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


Happy Birthday Dad …

Today would be my Dad’s 83rd birthday.

The age Mum died.

That means he has been gone 23 years.

Twenty three!

That’s almost unfeasible for me to comprehend.

And while I am now 51 … married … and a father … I still feel his little boy, a kid who needs and wants his Dad.

But as today would be his birthday, it would be my turn to look after him.

Make sure he felt spoilt and loved.

And for me, that would mean getting him something that was a ridiculous enjoyment, because he – and Mum – taught me a gift is something you want but could never justify in getting.

Of course they never followed their own advice, because when I would ask them what they wanted, they’d either say, “nothing, but a card” or something insanely practical.

I never listened to them.

And while my kid version of ridiculous enjoyment was limited by price – and imagination – right now, I would get him something that would push the boundaries of his wildest expectations.

Which would be a canary yellow, 1970’s Rolls Royce Corniche convertible with white-wall wheels.

I have no idea why he loved that car so much.

He sure as hell never drove one.

I don’t even know if he ever sat in one.

But throughout my childhood that would be the car he would constantly talk about and point to.

He even had a terrible Dad joke about them which he would tell me on an almost weekly basis.

Which is why I would do all I could to get him one today.

It might be a bit knackered.

It might not be able to go long distances.

He might only be able to afford one tank of fuel.

But to see his face as I led him outside to see his present, would be magical.

Of course, Dad isn’t here …

I can’t celebrate his birthday with him.

So instead, I ordered this on eBay …

It might not be the real thing.

It might not be a convertible.

And it might not have white wall wheels.

But it is my way of letting my Dad know he’s still with me, even though he’s not.

Not to mention, he’d probably love receiving it nearly as much as he would a real one.

Happy birthday Dad, I hope Mum is spoiling you rotten.

Love you.

Rx



Driven To The Edge Of Hope …

Years ago, at Wieden, we pitched for Porsche.

Actually we pitched twice and lost both.

Then we pitched for them at R/GA and lost that.

Which means I am the Porsche problem.

Makes sense …

Anyway, the first time we pitched, Sam – one of the creatives, along with Ryan – wrote the best positioning line I’ve ever read.

I can’t say was it was because I don’t want someone to steal his work, but it was one of those moments where you go, “Fuck me, that’s amazing”.

It was so good it conflicted Porsche.

They didn’t like our work at all but wanted to give us the business because of the power of the line. Then ‘international politics’ got in the way and we got told to take a hike.

Or a drive.

Though I acknowledge that I probably didn’t help matters by asking them why they sponsored golf when that was the antithesis of what Porsche were about. Hahahaha.

Anyway, as part of the campaign, Sam wrote a line in the TV script that I also thought was wonderful.

One I am OK with sharing because it isn’t sooooo specific to Porsche. It was …

“Ribbons of road draped over highlands”

God I love it.

I love it so much.

It’s so bloody evocative and – for me – captures the perfect balance between the quiet determination of nature surrounding a thin line of tarmac that has been gently placed over it and the loud performance of a car that’s hurtling along it at breakneck speed.

Torturing and teasing each other.

Both trying to dominate.

A game of cat and mouse.

The fine line between respect and ridicule.

I say all this because I recently came across a picture of a road that I feel this was written for,

Where we were writing for China, this road is in America – California to be more precise – but it is perfect all the same.

Which is why if someone at Porsche reads this and wants to get their brand back to the stature it once had – rather than this ‘fast luxury’ superficialness that it currently seems happy to communicate … let me know, because have Sam, Ryan and I got a brand idea for you.



Drummers Are Animals …
July 26, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Anniversary, Birthday, Cars, Comment, Creativity, Queen

In rock bands, the drummer is always seen as the crazy one.

The one who would throw a television out of a hotel window.
The one who would be the first to throw their head into drugs.
The one who would blow all their cash on fast cars and stupid houses.

And is it a stereotype?

Yep …

OK, so there were some high profile drummers who lived this life – Keith Moon of The Who, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Steven Adler of Guns n’ Roses to name but three – but the reality is this idea of ‘drummer crazy’ likely got burned in people’s consciousness thanks to Animal from the Muppets, the stories of the numerous drummers in the brilliant rockumentary, Spinal Tap and the fact drummers smack the shit out of things for hours on end as their form of musical expression.

But there is one drummer who seems to have a brilliant middle ground between crazy and cool and that’s Queen drummer Roger Taylor.

Not to be mistaken with the drummer of Duran Duran drummer who has the same name … Roger was always the most ‘rock star’ of the band.

Not just because he played the drums – though he did play drum solo’s in the early 80’s featuring timpani drums and a bloody enormous gong – but because he has a long history of buying and crashing exceedingly fast cars and big houses – not to mention having a vast number of relationships with a cavalcade of beautiful and intelligent women.

Hell, he even once wrote a song called, I’m in love with my car.

But while that might represent the wild side of rock n’ roll, the cool side is he’s a batchelor of science, a devoted father of 5 [of which one, Rory, was my doctor in England] a well regarded music producer and composer, passionately committed to preserving the legacy of Freddie, creator of a range of Taylored By London merchandise and still touring the globe playing sold out stadiums as the drummer of Queen.

He turns 72 today.

SEVENTY BLOODY TWO.

And while my loyalty will always be more towards Brian than Rog … the fact he is the drummer of my favourite band, has the same name as my wonderful Dad and is still cooler as a 72 year old than many ‘stars’ who are a 1/3rd of his age, he gets my best wishes and thanks.

Happy birthday Mr Taylor.

To celebrate, here are 3 videos that show the best of him.

The first is the insane drum solo he did when Queen were at their musical and performance peak. The second is him singing I’m In Love With My Car in concert. And the last is the drum solo battle he had with his son – Rufus – on the last Queen + Adam Lambert tour.



Polishing A Turd With Words …

Recently I saw this ad for British Leyland cars.

British Leyland was a – surprise, surprise – British car manufacturer formed in the late 60’s.

As you can see, they made a huge array of cars but the joke was they weren’t very well made.

If I remember rightly, there was a joke that said:

“Buy British … they fall apart more quickly so you can buy a proper car”.

I don’t know if that was true – though the way British manufacturing has fallen by the wayside, suggests there could be some truth to it – but I do know I thought the TR7 and MGB, the two cars at the top of the pile, were cool.

But let’s look at that ad for a moment.

Cramming four different models of vehicle on a single page is bad enough. But when it has been art directed to look like they’re all on top of each other – resembling a scene from a scrapyard – is hardly the best way to sell ‘British’.

And they are selling ‘British’ because if you look at the very bottom of the ad, you see it’s got a New Jersey address, which suggests this ad was for the US market.

While I get the reason they would want to do that [the US market was huge and the amount of ‘foreign cars’ available at that time was small] I don’t know if that image would make the average American want to give up their GM or Chrysler … especially when the justification British Leyland have for ownership is ‘their appeal is reflected in their recent sales performance’.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

What makes it worse are those words associated with each model.

Bold.
Lively.
Practical.
Legendary.

It all just smacks of early brand consultant bollocks doesn’t it.

And while I kind of get why they chose those words – though labelling the Jag, ‘a legend’, somehow makes it feel old rather than cool – I can’t help feel sorry for the Marina, tagged ‘practical’.

At least those other models have words that suggest some element of energy and dynamism to them, but ‘practical’ just sounds like they’re trying to say ‘shit’ in a more polite way.

To be fair, they’re right. It was shit.

My Dad had – for a short while – a Marina.

In mustard yellow and brown.

It was utterly horrific.

Even though his was the ‘fastback’ model, I still remember being utterly embarrassed by it.

The colour, The shape. The everything.

I was so glad when he got rid of it, though I have a horrible feeling he changed it for another yellow car – this time a Fiat 128 – but at least that had 4 doors, which made it feel a step up.

But imagine how a Jag owner would feel after spending thousands on their car, only to see that piece of Marina engineering shit was ‘on top’ of their premium priced motor.

British Leyland always seemed to have a knack of fucking things up.

Continually chasing others success with bad interpretations of their own.

It’s a bit like small film studios …. who on seeing another movies success, launch a tsunami of similar themed films, all with names that are derivatives of the original, in the hope people may get confused and see their’s instead.

British Leyland totally adopted this strategy.

The TR7 was the Fiat X/19

The Marina was the Ford Cortina

And in 1980, the Mini Metro was their version of the Mini.

Oh my god, I remember the launch of that car.

It was heralded as the pinnacle of the British car industry and launched with one of the most jingoistic ads you’ll ever see.

Did you see it?

Jesus christ … it’s like it was written by the Far Right.

Or the Daily Mail.

I still remember when it got unveiled and just thinking, “it looks shit”.

Well, while it didn’t end up ‘taking over the world’, it was successful in the UK and even saved British Leyland from bankruptcy – for a while – but what it all ends up reminding me is how many companies forget that just because something is successful in one country doesn’t mean it will work in another.

I’ve seen – and worked in – too many organisations who think they are the best in the World.

That their worst is better than everyone else’s best.

That sort of thinking is a recipe for disaster.

Not just in terms of encouraging laziness, but it’s one thing to think you’re good, but it’s another thing altogether to think everyone else is just a lesser version of you.

The amount of companies I saw crash and burn in China was amazing.

Thinking that by simply being ‘Western’, they would be appealing.

Maybe that worked before, but what they failed to realise is that in a nation where everything said something about you, it quickly became the most brand literate nation on the planet.

The old premise remains.

If you want others to respect you, respect them … and it starts by not just trying to sell something because it convenient to you.

Amazing how few people still seem to understand that.



What Would A Personalised Number Plate Say About You?

Years ago, I was asked the title of this post by an industry journalist.

I replied with, “it would say I was a prick”.

Given a bunch of people in the industry – not to mention my mates – have personalised number plates, it didn’t go down very well, however compared to this, they’re all saints.

Yep, that’s a real number plate.

Better yet, it’s not even a personalised one. [Someone checked]

That is the number plate the DVLC gave the car.

Now I appreciate that maybe you wouldn’t immediately see the perv potential of PU51BAD … but when it’s written out as PU51 BAD, you’d have to be Stevie Wonder to not see it.

And yet the owner of this Volvo – not sure if it’s a male, but a male was driving it – is happily driving around the UK with it.

Why? Surely they know what they’re doing?

Hell, it seems they even made sure the number plate clearly conveys its questionable words.

Surely they realise the only people who wouldn’t find this cringe worthy are 16 year old boys.

Or maybe I’ve got it wrong.

Given the image of the typical Volvo driver – especially the old Volvo driver – maybe this has given them the bit of an edge they’ve been craving for years.

No longer are they the responsible, safe, family man/woman driver … now they’re sexpests of the most public order.

And to think, Volvo spent untold billions to shed their ‘safe and boring’ persona when all they needed to do was get a perv numberplate.