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

Life In A Lyric …

For years I have used song lyrics for creative brief inspiration.

Specifically, the Point Of View.

It’s been hugely useful to me because lyrics don’t just convey a story, they ignite emotion … which is especially useful when you want to capture the creatives imagination.

Mind you, I once used whole sections of lyrics from Bon Jovi’s Blood On Blood as my entire strategy presentation for Jeep and that didn’t go down so well.

Heathens … hahaha.

What’s interesting – at least to me – is when I was younger, I never really cared about lyrics. For me, it was always the guitar and the melody. Hell, I didn’t even know the lyrics to music I wrote myself … which, on hindsight, is probably a good thing, to be honest.

But since I hung up the guitar – or at least hung up playing it 8 hours every day – I have been captivated by lyrics. The stories and opinions they hold … and recently, while working on a project, I got reacquainted with the song Town Called Malice, by The Jam, which is above.

I remember when this song came out and I didn’t like it much.

Well, I loved the title – which I still do – but the rest was, blah.

I was into metal back then so I saw it as soft, sell-out, fancy suit shit.


But 40 years later – fuck – I have learnt to love this song, especially for the lyrics.

Specifically, “stop apologising for the things you haven’t done”.

That’s a powerful line.

One that is even more pertinent today than it probably was in 1981.

I have to say, I am over people feeling they have to apologise for stuff they haven’t done.

OK, if they promised to take the rubbish out, I get it. But the rest can fuck off.

Life seems to be a continuous cycle of things we are supposed to have done … a slow force into complicity and parity.

Planning is particularly bad for this …

The books we should have read.

The people we should be following.

The methodologies we should all use.

Yes, there is a lot of good stuff you can get from the names constantly being suggested, but they are not a mandate. They certainly shouldn’t be the people or processes we have to apologise for having not followed.

Our job is to be interested in what others are interested in, not just what other planners are interested in. The naval gazing of the industry is insane.

On one level I do understand it.

Many planners feel they are imposters and so knowing what people they think are ‘real planners’ like, lets them feel a bit more validated to do what they are paid to do.

But here’s the thing, the people who think are ‘real strategists’ also feel like imposters.


So what this means is the people who question their credentials are following the words and actions of people who also question their credentials. Which means the whole ‘things you should follow’ ends up being even more ridiculous.

While we should all be investing in our knowledge and awareness – and giving respect to those who keep doing work that tries to push things forward – that does not mean we should all be blindly doing the same thing as everyone else. If anything it means we need to be doing a whole bunch of different things from everyone else.

For example …

Read different books/magazine in different categories from different countries.

Follow people doing interesting things from different categories and cultures.

Be curious about people who make interesting things, not just talk about interesting things.

Learn from people who approach creativity in different ways to your own industry.

[Though I appreciate the irony of me telling people to follow what I do, haha]

All this is another reason why the industry needs to be hiring different sorts of people from different sorts of places and backgrounds … even though I’ve heard on the rare occasions that they do, they then tell them they need to be like the establishment to ‘be taken seriously’.


While we all need to develop our craft, experience and knowledge … rather than apologising for having not done/read/followed the exact same person/process/book as every other planner – however good they may be – how about celebrating whatever it is you are doing, exploring and learning … because trying to find your own voice is a far more noble act than simply trying to replicate someone else’s.

18 Comments so far
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Good music on this blog. This must be the end of days. And no I’m not referring to Blood on Blood, a song which I had never heard before – I wish that were still the case.

Comment by John

good music? what the fuck are you going on about doddsy? town called malice might be the only good music ever mentioned on this fucking shitshow.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s what I meant.

Comment by John

Hahahaha … if it’s any consolation it was just part of the song. But yeah, not their best. But absolutely not their worst. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

It isn’t.

Comment by Bazza

fairly decent post for once campbell. shame its about planners. theres no fucking hope for that shower of shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

High praise indeed.

And it could be totally appropriate for almost any discipline in the creative industry. Where independent thought and ideas have now become seen as less important than being part of the collective clique.

Comment by Rob

Brilliant song, post and advice.
You should write more posts like this Robert.

Comment by George

I would if I thought I was capable.

It seems once a year is my current limit. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

“I have to say, I am over people feeling they have to apologise for stuff they haven’t done.”

Comment by John

In this case, we should make an exception John.

Comment by Bazza

Blood on blood? What were you thinking?

I think I understand why you would suggest it for Jeep. But still……

It can’t be denied following individual planners you admire can help fast track your understanding of the discipline and give you a feeling of belonging. The problem I see is making great work is not viewed as being as important as following and repeating the words of planners who shout loudest on social about how to be great at the job, without ever talking or making great work.

Comment by Pete

👏 👏 👏

Comment by George

Very well said Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’m surprised you didn’t talk about the time you offended half of Harlem by tricking them into thinking twisted sister were the voice of a generation.

Comment by Bazza

But they weren’t as shocked as Coca-Cola when he talked to them about what it meant they had to do. ; )

Comment by Pete

I didn’t ‘trick’ them … they chose the lyrics out of hundreds of options. OK, so they didn’t hear the song or see the band, but they thought the lyrics best represented how they felt about where they were in life. Though yes … when they saw the band and heard the song, there was a look as if I had violated them. Which was the same look Coke gave us. Hahahaha.

Comment by Rob

OK, didn’t trick but definitely violated.

Comment by Bazza

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