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


When Hijacking Becomes Criminal …

I’ve written a lot about the ‘hijack’ strategy.

Where a brand pushes itself into a cultural event or topic to either attempt to change the narrative or leverage the narrative.

Some brands do it brilliantly … Nike or Chrysler for example.

However some are a bloody car crash.

At its heart, the difference is simply whether your hijack ‘adds to culture’ or just ‘takes from it’ … however given this approach is now so common among brands, I have to ask whether it can even be considered ‘hijacking’ anymore when most of society expect someone to do it.

That said, it is still a powerful strategy when done right … the problem is, most brands aren’t doing that.

Case in point … social media GAP during the US election.

What the hell?

I know why they did it.

I know what they hoped would happen from it.

But all I can think about is when your own brand of clothes don’t know who they are for, you’re pretty fucked.

And that kind-of sums up GAP’s problem.

Who are they for?

It’s no surprise they are facing incredible pressure in the market these days, to the point there’s talk of them pulling out the UK altogether.

They’re not distinctive enough for people to want to pay a premium for. They’re not cheap enough for people to use them as a foundation for whatever fashion they want to express that day.

In fact, the only thing they have going for them is a collab with Kanye.

It could be amazing.

Reimagining the future of what e-commerce is and how it works.

Combining it with art, not just functionality.

Though whether it will end up making GAP’s clothing range look even older and blander is anyone’s guess.

If they want to learn how to really hijack a moment, they should look at the Four Seasons Landscaping company in Philadelphia.

This is the place where President Trump’s team recently held a press conference, mistakingly booking it thinking it was the Four Seasons hotel.

With all this global attention, they’re leveraging it by selling merch that mimics Trump’s messages.

This is real cultural hijacking.

This is done by adding to the experience rather than just taking it.

Making a landscape company a brand of culture. Albeit for a short period of time.

But let me say this, it’s still more fashionable than the stuff GAP are making right now.

You can buy it here.



Finally, I Give You A Way To Shut Me Up …

When you’re my age, you get to look at your career and see the different phases that it passes through.

I remember one year at Wieden, we seemed to make more beautiful, highly-crafted physical books on culture than we did ads.

Now I’m a huge fan of these – and still do them – but that year I think we made about 10, which was frankly ridiculous.

Then there was the year I got told I’d spoken at more conferences than anyone at Wieden.

It wasn’t said as a diss, more a fact – though I do remember Luhr looking at me with the face of someone who couldn’t work out why anyone would want me to talk at their event.

He wasn’t wrong.

Then there was the year I seemed to be in every bloody Asian marketing book or article and then of course, The Kennedys.

It happens. It’s rarely an intentional thing, but the nature of the business means it can be like that … and while I’ll always prefer to be involved in creating stuff, it does let you feel things are evolving and that’s a good feeling.

Well this year is another one of those years.

Part of this is because of the situation the World is in and part of it is because of the situation I have found myself in.

However, whereas previous years have seemingly had singular focuses, this year has had two.

Icons of culture and podcasts.

Both have been pretty awesome.

Musicians … Fashion superstars … Gaming Royalty … Billionaires.

Frankly people who should know a lot better than to ever want me to work with them … and yet, for reasons I don’t understand but am utterly grateful for, they have.

It’s certainly very different to the work I’ve done in the past, but it not only is introducing me to a whole new world of creative expression – from developing new concert experiences to video game design to stuff that is genuinely almost impossible for me to describe as it’s just plain beautifully bonkers – it’s letting me work with people who are recognised as being the best in their field so to be in this position … and to have Colenso to look forward to in addition … feels like winning the lottery.

I know this all sounds like humble bragging – but that’s not the intent.

To be honest, it’s more about me writing it down so I never forget this feeling.

This moment.

Because as tough as it is for people all around the World, I am very, very fortunate so many good things have come my way.

But that’s not what this post is about, it’s about the other thing I’ve been doing a lot of.

Podcasts.

I’ve done a ton this year.

[Here and here and here for example]

Why people want to hear from me – especially when I write so much bollocks about my life on here – is another thing I don’t get … but it’s been fun.

Recently the lovely/stupid people at Colenso had chat with me for their Love This podcast …

We cover all manner of subjects … from running a planning gang to developing creativity in a pandemic to how to be a fucking idiot … so if you’re bored, an insomniac or are jealous of Colenso’s brilliance and are looking forward to the pain they’ll experience with me in the building, you can listen to it at one of these places.

Apple.
Spotify.
Soundcloud.



Cher Was Right, You Can’t Turn Back Time …

Can you imagine what it must have been like growing up in the 1920’s and living in the 1960’s?

The things you have seen, endured, been challenged by?

The advances in technology, social mobility, medicine?

Wars, depression, liberation, love.

It must have been amazing …

Well, the reason I say this is because it’s exactly the same if you were a kid in the 80’s but are around today.

OK, it’s not identical … but the cultural shifts have been, in many ways, just as dramatic.

Wars. Economic highs and lows. Medical and transportation revolution. The internet.

Huge shifts in expressions of creativity – from music, art, film and TV to fashion, food, technology and sport.

An endless journey of exploration, discovery and adventure.

And while it can all feel daunting, the reality is the changes are rarely night and day.

More like a steady stream of progress, even if not always in a straight line or done with fairness or equality.

Throughout her life, my Mum was very much about embracing the present.

Not in the sense that she was trying to mimic Cher [though I also love Cher] … nor that she didn’t value the experience and lessons of the past … but because her view was that if you embrace the times, you live a more fulfilling life.

It’s why she was always interested in what others were interested in.

Music. Art. Film. Culture.

Because even if she didn’t always understand it or like it, she felt it was important to appreciate it. Though, you would be amazed how much she did like it. Love it even.

It amazes me how many people don’t seem to follow this view.

Who think that actually, you can turn back time.

Like Republican/Tory voters. Or Daily Mail readers.

Stubbornly trying to maintain or recreate a time where they felt more ‘in control’. More important or valuable.

And while I appreciate change can be scary, it can also be exhilarating and that’s why the idea of living in the equivilent of the 1920’s to 1960’s has never made me feel so old, it’s also never made me feel so lucky.

I hope with all my heart I get to experience the World when Otis has gone through the same period of time.

It’s unlikely, but I hope he embraces it.

Not just for his happiness, but for what it could inspire him to do.

To discover.

To learn.

Thank you Mum.



Christmas Countdown …

Contrary to retailers attempts, the official Christmas countdown starts now.

Of course, for some of you out there – including my wife and I – a loved one may also be having a birthday during this month as well, which just adds to the stress of what to get them.

Well I am here to help with a handy Christmas/Birthday guide …

Now just ‘any guide’ but something that will ensure you can give a gift that is tailor made for whoever you are buying it for.

All you have to do, is invest the time in knowing who they are, what they’re really interested in or what they wish eo explore.

Here it is.

You’re welcome.