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

Saying Goodbye To Your Baby …
August 12, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Last week I got an email from a client I used to work on.

It was a very nice email from a very nice client and I was genuinely pleased to hear from them.

I was just about to click ‘delete’ when I noticed their email footer … more specifically, the positioning that was emblazoned within their email footer.

It was new.

It was different.

It was bloody crap.

Now normally I’d not notice things like this, but the positioning they’d been using previously was something I’d come up with.

I don’t mean I was part of the team that helped develop it, I literally came up with the words and given I always get way too emotionally involved in any campaign I’ve had something to do with, I’m sure you can imagine how over-the-top my enthusiasm for this work was.

OK, so it was just a positioning line and it only came about because the creative team decided the use the idea I’d written on the brief verbatim [probably because they were feeling lazy / generous / drunk] but I still felt pretty chuffed with myself for unintentionally coming up with something that the brand had stuck with it for years and become synonymous with them and what they stood for.


OK, to be fair, it was probably about time.

When it was originally created it was based around a whole different set of circumstances and objectives … but the fact they’ve changed it to something bland, corporate and meaningless has completely and utterly depressed me.

Of course bland, corporate and meaningless is in the eye of the beholder … but I don’t care, it’s shit and for some reason, I feel like I’ve been dumped except instead of being replaced by a younger, hotter model, it’s a beige skirt dressing, twin-set wearing, dumpy bird with crap hair, horrible shoes and a complexion that looks older than she really is.

On one level this should make me feel good – or at least less bitter – except it don’t, I feel like I was dumped by someone I never really knew, even though we spent years together in what I thought was a wonderful relationship.

God I sound pathetic don’t I.

The only reason I’m not mentioning the client is that I still love them and don’t want to publically humiliate them – though I did ring them up and ask what the hell they were thinking – but even though it’s only advertising, I feel quite glad that I got so upset about this sort of thing, because it shows – at least to me – that even at this point in my life and career, I still care.

While it’s important to not fall into the trap of thinking adland is the saviour of the universe, its also important to not be so flippant about what it is and what it can do.

Advertising has the potential to make a massive difference to more than just brands, but to society as a whole.

I know some may snort in derision over that comment, but I believe it and have seen it – and while it is happening less and less as more and more companies – and agencies – seem to be going for bland awareness rather than pragmatic and meaningful, I still have an inherent need to go with the direction that will increase the odds of countless debate, frustration and disappointment because more often than not, they’re the directions the masses feel more drawn to because they’re actually saying something and committing the brand to doing something which ultimately leads to preference and profit.

In all honesty, this approach doesn’t always work.

In all probability, it has resulted in more failures than successes.

The sad fact is too many brands look at their agencies as a place that does work they don’t really want to get their hands dirty doing … but when you do get that win, even if they change it years later to some of the blandest bollocks you’ve ever read, you feel fantastic, especially when they see their faith in you was justified.

This is not about ego – well, not purely – it’s about doing what you think is genuinely going to make the biggest difference to their audience, the wider community and their business as a whole, which is why at the junction of easy and bland or tough but rewarding, I choose the path of sleepless nights and arguments.

What an idiot.

53 Comments so far
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hahahahahahahahahahaha. hahahahahahahahahahaha. hahahaha. hahahahhahahahaha. haha. ha. hahahahaha.

Comment by andy@cynic

You read email footers?

Comment by John

cant help it when the actual email is so short. he normally gets stuff that simply says “fuck off campbell”. i know this because im the one who sends them.

Comment by andy@cynic

go on campbell, tell doddsy, also known as mr cream industry historian, your theory on footers. its fucking fascinating. if youre fucking pathetic.

Comment by andy@cynic

One of our cynic footers used to be:

“cynic does not promise that any attachments are free from viruses or other defects. In fact you assume liability for any loss, damage or other consequences which may arise from opening or using the attachments. Nice eh. That’s what the World has come to. Putting warnings on everything and anything because there’s a bunch of shark lawyers out there just waiting to sue you for something. Or idiots. Lots and lots of idiots. Good luck.”

Even though 99% of people never read it, the 1% that did always wrote to us and told us they found it funny. But that wasn’t the reason we did it, it was because we wanted people who saw it to think “If they even think about things like email footers, they must think of everything”.

Comment by Rob

what the fuck have they gone with now?

“its all about you”
“the one you can trust”
“driven by excellence”

its going to be some sort of shit like that isnt it. youre way too fucking nice campbell because id burn their office down, not call them up and call them pansy fucking names.

clients want to be different but exactly the fucking same.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s a bit like all of those put together – it’s truly tragic.

I don’t know whether all clients want to be different – but they all want to have more people interacting with them and yet they seem to have a policy of chasing audience [blandness] rather than attracting [pragmatism] … which is good for media companies but bad for shareholders.

Comment by Rob

for all the twats that read this, campbells advice is good fuckig advice. for once.

just dont go about following it in the same annoying as fuck way he does which is to never shut the fuck up until he “feels” its right. his proprietry fucking tool are his fucking “feelings” and hes more twisted and prone to change than a multiple personality drug addict who drinks 30 coffees a day and is on their period.

on the brightside, he makes sure he can look in the mirror every fucking morning by doing shit that is good which is funny because if i had a face like his, id be doing everyfuckingthing i could not to see myself at all.

Comment by andy@cynic

Best backhanded compliment I’ve seen in a long time.

Thank you. You’ve not lost your touch.

Comment by Rob

i know.

Comment by andy@cynic

and another word of advice. you cant claim to feel the same way as campbell if you dont go in to fucking battle for what you believe in. and that includes clients rather than blaming the account service fuck when they come back and say the client didnt buy it because your “passion” stops the moment you have to actually go and talk to an audience beyond your own fucking reflection. or hipster mates.

ill say something for campbell, hes a tenacious little devious fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

and petty. really really fucking petty.

Comment by andy@cynic

and vengeful. motherfucking vengeful.

Comment by andy@cynic

and a grade a vindictive, scheming, manipulative bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

only reason i semi like the prick.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks. That means a lot from the King of Evil.

Comment by Rob

Bland, corporate and meaningless is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the yellow belly of the terminally mediocre.

Comment by John

This is the guy that once sent a wreath to an agency that tried to screw us over so a berating phonecall is a sweet gesture by his terms.

Comment by DH

Think I shpuld explain the wreath thing was a long time ago and the recipient had really been doing their best to screw us over. Does that help justify it? What about it being very funny?

Comment by DH

that wasnt funny dave, that was fucking justice. those bastards deserve every fucking painful piece of shit thing that will happen in their miserable bastard lives.

Comment by andy@cynic

Not my proudest hour Dave. But not my most shameful one either. And they did deserve it. In fact they deserved more but I didn’t want to run the risk of 20 years in prison for those pricks.

Comment by Rob

I like this post and the path you choose.

Comment by naoko

How come you never liked my ideas when they were always the best and bravest and coolest as shit?

Comment by Billy Whizz

campbell might like taking on the odd fucking challenge when he can be arsed but he doesnt ever like taking on frat house humour bollocks. hope that helps billy.

Comment by andy@cynic

I wasn’t the one who tried to sell “ugly mouths don’t get laid”.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I feel like I’ve been dumped except instead of being replaced by a younger, hotter model, it’s a beige skirt dressing, twin-set wearing, dumpy bird with crap hair, horrible shoes and a complexion that looks older than she really is.Thankfully for her she has a very loose moral compass and if you’ve got the money all your mates can have a go, and their mates, and their mates mates. She’ll be anything for anyone, you can help yourself but be warned, both you and her will be left feeling unfulfilled, slightly sordid and with the nagging sensation that it shouldn’t really be like this.

Comment by tom

are you doing an andrew lloyd webber and ripping off my fucking comments? sounds like it tom. but its ok, i wont sue, i just admire your fucking good taste.

Comment by andy@cynic

Errrrm, he’s copying what I said in the post. You don’t read what I write at all do you Andy!

Comment by Rob

Unfortunately it comes naturally

Comment by tom

of course i fucking dont. are you fucking insane?

Comment by andy@cynic

I always felt inadequate when I saw the energy you brought to our projects. It didn’t matter what the circumstances, you were always ready to take things on, fight the good fight and lead us to a better place. Of course you didn’t have 3 little girls at home to mess you about, but it was still very impressive and inspiring.
Good post with good points.

Comment by George

lead us to a better place? you mean a fucking bar because the only person leading us to a better place was me. cheeky fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re not pushing your bad decisions on to me George, thank you very much. You think I can’t see what you were trying to do. And I would like to remind you both that I was never for Potent_Flix, and I am still waiting for you to both apologise and acknowledge I was right.

Comment by Rob

it was a fucking great idea, it fucked up because you pesky planning bastards changed it from a porn production company to some poxy documentary planning shite.

and i forgot to get the release forms signed.


Comment by andy@cynic

The launch and close parties were great. And so close together.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Given you are sentimental over a calculator, it’s not that surprising how sentimental you are over something you had a bit more to do with creating.

I agree with George, this is a good post with good lessons and reminders.

Comment by Pete

It’s pleasing to know I am not the only person you’ve had words with. Good read.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’m an equal opportunity insulter Lee, you should know that by now!

Comment by Rob

Great post.
The best piece of advice I got in this business is ‘the best way to make a difference in advertising is to take it seriously, to give a damn about it, because most people don’t’.
The quote, by the way, is from Dan O’Donoghue.

Comment by adrian r mediavilla (@adrimedia)

Good point. The best piece of advice I had is not to listen to other people’s advice and find out on your own. I’m not being a prick – of course I know hearing from others is valuable and enlightening – but the person who told me that had a point and I’ve happily been making my own mistakes for the past 4 decades, ha!

Comment by Rob

Well played to your creatives on using your proposition. I actually once had one tell to make the proposition less good, because ethey couldn’t think of a better line.
By the way you wouldn’t believe the trouble I get myself into working here by not accepting drivel.

Comment by northern

I think my lowest moment was when an account director wanted me to look at her bra client and find ways to make the advertising idea work in digital. She didn’t take kindly to me telling there wasn’t an advertising idea in the first place.

Comment by northern

At the end of the day, the only thing we have are our standards – though many people seem to think that means you can avoid answering the brief, the issue or dealing with people from other departments, disciplines or viewpoints.

And when you say your account director wanted you to look at her bra client … are you meaning literally as in “PHWOOOOR” or metaphorically, as in “Hmmmmmn”?

Comment by Rob

A client that sells bras to women with big knockers. One of the few times I enjoyed doing focus groups let me tell you

Comment by northern

Big knockers. I’ve not heard that expression for bloody years. You’ve made me more home sick than I’ve felt in a long time …

Comment by Rob

For the colloquialism, not the big knockers. Well …

OK, let’s move on.

Comment by Rob

while I enjoyed this post, I would love to read one about the account management method behind the madness, because you are way to successful to just have relied on luck (part of it), smart team members (again part of it) and clients thinking your rage is nice to be around (?).

Andy talked about the moped thing going through-..would make a great case study- sans the confidential bits…

Just curious (for obvious reasons)

Comment by niko

Errrrm, actually that is pretty much it. The secret I learnt is:

1. Work with smart people.

2. Know the sort of people or organisation who match my sort of ‘characteristics’ or values.

3. Focus on the creative end of business, not the business end of creativity.

4. Be happy to keep smashing my head against the wall.

5. Be lucky.

Comment by Rob

“Focus on quality?”
“Passionate about …”

Most brands have people at the top who don’t understand nor care about this stuff. We have to make them… your anger helps you do that; whoever looks after it now couldn’t. (Or were shit to start with)

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You’re very kind Mr M, but I think the issue is more to do with organisations obsession with either being ‘team players’ … which means blandness tends to be the only thing everyone likes [or should I say, dislikes the least] or a fanaticism with making sure no one, absolutely no one could ever be offended by what they say or do.

That’s not a brand, that’s wallpaper and I subscribe to the school of attracting audience rather than chasing them down and bashing them over the head until they submit.

Comment by Rob

As Bill Cosby said – The easiest way to fail is to try and please everybody”

Comment by Rob Mortimer

the post and comments – fucking wow ! Aš Jus myliu vyručiai !

Comment by TOTOinTrouble (@TOTOinTrouble)

what if your baby was a ginge? and a taffy. that would be fucking easy to say bye to. massive fucking flaw in your argument campbell or there could be if i knew or cared what the fuck your argument was.

planners. cant kill them, can live without them.

Comment by andy@cynic

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