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

The Advertising Planning School Is Coming Back.
June 29, 2012, 6:12 am
Filed under: Advertising [Planning] School On The Web

So Gareth, Andrew and I co-run the A[P]SOTW … except we’ve not done a great job of running it in 2012, because we’ve literally posted no challenges whatsoever.

That is about to change.

In the next 2 weeks, I’ll be posting a challenge that will focus on an incredibly important part of the planning job: simplification.

This sounds easy, but there’s a major difference between simple and simplistic and while you want to make sure that what you’re saying is easily understood by the people you’re presenting to, you don’t want to make it so basic that it loses all it’s energy, texture, imagination, distinctiveness and inspiration … not to mention, from a commercial point of view, that unique element that makes people want to choose working with you over a competitor.

I’m still formulating how best to do the assignment, but it will involve writing a 10 page presentation OR an 8 minute video presentation [up to you] with the single goal of capturing the judges attention [both commercially and emotionally] with what you have found, what you think you can do with it and where you believe it can go and grow.

Regardless of whether you are a planner, a wannabe planner, a suit, creative or client – I hope it will be something that is useful and enjoyable for all, so if you’re interested in having a go, watch this space.

[PS: If you’re new to all this, just click here and scroll through some of my old assignments – though both Gareth, Andrew and Russell have a bunch of wonderful examples hidden throughout their esteemed blogs]

The Paraphrase Kenny Everett/Cupid Stunt, It’s All Done In The Worst Possible Taste …
June 28, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Is it just me or does this ad feel a bit bad taste to you?

I know when you put all the elements of the ad together …

1. Christopher Reeve.

2. Paralyzed and in a wheelchair.

3. The Great Wall of China. [Which they label the subway … as if people wouldn’t understand the ‘idea’ unless they made it everyday relevant. Idiots]

4. Incredible amounts of steps.

5. Impossible for a wheelchair to navigate.

6. “When you know how hard it is, giving is easy”.

… it makes sense, but it still feels a wrong, especially for the Christopher Reeve charity.

I know it could be argued that this makes it even more relevant to the Christopher Reeve charity but seriously, does this make anyone else feel a bit uncomfortable?

And no Andy, you can’t claim they ripped off your sick joke idea.

Actually, when I come to think of it, you probably can.

At least yours was purposefully supposed to take the piss.

A bit like Christopher Reeve’s colostomy bag.

Oh god, I’m so going to hell.

Sorry Singapore …
June 27, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

… because I’m here.

On the bright side, you won’t have to interact with me because if I’m not at my client meetings, I’ll be at Funan Mall buying more pointless and over-priced gadget tat.

That’s a win:win in my book – and it’s a win:win for you, because it means you get a day off from my intellectual brilliance.

Also known as, utter bollocks.

Till tomorrow then …

In A Fast Moving World, Let’s Not Run Past The Things That Matter …
June 26, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

A while back I came across an article in the LA Times.

It was written by Bruce Stockler – an adman – to his son, who is about to graduate into the big, bad World.

Apart from it’s humour, I loved how it captured some of the truly important things in life … the things we often relegate to being inconvenient as we rush towards the next shiny thing being promoted by the media or adland.

I particularly loved his comment about liberal arts education – especially in this World where everyone seems myopically focused on business relevant degrees and MBA’s.

The irony is the World can function without bankers or commodity traders, but it would be hard pressed to operate properly without doctors, nurses, plumbers, writers and artists.

You know, those people who haven’t necessarily got a degree in international business, finance or law.

That is not meant to put people in the financial industry down, I do appreciate they play a very important role in our society – or some do – however if all we ever do is promote their industries, who the hell is going to do the stuff that makes life a richer, more efficient, more workable and beautiful place to live?

I don’t know Bruce Stockler, but something tells me he is a very good man.

We need to celebrate those people as much as the next kick ass, digital dude who has just made a billion from the intersection of Wall Street and Silicon Valley … the everyday people, the ones who balance work with life.

Anyway, read it. I hope you’ll see why I like it.


By Bruce Stockler
May 30, 2012

Graduation season is upon us, and words of wisdom will be flowing to the class of 2012 in commencement speeches from boldface personalities such as Michelle Obama, Steve Wozniak and Steve Carell.

A little closer to home, I would like to offer a few insights from my dying analog generation to one high school senior in particular, who will soon be heading to the University of Chicago. Because he spends most of his time locked in his room, on his computer, ignoring my emails and texts, this is what I hope to share with him during one of our rare face-to-face encounters.

• Your friends will become your surrogate family once the cruel, Darwinian abandonment of your parents and siblings is complete. And by friends, I refer to those rare few people who will bring you soup when you are sick, correct your tendency toward self-aggrandizement and do whatever onerous favors that are the Digital Age equivalent of driving you to the airport. A Facebook friend will not drag you to the health clinic when you develop a mysterious and fast-spreading rash.

• Read books for pleasure. Buy old books you hope to dive into someday, even if you never do. Cherish the weight of a book on your chest as you fall asleep on a lazy winter afternoon. Books will still be here in 1,000 years. Pinterest will not.

• A dive bar is a social platform. Tumblr is for publicly sharing awful photographs of railroad tracks and snowy branches no one wants to see, not even your mother.

• Despite the ongoing existence of “Transformers,” a movie is not the first layer of a multi-platform marketing scheme but rather a singular act of art to be experienced, debated with good friends over food, drinks and revisited years later. To see a film projected in a common, shared space is central to the experience; feeling the audience catch its breath when Peter O’Toole blows out the match in”Lawrence of Arabia” is a moment you will never forget. You will be hard-pressed to recall to your children the exact surroundings when you first enjoyed the serotonin-flooding epiphany that was “Charlie bit my finger” on YouTube.

• Since the age of 20, I have started every day with strong coffee and several major daily newspapers. A newspaper provides a robust and reliable frame for my mental visualization of the world. Please do not let your frame be filled up by the Kardashians, conjoined twins, conspiracy theories, 46-pound cats and cancer-fighting Amazon lichens.

• Though I can no longer imagine life before Google or Yelp, I do remember that I was happy, productive and healthy, the sun streamed with equal brightness, and my mind was deeply occupied by the mysteries of the universe.

• Religious extremists, imprisoned serial killers and porn stars have followers. People who read your Twitter feed are probably just avoiding doing their actual work.

• Texting is a wonderful way to avoid the intrusiveness of the average, non-urgent phone call, but outside of that narrow context, it serves only to enable people who cannot write a simple declarative sentence.

• I have nothing helpful to say about your ability to hear, acquire and share new music. I cannot defend playing my vinyl copy of “The White Album” on any terms other than petty nostalgia, and I will take that false moral superiority to my grave.

Finally, a liberal arts education is an idea that has fallen out of favor with my generation and yours, and I am insanely proud that you have chosen that path. Let others pursue a narrow and relentless path toward one percentagery, but remember that very few people wake up every day and look forward to their labors. Most people only look forward to lunch.

Go out and discover the world and yourself. And if you have a chance, read that old copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” You can ignore the notes scribbled in the margins. I’ll explain that phenomenon another time.

What We Can All Learn From Spam …
June 25, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Hello – how are you all?


Time to put a stop to that then eh – and I know the best way how.

Re-start this blog.

What’s that?

“How was my holiday?”

No, didn’t think you’d ask … bastards … so for that, here is a post about SPAM.

I think Spam is amazing.

Sure they’re a load of other brands that get all the accolades, hype and media praise – but few have achieved anywhere near what Spam has.

Now I know what you’re thinking, Spam’s success is testimony to marketings ability to convince people to buy what they don’t need.


The reality is there are very, very few ways to get people to do stuff they don’t want … Spam’s success is by giving a certain section of society, exactly what they need.

Spam’s origins are linked to a past time, 1937 to be exact.

It achieved it’s first real wave of success when World War 2 broke out.

With a scarcity of fresh meat, their ‘spiced ham in a can’ helped fill a much needed void and found its way into the mouths of people all around the World.

While it’s popularity has gone in waves – often linked to the economic situation at the time – it has succeeded where many better known, better distributed brands have failed … selling it’s SEVEN BILLIONTH CAN in 2007.


Well while the industry likes to promote the latest fads and gimmicks, Spam have focused on getting the basics right.

1. They’ve stayed true to who they are, what they do and who they do it for.

2. They’ve innovated their flavours to coincide with changing tastes – whether that is in local markets or foreign.

3. They’ve not taken themselves too seriously

… which given the shit they have faced with [i] Monty Python’s ‘Spamalot’ play – which they sponsored in some markets – and [ii] their name being associated with unwanted email correspondence – is as important as it is impressive.

In essence, that’s it.

There’s no digital cans or crowd-sourced ad campaigns.

There’s no multi-million dollar Superbowl spot or designer edition artwork.

It’s just good, meaningful marketing, executed simply, clearly and effectively.

For some, Spam probably represents mediocrity … the lowest of the lowest common denominator, low-rent marketing.

They’re wrong.

Not just because they don’t fail to understand who Spam relate to – which, I should add, is not necessarily people on a budget – not just because I could argue mediocrity is doing something simply because ‘everyone else is doing it’, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong … but because great marketing is when you make and take decisions that make a fundamental difference to the brands short and long term success, something I would argue, Spam have done far more effectively than many others out there, especially when you take into account the many hurdles they’ve had to face.

Spam might not be sexy or cool, but we can learn a hell of a lot more about how to be smart than most of the brands that get all the attention.