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

Meetings Kill More Than Save …
December 7, 2015, 6:10 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Communication Strategy, Meetings

So this is the final week of this blog for this year.

Yes, I know it’s only the 7th of December, but frankly I am over it so god knows how you lot must feel.

Sadly that doesn’t mean the end of this blog, just the end of it for this year, because it will be back in Jan 2016. Oh yes.

[Cue: Evil laugh]

Anyway, as I’ll be writing a big Oscar-speech post on Friday [so make sure you’re washing your hair that day] I thought I’d make today relatively easy for you to take.

Let’s talk about meetings …

Contrary to the cartoon, not all meetings are a waste of time.

At their best, they are where people in various teams come together … explain what they’re doing … explain what they need from others … discuss what they have to do and when they will deliver it and then they go away and get on with it.

They are short, efficient, informative and valuable.

But sadly – as the cartoon captures – those sort of meetings have become the exception.

Many meetings today are a cross between a social gathering and a focus group.

Used more to ‘gauge opinion’ than to make decision.

They are energy and morale sapping … and yet we continue to feed their inefficiency for reasons I cannot fathom.

Well, actually I can fathom the reasons, but they’re not good ones.

Fear of making a decision. The illusion of communication. A false sense of collaboration.

Not great are they?

The amount of meetings I’ve been in, where people whose role had no direct value to the discussion is astounding.

But people now get invited for ‘political reasons’.

Everyone is encouraged to have a say.

There are “no wrong answers”.

But there are. There are a lot of wrong answers.

It’s not their fault, it’s the fault of the person who invited them.

If you’re going to ask someone to attend a meeting with little – or no – relevance to the discussion, they’re not going to say things that have value to the task in hand.

But they will say something simply because they feel they have to justify being there.

Which leads to long meetings that go off in lots of different directions with no clear, tangible outcome.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for bringing in fresh perspectives to a meeting – and I’m all for bringing in people who are relatively new to the industry or office, so they have a chance to listen, learn and convey their viewpoint – but a meeting for me is something that should aid efficiency, not be an obstacle to it.

It’s a bit like brainstorms.

A lot of them are terrible, but in the right hands, they can be liberating.

And similar to brainstorms, the difference between good and bad is down to the organiser.

If they don’t know why they’re having the meeting so they don’t know who should – or shouldn’t – be invited, it’s a disaster.

In my experience, the best way to ensure people attend your meeting is to have a short meeting.

+ Know what the meeting is for.

+ Ensure the right people are in the room.

+ Give the meeting a maximum duration of 20 minutes.

+ Manage the debate to make sure the discussion stays on track.

If you do that, people will come … not just because they know if they miss it, they miss out … but we now live in a World where nothing makes someone want to attend a meeting like knowing they won’t have to attend it for long.

A Reminder That Print Advertising Can Still Be Brilliant As Long As You Want It To Be Brilliant …
December 4, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Audio Visual, Craft, Design

I must admit, I have a soft spot for print advertising.

Not the stock-photography shitty stuff you see 99% of the time, but the stuff that is distinctive, crafted and tells a story.

The stuff that is simple rather than simplistic.

The stuff that treats their audience with intelligence, rather than a bunch of retards

The stuff that stands out from everyone else because they’ve appreciated the importance of design, not just shouting.

The stuff that, if truth be told, was the backbone of British advertising.

There’s been a bunch of these ads over the years, but recently, it seems there’s been a lot less.

Maybe that’s because of the way designers and art directors are being trained these days or maybe it’s because of the economic marketing shift towards digital … but it’s probably got a lot more to do with the approach favoured by many marketing departments.

Sell the features, forget the brand.

This could be why one of the last print ads that I really loved was that British secret service execution … but recently I saw one that took me back to the glorious days of print.

Where an image said a thousand words.

And the words simply said enough to make you want to find out more.

And the best bit is it’s for a British company.

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls … cop a load of this:

I love it.

Sure, you could argue you need to know what Bowers & Wilkins do for it to be truly effective, not to mention understand they have a product that looks like a Zeppelin balloon … but I’d argue you’re being too John Doddsy, and even he couldn’t fail to be impressed by the lack of copy in the ad.



Explains the product benefit without having to spell out the product benefit.

For me, it’s almost a perfect print ad.

One you can’t fail to notice and – more importantly – associate with a particular brand, which is something very, very rare these days despite the fact that’s what all work should try and do.

What with the SONOS logo and this, it seems it’s the sound companies who are leading the way in terms of brand building communication.

[Mind you, if you look at this old SONY ad, you could argue they always were]

So take a bow Bowers & Wilkins and your agency.

This is awesome. Just like your audio systems.

Shaken, But Absolutely Not Stirred …
December 3, 2015, 6:00 am
Filed under: Crap Marketing Ideas From History!, Marketing Fail

I know the new James Bond movie has recently been released.

I know he is someone that many men aspire to be similar to.

And I know Mr Bond is always clean shaven.

However, can someone tell me why Gillette did this ad when …

1. It features the creator of James Bond, rather than his most famous character.

2. It highlights 007 is fictional, thus bursting the bubble of illusion so many men like to live in.

3. The quote has nothing to do with Bond, in fact, it’s the most un-Bond quote in history.

At first I thought they must have been trying to leverage the movies release for their own gain … but given the ad used the logo and name of the film in it, that suggests they must have paid for usage rights. Usage rights that they didn’t end up using in the ad whatsoever.

On one hand, that is quite impressive given it’s always a bit sad when you see brands try and claim they are the ‘official sponsor’ of a fictional [adult] characters life, however spending a shit-ton of money on something you don’t end up using is probably even worse.

At least for shareholders.

If this approach was supposed to shake and stir the souls of men, I’m sad to tell them they’ve ended up more Roger Moore than Daniel Craig.

When Boring Tries To Be Interesting. And Fails.
December 2, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Cars, Comment, Crap Campaigns In History, Insight, Planning, Unplanned

I like Toyota.

Well, I used to like them.

When they had the Celica, MR2 and of course, the Supra.

It helped hide the fact they also made cars that made beige Volvo’s look exciting.

Like the Toyota Corolla.

Sure, it’s a perfectly good car.

Practical. Drives well. Strong reliability. Fair resale value.

So why the hell do they insist on trying to sex-it up?

I know buying a car is probably the second most expensive purchase you’ll ever make so you need to feel good about what you’re buying, but trying to make an accountancy conference feel like a Motley Crue aftershow party is always going to end up making you look a tool.

And yet so many car brands continue down this path.

Which gets me back to that Toyota Corolla ad.

OK, to be fair, they’re trying to be less rock star and more deep and philosophical, but it’s still bullshit isn’t it.

“Find who you have not yet become”

What? WHAT?

What’s that even mean?

Forget the rubbishness of that 3rd division Yoda statement, what about the fact they don’t see the irony of combining people lighting sky lanterns that float gently in the air with beauty and grace and calmness with a gas guzzling car that pollutes the air everywhere it goes?

And why the hell are they lighting sky lanterns?

And why did the owner of the Corolla park in the middle of the road?

What if all those lanterns land on the house at the top left of the picture and it catches fire?

How is the fire truck going to get there and save the occupants if the road is blocked by some selfish Toyota Corolla owner?

And they have the audacity to end the ad with the line, ‘Let’s Go Places’.

I’ll tell you which place you should go … to the local jail where you will probably meet the marketing team who asked for this contrived, passive piece of rubbish … which achieves the rare feat of alienating both the folks who choose a car as a reflection of their ego and the folks who want a car that offers quality and reliability rather than hype and hyperbole.

You know, the people who would actually find the boring reliability of a Corolla exciting.

Sometimes we try so hard to be different when just telling the truth is the most refreshing approach available to us.

Finally The Last Month Of This Shit Year …
December 1, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Yes, it’s come around pretty quick, just not quick enough.

There’s a big end of year post coming up, now is not the time to do it.

I can hear the sigh of relief from here.