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


When Your Whole Childhood Is A Lie, But Still Better Than A Lot Of Adult Marketing Truth …

When I was young, I was introduced to a whole host of iconic TV characters.

Six Million Dollar Man.

Wonder Woman.

Buck Rogers.

Superman.

The Incredible Hulk.

Of course there were more, lots more – from cartoons to local kids TV – but the one’s from America just seemed to be more amazing.

Part of this was probably the production value of the shows, but it was also the imagination they triggered and celebrated in me.

It was so much more than just entertainment, it challenged, encouraged and introduced me to a whole new way to look and see the possibilities of the World.

These characters continue to hold a lot of sentimentality with me, because despite being over 40 years ago, they were – in many ways – characters that defined my generation.

They were OUR shows, even when they were a remake of something that went before.

I say this because when I look at Otis, the characters from his shows are so different.

For a start, so many of them are born through Youtube.

Plus there’s also a huge amount from games, like Roblox or Minecraft.

But the relationships are similar to the ones I had with the Incredible Hulk etc.

And that’s because they’re his characters.

They are badges of his generation.

He connects to people who share the same love and knowledge.

Which is a good reminder that in a world where we are continually going on about new possibilities, new opportunities and new technologies … the forces that make so many of them successful and valuable are the same things as they’ve always been.

Emotion.

Of course we should know this.

Of course this should be obvious.

But I don’t know if we do.

I read so much these days that seems to be focused on efficiencies, effectiveness, experience or eco-systems … and while they’re all important and have a role to play … they aren’t the reason people connect so deeply, they’re just tools to help make it happen.

In our quest to be seen as innovative, we’re re-making the wheel over and over again except it’s not as simple. Or as effective. Or as powerful.

Because we’re so desperate to look like we’ve done something new, we walk away from the things that can make something valuable.

Beyond price.
Beyond status.
Beyond superficial.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten the value of emotion.

We talk about it. We describe it. We even attempt to show it.

But instead, we have reduced it to a set of ‘research group approved’ actions and behaviours.

A set of research group approved actions and behaviours that are more focused on telling people what we want them to think about rather than to feel.

A set of research group approved actions and behaviours that are designed to minimise the potential of alienating someone rather than making it mean everything to them.

How fucking depressing.

More than that, how fucking laughable.

Because the holy grail for all these brands is to encourage loyalty beyond reason.

Where people choose you over countless competitors.

Where they will queue for hours to stand a chance to have a moment in your company.

Where people will willingly wear a t-shirt with your name emblazoned on it.

Where people will do this over and over again, regardless of time, money or location.

For all the money, research and ‘marketing guru tactics’ so many brands adopt these days … they still don’t come anywhere close to the impact bands, gaming characters and old 1970’s TV shows have on people.

And there’s one simple reason for it.

You don’t make people care talking about them, you do it by being for them.

Not in terms of ‘removing friction to purchase’.

Or telling them you really, really care about them.

Or saying you’re committed to their progress and success.

Or you want them to get the best value deal they can get.

But by recognising who they are, not who you want them to be.

And then talking to them that reflects that.

The good, bad, weird, strange, complex, scary, hopeful, uncomfortable.

It’s not hard.

And yet it seems to be the hardest thing in the World.

Which is mad, given a man painted green and a shitty rubbery mask was able to do it and 40+ years later, can still ignite more feelings of love and loyalty from me than 98.99999% of all brands with their research and marketing guru processes.



Moments Where Time Never Moves On …
September 10, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Family, Love, Loyalty

I’ve talked about this in the past.

How when a terrible event happens, everyone rallies around you.

How they give you comfort and love for the worst time of your life.

But the next day, it changes.

Not because they’re mean or unkind or unthoughtful … it’s just they have their own issues and situations to deal with.

But for you, you are alone.

Floating in the wilderness.

More isolated than you were before.

Caught in the no mans land between pain and grief.

Numb and confused.

Yes it gets better. But it doesn’t go away. And on the anniversary, it all comes rushing back.

Nothing captures this like a story I read recently in The Atlantic.

Tragedy. Love. Conspiracy. Hope. Despair. Loneliness.

It had it all, but never expressed with hyperbole or exaggeration. Just raw feelings of confusion, loss and guilt – interspersed with a desire to be angry at someone … anyone … to try and make sense of the impossible.

It’s one of the most powerful things I’ve read about that fateful day on September 11th 2001.

Everyone should read it.

To understand what tens of thousands of people try to understand and deal with every single day.

Which is my way of saying that while tomorrow there will be tens of thousands of people all around the world feeling like the worst memory of their life is being thrust back into their present, I am thinking of you … Dave, David and Andy.

Big hugs. Bigger love.
_________________________________________________

No comments please. This is for them.



One Day In September …
September 1, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Anniversary, Comment, Dad, Emotion, Jill, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad, Singapore

Today is an important day, because back in 2007, Jill and I got married in Singapore.

We wanted it low-key [read: easy] so we hired out our favourite restaurant – Coriander Leaf – told all the locally invited guests it was an engagement dinner [we told our overseas guests what was going on or they wouldn’t have bothered coming] and then, when everyone turned up, we announced our true intentions and got married in front of our family and friends.

Yes I was wearing Birkenstocks.
[Mind you, so was Jill, albeit expensive Heidi Klum ones]

Yes, with hindsight, the Diet Coke Fountain was a stupid idea as everything fixed up and all the glasses got hidden by fizz and foam.

Yes, importing the wedding cake from Australia was a bloody nightmare.

But even with all that, it was a truly special day to celebrate the best decision of my life.

I still remember the joy my Mum had on her face.

As you can see from the photo below, she was so happy.

Not just that I was getting married … but I was getting married to Jill, who she adored in every possible way from the moment she met her.

Of course I wish Dad could have been there, but we took a photo of him with us and so in a way he was … and that made everything feel complete. What made it even better was Jill had her parents there, who hadn’t been in the same room together – as one lives in Australia and the other in Canada – for over 20 years, so it really was a family affair.

Marriage gets a tough wrap these days.

But for me, it has been amazing.

And while Jill and I were living together for years before we made it official, making it official did change things.

I don’t know why given not much changed.

And I don’t know if I can properly put into words what did change.

But for me, it led to a greater feeling of commitment … a deeper connection … a bit more wonderful. Now marriage is a deeply personal affair and people will have many different perspectives, but from mine, I can tell you it was – and remains – the best thing I have done.

Even more than buying Audi’s and Robot Dogs.

THAT’S how brilliant it is.

But while that day all those years ago is filled with wonderful moments, I have to say the one that sticks out the most is when my colleague, Angela, came to the restaurant straight from the gym … thinking it would be a couple of drinks before she could go home.

I love that she stayed when she realised what was going on.

I love that she stayed when she realised how she looked.

I love that she didn’t hit me when I mentioned it in my speech.

Because while she was mortified to turn up to a wedding in her post-gym sweats … ironically it made it even more perfect for us.

So thank you Angela.

But most of all, thank you Jill.

Happy anniversary my wonderful wife. I bloody love you.

[Even though I know you will have forgotten it’s our anniversary, haha]



Love Is Lazy …

I found this photo recently.

It’s a few years old, when we lived in London … but there’s something about it that just warms my heart.

Not just because it features my son – though that helps – but because it in a period of pandemic chaos, it shows how love can make everything OK.

Covid had just taken hold.

We were all confined to home.

No one was offering any clarity.

People were dying at unprecedented numbers.

And Otis desperately needed his hair washing.

However …

… he was also playing a video game he absolutely didn’t want to stop playing so – because his world had been turned completely upside down – his wonderful, kind, considerate Mum found a way for him to keep playing while she could do some hair washing.

Obviously it is an utterly ridiculous way to do things, but it’s my ridiculous.

A moment of twisted normality at a time where nothing felt normal whatsoever.

And while I appreciate this is an utterly indulgent photograph, I love the way he seems oblivious to his surroundings. His little legs stretched out to the tip of his toes. And a kitchen that has been rapidly turned into a school, a playroom and a hairdressers all at the same time.

While we were painfully aware of the privileged position we were in – from having an income to having a teeny garden to escape in – the fear of COVID was starting to take a hold which is why, as I look at that photo today, I realise how much my ridiculously beautifully family let me feel we were strong together at a point where everything was feeling like it was falling apart.



Tattoos Tell Stories …
August 5, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Authenticity, Comment, Creativity, Culture, Love, Taboo Categories

I had my first tattoo at 40.

I had always wanted one but between being a chicken and just not knowing what I wanted, it took me 4 decades before I finally had one.

My first was big.

Down the entire underside of my left arm.

A phrase my Dad used to always say to me.

It was important I went big because I wanted to break my own barrier.

And I did, because from that first tattoo at Venice Beach in LA, I went and had more and more and more.

My Mum never really liked them, even though many were about her and Dad. In fact she famously said, “I wish you’d have got these out your system when you were younger” … suggesting that they would have been and gone by then. Haha.

But tattoos have become very important to me.

Very important in feeding my sentimentality.

From my cats nose to my old phone number to the date of my marriage, my parents passing and Otis’ birth. There’s a lot on there and a lot still to come, helped by the fact that I hardly ever feel any pain from them. In fact a few times I’ve fallen asleep … which says more for how tired I am than how tough I am.

And while I appreciate not everyone has tattoos that are so deeply personal, every single tattoo has a story attached to them.

A moment.
A situation.
A historic event.
A time with friends.
A need to just do something different.

While I appreciate tattoos are not to everyone’s taste, I find it interesting how much judgement some people have towards those who have them.

My favourite insult is when they say, “don’t they realise they’ll be saggy when they’re old?”.

Yes we do.

And yes, it might be unpleasant.

But the reality is whether sentimental or opportunistic … the point of them is as much as what they represent in our memories as they look like on our skin.

Because to paraphrase my favourite line in one of my favourite ever ads – the Playstation Double Life – at least we can show, we have lived.