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


Hello LaLaLand …
September 23, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: America, Attitude & Aptitude, Colenso, Confidence, Creativity, Culture, LaLaLand, Metallica

For reasons even America doesn’t deserve, I’m going to be in Los Angeles – and SF – next week.

And while I’m supposedly there for working reasons [with he common thread being the letter M] – that’s not why there’ll be no posts until I return. Nor is it because I’ll be catching up with old friends or buying the latest Apple gear because I can’t be arsed to wait till it gets to NZ.

OK, there is an element of truth in that …

But the real reason is because I’ll be trying to work through the menu of my favourite restaurant there in the whole wide world.

The Cheesecake Factory.

A restaurant with a menu that is thicker than the bible and tastes that belong in the 1980’s.

Apart from Sammy’s [RIP] in Manhattan Beach that we would go to every Friday night … the Cheesecake Factory was THE restaurant for me.

Yes there’s your In & Out Burgers and your Taco/Tacky Bell … but nothing could beat the bad taste of a good meal at the Cheesecake Factory.

Though – ironically – I never did eat any of their cheesecakes.

It’s going to be weird going back to LA.

Yes, I popped in on my way to see Forest in the premiership final.

And yes, I went there when we were living in England – pre-pandemic.

But while my time in LA was not my favourite time of my life or career, there were a lot of brilliant friends I made and experiences I had – even the weird ones – which means I’m quite excited to be going over and reconnect to the things that made a lasting impression on me and the people who changed my life.

So I’ll see you when I’m back. Possibly having had a heart by-pass. Either way, if you’re in LA and want to catch up, you know where to find me.

See you in 10 days or so.

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A Great Big Cup Of Shite …
September 19, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Colenso, Colleagues, Culture, Jill, Management, Otis

A few weeks ago, Otis told me I was wasting my money.

I asked him if he meant the breakfast I’d just bought him but he said it was everything I spent my money on.

I don’t know what brought on that exclamation – and he was laughing as he said it – but I looked him dead in the eye and told him I was much better than I used to be.

And I am.

Oh my god, the shit I’ve spent my cash on.

From remote control balls and robot dogs – lots of robot dogs – through to … well, stuff that cost a lot more than either of those gadget stupidity.

Even Jill told Otis I was much better, which I consider one of my life’s true achievements.

And that would be the end of the story had my colleague not had the shittest weekend ever recently.

Without going into too much detail, they discovered their toilet plumbing had decided to impersonate a fountain underneath their entire house.

A fountain of shit.

It was so disgusting and deplorable that even the professional shit specialist plumber announced, “For fuck’s sake mate” when he saw the photos sent to him.

I don’t mind admitting that I found this hilarious.

Please don’t mistake my laughter for revenge – I really, really like this colleague – but it was so horrific, that you had to laugh.

And laugh I did … everytime I told someone about it.

My family.

My friends.

They even walked in on me telling a client who had just flown in from Australia.

But I appreciate that while I found it funny … for them, it was no laughing matter.

Which is why I decided to make it up to them by buying them a present.

This …

Yep, they’re very own ‘shit cup’.

Not – as Jill first thought – a cup made from the shit in my colleagues garden [what sort of psychopath does she think I am] but a cup featuring photos of the shit in his garden.

Which is far more hygienic and thoughtful.

But as horrified as my colleague is, I’ve given them an even better gift.

Because the next time they see Otis, they can show him their present and tell him:

“Hey Otis, you’re right. Your Daddy does spends his money on shit. Literally.”

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If You Want To Do The Impossible, You Use The Incredible …

I don’t normally write about work I’m involved in, but today I’m going to make an exception because it’s slightly bonkers.

One of our clients is a company called FFI.

They make a product called Green Hydrogen.

Put simply, it’s the only energy source that can maintain the World’s energy requirements without killing the planet because it is carbon neutral.

Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

And while the fossil fuel companies will claim they have similar products – like blue or grey hydrogen – they don’t, because the reality is green hydrogen is called ‘green’ for a reason and that reason is its main ingredient is nature and so it’s impact is also good for nature.

I know … sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?

In fact, when we were pitching for it, I wrote a slide that said “this sounds the sort of wizardry you’d expect from Harry Potter”.

And it is. Except it’s real, not magic … even though it feels like it should be.

Anyway, without going into too much detail, one of the things we want to do is ensure youth culture know about it … know there’s something that can actually given them and their planet a future despite the fossil fuel companies trying to burn it all for their own profit.

I know … it may sound weird to do that … but there’s very good reasons for it, especially when we have a generation who have seen the power they have with their united voice and focus.

From legitimising non-binary attitudes to undermining presidential campaigns to shorting hedge funds to forcing national demonstrations against the NRA to name a few.

But the question was how can we do this?

How can a major, corporate company connect to culture in a way where it’s not try hard and still allows the science to be celebrated?

The answer …

Work with a scientist who lives and breathes in their world.

Which is why we are working with the brilliant Rick Sanchez, from Rick and Morty, to help spread the word, educate the world and push for change.

And while this won’t happen overnight … I’m very excited to see how our brilliantly bonkers partnership will help move us there. After all, there’s plenty of examples that show if you want to change established attitudes and behaviour – then there are occasion where doing something ridiculous is the most sensible thing you can do.

It all starts from here …

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The Great Effectiveness Swindle …

There’s so many agencies, consultancies and self-appointed guru’s out there who talk about how to be successful at business.

They all have their models, eco-systems, philosophies and proof points.

And yet so few have ever done it for themselves.

They’ve chosen to ‘succeed’ under the safety-net of anothers money, reputation or effort.

That doesn’t mean what they do or think doesn’t have value – of course it does – but it also doesn’t mean their viewpoint is the only one worth counting.

And yet, every single bloody day, that’s how it is presented.

Recently someone wrote a piece on how they had used their proprietary research methodology on a Cannes winning TV ad and declared it would not deliver sustainable growth for the brand in question.

Putting aside the fact they were judging work that had won a creativity award rather than an effectiveness one … the thing I found funny was their confidence in proclaiming their view was the ultimate view.

I am not doubting their smarts.

I am not doubting their data.

But I am doubting their breadth of business appreciation.

And yet somehow, the voices of a few have positioned themselves as the be-all and end-all of effectiveness.

Don’t follow us and you fail.
Don’t follow us and your brand will lose.
Don’t follow us and you will be labeled foolish.

Now I am not denying these people do have a lot of experience and lessons we can learn from, but they’re not infallible.

But that’s how the industry approaches them.

Lording them like they are Yoda’s of the future.

But they’re not.

Don’t get me wrong, they are very good at evaluating effectiveness from a particular perspective and set of behaviours. Offering advice that can be hugely important in the decision making process.

But there’s a whole host of brands and business that have adopted totally different models and achieved ‘effectiveness and success’ that leaves others far behind.

Incredible sustainable success.

From Liquid Death to SKP-S to Gentle Monster to Vollebak to Metallica to name but a few.

Oh I know what some will say …

“They’re niche”“they’re young”“they’re not that successful”.

And to those people I would say maybe you don’t know what you’re talking about … because in just that list, it includes the biggest selling brand on Amazon, the fastest selling brand in their category on earth and the second most successful American band in history.

But there were two things that really brought the issue of mindset narrowcasting to me …

The first was the launch of a book that was basically about creating future customer desire for your brand/business.

Now there’s nothing wrong with that … but no shit Sherlock.

Has the market got so short-sighted and insular that the idea of doing things that also drive your future value and desirability become a revelation?

It’s literally the most basic entrepreneur mindset, and yet it was presented like it was Newton discovering the laws of gravity.

This person is super smart.

They’ve done a lot of good stuff.

But it just feels the actions of some in the industry are driven by the fetishisation of icon status … even though, ironically, what it does is highlight their experience may be narrower than they realise.

But at least the book had good stuff in there.

Stuff that could help people with some of the basics.

A desire to look forward rather than get lost in the optimisation circle-jerk.

This next one was a whole lot worse.

Recently an ex-employer of mine went to see a current client of mine.

Specifically the founder and CEO.

Apparently they went in to tell him he was missing out on a whole host of business and they could help him get more.

They then proceeded to present a massive document on how they would do it.

He looked at them and told them it was very interesting but they were wrong.

He told them their premise was based on a business approach he doesn’t follow or believe in.

A business approach that didn’t reflect the industry he was in, only the industry they were in.

He then informed them he had the most profitable store on the planet and so while he appreciated their time, he had faith in his approach and it was serving him well.

But it gets better.

As they were leaving – and I’ve been told this is true by someone who was apparently there – the person showing them out informed them their boss had a personal net worth of US$36 billion and based on their companies current share price, that meant he was more valuable than their entire group.

Was it an asshole thing to do?

Yep.

Do I absolutely love it?

Oh yeah.

Will I get in trouble for telling this?

Errrrrm, probably.

My point is the industry has decided ‘effectiveness’ can only be achieved and measured in one way and any deviation from that is immediately discounted or considered ‘flawed’.

Often by people who have never actually built a world leading business themselves.

Again, I am not dismissing the importance of what is being said, it’s HUGELY important – which is why I’m proud we won the Cannes/Warc effectiveness Grand Prix – but, and it’s a huge one, if we think that’s the only model and only use that one ‘model’, then we are literally adopting a single approach to solve every one of our clients every problems.

One.

That’s insane.

Not just because it’s stupid but because if everyone adopts the same approach, then impact will be influenced far more by spend and distribution that strategy.

Please note I am absolutely not saying we should burn the models or philosophies or systems that have proven their value to drive business. No. Absolutely not. I’m just saying we shouldn’t be praying at the feet of them … especially when many are simply focused on creating steady impact rather than spectacular.

Yes, I know ‘spectacular’ has a lifespan – which is why innovation is so important – but so many brands out there either aim for the middle … reinforced by processes, protocols and rules defined as ‘best practice’ by people in a particular industry … or they bake-in ‘limitation’ into their potential because they’ve blindly adopted rules they never challenge or explore from other industries or entrepreneurs.

At the end of the day, if a brand like Liquid Death can become the biggest selling water brand on Amazon because they found a way to make men actually want to drink water through a model and approach that is not only radically different to what so many of the industry experts say is ‘the only way’ … but is the opposite of it … then your brand may be inhibiting itself by following a model designed to make you fit in with it, rather than redefine how it fits in with you.

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Some Agencies Have Dogs …
August 22, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Agency Culture, Colenso, Comment, New Zealand

… we have goats.

Or said another way …

How do you say you’re an agency in NZ without saying you’re an agency in NZ.

And yes, I have been told the look on it’s face suggests it’s seen a fox, so keep your comments to yourself, thank you very much.

Have a great week, I’m off to talk to the animals. And the goat. Boom Tish.

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