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

Ad Standards Don’t Mean Business Standard.
September 29, 2010, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment

This really is my last post till I come back from the hols, however following yesterday’s rather serious topic, I thought I’d lighten the mood with some of the worst photoshop I’ve seen since that Microsoft Poland thing of last year.

Have a look at this:

Seriously, is the talent in this ad from another planet?

Before I get to the most obvious element – let’s start with her legs.

Now I’ve heard the phrase ‘legs that go on for miles’, but this is ridiculous.

And judging how short her skirt is – and the fact her thighs still seem about an hour away from meeting – it would appear that her vagina is located somewhere near her breasts, which is quite convenient for any man who is rather lazy in their lovemaking approach.

But let’s get to the hand.

That great big, blokey looking hand.

What’s going on with that then eh?

If I wanted to be positive, I’d say maybe it’s because her right arm is the length of Mr Tickle’s so she can hold that note about 3 miles ahead of the rest of her body or that she had an illness that resulted in her hand being bigger than her actual head however as I don’t do positive very much, let’s just settle for the fact it’s bullshit photoshop approved by a client who is either blind or doesn’t actually give a damn about standards and just cares about getting a message put out there.

The irony of this devil-may-care approach is that I ended up noticing an ad that I would probably otherwise have missed, but let’s not focus on that or I could bring the whole advertising house-of-cards down in a heap.

But here’s the point …

The standards that adland [supposedly] holds dear often doesn’t reflect the standards or needs of clients.

Whereas we can spend days getting something ‘just right’, we have clients that ‘just want the thing put out’.

Of course we have to balance the 2 because when approached in the right way and for the right reasons, high standards can result in higher profits, but all too often I sit in despair as agencies say they need 9 months to make a television ad when people in other industries can build stadiums or start new businesses in that time.

Adland – as the guys at Goodby’s so eloquently put it – is ‘art serving capitalism’, so whilst it is important to always fight to maintain high standards, if you forget your goal is also to “serve capitalism” then you only have yourself to blame if you end up producing ads that feature women with excessively long arms, big hands and vaginas located somewhere above their belly button. [Which isn’t actually normal Billy, just incase you were wondering]

If Mad Men Was Made For The Modern Asian Advertising Scene …
September 28, 2010, 8:51 am
Filed under: Comment

… it would be identical in almost every way except the female roles would be filled with Asian men and women.

Don’t believe me?

Have a look at the photos from the Campaign Asia Magazine launch party.

Lot of white men there aren’t there.

You could say an excessive amount of white men – even though the ones I can recognise are genuinely good, decent and clever guys.

Putting the people in the photos aside, I should point out I’m not suggesting [all] Westerners in Asian advertising are like their Mad Men counterparts – philandering alcoholics who rule by fear, dominance & arrogance – however it does disturb me how many of them/us are in positions of power when we are never going to know this culture as well as a local.

Of course there are some valid reasons for having an expat ad community in Asia – plus it’s always great to have people with experience guide and nurture the next generation of talent, [which in adland, at this moment in time, is probably more likely come from the West] but sadly I fear that when that next generation take their seat at the table, it will still be disproportionately filled with expats than Asians and probably expat males to boot.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should give a high ranking job to someone just because of their ethnicity rather than their ability/talent, however I find it hard to believe in a population of 1.3 billion people – a population who are smarter, more dynamic and business savvy than most of us Westerners – there are only a few that have been deemed capable of running a department, let alone the whole bloody ad agency and even if that is the case, then I know some training would change all that because the ability is there even if the experience currently isn’t.

Saying all that, I don’t subscribe to the view that you must be part of the target audience to understand the audience.

As long as you put in the effort, don’t think you can ever understand it all and collaborate with a wide range of people who have experience in different – yet relevant – areas, I believe you can make a big impact regardless of how different your life and situation is from your ‘target audiences’ … and I know there are many of Western, agency bosses who subscribe to this view and live by this view – but it still makes me feel vey uncomfortable that so many agencies have white guys in senior positions with locals supporting them.

I should point out that not every agency is like this – but sadly they, like Asians and women in senior roles – are in the minority.

Hell, even my agency has 4 middle aged, white guys in the top 4 positions – though we’re pretty lucky given the local talent we have in the place is of such a high standard, they’re going to unsurp us from out seats any day and I am actually quite pleased about that fact.

This isn’t a view I’ve just started to have.

I remember writing to Campaign a few years ago saying it was ridiculous a [then] bald 30 something from Nottingham was in charge of the planning for the region … and whilst I think I am pretty good at my job, the reality is my real skill is being able to help people separate societal reality from cultural prejudice and spot a good insight from an average one … which is why with some training and exposure, I will hopefully hand over the reigns to some talented bugger from this region rather than another expat.

There’s a lot to be said for diversity, but when the majority are in the minority, it’s time we looked at what we were doing.

[PS: I have used the words ‘local talent’ in this post. I hate that term – it sounds condescending and does not reflect what I really mean so please note when it is used, it is meant in terms of talented people from this region rather than talented people from this region, but not quite as talented as Westerners]

Biting The Hand That Feeds You And Not Giving A Fuck? That’s Confidence In Your Ability, Skill Or Power …
September 27, 2010, 9:59 am
Filed under: Comment

So there’s a café near where I work called Jamaica Blue.

To say the service is slow is an understatement.

Seriously, I know bank call centres that are quicker to react …

So imagine my confusion when I see the picture below being proudly hung on their wall …

I’m all for companies having a sense of humour, but rather than trying to get their customers to laugh at/with them, it appears they are laughing at their customers.

I’m not sure if that is an act of supreme confidence or stupidity – but given they almost single handidly have the monopoly on W+K’s coffee consumption [mainly because we’re all too fucking lazy to walk another 100 feet to the far superior Baker & Spice] I would say it’s the former.

Smug bastards.

God Bless Communism …
September 22, 2010, 6:00 am
Filed under: Comment

[This is not me, even if it could be me. Kinda]

… because I am now on almost 3 weeks holiday.

But don’t be jealous because everyone wins …

I get to piss about.
You don’t have to read my shit.
My colleagues don’t have to hear my voice.
Our clients don’t have to write a complaint about me.

See, it’s a Win/Win … except I win slightly more than you do.

So till I ruin your lives with more of my shite, I bid you farewell suckers …

Things I Know Now, I Wish I Knew Then …
September 21, 2010, 6:22 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things about getting older is that you start to realise how little you know and how much there’s still for you to see, do, experience and learn.

I’ve written about this before, but I feel that at 40, I’m only now just starting to recognise what I’m really interested in and what I want to aim for, and yet in the usual twist of life, I now have less time to achieve it which places additional [self imposed] pressure on my shoulders because I can’t stand the thought of at least not having a go.

Of course the other pain in the ass is that in 10 years time, I’ll have found another 10 years of things that will have captured my imagination so I am destined to be on my death bed and feeling pissed off because some things I wanted to do escaped me – however given I have a wonderful wife, family, life and, to a certain extent, career – not to mention all the usual stuff like health and friends etc etc – I can’t get too pissed off but you might need to remind me of that when I’m drawing my last breaths hopefully a very long time into the future.

But despite all that, there are some things I’ve learnt in my 40 years of life that would have been very useful to know when I was younger and some of these are:

1/ When someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong, it means they just disagree with you.

2/ Women actually like men who talk openly to them about their hopes, dreams and feelings … so …

3/ … women will not destroy you if you talk to them. Especially if you follow lesson #2.

4/ Being healthy starts when you’re young.

5/ Insults can undermine someone’s confidence for the rest of their life.

6/ Your school days really are a special time in your life.

7/ You have to work hard to create fate.

8/ Responsible doesn’t mean boring.

9/ Success requires more than exam results.

10/ Your first job won’t be your last job which is why …

11/ … your first career doesn’t have to be your only career.

12/ Your World can – and should – extend beyond your street.

13/ Don’t take your friends and family for granted.

14/ ‘Bad timing’ really is a legitimate excuse.

15/ The World does need more artists, writers and inventors.

16/ Don’t listen to careers advisors. Ever.

17/ Life isn’t that scary, infact it’s quite exciting.

18/ Good things sometimes come to an end and it’s better to let go than to hang on.

19/ Don’t worry away your life.

20/ You won’t ever know all the answers.

21/ There’s someone for everyone.

22/ Life isn’t preordained.

23/ Popularity is overrated and strictness is underrated.

24/ Your parents were right about more things that you’d ever like to admit.

25/ Katrina Brindley was not the World’s most beautiful woman.

There’s plenty more, but what I’d love to hear are your lessons from the future … if only to reinforce what a fucked up little sod I was when I was younger, ha!

OK, so as of tomorrow, it’s basically holiday here till the 8th October so you’re basically free from my rubbish for almost 3 weeks, so enjoy every moment of peace & quiet but I guarantee you, as much as you think you’re living the dream, it won’t possibly be as much fun as I’ll be having.

God bless communism.