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


When Hijacking Culture Is Copyright Theft In Disguise …

Love it or loathe it, but Wordle has captured the world’s attention. Whether it will continue to do that now the NYTimes has bought it, is anyones guess, but right now, it’s peak popularity.

Hell, even I love it and I HATE word games.

Crosswords? Hate.

Scrabble? Hate.

And yet whether it’s the last thing I do before I go to sleep or the first thing I do when I wake up, I’m playing the days challenge. And I’m brilliant at it. Hahaha.

Anyway, I was on Twitter when I recently saw this from Air New Zealand.

Look, I get it’s a competitive world.

I get brands are looking for anything that can help them stand out.

And I get ‘hijacking culture’ is a cheat way of doing this.

But there’s 2 reasons why this approach is tragic rather than magic.

First is it’s Air New Zealand.

Of all the airline brands out there, they are a pioneer. An innovator. A leader.

They’ve created, influenced and changed the airline industry in ways few have come close.

From being the first to make ‘in-flight safety videos’, entertainment to creating economy seats that turn into beds.

Ripping off Wordle doesn’t represent any of this.

If anything, it does the opposite.

But then, when I see the work they are putting out these days, maybe it all makes sense.

When a nation that prides itself as explorers and adventures has their National Airline promote their role in a post-covid world as being ‘we fly for you’ … you have to question if they realise what they’ve done or if they made a conscious effort to ditch the approach that made them great and forward thinking in favour of the sort of bland, contrived, unrealistic and meaningless twaddle of big corporation 90’s advertising.

Like this.

From 1991.

God I hope not. They are better than that and NZ needs them to be better than that.

Which leads to the other reason.

Hijacking culture.

What’s interesting is that so many brands do it.

As I said, I get why … but 99% of them have failed to understand how it really works and so we now live in a world where the approach is so common, it doesn’t surprise anyone.

If anything, it un-hijacks culture.

So how does it really work?

Well having worked with the brand and agency that arguably created the approach – or at least mastered it – the secret is to do something that adds to culture, not just steals from it.

Which means having an actual right to be there.

Then do something that opens things up, not just repeat what’s already happened.

Adding a point of view to the situation not just adding more noise and clutter to it.

Of course, even with all that, it still doesn’t mean it will work … but its definitely going to be better than the desperate amateur hour that so many brands favour.

Who think it makes them look cool but forgetting if you’re trying to be that, you’re definitely not ever going to be that.



With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies …

Way back in 2007, I wrote a post called, Should Ink Stink?

It was how Mont Blanc had gone into fragrance and I found the whole thing a bit bizarre.

Then in 2008 I wrote about how Ferrari had licensed their name to a bloody memory card … in some very loose nod to how fast the 4gb SD card could save and upload files.

You’d think things couldn’t get worse, but over the years we’ve seen more than a few candidates for the title of ‘what the fuck were they thinking’ but in 2021, we finally got a winner.

To be fair, the brand in question is old, so you could imagine the license owner thought they may as well say yes to anything if it will make them a few extra bob.

But – and it’s a big but – late last year they released a special edition ‘reunion’ of the brand, and the clamor to get access to it from people and press all around the world was immense … which makes the decision to lend their name to this product ‘extension’ even stranger.

What am I talking about?

This.

Yes, that is a Friends manicure set and carry case.

Why???

WHY???

Yes, the cast of Friends were young and beautiful … but I don’t know if anyone in the history of the show ever commented on their nails.

And why a carry case?

How many people use their manicure set so often, they need a case to transport it?

Hell, how many people need a new set of nail scissors and nail file anyway?

Hell, they even had to say ‘The Television Series’ on the package, because they knew no one would naturally associate the TELEVISION COMEDY WITH A MOBILE MANICURE SET.

Does it even have the Friends logo on the actual manicure case?

What if it doesn’t? What is the fucking point of it then?

Actually, what is the point of it whether it’s on or off.

Frankly, if someone pulled out a manicure suitcase I’d already be concerned.

If that suitcase then had the Friends logo on it, I’d be bloody petrified.

How much did this license cost?

How many products did they end up actually selling?

Who was behind this utter insanity?

The only good thing about it is that when I saw this product, I laughed more than I laughed at any episode of the last 2 seasons of the show.

The theme song sings the words, “I’ll be there for you”.

Well, if it means they’re there with a Friends manicure set in its own case, I’d rather you didn’t thank you very much.



How To Stop The Smallest Minds In The Room Create The Biggest Headaches …

I recently read an article in the Guardian about the launch of the X-Box.

Given the brand has been part of gaming culture for the past 20 years, it’s easy to forget what an achievement this has been for Microsoft.

Let’s remember back then, the brand was far more synonymous with office computer programs than gaming … so to come from such a negative space and place to become the powerhouse it is today, is nothing short of incredible.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing.

Sure, their cause was helped by SONY seemingly forgetting everything that had made the original PlayStation launch so successful … but even with that, Microsoft were still coming from pretty much a standing start.

It’s a great article that’s well worth the read, but there was one part that really stood out to me.

This:

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there …

Where someone chooses to ignore a statement of obviousness and instead, attempts to turn it around so you look like you’re making a potentially dangerous assumption.

Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t blindly assume common sense is common sense, and – without doubt – there’s been a lot of unsubstantiated assumptions that have ended up being the backbone of ideas and campaigns all around the World, but this sort of behaviour is nothing but an act of petty cowardice.

However, let’s assume for a moment the person who wanted proof that people did expect DVD quality to be better than the crunched-up shit that was on screen, was right.

Let’s assume that we didn’t know that DVD brands had been communicating ‘improved image quality’ to the general public for years.

Even if all that was true, the real issue was still not being addressed.

And that is facts doesn’t mean standards.

So rather than fall into a ‘fact inflation fight’ that no one was going to come out of well – even though I get why they were triggered – they should have asked Mr Petty if the image on the screen reflected the quality of product and performance he – and the company – wanted to globally be associated with?

Quickly followed up by enquiring whether Microsoft had the technology to dramatically improve the current standard of performance?

By doing this, they not only side-step the pointless barrier being placed in front of them and refocused the conversation to values, standards and ambition.

I’ve seen this situation happen so many times.

Where political point scoring derails ambition, potential and standards.

Where the company starts focusing on the ‘minimum viable product’ rather than what could drive the brands perception.

And while these situations have also seen me lose my shit – A LOT – I always remember my Dad telling me the real way to win these sorts of arguments, which is to elevate the discussion to reputational standards not down to petty point scoring.

He was brilliant at it.

Me? I’m still working on it.



Last Week Of 2021 …

OK, so the heading on this post is decidedly fake news … but you will be ecstatic to know it is the last week of this blog for 2022.

Better yet, because NZ has quite long Christmas holidays, it will be the last post until Jan 31st – albeit with a post on Jan 16th to commemorate 23 years since my Dad passed away.

So after this week, you get about 6 weeks of blog post freedom.

Talk about ending 2021 and starting 2022 on a high …

I know, you’re welcome.

But it’s not all good news as you still have to get through this week of blog posts PLUS they’re going to be full of sentimentality, so you’ll probably need 6 weeks to recover from them.

That said, I’m not a total beast, so I’ll gently throw you in to the big, pile of steaming vomit and because of that, today’s post is about this …

Yep, Norton – the anti-virus people – sent me an email about their new logo.

Their new logo that looks almost identical to their old logo, except …

1. Replacing N with n.

2. Using a solid ‘tick’, instead of the weird graphic one.

3. Changing the orange ring, to a yellow one.

4. All placed on a white background instead of a black one.

And while having four differences could indicate some big changes, this doesn’t.

On face value, people would probably not notice any change at all … which is maybe why Norton – I mean, Norton – sent the email out.

So we’d know, because otherwise we wouldn’t know.

Which makes you ask why do the name change in the first place … or why send an email about it to people who literally don’t give a shit.

I mean, what do they expect me to do?

Suddenly buy their entire suite of anti-virus products?
Or try and buy a t-shirt with their new logo emblazoned on the front of it?
Or possible just buy them as Christmas presents for friends and family?

I’m happy Norton are happy with their non-change, logo change.

I’m chuffed they still take some pride in their appearance after all this time.

I’m thrilled they don’t mind paying a couple of mill for minute changes.

I’m ecstatic they’re so easily pleased and must be a dream to buy presents for.
[read: $10 gift voucher from the local hardware shop].

But frankly, I buy their software to stop me getting this sort of corporate virus email, so please Norton, pull yourself together and don’t bother me with this sort of rubbish again.

Thanks.



Two Signs The World Was Messed Up Before Covid …

A while back I wrote about how McKinsey advised a client that the best way to boost their sales was to incentivise their distribution network.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the client I was referring to wasn’t the infamous Sackler family – creators of Oxycontin – and the result of this decision wouldn’t be that tens of thousands more people would end up becoming addicted or die from what has been labelled as one of the most deadly over-the-counter drugs ever produced.

But I recently saw something that could be just as evil.

Maybe not so directly dangerous, but messed up all the same.

This …

What the absolute fuck?!

It’s bad enough someone decided to use Paw Patrol to sell some shitty kids drinks … but to then make that drink come in a bottle that has been purposefully packaged to resemble a champagne bottle is just asking for trouble.

How did this get through?

I mean, isn’t this just a modern version of candy cigarettes?

No doubt whoever is behind this horrible use of exploitation and manipulation is being watched with admiring eyes over at McKinsey right now.

But if you think that was bad, there’s worse.

Something that has confused me to the point where it feels my brain may explode.

Sure it doesn’t involve addiction or death – at least not directly.

And sure, it doesn’t revolve around making kids get comfortable with iconography that in later life may have negative affects on their health and wellbeing.

But at the same time, it’s even more messed up than all that.

Something that makes you question that values and tastes of all of humanity.

Here we go …

What the hell?

I mean seriously, what the hell!!!

No doubt Vaynerchuk will now be releasing copious amounts of video footage of him telling artists how they need to follow his ‘system’ to earn ludicrous amounts of cash for their work.

Who would pay this?

Worse, who would pay this for an NFT of his doodle?

And why? Why would anyone think this is a good idea.

Hmmmmmn, unless the person was Vaynerchuk in an act of PR gaining?

Now I’ve said it, you can picture it can’t you.

To assume any other reason is basically an admission we’re in end of days.

So while I apologise for ruining your week from the first day, please remember – I didn’t come up with this crap, I only write it.