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.



When Retail Goes Porn. And Management Go Stupid …

What were they thinking?

Were they thinking?

And then, to add insult to injury, they announce it’s 70% off.

The lack of self-awareness is amazing.

Nothing showed this more than the way so many companies talked about their approach to the recent festive holidays.

On Linkedin – which I appreciate is the opposite of professionalism – there were so many posts from senior members of companies going on about how they were giving their staff time off during the holidays, as if this was a treat because normally they expect their staff to pay the company to work 24/7.

I’ve said it before, but time off is not a gift it’s a right.

More than that, it’s proof a company cares about the health and well-being of their people.

Unless you’re giving weeks instead of day/s, then making a big deal of it is the total opposite of the hero-signalling they think they’re doing.

As is when they announce to great fanfare ‘unlimited time off’ … which I wrote about as an act of wanting to appear generous when it’s really about control, because as we all know, it’s a crock of shit.

If it was really unlimited, then you could never go to work and not get fired and we all know that’s not going to happen.

Sadly it seems a lot of organisations follow the Trump/Johnson school of leadership – all headlines and no thinking.

While that can work initially – mainly because it’s just an act of populism built around doing the opposite of whatever the previous governing body enforced that was unpopular – it soon gets found out because people realise the decisions are not made for what will make them feelvalued, but what the management think will make them look valued.

Of course you can’t please all people all the time … but honesty, transparency and not trying to take credit for something you’re supposed to do, goes a long way.

We all make mistakes, it just seems a lot of companies are making a lot at the same time and somehow reading that as endorsement rather than group think stupidity.



In The MetaVerse, One Person Is Outside Laughing At All Of Us …

OK, I should point out I actually think the Metaverse has incredible potential.

It could revolutionise education, medicine and ignite the creation of industries that don’t even exist yet. Which is why I am still utterly baffled why Zuckerberg thought the best way to sell the technology was by putting out that utterly shit video … where you saw him and his ‘mates’ not only do things that are all possible right now, but were worse in terms of quality, creativity and interactivity.

And then I saw this picture and everything became clear …

Maybe Zuck doesn’t give a damn about the Metaverse.

Maybe he doesn’t want to help humanity evolve and develop.

Maybe the only reason he’s doing it is for the same reason a lot of conmen do things …

Because when you can distract your target, you can rob them when they’re not looking.

Now before Mr Z’s lawyers try and sue me for every penny I’ve got for saying that, I would like to point out two things.

1. I said ‘maybe’ …

That means I am absolutely not suggesting Mr Zuckerberg is a conman or only doing Metaverse for conman purposes. I am only suggesting that could be possible, however unlikely that is. Similar to me saying I could be a catwalk model.

2. Be honest. That photo is very, very creepy.

Whoever allowed that photo to get out at Facebook … I mean Meta … was either an idiot or a hero. Because when I look at that photo, I can’t help but think of this ad … except with a totally different ending.

Rather than everyone being saved in the nick of time – thanks to the hero coming in at the last moment and destroying the screen that is hypnotising and blinding the audience so they follow the words of evil – no one comes to save them, so evil walks past all of his hypnotised and blinded victims, smiling to himself that’s he got them exactly where he wants them.



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.



Putting The Con In Icon …

I’ve talked a lot about how the industry loves to talk about innovation when what they actually mean is evolution.

Hell, sometimes it’s not even that … sometimes it’s just a new name for an old thought process or discipline that was expressed as part of what people always did rather than split out in an attempt to make more money or gain more influence.

I once said to the wonderful Martin Weigel that I am pretty certain marketing is the only industry that would make a paper plane and claim they invented flight.

Now that doesn’t mean people aren’t adding to what is being done … or bringing new thinking and craft to it … or finding new ways to incorporate it into work … but it does mean they’re trying to maybe ‘own’ too much of the narrative of the discipline. Suggesting they’re inventors when they’re actually craftspeople. Valuing ‘theory’ rather than actually making something truly interesting with it.

Now there’s many possible reasons for this.

+ We’re in marketing and so they’re marketing themselves.

+ Being a craftsperson has lost the value it deserves.

+ It’s cheaper to badge than to actually create.

+ People don’t know their history.

Now I’m sure I’m going to be accused of being a prick … an old, condescending prick. And maybe I am. But I am also not claiming I’ve invented anything and I’m just pointing out neither has many of the people who do.

And there’s nothing wrong with not inventing something … because doing your job really well is something worth celebrating, especially when you see what passes for ‘good’ in so much of what is put out these days.

But it appears the allure of pioneer is infectious these days.

Case in point is the talk around eco-systems, flywheels, multi-platform DTC/e-comm and the like. Yes, it’s amazing. Yes, it driving new ways for brands to behave and earn. Yes, technology has allowed this to be done in more powerful and profound ways. But in many cases, it’s not revolution, it’s not really even innovation … it’s evolution.

And why do I say that? Have a look at this.

That is from 1957.

NINETEEN FIFTY SEVEN.

It’s Walt Disney’s ecosystem/flywheel/multi-platform DTC, e-comm [without the e] for the Disney corporation.

The blueprint for how he would use creativity to fuel his business in ways where every division is helping another division.

And while modern expressions of this have evolved and added more nuance, it’s not miles off, which is why whether you like/hate/respect/loathe him or the Disney Company, that’s pretty progressive thinking.

Or it was in 1957. in 2021 maybe not so much.

[Though, being honest, it probably is – which is even more worrying]

And yet we read so much from people acting like Walt Disney … except they’re not building their own brand, they’re selling their concept to build your own brand.

As I said, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Fuck, there’s a lot of value and money in that.

It’s genuinely exciting when you see someone identify opportunities in old approaches and habits that millions have missed. And for that, you should absolutely be using it to build a platform for your future success, growth and change.

I am literally cheering from the sidelines. All I ask is you please don’t act like you have invented flight when you’ve actually made a more efficient and effective paper plane. Not because I’m a bitter bastard – OK, let’s not go there – but because the future of this industry requires bigger leaps not better wrapping paper and the more we manage up our abilities, the more we lower the reality of our potential.

Christ, that’s a heavy post for a Monday isn’t it.

Given I know what the rest of the week has in store, it gets worse. Eek.