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


Twitter Twaddle …

Over the last 12 months, one of the things I’ve had an almost adverse reaction to is twitter.

I can see Andy reading this – and I expect an email from him reinforcing this – and shouting:

“Now you know why I always called it twatter”

And he may … just may … be right.

I used to like twitter.

It had a similar feel to the early days of blogging.

Community. Supportive. Elevation of knowledge and debate.

But now …. well, it’s a cesspit of hate, ego and imposters.

Full of people on self-made pedestals claiming to be the next incarnation of Christ. Who believe they are better and smarter than the bastard love-triangle-child of Weiden, Edison and Ocasio-Cortez. Who are disturbingly confident in their claims of being more knowledgable about companies histories, operations and decision making than employees – or even founders – of those very companies. Or even the CIA.

And yet, when you look for any of the work these genius’ have actually made … what you tend to find is more tweets.

Tweets about what others are doing wrong.

Tweets about how they could do things better.

Tweets about how they know the answer to everything and beyond.

Tweets about how they want others to give them answers to questions that someone else is paying them to provide.

Tweets about how they claim ownership for business or societal behaviour change via articles that they had nothing to do with that talk about business or societal behaviour change.

Tweets about how their ego, arrogance, aggression, bitterness and dismissal of others know no bounds.

Tweets. Tweets. Tweets.

And this was before Elon Musk, the World’s comedy villain, overpaid for the bloody thing.

Of course not everyone is like this. There are still some amazing people on there who are generous and open with their comments and consideration … who can disagree without aspiring to demolish those who have a different point of view … however they’re increasingly becoming the minority, drowned out by wave after wave of hateful, spiteful, vicious commentary which – for the first time in my life – pushed me away for my mental health.

This was shocking to me for 3 reasons.

1. Having worked in this industry for so long, I have the thickest of thick skin.

2. I’m a social-media tart. Not just in terms of platforms I belong to, but in terms of ‘content’ I churn out.

3. No one was personally attacking or abusing me.

Basically, twitter has become exhausting to me.

A firehose of cliquey, self-congratulatory, pseudo-intellectual commentary that tries – and fails – to hide it is ego and insecurity shouting into an echo-chamber.

Personally this has devastated me.

I loved twitter – like I loved blogs – because I genuinely felt they helped me be become better at things I do or wanted to do.

It gave me a direct line to people I respected where I was able to listen, learn, interact, explore and debate.

Twitter wanted me to be better.

It wanted me to be exposed to new ideas, ideals and considerations.

But not now.

Now it’s like a digital version of The Hunger Games.

Destruction in 280 characters.

Words used as bombs and swords.

People elevating themselves by bringing others down … through verbal attacks, gaslighting or building a wall of imagined exclusivity between them and others, even if it only exists in the minds, ego and insecurity of those who post so often, you wonder how the hell they have time to do their actual job.

Anyway, the reason for all this is that I recently read a quote from Musk about what he thought Twitter was:

I couldn’t agree with him more.

In fact, I think he encapsulated why I have fallen out-of-love with his $44 billion indulgence.

Because mediums are neither rare nor well done.

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There’s Tributes And There’s Tributes …

So a little while ago, the wonderful human that was Dan Wieden sadly passed away.

A lot of amazing things were written about this amazing man.

And I added my own little story to the compendium as well.

But there was one that was not published.

Mainly because it was a conversation between some people who worked at Wieden about how sad we were that Dan had passed..

It’s possibly the weirdest tribute written.

Not specific to Dan, I mean ever … and yet, it is a tribute that was expressed with as much love and respect to the man and the legacy he built, as any of the others.

I should point out Dan – and I – are not guilty as charged. The person in question is simply referencing the fact that I sent them to Portland for a W+K meeting and Dan happened to have started W+K in a city where this particular form of ‘entertainment’ was everywhere.

Don’t be hard on the person who wrote it.

They were young.
They were from China.
This was their first overseas trip.
And he was given these experiences by people who wanted to ‘introduce them to the West’.

I personally would have chosen a different approach, but each to their own and I know the intent was to explode this visitors mind in good ways, not damaging.

Given he still remembers his trip so vividly – maybe 10 years+ after it happens – I guess this means they succeeded.

Which results in Dan getting the most unique, but well intentioned tribute ever written.

I think he may have liked it.

Or the sentiment of it at least.

Miss you Mr W.

And you LL.

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Insights And Sinsights …

Insights.

That single word that causes so much debate.

What they are.

How you get them.

When you know you have a good one.

It may not be fashionable, but I’m still a big believer in them.

Sure, there’s rarely one single silver bullet insight that stands the test of time, but they still have a valuable role to play for effectiveness, creativity and possibility.

Or they do if they’re done right. And used right.
And not made to say stuff that they’re not saying.

I say this because I saw this brilliant tweet recently …

I have to be honest, I laughed and laughed.

Until I remember a long time ago, reading an award submission that said something like that.

Except they were serious.

Something that tried to connect Facebook likes with human motivation.

No … I’m not joking.

And what was scary was people didn’t call it out. They didn’t even question it.

Which explains why some people may read the tweet above and want to enter it into an Effie whereas others will want to enter their face with a fist.

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People Who Think They’re Genius, Probably Don’t Know Their History …

A company in the UK was recently invited to be part of a big pitch in China.

A very big pitch.

Because I know the founder of the company – and she knows my history with China – she asked if I could cast my eye over what they were proposing.

She’s a good friend so I said yes.

So over a few hours on zoom, they took me through all their work.

They’d been very busy …

Huge amounts of research.
Huge amounts of analysis.
Huge amounts of thinking.

It was really good, there was just one problem.

It was all wrong.

Not because what they’d discovered wasn’t true or accurate, but simply because they’d fallen for what I call, the planners achilles heel: What you think is interesting and new, isn’t interesting or new for the audience you want to engage’.

Look around and you see it happening everywhere.

From people who think they’ve discovered a new brand that’s been around for years, to consultants who proclaim they’ve invented a new business model that other industries have been using for decades to adfolk spouting theories their predecessors were applying before they were even born.

And while I get there can be innocent reasons for this happening, the inconvenient truth is it’s driven by a pinch of arrogance here … a sliver of laziness there … and a big dollop of the issues that continue to undermine the value and potency of the discipline of strategy within business and agencies.

There is craft in what we do.

A set of practices, standards and values that are designed to help us do better and be better.

Practices, standards and values that were developed over time by brilliant women and men.

Now that doesn’t mean we can’t add to it … play with it … challenge it or reinvent it …but it seems the goal for many is less about what is created and more about how they appear.

Hey, I get it …

We all like recognition and right now, the industry rewards that more than it rewards those who create the work that gets the recognition. Which is utterly terrifying.

But while I would never want to stand in the way of people making a truckload of cash, the desire to satisfy our ego is having an adverse, negative effect on the work we make and the audiences we serve.

Put simply, we’re boring them to death.

Because what we think is cutting edge innovation – whether in creativity or consideration – has been seen before, done before, known before and replaced before.

Or said another way …

Regardless what we want to believe, dDuplication is not innovation and degrees of change is not revolution.

I genuinely believe this industry can be great, innovative and valuable.

But it won’t happen if we continue to ignore rigour and reality in favour of believing if it’s new to us, it must be new to everyone.

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The First Is Always Misunderstood …

The photo above was taken by me in June 2006.

So sixteen years ago.

I found it recently in my flickr file.

I don’t know if I ever used it for a post.

I’m not sure where I took it – though I assume Singapore airport.

But I bet you I captured it because I found it weird to see someone playing games.
On their computer.
At the airport.

Remember, 2006 is way before the very first iPhone.

Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Google Earth had only just started.

Shakira was number 1 with ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ and the first Cars movie had just hit the cinema.

And while gaming was huge – and handheld systems had been around for years – the idea of someone playing on their computer – at an airport – was obviously strange enough for me to take a photo.

But would we think that now?

Well, maybe the idea of needing a big-ass laptop to do it may still be considered strange – for totally different reasons than it was in 2006 – but the idea of someone gaming at an airport at all times of day wouldn’t cause a blink of an eye.

And here’s the point.

We – as an industry – are quick to kill new.

We write off different without any hesitation.

Believing if it makes no sense to us, it can’t make sense to anyone. Like we’re the fucking gods of everything.

And yet history has repeatedly shown new needs time.

Time to grow. Time to find its place. Time to find its energy.

From Apple computers to the internet to electric cars to gaming culture.

And while sometimes it may burn out, it’s worth remembering what a Fast Company journalist once said about reviewing tech.

“The biggest mistake is reviewing new tech against established tech. It will never win that because it’s not trying to be that”.

Which is why when you see new habits, beliefs or trends emerge that make little sense to you, it may be worth remembering before you pass judgement that it’s not them who have got it wrong, it’s possibly you who has misunderstood.

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