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

A Black Friday For Singapore …
January 22, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

So before I start, I should say a few things.

First is that I love Singapore.

I have many friends from there.

I lived there for 4 happy years.

I got married there.

I am a PR there.

Secondly is that what I am about to post is old, however when has that ever stopped me?

Anyway, way back in 2015, a retailer in Singapore decided to drum up some sales by doing a Black Friday promotion.

Yes, I know Black Friday is a US thing, but retailers are so desperate to take every penny from us that they can, that they’d flog their family if it meant an extra $1 in the till.

So this Singaporean teenage fashion brand decided to do an online promotional campaign.

Given it’s Singapore, the land of tranquil harmony, you’d think it would be fairly innocent wouldn’t you.

Well see if you still feel that way when you see this.

Bad eh.

Oh hang on, are you just looking at the inappropriate pre-pubecent girl simulating an orgasm?

Noooooooo …

Sure, that’s utterly inappropriate but look to the left of that.

Yes, it really says RAPE ME.


A women’s fashion shop has used the statement ‘RAPE ME’.

This from a nation where thousands of people signed a petition to ban Adam Lambert from performing at the New Years Eve party because his homosexual lifestyle sets a bad example to family values.

Of course the brand apologised like a mad man … but I note they also decided to blame it all on a graphic designer, as if that justifies the utter contempt of doing something like this.

We all make mistakes.

We all can say something that someone else may interpret wrongly.

But I am pretty certain there is no situation in history where a fashion retailer could actually think saying RAPE ME is acceptable.

If this was still 2015, I’d think about nominating them for fuck up of the year, but let’s face it … they’d only win second because let’s not forget the Malaysian Airline ex-Marketing Director who discussed the brand benefits of 2 airlines crashing, killing hundreds of innocent lives.

[For the record, 3rd place would go to Mr Publicis for his 7 minute ramble of ridiculous]

Is it any wonder why so many in business – and absolutely everyone in procurement – views anyone in marketing or advertising as a bit of a joke.

Disconnected From Reality …

For reasons that are too boring to go into, I still maintain my Australian mobile number.

It doesn’t cost me much each month and it’s very easy to manage.

I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and there’s never been an issue.

Then last month I saw that Telstra had decided to double my monthly subscription.

They decided to do this without telling me.

I’d certainly not asked for it and I certainly didn’t want it … but they did it all the same.

Sure, it’s not a huge amount, but that’s not the point.

Here is a company that claims to be customer focused, doubling a long-term clients subscription at a whim.

So I wrote to them to find out what was happening and a few days later, I got this.

Yes, that’s an email telling me they don’t have any answers or solutions for me and – this is the kicker – I hope I find that helpful.

No Telstra, I don’t find that useful.

In fact, I find it insulting, patronising and condescending.

To be honest, it’s the I hope that was helpful comment that I find most distasteful.

Getting an email telling me they were looking into my grievance and would be back to me soon, at least let me feel I was being heard – which, as any councillor will tell you, helps create an atmosphere that is more conducive to a positive outcome – but when they added ‘I hope that was helpful’, they ruined any good will because it just reeked of sarcasm and a complete lack of care.

Maybe that wasn’t their intention, but it sure as hell came across that way.

To be fair to Telstra, maybe they did this simply to prepare me for their ‘proper answer’ that arrived by email a few days later.

On the bright side it didn’t include any blatantly disrespectful language.

But then their ‘answer’ did that for them.

Let’s remember this is a situation caused and yet despite that, they tried to position their behaviour an act of consideration, claiming it was a much better plan for my needs DESPITE THE FACT I DON’T MAKE – OR RECEIVE – ANY CALLS ON THAT NUMBER AND NEVER HAVE FOR TEN BLOODY YEARS.

If they really cared about my needs, they should be recommending I cancel my plan, not double down on it.

Why couldn’t they just say they fucked up?

Why couldn’t they have said they were going to put things back to as it was?

Why couldn’t they have just left things alone?

I know why … because they thought they could make a few extra bucks with minimal effort and if they do that to enough people who don’t notice – or think arguing is too much hassle – they can boost their revenues without any effort.

For over a decade I had no beef with Telstra. In one email, they fucked that all up.

Ironically, it’s not because they screwed me over – we all make mistakes – it’s because they then didn’t take responsibility for it.

My attitude towards them has gone from ‘idiots’ to ‘liars’ and my relationship has gone from ‘customer’ to ‘ex-customer’.

I’ve said it many times, that getting someone to buy is relatively easy, but loyalty gets built by how you act after you’ve got the money.

The problem starts when companies view customer service as a rigid, automated and one-size-fits-all process.

I get that you need to have systems in place to manage this sort of thing, but when it delivers solutions tailored to the benefit of the company rather than to the individual, then it’s more of a customer disservice process than something built to develop trust, loyalty and mutual satisfaction.

And that’s where Telstra went wrong, because at no point did they want to help me.

They may claim they wanted to … they may run ads that say they want to … but as the old adage goes, actions speaks louder than words.

Design Memories …
January 20, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Family, Focus Groups, Insight, Mum & Dad, Research, Sentimentality

I have written a lot about the hypocrisy and complexity of humans.

For all the claims that we are generally consistent and sensible, the reality is we are simply good at hiding our truth.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I was on a plane from Zurich, flicking through the duty free catalogue.

To be honest, I do this all the time – never buying anything – just looking at the tat that is being flogged at 30,000 feet.

But that all changed when I saw this:

Now, as you may have guessed by the quality of photo, this isn’t the picture from the catalogue, it’s actually the picture I took of the product after I purchased it.

Now you may be wondering why I bought a clock?

Or why I bought a clock from a plane?

Well, contrary to popular belief, it is not because I have an insatiable need to spend my money … nor is it because I have an obsession with knowing the time … it’s because it reminded me of the Braun alarm clock my parents had when I was a kid.

Yes … I appreciate that means I’m a sentimental old fart – not to mention Braun are a bunch of lazy bastards in terms of design updates – but the fact is, with my parents gone and my family home totally refurbished, having things that connect me to my family life are becoming even more precious and important to me.

Yes, I know people say ‘but you have your memories’, but frankly – at least for me – that’s not enough, I crave something more tangible, more real, more in the present.

I can’t actually remember how or why my parents got their clock. Part of me thinks it was a free gift when they enquired about some insurance policy or something, but regardless of the reason, it cemented itself in my consciousness.

I remember how my parents used to use it as their alarm clock, placed on Dad’s side of the bed so he could hit snooze in the morning.

I remember how I would always hear it’s distinctive alarm tone from my bedroom. Followed by the slap of a hand on the snooze button before it repeated itself 8 minutes later.

I remember how I would go into their bedroom at weekends and move the ‘alarm hands’ so I could set the sound off over and over again.

It might be a small thing, but to me it’s a big thing because I don’t see it as an alarm clock purchased on a plane from Zurich, I see it as a memory of my past that I’ve been able to bring back into my present and that makes me feel good, warm and – in a bizarre way – a bit safe.

I know there’s no logic to that, I know it is all in my head, but people are funny like that.

Regardless what moderators in focus groups might say.

In A Marketing Department Sadly Not Far, Far Away …
January 19, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Brand Suicide, Comment, Crap Marketing Ideas From History!, Marketing Fail

So yesterday I talked about the Yoda complex so it seems a perfectly appropriate time to talk about the recent Star Wars campaign for ‘The Force Awakens’.

Now I have a very vested interest in the Star Wars franchise, not just because it is one of the most iconic movies of my youth, but because my Mum was involved in the making of the first one. Sure, it was a small role, but it made her the coolest Mum in the universe.

Including galaxies far, far away.

Now if I’m being honest, those good feelings were tested to the max when George Lucas decided to launch the car crashes that were episodes I, II and III – especially as he incorporated the most annoying character since Scrappy Doo, Jar Jar Binks – but somehow, and to be honest I’m not exactly sure how, he came through without me wanting to kill him.

Hurt him, yes.

Kill him, no.

Years pass and Disney buy the rights to the franchise.

To be honest, I didn’t know whether to be happy or concerned.

Sure, I loved that a story I held in such high emotional esteem was going to be brought back into my life but there was more than a worry that the owners of Mickey might screw it up because let’s be honest, they bloody love their cuddly characters don’t they.

But then they announced the director was going to be no other than J J Abrams.

Sure, he’s not the greatest director in the World … in fact he’s a bit overrated … however he has an energy and edge that ensured that the chances were it would be more in the family of the original movies than the dumbed-down, uber-diluted prequels.

Early signs were good.

The trailers were exciting … there was a reintroduction of old and new characters and THERE WASN’T A CUDDLY ALIEN IN SIGHT.


And then the promotional activity started.

Look, I know it’s an important film.

I appreciate it was hideously expensive to make.

I get it’s a competitive marketplace so you want to stand out.

But how the hell does that justify this in Singapore …

… or this in the US …

… or this in China, a country that doesn’t even support Christmas …

I thought Hello Kitty, Ferrari and LG were brand whores, selling themselves to whoever hands over the cash, but this is a whole other level of ‘selling out’.

Fortunately the movie wasn’t as bad as their promotional activity suggested – though that could also be because their promotional activity set such a low bar, even Jar Jar Binks would look good in comparison, but being honest, I loved it. Every single second of it – however this ultimately shows the 2 sides of the Disney organisation.

The amazingly creative, craft obsessed, imaginative geniuses.

[Of which this is another example of when they’re brilliant]

And the supermarket publicists.

[Of which this is another example of when they’re scandalous]

Or said another way, the Force and the Dark Side.

God, I hope the Force wins as the franchise moves forward or I expect to see a Yoda vibrator at Ann Summers sometime in the future.

The Yoda Complex …
January 18, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Context, Craft, Egovertising, Insight, Perspective, Prejudice

I once worked with a planner on an architectural project who suggested we should “fuck off the architects, because we could do this ourselves”.

While this guy was a delusional idiot, he was not – sadly – an anomaly.

I am getting increasingly frustrated by people who claim to have the answers to everything and anything when it is based almost exclusively on their own, clouded, personal perspectives.

They don’t care about the details … the issues … the nuances … the real problems … they think they can solve everything simply because their opinion represents every opinion, regardless how tenuous their knowledge or experience.

Sure, it is possible for some people to get so ‘lost’ in the details that they take you down dead-ends … but that doesn’t mean everyone is like that, so to have the attitude that you can blindly ignore people with specific knowledge and experience or that you don’t need to seek out greater understanding of the nuances of the situation because you think you know everything already, is – at best – naive and – at worst – the work of a destructive imposter.

Professionalism doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit and a tie and carry a briefcase to work every day, it means you have an inherent desire to do the best work of your life each and every time which means you can’t sit on your pedestal of delusion and prejudice with your eyes closed, ears shut but poisonous tongue very much alive.

By all means have a different point of view … but base it on the real issues and problems, not what you want the issue and problems to be.

Or instead of working for someone else, go start your own company and see how far you can go on your own. At least earn the right for your arrogance.

Happy Monday.