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

The Bank That Doesn’t Do Itself Credit …

Another day … another rant.

Whereas yesterday I went off at a brand I love/d, today is different.

It’s a bank.

Not just any bank … but a bank who once made me fly from Singapore to Sydney because they insisted they could check my passport ‘by sight’ before they released our funds for us to buy our house.

I should point out they weren’t our mortgage lender … they just wanted to make life very difficult for us and when I rang their ‘helpline’, I was told:

“No one is going to help you here”

Yes ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about ANZ Australia.

A bank only second to my nemesis – HSBC – for terrible behaviour, which for anyone who knows the hell that HSBC put us through when we lived in China, will know this means ANZ Australia aren’t too crash hot in my opinion.

So what have they done this time? This …

Why the hell are they writing like they’re doing their customers a massive favour saying they’ll keep paying them interest – “even if you make a withdrawal or can’t make a deposit that month” – when your base rate is 0.01%.


To put that in context, if you had AU$10,000,000 … you’d make $1,000 over a year.

Banks charge you for holding your money.

They charge you for using your money.

They close branches to give worse customer service.

They ask you to deal with your own financial issues via the internet.

They find any reason and way to be able to increase their fees.

Many got bailed out – or helped – by our tax dollars.

And then they offer you an interest rate that is so below the current rate of inflation that their ‘financial advice’ equates to literally having less money than you started with and they act like you should be grateful to them for it.

What the fuck?

Either they don’t care or they’re totally delusional.

No wonder people are open to things like crypto … because however much of a risk it is, at least there’s a chance – however small – you may get something out of it, which 0.01% is not going to offer.

Seriously ANZ Australia … stop taking your customers for fools.

As the old adage states, ‘action speaks louder then words’ and your actions continually reinforce you’re about the money not the service. And you know what, I think everyone would have a better opinion of you if you just owned up to that.

We need you and you will charge us for that privilege.

I get it. And – ironically – I’d think more of you for doing that than this ‘helpful and considerate’ tone you’re trying to present. Or even more bizarrely, maybe believe.

I get no one wants to admit they’re an asshole, but regardless what your ‘brand tracking’ and focus groups say, most people think you’re a great dump of calculator catastrophe.

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Why Perth Encapsulates: What Got You Here Isn’t What Will Get You Where You Could Be Next …
October 11, 2023, 7:30 am
Filed under: Advertising, Agency Culture, Attitude & Aptitude, Australia, Childhood, Dad

So a month or so ago, I was invited to speak at State of Social in Perth.

Perth is an interesting place, because as much as it is part of Australia, it doesn’t feel it.

I don’t mean that from an architectural perspective … a cultural perspective or a retail perspective … more it’s overall attitude and vibe.

Part of that is because it’s literally thousands of miles away from the East Coast. Part of that is the condescending way the East Coast often looks – and acts – towards WA with its mining economy. And part of that is the insecurity the city feels towards who they are and maybe who they think they should be.

In many ways, it reminded me of issues raised in Dream Small. Where young New Zealanders told us they felt there was no space, place or credibility for them to have a chance to take the nation to somewhere new. Held back by others [read: old white men] privilege, systems, narratives and fragility.

I should point out no one was saying they hated their country – which is much better than say, the UK – it was more a feeling their dreams and ambitions were viewed as a bit childish and they should be grateful for what others had done for them and before them.

A prison of others achievements and expectations, so to speak.

No wonder the overarching feeling was one of being tolerated rather than welcomed.

Again, this is not unique to NZ … it’s in many countries and cities … Perth, being one of them.

When I was there, I met so many talented creative people and agencies who felt big local companies dismissed the experience and views of the local industry in favour of agencies on the East Coast … for no other reason than they are based in Perth.

Even if those people had left Perth to work at the best agencies and biggest clients in the World before coming back.

Then there were others who discounted the views of the local industry simply because they didn’t blindly subscribe to certain narratives certain people in Perth never want to let go of.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

Talk about encouraging talent to leave the state … to inadvertently position Perth as a place where you can grow up and raise families but nothing in-between.

What a short-sighted viewpoint.

What a way to devalue the cities future.

The establishment are literally choosing control over possibilities and potential.

But then that’s the every day ego and fragility so many face – especially People of Colour – which is why I’m in no doubt it one of them read this post, they’d see me as the enemy, all the while failing to realise I’m not attacking their city, but celebrating the possibilities for an even brighter future.

And there’s a special reason for that …

You see in many ways, Perth was my first introduction to Australia.

My Dad’s friend, Roger, lived there and it sounded impossibly exotic for a little boy living in Nottingham.

While we never got to see him there, on his occasional visits ‘home’, he looked like he’d come from another planet.

With an accent that went up at the end of sentences, so it always sounded like he was asking a question.

Roger died years ago so when I found myself walking around the streets of Subiaco – where he once lived – you may appreciate how it felt a little strange for me.

Like I’d been granted access to a little piece of my Dad’s history. A chance to experience a place he was connected to, even though he never was here.

And that made me feel I was close to Dad again … and that was a gift. Exploring our distant past while somehow being together in the present. United by history, memories and love.

That’s why I want Perth to thrive.

It’s important to me. And given the talent I got to meet there, there’s a real chance it can … if they are allowed to believe it and the city believes in them.

I hope they do.

Until then, thanks Roger, thanks Perth and thanks State of Social for bringing me here.

I’ll never forget what you did for me.

I’ll never stop believing in what the underdog can achieve.

As long as they believe in themselves and they’re encouraged to dream big, not dream small.

And if you’re looking for somewhere to start … start with Hypnosis and Berlin.

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Who Are You?

OK, I’m back.


And this time, I’m not going to be going away for …. hmmmmm, actually let’s not go there.

Let’s move on shall we?

So before I start, there’s 2 things to say.

1. Some may have seen this before, because I accidentally put the wrong publish date on it.

2. This is a week of long and – for me – serious posts. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The good news is that on Friday, you’ll be rewarded for it, with some news that benefits you as much as it does me.



OK, so one thing that drives me nuts is when brands talk in totally different voices to different audiences.

But there’s something that gets to me more, and that’s when the brand in question has tried to position themselves as some sort of ‘brand of the people’.

Case in point, Reddit …

I really like Reddit.

I think their ‘front-page of the internet’ is a brilliant place to play.

And then I saw this …

‘Where Engagement Meets Results’.

What the fuck is that about?

Oh I know what some will say …

“They’re trying to reach business people who discount Reddit as a commercially valuable platform”.

And maybe they are. But the irony is the easiest way to discount Reddit as a commercially valuable platform is having clients on there who only can communicate in the corporate monotone of the meaningless mission statement.

How insincere is a brand who speaks to their customers one way and business another?

How crazy is it that some think business people are a different species to ‘normal’ people?

How badly will Reddit’s audience react to work from companies who only speak business?

Now some may think I’m going over-the-top … they will remind me that we all ‘change’ our tone and personality dependent on who we are talking to.

And that’s true … to an extent.

But this isn’t a tonal change, this is character.

I read that and it’s a brand I don’t recognise …

Feels more like they should be called Beigeit rather than Reddit.

The ability to adapt your voice to different audiences shouldn’t mean changing who you are.

People who play golf have a dramatically different view to sport than those who play football … but Nike still do it in a way where you know and feel it’s them. Just like CTO’s in major corporations has different requirements to those who want a laptop for home … but you never feel Apple changes who they are to communicate with them.

Brands who fundamentally change their personality in a bid to engage different audiences literally don’t know who they are. Worse, their customers may start to question that too.

Reddit are amazing.

Their audience is diverse, engaged and productive.

And while I appreciate some in business may not understand that, if you have to alter who you are, do you want them anyway?

Years ago I was doing work for Triple J … a government funded, youth radio station in Australia.

Unlike other ‘government funded’ media, Triple J was someone with real credibility, driven by championing and breaking new artists, discussing topics commercial radio wouldn’t touch with a barge pole and absolutely no advertising.

So when they came to us asking for help, we knew straight away that whatever we did had to ensure their current audience didn’t feel Triple J was selling out by advertising for more listeners.

While you may think this meant we went niche, we did the opposite.

Built off an idea we called, ‘enemy of the average’ … we went into mainstream media with messages that challenged audiences about the mediocrity they were engaging with.


Wherever mainstream audiences were, we were there too.

And while many hated our work [it was even discussed in Australian Parliament] it not only attracted the largest audience increase in Triple J’s history, it reinvigorated their existing audience because they saw the brand they love stay true to who they are, despite wanting what they didn’t have.

I get we’re in different times.

I appreciate the idea of any risk is unpalatable for so many.

But nothing is as dangerous as changing who you are to attract people who aren’t your audience.

The brand voice is more than how you talk. Or look. It’s how you look at the world … and if you’re consistent with that, then you can express yourself in a million different ways and always be yourself.

But too many brands, despite what they say, don’t want to be distinct.

They see it as having the potential to alienate an audience.

To which I say this …

While you may think being something to anyone means you can engage more people, the fact is, the most power to build the value of your brand is when you are everything to someone.

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Not Back, Back …

So I was supposed to be back from my trip to Melbourne.

But I’m not.

Because this trip can best be described as a shit show.

It started on the flight over where we had some bad turbulence and then the people next to – and behind – me started vomiting like human fountains.

Then when I went through immigration, I was stopped as they said I didn’t have a visa to enter the country. This, despite the fact I own property here, pay tax here, my wife is Australian, my son has an Australian passport and – oh yes – I have been a permanent resident of Australia for 20+ years.

After they realised they’d made a mistake on their computer, I was allowed to go and met up with my colleagues who were wondering where the fuck I was.

Surely that was the end of the drama?

Well yes … until at 2am, where I woke up in utter agony.

The only way I can describe the level of pain I was in is that I chose to go to hospital.

No making excuses. Or popping some paracetamol and going back to sleep.

I got in a taxi and went straight to A&E.

And thank god I did as I had picked up a bad infection in my kidney’s and appendix.

Apparently it had been developing for weeks – and when I look back on some days over the previous fortnight, I realised I’d done the classic excuses and popping paracetamol – but the time had come for it to make its presence known, and boy did it do that.

To be honest, as bad as I felt, I felt even worse that I had just burdened my colleagues with my work. They already had enough to do and here I was, at the last minute, giving them more.

And they not only took it on and executed it better than I … they stayed concerned about me.

That’s proper colleagues.

Mates even.

And I’m so grateful to them, the clients – who also were worried about me – and the amazing Doctors and Nurses at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne who were compassionate, concerned and efficient.

I’m on the mend and allowed to fly home today, but till then, I’m going to chill and remind myself that your body wants you to be well, so when it hurts or gurgles or aches … it’s trying to make you deal with it before it ends up seeing you in a foreign hospital desperate for help.

So while this trip was a shitshow, it was a shitshow that shined a light on all the good.

Fight for your health service. It’s a gift.

See you Monday.

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Live The Best Algorithm Life …

So I’m back.

I had a lovely time and Croatia is proper beautiful.

I know that’s a big call given I spent 2½ days there, the rest travelling, but it was.

God I miss travelling.

You’d think after almost 20 years of basically living on an airplane, I’d be over it … but there’s something so magical visiting new places and meeting new people.

Of course the environment is even more important – and COVID has shown we can do a lot without having to be in the same room – however being in another country and culture is a powerful and important experience. Especially given all the nationalistic bullshit going on … so having people engage with each other in different environments and geographies – rather than just stay in their own bubble – is probably better for the state of the World than just keeping to your own shores.

Nothing highlights this more than the paranoia regarding TikTok.

All apps are harvesting data, but because the parent company of TikTok is Chinese, governments and business are telling their employees they can’t have the app on their phone.

And yet TikTok, unlike other social media firms, have not – as far as I understand – been caught using the data in illegal ways. And even if they have, I am sure it’s no where near to the level of other companies that have been caught.

But here we go … the classic racism and prejudice towards China.

I know I’m biased.

I also know China has many issues.

But as I’ve said many times, the actions of other governments are equally as bad … they just hide it better, package it better [if that’s what you can call something as sick as Guantanamo Bay] or use the focus on China to distract people more convincingly.

Then there’s the fact some of the stuff the Chinese Government do get away with – and they do – is other politicians wet dream. Specifically the Republican and Tory parties.

Anyway, I don’t know what the problem is because as you can see from the photo above, if TikTok thinks I’m 15, then the data they’re harvesting is nothing to worry about.

Oh hang on, unless that’s my mental – not physical – age, and then we have a lot to worry about indeed.

Sorry for the rambling, jet lagged, post.

I wish I could say tomorrow will be better, but we all know it won’t be.

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