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


Why People Who Believe In The Metaverse, Need To Be Dire Straits Fans …

After the amazing drama of yesterday, I need to calm things down.

Not for you, but for me … because my heart can’t take nerves like that.

And yet it’s going to have to do just that in a little over a week.

Bloody hell.

So to slow things down, let me take you back in time …

Back in 1985, the band Dire Straits launched a song called Money For Nothing.

It became famous for a whole host of reasons.

It was the first song of theirs that actually sounded slightly modern.

It had ‘modern’ day references in the lyrics.

It had Sting – from The Police – singing on it.

It had this video …

Did you watch it?

You didn’t did you?

You lazy bastards …

Well, to get back to the point of this post, here’s a screen grab from it …

Now while that image may not strike you as cutting edge, back in 1985, it was revolutionary.

Digital characters living in a digital world, where their universe was a blend of normality and possibility.

Hang on, does that sound like something else?

Something that a huge amount of the tech and marketing industry have been wetting their pants over?

Something that sounds suspiciously close to this …

Did you watch this?

You didn’t did you?

You über-lazy assholes …

Well, to get back to the point of this post, here’s a screen grab from it …

Yep.

Yep it does.

A music video from 1985 by the most snooze-rock band ever formed, not only communicated the metaverse, it did it in a style pretty close to what Facebook and every other brand have shown as ‘the standard’.

How terrifyingly embarrassing is that?

All these hip, technologists, futurists and strategists trying to look like they’re on the edge of culture creation and all the bollocks they’re banging on about was expressed by bloody Dire Straits 37 years earlier.

THIRTY SEVEN YEARS.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

I mean … when that Zuck video first broke, I wrote a post about how it was missing the point by showing things we can already do, but now – thanks to errrrrm, Dire Straits, I realise it was even worse than I imagined.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe technology and – the metaverse, even though what is being celebrated as it, isn’t what it is – will have the possibility to make a huge, positive difference to humanity. Eventually.

But making – and lauding – a film and idea that looks awfully similar to a bloody 1985 music video isn’t doing them any favours. If anything, it shows how much of this industry is filled with individuals who crave attention or adoration or just desperately seek relevance.

Not helped when you learn that, unsurprisingly, the main reason Zuck is so into the Metaverse is not for changing the world but upping his bank account.

Given how much Facebook tried to label Apple as ‘anti-business’ for the amount they charged creators and partners – which is a lot less than 47.5% – it makes the whole Meta situation even more laughable.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the new is often misunderstood.

And new technology should not be judged by the standards of established technology.

But when the ‘icons and industry leaders’ stand on soapboxes and stages to promote the future in a similar way that Dire Straits brought to the World almost 4 decades ago … it’s only fair to question if these people care about the future or simply their own career image.

Even though, sadly, we keep seeing hyping can get better career growth, than grafting.

If the Metaverse could fix that, then maybe we’d all sign up.

Then again …



Build A Cliche, Not A Life …

I recently had to go to a DIY centre.

On a Sunday.

For anyone who knows me, this is literally my idea of hell.

Fortunately I asked Jill to go inside instead of me to avoid having to kill myself.

I know that sounds like a shitty thing to do, but she LOVES DIY – and is amazing at it – so it was really a gift.

Anyway …

While I was waiting in the carpark, I saw their sign. This was it …

I don’t know about you. but when I looked at it, I didn’t notice the 15% off price guarantee, I noticed they had designed it to look like it had been done by hand.

Oh I get it, DIY store = DIY sign.

But …

Apart from this falling into the ‘cheeky Chappy’ tone that Uncommon destroyed with their [still] best work for B&Q, I can’t help thinking that if anywhere should have perfect signage and store interiors, it’s a DIY retailer.

Sure, there’s something ‘human’ about the imperfection of creation, but faking it doesn’t make me connect to the brand more, it makes me look at them and wonder what the fuck they were thinking.

Yes, it’s a minute thing.

Yes, Mitre 10 are pretty good.

But – as I am seeing a lot in NZ right now – this obsession with reinforcing stereotypes isn’t actually removing barriers for people to feel they can step in and step up with the ambitions or aspirations they have for their life … it’s keeping them, and treating them, like nothing ever changes.

NZ is an amazing place and has so many things the rest of the world could/should learn from … and we genuinely are grateful for the wonderful opportunity the people here have given us to live here – but for a nation that needs ambition and entrepreneurship to maintain a positive future, it’s amazing how little of that spirit is championed or celebrated by society, government and brands.

And while many will claim it’s because of the humble spirit of this great nation, it’s probably – and terrifyingly – because of this.



Why Being Dangerous Is A Business Strategy …

There’s a brilliant documentary on the band The KLF.

For those who don’t know who they are/were, they’re a band formed in the late 80’s who wrote some of the early 90’s biggest selling singles.

Except, if truth be told, The KLF were more artists than musicians.

I don’t mean that in terms of them having many different business interests …I mean it in terms of them expressing their creativity in ever-more dramatic, provocative and intriguing ways.

From burning a million pounds to sampling without permission to firing a machine gun full of blanks at an audience live on television to delisting every song they ever made … and a whole lot in-between.

It’s a truly fascinating documentary, where you realise that everything they did – while not planned – was definitely deliberate.

But there’s one quote about them that stood out for me.

Not just because it captured who they were, but because it revealed what is missing for me in so much of the work the industry is producing.

I love that.

I love it so much.

But sadly, many in my discipline of strategy – and all the self-proclaimed marketing gurus – have killed that in the quest to flatter their own ego.

And it gets worse.

No, I’m not talking about the clients who value function, logic and attribution over shaping or changing cultures opinion, attitudes and feelings – though I could definitely talk about that – but the agency creative departments filled with people who want to make ads rather than use creativity to push boundaries.

The KLF may have been seen by the industry as anarchists … but for a band who had a few – albeit massive – hits in the 90’s, their work still is remembered, stands up to scrutiny and can be directly associated with cultural change which is more than pretty much anything our industry, or most industries for that matter, produces these days.

Of course, given the untold billions brands spend to have culture know them, value them and want them … this is pretty ironic.

Oh I get these brands still make a ton of money.

More than even The KLF could burn.

But this isn’t about distribution, habit or media spent, but influence, change and ambition.

This doesn’t mean the talent isn’t there to make something like this happen.

It is.

But it means nothing if the role it’s used for is to give clients what they want rather than what culture can never forget.




How To Bite The Hand That Feeds You …

The management team at Metallica asked me a while back if I’d give a presentation to a bunch of music execs about ‘artist strategy’.

They said they wanted me to explain how I work with them, how I approach my job and what some of the work we have done together has manifested itself into.

So I pulled a presentation together, took them through it – got their nods of approval – and prepared for the talk.

When the time came, I found myself on zoom at 12am Auckland time … presenting to 200 odd record/band executives in London, NY and Nashville.

Despite looking so tired I probably resembled a Zombie, all went very well and I was happy to answer questions.

One of the people in attendance asked how much ‘power’ I have over the artists actions and decisions.

Despite the reality being absolute zero – and, nor should I have any – I replied that I had a hidden slide that could best explain my influence, to which I showed them this …

At least I found it funny.

And – to be fair to me – it’s a fair reflection of the actual power I have over the band.

Though I appreciate I probably have just sent myself to the ‘where are they now’ dungeon … even though I’m going to try and justify it by saying nothing is more rock n’ roll that smashing up your career. Ahem.

Thank you Q and M for not just putting up with me, but still involving me in this stuff.

My wife has ‘had words’ with me regarding my professionalism. Ahem.



Confidence Is Spelt Beverley …

There’s a lot of talk about confidence.

People who have it.
People who think they have it.
People who don’t have it… but think they do.

The reality is confidence ends up being defined in two parts … the person who thinks they have it and the person judging them if they do.

And while there is always that risk that someone could come over as arrogant, there is something glorious when you watch someone with it in full swing.

Someone who you know has sweated for their craft and skill.
Who has the control and power to achieve at a level few will ever reach.
An individual who never phones it in, even if they could and still be exceptional.

I recently saw a video of the singer Beverley Knight perform the Stones classic, Satisfaction.

It is breathtaking.

Truly breathtaking.

The first time I watched it, I actually cried – it’s that powerful and joyous at the same time.

And while Jeff Goldblum is losing his mind as he watches her – which is beautiful to watch – you know she knows exactly what she’s doing … exactly how she’s impressing and exactly where and when she is showing off.

But it’s not an ego-play … this is simply someone who cares about giving their all. That believes they have a responsibility to themselves to never phone it in. Who wants to show just how good she is … and that is exactly how it comes over.

She’s fierce, audacious and talented as hell … backed by a band who create a platform for her that is more like a catwalk of sonic celebration.

Confidence can be misused.
Confidence can be delusional.
But when it’s real, justified and powerful … you just have to sit back and enjoy it, because it’s something special indeed.

Watch this.

More inspirational news …

I go on my first business trip in 2 years so there’s no more blog posts THIS WHOLE WEEK.

It’s a weird feeling knowing I’m getting back on a plane for work. I used to fly over hundred times a year for pretty much the last 20 years, and yet this 2 year gap has left me feeling very comfortable at home. Maybe that’s more because it represented ‘safety’ in a COVID world but the idea of starting again has really conflicted me. Not for you though … you get 4 days of peace … so have fun and see you next Monday.