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


How To Stop The Smallest Minds In The Room Create The Biggest Headaches …

I recently read an article in the Guardian about the launch of the X-Box.

Given the brand has been part of gaming culture for the past 20 years, it’s easy to forget what an achievement this has been for Microsoft.

Let’s remember back then, the brand was far more synonymous with office computer programs than gaming … so to come from such a negative space and place to become the powerhouse it is today, is nothing short of incredible.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing.

Sure, their cause was helped by SONY seemingly forgetting everything that had made the original PlayStation launch so successful … but even with that, Microsoft were still coming from pretty much a standing start.

It’s a great article that’s well worth the read, but there was one part that really stood out to me.

This:

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there …

Where someone chooses to ignore a statement of obviousness and instead, attempts to turn it around so you look like you’re making a potentially dangerous assumption.

Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t blindly assume common sense is common sense, and – without doubt – there’s been a lot of unsubstantiated assumptions that have ended up being the backbone of ideas and campaigns all around the World, but this sort of behaviour is nothing but an act of petty cowardice.

However, let’s assume for a moment the person who wanted proof that people did expect DVD quality to be better than the crunched-up shit that was on screen, was right.

Let’s assume that we didn’t know that DVD brands had been communicating ‘improved image quality’ to the general public for years.

Even if all that was true, the real issue was still not being addressed.

And that is facts doesn’t mean standards.

So rather than fall into a ‘fact inflation fight’ that no one was going to come out of well – even though I get why they were triggered – they should have asked Mr Petty if the image on the screen reflected the quality of product and performance he – and the company – wanted to globally be associated with?

Quickly followed up by enquiring whether Microsoft had the technology to dramatically improve the current standard of performance?

By doing this, they not only side-step the pointless barrier being placed in front of them and refocused the conversation to values, standards and ambition.

I’ve seen this situation happen so many times.

Where political point scoring derails ambition, potential and standards.

Where the company starts focusing on the ‘minimum viable product’ rather than what could drive the brands perception.

And while these situations have also seen me lose my shit – A LOT – I always remember my Dad telling me the real way to win these sorts of arguments, which is to elevate the discussion to reputational standards not down to petty point scoring.

He was brilliant at it.

Me? I’m still working on it.



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.



Desperate For Friends …

A while back, Mark Zuckerberg announced to the world he was creating a holding company – that would house Facebook and Instagram etc – called Meta.

He launched it with this piece of underwhelming fanfare …

There are so many questions about this …

Why did Zuck make his avatar leaner than the real him? Why did he think showing a virtual room with some boring mates playing cards would excite the world? Why the fuck is his wife & dog making an appearance & why would his dad give a shit about receiving a clip of the pooch? Why was the “awesome virtual room” like a Sega Megadrive game background? Why are Facebook/Meta employees so cowardly they can’t tell their boss his acting is worse than people who appeared on that short lived BBC soap, Eldorado? Why did they think it would be trippy to show a flying fish to a generation who make TikTok videos far weirder, fancier and more interesting? Why did I watch the whole thing. Twice? Why did they make their logo a shot Zorro mask? Why does android Zuck still pretend he’s human?

It was, in no uncertain terms, fucking terrible.

But to show that Facebook have no shame taste, they then went on a social media tirade in a bid to drum up support and interest from brands.

Not people. Brands.

Asking them what they’ll be doing in the metaverse.

And while the social media account of a brand talking to another brand may be cool for the people working at the brand, 99.9% of the time it’s an act that shows a complete lack of self awareness.

Look at this …

It’s the equivalent of 2 old white dudes – wearing Yeezy’s & Supreme tees – thinking they’re the hippest, hottest dudes on an empty petrol station forecourt in Basingstoke on a wet Tuesday night.

Seriously, I detest this sort of thing.

I certainly detest every bit about this echo chamber, jock-banter, industry ‘in joke’, interaction.

I know some people will claim it is ‘hijacking culture’, but there’s 2 key issues with this.

1. How can it be ‘hijacking’, when this approach is so common, people literally expect it.

2. There’s a major difference between hijacking and boring them.

Putting aside the danger of letting a man like Zuckerberg have even more knowledge about our lives so he can profit from it … putting aside his track record of saying his company does good things then is found to be doing bad … putting aside Facebook ‘borrowed’ their Meta logo from another company … what Zuckerberg is showing is he doesn’t care about the people who use his products, just the advertisers who keep throwing money at him so they can find more and more ways to sell stuff to them, before launching ad campaigns saying they care about the environment and everyone should act.

Or some other blame throwing tactic.

Zuckerberg isn’t going anywhere.

And what makes it worse is that technology … specifically the metaverse and mixed reality … has the potential to do incredible good for humanity. However when governments allow this space to be ‘owned’ by egotistical billionaires, then the only ‘incredible good’ we can look forward to, is more blatant exploitation with no legal implication whatsoever.

Thanks Zuck.

Thanks for robbing us of the future we could have, but you want to dictate.



Nothing Shows You Care Than When Things Are Shit …

Just like HR is often about protecting management from their people rather than the other way around, the same can be said for customer service.

Of course, no one says that, but there’s far too many examples of companies stating the importance of their customers, and then using their customer service department to completely undermine them.

As I’ve written before, real customer service is demonstrated when things are bad, not good.

Let’s be honest, when a company can spot a sale, the full charm-offensive is on display.But when things go bad … oh, that’s when the truth is often revealed.

The irony is that this is the exact moment you can create a level of loyalty that can last a lifetime.

I’ve talked about the time VW came good after my brand new Golf GTI had the gearbox collapse and the turbo blow up … and I’ve found another example of a brand making something bad, a little bit better simply because they looked at things from their customers perspective and acted accordingly.

Isn’t that amazing?

Considerate. Compassionate. Personal. Helpful. Generous.

At the worst of times, a company has found a way to not just solve a problem – but help relieve some of the pain, that wasn’t even of their own making.

If a pet food company can do that – with their relatively low priced product – then any company should be able to. But many don’t. Not because their staff don’t want to, but their bosses won’t let them.

Years ago I worked with a consultant called Geoff Burch.

He was a beautiful maniac.

What made him great was he challenged management to live up to their responsibilities – both to their companies reputation and their employees ability to be successful.

We were working on an Italian car brand together and at the client briefing, the CEO said the call centre staff were offering too many benefits to appease dissatisfied customers.

Geoff asked why they were dissatisfied and the response was their were reliability problems.

Quick as a flash, he replied:

“Maybe you need to realise your responsibility to your employees is more than just a desk, a roof and a paycheck, but making a product that is fit for purpose. I can’t help a company who wants to blame others for the faults they have created and protect”

It was incredible.

And while there was a very awkward atmosphere in the room after that outburst, the CEO – after what seemed like a lifetime – acknowledged he was right.

To be fair, it helped that Geoff had an incredible reputation, but he wasn’t saying anything truly revolutionary, he was simply saying ‘reputation is based on what you do, not what you say’.

And while that should be plainly obvious, it’s amazing how few companies still don’t get that. The companies who think making a few dollars more today is more valuable than a lost customer tomorrow.

Seriously, the way some companies operate, it’s like a bloody ponzi scheme.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you should ‘spend your way’ into customers hearts.

This is simply about valuing your customers perspective rather than purely seeing the World through your own.

Which is, unsurprisingly, the true definition of customer service.



If You’re In The Communication Industry, Know What You’re Communicating …

I know if you’re in the publishing field, times are tough.

I know that you have to resort to attention grabbing tactics to get readers.

But recently Adage – one of our industries most well-known media outlets – did something that was as equally ill-conceived as the time Campaign put Nigel Farage’s shit-eating grin on the cover of their magazine.

What am I talking about? This.

Talk about clickbait.

Blatant, unashamed, clickbait.

And I say that because the actual article was more about what some ‘experts’ were suggesting is happening rather than what the headline was screaming for all its worth.

But that’s not the real issue.

Nor is it the talking about cannabis microdosing … putting aside the fact [1] it’s illegal in some countries and [2] there’s medical evidence to suggest cannabis can have terrible consequences on certain individuals … accepting it is a minority and there are also many benefits, including medical.

Look, I don’t care what people choose of their own freewill – unless, of course, it directly affects the wellbeing of those around them.

I don’t judge, question or degrade those decisions.

My problem is an international industry magazine purposefully chose a headline that communicates if your work environment is causing extreme stress because of the intense pressure being placed on you … then it is on you to deal with it.

YOU.

I literally don’t give a shit if the article was talking about people microdosing, coffee drinking or baked bean eating … they should not be placing the burden of responsibility on the employee, they should be challenging the behaviour, expectations and actions of the company they are working for.

It’s hard enough to attract and retain talent in this industry as it is, without having our industry magazine telling the world, ‘it is a stressful job and it’s on you to deal with it’.

We all make mistakes. I hope they learn from this one.

For their sake. For our sake. For the future of the industries sake.