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

Most Brands Need To Realise What They Don’t Say Communicates More Than What They Do …
November 23, 2010, 6:06 am
Filed under: Comment

This is basically the uber-dumbed down theory of a conversation I had last week with Martin Weigel – Wieden Amsterdam’s sickeningly clever and lovely head of planning.

Without doubt if you asked for his articulation of what I’m about to ‘theory assassinate’, you would read something more informative, articulate and thought provoking than I could ever dream of producing – however as I am Jeremy Kyle to his Jeremy Paxman, you’ll just have to stick with the ‘everything for a pound’ version until he decides to get off his arse and write it up fully on his blog.

[When he does, I think you’re going to love it, especially because he has some wonderful research on how people interpret digital communication [which is not about the internet] versus analogue]

Anyway, the very, Very, VERY basic premise is that if human communication is as reliant on none-verbal cues as it is on language and words, then why do so many brands [and their agencies] spend so little time investigating [and valuing] the signals their brand communicates via their everyday, real World interactions?

Look, I know that sounds awfully like I’m rehashing my ‘little things can make the biggest difference’ rant … but that’s because I’m not explaining myself [read: Martin] properly … however even if you put all the really clever stuff aside, I just like the idea that if you think of brand communication in the same vein as how humans communicate, it might stop people going straight to creating contrived, one-dimension ads and start including, addressing and valuing the seemingly inconsequential elements that ultimately influences peoples views and loyalty to a far greater degree than any ad could hope to achieve.

In other words, don’t ignore the importance of brand body language.

A Promotion Even Salvador Dali Would Think Was Shit …
November 22, 2010, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

Remember that post I wrote last week about relevance being in the eye of the beholder?

Well my lovely friend Scotty [though he probably doesn’t want me to publicly acknowledge that] has pointed me in the direction of one of the best examples of “only makes sense in the mind of the client” brand promotions that I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Play in the Himalaya’s?
Design a fucking golf ball?


Jesus Christ, they’re flogging a fucking beer. An Australian beer. A beer that comes from a country where men either wear singlets and shorts and talk about the quality of the BBQ, the new Holden V8 or the AFL scores or wear designer threads, drive cars they can’t really afford and pretend they’re somebody the rest of the World cares about when in reality all they’re doing is sitting in an overpriced bar surrounded by British backpackers.


Mind you, I do have to say I love how they’ve dropped the word INDIVIDUAL or UNIQUE about 10,000 times in the body copy. That’s subtle. Seriously, if I wasn’t an advertising professional, I’d never get how they’re trying to subliminally position the beer as the brew for guys who are their own men.

The leaders.
The champions.
The brave.

What a pile of bollocks.

And while I would rather stick hot nails down my cock than get up at 6am to play a round of fucking golf [can you tell I’m not a fan?], I would imagine the game is enjoyed most when you get to play against someone so there’s no use being a unique golf ball individual, if your prize is being flown to the fucking Himalaya’s to basically practice your putting on your own.

Seriously, if I won that prize, it would drive me to drink.

Ahhhhhhh … now that’s not so stupid afterall.

Seriously, this is pants – especially the ‘golf ball design’ entry mechanic – which is why I assume the real reason for this idea is because the brewery CEO likes golf and wants an excuse to be flown up there on corporate expenses.

What next?

Ford offer a ‘spending bonanza at Toys R Us’ promotion or maybe Tesco’s could launch a ‘win a toilet’ campaign where it’s all based on who has made the prettiest pattern wiping their arse?

The only good thing about this pile of shite is that the neanderthal sense of humour of the average Aussie male means that Coopers brewery will be inundated with entries of golf balls that are all made to look like a big, hairy bollock.

Look, I’m not saying promotions should have rational entry mechanics or obvious prizes, but I do think there’s a big difference between imaginative and fucking pointless and this campaign definitely falls into the latter camp. At least on first impressions.

I don’t know who Coopers agency are [I hope to fuck it’s not TBWA and they are flogging this as part of their ‘disruption’ philosophy] but whoever it is, please note that if you – or anyone at Coopers – stumble across this post, please don’t think “all publicity is good publicity”, because it isn’t.

For the record …
November 19, 2010, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Comment

I am very sad today.

Actually, I’ve been sad ever since last week when I met Heather LeFevre in Amsterdam and found out that in all likelihood, a guy I thought very highly of, was ill … very, very ill.

I’m not talking about any physical ailment – though apparently that is being claimed at the moment – I’m talking about a potential string of lies that has ended up hurting, humiliating and damaging a whole host of innocent people all around the globe.

The guy I am talking about is Sam Ismail.

As I’ve said, I liked Sam. Hell, in some way I still do.

He’s smart, bright, charismatic, mishcievious and full of energy … and because of that, I introduced him to a dear friend of mine – who is a headhunter – when he said he was moving to Australia.

Because of his cleverness and charm – and maybe a pinch of my pseudo-endorsement – he ended up getting a job with another friend of mine at their agency.

I was happy … everyone was going to win … and I was looking forward to seeing how things developed.

Then a couple of weeks later I got a phonecall.

A terrible, horrible, heart-wrenching phonecall.

It was from my headhunter friend telling me Sam’s parents had been involved in a terrible car crash and he’d had to fly to the US immediately. I was devastated for him and emailed him offering my condolences to which he responded and said thanks and that it was a tragic situation.

A few days later she rang again and asked if I knew which hospital his parents were in because his girlfriend was looking for him and was finding it impossible to make contact.

I didn’t.

Obviously I thought it was strange his girlfriend didn’t know where he was, but I know from personal experience that when these things happen, weird things can happen so I just assumed it was another tragic outcome stemming from a tragic outcome.

A few weeks later my friends at the agency he worked at, got in touch.

“Do you know where Sam is?”

Again I didn’t … and when I asked why, they told me he had not been in touch with them except for when he told them [via my headhunting friend] he had to leave the country to be at his parents side. I must admit I found that strange and it bothered me – he’d even deleted his Facebook and Twitter accounts – however not only was it none of my business, I again knew from personal experience that you can end up doing some very weird things during times of tragedy and crisis.

Anyway, apart from when I called my headhunter friend to say hello, he didn’t really enter my mind until a few months later, when I noticed Sam back on the social media scene.

I immediately got in contact asked how he was.

Despite all that had happened, I was genuinely concerned – afterall, I had no real reason not to be – so I was happy when he told me that after such a terrible time, he was getting stronger. Of course I had to ask about Australia and he openly admitted that there were issues there that resulted in him having to stay away, which he felt very bad about because he knew he had hurt/upset others.

As far as I was concerned, that was that …

Anyway, over the subsequent months I heard the odd whisper about Sam from various people, but I always said they should shut up because there was no evidence of any wrong doing and this industry was already full of backbiting and bitchiness.

Then I met Heather.

I was in Amsterdam for a meeting and was really excited that I was also going to be able to meet this person that I’d conversed with, but had never met.

I knew she had just got this big gig with Strawberry Frog and that she’d been looking for planners [as she’d asked me for recommendations] so within minutes of meeting, I asked her how it was all going.

She looked disappointed because she said she’d hired this great guy called Sam Ismail but sadly, the day before he was to start, he’d SMS’d her to say his sister had been involved in a car accident and he had to fly and be by her side.

My face went white.

For the first time I had undeniable evidence that there was something that didn’t quite add up with Sam.

Here I was in Amsterdam – meeting someone I’d never met before – listening to a situation involving a person standing 2 feet in front of me, that was almost a word-for-word account of what my friends said had happened to them in Australia.


Even then I didn’t want to admit my concerns, so I explained calmly that the situation she was describing sounded very similar to a set of circumstances some friends of mine had gone through with Sam a few months earlier.

And from that casual conversation over coffee in Amsterdam, things escalated …

There is a chance Sam and his family are one of the unluckiest families on Earth, but the likelihood is – especially when you read the other stuff Heather’s subsequently found out – that they’re not, and whilst that is good news it also means there’s a real possibility Sam has lied and manipulated people for his own personal gain.

I should point out here that I don’t hate Sam, I’m worried about him.

I – as I am sure is the same for Heather – don’t want this to be a witch hunt or to put him in a corner he feels he can’t get out of … I want to help him.

I take no joy writing this whatsoever, none at all … in fact you may have noticed that at no point in this post have I come out and categorically said he has lied or cheated – I’ve simply explained the situation that I personally encountered – because I am hoping there’s a chance, however small, that this whole sorry situation is just a series of terrible, horrible, ugly coincidences.

I don’t know where Sam is but I know he’s read Heather’s post … so wherever you are, I hope you’re getting the help you need because you’re a guy with so much to offer, but you’re probably fucking yourself up and that’s as tragic to witness as the mess you’re being alleged to have left behind.

It can change.

You can change.

So if there’s a way to prove the things being said are wrong – do it – because I believed in you and nothing would make me happier to know I was right to do that.

Comments Off on For the record …

Are The Chinese The Most Demanding Customers On Earth?
November 19, 2010, 6:39 am
Filed under: Comment

So I was walking through a shopping centre in Shanghai when I came across this …

No, it’s not a man dead in a reclining massage chair [at least I hope it isn’t] but it is a man asleep in a reclining massage chair.

Now on first impressions, you might think he’s a cheeky bastard grabbing a couple of minutes shut eye … but I personally think he is an astute shopper.

Those chairs cost a fucking fortune and so surely the one thing you want to do before you part with your hard earned cash, is make sure it does what you want it to do.

Like I wrote about back before the internet was invented, I can’t work out why so many shops are against people trying out products in store because let’s face it, the chances of them then making a purchase goes up radically once they’ve experienced it.

OK … OK … so this attitude might be better for some products than others, but even if Mr Snoozehead doesn’t end up buying the chair, he’s going to talk pretty positively about it … afterall, it managed to let him get some shut eye in the middle of a shopping centre in one of the busiest cities in the World and if that’s not a shining endorsement of it’s relaxation qualities, I don’t know what is.

Beware Of The Initials …
November 18, 2010, 6:23 am
Filed under: Comment

I’m not big on things like ‘naming strategy’ – at least not in the approach certain brand consultancies endorse.

Sure, you want to make sure it doesn’t translate into “Granny Fucker” in Spanish or something, but having been mind-raped by Landor and their ‘proprietary naming process’ [which seemed awfully like putting words into a thesaurus and printing off whatever came out] I can’t help but feel a lot of what is often put forward is nothing more than an excuse in money making.

Saying that, I’ve recently seen something that highlighted that naming fuck ups can be much more than just how it translates into a foreign language – though by the same token, it could also be the greatest pisstake in corporate history.

So I was flicking through a magazine last week when I came across an ad for the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

Basically it was an ad advocating that women who wish to undergo cosmetic treatment should do so with a surgeon registered with the organisation.

So far so good – but then I realised the initials of the body were BAAPS, which is – albeit wrongly spelt – slang for women who have these …

Now I don’t know if that was intentional or not – I would assume given its the medical industry and they don’t do humour, it wasn’t – but I think it’s genius and hope to god they start doing ads that say:

Hey ladies, it you want some perky tits, make sure you have a good look at BAAPS.

Mind you, the Shanghai International Trust is giving them a run for their money with their brilliant acronym of S. H. I. T.

So it’s time to forget such theories as truth in advertising, it would appear the future is all about truth in acronym – which should make Landor happy, as I’m sure there’s a proprietary tool they can create to make an obscene amount of cash out of.