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

Have Samsung Just Invented The Best Form Of Contraception Known To Man?
November 8, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Imagine you’re an author.

You’ve just written what you consider to be the best book in the history of mankind.

It’s amazing.

Utterly amazing.

Now imagine you’ve asked the hottest woman you’ve ever seen to come over and ‘read a few chapters’.

Yes, we all know that’s code for ‘come over, get drunk and let me shag you senseless’ … but she seemed OK with it when you invited her.

So a few hours pass and after hoovering the floor, throwing out the empty pizza boxes and washing the sheets … the doorbell finally rings.

You run down and just as you are about to open the door, you catch your reflection in the mirror.

Goddamn you look good.

You’ve showered, shaved, put some after shave on – including splashing a few dabs ‘down there’ – so you know tonight is going to be an amazing night.

With your best attempt to marry a seductive smile with a nonchalant nod, you open the door and welcome her in.

My god she looks stunning.


You invite her in, shove a glass of white wine in her hand and sit down inches away from her in the time it takes a born again Christian to mention ‘god’.

Yes, that quick.

“This is nice” you say.

“Yes it is”, she nods.

“Would you like to listen to some music?” you ask.

“I’d rather read the chapters of your book” she replies.



You knew you had forgotten to do something and that was print the bastard thing out.

DAMMIT … that’s going to completely destroy the mood and make washing the bed sheets a complete waste of time.

But hang on, you are saved, because you just bought this:

Yes, that really is a printer with a built in music player/smart phone slot and speaker.

When people first saw it they laughed at you, but who the hell is laughing now.

You are.

You’re laughing like the sort of madman who has just pulled off the impossible.

And you have, because you can print the 17,254 pages of your book while playing One Direction at the same time.

One Direction, the band that’s guaranteed to get a lady to lower her knickers in no time.


You look around with the sort of smug smile that is permanently fixed to Callum Best’s smug fucking face.

And then it turns to horror.

Your lady has her coat on.

Worse, she has her coat on and is heading to the door.

“What are you doing?” you scream, despite trying desperately to sound calm.

“I’m going home” she replies without even turning around.

“But … but … why?” you stammer.

“Because only a twat would think of combining a printer with a sound speaker and only a loser would actually buy it”.

And with that she slams the door behind her, leaving your dreams in the dust.

You stagger to the sofa and slump down

Devastated … distraught and exhausted, you place your head in your hands and cry.

It starts off as a few tears before erupting into a tsunami of sobs.

You can hardly breathe.

You can hardly see.

But you know this is all your own fault, because she was right … who would think of combining a printer with a sound speaker and who would actually buy it?

A twat, that’s who.

A twat with his head in his hands and crying huge tears.


At home.

Like he will be forever.

Until he dies.

Quietly and lonely.

And all because Samsung thought a printer with speaker was a good idea.


So to the people at Samsung, I say pull your bloody head in …

This sort of shit doest impress anyone, least of all your shareholders who are now realising that your ‘carefully constructed business strategy’ is actually a load of bollocks because your plan for growth is nothing more than:

[1] Keeping your engineers busy and/or …

[2] Throwing as much shit at the wall and hope some of it sticks.

In other words, the sort of rubbish your typical advertising holding company thinks is a smart business plan.

So quit with the pointless shit Samsung, especially the pointless shit targeting a worldwide audience of 1 or you might end up with blood on your hands as well as angry investors.

The Cult Of Selective Blame …
November 7, 2013, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Recently I read an article in the Daily Fail … I mean, Mail … that used the headline:

“CCTV shows dramatic moment ‘model pupil’, 15, held up bank workers at gunpoint in Grand Theft Auto-style robbery”

Their justification for linking this idiots actions to the video game was simply because they executed the robbery on the day GTA-V came out.

I know … I know … it’s the Daily Mail, so I should expect nothing more … but I still found it amazing they had the nerve to connect two completely independent events together like that.

To be fair, even they seem to have realised they stepped over the mark because after a few hours, they changed their headline … so while I could use the rest of this post to highlight the ridiculousness of media trying to link video game violence to real life violence [using my Father and – bizarrely Ozzy Osbourne – to prove my point] I’m going to help the Daily Mail by highlighting a couple of things they could be getting their knickers in a twist about.

Before I start, I’d like to say that adland cops a lot of shit from people.

Sure, a lot of that is justified, but having a reputation for being ‘paid liars’ is a joke because there’s more legislation governing what we can and can’t do than there is in journalism.

Of course there are times when an overly ambitious/evil/stupid agency creates work that massively exaggerates the positive attributes of a product or brand, but in the main, there’s a limit on how far you can go, especially where communicating to kids is concerned.

If only those same rules applied to companies.

Recently I was in a store when I saw this …

Yes, that really is a kids fizzy drink made to look [both physically and metaphorically] like champagne.

Now while I get it’s all a bit of fun, it’s not that different to those ‘candy cigarettes’ you could buy when I was a kid … a product that was eventually banned because people felt it made smoking look fun and acceptable to children which may then encourage them to take up the real habit in later life.

Now like video game violence, I am not sure if that is entirely true, especially as I ate a bunch of those things when I was a kid and never ended up even holding a cigarette, let alone smoking one … however unlike GTA, that product has no age restriction. In fact it is actively targeting young children under an ‘adult premise’ so given the Daily Mail tries to position itself as ‘societies guardian’, why the fuck aren’t they shouting about that?

But it gets worse.

Much worse.

Have a look at this …

Yes, it’s a VISA ‘gift card’.

A card [pre-loaded with a pre-determined amount of money] that you can give to loved ones or friend as a gift.

Putting aside the fact this is the sort of present only the lazy and selfish give [which isn’t true, but I’m on a roll here] how the hell does this not encourage kids to start looking at credit cards as something awesome?

Yes, I know factually speaking, it’s a debit card … but some 8 year old isn’t going to look at it that way.

They’re going to associate VISA as a brand that lets them have whatever they want without any implication.

While that’s awesome for the Goifesto people, it’s not for the kid who grows up, gets a card, goes out on a massive spending spree then finds they have to live in a bus shelter for the next 20 years because they can’t pay off the fines for being late paying off the massive interest they accrued on the massive credit limit they were given so they could go out and spend like they were an 8 year old with a VISA card gift voucher.

OK … OK … I’m coming over all Daily Mail there, and while I absolutely believe people have to take responsibility for their actions, I think kid champagne and kid credit cards are far more likely to negatively influence kids [and society] than a video game aimed at – and sold to – 18 year old adults.

I don’t know where I’m going with this [do I ever?] but if you come out and say you stand for something, have the good fucking grace to do it, do it well and do it consistently.

All this proves is what I’ve always said, for all the talk about the importance of strategy, the reality is companies only care about it until they see an opportunity for them to make more money, more quickly.

Right, I’m going to take some blood pressure pills and go and lie down. Ha.

Packaging With Purpose …
November 6, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Over the years I’ve written a lot about packaging.

In the main, I love it … it can be incredibly powerful, influential and valuable.

Of course, sometimes it can also be a load of ol’ bollocks but when it’s done right, it can encourage someone to buy something they never thought they would ever buy.

The reason I say this is because I recently bought a Jawbone Up – a Fuel band competitor – and was impressed how they made sure their packaging did some of the selling for them.

This ‘wearable tech’ isn’t cheap and so retailers tend to keep them locked away to minimise the dangers of theft.

While that’s all well and good, it means that it can be hard for people to choose the correct size of product because they are labelled ‘small, medium and large’ without ever defining what those terms really mean.

And that’s what impressed with Jawbone.

You see they built the size of the product right into the packaging – meaning you could try it on without actually trying it on.

What do I mean?

Well this is their packaging …

… but if you look a bit closer, you can see the bit the retailers use to hang the product off their hooks, actually doubles as the wrist size comparison …

Smart, easy, effective.

So for someone who is debating whether to buy the product but are worried they may end up buying the wrong size, this packaging feature allows them to ensure they get the perfect fit and make the purchase in confidence.

You might think this situation is unlikely, but quite often purchase decisions are made on little details … things that many in adland don’t recognise or don’t think is important.

Packaging is much more than just a delivery mechanism or a brand recognition tool, when done properly it can form part of the overall brand experience [ie: Apple or Tiffany] and help overcome inherent audience purchase obstacles … which is the sort of stuff, clients dream about.

I know some packaging designers can talk more wank than politicians and advertising folk combined, but if you spend some time finding out how they think [rather than talk, ha] you may find you not only learn something, but it can help – or inspire – you to come up with more interesting and effective solutions to your clients issues.

Of course not every problem can be solved by great packaging, just like not every problem can be solved by advertising [despite what certain people say] … however, in the last few years, I have seen more interesting and varied packaging solutions than ad ideas and for that alone, it’s worth checking things out.

And finally, before anyone says I am disrespectful to NIKE for buying an UP rather than a Fuel Band, I would like you to know I not only own a Fuel Band, but I wear it alongside the UP … making me look like Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes during their ‘Wild Boys’ phase.

The things I do for research. Ahem.

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction …
November 5, 2013, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

Many years ago, I was talking to a friend that was going through a pretty hard time.

As he was cataloguing the trail of disaster, I pointed out that his story wouldn’t look that out of place on a Jerry Springer show.

We both laughed because [1] it was true and [2] he was the last person you’d ever associate with anything Springeresque.

The reason I say this is because I recently came across this quote from Tom Clancy.

How brilliant is that?

Of course it’s brilliant because – as the conversation I write above demonstrates – it’s true.

The reason I am highlighting this is because as an industry, we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about, celebrating and producing ‘logic’.

Sure, I appreciate we like things to be nicely packaged because it makes us feel better about our lives, but the fact of the matter is, the way we live is often anything but.

Yes I know illogical often ends up forming certain patterns that we can recognise if we study them long enough [hence the value of ‘big data’] but even then, that’s not really telling us WHY people do things, just WHAT they did.

And that’s why for me, the problem with planning is we look for things that make sense rather than what is actually going on.

Of course the trendy way to explain this is ‘behavioural economics’ – something adland likes to think it invented even though other industries have been talking about it and using it for donkey’s years – but even then I think that’s wrong because we tend to talk about how we can capitalise on what people are doing [as opposed to what they say they do/like in a focus group] rather than understanding the [mental] thought process that goes on behind every decision.

So whether it’s making an ad or understanding the real insight behind the claimed insight, I much prefer the term ‘sound twisted logic’ because apart from anything else, it can also act as a beacon for authenticity … because to paraphrase Tom Clancy, if it makes logical sense, it’s probably not true.


PS: Happy Bonfire Night!

[Dear American Army, this is a British tradition, when we say ‘rockets’, they’re not the sort you like to use. At other nations. Thank you]

If A Locksmith Can Put Some Effort Into Their Retail Environment, Everyone Can …
November 4, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Cute isn’t it.

Well, maybe not ‘cute’, but certainly charming and noticeable.

Now I appreciate ‘cute’ or ‘charming’ doesn’t automatically mean it will translate to sales, however doing something that actively attracts people to explore your store – or at least remember it for a time when they may be in need for their product or service – certainly improves the odds of conversion compared to thinking just opening your doors and sticking a few ‘sale posters’ in the window [like everyone else] will have them queuing outside.

Of course, creating elaborate external building aesthetics like this locksmith has done, may be impossible [though I’d argue his company will be remembered more than if a competitor launched an ad campaign] however I am amazed how many companies spend masses of time and money trying to identify what ‘their brand uniquely stands for’ only to execute it at retail level in a way where you would imagine the architects brief was ‘to be as bland as possible’.

I once met the head of window dressing at Harvey Nichols.

She was amazing.

Her view was that she was not there to ‘sell the products on display’, but to ‘let the people outside the window feel excited about life’.

Sure, you can say that’s a load of bollocks, but if you looked at her work you saw a person who approached every task with total openness and imagination which definitely had an influence – regardless how big or small – on the success of Harvey Nichols.

Jesus, I’ve gone off on one again haven’t I?! I can’t even remember what the purpose of this post was supposed to be. OK, you never know what the purpose of my posts are but I’ve literally forgotten what I was trying to say.

So let’s leave it with this.

If part of our job is to encourage people to want to engage with our clients brands, we might be better off trying to bring the brand ‘to life’ at the place where people have their most meaningful – or important – interaction with them as opposed to focusing all our energies on creating the ultra-TV spot or social media campaign.

And yes, I do appreciate economies of scale, but that is also used way too much as an excuse to always think the TV spot is the perfect answer.

Sometimes it is. But not always.

OK, I will go now. Sorry for the boredom.