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

It Would Appear Prime Ministers Are Human Too …
May 20, 2010, 6:00 am
Filed under: Comment

Whatever your political allegence, the Guardian recently ran some photos of Gordon Brown’s last hours in office and I have to say there was one in particular that really touched me.

Photo: Guardian

For me, there’s something quite wonderful that one of the most important people in the country – possibly the World – has his kids ‘paintings’ on his wall.

I know this is fairly common – but for some reason, I never imagined the PM would do that and I like it. I like it a lot.

I appreciate it’s highly unlikely, but I just love the idea that there were occasions where a head of state was sat opposite him and his kids scribblings were staring down on them.

In public, Gordon Brown appeared socially awkward.

I know that appearences are important – especially in this media focused World – but what I always found sad was that some people translated this behaviour into meaning he was incapable of his job.

Of course, some will say the current state of the UK shows that to be true – however I wonder how much people’s attitudes would have been changed if they saw the ‘family’ side of him .., or more specifically, the ‘human’ side of him.

Yes I know that shouldn’t be important but the reality is we are all influenced by things like that – even if amongst friends we play the role of clinical critic – but while this might sound a bit weird, I respect him even more for not really playing that card, when it was something I am sure he was encouraged to do time and time again.

I honestly believe if brands stood up for their values and principles to a greater extent, they’d make a more meaningful impression on the public.

Jumping on whatever bandwagon they think is the current trend might make economic sense, but in the longer term, I genuinely believe it starts to undermine the trust and value their core ‘fans’ put in the brand – and whilst this group of obsessives may not be enough to drive the ever-increasing need for ever-increasing profit, the fact is without them you are having to start from scratch pretty much each year and that sounds like even worse economical sense to me.

Of course it’s not just what you believe, but how you express it … which is why I worry Apple, a brand that was built on some fundamental values and principles, are in danger of sowing the seeds of their own misfortune … especially given they now think it is OK to get the police to [allegedly] raid a journalists house, force a comedian to apologise for a stupid sketch and threaten a little girl with legal action simply for writing a letter to Jobs.

As I said, values and principles are hugely important, but it’s important you remember how you express them is as important as what they are … which is why writing a brief, an ad or a presentation should always be crafted, never just churned out.

49 Comments so far
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how the fuck do you go from ex pms with their kids shitty drawings on the wall to brand values, apple and creative brief. you are a fucking segue master even if your version is clunkier and less fucking relevant than the tools who do it on the bbc.

and where the fuck is everyone these days?

this is prime planner wank/pisstake material and im betting only me, sad pete and talk to himself northern will comment. and lee, but hes a client so he doesnt count especially as he has that annoying habit of keeping things relevant and insightful. even george seems a fucking regular and he comes on here less often than hayleys fucking comment.

swearalot lauren, age, brown, dodds, peggy, bazza, mortimer. where the fuck are you and who gave them the right to get away from this hole?

Comment by andy@cynic

I think they all have come to their senses.

Which is somewhat disappointing.

Comment by Rob

come on baz, defend yourself. you did a shit job with ipad so try again. consider it practice because jobbsy seems to have decided to model himself on idi fucking amin.

campbell. its a worthy pisstake planner post but its actually quite fucking good, especially the bandwagon jumping shit. would write more but i have to go work on my sustainable corporate responsibility manufacturing project.

Comment by andy@cynic

I don’t think showing some paintings from his children would have ensured an electorol win for Gordon Brown but the rest of the post I’m in total agreement with.

I didn’t know about Apple’s issues with the little girls suggestions. All companies seem to have a policy regarding unsolicited proposals, but their response in this situation does appear extreme, clinically corporate and impersonal.

I’m amazed how few campaigns communicate through their core values or maybe it’s just most companes core values are focused on profitability at all costs.

I enjoyed this post Rob. Best of the week so far. 🙂

Comment by Pete

best of the week? best of a fucking super bad bunch.

are you sure youre not a toady suit in disguise?

Comment by andy@cynic

fucking told you.

and ellen should apologise for more than a shit pisstake against apple. what about being unfunny? her shit chatshow? her even shitter judging on ai? what about taking her hot wife off the market by hypnotising her to be a lesbian? shes a fucking witch. even got oprah to end her show. so shes not all bad then.

Comment by andy@cynic

Can this blog even be called a planners blog when most of the posts are about how sad he is. Ahhh. Just realised that makes this the uber planner blog.

Comment by DH

youre education is almost complete dave. youve been a good student, if you were a fucking hot babe youd be looking at top of the class marks but as it stands you get a b+.

Comment by andy@cynic

What we have here is a really good point padded out with a load of sentimental waffle. Again.

If you suggest that its invalid to equate his social awkwardness with an inability to do the job, then surely it’s equally invalid to suggest that seeing him as human suddenly makes him super capable.

That said, the last two paragraphs are right on the money and echo what Mr Frith (before he went cycling in the riot zones) used to say about companies behaving in a way that would make customers believe their values. People want to see what they believe rather than be persuaded into believing what they see.

Happy birthday Mr. Brown.

Comment by John

best comment youve ever made campbell. who wrote it for you?

Comment by andy@cynic

I am not Campbell.

Comment by John

Thank you John.

Comment by Marcus

And Andy he’s more of a segway master if you ask me. They both overemphasise technology at the expense of style. Boom tish.

Comment by John

I wanted a segway but got told I’d be a sad bastard. What … sadder than a queen fan wearing shit clothes?

Comment by Rob

Im not sure that covers the majesty of that publicity shot of your Spinal Tap tribute band which I found on your twitpics.

Comment by John

campbell. constantly pushing the boundaries of sad fuckedness.

Comment by andy@cynic

hes using it for a preso. the man either has balls of steel or is a fuckwit. i think we all know the answer.

Comment by andy@cynic

What’s the preso about – misrepresentation and false advertising?

Comment by John

Who sent you my preso Andy???

And it’s about youth marketing Mr D, which is underpinned by continual misrepresentation and false advertising.

Comment by Rob

Where’s George?

Comment by John

marys locked him in the cellar.

i fucking love mary.

Comment by andy@cynic

You know I do padding by now John … in fact I do padding so well I could set up a sanitary pad company.

At its heart, then yes – I do think it is invalid to equate social awkwardness with an inability to do the PM’s job [though as I said, I also appreciate in these media-focused times, ‘charm appeal’ is a valuable attribute to have for a whole bunch of reasons] which means yes, I think it is equally invalid to assume being seen as a ‘human’ means you are capable of doing your job … but what I – and logic – thinks means little given that for all the coverage and debate, logic often goes out of the window and decisions are made on personal circumstances, the immediate history [regardless of reasons behind it] and character elements of the person ‘heading’ the company.

This isn’t just true of elections, but many things … which is why I have banged on for years that business schools underestimate the value and importance of CEO ‘personality’ to their peril.

As for the last 2 paras …

Well I am sure Charles [who I hope is OK] will agree with me that our shared view has as much to do with the training and experiences we had at HHCL as it does with our own personal enlightenment … which is why I still think HHCL was – and quite possibly will remain so – the most forward thinking agency of the last century.

Comment by Rob

So Charles let me praise his genius when he first said that to me and all along you’re saying he was just citing the HHCL playbook. I feel duped – but glad to report that he was ok as of yesterday.

Comment by John

hes fucking young, lithe thai revolutionary hotties isnt he.
i fucking love charles.

Comment by andy@cynic

To be fair to Charles, he’s so clever he’d of come up with that view anyway. Me on the other hand …

Comment by Rob

Last heard explaining that he had to stay the night because of the curfew methinks.

Comment by John

hes the casanova of war.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ve just been Andy blitzgrieged.

Are you drunk or on other ‘substances’?

Comment by Rob

what can i say, your blog energises me campbell.

i mean makes me want to stick needles in my eyes and drink domestos.

Comment by andy@cynic

Ha ha. Too kind chaps. I do believe it of course but when I thought about it later I realised the first one to say it to me was Mary Stowe at HHCL when I asked her what the fuck to do with a B2B delivery company and she said press them hard on their values Charles.

I just got back from filming a bike ride around Beirut..I mean Bangkok this morning so you might enjoy that once it finishes uploading.

And erm…ah yes..Reason for commenting. Gordon Brown is a complex figure. We’re all pretty complex if we’re honest. There’s so much about Brown that we don’t like but his departure speech from Downing Street was the first of anyone in power to say that his family are the most important job he has. And yeah the finger painting on the wall says a lot about him.

So here’s to arseholes with hearts but no to heartless arseholes.

It’s been unbelievable here. Yesterday I was in a city of 10 million plus and at times it was just me, the smoking tyres and the abandoned army checkpoints. Right in the middle of town as far as the eye could see. Check out the vid if you get time. It’s pretty unique.

Comment by Charles 'values' Frith

You’re not the Casonova of war, you’re the Kate Aidy of planning.

So glad to know you’re safe … something tells me that apart from the horrors of death, you’re revelling in being a spectator to all this drama.

As much as I wish there wasn’t violence, the one thing I am inspired by is that people are standing up for what they believe/want whereas so many other [Western] cultures just sit back and mutter. Sure, it could/should be done in a better way – but doing something rather than whinging about something is an inspiration. Though sadly the violence and destruction makes that view look inappropriate.

Comment by Rob

Can’t wait to see the footage by the way.

Comment by Rob

I wonder if I’m dead you’ll all still comment on this blog … afterall most of you act like I’m not here anyway. Just a thought …

Comment by Rob

Do empty post tomorrow as an experiment and see. Nothing wrong with running a creche, it’s just that we want to swear and talk bollocks rather play sing and sign

Comment by northern

Existential angst? On this blog? You’ve changed.

Yeah loving it. Though the fucking privileged tossers on Facebook are a disgrace. They only care about property and couldn’t give a fig about the army and red corpses that have piled up over this. They make me sick….

…but as rice farmers aren’t quite on the Facebook demographic I’m stuck with defending the poor against a million or so selfish fucks.

A golden chance for Thai advertisers to say something meaningful now but instead they will opt for low impact synthetic robocopy.

hmmmmm Robocop(y) I should be a writer 😉

Comment by Charles 'values' Frith

I’m waiting for a Thai insurance company to do an ad that uses the terror to try and flog a few more house and contents policies.

Comment by Rob

Craft it vs churn out, indeed. Brilliant summary.

Gordon B wasn’t “pointlessly handsome”, took tough decisions despite having dice loaded against him, but hey, democracy wins, right?

Comment by Sush

Excellent post Robert, I even found the padding most enjoyable.

Charles, your comments regarding the situation in Thailand are morbidly fascinating. Take care out there.

Comment by Lee Hill

I think Mr Dodds would disagree with you …

You must check out Charles post & video Lee, it’s awesome. At the very least you should hire him to be your travel correspondent for the inflights …

[ and make sure you read the post entitled “Mind The Gap”]

Comment by Rob

They’re not Browns kids paintings, they’re the ads Billy did for the labour party campaign.

Comment by DH

That’s not very nice Dave, he’s not here to defend himself. But it’s funny, so it’s OK.

Comment by Rob

You can’t even draw a salary Dave so fuck off, those paintings are high class art.

Comment by Billy Whizz

This is all lovely. But I would say that BECAUSE IT’S MY FUCKING BIRTHDAY.

Good morning.

Comment by Marcus

Happy 39th, if that’s not an oxymoron.

Comment by Rob

Happy Birthday Marcus
There is little left to say on the actual post, or the comments, except that while it’s true that showing some humanity doesn’t prove you’re capable, actually showing you’re proud of some of things you’ve done and you really care about what you want to do, rather than triangulating, makes all the difference in the world.

Comment by northern

I think we won’t realise what we had til a few years down the line. Whether or not you agreed with him, it’s hard to argue that Brown wasn’t a principled and decent politician; let down only by his media skills.

We all said after Blair’s Iraqi adventure that we wanted substance not spin. We got it, and instantly everybody decided they wanted spin again.

A much underrated prime minister.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

i blame the fact he called that smug fuck piers morgan a mate.

i can forgive no weapons of mass destruction but its fucking hard to get past that.

Comment by andy@cynic

He probably thought it would make him seem nicer (like the ugly mate thing)

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hey Lee. Just got your compliment. Thanks for that. Appreciate it.

Comment by Charles 'values' Frith

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