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

Never Bet Against An Only Child …
November 6, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Cunning, Freddie, Music, My Childhood, Queen

As some of you know, I tried to buy Freddie Mercury’s vintage Tiffany’s moustache comb at the recent Sotherby’s auction.

I really thought I had a chance …

He apparently bought it for £90 and the estimate was £600 … so I went in with what I would consider an obscene amount of cash.

Now of course, I appreciate there is a financial crisis going on, so doing anything like this is bordering on vulgarity.

However in my defence, I have been a lifelong fan of Queen [even though I thought the music they made post 1984 was almost universally pants] so this was never about making an ‘investment’, and more about feeling close to someone who has had such an impact on my life.

That said, when I saw this photo in The Guardian in the lead-up to the auction, I was shocked at how small the comb actually was.

I don’t know why … after all, it’s a bloody moustache comb and they hardly scream MASSIVE … and yet I was convinced it would be at least the size of a normal comb rather than the sort of thing you’d find in a Christmas Cracker.

But despite that, I pressed on and for a few days … I was leading the pack.

Oh I was so excited.

I was going to get it and then have it mounted in a beautiful, ornate frame and hang it up at home … forever smiling every time I passed it.

And I would have, had my bid not got smashed to smithereens by some lunatic who bid over £150,000. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY GRAND!!!

And it is here, my only child spirit came to the fore.

You see, only children are not good at not getting what they want.

They may have to wait.
They may have to sacrifice other things.
But they will do their fucking damnest to get it.

Which is why the day I realised that to win the item, I would have to lose my house, my car, my savings and my marriage … I decided to take another tack.

Rather than cry at what I couldn’t have, I decided to spend hours on the internet, scouring antiques shops all around the world for an identical one.

And guess what … I found one.

In Cleveland, Ohio.

It’s that one in the photo above and the one below.

OK, it’s not Freddie’s … but it was 365+ times cheaper than his and I love it … hence the plaque I had made for it.

Yes, I know it’s still utterly ridiculous, but it’s not as ridiculous as Tiffany’s not releasing them again and making a fortune from idiots like me.

Which means – based on Girl Maths [which was Rob maths before Girl Maths was even a thing] – I’m a financial whizkid.

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Mission Implausible: Creative Easter Eggs …

For a lot of people, creativity is just fuck about until something interesting comes along.

And for some, that’s exactly how they approach it.

But for others, creativity is also about taking on challenges.

Three years ago I wrote how the inspiration behind The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’ was because they wanted to see if they could write a compelling song that had no chorus.

[Having resisted the post, it’s quite good … and not just because of the comments. For once]

It’s similar to Brian May’s inspiration behind We Will Rock You … which was to create a song where the audience didn’t just participate, but were integral to the rhythm.

Or when SONOS created their incredible logo that was designed to show moving sound waves, despite being a static image.

But then we shouldn’t be surprised because all creativity solves some sort of problem … whether personal or commercial.

The reason I say this is because I recently heard a story behind the theme tune of Mission Impossible.

We all know how it goes, but just in case you’ve forgotten – or are an idiot – it’s this …

As movie tunes go, it’s one of the most memorable.

And while I assume memorability is an important element in movie recognition, it’s the story behind the tune that is amazing.

Because the main element of the music – 2 long notes, followed by 2 short notes – are actually the morse code for the letters M and I.

How amazing is that?

Obviously it wasn’t by chance … composer, ‘Lalo’ Schifrin saw his idea as something both creatively inspiring and challenging, which resulted in something pretty iconic.

And while I love that it celebrates the intelligence of creativity – which is something too often dismissed – I also love that this ‘easter egg’ keeps this piece of music alive in culture.

Now I appreciate some of you – if I still allowed comments – would be throwing shit at me because ‘news’ has been known for years.

But in my defence, I would like to point out 2 things.

1. This blog has never been topical and you know it.

2. At least I’m not as bad as people who don’t know but have worked on the movie for years.

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Some Names Are Too Perfect …

Welcome back.

Hope you didn’t vomit too much with all the chocolate eating.

I didn’t eat any.

No seriously.

I fell ill on the Thursday with a virus and basically spent all the time in bed.

No food. Just feeling sorry for myself.

But of course I felt better just in time to come back to work. Bloody karma.

So with that, shall we get on with things …

Over the years I’ve written about the hilarity of naming strategies.

Specifically those from consultancies who sell their process as a proprietary system and then talk about how they start with 10,000 possibilities and then use their filtering algorithm to whittle it down to 3 bland or meaningless options.

Except they don’t say that last bit, obviously.

I still remember working with a client who had paid for this ‘expertise’ only to end up with a name recommendation that [1] wasn’t actually a word and [2] sounded like a cheap water brand than an international digital services company.

This is also the company that tried to charge the client for a ‘signage’ strategy.

By that, I mean they wanted to be paid to help the client know where their signage should placed on their building to achieve maximum effectiveness.

I almost caused World War 3 when I said,

“In my experience, placing signage outside – at the top of the building – works best”

Anyway, the reason I’m saying this is Briar, one of my colleagues came to work with a new set of glasses recently and the company behind them had the best name ever …

How brilliant is that?

Of course it’s provocative … risqué … challenging … but it’s also hilarious, fun and memorable.

The thing is, I doubt most of the consultancy naming processes would even come up with it as an option to dismiss.

In addition, Happy To Sit On Your Face put their glasses in a custom made case that folds flat. This might not sound much, but it means you don’t end up with your drawer or bag filled with a bulky, odd-shaped lump.

While I appreciate the name of this brand may not travel easily … it’s also a brand name that has made glasses memorable and if you can do that, then you are already doing better than 95% of brands.

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Marketing Is Less About Promoting Your Truth, But Hiding Your Flaws …


The chocolate you only see – and buy – at airports.

The chunky triangular pieces that are guaranteed to give you lock jaw.

And while you may think nothing has changed with that chocolate for 10,000 years, a lot has.

Not in taste.

Not in ingredients.

But definitely in reputation.

You see in 2016, the Swiss chocolate brand quietly increased the gaps between the pieces so they could use less chocolate and maintain their price.

On one hand, that’s a smart way to do it.

However on the other, by not telling anyone that’s how they were doing it, left Toblerone’s owners – Mondelez – look like they were trying to pull a fast one.

A year later, Mondelēz went a step further and reduced the number of triangular peaks in each pack from 15 to 11.

But that’s not what this post is about …

You see, Mondelez shifted a large amount of Toblerone’s production outside of Switzerland.

However, in 2017, the Swiss Government passed legislation that restricts use of Swiss provenance. To be able to market yourself as ‘made in Switzerland’, 80% of raw ingredients must be sourced from the country and the majority of processing take place there.

For milk and milk-based products – ie: Toblerone – the required quota is 100%, with exceptions for ingredients that cannot be sourced in Switzerland, like cocoa. Apparently products branded as ‘made in Switzerland’ can command a 20% premium compared to other comparable goods from other countries … with this rising up to 50% for luxury items.

Given the extortionate prices of all things Swiss, none of this is a surprise.

Anyway, because Toblerlone no longer meets the criteria to use Swiss iconography in its marketing, they have to replace the image of the Matterhorn mountain that has been a mainstay of their packaging for over 100 years.

The Matterhorn was used because of it’s near symmetrical pyramidal peak that mirrors the shape of the almond-and-honey-laced chocolate bar.

Anyway, in a perfect example of diversion marketing justification, just take a read of what an Mondelez say’s to explain this change …

I mean, I know they’re not wrong … but their ability to ignore the reason WHY they are changing the logo is the sort of corporate-toady that I both admire and loathe in equal measure.

Admire … because the willpower needed to be able to publicly sell-out your own morals and standards for the good of your employer is almost impossible to fathom.

Loathe … for exactly the same reason.

I have no problem Toblerone are producing their product outside of Switzerland … but I have a lot of problems with them trying to hide that fact under the guise of some packaging redesign.

But then that’s modern marketing these days.

Rather than opening up opportunities for more people to consider buying you, now it is increasingly about hiding the reasons people might not.

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Is There Anything As Fast As Someone On LinkedIn Declaring Their Expertise On Their Ability To Monetise, Explain And Define An Emerging Technology Despite Them Never Having Worked In Tech Or Done Something That Defined Any Tech?

I’m all for people expressing their opinion.

I’m all for people being excited about things they see as having great possibilities.

I’m all for people trying to find new ways to evolve, grow and make money.

But come on …

It’s getting to the point where Linkedin should be renamed Disneyland given how much fiction and fantasy are going on.

What’s worse is among all the ‘consultants’ and ‘new business development people’ claiming expertise, are a bunch of strategists.

Now I know as a discipline we think we have the answer to everything … but we don’t.

Fuck, even the people who are developing the technology, don’t.

But what bothers me is the reason behind why so many people are claiming expertise.

OK, so I know some have a real understanding of the technology and its possible implications. And in that, I include certain strategists – we all know who those brilliant people are.

And I also appreciate some mistakenly believe that because they’ve used ChatGPT, they think they now know everything about the technology.

But others – and this is potentially the majority of them – are doing it because they see it as a chance to personally gain from it.

In essence, their perspective is that as long as a subject matter is highly topical and others – especially companies – don’t know about it, then they can profit from it because they can say anything because no one will know enough to tell them they’re wrong.

You can tell who this group are because they’re the one’s who are either the loudest to declare their knowledge or the first to say they had identified the trend … despite never doing anything with their ‘expertise’ or because of their ‘vision’.

Putting aside how this sort of behaviour can damage the reputation of real experts, disciplines and entire industries … the issue I have is how it is often justified as hustle culture.

I’ve written my issue with hustle culture in the past, but the fact is, this isn’t hustling … it’s grifting and the impact of it is not just damaging people and companies, but it killing the potential of technology before it has a chance to find it’s real possibility.

I appreciate this is quite a heavy post from what was just a piss-take image of Homer … but the best comedy is always based on a truth we often like to deny.

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