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

A Work Of Fiction Fiction …
March 31, 2010, 6:14 am
Filed under: Comment

I know this is not new, but I find it quite amazing how the entertainment industry can breathe new life into certain ‘brands’ when the creator has died.

Actually let me rephrase that … I find it quite amazing how the entertainment industry leverages the name of certain ‘brands’ creators, even when they are long gone.

A perfect case in point is the new[ish] Jason Bourne book …


Yep … despite Robert Ludlum dying in 2001, we have a book that isn’t just based on the character developed by the author, but is supposedly written in the style of him as well.

What next?

William Shakespeare to release “Romeo & Juliet 2: This Time It’s Personal”?

The issue I have with this approach is that ultimately it is dependent on a serious amount of post rationalisation … and in my experience, when someone tries to understand the reasoning and rationale of another person’s actions and decisions, they often fail to recognise the little details that either drove much of its development or gave it its uniqueness or – worse still – is a rationale for something that had no rationale for it.

“Our most beloved products were developed by hunch, guesswork, and fanaticism, by creators who were eccentric – or even stark raving mad”
Jack Mingo, How the Cadillac Got its Fins

There’s many examples however there’s two I’d like to talk about … AXE/Lynx and Singapore.

I am a massive fan of the AXE/Lynx work.

It’s not just because it’s one of – in my opinion – BBH’s best campaigns, it’s because it literally revolutionised the category.

Previously to AXE/Lynx, it was all about 24 hour protection … and whilst at HHCL we did try and do something similarish with SURE … their campaign just clicked.

Now whilst many people may think it was all about ‘Spray On Sex’ it was much more subtle than that – it was about seduction and the ability to turn good girls naughty – however over the years thanks to different agencies getting involved in different territories, the subtlety that made the campaign so good has slowly but surely been wittered down to the point that it’s now seen as ‘SHAG SPRAY’ … and whilst many will say that change is a reflection of the different time and the different cultural cues, the reality is the people who developed this unsubtle version either failed to spot the little details that made that campaign so good or wanted to be indulgent with an idea that basically writes itself.

The other brand that I feel has suffered because of simplistic rationalisation is my beloved Singapore.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I believe LKY had a dream for Singapore that was driven by vision, passion and pragmatism … but if you were to ask people today, they’d credit him with the ability to attract business – and whilst that was part of the strategy – it was a means to an end, his goal was never for Singapore to be the bitch of Western business and yet now, if you look at the things that the Government is spending it’s time and efforts on, they often fail to have the depth, sophistication and down-right ingenuity that their founding psychological genius utilised to kick start the country to where they currently enjoy.

Post rationalisation exists in most industries – especially adland – but if you only look at the output of the work created and ignore the backgrounds and circumstances of the people who developed it, you may find you have failed to include the secret herbs and spices that enabled good to be awesome.

27 Comments so far
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maybe its because i like the sinsights of yesterday but i fucking rate this post especially the axe reference.

understanding subtleties is fucking important but fewer fuckers realise that. its all taken on face fucking value and things like grace, pace, perspective and soul are ignored.

the pisser is that sometimes things are just happy fucking accidents and no matter how many planners, scientists, accademics look at it, will make it the same and often they fuck it up because they create a list of fucking reasons when there werent any or certainly not like a fucking check box which always creates bullshit, not gold. listening atlanta?

impossible to work out when youre seeing things that arent there but if its done right id rather have work deconstructed by a fucker with an educated eye than some wanker saying axe is sex spray.

am i the only fucker who thinks wks old spice ad could be taking the mantle of axe if “horse” is the start of things to come.

Comment by andy@cynic

Which is why marketing

1) should be derived from a business’s corporate strategy,

2) should be focussed on a longer time-scale than the average tenure of a marketing director and

3) should be directed by the client and not be outsourced wholesale to a variety of different agencies over different territories.

I’d go as far as to suggest that every brief should include an explicit statement of the company’s overall business strategy so as to maintain the rationale over time.

But what do I know?

Comment by John

written briefs are so fucking passe dodds but when you have to do the fuckers (if only to get client buy in or create reference for the future as rob whines about) then a brief should be written in a way that autofuckingmatically reflects the clients business strat.

it shouldnt just be words thrown down on a fucking page saying whats needed, it should be carefully chosen language and stimulus that lets everyone especially the fucking creative team feel the needs of the brief and the brand, not one over the fucking other.

if you can write a brief in 10 minutes youre either a fucking genius or a deluded twat who cant work out why you always get shit out the end.

Comment by andy@cynic

I stand corrected – but can only plead that yesterday’s list of “sinsights” made me question pretty much everything.

Comment by John

thats the spirit doddsy, blame campbell for all your wrongs, i know i do, its so quick and easy.

Comment by andy@cynic

Just checking you’re OK Andy as you seem to have inadvertently made a sensible, relevant and (semi) educational comment.

Talking of weird, it appers Mr Dodds comments are no longer being filtered out by this blog.

Where’s Steve the IT God when I need him?

Comment by Rob

the other reason i like this post is because youre saying i can do what the fuck i like and youll make it work. 7 years. 7 fucking years its taken and you come good. bit fucking late but ill enjoy it while i fucking can.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yeah, that’s exactly what it means Andy. Whatever you like, no problems, you are a genius afterall.

As an aside, when you wake up from your fantasy land, give me a call.

Comment by Rob

why the fuck would i do that when its a living fucking nightmare.

Comment by andy@cynic

semi educational? remember campbell without me youd of been flushed down the fucking toilet where you and your nottingham pretend gangsters belong.

post rationalise that.

love andy

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ve post rationalised it and what you’re really trying to say is you’re jealous of me. Pretty obvious really … Ha.

Comment by Rob


Comment by andy@cynic

Might be interesting to have someone else (not me) guest author a post in your style. A measure of success might be how many times andy@cynic drops the F bomb in the comments section.

Anyways, it seems like they’ve been doing this with Tom Clancy for years. He’s been non-writing books (and video games for that matter) for at least a decade.

Comment by kevin

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just for you kevin.

Comment by andy@cynic

Mature as usual.

Comment by Rob

I hadn’t thought about this in such detail before and what you say is certainly food for thought but the question I have is whether people have the time to look at such things in such detail and should they be able to, are they in danger of developing reasoning that is unnecessary simply because they have the time to do so?

Comment by Lee Hill

Perfect definition of planning Lee.

Comment by John

Totally understand what you’re saying … but the reality is that whilst it might take a bit longer than the ‘face value’ evaluation that seems to be the common approach, it’s not that hard or long and the difference can be immense.

As for the danger of developing reasoning simply because time allows that to happen … again, I appreciate what you’re saying and I agree with it … however to Andy’s point, for me isn’t not about focusing on the physical attributes of the execution, but understanding the things like perspective, values, underlying themes – which is especially important given times change and what might be right at one point in time might be wrong [or need updating] in another.

As with most things in adland, there is no set rule, just things to evaluate and consider … I just think there’s not enough of either, with a focus on delivery rather than standards.

Comment by Rob

The Tom Clancy reference above is very good. Have a look at this book cover:

The book (if you can’t be bothered to look) is called Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell – written by David Michaels and is a narrative extension of the game “Splinter Cell” which is part of the Tom Clancy franchise – an endorsement that was purchased by UbiSoft.

Which is all a bit confusing.

Comment by Marcus

I wonder how many Splinter Cell playing people even knew who Tom Clancey was.

I wonder how many even care/d.

Would love to know why Ubisoft did this … whether it was because they saw a high correlation between Clancy fans and video games or a fear their new game couldn’t stand on it’s own 2 feet.

They needn’t of worried, it’s tops … which begs the question, why spend what I would imagine was a sizeable amount on something that would have been successful on gameplay and distribution alone.

Is endorsement the tool of the lazy or fearful marketer?

[That’s a question, not a statement]

Comment by Rob

That’s obvious.

[That’s a statement, not an answer.]

Comment by John

They have a range of games under that creative franchise. I think I read somewhere that they were inspired by his work and so, yes, they saw a correlation.

I leave John to answer marketing questions.

Comment by Marcus

Inspired by his work … yeah right … I’m inspired by a bunch of people/things but I wouldn’t give them a shitload of cash just to make that adoration public.

Mind you, it would be interesting to see if Clancy’s books had an uplift in sales after the games came out – which if they did – could be an argument for games publishers to expand the ‘storyline’ of their characters into standalone books to both drive profits, expand awareness and fill the gaps between game productions.


Comment by Rob

Mind you, that’s not a new concept – the fuckers behind “He Man & The Masters Of The Universe” did it years ago and I think Charlie & The Chocolate Factory started off as a promotion … or maybe it was the first sales promotion triggered from an established brand.

Oh I can’t remember …

Comment by Rob

Well, it’s been done with James Bond and Peter Pan as well. Does the essence matter, or is the reference enough? I point you to this specsavers homage to lynx/axe –

Comment by Simon Kendrick

James Patterson is an interesting example. His books are written by teams, he creates the plot and outline but others write it in his style.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I know it’s nothing new … I just find it quite fascinating for a whole host of reasons and genuinely expect some fucker to launch “Shakespeare’s new opus” any day now.

At least Patterson is there to proof read his “own” work because his style/view/thought will have to be incorporated in the finished work … however for all the newbies out there, regenerating the dead – I wonder how many truly understand the essence of the person they’re ‘copying’ and the creation they’re extending.

Interms of ads, I’d say few … but who knows in the more blatant entertainment industry.

Comment by Rob

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