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


Never Phone It In …

Yes, it’s a photo of Freddie.

But this is not just a tribute to him … well, not really.

The reason I love that photo is the intensity of performance.

The bulging vein. The closed eyes. The focused frown.

This photo was taken from their concert in Montreal, on their 1980/81 ‘The Game’ World Tour.

In fact, it was taken 10 years to the day before Freddie died.

But what I love about the photo is that despite Queen having been touring for years – and that concert coming at the end of an 18 month tour – he’s still bringing everything to the moment.

No short-cuts.

No lacklustre performance.

Just a show designed to leave an audience blown away.

I say this because one of the easiest mistakes agencies make is getting bored of their work before an audience is bored of it. A tiredness of going through the slow process of client acceptance. A hunger to move on to the next thing. Excitement of other opportunities that allow a fresh start.

And I get it. I get it A LOT.

But while playing a concert to 50,000 adoring fans and selling a campaign to a bunch of people in suits is pretty different … passion goes a long way in winning both parties over.

So while things should not take as long as they often do to get over the line … making sure you bring your commitment, focus and passion to meetings can go a long way at winning the audience over to your way of thinking.

And if that doesn’t change things – or worse, you see no desire from your audience to be part of something great – then maybe that’s when you need to adopt another Rockstar trait … which is get on the tour bus, speed out of town, never look back and go find an audience who value you – and will reward you – for being at your best.



Kevin Chesters On Who To Waste Your Time On …

Yes, it’s another Kev Chesters influenced post.

However, where yesterday was on the power of eating a Viennetta with a teaspoon, this is a bit more intellectually valuable.

Just.

To be fair, Kev didn’t even write this, but I saw him post it and I thought it was great … albeit I doubt anyone really thinks this intensely about who they classify as a friend. Which might be the reason we get let down by so many of them, ha.

I remember years ago reading a story about the guy Mr Big – from Sex & The City – was based on.

He had been diagnosed with cancer – terminal cancer – and he talked about how, or more specifically, who he chose to spend the limited time left with.

In essence, he drew a giant dart board and placed him at the bullseye. From there, he systematically plotted where all the people in his life were, in relation to the centre.

Anyone outside of the core ring was told that as much as he appreciated them and knew they would like to see him, he was going to spend his remaining time with others – the ones closest to the bullseye.

It might sound harsh but nothing focuses the mind like limitation of time and when you think of the amount of energy we spend/waste on individuals or activities that are really nothing more than ‘playing the game’ rather than being emotionally fulfilling, maybe this is something we should all be thinking about doing.

Which leads to the piece Kev wrote.

I don’t know if I’d ever practice it, but it’s an interesting way to evaluate things …




It Truly Is A Hard Life If You Want To Buy This …

Look, I love Freddie Mercury.

I love the song – and video – this outfit comes from.

And I certainly love the story behind why he wore this outfit to his godson’s birthday.

Especially as when I posted about it, Mack – Queen’s producer – and his son, the godson in question, got in touch with me about it.

But as much as my fashion sense is that of a blind caveman and I have a big birthday fast approaching – so big that I will be at the age where I should basically not give a shit about absolutely anything – even I would not buy or wear any version of that outfit that is currently available via a Facebook retailer which begs the questions:

Who would?

And why?



Best Of The Best Or The Least Bad?

Today I’m judging the Effies.

Oh awards …

I’ve written so, so much about them in the past.

Like here. And here. And here. And here.

I must admit, I am intrigued to see what they are going to be like in the UK.

Will they be a celebration of insightful efficiency or will they be like I experienced too many times in Asia, a stream of consciousness that just rumbles along till they think they have explained how they got to their idea and how they have proved it worked.

I guess we shall see later today.

I really, really hope they are good.

Not just because the Effies have always had a standard they’ve lived up to, but because it will give me faith the industry still has fight in it to do things right.

In my time in the UK, I’ve read a bunch of planning documents/portfolios/resumes that have been more about packaging.

Repeating a client brief in a way that has been ‘sexed up’.

Superficial.

Executional.

Literal.

There are a bunch of reasons for this.

Part of it is the lack of training agencies give their strategiests.

[Hence why we started the School of Strategic Arts]

Part of it is the huge amount of freelance planners out there who are doing exactly what they are asked because they are fighting for their livelihood.

And part of it is because of the client/agency remuneration deals which means planners are giving too little time to explore the best outcome to the problem they face.

Planning has a valuable role to play in effectiveness.

Planning has a valuable role to play in creativity.

But it needs to be allowed to do it to make it happen … so here’s hoping we see the best of what it can do today, because the Effies is not just important for the people who win, but for what the industry needs to get back to being.



Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You …

So this post is about Queen.

The band, not her royal highness.

Do I need to call the Samaritans for you now?

Anyway, as many of you know I’m doing a weird, long-term, creative project with a famous Rock band.

As part of that, their management connect me to all manner of weird and wonderful people and recently, they arranged for me to talk to someone who knew Freddie Mercury.

I should point out, him knowing Freddie was not the reason they connected us up, but it soon became the reason for me.

I couldn’t let such an opportunity pass and so after our chat about the task in hand, I told him I was a huge Queen fan and that I’d heard he was a long-time friend of Mr Mercury.

I was over-the-moon when he started telling me some personal anecdotes about Freddie, but there was one thing he mentioned that particularly grabbed my attention.

According to him, part of Freddie’s brilliance was that he was a ‘high class problem’.

He used those exact words.

What he meant by that was Freddie would never allow his issues or ideas to be ignored or fobbed off – by band, management or record company – because they knew if he had a problem, he would not let it pass until it was discussed or dealt with.

The reason I found this fascinating is that we now live in a time where more and more companies value ‘colleague complicity’ above all else. Where anyone who has a different opinion – especially a different opinion to management – is seen as the enemy, even tough in many cases, the motivation behind the challenge is simply a desire to have a better understanding of the viewpoint or wish to help the company achieve at a higher level.

With that in mind, I think it should be the goal of everyone to be a high class problem. It might be hard, it might be met with resistance – but if you are doing it for the right reasons, it’s the right thing to do however, as Mr Mercury’s friend told me, you better have earned the right to be that way or you end up simply being a “dickhead diva“.