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

The Taste Of Bullshit …

I’ve written a ton about brand purpose over the years.

Not as viciously as my beloved Martin Weigel. But close.

It’s not that I am against brand purpose, It’s when it’s used as a marketing tool and ‘updated’ to whatever trend is currently popular that my hate boils over.

It’s why I have always advocated for belief rather than purpose.

Belief is demonstrated by what and how you do things, not what and how you say things.

Or give things away.

Belief drives change. Purpose hopes for it.

Which is probably why so many brands prefer purpose.

The ability to look like you care without always having to demonstrate it.

Take this from Unilever food brand, Knorr …

“Our purpose is to reinvent food for humanity by being healthier for both people and the land. 
 Knorr brings the power of flavour to good food to 
overcome barriers that stop us from eating for good”

Sounds good doesn’t it.

Sounds purposeful.

But for those who are not sure what Knorr make, let me enlighten you …

Yeah, when I think of flavour and good food – not to mention being good for humanity and the land – the first thing I think of is cheddar broccoli rice sides.

But maybe I’m wrong, how do you cook these things that help us ‘eat for good’?

Here’s the instructions …

Microwave directions: In 2-quart microwave-safe bowl, combine 2-1/4 cups water, 1 tbsp. margarine(optional) and contents of package. Microwave uncovered at high about 12 minutes* or until rice is tender, stirring once halfway through. Stir and serve.

Yep, thought so. Utter rubbish.

The reason I am writing this is because I recently saw a post from an ice-cream brand.

Have a look at this …

While those words sounds trite, purpose-for-marketing … food and culture are incredibly entwined and so there is a real chance it may be a badly worded version of what they really believe and do.

Let’s look at their website.

For those too lazy, here is a screenshot of their flavours …

Hmmmmn … doesn’t seem too much about people, places or cultures does it?

There’s a lot about ingredients.

Some even seem interesting. But absolutely no mention of people, places or cultures.

But is that surprising when it’s so obviously an absolute load of purpose-washing?

And what a missed opportunity.

They could truly make that into something that could change something.

Educate, unite, challenge, inform … tell the stories of the people, places and cultures that were the inspiration of those flavours through the flavours.

Ben and Jerry’s meets Tony Chocolonely.

And what makes it worse is their intentions sound honourable. They’re already a B-Corp certified business, choose ingredients that are direct-trade and believe in diversity.

All great and important things except nothing to do with what they claim they do on their packaging.

Many years ago, at Wieden, we were invited to pitch for an ice-cream brand.

We said yes because hey, it’s ice cream.

Anyway, when we got the brief, it read like a purpose fluffer.

My god, it was literally dripping in claims and terminology that not only had nothing to do with their category, but had nothing to do with any of their actions, behaviours or products.

We spoke to them about looking at ice cream another way.

If they had to have a ‘purpose’, make that purpose about what ice cream is supposed to be.

Fun and tasty.

Not deeper meaning. Just that.

And then prove it in the product, not just the experience.

You may think that is overly simplistic, but by then the entire category had gone purpose insane and no one was actually owning what they were and what people actually wanted.

Put it this way, it had gone a looooooong way from the days where BBH had brilliantly changed the way people looked at ice cream and did it in a way that was sexy, powerful and based on a real truth. [A campaign so good that is was spoofed brilliantly by Fosters Lager]

Anyway, for us, the way we could get back to what ice cream was but in a way that proved the fun was down to flavours … so unlike Jeni’s ice creams, we actually went out and talked to all manner of people about their weird tastes. Things they love others think are a bit mental. Things that make them deliriously happy for whatever reason or whatever duration. Because we saw an opportunity for the client to be more like a taste and colour experiment lab than a manufacturer of everyday ice-creams and flavours with an unbelievable purpose attached.

So we worked it all up and I remember it for 2 main reasons.

+ We used a picture of a cat in the presentation with an inverted cross on its forehead … which is still my favourite mad presentation image ever used. And I’ve used a lot.

+ When the client wanted us to justify our idea, we simply showed this …

It may not be the deepest reason you’ve ever read.

It may not even be the most exciting.

But it was definitely more believable than all the shit they were saying.

And with the flavour combinations we had and how it all came together with the creative work – which had some weird ice cream flavour meme generator at the heart of it … generating all manner of taste sensation madness out into the internet … it was something that not only would help them differentiate from the competition, but have a place and role in culture.

They hated it.

Instead they went with some bollocks about ice cream being ‘a gesture of love for those who are not rich’.

No, I’m not joking.

Which may also explain why they … Haagan Daaz and Jeni’s talk a lot about their purpose in society but are – with the possible exception of Jeni’s – increasingly irrelevant ice creams brands whereas that old, dumb favourite, Ben And Jerry’s, still has some sort of position in culture, because despite selling out to the death star Unilever, they try to do shit rather than just say it.

Emphasis increasingly on try.

But even with that, the reality is – as is the real test of any brand that claims to have purpose – they show what they believe through every aspect of what they do, even when it’s inconvenient, rather than market what they claim their purpose is, only when it suits them.

Enjoy your day. Be careful you don’t eat any bullshit.

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Uber Eats … Small Business.


The unicorn.

The Silicon Valley dream.

The blueprint for disruptor business.

That is if you turn a blind eye to all the shady shit they have done.

But it’s fair to say, since they got rid of Travis – the founder – and replaced him with Dara, as CEO, things have got a lot better for the delivery company.

Oh, I know they see themselves as pioneers of urban mobility, but then WeWork saw themselves as a tech company and all they really did was lease office space.

That said, Uber have a much more sustainable model than WeWork.

People need to get places and people want food delivered – and boy, are Uber exploiting that.

Especially the latter.

Oh don’t get me wrong … I find it super useful, but when you look into how they charge, you realise they’re eating everyone’s lunch while you’re paying for it.

Stuff, a NZ media outlet, recently did a study on the premium charged by Uber vs going to the restaurant direct.

Now you would expect to pay more having an item delivered – but some of these percentages are massive. Up to 30% more. But then, when you see how much Uber charge them to just be on their site – ignoring the fact that without them, they wouldn’t even have a business – it starts to make sense.

Mind you, when you then see all the other ways Uber profit from delivering your burger and chips – as stated on their website – it starts to leave the nastiest taste in your mouth.

Delivery Fee: The delivery fee varies based on things like your location, the merchant you’re ordering from, and the availability of delivery people. The delivery fee is displayed at the top of the merchant’s menu.

Service fee: This fee is 10% of your order value, with a minimum of $1 and a maximum of $4. If a promotion or discount applies to your order, the service fee will be calculated based on your order value either before or after the promotion or discount is applied, depending on the type of promotion or discount. The service fee will be shown to you at checkout before you place your order.

Wrong delivery address fee (when included): This fee is charged when the address is changed after the order has been placed

Busy area fee (when included): In times of high demand – such as during bad weather or peak times, you may be asked to pay the busy area fee to your restaurant when you place an order. This fee is designed to keep the Uber Eats experience reliable and to help ensure you have a wide selection of your favourite local restaurants and stores.

Priority fee (when selected): Choose to opt-in to have your order delivered directly to you. This option means if the delivery person is dropping off more than one order, yours will be the first delivered.

Now of course Uber aren’t the only ones doing this, but maybe they’re the only ones who don’t give a shit. No doubt they’ll say they are simply an intermediary and cannot be held responsible for the wellbeing and representation of the restaurants they work with – a similar argument to why they didn’t want to be held responsible for employee benefits for their Uber drivers – but when you see a photo like this from them …

… you have to wonder if they care about the wellbeing of the restaurants they deal with.

Or just plain standards.

Yes, I appreciate this will be programatic output.

Yes, I appreciate you get a lot of food from Sun Tasty BBQ.

But for a brand spending untold millions on celebs to promote their brand, it seems when it comes to promoting the actual businesses who they rely on for a business – and the business rely on them for customers – it appears they don’t give a shit.

Which, as a friend of mine recently told me, is the sort of behaviour you would expect from a pyramid scheme or religious cult rather than a food delivery service.

Or as another mate sai …

“Watch out for those who don’t care about the people they work with”.

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A Trifle Untrifle …
August 2, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Food, Immaturity

I admit I have terrible taste.

I don’t mean in fashion or music, I mean in food.

The food I like is the food foodie people, hate.

It’s so bad, that on the occasions I get to fly business class, I ask for an economy meal. That is unless it’s the Chicken Satay on Singapore Airlines, then I will definitely have that.


Oh I know …

Which is why I’m about to hit peak ‘first world problems’ with this post.

A few weeks ago I found myself in Melbourne.

I’d just enjoyed an ENOURMOUS Chicken Kiev – or, as it should be known, a Chicken Kyiv – when they offered me the dessert menu.

Among all the poncey, fancy stuff was a trifle.


Trifles for me were a childhood party staple.

Strawberry Jelly. Custard. Sponge Fingers. Cream.

When you served it, it would make a sound like a Wellington Boot being pulled out the mud. It was glorious, gratuitous splodge and I bloody loved it.

So of course I ordered it and waited with glee.

My first clue should have been the dish it was served in.

It was fancy as fuck.

It’s the one at the top of this page.

My second clue was that it looked like a complete trifle rather than the road accident the typical served trifle resembled.

But if that didn’t get me, the taste did.

Instead of being transported to my childhood, I was taken to a place I didn’t belong.

Refined tastes of ingredients that don’t ever belong in a trifle.

Rose water jelly.

And don’t even get me started on the custard.

More insipid than a Tory councillor at election time.

The whole experience was this blend of bland and sour … literally ruining trifles and my childhood for ever.

I’m sure people with a evolved palette would love it.

However for people from Nottingham … it was edible violence.

But then, I do love Angel Delight, butterscotch flavour and Viennetta.

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Creativity Creates Value …

A few weeks ago I was asked to talk to a board of directors about creativity in business. Specifically, how they could encourage more of it.

I showed them this:

I had seen this image on Twitter and fell in love with it.

Yes, it’s a small thing, but it’s an important one.

Alright … before I go over the top, I do appreciate it’s simply a napkin holder with some words printed on it and there’s millions of companies that offer that.

But instead of just putting their company name on it – or NAPKINS in big letters – someone at this shop saw the opportunity to use them to add charm and value to their brand and product.

Hell, I’ve seen 3 minute TV commercials that can’t achieve that.

And all it took was 4 words.

Four words to turn a lowly napkin into a Donut Evidence Removal Kit. A Donut Evidence Removal Kit that celebrates the deliciousness of their food. That acknowledges what you’ve just eaten is definitely on the naughty side of indulgence.



And yet it all comes together to convey a ridiculous amount of cheeky charm for a shop that, whatever way you look at it, simply sells fried dough.

So don’t tell me creativity doesn’t add value or drive business.

It can make more of a claim for effectiveness than logic ever will.

Design Changes Possibilities …

Yesterday I wrote about laziness in retail, well today I’m going to write about when you care deeply about it.

Have a look at this packaging:

Maybe it’s because I’m half Italian.

Maybe it’s because pasta is my undisputed favourite food.

Maybe it’s because the brand uses wheat from the region of Italy my family is from.

But how utterly glorious is it?!

It does everything packaging should do …

It is distinctive without trying too hard.

It shows the quality of the product inside.

It feels premium without being pretentious and charming without being childish.

It is a bloody masterpiece.

I love that because the pasta shape is an integral part of the packaging design, it allows the overall look to be clean while still being informative.

What’s even better is that while it started out as a project by Russian designer, Nikita Konkin … it ended up being turned into a real brand by German company, Greenomic Delikatessen, who bought the idea of Nikita.

Or said another way …

Creativity turned an everyday product into something with a highly desirable and distinctive commercial value.

Isn’t it funny how all those marketing training programs being flogged left, right and centre never talk about this sort of thing. Instead it’s all dot-to-dot processes to build identikit branded assets, eco-systems and strategy frameworks.

But then this also shows the difference between design and adland.

Designers identify real problems and look for ways to solve them with clarity, simplicity and distinctiveness. Whereas too many in adland choose what problem that want to solve and then add all manner of complexity to the solution in a bid to look like they’re fucking geniuses or to try and justify the ever decreasing fee the procurement department is forcing on them.

Remember Peggy?

The ‘innovation’ JWT Australia claimed ‘would allow their client to empower people to maximise their day through weather aggregation technology’. What that bullshit translated to was a ‘scam product and app’ that would tell you if it was going to rain so you’d know if you should hang your clothes out to dry

Yep, forget weather apps.


JWT was going to revolutionise the ‘washing line process’.

By making it longer, shitter and more expensive.


Unsurprisingly nothing happened with it because it was utter bollocks whereas everything happened for Nikita because he actually saw something that had real commercial value without extensive investment.

However in classic Russian melodrama style, he says he came up with the idea when he was “in love and perhaps this influenced me, though it could be just a coincidence” … which suggests he’s no longer in love and probably spending his time designing vodka bottles that look like your heart is dying. Or something.

I have written a lot in the past about the importance and value of design.

Whether it was the brilliant SONOS ‘sound waves‘ or the potential of using BK’s new logo as an emoji for food ordering.

Underpinning all of this is consideration, simplicity and craft.

Yes, I appreciate a personal project affords you more time than a client project … but designers are getting it right more often than adland and yet the talent in adland is there.

There’s tons of it. Everywhere.

And while there are still some amazing things coming out from the industry, I can’t help but feel design is pushing the possibilities of creativity more … which means the issue for adland must be something else.

Whether that is time, expectation, budgets or relationships, I’m not sure … but whatever it is, the attitude of ‘good enough is good enough’ is far too prevalent these days.

Or should I say, it is until someone like Nikita comes along and shows companies what they could have if they allow the experts to show them how they see the World rather than being told what to create by a committee of middle managers who value speed over quality and lack taste, judgement and real understanding of their audience.

It’s not easy to make something great.

But as a packet of pasta proves, it’s worth it.

Creatively, commercially and culturally.