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

Identity Is Defined By Us Or Defined By Others …

So finally we have the feedback on the latest APSOTW assignment.

First of all I owe everyone an apology.

This has taken way longer than it was supposed to.

I’d like to blame the time it took to get the judges feedback, but I can’t … because it was all down to me.

Of course I can point you to moving to a new country, finding a new house and starting a new job, but that’s still pretty pathetic even though it’s true.

So this submission got the most that I think we have ever had.

This is brilliant and I’m so glad so many people decided to have a go.

Of course, part of that is because it seemed relatively simple, but as you’ll read from the feedback below – you’ll soon learn it wasn’t.

But that aside, the fact you had a go is something to be celebrated.

It means you wanted to get better … put yourself out there … try something that makes you vulnerable and for that I say a huge congratulations.

I meet too many people who think that because they have a job, they have ‘graduated’.

The thing is, this job is one that is always developing because people are changing … so actively wanting to improve is something that should be celebrated and for that I – and all the judges – applaud you.

So as we had so, so many entries, we are going to find it almost impossible to write a review on every one. If you want specific feedback on your submission, drop me an email [on the same address as the assignment submission] and I’ll get back to you.

[Promise it will be quicker than this feedback has taken]

As I mentioned earlier, I think a lot of people thought this was an easy task … the reality is it wasn’t.

In fact, in some regards, I would say this was one of the toughest assignments we had set over the 10+ years APSOTW has been going.

In truth, post-rationalising is always a very difficult – if not impossible – task.

We tend to focus on the obvious elements when in truth, so much of the work we make is shaped by smaller little tweaks.

Not only that, but narrowing an issue as complex as this into a single sentence is always going to be super hard … so hard, that some of you went over the limit.

But the really interesting about this assignment is how many people basically wrote a headline for the campaign rather than an insight that could allow other work to be developed from it.

For example there were a lot of submissions that talked about ‘mirrors’.

Now I get why – because the execution focuses on that – but this wasn’t about mirrors or reflections, it was about identity and how you define yourself or let others define you.

In essence, you let the execution get in the way of your point of view.

Overall, the submissions tended to fall into one of four different groups:

1 A headline that summed up the execution. Not the idea behind the execution. The execution.

2 A fortune cookie/pseudo Confucius-style statement about being a man. Any man. Or skin.

3 A smart – but generalist – insight how men define themselves in the World today.

4 An overly complex description of how culture is formed which just felt like an attempt to show how smart you were.

Now don’t get despondent with that list of crimes, I see highly paid planners do it all the time.

The irony is our job is to make the complex simple, not make things even more difficult and yet time and time again the discipline tends to forget this.

If you want proof, just read 90% of effectiveness award submissions where the ‘insight’ is about half a page long.


But back to this …

When looking through the submissions, the judges agreed that to catch our eye, an entry had to have 3 things.

+ Recognition of the cultural tension underpinning the campaign. [This is about black culture, a lot of the statements could have been about anyone coming of age, so to speak]

+ A clear and concise point of view that makes us look at the potential of the idea in a bigger – or different – way.

+ The ability to provoke a reaction … whether that would be with creatives, clients or culture as a whole.

Sadly, we didn’t find that many that did, however there were some that caught our eye.

Divyanshu Bhadoria:
“More than a grooming regimen, shaving is a ritual to preserve the story of our identity”.

Wayne Green: :
“Don’t let a beard hide your pride of who you are and where you are from”.

Andy Wilson:
“Shaving reveals the dignity that is embedded in your skin”.

If truth be told, they could all probably be sharper … but not only did they all capture the tension between identity and conformity and the role shaving has in it, they were favoured by the creative judges as points of view that made them excited about looking at a category in a new way, but a true way.

And that was the point of the task … to take something and capture it’s essence in a way that would provoke a tighter – yet bigger – idea to come to the fore.

It’s tough … it’s very fucking tough … and as I said in the assignment, it’s all pretty subjective, but the judges were weirdly pretty much all in alignment from the beginning, which is why we got to our decision.

So a huge thank you to everyone for taking part.

I hope, after reading the feedback, if you look back at your entry you will see where you could have improved it.

As I said, if you want specific feedback on your entry, send me a mail and if Wayne, Andy and Divyanshu could send me their addresses, I’ll be sending a small prize to you as acknowledgement of your work.

Hopefully this has been a fun and useful exercise. Whatever the feedback, the fact you did it is important … to you, to us and to the industry at large … so I hope you will continue when the next APSOTW assignment comes out early in the new year.

A special thanks to the wonderful Maya Thompson who brought this assignment to me and changed the way I will look at the world forever [in collaboration with her collective of Chelsea and Bree] and a big happy holidays/new year etc etc to all of you who took part. [God, that feels weird to write in only November]

Till next time …

21 Comments so far
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Tough task but having rewatched the video I understand why those 3 were chosen. They definitely made me look at shaving differently for different cultures. Well done to everyone especially the 3 chosen.

Comment by Pete

What a difficult task. I like the 3 “winners” because they succeed in making me think the act of shaving can have greater significance than I ever considered. But I would argue only Wayne’s entry is expressed as a genuine point of view.
Congratulations to everyone who took part and an extra congratulations to Wayne. You still have it Mr Green. Adlands loss is mental healths gain. (assuming this is the same Wayne who was at cynic all those years ago)

Comment by George

I like the photo you used to head this post. They’re the Cambridge men aren’t they? I admire what they are doing, why they are doing it and who they are. I don’t know Maya but I would guess she would be happy with her student.

Comment by George

For anyone interested.

Comment by George

Brilliant. But the under representation is outrageous.

Comment by DH

Now they are role models. I wonder if Cambridge University has listened?

Comment by Pete

Typical – what about the women, some from countries where women aren’t allowed to go to school!

Comment by John

That’s wonderful John, but this was not an anti-anything, just a photo of a project I had found really inspiring. But yes, what those women are doing is also amazing – arguably mores so given the situation some face.

Comment by Rob

I know. I was virtue signalling.

Comment by John

fuck me doddsy, youre more la than a kale shake eating fuck on venice.

Comment by andy@cynic

Wayne? Corporate nepotism. Though cynic was the opposite in corporate in every way. Another reason I loved being there. I could even deal with Rob if you guys were to restart it.

Comment by DH

It was fun wasn’t it. I also miss it but that ship has long sailed. I look back at cynic as being perfect for the time and the place we were all in our lives but it would be a disaster in today’s environment. Not necessarily for what we believed but definitely for the amount of energy required to come anywhere close to what made it so exciting. Though Robert has somehow managed to maintain the manic energy of that era, but even he has not been able to keep up the anger. Still frightening but definitely mellower. Sorry Robert.

Comment by George

Speak for yourself old, happy, wealthy, family man. I hear you on Rob though, almost client acceptable.

Comment by DH

This might be the oldest old man conversation I’ve ever read. I loved cynic but please don’t do it again. Reunion tours only ever offer a few people a moment of nostalgia. Just look at Queen.

Comment by Bazza

The great memories and scars are enough for me.

Comment by Pete

Oh I’m happy to admit I’m much nicer these days.
That is until I meet sloppiness, laziness or any financial service exploitation advertising … then I can give my 2003 angry self a good run for my money.

Comment by Rob

Fair point … he definitely is the one who wrote it as a POV, but it wouldn’t be hard to make the others that way. But yes, you’re right. Again. Damn you.

And it is ‘our Wayne’, but there’s no nepotism going on. Besides, he’s now the least advertising person on the planet so I’m surprised he even had a go given he left because he hated what the industry did to push stereotypes rather than destroy them.

Or maybe that’s exactly why he had a go …

Comment by Rob

wayne is still a fucking better planner and hes not even a fucking planner. i could makes some good shit from his stuff. im available for only $10,000 an hour with a minimum of 88 fucking hours.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes he is. I’ll tell him your rates, I’m sure he will be thrilled.
See you in a few hours. (Best form of revenge)

Comment by Rob

Of all the tasks you’ve set, I think this one was the hardest.

Comment by Marcus

Definitely a tough task, although I didn’t take part – I just wanted to commend you for keeping this going and helping younger planners

Comment by Rob (Other one)

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