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


The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Neon …

One of the things I’ve found fascinating over the past few years is watching consultancies AND platforms mock the value of advertising and then increasingly try and enter that space.

And while you could argue it’s because they saw an opportunity to do it ‘properly’, the way they have embraced it – and executed it – has shown they seem to want to be more like the beast they wanted to slay than the beast they are.

What do I mean?

Go to Cannes and the whole place has been taken over by corporations.

All the best locations, beaches, hotels are the domain of tech, consultancies and platforms.

Now you could say that’s because they’re the ones with all the money – and that’s true – but what is amusing is WHAT they do.

Because rather than reflect ‘a better way to do what those ad agencies used to do’ … they seem to be doing the same thing ad agencies used to do.

Parties.
Give-aways.
Celebrity talks.
Expensive dinners.

In fact the only thing that is different is how desperately bad their attempts to show ‘they’re creativity’ actually are.

Nothing brought this home more than a poster I recently saw promoting an advertising festival.

An advertising festival representing the ‘modern’ world of the industry.

This was it …

What. The. Hell?

Seriously … what is it?

I’m not just talking about the design and colour palette that could make a 1987 acid house party feel embarrassed … I’m talking about all of it.

The email automation masterclass.

The ‘scale your YouTube’ talk.

The $15 million ad storytelling formula class.

And let’s not forget the ‘thumb-stopping’ direct response scripts.

Look, I get small business may get something out of some of this.

And I appreciate there are many elements to run a successful business.

But this all comes across as used car salesman shit.

Worse, used car salesman shit where their office is a portacabin on a muddy industrial estate in Slough.

In all seriousness, what I find astounding is this must be what the people behind this conference must think is creativity. And don’t get me started on what it says about the people presenting there.

I include Scott Galloway who said ‘brands are dead’ and then not only invests in elevating his own brand, but starts selling courses on how to approach better brand strategy.

[For the record, I respect Scott Galloway hugely but when he said that – like when Mark Ritson said his advertising course was a ‘mini MBA’, when it is nothing at all like a MBA – I couldn’t help but feel their focus was becoming more about building their own cult than building better marketers. In fact, given their approaches have now been so optimised, systemised and codified … you could argue it’s actually undermining brand building because everyone is following the same approach and the result is passive corporate conformity. But I digress …]

I guess what I’m saying is that for all the smarts of modern marketing, the people behind this conference – and potentially the people at it – are revealing they know jack-shit about creativity or culture.

And you know what? That would be fine if they didn’t pretend they otherwise.

But for all their big Cannes events … agency buy-outs … and talk about advertising, the reality is they view creativity as a ‘wrapper’ for their engineering type processes.

A belief there is a singular approach to engage and grow – regardless of audience or category. That the features around a brand are more important than the brand. Or as I told WARC, that the condiments are more valuable than the steak.

Do not get me wrong, advertising has a lot of problems.

It’s got a lot it can learn from platforms and consultancies.

But at our best, we know how to use the power of creativity and culture in ways so many of thehaven’t got a clue about.

Now some may say that statement shows how out of date I am.

How contemporary business doesn’t care about all that.

And maybe that’s right … but while I could point out the vast majority of brands who are infectious to culture were not born anywhere near a ‘consultants proprietary marketing playbook’ … all I have to do is point at the AdWorld poster and say, “Look at that shit”.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there will be a bunch of valuable stuff at the conference.

I am sure it will attract tens of thousands of people.

It may make the organisers a shit-ton of cash.

But for all the smarts appearing at Adworld, they sure as shit don’t have any appreciation of style. And I would like to point out that I say this as someone who was wearing an ironic Celine Dion T-shirt when I typed this.

And with that, I wish you a good weekend … which only gets better for you when I let you know there is a national holiday here on Monday so there will be no post till Tuesday [I know, I just had 2 days off for national holiday – deal with it] … so with that, I leave you with a sneak-peak of the Adworld virtual after party dance floor.



It’s Not A Community, It’s A Clique …

Welcome back.

Did you eat copious amounts of Easter Eggs?

Well, regardless if you did or didn’t, this post is going to make you sick as a dog.

Long ago, when twitter first started, Andy pronounced Twitter, Twatter.

To be fair, in the early days it had a certain charm – like blogs – where there was a real community and it came together to support and encourage those around you.

But now …

Oh boy, now it’s either all out verbal warfare or chancers.

But there’s another group that has started making itself known.

The gurus.

Nothing sums up this group more than this:

Now Gaurav works for Clickup as their Chief Growth Officer … which means he’s no doubt, connected experienced and likely has a lot of things we could all learn from. Which is why I am confused he decided to write such a blatantly ridiculous tweet like the one above.

Yes, the ‘voice’ of Apple is an integral part of the brand, but the way he has phrased his words seems to suggest it’s the voice – not the technology, innovation or distribution – of the brand that has made it worth so much.

But even more bizarrely, he’s also insinuating his tips can help you be worth that much too.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Now maybe he made a mistake – we all do it, me more than most. However when I checked out his other tweets, they all seemed to exist in this little universe of like-minded, self-appointed gurus all saying the same sort of things.

Here’s a couple of them.

Good marketing can never solve for a bad product.
Bad marketing can never solve for a good product
Balance is the only answer

Or this gem …

Over 3.5 billion tweets are posted each week.
But most people are reading the wrong ones.
Here are the 10 best tweets from the week guaranteed to make you smarter:

The problem with social media is that anyone can be a legend in their own lunchtime.

Where it’s not about the work you’ve done, but the ‘following’ you have gained.

What’s even scarier is I’m seeing more and more agencies going straight to Twitter to hire people as if they’re the only ones that count.

And that scares me for 2 reasons.

1, They’re not. The absolute opposite if anything.
2. It feels ‘profile’ is more important than real work.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure there’s way more great planners, creatives and suits NOT on twitter than there are on it. And while some of those bashing out their 280 characters are ‘proper good’, to think that is the only pool worth searching smacks of either delusion or laziness.

Once upon a time someone said, ‘those who can’t create music, write about it’ .

While that was pretty mean, I can’t help but think the modern equivalent of it would be:

Those who don’t create work, tweet about it.

Not entirely true – and also mean – but maybe something agency recruiters should keep in mind when trawling twitter to find their next twitter-famous hire.



Cowards Are Oppressors …

Many years ago, I did a campaign for Australian ‘youth’ radio station, Triple J.

Triple J was a government funded radio station, but what set it apart was that it had a mandate to play new artists, preferably Australian, who were definitely not part of the mainstream crowd.

Think John Peel, but Australian.

What I loved about them was how much they divided opinion.

To some they were hope. To others they were noise.

But as we delved deeper, it became apparent the people who thought it was noise were basically proud the followers of the mainstream. The focus-group designed. The beige and the blunted. The average.

Now I appreciate that sounds massively judgemental … but what I found interesting was how companies had basically messed with the meaning of average in a bid to make more cash from customers.

In the old days, average was an achievement.

The meeting point between quality and cost.

Democratisation.

Progression.

Access.

But now average wasn’t that at all.

It was mainstream mediocrity.

Designed for easy, passive appeal. Mindlessness. A strategy of making beige act like gold.

Which led to the point of view of the work: The enemy of average.

Directly targeting anything that had been designed to dumb down rather than lift up.

We got into all sorts of mischief …

From placing warning stickers on all ‘easy listening’ artists in HMV [that saw us being threatened with legal action] … to running ads during mainstream TV to tell viewers they’re being murdered by averageness … to images of mainstream mediocre products being placed in public toilets so you could literally piss on them. [Beige Volvo anyone?]

And while this may all sound madness – and this was the 90’s so tastes were very different – we knew the only way to attract more listeners was to ensure we did it in a way that made our existing fans see we were fighting for what we believe, rather than pandering to popularity.

The old reverse psychology trick.

And it worked because ultimately this was just an extension of who they truly were.

Stubborn, opinionated, mischievous, audacious and uncompromising.

A teen who was very comfortable in playing with the uncomfortable.

And what this did was help build the cult of the brand … helping Triple J enter a new phase of growth while never looking like they were chasing fame.

Of course, they’re not the only ones who have pulled this off.

Playstation did it … NIKE have done it … Supreme do it … but the key to pulling this off successfully is knowing who you are and knowing who you’re for and frankly, not many can brands – or agencies – say that, especially these days.

What makes this even more amazing is how many agencies and companies bang on about their authenticity and purpose … but the problem is they can’t see what they’ve become: a mediocrity pleaser machine.

Of course the signs are there if you just scratch the surface.

Generic, mass audiences.
An aversion for sacrifice.
A desire to remove any sharp edges or opinion.

And while many think making a brand as easy to buy is the greatest way to achieve success, the thing they need to remember is the future goes nowhere in the hands of cowards.



In The MetaVerse, One Person Is Outside Laughing At All Of Us …

OK, I should point out I actually think the Metaverse has incredible potential.

It could revolutionise education, medicine and ignite the creation of industries that don’t even exist yet. Which is why I am still utterly baffled why Zuckerberg thought the best way to sell the technology was by putting out that utterly shit video … where you saw him and his ‘mates’ not only do things that are all possible right now, but were worse in terms of quality, creativity and interactivity.

And then I saw this picture and everything became clear …

Maybe Zuck doesn’t give a damn about the Metaverse.

Maybe he doesn’t want to help humanity evolve and develop.

Maybe the only reason he’s doing it is for the same reason a lot of conmen do things …

Because when you can distract your target, you can rob them when they’re not looking.

Now before Mr Z’s lawyers try and sue me for every penny I’ve got for saying that, I would like to point out two things.

1. I said ‘maybe’ …

That means I am absolutely not suggesting Mr Zuckerberg is a conman or only doing Metaverse for conman purposes. I am only suggesting that could be possible, however unlikely that is. Similar to me saying I could be a catwalk model.

2. Be honest. That photo is very, very creepy.

Whoever allowed that photo to get out at Facebook … I mean Meta … was either an idiot or a hero. Because when I look at that photo, I can’t help but think of this ad … except with a totally different ending.

Rather than everyone being saved in the nick of time – thanks to the hero coming in at the last moment and destroying the screen that is hypnotising and blinding the audience so they follow the words of evil – no one comes to save them, so evil walks past all of his hypnotised and blinded victims, smiling to himself that’s he got them exactly where he wants them.



When You Create Ads With Your Head In The Underground …

OK, I’m ‘proper back’ now and look at that – we’re in February!!!

Maybe I should just write a blog post on the last or first of every month and make life easier for all of us?

Nahhhhhhhh … where’s the enjoyment in that when there’s so much stuff out there to comment on, like this monstrosity of an ad that I saw recently …

Putting aside the fact anyone who wants to be ‘the most interesting person in the room’ is basically admitting they have an ego the size of Bono … or the average person working in adland, the choice of image for this ad is the most stupid I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

Since when were escalators at tube stations a room?

And I’m guessing the people behind it either don’t live in London because if they did, they’d know the first – and biggest – social cardinal sin in that city is speaking to anyone anywhere in the vicinity of the tube.

When I lived in London, I was told in no uncertain terms of this fact within days of being there by a bloke I was squashed next to, as we were on our way to Heathrow Airport.

He also had some luggage with him so I asked, “where are you off to?” and the look he gave me was as if I’d asked him to tell me his families home address and what times are they out.

He literally said, “don’t you know you’re not supposed to talk to people on the tube?”

Hahahahahahahaha.

So with that in mind … and the fact the image they’ve chosen shows people all in a row, all facing the back of the person in-front’s head – which makes having any conversation a bit difficult – maybe Curio should just change the headline of their ad to ‘be the most annoying person in the room’ and be done with it.

Let’s face it, it would probably be more a appropriate explanation of what the app supposedly helps you become, whether they use a visual of the London Underground or not.