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

I Seem To Have Inadvertently Become Paris Hilton’s Sugar Daddy …
June 21, 2013, 6:03 am
Filed under: Comment

Dear Hilton Hotel Sydney …

I had a very nice stay with you during my recent trip to Australia.

Sure, you were pretty expensive for basic things like Diet Coke and a packet of peanuts, but it was very nice … or should I say it was very nice until I checked my credit card bill and saw you had decided to sneakily charge me for an additional nights stay to the bill I had already paid.

And what did you do when I called you to question it?

You said I’d been charged because I was a ‘no show’, despite the fact you also acknowledged [1] I had already been in your hotel for a number of days and [2] I had checked out exactly when the booking said I would – which seems to be pretty good proof I WAS ACTUALLY THERE!!!

And what did you do when you heard this?

Did you go, “Oh so sorry sir, there must have been an error with our system, let me reimburse you right away”

No. You said it would take TEN DAYS to investigate and this shouldn’t be taken as an acceptance of liability.

Oh but hang on, there’s more.

You see rather than accept that there must be some sort of mistake, you then added that the only explanation must be that I “must have booked an additional night”.

Now listen here Hilton Hotel.

As much as I like throwing money away on stupid technology, even I wouldn’t rent another room in a hotel I was already staying in just because I could.

And even if by some weird quirk of fate, I had done, I sure as hell wouldn’t have ignored the checking in process because another room means more amenity packs to steal.

I find it amazing that a hotel chain that claims they want to ensure ‘all our guests have a memorable, personalised experience’ not only is reluctant to accept liability when they acknowledge I was already in their hotel as a guest, but wants to make me wait at least 10 days before they’ll think about reimbursing my credit card.

But there’s something worse.

Had I not seen the charge on my credit card, Hilton Hotel would have got away with this.

They didn’t call or email to tell me [1] about this charge or [2] that I had ‘failed to check in’ … they simply kept their head down so they could make a wrongful charge and hopefully get away with it.

As you know, I travel quite a lot until someone there not only reimburses me, but apologizes for the inconvenience they have caused, I definitely won’t be staying in one of their establishments again.

Of course, they probably won’t care especially because they’re probably of the view that if their business can survive after one of the founders family has been videoed fucking some sad, opportunist bastard on film, they can survive anything … and maybe that’s right, but I can assure them I’ll do all I can to try and make them take some sort of responsibility for their actions [or inaction], because this isn’t the behavior of a service industry, it’s the behavior of conmen.

Hilton Hotel. The battle is officially on.

The Good And Bad Of Blogging …
June 20, 2013, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

I’ve been doing this blog for a long time.

I know that each post I write feels like it’s lasted 100 years, but that aside, I’ve been bashing out bollocks for 7 years.


And in that seven years, I’ve written 2,167 posts and received – at time of writing this – 51,255 insults.


That’s the equivalent of 20 a day. Every day. For 7 years. Or 2,555 days.

Fucking hell.

What’s worse is those 20 insults have – in the main – come from the same people, which begs the question, am I a masochist?

Now you might be thinking that this is the lead-up to me announcing I’m going to stop writing and ranting.

You should be so lucky.

I know every normal person stopped writing blogs sometime around 2007, but I’ve adopted the strategy of ‘resistance to responsibility’ which basically translates to this.

The longer I write, the more likely I end up being the last blog in the World.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Again.

The reason I started this blog was so I’d have a place to put down ideas, rants and moments of madness.

I didn’t do it for anyone else, it was just for me – a sort of ‘pressure release’ valve.

The thing is, after 7 years and 2,000+ posts, you also build up a compendium of what you think and believe, which is why it’s both wonderful – and slightly annoying – when you discover that something you passionately believed in 2008, is something you now feel totally different about today.

And that’s what I’m going through now.

Something I was a massive critic of previously, is something I now realise was pretty clever.

What’s worse is my change of opinion can’t be explained through shifts in technology or culture, it’s because I was blind.

Yes, I fucked up.

I didn’t do it on purpose and I absolutely meant well, but that doesn’t hide the fact, I fucked up.

Now I know it’s sometimes hard to admit you’re wrong … it makes you look foolish … but I’m too old to give a fuck especially as I’d rather learn from my mistakes than doggedly hang on to them in a desperate attempt to look consistent.

Besides, we’re all hypocrites.

Every day in every way, each and every one of us does or thinks things that fly in the face of what we say or believe.

Big things … small things … the only difference is having a blog means you can’t hide so easily from your hypocrisy which is both humbling, disarming and a little bit awesome.

Now I appreciate without actually explaining what the fuck I’m talking about, this makes even less sense than normal but it’s got nothing to do with politics, religion, economy – you know, important stuff – it’s all linked to how I think and do my job.

The good news for you is [1] this revelation came to me while working on a project, which means the very thing I had slagged off way back when, is actually what I am going to suggest is adopted moving forward [2] the client I have been doing the project for was – in typical bastard ironic style – the very same client I had previously slagging off for experimenting with this approach all those years ago* and [3] this post has reached the end … which no doubt makes you feel as relieved as it does the client.


* Yes, I appreciate this means I am suggesting my client ‘does what they did previously’.

My response to that isn’t that I’m lazy, but that I’m mature enough to accept when things are good whereas others often tinker for their own ego.

That’s my excuse and I will doggedly stick to it thank-you-very-much.

Is Technology Making Us Poor?
June 19, 2013, 6:17 am
Filed under: Comment

Ages ago I wrote about an embarrassing episode I had with Jaron Lanier.

Sure, it wasn’t as embarrassing as dressing up as a pirate while a sailor recounted being kidnapped by Somali pirates, but it was close.

Anyway, ever since that day, I have felt compelled to follow the work and thoughts of Mr Lanier. It’s as if it’s my way of making up for the fact that instead of trying to discuss the future of technology with him, I asked if the Microsoft beefburgers were any good.

So recently he launched a new book, however instead of talking about the power of technology, he talked about its potential [and reality] for economic destruction.

The bit that grabbed my attention was this:


“At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people.

Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?”


I love that.

Well, obviously I don’t love the destruction of the middle class – I’m not a bastard – but I love that he has come out and highlighted the potential darkside of all this technological advancement.

Of course what he’s saying isn’t new, others have said similar things – including me, which I’m only highlighting because I want to try and associate my name with the brilliance of Mr Janier, even though I rightly don’t stand a fucking chance of that happening – however the example he uses gives us tangible food for thought as opposed to the insane ramblings of those people who try and claim Google is to blame for everything wrong in the World … from the loss of privacy to societies stupidity.

Of course what he says has flaws.

The reason Kodak died is as much due to their lack of innovation as the rise of technology … but while you can’t stop progress, the economy of the future could end up being a pretty bleak for people, society and Governments given there may not be the jobs – and the pay cheques – to fund the lives of the people technology has discarded.

That or maybe humanities survival instinct will kick in and we’ll create jobs that don’t yet exist to keep the food on the table.

Or we’ll all end up working in a call centre … talking to people who can’t actually afford to buy anything anymore.

Jesus, how fucking bleak.

While I’m being extreme, Michael Moore said a similar thing in his first documentary.

GM had just closed their car plant in Flint, Michigan.

Outside the plant were some of the ex-car builders. He was interviewing them when one of them said,

“If companies keep making us redundant to maximise their profit, who is going to be able to buy the products they make anymore?”

Good point, though in the case of Instagram – and now Tumblr – it appears the new economy is not about making products that create sustainable profit, it’s about coming up with something that some fool will pay ridiculous amounts of cash for, based on the ‘strategy’ that ‘if they have it, none of their competitors can have it and end up doing something useful with it’.

Anyway, it’s a great book with some real food for thought and you can buy it here.

Marketing Truth Isn’t Truth …
June 18, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Marketing Fail

So a few weeks ago I wrote about a direct mail letter that proudly stated upon the front of the envelope, that it wasn’t direct mail.

I mumbled that with this sort of approach, it’s little surprise people don’t trust advertising – or a lot of brands – anymore.

Well, that is if they ever trusted them in the first place.

Anyway, I recently came across another example of marketing mentalness. This:

There you go, 100% pure orange juice … that is if you ignore the other ingredients that aren’t pure and aren’t orange juice.

Seriously, what the hell do they think they’re doing?

Sure, they might have been able to get away with this sort of thing before … sure, many people might not ever notice … but that doesn’t mean it’s right. In fact, I’d argue that when people notice the truth, they’re pretty unlikely to believe anything they ever say again.

Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

After all, people still buy Subway after they had the fucking audacity to say ‘the foot long sub’ was a brand name, not an indication of length … despite the fact they’ve been pushing the length of their footlong sub for as long as I can remember.

Seriously, what can we believe anymore.

Is there really 1/2 gallon in that orange juice container?

Is there any orange juice at all in that container?

Maybe I should jump on the bandwagon and say my penis is 2 foot long [but that’s only my name for it, it’s not an indication of it’s true length] and that I went to Oxford university, without revealing that I only went to see it with my parents when I was 6 years old and that’s the closest I got to going to any university.

According to some studies, advertising people are only slightly more trusted than a used car salesman.


For fucks sake!

I don’t blame society for thinking that – but the truly sad part is there’s lots and lots of genuine, decent, compassionate, smart people in adland – and yet they are letting themselves get tarnished with the ‘untrustworthy’ brush by people who have mistaken the work ‘marketing’ for lying.

Marketing isn’t about lying.

While it is about finding a way to position and promote products so that they will achieve maximum desirability – it should be about cleverness and insight, not bullshit and lies.

I love this industry I work in. It’s given me a wonderful life and lifestyle … but if we continue to allow ourselves to be pushed into making claims that – regardless how you look at it – are about trickery and lies, then we are all contributing to the downfall of our industry and careers. And that would be hugely upsetting, because not only do I think there are lots of wonderful people in it, but – when done right – it has the capacity to make a positive difference beyond the world of commerce, but to society as a whole.

Rant over. I feel better for that.

Thanks for ignoring me. Ha.

Compassion Creates Legends …
June 17, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I’m back and what a couple of weeks its been.

I know you won’t believe me, but I’ve genuinely been working hard. Well, working hard by my standards anyway.

Travel … presentations … pitches … birthdays … visitors … holidays … meetings … campaigns … do you feel sorry for me?

No, I didn’t think so. Dammit.

Well, I’m certainly not going to bore you with what I did. Instead, I’ll bore you about a football match.

From 1990.

Hey, it makes a change from Brits banging on about winning the World Cup in 1966 doesn’t it?

The football match I’m talking about is the one between England and Germany in the 1990 World Cup finals.

In all honesty, the 1990 World Cup was my favourite World Cup of all.

Not only was it in Italy – my Mum’s home country – but it also had the best theme song for any World Cup, Pavarotti’s version of Nesunn Dorma … a piece by Puccini that seems to have been written specifically for the drama and flamboyance of the World Cup in Italy, despite being written in the early 1920’s.

But there is another reason why that World Cup – more than any other – captured my imagination, and that is because it was the first World Cup where I was now old enough to watch the games in my local pub – a place where the atmosphere of each match was only second to actually being there.

The reason I’m saying this is because I recently watched the magnificent documentary One Night In Turin and it not only brought back all those wonderful feelings and emotions [as well as remind me of some stuff I had literally forgotten about], but it reminded me what legends are made of.

Mr Colman wrote something about sporting legends on his blog a while back.

It’s a wonderful piece … highlighting the difference between people who have a natural talent for sport and those whose abilities are driven by their heart rather than their body.

Anyway, as I was watching the documentary, I saw something I had forgotten.

This was it …

No, it’s not Chris Waddle missing his penalty – I certainly remember that – it was how the German captain, Lothar Matthaus, didn’t join his team mates as they celebrated winning the match that meant they were in the final, but instead went over to Waddle to console him and didn’t leave his side until he had been placed in the care of his fellow England team mates.

What a fucking legend.

With sports stars constantly being showered with compliments and praise, Lothar Matthaus’ simple act of compassion reminded me the difference between talent and legend and reaffirmed why I believe empathy trumps curiosity in terms of what is the most important trait you can have in a planner.