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


Depressing Inspiration …

Back in the 80’s, there was a real trend for companies to put up ‘inspiration posters’.

Corporate Yoda statements that were as contrived – and daft – as fuck.

Things like …

EXPLORE. Only those willing to leave shore can find new lands.

I’m not even joking. There was tons of them like this.

For a while they were all the range … so popular that a friend actually created a mass of pisstake versions in the early 90’s.

Here’s one of them:

They were soooooooo much better than the real thing.

And then, from the mid-90’s to around 2015, these empty statements died a death however – just when you thought it was safe – social media decided to bring them back with a vengeance.

However, if you thought they were bad before, they have reached a whole new level of terrible.

Or should I say a whole new depth.

So much of this is because of Linkedin …

I’ve written my views on the biggest fiction factory on earth before.

Seriously, it’s about as professional as me … that’s how bad it has become.

In fact, it feels more like a home for wannabe Tony Robbins than a place for professional interaction.

Nothing sums this up more than an ‘inspiration’ photo I saw on there a while ago.

Take a look at this.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I mean, just how depressing is that?

Sure, I know it’s trying to be deep and meaningful but christ almighty.

And they are using a photo of Jim Carrey to demonstrate the point.

But I’m not quite sure why him.

Yes, I know he has suffered loss and yes I have heard he supposedly doesn’t try to ‘impress’ people anymore … except he works in Hollywood and has a history of being an attention-seeking, approval-needing, soul-sucking individual.

Maybe he’s past that.

Maybe I have to stop using the term ‘Jim Carrey syndrome’ … which is how I used to describe people who are successful in one field, but are so desperate to win the respect of their peers, they change their actions and behaviour to try and win their approval, only to fail because that’s not who they are or what they’re good at.

I hope he is.

I hope that is the case.

That would be good and healthy for him.

But even with that … it still wouldn’t clearly explain WHY he is the star of this ‘grimperation’ poster, WHY the creator thought this approach would motivate people or WHY the person who posted it on their Linkedin, thought it may make them look like a guru.

That said, when I saw it, I genuinely burst out into hysterical laughter so maybe … just maybe … that was the whole point of the thing and if that’s the case, it’s bloody genius.

You wait. Depress yourself to happy will be on Linkedin status updates any day now.



Build A Cliche, Not A Life …

I recently had to go to a DIY centre.

On a Sunday.

For anyone who knows me, this is literally my idea of hell.

Fortunately I asked Jill to go inside instead of me to avoid having to kill myself.

I know that sounds like a shitty thing to do, but she LOVES DIY – and is amazing at it – so it was really a gift.

Anyway …

While I was waiting in the carpark, I saw their sign. This was it …

I don’t know about you. but when I looked at it, I didn’t notice the 15% off price guarantee, I noticed they had designed it to look like it had been done by hand.

Oh I get it, DIY store = DIY sign.

But …

Apart from this falling into the ‘cheeky Chappy’ tone that Uncommon destroyed with their [still] best work for B&Q, I can’t help thinking that if anywhere should have perfect signage and store interiors, it’s a DIY retailer.

Sure, there’s something ‘human’ about the imperfection of creation, but faking it doesn’t make me connect to the brand more, it makes me look at them and wonder what the fuck they were thinking.

Yes, it’s a minute thing.

Yes, Mitre 10 are pretty good.

But – as I am seeing a lot in NZ right now – this obsession with reinforcing stereotypes isn’t actually removing barriers for people to feel they can step in and step up with the ambitions or aspirations they have for their life … it’s keeping them, and treating them, like nothing ever changes.

NZ is an amazing place and has so many things the rest of the world could/should learn from … and we genuinely are grateful for the wonderful opportunity the people here have given us to live here – but for a nation that needs ambition and entrepreneurship to maintain a positive future, it’s amazing how little of that spirit is championed or celebrated by society, government and brands.

And while many will claim it’s because of the humble spirit of this great nation, it’s probably – and terrifyingly – because of this.



Death As A Business Model …
May 10, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Corporate Evil, Marketing, Marketing Fail

We shouldn’t be surprised reading this.

As I wrote a while back, McKinsey had a similar point of view when working with the Sackler family to keep the deadly Oxycontin drug selling in its billions.

In fact the only thing that is a surprise is how McKinsey keep their ‘sheen’ when more and more reports come out as regards their ‘money wins’ approach to consultancy, regardless of the potential outcome.

Of course the reason is many of the organisations who use them, revel in the ‘no limits’ approach to making cash that consultancies bring to the table. And why shouldn’t they when they know that for all the talk of wanting to align with brands with purpose, customers will go with anyone if the price is low enough and the illusionary optics are good enough..

What a mess.



Let Them Go …
May 9, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Dad, Daddyhood, Education, School

One of the things that does my head in is around 3pm on weekdays when parents pick up their kids from school.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with them collecting their child – even in their cars, we do it too – but it’s the attitude they can leave their car wherever they like regardless of it blocking traffic or being placed in a no parking zone.

The level of entitlement of some parents picking up their kids is 70’s Rockstar standard.

Which is why I loved this passive aggressive sign at a school near where we live …

Love it.

Especially the ‘love them and leave them’ message underneath, because for me, it’s really saying this:

By all means drive your kid to school.

By all means give your kid a kiss and hug as they come/go.

But don’t get out the car … don’t dress your kid at the school gates … don’t hang around and talk to other parents

Come in. Kiss them hello/goodbye. Leave.

And while that may sound a bit harsh, it’s simply reminding parents that while your child means the World to you, the World doesn’t revolve around them.

Jesus … I’m coming in hot for a Monday aren’t I.



Why Being Dangerous Is A Business Strategy …

There’s a brilliant documentary on the band The KLF.

For those who don’t know who they are/were, they’re a band formed in the late 80’s who wrote some of the early 90’s biggest selling singles.

Except, if truth be told, The KLF were more artists than musicians.

I don’t mean that in terms of them having many different business interests …I mean it in terms of them expressing their creativity in ever-more dramatic, provocative and intriguing ways.

From burning a million pounds to sampling without permission to firing a machine gun full of blanks at an audience live on television to delisting every song they ever made … and a whole lot in-between.

It’s a truly fascinating documentary, where you realise that everything they did – while not planned – was definitely deliberate.

But there’s one quote about them that stood out for me.

Not just because it captured who they were, but because it revealed what is missing for me in so much of the work the industry is producing.

I love that.

I love it so much.

But sadly, many in my discipline of strategy – and all the self-proclaimed marketing gurus – have killed that in the quest to flatter their own ego.

And it gets worse.

No, I’m not talking about the clients who value function, logic and attribution over shaping or changing cultures opinion, attitudes and feelings – though I could definitely talk about that – but the agency creative departments filled with people who want to make ads rather than use creativity to push boundaries.

The KLF may have been seen by the industry as anarchists … but for a band who had a few – albeit massive – hits in the 90’s, their work still is remembered, stands up to scrutiny and can be directly associated with cultural change which is more than pretty much anything our industry, or most industries for that matter, produces these days.

Of course, given the untold billions brands spend to have culture know them, value them and want them … this is pretty ironic.

Oh I get these brands still make a ton of money.

More than even The KLF could burn.

But this isn’t about distribution, habit or media spent, but influence, change and ambition.

This doesn’t mean the talent isn’t there to make something like this happen.

It is.

But it means nothing if the role it’s used for is to give clients what they want rather than what culture can never forget.