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

Cowards Are Oppressors …

Many years ago, I did a campaign for Australian ‘youth’ radio station, Triple J.

Triple J was a government funded radio station, but what set it apart was that it had a mandate to play new artists, preferably Australian, who were definitely not part of the mainstream crowd.

Think John Peel, but Australian.

What I loved about them was how much they divided opinion.

To some they were hope. To others they were noise.

But as we delved deeper, it became apparent the people who thought it was noise were basically proud the followers of the mainstream. The focus-group designed. The beige and the blunted. The average.

Now I appreciate that sounds massively judgemental … but what I found interesting was how companies had basically messed with the meaning of average in a bid to make more cash from customers.

In the old days, average was an achievement.

The meeting point between quality and cost.




But now average wasn’t that at all.

It was mainstream mediocrity.

Designed for easy, passive appeal. Mindlessness. A strategy of making beige act like gold.

Which led to the point of view of the work: The enemy of average.

Directly targeting anything that had been designed to dumb down rather than lift up.

We got into all sorts of mischief …

From placing warning stickers on all ‘easy listening’ artists in HMV [that saw us being threatened with legal action] … to running ads during mainstream TV to tell viewers they’re being murdered by averageness … to images of mainstream mediocre products being placed in public toilets so you could literally piss on them. [Beige Volvo anyone?]

And while this may all sound madness – and this was the 90’s so tastes were very different – we knew the only way to attract more listeners was to ensure we did it in a way that made our existing fans see we were fighting for what we believe, rather than pandering to popularity.

The old reverse psychology trick.

And it worked because ultimately this was just an extension of who they truly were.

Stubborn, opinionated, mischievous, audacious and uncompromising.

A teen who was very comfortable in playing with the uncomfortable.

And what this did was help build the cult of the brand … helping Triple J enter a new phase of growth while never looking like they were chasing fame.

Of course, they’re not the only ones who have pulled this off.

Playstation did it … NIKE have done it … Supreme do it … but the key to pulling this off successfully is knowing who you are and knowing who you’re for and frankly, not many can brands – or agencies – say that, especially these days.

What makes this even more amazing is how many agencies and companies bang on about their authenticity and purpose … but the problem is they can’t see what they’ve become: a mediocrity pleaser machine.

Of course the signs are there if you just scratch the surface.

Generic, mass audiences.
An aversion for sacrifice.
A desire to remove any sharp edges or opinion.

And while many think making a brand as easy to buy is the greatest way to achieve success, the thing they need to remember is the future goes nowhere in the hands of cowards.

21 Comments so far
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Didn’t you get sued for this campaign?

Comment by DH

when hasnt campbell been sued. the problem is the fucker always wins.

Comment by andy@cynic

My dad taught me well.

Or should I say, my Dad’s old colleagues protected us well.

Comment by Rob

jammy fucker as per fucking usual.

Comment by andy@cynic

Tried to sue. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

I was going to say this is a campaign of its time. But Liquid Death are doing a similar thing.

Comment by DH

Well you know how much I love Liquid Death so that’s a massive compliment. What they’re doing is next level … but at the time, this Triple J work was up there in terms of madness and messing with cultural tropes. I take great pride in how many establishment figures talked about how offensive it was without realising they were basically amplifying the campaign with every word of complaint.

Comment by Rob

While I’m at it, I’m talking to an agency in Ukraine.

The need work to keep people paid so they can keep feeding themselves.

They have international experience, are a Google Premier Partner, do Facebook ads, good with Google Analytics + GTM.

They’ll do any job … so have a look at their website and if you think there’s an opportunity, let me know and I can connect you.

Comment by Rob

I will pass this on internally.

Comment by George

Me too.

Comment by Bazza

Companies rarely start average, but they reach a point where their focus becomes more about maintaining their position than pushing forward. Without wishing to suck up. I think one of your greatest skills is being an energy irritant that refuses to let brands sit back. I know it doesn’t always work, but I have always been impressed how much it does.

Comment by George

The human stun grenade.

Comment by Bazza

campbell has 2 settings stun or snore.
ive only experienced snore.

Comment by andy@cynic

And yet you wear birkies, like Queen and support a mid-table football team.

Comment by John


Comment by John

Good post Robert and I agree with every word. What scares me more though is it’s the cowards who get the promotions.

Comment by Pete

God that’s so depressingly true.

Comment by Rob

Nobody ever got fired for hiring the usual suspects.

Comment by John

You made stickers. Classic campbell.

Comment by Billy Whizz

So he can put them on his computer.

Comment by Pete

Hahaha … that’s so true.

Comment by Rob

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