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


Stop Filtering Out The Weird, Because That’s What Makes Us Human …

I’ve written about this subject before, but one of the biggest issues I think is facing marketing strategy these days is the obsession with corporate logic.

The quest to create frameworks and messaging that ultimates dictates and demands order, consistency and control. Not to help clients build the brand, but to help clients feel safe and comfortable.

And while that may all sound great in theory, the reality is – as the owner of the store with the horn discovered – that it often backfires magnificently.

Because great strategy isn’t logical, its logic born from the ability to make sense of the ridiculousness of reality.

Whether that is amateur artists buying a Mona Lisa painting when they really want the frame or

And the beauty of that is it liberates the possibilities of creativity …

Whether that is an actor who lets the paparazzi see them every night to avoid being photographed by them to the Chinese Government adding a mini ‘scratch card’ on till receipts to get customers to ask for it so it forces the seller to put it through the till and the government can ensure they get their tax through to a beer that is an act of love.

I’ve been talking about the power of devious strategy for years … and while I’m not claiming it is anything extraordinary, when you compare it to what so many think passes for good – I’d choose it any day of the week.

Not just because it leads to better work, but because creative ridiculousness is becoming a far more powerful way to drive commercial effectiveness than corporate-appeasing, logic.



Twisted Logic Is More Interesting Than Corporate Logic …

When I was living in Shanghai, I met a young guy who said to me,

“I think the Chinese government are rock n’ roll”.

Given I couldn’t imagine anyone less rock n’ roll, I asked why they said that. To which they replied:

“You told me rock n’ roll was about doing whatever you want to do, regardless what other people think. That’s the Chinese government”.

Mind. Blown.

Never in a million years would I consider the Communist Party rock n’ roll … and now that’s all I can think. I say this because recently I had another of these moments.

It was when I read this:

How amazing is that?!

Now whenever I talk to my friends named Tim, I keep imagining them as a moth.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

If you don’t leave space for conversations and understanding, you will miss out on these little gems of opinion. These things that can make you look at subject in a completely different way. That can take you to different place with even bigger possibilities than you could imagine.

And yet we – as an industry – aren’t leaving space for this.

We actually think getting into the real world is a hindrance.

Too messy. Too much time. Too many opinions.

So we actually advocate building creativity and brands from a weird sort of recipe book.

Where equal parts questionable data, brand assets and self-serving logic come together to make something that looks like a cake but generally tastes bloody awful.

Because we’d rather follow what everyone else does than create something everyone else wants.

Valuing attribution more than change.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I get the importance of all these things.

I agree and value their role in brand building and creativity.

But as I wrote a while back, it’s utterly bonkers that as an industry, we value the condiments of the meal more than the steak.

Recently, someone called me irresponsible for demanding my team spend time meeting, talking, listening and understanding people from all walks of life.

They literally used that word: Irresponsible!

Now I don’t mind admitting there’s many things I could be accused of being irresponsible for, but valuing the role culture has in liberating creativity and possibility isn’t one of them.

No wonder society is so bored of what we do.

No wonder brands have had to reframe bribery as loyalty.

Or membership.

Because while we think we have all the answers, culture has the interesting.



Ignorance Is Stupid …

Congratulations on surviving the first week back of this blog.

Remember, the good news is there’s no more posts till next Tuesday thanks to yet another holiday in New Zealand. If I knew I’d be having this big a break at the start of the year, I’d have moved here 6 years ago when I first had the chance.

It’s utterly mad, which is the perfect segue to another example of madness.

Have a look at this:

That, my friends, is apparently a genuine tweet.

Someone believes a video made by Mr Beast somehow proves the creator community is the ultimate in power, influence and success because – according to them – it got more views in less time than the original Netflix show.

How many flaws can we spot in that statement?

Look, I’m not doubting the creator community can have incredible influence over culture.

I’m not doubting the creator community can attract incredible amounts of ‘views’.

I’m not doubting the creative credentials of Mr Beast [who I do enjoy following].

But apart from the fact the Mr Beast video actually took 10 years and 7 weeks to make as it required Squid Games to be written, produced and streamed prior to Mr Beast being approached by a company to ‘re-create it’ for his channel … not to mention it didn’t make nearly as much money, or have as great an impact on sales of Van’s as the original … literally copying something someone else created is the absolute opposite of what ‘creator community’ is supposed to mean.

Don’t get me wrong, the creator community is a brilliant thing.

I genuinely love it.

But there are millions of people who are putting in so much effort to make ‘content’ and often only end up with a few likes rather than real revenue. And even those who do make it big, still earn less than the biggest stars of ‘traditional’ film making – so the promise of the community may not be as bright as some think it is.

At least right now.

I’ve blanked the name of the person who wrote the tweet to protect their delusion, but it kind of reinforces my post from last year about the fine line between entrepreneurs and parasites.

In the 80/90’s, a number of UK up and coming comedian created a group called ‘Comic Strip ‘.

The comedians were Rik Mayall, Jennifer Saunders, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Jennifer Saunders and Alexei Sayle.

So basically the foundation of British comedy television for the next 30+ years.

Anyway, Comic Strip was basically a creative vehicle for them to make a bunch of programs for Channel 4.

One of them was called Bad News, a ‘rockumentary’ about a fictitious heavy metal band trying to hit the big time. Yes, the premise sounds awfully like the movie ‘Spinal Tap’ … however Bad News came out the year before that seminal movie, so it’s just a bizarre coincidence.

So in the show, the guitarist, Vim Fuego – played by Ade Edmondson – tells the interviewer that he is a better guitarist than Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

His reason for saying that is because he could play the solo to Stairway To Heaven when he was 13 but Jimmy couldn’t even write the song until he was 26.

Later in the program, he said John Lennon had visited him in a dream and gave him a song. He decided to call it Imogen. And when the interviewer said the name – and the melody – were suspiciously like the Lennon classic, Imagine … he claimed he’d never heard of it.

Of course, all of this was supposed to be great comedy, but with views like the twitter writer above, apparently it was simply an example of future human delusion.



Paint Pictures, Not Instructions …

I like quotes.

Always have.

I like them because they often frame something in a way that sets my brain on another track.

It’s why I enjoyed the Rules Of Rubin series I did a while back. And while that was for a specific work-related reason, I came out of it with far more than I imagined.

Recently I had another one of those quotes, not by Rubin but by Paracelsus … a Swiss physician who was a pioneer in many areas of the medical revolution’ during the Renaissance.

It’s that one at the top of this post.

Yes, I know what it is saying is obvious.

Let’s be honest, the phrase ‘everything in moderation’ has been around for decades, but there’s something about this that just has more bite.

Maybe it’s the use of the word poison.

Maybe it’s the way it doesn’t define any specific thing as bad.

Maybe it’s the way it doesn’t feel condescending or judgemental.

But it set my mind whirring far more than using words like ‘moderation’ and I would imagine it would do the same to any creative having to work with such a brief.

Quotes have a wonderful way of doing that.

They’re far more valuable to provoke different ways of thinking than filling in a creative brief with the answer you want the creatives to execute rather than giving them the problem you want their brains to explore and resolve.

We’re in danger of only valuing literal thinking rather than lateral … and that’s what I love about quotes. They challenge how you think … make you take some leaps, look in some new corners, explore what you think is possible … but never adding pressure on what or where you go with them.

I have always had a hard time writing briefs.

I place so much pressure on myself to get to something intriguing and interesting that I end up writing 7 or 8 different versions – all with different possibilities – so I and the team – can have a real chat about where our energy is at.

I think my record is something like 14 odd for Spotify.

And that’s before we even start on all the other briefs that come from it.

I still do that, but what’s helped my sanity is starting with a bunch of quotes or poems or song lyrics. Stuff related to the issue without being obviously directly about it.

It’s such a great time saver to open discussion.

Like the brief before the brief.

The opportunity to work out what excites you about a possibility without getting too lost in the detail of the possibility. At least initially.

So next time you’re stuck on where you should go, don’t start filling in the brief boxes in the hope the answer will present itself [it never does] … fill up the walls with stuff that opens things up before you start closing things down.

Because the best briefs are not a flow of logic, but a story of adventure.



Not All Heroes Wear Capes …
July 28, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Family, Mischief

… they are called Tony and have their birthday party at Legoland in England.

Then there’s the parents who call their kid Telemachus … and they either need arresting or need to write the next Transformers movie.