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

Strategy Is As Easy As Knowing Your A, B … Errrm, That’s It.
November 23, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

There’s a lot of shit talked about strategy.

At the end of the day it’s simply getting from point A to point B … with ‘A’ being where you are now and ‘B’ being where you need to be for a whole host of commercial reasons.

That’s it.

Nothing more.

Of course how you get there requires a lot of thinking and exploring and ultimately, doing … however at it’s heart, the concept of strategy is simple and so here are 6 ways to tell whether the person you are talking to is talking strategic rubbish or not.

1. They need 30 minutes to explain what their objective is.

2. They need 30 minutes to explain what their objective is without actually explaining why that is their objective.

3. They have a list of about 30 things they claim are ‘strategic objectives’.

4. They don’t articulate a specific objective at all, they just talk about ‘producing stuff’.

5. They talk about strategy in terms of timelines rather than meeting a specific objective within a specific timeline [and why that timeline is important for their business]

6. They talk about what they want you to do, not what they need to achieve.

Rather than being a thin line between strategic objectives and strategic approaches, there’s a great big fat one … so if the person you’re talking to doesn’t understand the difference, let alone appreciate the difference, I would suggest you either point it out to them or just smash them in the face and claim it’s a handshake because they are so delusional, they just might believe it.

Qantas: Champions At Losing?
November 22, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So as you know, I was in Australia recently and flying back to Shanghai, I was checking out their entertainment channels when I saw this …

Can you see it?

No, not the reflection of me with a pair of ridiculous headphones on, I’m talking about the program that appears on the bottom left of the list.

It’s the show entitled ‘Stranded: All Flights Cancelled’.

I must admit, when I first saw it, I thought they were talking about their brand fucking decision to ground all their planes from a couple of weeks ago, but no – it was the Icelandic volcano incident from 2010.

Either way, I did find it rather amusing, albeit in an evil bastard way – though it does highlight how little things can affect a brand as much as the big … especially when they’re desperately trying to make amends for stupid decisions they’ve recently taken.

Maybe the Qantas team should learn from Van Halen’s old tour manager that understood ‘attention to detail’ increases the odds of creating ‘addictive experiences.’

If Authors Know Planning Is An Outdoor Pursuit [Rather Than An Indoors Job] … What’s Your Excuse Now?
November 21, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

… and for those who claim they just can’t get out – which I assume is because you have no legs or access to a wheelchair – here is a reminder of a few things you can do to get a better understanding of real life, not desk life – though really there is no excuse for not engaging with the World outside of your advertising bubble. Except laziness and ego.

Career Advice From A Dummy, Not For A Dummy …
November 18, 2011, 6:03 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’ve been doing this advertising lark since 1989.


The thing is, I never really wanted to be in adland – not because I didn’t like it, but because I never had considered it and the only reason I got in is because an opportunity fell into my lap … thanks to being very, very, very cheap.

And gullible.

Very, very gullible.

Anyway, despite all that, I’ve done OK and while I hope there are new adventures and experiences ahead, there are some ‘lessons’ that I’ve learnt over the years that I wish I’d known when I first stepped in to the industry … and because I am soooooooooooo generous I am going to pass 5 of them on to you, to do with whatever you wish.

Which is probably ignore them.

Which is probably right.

Anyway, here we go …


At some point you’ll work with people – colleagues and/or clients – whose definition of ‘common sense’ won’t be anywhere near yours.

You’ll find yourself in a situation where the response to your ideas make you literally question your sanity, intelligence and experience.

OK, so sometimes that will be because you haven’t thought something through – or you’ve just been an idiot – and when that happens, you should learn from the experience so you don’t make the same mistake next time – however there will be occasions where you realise the person you’re dealing with is a total idiot and while it would be tempting to smash them in the face, there are 3 ways you can go:

[A] Walk away in the knowledge they’re going to get what they deserve.

[B] Keep reframing how you state your point of view so it kind of fits within their feedback.

[C] Go and do it with another client/colleague/agency and make them regret their decision. Even if they are too stupid to realise what you’ve done, you’ll know … and if you’re a petty little shit like me, you’ll appreciate success is the best form of revenge.


You will experience some of the most superfluous, pointless conversations and meetings in your life … where some of the most flowery, pretentious and pointless language you’ve ever heard will be used.

While it is a great opportunity to play Bullshit Bingo, DO NOT BECOME A PART OF IT.

You might think saying words like “synergy” and “brand onion” will help you fit in, but it will also suck you away from reality and to be any good at this job, understanding of what’s going on in the real world – rather than the marketing world – is a necessity not, as the ad industry seems to like to believe, “novel”.


If you’re lucky, there will be at least one point in your career where you are part of something that achieves incredible success. You will feel like a star because you’ll have people wanting to talk to you and – potentially – hire you.

Don’t believe it.

By all means bask in the glow of praise for a while, but don’t think it’s real.

Adland is a shallow industry where people will pass praise on anyone who has achieved a modicum of success … then bitch you out as soon as your back is turned.

The people who have the right to act like God’s are the ones who’ve consistently produced great, powerful, effective and meaningful things … and the funny thing is, the people who have achieved that are generally the most humble, kindest of guys.

Remember that, because it’s people like Dan Wieden and John Hegarty who you should be looking at, not the guys who created the latest ad that’s got adland panties wet.


Adland loves to talk about methodologies. They love to say stuff as if there is irrefutable evidence that their way is the right way. They come up with fancy terms and proprietary tools … but it’s all bollocks.

Well, not bollocks, but all open to debate.

For every successful approach, there’s a counter successful approach.

The thing with adland is that there are so many variables that what works once, might not work again. Or what once failed might become an overnight sensation. Seriously, if you want proof, just look at Fallon’s Cadbury’s campaign.

But in all seriousness, the reality is there are lots and lots and lots of ways to approach challenges and very rarely will something be totally wrong. It might not work as well as another approach [emphasis on ‘might’] but don’t fall into the trap of believing there is only one way to do things because anyone in adland who say’s that is either a deluded twat or someone who is responsible for their agencies proprietary tool.


Advertising is a business. I know it doesn’t always act like it is, but it is. And while it doesn’t cure cancer or stop famine, it does play a role – albeit small – in society and industry.

Now contrary to popular belief, it’s always been this way … except in the last 10 or so years, adland has decided that it’s better to dress, speak and act like their clients rather than do things that their clients actually want – like helping their business be better.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for agencies – and bosses – who appreciated clients pay us for what we do for them, not how we look and talk in meetings with them … so while we have to produce work to the highest of standards and approach every challenge with a sense of purpose and professionalism, don’t forget part of the reason we’re hired is because we have different ways of looking at things and that is a strength, not a weakness.

So be true to yourself and enjoy the madness … because this industry needs personalities as much as it does talent.

The Power Of Words …
November 17, 2011, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

Our new ECD, Michael showed me a video that – scarily for him – was sent to him by his son.

I say ‘scarily’ but it is also one of the most powerful pieces of writing – let alone performances – that I’ve ever seen or heard.

When I first watched it, I realized half way through I was literally holding my breath and then – at the end – I literally exclaimed, “WOW!”

But it was more than just an expression of being impressed by what I’d just seen, it was literally feeling the pain, anguish, confusion, strength, belief and empowerment of a complete and utter stranger.

Through his words.

Just his words.

I’ve said before that one of the greatest tragedies in modern adland is there’s this misguided belief people don’t want to hear or read long advertising copy anymore.

But we know that’s bollocks – because if it was true, people the World over wouldn’t have been moved by ads like our Chrysler Superbowl ad – even though in theory, it’s should only be relevant to the people of the US, and in particular, Detroit.

So next time someone tells you words don’t matter … or long copy is dead … or where you say it is more important than what you say and how you say it … show them this: