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

RobTalks …
December 11, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought someone was really smart and then they did something that made you think,

“Hmmmmn, maybe they’re utterly stupid?”

The last time it happened to me was when the very lovely Steve Harrison wanted to send me a copy of his book on the wonderful Howard Gossage.

Anyway, it’s happened again, but this time its an organization rather than a person.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls … please give a big hand to the latest example of professional suicide … TED.


Yes TED … as in TEDTalks.

An organization that has a rich and enviable history of amazing presentations [including 2 of my all time favorites, which are here and here] have committed credibility suicide by asking me to take part in their ads worth spreading program by answering 3 questions:

1. What stands in the way of brave work.
2. Who – or what – inspires us to overcome these obstacles.
3. What is the bravest thing you’ve seen a brand do this year.

Three questions.

Three little questions.

And yet when I saw them, my first response was ‘what is brave work’?

Is it someone that does something outside of their comfort zone?

Is it someone that does something that challenges the category convention?

Is it someone that does something that questions society?

Is it someone that simply does something no one has ever seen or done before?

You can tell where I’m going with this can’t you!

Within 10 minutes, I had responded to TED’s request with a massive diatribe that – to be honest – wasn’t what they wanted to hear, mainly because it did it’s level best to ignore answering any of those 3 little questions.

That said, there was one bit I liked which was how I said I thought ‘brave’ could be evaluated as successful … which was when an idea or action infiltrates and changes the perspective, context and mindset of societies opinion and behavior on a massive, measurable scale.

I like that.

Sadly – or fortunately – TED didn’t, but not because they’re bastards, but because [1] I was blathering on like a lunatic [I wrote 10 lines about issues I felt were stopping brand bravery!!!] and [2] this is part of a series addressing this issue and so want everyone to approach the task based around the same 3 key questions.

The only other thing they asked is that the example of ‘brave’ I used was specifically associated with communication, hence my initial example of Microsoft and Windows 8 was wrong.

[And yes, I really do think what Microsoft did with Windows 8 was brave, even though when you look at the bigger situation, it was the only option really available to them]

With all that in mind, I went back to the drawing board and ended up actually answering the brief, which you can see below.

You might agree. You might disagree. That’s cool … but I would love to hear your answers if you can be arsed.

I have absolutely no idea why TED asked me to take part – probably for light relief – but it was very nice to take part, so thank you, I hope you don’t live to regret it for too long.

The film associated with the Bodyform ‘Truth’ campaign can be seen here.

The backstory to the campaign can be viewed here.

The other views of those 3 little questions can be viewed here.

34 Comments so far
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i honestly dont know what fucks me up more. the fact you were asked to do any shit associated with ted or that you write a blogposts worth of crap with every bastard question.

Comment by andy@cynic

anyway i thought you thought ted had become a load of precocious and patronising wank? i never did but reading your bollocks means it has now.

Comment by andy@cynic

what scares me is i agree with your fucking rant. and your choice of “brave” even if that word and advertising go together like peaches and sick.

Comment by andy@cynic

Peaches and sick. An award winning combination. If you work in advertising.

Comment by DH

just seen some fuckers say space jumper twat for red bull was brave. no it wasnt. it was just more extreme than their usual contrived daredevil shit. plus they hyped the fuck out of it. why the fuck did a man falling from the sky need a mission fucking control except to look even more fucking important for the marketing. yes it was impressive. yes it was dangerous. but it wasnt brave for red bull, admitting their product is full of dangerous shit and too many cans could kill you would be brave.

Comment by andy@cynic

This is brilliant Andy. I mean, even more brilliant than your usual brilliant.

Comment by Pete


Comment by DH

That was my point. While jumping out of a balloon at the edge of space is an amazing feat – is it something that is that dramatically different from the activities Red Bull endorses and sponsors already? Cynical as it may seem, I don’t think it is which is why I didn’t think it was as brave as many other things that have been executed in the last 12 months.

Nice to see we still agree on some things Andy, even if it’s for slightly different reasons.

Comment by Rob

instead of writing all that shit about who or what inspires you to be brave, why the fuck didnt you write “andy.” prick. im going out for beers with a friend whose a fireman tonight. ill ask him what he thinks of adland claiming theyre brave inside their pampered fucking offices with crazy shit all over the $10,000 per sq/m walls.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes, well that is a different – but entirely valid – thing altogether!

Comment by Rob

Bravery has to involve physical or mental peril, thus nothing in advertising or marketing can be brave – except perhaps sending back Andy’s final edit for a little re-working.

Comment by john

when you think about it doddsy, having the fucking audacity to claim what they do is brave is putting them in physical peril, because i want to smack the shit out the delusional fuckers.

at least campbell had the good fucking grace to call it brave work, not brave. he might be a prick but hes not a fucking stupid prick.

Comment by andy@cynic

And since TEDx have been hosting talks by pseudoscience chancers, their asking you to opine shouldn’t be at all surprising.

Comment by john

and ill give him 10 points for using that fucking ridiculous photo of himself instead of the dark and moody professional shot most of the other pretentious wannabe cocks use. fuck me, am i complimenting him? i think i fucking am. how the fuck did that happen. off to take my dr john walker medicine before it gets too fucking bad.

Comment by andy@cynic

Great answers to your 3 questions.

I wonder if you will be the only one highlights the role of shareholders and companies hiring photocopy employees in your reasoning?

I’m almost certain you will be the only person who suggests making brave, sensible is the key to making things stand a chance of happening.

Comment by Pete

“You’re not seen as an advocate of risk but a liberator of potential.”

Classic Rob Campbell right there.

Nice work. Bit pretentious, but nice. It is also most definitely more honest than the other advertising darlings that have contributed so far. You feel they spent weeks agonising over every word to ensure their image was enhanced with their wisdom.

Comment by Bazza

By what possible measure did they select all these ad people, why them? And why is it in images so I can’t copy paste and why is it on Google+? so many questions…

Comment by Paul

Is the Google+ thing anything to do with Pete or George?

Comment by DH

I agree with you Rob. Windows 8 is brave indeed. Also their new Internet Explorer promo video is:

Comment by Paul

And while that Bodyform was good, it needed to finish with red water to qualify as truthful (aka “brave”).

Comment by john

Nice answers Robert. It’s a shame they wanted to define brave purely through the lens of advertising, but as they did, the Bodyform piece does the trick quite nicely.

Comment by George

uncle dan is a brave man..

Comment by niko

Isn’t ted letting campbell do this the bravest thing of the year? Definitely most fucked up.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Quite shocked no one said it was brave – or at least ironic – asking a [half] Italian the meaning of brave. Seems you guys are either getting more mature or losing your [evil] touch.

Well, we know the answer isn’t ‘maturing’ don’t we.

Comment by Rob

We didn’t want to upset your Mum.

Comment by DH

Cosa? Essere bravi? Non vuole dire Brave nel senso inglese, just good isn’t it?

Comment by Cyril

Being brave makes no sense if it relies in the sake of being brave. As you mentioned, I can be a fool if I want to, I can do brave things, I can be super clever, I can be super dummy, but what matters is what difference we want to make. I know you will smile at this one, but you need to know the rules to break them and make a difference. All your analysis after is for my point of view 100% correct, especially the short-term one.

Comment by Cyril

I agree with Peter, it’s refreshing to hear someone talk about the broader issues affecting pragmatic decision making.

It is also pleasing to read an advertising person talk about their responsibility in making commercially complex situations, agreeable and acceptable for clients.

Being brave may impress the youngsters, but it counts for little if no one acts on it.

Wise words Robert. Well done.

Comment by Lee Hill

You trained me well Lee. Or should I say, re-trained me.

Comment by Rob

I think that BodyForm commercial might be the answer to population control in the U.S. It would explode the brains of at least half the men here.

Comment by Kylie

That thing about proving the commercial benefit is massive.
I’m bored with planners who are simply shrills for the work and very good at getting work through the link test or chumming up with the Nursery.
It’s very different to find a way to tell a jobsworth brand manager everything they know is wrong.
Or, to have the temerity to tell a creative the only people that care about the obscure polish cinema reference in their ad live on Shoreditch

Comment by northern

Anyway, balls to this, here’s Mr Spock singing The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. GOLD

Comment by northern

Best thing that’s appeared on this blog in years.

Comment by DH

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