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


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.



Back To The Future …

Brand experience.

An exciting and new discipline in the brand building space.

Except …

Before some of you had started work.
Before some of you were even born.
SRVT – better known as Sargant Rollins Vranken Tereakes – were not only talking about it, but also doing a ton of stuff with it as well.

Now they were an agency ahead of their time.

An exciting, creative and progressive agency.

One of the very best I had the pleasure of working at.

But still, 23 years have passed since the slide at the top of this page was part of their credentials, so can we stop banging on about experience like it’s the newest, new thing in marketingland?

All we’re really doing by talking about it in these terms is highlighting how slow we actually are.

Especially as many brands – especially in the luxury space – were doing it decades before even SRVT … and certainly better than the ‘lowest level of consistency’ format seemingly favoured and promoted by so many.

God, this week has got off to a positive start hasn’t it, hahahaha.



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.



The Fine Line Between Entrepreneur And Parasites …

By now, everyone will have heard about Squid Game.

It is – if not already – Netflix’s most watched show.

Ever.

There’s many planners who are writing ‘thought pieces’ on why this happened … but at the heart of it, it’s a greatly entertaining – and incredibly dark – story, with brilliant production values topped off with fantastic characters and acting.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been all manner of news stories coming out about the impact the show has had on broader culture … from sales of white, slip-on Vans – that feature in the show – going up 7800% right through to their instagram going up from 410,000 to 16 million in a matter of weeks.

That said, my favourite ‘proof of impact’ is this insta from one of the stars on the show:

But none of this is the point of this post, the point is related to the picture at the top of this post.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve just been seeing more and more brands – and agencies, specifically TBWA – exploiting the success of Squid Game for their own benefit.

Worse, the vast majority of these brands and agencies have absolutely nothing to do with the show – or Netflix – whatsoever.

Now I shouldn’t be surprised … this sort of thing has been going on for donkey’s years. However, whereas once ‘hijacking’ was a new and exciting way to get ahead of the pack and drive awareness and attention … this approach has now become so expected that any element of ‘surprise’ has gone.

In fact, the overall impact of this act is either seen as desperate or just ignored.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

If people are willing to forgo their laziness for a second, they can look for ways where what they are ‘borrowing’ adds to the culture of the community rather than just stealing from it.

Better yet, they could collaborate with the people who actually created the idea and make something even bigger for culture to enjoy.

But that rarely happens because we live in an industry where speed is seen as being better than substance and stealing is viewed as being more valuable than building … and while there are short-term ‘benefits’ to that approach, all it does is continue to destroy the value of creativity … which is ironic, given all of these approaches are feeding off the power, value and influence of it.

There’s a saying that says ‘genius steals’.

While I know where it came from and what they were trying to say with it … it’s obvious that term is no longer valid.

Lazy pricks, steal.

While finding ways to help our work – and our clients needs – will always be important, if we want to be taken seriously, let’s be the creators, not the parasites..