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

Same, But Oh-So-Different …
October 25, 2012, 6:11 am
Filed under: Comment

I love technology.

That doesn’t mean I’m a geek or a nerd … I just love tech.

Of course, when I say that, I don’t mean intellectual tech that can make a massive and positive difference to mankind, I mean the sort of tech that ends up producing robot rabbits, dogs and pretty much any other animal you’d find in the farm of Old McDonald 2.0.

With this in mind, it won’t come as any surprise that I read a few tech/gadget mags, of which 2 – T3 & Stuff – are particular faces.

While at their heart they’re pretty much the same, T3 is a bit more serious whereas Stuff is a bit more cheeky.

Or said another way, T3 is for tech connoisseurs whereas Stuff is for normal people who like gadgets.

This difference has never been clearer than when they launched their latest editions.

While both have done James Bond specials and dedicated their cluttered front pages to the fact … one has executed it in a way that captures the spirit and mood of Bond whereas the other just feels like a very bad impression of what someone thinks Bond is about, even though what they’ve ended up with looks – and feels – like a magazine on the gadgets of Austin Powers.

The thing is, there are occasions where the information and data you have will be the same – or at least very similar – as everyone else, so what these covers demonstrate is that the role of a planner isn’t just to furnish their colleagues with insights and context about the issues/views/considerations/habits of the audience – but to also explain the brands spirit, voice and point of view, because as I’ve said many times, the talent of a planner should be evaluated on output, not their carefully crafted powerpoint presentation.

Pens Down … Except You Don’t Have To Quite Yet.
October 24, 2012, 6:06 am
Filed under: Advertising [Planning] School On The Web, Comment

So by Sunday morning 9am, Shanghai time, all entries into the A[P]SOTW assignment should be in.

However because I’m so kind, not to mention the fact I am going to be traveling for a week and a half, you can – if you need to – have until November 4th.

Yes, more time.

I know … I know … I’m so bloody generous aren’t I.

Of course, if you’ve finished & are happy with what you’ve done, send me the presentation [or link to your video pitch], otherwise we’ll close everything off officially on the 4th.

Definitely. Absolutely. Wholeheartedly.

And because I’m sure Northern will take the piss out of me for delaying the submission, let me tell you this will not adversely affect how long it takes to do the judging. Oh no. Ahem.

You Can Fool Some People, Some Of The Time …
October 23, 2012, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

This is a very weird post for me to write – even weirder than normal – because it’s regarding an experience I’ve never had before.

Given I’m in my 40’s and have done a stupendous amount of ridiculous things in my life – liking Queen, not included – that’s quite impressive.

Anyway, a while ago a friend of mine, Paul Catmur – the very clever & talented ECD/Partner of Barnes, Catmur & Friends in NZ – got in contact, because a mate of his, Steve Harrison, wanted to talk to me.

Now I know what you’re thinking:

Steve Harrison must be a member of Interpol.

Steve Harrison must be an international tax auditor.

Anyone who introduces a friend of theirs to me, is no friend.

… but you’d be wrong – except for point 3 – but let’s move on because it is about to get a whole lot weirder.

You see Steve Harrison didn’t work at Interpol, nor was he an international tax auditor … hell, he wasn’t even a planner who wanted a job … Steve was an author and he wanted me to read his latest book.

Now that alone is amazing, but when you hear why he wanted me to read it, you’re going to fall off your chair.

Are you sitting down?

Seriously, you’re going to want to.

OK … OK … don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You see the reason Steve wanted me to read his book was because he’d read this blog and thought I might like it.

That’s right, he’d read this rubbish and still thought I’d be worth getting a free copy of his hard work.

Naturally I assumed his book must be about Birkenstocks … or gadgets … or maybe Nottingham Forest, but it wasn’t any of those things, it was about advertising.

When I heard that, I took it he’d written ‘Advertising For Dummies’ and wanted to use me as a test dummy, but it wasn’t even that … it was a book about the remarkable life of the irrepressible, advertising visionary, Howard Gossage.

The word visionary is often overused, especially in adland, but in this case it’s absolutely deserving.

So are the words, bold … brave … whip smart … creative and iconic.

Now I appreciate some people reading this will question that given they haven’t heard of Gossage, but I hope you don’t mind when I say I don’t really care.

OK, that’s a bit rude.

What I mean is that just because someone isn’t as well known as someone like David Ogilvy, doesn’t mean they’re not as valid.

That would be like saying someone at FCB can’t be as creative or smart as someone at Droga5, which is obviously bollocks.

I suppose the bigger issue is that too many people today view anyone who worked – rather than works – in adland as irrelevant.

Hell, I’ve met people who don’t even know who Bernbach is.

Look, I know these people are from a bygone age, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from their views, opinions and ideas.

In fact, when I see some of the rubbish our industry puts out today – either as opinions or as work – I’d say they’re a hell of a lot more relevant than many of the folks we place on our shiny pedestals.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a whole bunch of people who are as imaginative, bold, brave and iconic as some of the past masters … but I guess all I’m saying is there’s as much you can learn from the masters of the past as there are from the masters of today. Even more so, given many of them are the folk who influenced and inspired the people we regard so highly today.

Which gets me back to Gossage.

If Ogilvy was The Beatles then I would say Gossage was The Rolling Stones.

Less polished and packaged and more provocative and challenging.

So much of what we talk about today – be it tension points, story telling, product invention, social impact – he was saying decades ago.

Actually he was doing more than that … he was actually executing it.

Without him, I genuinely wonder whether we would have the Wieden’s, BBH’s, Crispin’s and Droga’s to name but a few.

Steve’s book captures all this.

It educates, confronts and inspires.

It challenges your values and standards.

It fills you with excitement and promise.

It makes you want to strive for better.

In short, it makes you fall in love with this industry all over again.

It’s that good.

Now I appreciate a recommendation from me is like getting a recommendation for a creche from Jimmy Saville, but if you want to see what you and adland are capable of becoming – whether you’re a planner, creative, suit or client – then I urge you to read this book, because I assure you that you won’t regret it.

In fact it might be the first – and last – thing you ever thank me for.

You can read Steve’s view about it here and buy it here.

Proof Apple Are Not Cool Anymore …
October 22, 2012, 6:33 am
Filed under: Comment

Because I’m a sad fuck, I went out and got an iPhone 5 as soon as it came out.

I wish I hadn’t.

Not just because it’s not as good – at least in physical build – as the iPhone 4/4S.

Not just because it has the World’s shittest battery life.

Not just because I’ve been writing for years how I have thought Apple were a shadow of what they used to be, especially in terms of audience understanding and innovation.

But mainly because of this:

What the above photo shows, is the ‘explanation screen’ in the iPhone 5 that explains how to best use Siri, their voice operated “assistant”.

Please note point 2:

“Note to self: Check out that new Norah Jones album”




OK, so apart from the music in some of their original iPod ads – especially the one written by my wife’s cousin – Apple have always had a terrible taste in music [Exhibit A: The U2 iPhone, the worst selling iPhone in their history], but Norah Jones?


Seriously, for anyone that hates me for liking early Queen, even you have got to admit Snorer Jones is worse than Freddie and the gang.

And yet Apple felt this was OK to put in their iPhone.

Seriously, this is worse than the last two iPhones basically being the same product and suddenly makes Samsung’s rather contrived and heavy handed ‘iPhones for the old & sheep generation‘ ad, look kinda accurate.

For God’s sake Apple, sort yourself out.

It’s bad enough you have to contend with me having your products without you contributing to the image of being the parent who dances at the school disco.

Bazza, you have a lot of explaining to do – or was this in your “shall I join Facebook or shall I stay here?” phase?

I Hope You Never Leave …
October 19, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush;
I am the swift uplifting rush.
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye. 1932.

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