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


Silence Is Golden …
July 5, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Comment

After 15+ years writing this blog, I’ve decided to make a change.

Bad luck, I’m not stopping writing it … but I am stopping allowing comments.

Basically in the past few months there’s been a real shift in the tone of social media and there’s a real vicious and vindictiveness that is going on.

It’s everywhere.

Twitter.
Linkedin.
This blog.

And while I know this affects everyone on social media – especially women, such as Zoe Scaman, who get outrageous abuse for no other reason than having opinion that refuses to play by outdated rules governed by outdated people – frankly I can’t be arsed dealing with it.

It’s not new of course.

This blog has attracted all manner of insults over the years.

Some of it has been more than justified, some of it has been the sexist, racist, bullying bullshit you get from people who sound like they’re disciples of Jordan Peterson or Donald Trump.

In most cases these comments went automatically to the spam file [well done WordPress] but where they didn’t, I kept them on here because I thought it was only fair their comments were allowed a moment in the sun given my career has kind-of been based on that. Albeit without being personal, anonymous or spiteful for the sake of it.

However recently I’ve been getting emails – including some anonymous shit – and I’m over it.

Can’t be arsed with it.

I don’t see why anyone should have to put up with this rubbish and it’s everywhere.

I’m all for people having differences of opinion, but when you can hide behind anonymity and say all sorts of vile shite just because you think it makes you look big … then fuck ’em.

That said it’s not just those who hide behind anonymous words …

I recently got a mountain of abuse on Linkedin for commenting on a post about a woman who gave fellow plane passengers a small package to pre-apologise for their baby potentially crying on the flight.

All I said was that I didn’t think a woman should ever have to apologise for taking their small baby on a plane and my god … I copped genuine hate.

All from men, obviously, but it went personal and vicious within the blink of an eye.

Now I know I should be OK with this given I choose to enter the fray – not to mention being so well trained by the commentators on here who have been coming for years and giving me shit. But in their case, underneath all the piss-taking, I never felt you were getting your kicks trying to fuck me over for the fun of it. It was banter we had built up over years of friendship beyond this blog.

In fact, over the years, so many of the comments on here have taught me and pushed me in good ways. I’m amazed how many of my perspectives have changed because of the debate and dialogue people have generously and thoughtfully brought here.

The comments on this blog have also introduced me to a bunch of new friends and new clients … as well as acted as a weird sort-of social club for ex-cynic colleagues and clients.

This last bit was especially important to me – in fact it was one of the main reasons I started this blog in the first place – as I didn’t want to lose touch with people who played such a pivotal role in my life and career.

Not as pivotal as they like to think, but pivotal all the same.

Fortunately, as we’ve all been interacting and connecting for so long, I know all of you – or most of you, ha – will remain in my everyday life even if I’m now robbing you of your ability to send me daily shit. Or at least daily shit via blog comments … there’s still countless ways to do it, which I know you know as you have been doing that for 15+ years too. Assholes. Ha.

God, I’m making this sound way bigger than it is, aren’t I?!

All I’m doing is stopping comments, it’s hardly a worthy of a post like this. Though given I know how frustrating it will be for you to read this and not be able to slag me off, kind-of makes it worth it.

To be honest, I started thinking about doing this when my beloved Martin Weigel stopped comments on his blog a while back … but the reality is I’ve always loved waking up to a range of thoughts, ideas and discussion points from posts I’ve stupidly set to automatically publish while I’m asleep, haha.

That said, by doing this, I’m pretty sure I’m doing my bit to help work efficiency because not only will I not need to check this blog every 2 mins for comments … it will help you lot all be better husband/wives/colleagues.

You’re welcome.

So to anyone who has ever commented – thank you.

It’s been amazing, entertaining and valuable.

I do not take it for granted how much time you gave me and I’m grateful for it.

It’s been so good to have daily contact with old and new friends and clients and long may that continue. But for now, I’m going to shout into a void … and while I know the main motivation for most people who came here was just to read the comments, I hope you still turn up.

Better yet. I hope some of the stuff I write still has some use.

Maybe I’ll change my mind at some point. Maybe I just need a mental health break – given all the stuff going on in the world is adding to the ‘fuck it’ attitude permeating my brain at the moment. But right now, it will be nice to just write shit and not have to worry who it has triggered, hahaha.

So with that, I’ll speak to you later.

In the flesh. Or via zoom. Just not via weird comments that I often don’t see till days later, ha.

And to help you get used to this new chapter I’m going away with work for a few days so there’ll be no posts till Monday. Think of it this way … if you can get used to not being able to slag me off for having “another holiday [your words, not mine] then you can get used to talking to me in person, not via comments.

Bye lovlies. [Proper] speak soon.



The Light Goes Out On Henry …
July 1, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Colenso, Comment, Creativity, New Zealand, Planners

Before I start, I need to acknowledge it’s the luckiest cat in the World’s 15th birthday today.

She may use me, mock me and begrudge me – but I love her.

So happy birthday Rosie, I look forward to hearing your complaints when I get home.

OK, so let me begin this post by saying that Henry is alive and well.

I know that subject line makes it sound like he’s died, but it just worked with the photo at the top of this post.

I know … I know …

Anyway, today is a bittersweet day for me … the Colenso planning department and Colenso as a whole … because gorgeous Henry leaves us.

Actually, he’s doing more than that, he’s leaving the industry.

I’m going to ignore that a little over a year from me joining, he’s off. I’m going to forget he has loved Colenso for years and left Adam & Eve in London to come here. I’m going to forget all that and put it down to him supporting Huddersfield Town and being devastated his [ex] boss is a Nottingham Forest fan who saw them beat his team in the play-off final to the Premiership.

Yeah, that’s it … must be.

OK … OK … it’s not, but even with the forced clarity of reality, it’s still hugely important we celebrate that this wonderful strategist is going on a career adventure.

Career adventures are often devalued.

Seen as walking away from the foundations you have built.

But that’s bollocks on so many levels … especially when you’re a planner who can use many of their skills in new ways with new industries.

Sure, it’s sad for us that Henry wants to explore, but the reality is I’m also very happy for him, for two simple reasons …

1. He’s going to test and stretch his talent in new ways, which is awesome.

2. Whatever way you look at it, Henry is brilliant.

In fact, Henry is so brilliant he was a big part I took the job.

When I was chatting to Colenso, I got to meet Henry and we had many chats and I immediately was taken by his brains, character and chops.

Yes he’s obsessed with war facts and puts the ‘hype’ in hypochondriac … but he’s also caring, compassionate, diligent, smart and a real leader.

That last one is particularly important as it is banded about a lot in this industry … but where Henry is concerned, it’s the perfect description.

He cares about others.
He wants the best for others.
He supports others in their quests and goals.
He leads by example in all he does.

That last one is the difference.

Anyone can say they care, but the true test of integrity is how you operate … both in the shadows and in the spotlight.

Henry is so honourable he even paid me back the $8000 I accidentally sent him when I was a fucking idiot …

OK, that bit may show he is prone to stupidity, but you get what I mean.

All this is my way of saying that today we lose a special human, not just a great strategist.

And while – from a personal perspective – I wish he wasn’t going and I’ll miss him like hell … I am proud and excited for him.

I’ve written a lot how I believe the role of a boss is to help your people see, seize and be seen for opportunities they may otherwise not consider a possibility. And while in Henry’s case, I had nothing to do with it, I still feel a thrill that he’s off to explore what he can become.

Of course I’m in no doubt he will be brilliant, but I hope once he realises it, he see’s this next step as simply the beginning of many more – and bigger – steps. Taking him to places far beyond where he is and where he is going.

I hope he understands that.

I’ll make sure he can’t forget it.

So to you Henry …

It’s been a pleasure and honour to have you in my life.

Not just professionally, but personally.

Thank you for everything … you helped this agency and department in ways that will be felt and remembered for a very long time.

But not as long as you’ll be remembered for the person you are.

Go be brilliant but please don’t talk ‘war facts’ till at least week 4.



The Beginning Of The End Or The End Of The Beginning?

I cannot believe it is the end of June.

How did that happen so fast?

The problem with the year going so quickly is that so is my mortality.

When you’re in your thirties or forties … hearing someone has died at 73 seems centuries away, but when you’ve just turned 52, it seems like a week.

I’ve written how much turning 50 has affected me before.

From looking wistfully at photos of people who look a bit like my son, albeit much older … through to how much I love my wife … to finally appreciating a good garden … to talking about my career.

The reality is, if you’re still in adland at my age – or probably any industry – you definitely feel you’re approaching the end of your journey.

And you are …

That doesn’t mean you don’t have a shit-ton to offer or that you’re not doing exciting work … the reality is the industry has always valued ‘new’ over experience – or even creativity for that matter – so it’s just how it goes.

However from a pure ego perspective, it can still sting a little … especially when many of the people getting the acclaim have not done anything of note, other than play the self-publicity game very, very well.

Repeatedly shouting their reframed arguments, judgement on others work or modern takes on old behaviours and then – just as you’re about to turn into a bitter bastard – you realise that’s probably what the previous generation of adfolk thought about you and your mouth – and suddenly things look very different.

And as much as that revelation is a metaphorical kick in the face brings, it also is pretty liberating.

Because while it’s nice to be noticed – and there’s some people out there doing things that truly deserve to be because they’re trying to take the possibilities of creativity to new places, from POCC to Ivy Huang at Tencent to Mr Hoon Kim at Gentle Monster [and I know I’m biased given he’s a client of mine] to the usual suspects like Nils etc to name but a few – the reality is not being defined by your job or your title or your employer is far better for your health, happiness and creativity … and yet that is the opposite of what the industry promotes.

Your value is based on your title.
Your talent is linked to who you work for.
Your reputation is decided by how well known you are rather than what you’ve done.

I get it. I felt that way for a time. But it’s also a bit insane.
I cannot tell you how differently people listened to what I said when I was at Wieden than when I was at Cynic, despite that on many occasions, I was saying EXACTLY the same thing. It happens now with Metallica. People who wouldn’t give me the time of day before suddenly think what I spout has value because some heavy metal musicians treat me as their cat litter tray. But the reality is success is as much down to good fortune as it is talent – even though talent is still very important – so to play to what you think someone wants you to be rather than who you actually are only ends up undermining you.

You may not realise that till later, but at one point you’ll look in the mirror and know.

Let’s be honest, turning 52 is pretty pants.

Even more so when you find a photo of yourself at 22.

Yep, that’s really me … from my passport photo.

Hair, youth and serial killer stare.

But at 52 you ache.
You look older than god.
And you’re made to feel the industry you’ve pretty much given your working life to, is trying to leave you behind purely based on your age.

And despite me having so much fun and doing so much exciting stuff with bands, I still adore adland.

I may not like where it is going or what it now values, but it’s given – and continues to give me – so much and I’ll always be grateful for that.

And while my time in the industry is different to what it once was, it still gives me so much … with the latest gift being the realisation their issue with older people is their problem not mine.



Stop Filtering Out The Weird, Because That’s What Makes Us Human …

I’ve written about this subject before, but one of the biggest issues I think is facing marketing strategy these days is the obsession with corporate logic.

The quest to create frameworks and messaging that ultimates dictates and demands order, consistency and control. Not to help clients build the brand, but to help clients feel safe and comfortable.

And while that may all sound great in theory, the reality is – as the owner of the store with the horn discovered – that it often backfires magnificently.

Because great strategy isn’t logical, its logic born from the ability to make sense of the ridiculousness of reality.

Whether that is amateur artists buying a Mona Lisa painting when they really want the frame or

And the beauty of that is it liberates the possibilities of creativity …

Whether that is an actor who lets the paparazzi see them every night to avoid being photographed by them to the Chinese Government adding a mini ‘scratch card’ on till receipts to get customers to ask for it so it forces the seller to put it through the till and the government can ensure they get their tax through to a beer that is an act of love.

I’ve been talking about the power of devious strategy for years … and while I’m not claiming it is anything extraordinary, when you compare it to what so many think passes for good – I’d choose it any day of the week.

Not just because it leads to better work, but because creative ridiculousness is becoming a far more powerful way to drive commercial effectiveness than corporate-appeasing, logic.



There’s Weird And There’s Adelaide Toilet Weird …
June 27, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Australia, Comment, Culture

A few weeks ago I found myself in Adelaide.

I didn’t expect to be there, but I was there.

It had been over 20 years since I had last visited, but in that time, its ‘unique’ reputation had remained intact.

A city of churches.

A city of serial killers.

A city that had a timezone 20 years behind society.

OK, so the ’20 years behind’ is unfair … but that’s not from me, it’s what the rest of Australia used to say when I lived there and I’ve not heard anyone change their tune since.

In fact a Qantas steward once got fired for saying this when their plane landed there:

“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Adelaide. Please put your watches back 20 years”

Now you’d imagine Adelaide citizens would be up in arms with this sort of shit but they’re not.

The reason I was always told was because it means people stay away and they can enjoy their piece of paradise in peace.

And maybe that is exactly the reason.

But there may be another motivation … and that is the people of Adelaide are more ‘unique’ than anyone thought and just don’t want to draw attention to themselves.

What am I going on about?

This …

That photograph is from a bathroom inside the Adelaide airport.

I’ve spent a lot of my life in airports.

I’ve spent a lot of my life in toilets.

And I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.

Which brings me to my opinion on Adelaide and it’s cultural reputation outside of the city.

Because when you need a sign next to a urinal that states, DO NOT DRINK, that’s weird.

But when you need a sign next to a urinal that states DO NOT DRINK because it’s RECYCLED WATER – which suggests it would be perfectly acceptable to be drinking directly from a toilet if it wasn’t … that’s Adelaide weird.

No wonder I like this city.