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

Don’t Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste …
May 15, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Advertising, Luxury, Marketing

Watch theft – or should I say, expensive watch theft – has reached insane levels.

It’s so bad that some nations are warning their citizens to not wear expensive jewellery when visiting London – because things are so bad.

You can learn more by following Stolen Watch Group on Instagram.

The driver of this theft epidemic is not simply their current value … it’s that certain brands are seeing incredible increases in their worth and at a time where everything else seems to be falling dramatically, they’re proving to be a better investment than many traditional choices.

Anyway, luxury watch brand Audemers Piguet have seen an opportunity to benefit from this situation by being the first watch company to guarantee watches against theft.

OK, so the watch has to be $55,000+ but it’s still a smart idea … because even though most people who can afford a watch of that value would insure it against theft, the hassle – and cost – of external insurance makes this a pretty compelling offer, if only for simplicity should the worst happen.

As usual there are clauses galore – but in terms of taking an issue head-on – it’s not just smart, they’ve been quick to act and for a category often viewed as being slow and set in their ways, it’s good to see someone adopt the attitude of ‘don’t let a crisis go to waste’ rather than keep your head in the sand and wait till it blows over.

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Learn From Winners Not Just Players …

A while back I was in conversation with a very successful football team manager.

In many ways, they’re the managers, manager.

When I asked how – or who – they used to look to for guidance, inspiration or technical advice, they immediately responded with:

“Learn from winners, not players”.

And when I asked why only winners … they replied:

“Because winners face greater challenges than players and still come out on top”.

Interestingly, later in the conversation, they indicated their definition of ‘winner’ was more than simply someone who has achieved success in a league or a tournament … but someone who has achieved success in multiple league or tournaments, because – to paraphrase an old Nike campaign I did – it’s easier to get to the top than to stay there.

Which made me think about my industry …

Because when I look at who we can turn to, to evolve the standards, abilities and skills of our people, I feels there’s more players than winners.

Of course, being ‘a winner’ is much harder to define in our industry …

+ Creativity is as subjective as fuck.
+ Awards have become as much about how you enter as what you enter.
+ Success is defined by more factors than simply scoring more goals than the opposition.
+ The environment we operate in – and who against – is always changing at rapid rates.
+ You can be respected for your opinion without ever having made work that is respected.
+ Blah blah blah blah.

What bothers me most is how much of the industry outsources its training to people who are good players, but often not great players. And by that, I mean people who never made great things, even if they have great opinions on things.

Some may question why it’s important to have actually made things …

Well it’s simple. Anything is easy when you don’t have to do it, so those who have, have better advice than those who don’t.

That doesn’t mean they don’t have things of value to teach, but to paraphrase the manager I interviewed – those who have made work of note, have better lessons to give than those who have simply an opinion on making good work.

That said, it’s not players fault they’re being paid by companies to train their staff. What is far scarier are the reasons why they’re being asked:

One. It’s cheaper for companies than investing in on-going, personalised training for staff.

Two. Few companies have their own philosophy towards work, so having broad training schemes work for their needs.

Three. You are only as good as the people you are exposed to, and many companies confuse billings or popularity with craft and quality.

I know our industry faces many challenges from clients who value different things. But fundamentally, this issue was caused by our industry selling the value of creativity and understanding society down the river. By focusing on ‘players rather than winners’ to drive our standards and knowledge … we’re not moving putting ourselves back in contention, we’re just delaying our downfall.

To leave this post with a final football punditry reference.

We need to get back to playing to win, not playing not to lose.

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Cut The Crap …

I was going through some old folders when I found this lovely campaign for Staedtler Highlighters.

To give a highlighter a desirable role in society is a pretty big achievement.

OK, so it’s not as thought-provoking as that door handles ad I wrote about, but it’s pretty close.

But this post isn’t about celebrating luminous green … it’s about what it is promoting: Getting to the point.

Or as this post is titled, cutting the crap.

And my god is there a lot of crap to cut.

The great irony of the above ad is that what it uses to demonstrate its ability to get to the point is something you would see in many companies self-descriptions.

Over-inflated, self-important expressions of what they do and how they do it.

It’s everywhere.

From the umbrella stand that claims to be a protection and lifestyle solutions company to We Work who decided they were a tech company simply because they had an app that people used to book a fucking room.

Look I get we all want to feel validated in what we do.

I get it provides an ability to charge a premium.

But just because you say it doesn’t mean others will think it’s true.

In fact, it can have the total opposite effect … where the good things you do are clouded by the fairy dust being constantly released.

With tech enabling people to check claims like never before, it blows my mind how much delusional ego inflation continues to rise.

Of course, part of it is because companies feel they can continue to get away with it … and there’s an element of truth in that, except in many cases, it’s because no one gives a shit about who they are or what they say and so the relationship is shallower than a Hollywood romance.

10,000 years ago I wrote about something I called unplanning … and in many ways, it’s more relevant now than it’s ever been.

That doesn’t mean being brutally honest downplays your role or value, if anything it can elevate it … especially when surrounded by big talking idiocy. But it’s more than simply differentiating from a crowded competitive space, because as someone wise once said to me, “nothing makes mistakes like someone who can’t be honest with themselves”.

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Fake It After You’ve Made It …

A few weeks ago, I saw this …

… and I have to be honest, it’s had me thinking a lot.

Because while I acknowledge you can’t take things for granted, when you get lost in the weeds, you lose sight of what you’re working towards and how you do it.

And a lot of people are doing both of those things.

Nothing sums this up more to me than the issue of attribution.

The quest to minimise risk – or ‘optimise value’ – has resulted in brands forgetting that the easiest way to get attribution is to do something interesting.

But instead – reinforced by industry ‘guru’s – we have ended up with a continual production line of commercially responsible alternatives.

Be a one colour brand.

Place brand assets higher than a brand idea.

And – worse of all – have watermarks in your ads.

While colour and brand assets have a role – albeit not a primary role as so many people seem to suggest – if you feel the only way your brand will be remembered in your commercial is to place your logo all the way through it, then you either don’t know how people work or how advertising does.

Or said another way, you’re admitting your brand and your product are forgettable.

Seriously … why would you do that?

Why would you spend millions on something that positions you as uninteresting.

Worse, why would you spend millions on something that positions you as uninteresting and make sure people know it’s you by ramming your logo down their throat?

But somewhere, someone is measuring the ‘impact’ of this approach and finding a way to demonstrate its effectiveness to clients. Letting everyone feel pleased with themselves. Their choices. Their actions. Creating a precedent others will follow in the blind belief they’re being smarter … more optimised … more effective than all their competitors. All the time consciously and deliberately ignoring the critical fact that it’s undermining them rather than liberating them.

Which leads back to that tweet at the top of the page.

Because while knowing how things are going is important, nothing reveals how lost you are than measuring everything but valuing nothing.

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Some Names Are Too Perfect …

Welcome back.

Hope you didn’t vomit too much with all the chocolate eating.

I didn’t eat any.

No seriously.

I fell ill on the Thursday with a virus and basically spent all the time in bed.

No food. Just feeling sorry for myself.

But of course I felt better just in time to come back to work. Bloody karma.

So with that, shall we get on with things …

Over the years I’ve written about the hilarity of naming strategies.

Specifically those from consultancies who sell their process as a proprietary system and then talk about how they start with 10,000 possibilities and then use their filtering algorithm to whittle it down to 3 bland or meaningless options.

Except they don’t say that last bit, obviously.

I still remember working with a client who had paid for this ‘expertise’ only to end up with a name recommendation that [1] wasn’t actually a word and [2] sounded like a cheap water brand than an international digital services company.

This is also the company that tried to charge the client for a ‘signage’ strategy.

By that, I mean they wanted to be paid to help the client know where their signage should placed on their building to achieve maximum effectiveness.

I almost caused World War 3 when I said,

“In my experience, placing signage outside – at the top of the building – works best”

Anyway, the reason I’m saying this is Briar, one of my colleagues came to work with a new set of glasses recently and the company behind them had the best name ever …

How brilliant is that?

Of course it’s provocative … risqué … challenging … but it’s also hilarious, fun and memorable.

The thing is, I doubt most of the consultancy naming processes would even come up with it as an option to dismiss.

In addition, Happy To Sit On Your Face put their glasses in a custom made case that folds flat. This might not sound much, but it means you don’t end up with your drawer or bag filled with a bulky, odd-shaped lump.

While I appreciate the name of this brand may not travel easily … it’s also a brand name that has made glasses memorable and if you can do that, then you are already doing better than 95% of brands.

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