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

Welcome To The World …
July 23, 2010, 9:42 am
Filed under: Comment

So at 6:30am [Sydney time] my great friend Tony van Oosten witnessed the birth of his first child. I know his lovely wife Bindy did all the hard work [including having to sleep with Tony] but I am just so incredibly proud happy and excited for them.

Can’t wait to be formally introduced but till then, a huge congrats and big kiss to all …

Life restarts from now.

Comments Off on Welcome To The World …

Why Old Spice Is The Best Bit Of Planning This Year [So Far] …
July 23, 2010, 6:04 am
Filed under: Comment

So I – like many of you out there – love the Old Spice work.

I don’t say this because the people behind it pay my monthly salary, but because it is a wonderful idea that can go and grow into a multitude of areas and – most importantly – comes from a product truth [even if on first impressions, it could have appeared a negative] and an insight that without doubt, laid the foundations for this campaign to happen.

In other words, a planner played a major part in the development of this campaign – a campaign, let us not forget, that is for a brand owned by P&G – which I think is bloody fantastic given the ridiculous levels of parity in so much of the advertising these days.

Sure, the work takes this insight and idea to another stratosphere, but interms of laying the foundations for this to happen – and move Old Spice to New Spice, so to speak – a planner played a major role.

As much as some people think its wrong, I am a big fan of seeing the strat in the work …

For me, if you can’t tell what the communication is trying to make you do/say/feel, then you have to question [1] the purpose behind the work and [2] what was the point having a planner on the biz in the first place.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying an ad should be a verbatum expression of the planners brief and proposition … however like with Old Spice, it should contain a message that you know has motivating relevance to both the audience and the client.

The thing I particulary like about the campaign is that it’s basically built on the same principals that allowed/allows W+K to do such great work for NIKE.

The whole ethos of the agency is to find the tension point between category and audience and then create an idea that will exploit that in favour of their clients brand.

To be honest, it’s not a unique philosophy [cynic had something we called ‘anger is an energy’] however they are better at identifying the ‘tension point’ than most.

With NIKE, they realised the conflict was all about people liking the idea of being active versus actually getting off their arses and getting involved, so they created an idea and brand voice that encouraged these very folk to get off the sofa and JUST DO IT. Sure the meaning of the message has evolved over time, but at its heart it still conveys the same tough-love statement that made it stand out all those years ago … the sort of tough love statement you’d be more likely to hear from your parents &/or teachers than a brand.

And here’s the thing, I believe the Old Spice campaign taps into the same thing.

I remember when I was a kid, my Dad caught me in his bedroom trying to style my hair [yes, I had some] with gel and god knows what else.

After watching me in silence for a while, he said …

“Stop poncing yourself up and get out”

… which isn’t that far removed from saying …

“You’re a man so why are you covering yourself in smells more suited to a girl?”

The thing is, like the wonderful guys at BBH did with AXE, W+K found an insight that was in front of everyone’s eyes for years [plus truly linked to the brand] … and that is the sign of a good planner, being able to see the obvious, even if it appears not to be that obvious … so while there’s a few other brands that have adopted a similar stance [Canada Dry’s fucking awesome “Your Dad” campaign comes to mind] the accolades for this campaign should go beyond just its executional brilliance, but also celebrate its creatively inspirational planning heart.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe …
July 22, 2010, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment


My wife puts up with a lot.

Not only have I dragged her all over the World, I’ve exposed her to movies, music and gadgets that – to be honest – no human should have to endure. And then there’s the fact she has to live with me and my ways 24/7.

And what do I do to repay her faith?

I take the piss out of her when tiredness forces her to say something daft.

Yes ladies and gentleman … my beautiful wife is at it again and you can find out what it was by clicking here.

Planning Magpies …
July 21, 2010, 6:02 am
Filed under: Comment

Thanks to the fact my predecessor was [well, actually ‘is’ as he’s still here, just now as an ECD] such a good planning director, I’ve inherited a good bunch from him.

The thing I like the most is not that they’re all talented, but that they’re so bloody diverse.

I’m not just talking in terms of nationality [though there’s everyone from Russian, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Thai, English &, of course, Chinese] but interms of their interests, approaches and opinions.

I genuinely believe planners should be less about advertising and more about life – and my lovely team embrace that view perfectly.

The reason I am such an advocate of this approach isn’t just because it allows their creative mind to identify much broader ways to influence change, but it allows them to take lessons and learning’s from one area and adapt it to another … which often can create results that go way beyond normal category conventions and yet maintain relevance, resonance, interest and motivation.

That is one of the reasons why I don’t like anyone only ever working on one account … even if that account is made up of multiple categories. The other reason is that if you spend all your life with just one client, you can lose your sense of objectivity and that is almost as an important tool in the planners arsenal as things like empathy,curiosity, imagination and insight.

I have some plans for my team which I’ll be discussing with them in the coming weeks, but funnily enough, it’ll be more to do with broadening their experiences and understanding than honing their planning chops … because for me, I’d rather have smart, adaptive & worldly than smart, solid & myopic.

We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are …
July 20, 2010, 6:35 am
Filed under: Comment

Last Sunday I got up early because my poor wife had basically worked through the night to get a project she’s working on, finished and finalised.

I wanted to get her a decent breakie as she had another long day ahead of her, so I left the World’s smallest serviced apartment we’re currently staying in and went looking for a café to get her a coffee and some croissants.

After a bit of a walk, the only place I could find was Starbucks, but as it was 6:35am, it wasn’t open for another 25 mins.

My initial reaction was to sigh in frustration until I realised I was being a little prince.

When I was growing up, no retailer was open at that time.

Hell, when I was growing up, no major shops were open on a Sunday full stop and those that were – mainly newsagents and the odd supermarket – closed by 12pm.

Sure there were the pubs and the motorway service station, but they weren’t exactly the places to go to get a convenient take-away coffee which brings me to my point …

We’re spoilt.

We’ve become such a society of instant gratification that we ignore the impact it has on other people as long as our personal needs and wants are met.

We’re don’t want to wait.

We’re don’t want to compromise.

We’re don’t want to accept how fortunate we are.

So next time we moan about the service we receive, let’s stop for a second and ask ourselves if it’s it really something worth complaining about, or simply our inner prince and princesses coming out to play.