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

Craft Shows You Care …
May 27, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment, Craft, Standards, Stubborness

From my perspective, agencies have only one meaningful thing that sets them apart.

Their standards.

By that I mean the ambitions they have for every project and the way they go about realising it.

Of course sometimes it doesn’t work out as everyone hoped, but I am still firmly of the opinion that if you are doing it for the right reasons and have approached it with the care and commitment it deserves, that is still more beneficial than dropping your price and chucking any old rubbish out.

Of course some agencies – and clients – prefer the quick and easy approach.

That’s fine.

But they will never have the influence high standards affords you.

Where you attract rather than continually chase.

Where you can influence culture rather than just continuously mirror it.

Where you can pioneer rather than be an almost ran.

Where you have the most interesting people in your building rather than the ‘good enough’.

Where you can charge more for your work than what the procurement department say you can charge.

The reason I say this is because I recently read an interesting article about the difference between Apple and other mainstream technology brands.

Yes, I know it’s been written about a million times, but this article captured something that I think lays the difference between the 2 brands bare.

It is not saying everyone else is a bad company.

It is not saying they are makers of bad products.

It’s simply saying that there is an emotional value, whether overtly realised or not, of handling a product that you feel – or know – has been sweated over.

Where little things you may never notice have been given the same love and attention as the big, obvious stuff.

Whether you agree that Apple have it and other brands don’t isn’t the point I am trying to convey.

What I’m trying – badly – to say is that a lot of people think ‘craft’ is justification for being a creative prima-dona.

Sometimes – in the hands of those who want to live up to an image rather than live up to a standard – it can.

But in the right hands, fighting for the craft isn’t about indulgence, it’s about caring. It’s about wanting to do the absolute best thing because you know that makes a difference … not just for the people who will eventually buy your product or service, but for the pride you have in your brand and yourself.

It’s something worth remembering, especially in these days where we are offered short-cuts at almost every junction.

Unfortunately for me, after that heartfelt plea, I am now going to look like a lazy bastard by announcing that by the time you read this, I will be on a plane because I am going away for a few days.

It’s not for work. It’s not because it’s a national holiday. It’s for me.

Yes, I know you all think I am permanently doing stuff ‘for me’, but this time it’s true and maybe at the end of it, there will be a bunch of new things for me to consider, talk about, rant over.

So in some ways, I’m kind-of making an investment in the continued content of this blog.

Yes, I really did type that.

And yes, I feel a bit sick too.

I – and this blog – will be back on Tuesday. That should just about give us enough time to recover from that ‘investment in content’ statement.


Why Innocence Is A Welcome Change From Fear …
May 26, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment, Entertainment, Innocence

We live in a World of experience inflation.

Everything and everyone is trying to make things bigger.




More exciting.




Of course there are 2 main reasons for this.

1. New quickly becomes the new normal, so to keep business going, you have to keep evolving.

2. In such a demanding and stimulating society, people need greater extremes to make an impression on their feelings and emotions.

3. Companies can charge more money for what they’re doing.

Which is why, when I was in the UK recently, I was charmed by this:

Funny thing is, it was simply a guinea pig enclosure.

About 4 or 5 guinea pigs running [well, running in the guinea pig definition of the word] around.

And you know what? I loved it.

OK, I didn’t spend long there and yes, it was inside a garden centre rather than a theme park [and I’m still trying to get over the fact I went to a garden centre] but there was something magical about its simplicity.

We all rush along at 100mph looking for things to grab our attention but often it’s either right in front of our eyes or located in places we have pre-determined we wouldn’t want to visit.

Sure, I’m not going to go back anytime soon, but I can honestly say it made more of an impression on me than most theme parks.

Talking of theme parks.

I was once told this story by ‘virtual reality guru’ Jaron Lanier, that he had been hired by a rollercoaster owner to create the ultimate ride.

Months passed until he finally was satisfied and showed the owner what he had done.

The owner looked on before asking, “How many times will people throw up on one of these rides?”

Jaron responded by saying, “We’re working on ensuring that doesn’t happen”.

To which the looked on and said,

“Son, you may know a lot about technology but you know nothing about the entertainment business. Vomit sells seats. Make it worse, not better”

And right there, you see why rollercoasters will always have more visitors than the Guinea Pig World in Nottingham.

Back In The Days Where PC Stood For Police Constable, Not Political Correctness …

… you used to get ads like this.

Amazing eh?

I honestly don’t know if it’s genius or utterly horrific?

Whether it contributed to selling more Atari 2600 game machines or led to – like their infamous ET game disaster – their glorious destruction is open to debate.

That said, I still have a soft spot for Atari.

Not only did they ignite my gaming and tech obsession … not only did they allow me to play PacMan at home rather than at the dodgy arcade in town … not only did they give Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs one of their early breaks … but they acted more like Rock Stars than Oasis, Motley Crue and Black Sabbath put together.

Mind you, they weren’t just about indulgence and play, they were also smart … above ad and ET game aside.

For example they copyrighted the ‘scrolling game’ platform which meant years later – when they were almost on their knees – they could sue companies like Nintendo, Sega for tens upon tens of millions of dollars.

What a shame they blew all this windfall making their terrible Jaguar Game system which sold about one product around the World.

And you can guess who bought it can’t you.

Bloody Atari.

You Can Have Any Colour As Long As It Is Blue …
May 22, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Walmart

Evil in more ways than one.

Mind you, Walmart’s definition of ‘freedom’ is pretty similar to American’s definition of freedom … where you are free to say whatever you want as long as it falls in line with what the majority say or believe or are told to believe.

Just ask the Dixie Chicks.

Seriously, the media talk about China’s lack of freedoms but they should look in their own neighbourhood. Especially given the whole Edward Snowden thing.

I’m sure I’ve written about it before, but years ago I was invited to speak at a Walmart conference in front of a bunch of their employees.

I listened to them self-congratulate themselves for about an hour before I was invited on stage.

Like an idiot, my opening line went something like:

“Has anyone considered that China actually owns Walmart given you are so reliant on them to make the products that you can sell so cheaply?”

OK, it was a stupid thing to say, but being dragged off stage – literally within minutes – wasn’t that smart either.

And it was at that point I realised that Walmart is as much of a cult as Scientology. And just as dangerous to society.

Talking of dangerous to society [how about that for a segue] …

Given it’s Friday and we all know no one in advertising works on a Friday [or arguably any day], you might want to watch this documentary on what Walmart are really like, versus what they try and pretend they’re like.

It’s a scarier horror story than The Poltergeist.

If You Want To Be A CEO, Make Sure You’re Called John. If You Don’t, Make Sure You’re A Woman.
May 21, 2015, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment, Names, Sexism

And before anyone starts questioning me on this chart, just know I would agree with you.

I hate this sort of infographic because it’s been designed purely to gain PR headlines and drive dinner party conversation rather than shine a light on hard facts.

Why do I say that?

Well because I don’t believe their methodology would have been robust enough to make a claim like this.

For example, did they really look at the names of every major corporations CEO?

In every country?

And what does a ‘major corporation’ even mean?

By staff? By revenue? By profit?

But even if I ignore that, the fact that proves their data is flawed is the simple reality that there’s no way any shareholder would allow anyone called Robert to be CEO of a big company – let alone 3.4% of all major corporations.

That said, I believe the female statistic.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so utterly disgusting and tragic.

The percentages are even worse in Hollywood as this video so beautifully highlights:

For the record, while I found the way they delivered the horrendous percentages very funny, I do feel the men vs woman message is not going to achieve anything for them. Especially in the ego-filled movie industry.

Personally, I’d suggest that with so many famous and wealthy actresses in the biz – and some in the video – they should think about setting up a female run studio and show the men what they’re missing out on.

Apart from the fact ‘success is the greatest revenge’, the fact is all they need are 2 hits in a row and the rest of the business will shift because Hollywood is a copycat industry, preferring to swallow its pride rather than miss out on making an extra $1.

But that’s just me.

Oh … and while I’m at it, I probably do believe that John is the most popular CEO name.

It’s not because they are naturally gifted individuals … but because the name is safe, solid, conservative that might influence the board of directors at big companies to think they would make a more stable CEO. Someone who won’t rock the boat … someone who will keep the shareholders quiet … someone who won’t get rid of their perks.


Anyway, this has become a very long post for something I think is bollocks, so I’ll leave it there, even though I know most of you stopped reading after the picture.