’s too many who are too myopic in their thinking [or too delusional in their intelligence] they prefer to invest countless millions into something they like, rather something that is right … even more so if required them to accept all their normal rules no longer apply.

Saying that … Sunshine gets a lot of its business in ‘cultural informing/bullying’ so I guess I should be happy about this state of blinkered ignorance.

Anyway enough of all that … as I know you’re a nice guy really, I thought I’d make it easy for your dark side to come out, so simply add one word to the end of this sentence and we can all walk away happy.

“GREY are a bunch of _____________________.”

Comment by Rob

Connect with Europeans.

Europeans love complex things.
87% of Europeans love things that look nice and cost a lot of money.

By speaking to people in Scotland, France, Italy, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Greece we have a uniform definitive opinion on what Europeans want.


Comment by Rob Mortimer

I actually saw a document recently where a planner wrote what he claimed was a “universal insight” for his client’s female brand.

Ready for it?

“Mothers love their children”

Call Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee want their award back. It’s people like these … people who write prejudice bullshit like the GREY bollocks above, that are ruining the value and integrity of our business and I stand amazed how few call them out on it … absolutely pathetic.

Can you tell this has got under my skin? Ha.

Comment by Rob

Another time I’ll have a good rant about Playstation and ‘We’re for Dogs’.

Comment by northern

And ‘inspired performance’ which was Infinit’s line….a millstone more like

Comment by northern

I LOVE this new you. Well I will when you [1] start ranting and [2] answer the question to comment I made 4 above this.

[Unless someone puts another comment just to make it all look weird, which is more than possible]

Comment by Rob

That should have been Infiniti….

Comment by northern

..and Grey are a bunch of patronising,self serving 80’s throwbacks who really wish they were Don Draper and have only had one idea ever. Say yes. A lot.

Comment by northern

It feels like it’s Easter – except instead of watching Jesus pop back up, it’s the resurrection of the man his followers refer to as NORTHERN [or NP to his old [blog] school mates!]

You have made Andy a very happy man …

Sorry. Ha!

Comment by Rob

good one campbell. first you fuck off grey and now you fuck off all the christians, salman rushdie would be proud.

good man np, i might send george over to get some lessons in how to stop being a fucking auntie. lol.

Comment by andy@cynic

It has a strong resemblance to ‘How I Lost X Pounds in a Week Using 1 Simple Rule’. Good thing it’s proprietary as they’re welcome to keep it.

Comment by Chris

Only difference is Andy bought that book whereas he wouldn’t touch this research with a barge pole.

Sadly, I would hasten to add, I would imagine there will be a lot of people who apply for a copy … and not to snort in derision, but to actually use it as a case study for how to talk to those weird people on the other side of the planet.

Saying that, I don’t know what the report will say – to be fair, previous editions have been quite good – but this just smacks of everything I hate so whilst I will try and read it with an open mind, I would imagine by page 4, it will be firmly shut.

Comment by Rob

cock. thats campbell not chris.

Comment by andy@cynic

blimey Northern is fesity. Which is nice. Hello NP.

Comment by The Kaiser

Nice isn’t it …

We could all do with being a bit feisty, it might stop people thinking they can get away with bullshit.

Comment by Rob

you know I once applied at grey. still have not heard back from them.

as for the research, just take their money, wives and clients. you care to much campbell…

Comment by Niko

Is it your birthday?

Comment by The Kaiser

Happy birthday Niko …

I don’t think I care too much, I just care … but it’s not out of some selflessness, it’s because this is the only job I can do and if the value of it falls even further, then my ability to forge a living will be majorly impacted and I quite like having a roof over my head, but not – in all seriousness – as much as I like the idea that I can do some things that might just be able to make a difference to the wider community, not just my clients.

Comment by Rob

happy birthday you dangerous little fucker. thats a compliment if you hadnt fucking guessed.

Comment by andy@cynic

I like this fiesty new Northern.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hello Marcus, I need to work out wa

Hello Marcus (I was always fiesty, but nice)

Comment by northern

for once im fucking glad this post has stayed on track, those fuckers at grey deserve all they are getting.

Comment by andy@cynic

happy birthday niko!!!! (now its really nice coz its twice : )

Comment by peggy

does that count as a present?

Comment by peggy

from advertising anarchists to the fucking waltons in 12 hours. we should be afuckingshamed of ourselves or just blame it all on grey and nikos birthday.

Comment by andy@cynic

which waltons? im not ashamed of myself. you go for it, if you like. and dont blame anything on niko. it s his birthday for christs sake 🙂

Comment by peggy

I find it impossible to get feisty about advertising these days.

Comment by The Kaiser

it seems im banned from this blog now

Comment by peggy

jesus, now i look like i should be banned haha. my question why @marcus wasnt posted… tried it twice…

Comment by peggy

what question peggy?

Comment by The Kaiser

why do you find it impossible to get feisty about advertising these days?

Comment by peggy

is peggy on the booze again? im fucking jealous got a client meeting to attend or id be sinking a few in your honour.

dont worry marcus, no one gets feisty about advertising anymore except people in advertising and theyre not people who matter anyway.

Comment by andy@cynic

to avoid any confusion, my last comment to peggy was a compliment in case some of you hadnt fucking guessed. i might not need many reasons for booze but if i booze in your honour youre fucking special.

fucking late to present my genius now, something else i can blame grey for.

Comment by andy@cynic

im naturally high. and thank you. i take it as a compliment, even though i got a welsh friend who used to laugh madly when he called someone special 😛 hes a nice and funny guy though. and good luck for the meeting.

Comment by peggy

what Andy said peggy. What Andy said.

Comment by The Kaiser

Actually peggy, it has a lot to do with something that I’ve been working on for a while now. It has nothing to do with advertising; although advertising could (should) use it. It’s a way of telling stories. Maybe Rob will let me do a guest post one day and I can tell you about it.

Comment by The Kaiser

that reads very interesting. now wheres the guest post. in the meantime, ill just read your blogs. i bloody love your haunted toilet, btw.

Comment by peggy

thank you Peggy. That’s very kind of you.

Comment by Marcus

its not just kind marcus. i really love the haunted toilet. waiting too see what happened at ogilvy. something tells me i wont exactly love whatever happened there.

Comment by peggy

and as if by magic…. I’m (sadly) interested in advertising again:

Comment by Marcus

the guest spot is yours marcus, fuck campbell. when do you want it and would you like it to be ongoing? say the word and ill make campbell disappear.

and peggy. careful of the welsh, theyre weapons of mass irritations especially when they launch into that alien fucking language of theirs.

Comment by andy@cynic

true. welsh totally sounds like its form a different planet to me. language is a funny thing. and nothing wrong with a bit of irritation from time to time : )

Comment by peggy

Bloody hell it’s all been going off while I’ve been snoozing. Why does this give me a nice warm feeling? Even talking about the Welsh hasn’t resulted in me running to the bathroom and being sick. I’ve gone soft.

Comment by Rob

hehehe check out the first link on this list:

Comment by rafik

Just cancelled my Fast Company subscription.

Comment by Rob

If all you have time for is to bitch about Grey, it shows how much time you spend working on “the odd bit of nice work for brands that include Virgin, Tango…” as you yourself write..

Coming from a violent city like Nottingham does show in your vicious diatribe, though I must confess, it suits the picture you have on your website.

Maybe you could do some homework before making untrue allegations as this may have been written by an Asian- born and bred in Asia and he or she thinks you belong in Nottingham…

Comment by Pius Thicknesse

YAY, someone has stuck up for GREY, how very exciting.

Now Pius, you say I am making some untrue allegations?

Does that mean I should assume you are the individual who wrote this genius piece of copy?

If that’s the case, let me talk s l o w l y because you obviously haven’t got the faintest idea what I am talking about or – for that matter – what you are talking about either.

If you want a genuine conversation about what I find so bad about it [though I think the post says it all] or simply want to ‘put me right’, then email me – however if you want to resort to throwing barbs behind the comfort of annonynimity, then carry on – it speaks volumes – though to be fair, if I wrote such a scandalous bullshit, I’d not use my real name either.

Comment by Rob

I find it interesting the commentator seems to be more upset that you implied the copywriter was Western than the fact you were ridiculing their research claims.

Comment by Lee Hill


As Lee says, Mr/Mrs/A bit of both Grey’s undergarments are shape-shifting more over your LACK OF RESPECT FOR THEIR PASSPORT than their work.

Perhaps you should post about their crap pay or lack of ‘senior’ in their job title. That’ll start a war.

Comment by Sam Ismail

Good point Lee, not thought about that … makes it even funnier really … but I’m happy to apologise if he/she wants to tell me I am wrong rather than just throw childish insults which ironically, in the case of the Nottingham references, are pretty accurate really, ha!

I guess the thing that does amaze me though is that the person – presumably from Asia – thinks I’m a shit when I’m fighting against the cliche bullshit the brilliant people from this region are subjected to by advertisers each and every day.

Comment by Rob

i want to like pius i really fucking do, he/she/it is taking on campbell with anything he/she/it can get but the stupid fuck decided to do it on a subject they cant possibly win because theres nothing fucking defendable about that grey shit and however pissed they may be for being mistaken as a whitey its nothing compared to how fucked off his/hers/its cultural friends and neighbours will be when they find out theyve been generalised and called simple fucks by one of their own.

drop me a line pius and ill give you ammo that you can use against campbell because what youre using now is shit because its highlighting and reminding people of his good points and successes not the shit side of him like loving queen, wearing ironic t shirts and giving a fuck about people adland doesnt give a fuck about.

now go back into your hole you sad little jealous fuck and come back when you can make a decent argument.

Comment by andy@cynic

It was all going so well till that last sentence Andy – then you turned, based on Pius’ view – into someone who sounds like he comes from Nottingham. Ha.

Comment by Rob

i find it funny with what kind of claims pius tries to discredit you rob. nothing of substance. its not working.

in the end, it doesnt matter where the person who wrote this piece of research (which i havent read) comes from, i think. fucking ironic, isnt it. the research, or the ad for it, is cringe-worthy, if you ask me. what the ad says is as ridiculous as making general claims a la ‘you are from nottingham, so (no wonder) you write vicious diatribe’. ever been to nottingham?

and pius, phrases like ‘you are from here or there and thats where you belong. go home’ are what makes me want to puke and wanting to ask them to use their brain (and heart) when i pass posters of the national democratic party in germany during election time. nuff said.

Comment by peggy

What I’m still failing to understand is why Pius would want Robert to return to Nottingham? What purpose would that achieve, he would still write this blog and be able to comment on badly written ads for potentially badly conducted research reports.

Comment by George

i thought you were meant to be clever george. the answer is because pius doesnt know what the fuck he/she/it is talking about.

Comment by andy@cynic

Now that’s the sort of insight that earns the big bucks.

Comment by John

[…] Yoda look-a-likes when they’re old. They’re also probably untrustworthy. [copyright GREY 'Eye on Asia' […]

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