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

Could Everyone Associated With This Please Punch Yourself In The Face …

Have a look at this …

I’ve got to be honest, I think it’s one of the most amazing ads I’ve ever seen.

Not – of course – because it’s good, but because there’s so many things in it to hate, I don’t know which one I loathe more.

From the cliched photograph that is obviously trying to associate with street culture through to the absolutely fucking awful oxymoron/pun of ‘Future Retro’ and ‘Deja New’ … there is an endless amount of hate inducing triggers in this ad.

But even those things don’t come close to releasing my inner rage as ‘Time Tracker’.


It’s a watch. A bloody watch. Yes, they ‘track time’ but they’re attempt to make it sound like the future of watches makes me literally want to kill.

Oh I am thinking about how I’d do it.

Maybe a wooden post so I can smack them around the head.

Or maybe a canon, so I can shoot them far, far away.

Or maybe … oh hang on, I know what I’ll do … I’ll make them wear that ‘time tracker’ and refer to it in the same way, so their shame will be all encompassing and complete.

Time Tracker is a perfect example of something I’ve been seeing more and more of … repositioning that isn’t repositioning.

Repositioning is about helping culture look at your brand in a totally different way.

When Wrigley’s chewing gum moved from being a sweet to a dental care product … that is repositioning.

When Poloroid cameras shifted from photography to being a social lubricant … that is a repositioning.

When Old Spice moved from being used by men to being valued by women … that is repositioning.

A watch going from telling the time to tracking the time is not.

And yet I am seeing more and more work that is trying to position themselves as a catalyst for change when they’re doing nothing but re-articulating the category expression.

One of the categories doing this the most is the financial sector.

There are more new ‘banks’ than at any point in my life.

All with quirky names.

All claiming to be revolutionizing the industry.

All stating they are being developed around the needs of their customers.

And yet not one of them seems to realize that as much as they’re trying to be seen as disrupting the banking industry, they’re doing it in exactly the same way as everyone else.

Disruption but without distinction.

But here’s the thing, are they even disrupting … because so many of them are trying to communicate you can ‘trust’ them. I get trust is important wherever money is concerned, but it is also the backbone of the industry … so in essence, they’re saying ‘we’re different’ and yet they are communicating in exactly the same way as the establishment.

In essence, they’ve become the beast they claim they were created to slay …

But they’re actually worse, because not building any distinction into their offering or behaviour except their name and choice of pastel ‘brand’ colour means all they are really building is commodotisation.

Of course that’s probably because their business plan is to be bought by the establishment and so they don’t care about long term thinking, but this – just like the idiots behind that Nixon watch – is the new ‘best practice’ for brand and business strategy.

And we wonder why the business community questions our ability to talk business.

17 Comments so far
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Great post Robert. In the era of direct to consumer marketing, it appears companies and their agencies believe experience is only thing they need to get right for creating a long term, sustainable business. That is even more small minded if the experience is focused on simply removing barriers to transaction.
Companies may get away with it temporarily if they are first to a category but they won’t get far without ensuring the other elements of brand building are contained in their thinking and expressed through their behaviours.
Like ‘design thinking’s from a few years ago, UX has value but never in isolation.
Good way to end the week.

Comment by George

Well said Robert and George. Experience is incredibly important but it transcends UX. Where many of the new breed of companies fail is believing that ease of access and transaction are all an audience seeks. That is not marketing, it is laziness or arrogance.

Comment by Lee Hill

This is far too focused, thoughtful and informed for this blog gentlemen. It is also very thought provoking. Thanks.

Comment by Bazza

I agree Bazza, what is going on …

Smart comments and on topic, who are they?

Comment by Rob

I’ve got a deal for you. You hold the pricks at Nixon down and I’ll punch them. And if I hit you, it’s an accident. Deal?

Comment by Billy Whizz

For once I agree with you and would help you.

Comment by Bazza

As long as I get one hit. [Give, not take]

Comment by Rob

Great post and comments. I would say that Uber has gone from hero to villain proves a d2c brand is driven (excuse the pun) by more than experience alone. I also think the trend to talk about experience as the new or ultimate brand builder highlights the ignorance rather than brilliance of the companies and agencies promoting it. Good brands, agencies (and strategists) have known this and executed this as part of their arsenal of tools for decades.

Comment by Pete

Ha … this is funny because a colleague of mine from another office has just said the future of brand guardianship will be experience strategists. He is very, very smart and I don’t normally disagree with him but – like you Pete [and seemingly George and Lee above] – I do on this one, or at the very least think he should have expressed his viewpoint as …

“The future of brand guardianship will continue to be from those planners who are culturally curious, creativity loving, brand defining, experience creating, product innovating, channel planning, design understanding individuals. Also known as just ‘good, well trained, strategists’.”

I’m being facetious, and in all those areas you often need a specialist to work along aide you to truly reveal the possibilities and potential in your thinking but this habit of departmentalising success drives me nuts. After all, when we did the Virgin lounge ‘experience strategists’ weren’t even a thing and I think we did OK.

Comment by Rob

Guessing your colleague is an experience planner.

Comment by DH

hes a fucking twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

As happy as I am that there have been so many interesting and insightful comments to this post, I am surprised that only Billy and Baz have focused their hate on Nixon watches when they absolutely deserve universal loathing.

Comment by Rob

It is so terrible that to talk about it, is more than they deserve.

Comment by George

“Founded in 1997 in Encinitas, California, Nixon is an American watch, accessories and audio brand. Focused on the youth lifestyle market, Nixon’s range of team-designed, custom-built products was first introduced to retail via independent surf, skate & snow board retailers. Nixon believe you deserve a product that is a true reflection of who you are, not some mass-produced, off-the-shelf item, that says nothing about the amazing individual you are”

Comment by john


Comment by DH

what the fuck is that watch shit? someone needs to be fucking killed. slowly. with one of those watches in the background so they can see how fucking slow its taking.

Comment by andy@cynic

The depth of creativity I’d expect from an AI programmatic trading desk writing ads to serve, all within a millisecond.

Comment by Age

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