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


Why People Who Believe In The Metaverse, Need To Be Dire Straits Fans …

After the amazing drama of yesterday, I need to calm things down.

Not for you, but for me … because my heart can’t take nerves like that.

And yet it’s going to have to do just that in a little over a week.

Bloody hell.

So to slow things down, let me take you back in time …

Back in 1985, the band Dire Straits launched a song called Money For Nothing.

It became famous for a whole host of reasons.

It was the first song of theirs that actually sounded slightly modern.

It had ‘modern’ day references in the lyrics.

It had Sting – from The Police – singing on it.

It had this video …

Did you watch it?

You didn’t did you?

You lazy bastards …

Well, to get back to the point of this post, here’s a screen grab from it …

Now while that image may not strike you as cutting edge, back in 1985, it was revolutionary.

Digital characters living in a digital world, where their universe was a blend of normality and possibility.

Hang on, does that sound like something else?

Something that a huge amount of the tech and marketing industry have been wetting their pants over?

Something that sounds suspiciously close to this …

Did you watch this?

You didn’t did you?

You über-lazy assholes …

Well, to get back to the point of this post, here’s a screen grab from it …

Yep.

Yep it does.

A music video from 1985 by the most snooze-rock band ever formed, not only communicated the metaverse, it did it in a style pretty close to what Facebook and every other brand have shown as ‘the standard’.

How terrifyingly embarrassing is that?

All these hip, technologists, futurists and strategists trying to look like they’re on the edge of culture creation and all the bollocks they’re banging on about was expressed by bloody Dire Straits 37 years earlier.

THIRTY SEVEN YEARS.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

I mean … when that Zuck video first broke, I wrote a post about how it was missing the point by showing things we can already do, but now – thanks to errrrrm, Dire Straits, I realise it was even worse than I imagined.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe technology and – the metaverse, even though what is being celebrated as it, isn’t what it is – will have the possibility to make a huge, positive difference to humanity. Eventually.

But making – and lauding – a film and idea that looks awfully similar to a bloody 1985 music video isn’t doing them any favours. If anything, it shows how much of this industry is filled with individuals who crave attention or adoration or just desperately seek relevance.

Not helped when you learn that, unsurprisingly, the main reason Zuck is so into the Metaverse is not for changing the world but upping his bank account.

Given how much Facebook tried to label Apple as ‘anti-business’ for the amount they charged creators and partners – which is a lot less than 47.5% – it makes the whole Meta situation even more laughable.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the new is often misunderstood.

And new technology should not be judged by the standards of established technology.

But when the ‘icons and industry leaders’ stand on soapboxes and stages to promote the future in a similar way that Dire Straits brought to the World almost 4 decades ago … it’s only fair to question if these people care about the future or simply their own career image.

Even though, sadly, we keep seeing hyping can get better career growth, than grafting.

If the Metaverse could fix that, then maybe we’d all sign up.

Then again …



You Can’t Blame People For Chasing Crazy When You Made Them That Way …

OK, so Friday’s post was an April Fool joke.

I say that because some people seemed to believe it until they got to the very last line. Which obviously made me very happy … no doubt helped by the fact April Fools Day started upto 20+ hours before some parts of the World.

But today’s post is real, even though it’s even more of a joke.

It starts with a tweet I saw a few weeks ago …

I don’t mind admitting, I laughed my socks off when I saw it.

Because it’s true.

The amount of people – read, men – who talk about crypto like it’s a guaranteed money earner despite [1] not looking into how it actually works [2] realising there are a vast amount of choices that are out there and [3] all have experienced incredible and – in many cases – huge losses, is amazing.

But I also kind-of get it.

Because the sniff of winning big can be intoxicating.

Especially if you don’t think you otherwise have a chance.

And for many people they don’t …

Not because they’re not smart or talented or capable … but because life is unbelievably unfair.

Which is why for all the questions that need to be answered about the role, legitimacy and even legality of certain crypto, the reality is many people think the chance of making it big on what is essentially a giant wheel of roulette is still better than the chance of doing OK following ‘traditional’ paths.

I get it. I was in that situation.

I was living in Australia, broke … with a seriously ill Dad and a Mum who couldn’t pay the bills.

I didn’t know what I was going to do when someone I knew asked if I wanted to get involved in a pyramid scheme.

Out of desperation – and a belief I didn’t think I had anything to lose – I said yes.

Of course that is mad, because I did have a lot to lose, from the initial ‘investment’ to the chance to get out of my situation within a year.

I ended up being very lucky.

Because I got in very early. I made back many times my initial investment within 2 weeks.

[I should point out that while I was able to help my Mum and Dad out as soon as this happened, I never told them what I’d done. Part of this was because they’d have been fuming and part of it was because it was hard enough to get them to accept presents from me, so if they knew, then I’d never be able to financially help them out again]

And while the time between ‘investing’ and ‘vesting’ were some of the most exciting, intense and scary weeks of my life, the minuscule chance of making something sizeable out of it drowned out the highly likely chance of losing all of it.

Would I do it again?

No. I am in the incredibly fortunate position to be in a good position now. But I get why people would do it and why crypto is so tempting for so many.

Nothing brought this home than some information Natwest Bank sent me last week.

It was their interest rates.

I say ‘interest’ but what I mean is arrogance.

Have a look at this …

What the hell?

Seriously, what the absolute hell?

Do they think this is good?

Do they think this is going to make people want to invest with them?

Even with their ‘bonus’ percentage, their ‘best’ rate is 0.05%.

And that’s their best. The rest are 0.01%.

ZERO POINT ZERO ONE PERCENT.

Not just many times less than inflation.

Not just many times less than the amount you’ll be charged in fees.

But less than fuck all.

Why would anyone choose to invest their money with a bank?

And I mean anyone … from someone with one pound to one million.

Seriously, you somehow manage to get a million quid and Natwest will reward you with 100 pounds in interest.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

So much for all their talk of ‘caring about your future’.

Of course, they think they can get away with it because they think they hold all the cards.

And right now they probably do.

But for all their advertising claims that are seemingly designed to make the board of directors happy rather than their customers, the vast majority seem to have failed to grasp the one thing that could undermine them all.

People go where the chances are.

Doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. Doesn’t matter what the research says. If what’s on offer is dramatically better than what the establishment offers – and it’s ‘generally’ legal even if it’s highly risky – then they’ll explore it.

I never imagined I’d be the sort of person who would be part of a pyramid scheme – but circumstances of desperation meant I did. Which means I am pretty sure there’s a hell of a lot of people you’d never imagine would be into crypto, who are.

Not because they’re money hungry assholes – though there’s definitely a bunch who are that – but because with banks taking the piss out of their hopes and dreams with a miserly 0.01% interest rates, suddenly the risk of crypto looks like the most sensible investment for the future they can make.

And then, it’s not just the banks who will be screwed, we all will be.



Money Can Buy You Luxury But It Can’t Buy You Decency …

There’s an old saying that goes, ‘money talks but wealth whispers’.

It’s a nice turn of phrase, but if it was ever true – and it probably was, at least in terms of old school rich – wealth is talking much more loudly these days.

Many years ago I wrote a post about it and how I was how wealth was moving from expressions of success to acts of arrogance.

Since I wrote that post waaaaaaaaay back in 2006, we have seen this shift become more and more common, to the point where the characters in the brilliant Succession … are seen as aspirational rather than despicable.

But this situation is not new …

I remember reading an interview with Michael Douglas where he couldn’t work out why people liked his character in Wall Street, when he was supposed to represent everything wrong with the times.

However the reality is if you revisit his famous ‘Greed Is Good’ speech … it sounds very similar to the toxic, machismo, ego-bullshit Musk and Bezos – let alone the Roy family in Succession – spout on a disturbingly regular basis.

Have a look …

So when you consider this – and the hero status Jordan Belfort achieved with his ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ persona – you start to realise that rather than learn from the mistakes of the past, we’re running right back at them.

Or said another way, it’s like the 80’s all over again.

Nothing reinforced this to me that this ad I recently saw on insta …

What the fuck?

For all the vulgar displays of wealth I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a lot having lived in China and America – I don’t know if anything beats the utter arrogance of travelling to one of the most environmentally fragile places on the planet simply so you can then piss on it by using mass carbon-emission producing boats, helicopters and submarines.

Fuck the environment.

Fuck the planet.

Fuck humanity.

All that matters is doing what you want and money lets you do whatever that is.

I honestly don’t know who I hate more … the company who put this on or the people who will happily pay to be a part of it.

That they have chosen to advertise this disgrace on instagram shows how much the company knows ‘alienating people’ is part of the appeal for the rich.

It’s sick.

As sick as all those companies who try to profit from the environmental crisis by making products that are ‘less bad’ rather than ‘more good’ and then try to place the burden of responsibility on the population rather than the corporation.

But then, as Joel Bakan wrote way back in 2005 with his book Corporation – companies, like the ultra wealthy – are fucking psychopaths.



Two Signs The World Was Messed Up Before Covid …

A while back I wrote about how McKinsey advised a client that the best way to boost their sales was to incentivise their distribution network.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the client I was referring to wasn’t the infamous Sackler family – creators of Oxycontin – and the result of this decision wouldn’t be that tens of thousands more people would end up becoming addicted or die from what has been labelled as one of the most deadly over-the-counter drugs ever produced.

But I recently saw something that could be just as evil.

Maybe not so directly dangerous, but messed up all the same.

This …

What the absolute fuck?!

It’s bad enough someone decided to use Paw Patrol to sell some shitty kids drinks … but to then make that drink come in a bottle that has been purposefully packaged to resemble a champagne bottle is just asking for trouble.

How did this get through?

I mean, isn’t this just a modern version of candy cigarettes?

No doubt whoever is behind this horrible use of exploitation and manipulation is being watched with admiring eyes over at McKinsey right now.

But if you think that was bad, there’s worse.

Something that has confused me to the point where it feels my brain may explode.

Sure it doesn’t involve addiction or death – at least not directly.

And sure, it doesn’t revolve around making kids get comfortable with iconography that in later life may have negative affects on their health and wellbeing.

But at the same time, it’s even more messed up than all that.

Something that makes you question that values and tastes of all of humanity.

Here we go …

What the hell?

I mean seriously, what the hell!!!

No doubt Vaynerchuk will now be releasing copious amounts of video footage of him telling artists how they need to follow his ‘system’ to earn ludicrous amounts of cash for their work.

Who would pay this?

Worse, who would pay this for an NFT of his doodle?

And why? Why would anyone think this is a good idea.

Hmmmmmn, unless the person was Vaynerchuk in an act of PR gaining?

Now I’ve said it, you can picture it can’t you.

To assume any other reason is basically an admission we’re in end of days.

So while I apologise for ruining your week from the first day, please remember – I didn’t come up with this crap, I only write it.



The Fine Line Between Hero And Horrible …

Back from a nice long weekend.

Hey, if this makes you feel bad, imagine how my poor colleagues feel.

Anyway …

I recently read the book Hype, by Gabrielle Bluestone.

It is depressingly brilliant.

While it covers a huge range of topics, it centres on the actions and behaviours of Fyre Festival founder [or should I say, scammer] Billy McFarland.

Now I appreciate with worldwide coverage and 2 documentaries on the subject, you may think you know all that needs to be known, but apart from Gabrielle bringing some new information to the table, what makes it especially interesting is how she compares his actions to others who are regarded as business geniuses.

Like Elon Musk.

Now you might think that sounds like the actions of someone desperate to create hype for their new book. But no. It’s incredibly well written and researched … and as you turn page after page, with hustler/liar story after hustler/liar story, you come away thinking the whole world has fallen for the Emperors New Clothes trick.

Not to mention that either Billy McFarland is unlucky to be sentenced to jail or Elon Musk – and countless other business people and influencers – are lucky not to be.

Society loves its success stories.

It loves trying to ‘codify‘ the system.

But while only a few ever succeed, it doesn’t stop people blindly following some ‘proven’ rules. Often losing themselves in details rather than appreciating context.

All the while making the originator [or person who shouted the loudest, quickest] even more powerful and famous … before they end up a caricature of what they once were.

I’m seeing a lot of this in marketingland at the moment.

Now, I am not suggesting these people are doing it to ‘con’ anyone. Far from it. In fact their intentions are pretty wonderful. But somewhere along the line, their perspective has developed into a ‘system’ and that system now has a number of unquestionable and unshakeable rules attached to it which, ironically, is starting to negatively affect the very industry they want to help.

To be fair, they are not entirely responsible.

They are a bit … because they give their ‘system’ names that suggest intellectual superiority when it’s really ‘an educated beginners guide’, plus they conveniently turn a blind eye to how many of their students are executing what they learnt – without context or real audience understanding – so it ends up just being lowest common denominator thinking. But the real reason this situation is occurring is too many companies aren’t investing enough in talent or training, so they send people off to do courses with fancy names so they can all look and feel like they are.

Putting aside the fact this also highlights how many companies lack a philosophy regarding their approach and value to marketing, what this ‘one size fits all’ approach is doing is educating a whole generation of marketer/advertiser/company that talent, standards and creativity are not nearly as important as having people who can follow – and police – process, formats and parity.

We’re in danger of getting to the point where independent thinking is seen as dangerous.

Or weakness.

Or anything other than strength.

And while understanding how things work is important, creating a singular approach and process where building brands and creativity is approached like an airfix model – where the outcome is always the same, albeit with different brand names/colours attached – seems to be more about undermining the purpose of marketing rather than liberate it.

What makes this even more amusing is the brands who are attracting the greatest cultural momentum, loyalty and brand value right now are not following any of these ‘process rules’. More than that, they’re building their reputation and value through the creation of distinctive brand ideas that talk directly to their audiences rather than focusing on brand attribution that aims to be slightly memorable among their category.

[Please note, I’m talking about brands with a real business behind them, not just social hype]

Now I appreciate the context and circumstances of cultural brands and the brands who are adopting a marketing ‘system’ are very different … but what I’m trying to highlight is that we now find ourselves in this weird situation where the ambition for many brands is to not find ways to get ahead but to not be left behind – all the while bombarding the market with claims of innovation, new thinking, new opportunities.

And that’s why I loved reading Hype so much.

Not just because it pulled back the curtain on the hypocritical bullshit of so many self-appointed ‘business icons’, but it revealed where we’re all heading if we’re not careful … even though I know there will be people out there who read it and see it as their goal rather than their ruin.