Monday, April 30, 2007

Good Customer Service? Yes.

I've recently got wireless. Despite the occasional hiccup, it's proving to be great - got to love being on t'internet at home.

Anyway, I got wireless with BT.

Good price and all that, and the deal was sweetened when I found out my bank had a deal going on with them (£50 off with my bank account - woo hoo).

Anyway, that was the good bit. The bad bit came when the phone line wouldn't find broadband. After much head scratchery, I called them. No problems on the waiting front; I was very quickly speaking to a nice lady called Cheryl.

She couldn't solve the problem, but could I speak to another colleague?

'Course. I wanted me t'internet.

That colleague (who's name escapes me) confirmed the line was buggered, and an engineer would be out the following day.

He was, ringing me twice and sorting out the problem.

Great stuff.

I followed the cd's instructions, and after a bit of a kerfuffle with the USB wireless stick I had to buy, I was sorted - and £50 to the good, as the voucher is now being processed.

Tip top BT - and for what it's worth, I think the new B2B strategy is a winner.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stoke City's Plight.. and Visual DNA..

Look at this.

Yes, the mighty Potters (that's Stoke, just in case you weren't sure) have just beaten Colchester 3-1, and are on the verge of getting into the playoffs. Tied with Southampton, with identical goal difference, we have one game to make a difference.

It's away at QPR, and rather annoyingly, I can't go. So it'll be another Saturday of watching the vidiprinter/listening to Five Live.

So, humble reader, keep an eye out for the football scores - I certainly will be.

Also, check this out, recommended by Scamp:

Pretty accurate, if you click on it.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Obligatory Music Post..(with some Batman)

Right then.

No planningy thoughts in this post. It's unabashedly about music.

This may, of course, influence my chances of getting a job at one of London's achingly cool boutique agencies. But fuck that - onward with the reviews.

Up first is the Arctic Monkeys' new album 'Favourite Worst Nightmare'. Yes, the album everyone has been wanking on about since the last one and the EP in the middle.

Honestly - it is better than the first album, in a purely album sense; by that, I mean that it works better together than the first one, but probably has less obvious singles on it. 'Brianstorm', 'Old Yellow Bricks' 'Fluorescent Adolescent' and '505' should be/are singles, but the whole first album could pretty much have been singles.

It's also a lot more of a grower than the first album, with less wordplay and better music - especially the drumming. Listen to the first single, and see what you think:

Anyway, the album gets 7.5/10 from me.

Onto the next one:

Yes, it's The Jam's 'Setting Sons'.

Now, I wasn't much of a Jam fan. I knew the singles, sure - thought they were ok. But no albums before this one.

Now, I happened upon a live recording of 'Eton Rifles', one of the singles from Setting Sons. Watch it below (the camera work is a bit shoddy):

Fucking brilliant, eh? Now, imagine an album which is half a concept album (focusing on 3 friends who lose touch, with Eton Rifles being one of the songs) and sprinkle in a few more tunes - because Weller couldn't write quickly - and you have Setting Sons.

Lots of different styles. And each one is damn brilliant. This album may well get into my top 10 in time (check it out on the Slideshare presentation).

So yes, 9/10 from me.

Last one:

Quantic Soul Orchestra's album 'Pushin' On'. An unexpected purchase this one, but I always like to try and get something like it on the go - sometimes random album purchases can be the best (or worst) things you buy, especially when it's on the strength of one song.

Which can be found below:

It's great, eh? The rest of the album is bloody good as well. Especially the cover of 'Feelin' Good'. Such a funky album - and it managed to fuck up London's best independent record store in Soho.. who didn't have a copy in stock..

Anyway - 8/10 for that one. May rise in time.

Oh, and I've also bought the Grinderman album (entitled 'Grinderman') and the new Idlewild album ('Make Another World'). Both get a solid 8/10 score. And the Idlewild gig I went to would be a 9/10.. the first and last time I'm going to Hammersmith Palais.. sob..

Finally, something funny for reading this far:

Check the blog out. Makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Gotta love slideshare ...

Slideshare really is excellent. Just registered with it, and I urge you to do so as well.

Great for putting random gubbins up on t'internet.

So I have. Here's a newly updated presentation 'Confessions of a Wannabe Ad Man' (which you also download from the sidebar):

And have a few brand positionings, while you are at it. I must say that these are VERY rough thoughts (some of them written on the tube/off the top of my head) but aye - just something to stimulate some conversation. I've probably got another 20 odd to talk about/publish, but here are a few - as for my thoughts on them, I still like the Kodak one, think the KFC one requires the brand to change perhaps a bit too much (but it could work), like the Mars one (though it is a bit generic) and I still like the Beano one. So here you are (again, you can nab it from the sidebar):

Let me know what you think about them both....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Job Hunting (or how that tall chap became a planner)


I'm usually a contentious, mildly sarcastic chap who posts on this blog (yes, I really am that tall, attractive man; told you I could be sarcastic).

However, I'll be frank - I am also looking for a job, given the demise of my former workplace.

The reason I'm posting this, is that I know that quite a few agencies read this (BBH, VCCP, Y&R, AMV, Leo Burnett - all just today), and I'd like to meet with you, humble readers.

The closure of my agency is a shame, considering I was only able to accrue a whopping two whole months of experience, and additionally, irritating, because it makes me not even a planning junior; more a planning padwan.

Still, check out my academic credentials - download my CV from the sidebar. There's even a short presentation about myself and some of my earlier advertising experience, just to give you an idea of what drives me and how I think (though the ad stuff is from much earlier on in my career).

I still think I'd make a good planner - during my short agency life, I've helped win a pitch, worked over most of the major accounts at my agency and generally enjoyed it a great deal.

Bluntly, I want to move to a place which will train me/make me a better, more rounded planner. And have a damn good time doing it. And yes, I'll even make the tea for a few months.

I'll even bring along my planning portfolio, and a few brand positionings for you to have a look at.

Does that sound like fun - do you fancy a coffee and a chat?

If so, get in touch, either via email or by giving me a ring on 07773 945284.

Or, you can meet me in person at Faris's Beersphere tonight. I'll be there from 7.30.

Authenticity is as authenticity does..

I should probably prefix this by saying that I find the notion that Dolmio is actually made in Holland absolutely, positively the funniest thing about these ads (no, I don't get out much - much less see the sun at all).

But no.

What's tickled me is not that (this time). No, I was making my usual meal of stir in sauce (still haven't moved out of my gastronomic studenty ways, despite making mashed potato for the FIRST TIME EVER this week) and noticed what it said on the side of the packet.

*Watches as his readership groan 'oh no, not ANOTHER Seth Godin esque post'*

Yes, I'm afraid so.

Anyway, read this (didn't have a camera on me):

"For a more full on Italian experience, just stir one pot of sauce into 300g of hot freshly cooked pasta to make an intensely satisfying meal. Perfect for two people looking for a bit more excitement"

Just to make it easier, I've highlighted the bits which are particularly amusing.

By all means, use Italian attributes, and milk the brand essence. If it is founded on a little thing called truth - selling the Italianicity of the brand doesn't wash when the bloody thing is manufactured in Holland.

It's almost as bad as HP not being made in Aston. But that's another story, and another rant, for another day.

But aye; you've already had a problem when the brand idea is founded on a lie. Why not celebrate that it's made in Holland? It could have mixed heritage or have aspects of both - then you could use clogs AND italian puppets in an ad - advertising genius (tongue slightly in cheek).

And since when has pasta been an aphrodisiac? Yes, it's a communal event, but I've never seen someone given one after a great tagliatelle... bit of a stretch for the thought, methinks.

The microsite, however, is fucking brilliant. Nicely executed, and I like the 'ask mama' section. Even when I want to know the answer is 42. And, despite my ranting, my Dolmio day, for what it's worth, is most days - so the advertising isn't that offensive.

Just founded on a bit of an untruth.

These guys should win a placement at Mother..

For more information about this go here. Final three are here.

For what it's worth, I really liked the Pro Evo one (it rang true - especially at University)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Product Recalls and Bans.. (Yes, it's a bit work related)

So yes; I've probably been posting about tat for a while (or random metaphors/analogies), so have a question I've been asked. It's a little bit short (because I have been working on it whilst doing the day job), but fuck it. Here you go.

"Over the past few years, companies have been forced to issue many more product recalls. This trend is driven partly by changes in legislation and the manufacturing process, partly by changes in consumer behaviour. What should we do to address this?"

As the question notes, product recalls are driven by a variety of factors; from changes in customer preconception, to societal pressures, to basic defects.

If I were to assess the notion of recalls, I would first have to frame the problem. A DTI study in 2000 (found here), found that (as, I imagine, most would suspect) the biggest problem is due to actual product defects – things being physically wrong with the product. Electrical fault accounted for 46% of the recalls.

And, as the study goes on to outline, the recalls occur more frequently with price perceptions (items under £10 have under a 10% recall rate). Get past £10, and defect recalls occur far more frequently.

These two pieces of information create the principal insight. If your product is liable to cost over £10, then clearly the manufacturing process and testing is of paramount importance. Additionally, if your product utilises electricity or could be choked on by little people, care must be taken to pre-test ahead of all else.

However, if I was to try and address the problem over every market and attempt to apply a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the problem, I would research a number of case studies, ranging across a variety of industries. From FMCG problems, white good manufacturers, the auto industry, the pharmeuticals and more besides.

These case studies would provide part of a factual base in order to learn how to address the problem, as well as helping to pre-empt any problems contained within certain types of organisations.

Given the need for those who produce programmes for the computer to beta test, surely it should apply to other industries? One virus or glitch can fuck you in the eyes of the consumer. And you don't want to do that to a consumer that has more power to broadcast just how much you fucked with them. No more slow moving, silent monoliths.

Of course, to be entirely honest, there is a certain sense of chaos surrounding the legislative procedure, as well as no way of knowing which way public opinion will swing about a certain product or service (take Bernard Matthews ‘Turkey Twizzlers’ as a prime example of this).

But certainly, I believe doing this research and avidly pre-testing, testing, testing after launch and not rushing products through R&D is crucial if one is not to end up with mass recalls and a huge dent in company reputation.

If I was a consultancy, that's what I'd suggest. Do your homework, test thoroughly and above all else, hire a a good PR department that is quick on the draw; because no-one can legislate for changing demands and thinking.

Additionally (and Shel Israel would agree), get a company blog; you can instantly get involved with a direct dialogue with your consumer and head recalls off at the pass. If you are a big multinational, a PR company is a must though; you run the risk of your corporate blog getting swamped (especially if it is a mass recall).

That's what I'd do. How about you, faithful readers?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In honour of 100 posts, I give you a term..

The 'Johnny Cash'.

Used after a night out, or a particularly heavy curry.

It relates to one of his songs.. because both have the ability to give you a ring of fire.

To take away the pain of that thought, have some music.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Praise be! Blogmusik is back!

Praise Be! Blogmusik returns!

Yes, it's fucked up my links for the songs of the week (click those bad boys for a laugh), but ne'er mind. It returns!


And yes, I will sing the Ship Song at some point.... by the way, here's the original - couldn't find the video, so have some crazy Pirates of the Caribbean on the go:

And yes, my singing voice (or lack of it) is like Cave's. Flat and deep. Hoo boy..

Monday, April 16, 2007

More musical nonsense and cucumber sandwiches

Yada yada - thanks Dextr

It's all about more podcasts. Boo yah.

Check out the sidebar - you can now play them straight from the main page, which is nice.

Cocktail Parties..

Usual policy applies - thanks Mr Giles

Before I get properly in the post, I've got to put a disclaimer on this one:


Right, that's over with. Cocktail parties then. Not much to do with advertising, you might think.

And, you'd probably be right. But humour me, just this once...

You know at cocktail parties, when there are always people who have hordes of people around them. Slightly unreal, too perfect. Defined principally by their amazing ability to bore the piss out of all and sundry.

This is what most brands are online.

You don't try and have a conversation with this sort of person, simply because you feel you'll get shouted down by their generalised, seemingly automatous conversational skills and beliefs. You know the kind - those who have such wide ranging and rambling beliefs that talking to them and defining what they mean is like nailing sick to a wall. Not pleasant, oddly revolting and impossible.

Now, what about those people who sit in the corner, clutching their drinks and looking a bit disinterested? Yeah...those people. Those, who if provoked, will bore you senseless unless you are interested in their (slightly boring) conversation topics.

This is what some brands are online.

A wee bit limited. Conversations don't get very far from a basic point. Any attempts to integrate them into the wider party usually fall flat. Don't usually get on very well with the opposite sex. If you want to listen and are interested then great; they can be very interesting. The sort of person who, if interested in audio, knows more about the expensive wires than the speakers - because, as EVERYONE should know, you should spend twice as much on the wires.

How about the last group? It's a bit smaller than our first group. But damn, people are there because they want to be. One person in particular - who has his own style, way of talking and method of storytelling, is interesting people. He's not preaching, but letting it go with the flow and interjecting when it's appropriate.

This is what most brands should strive to be online.

It must be stressed that not every person can do this. Some are like our first boorish sort. These people should stay away from parties, or indeed, any form of social media. Listen a bit more, for God's sake. Define what you mean.

The second; well, yes, some people are like this as well. They, at least, know what they mean. It's a bit of a one way conversation though. Not satisfying, but at least you know what they stand for, and no, they'd never betray you or do anything of the sort. But they might turn out to be a bit of a broken record. Which no-one (except those who are really interested) really likes.

The latter; well, don't we all wish. We soon find out whether we can do that though. First, and most importantly, we have to listen. And I'm not sure if everyone can.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Garlic Bread?! That's the future, that is..

This link clearly is the future of presentations. No more crappy Powerpoint slides.

Just expressive thinking.

Thanks to NDG & Alby for the link in the first instance.

Means you can't ever hire anyone with a nervous twitch though..

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Arrogance is a gift?

Consider the following quote:

"If you are on thin ice, you may as well dance".

Not something I'd recommend, but hey. The point of the picture of Mr Mourinho and that quote is that they both denote a certain swagger, a divisiveness which can lead to people either loving or loathing you.

It's something I've noticed before - Hell, for a planner, I'm pretty bloody talkative, which is unusual in itself.

Worries about arrogance extended to when I was doing my (English) degree, where the vast majority of participants tended to be female.. and women who (for the most part) were a) brighter than me and b) quieter than me.

So no, I don't think I'm arrogant. I just talk a lot. And a lot. And a lot. Sometimes repetition creeps in as a result. As a result. Writing usually helps me cut this off at the knees.

And, of course, the argument goes, given my current position, I should shut the fuck up and get on with being humble and apprenticing myself to some of the best minds in the business.

I intend to do the middle one and the latter - I'm humble to those who are planners naturally in this industry, because they know more than I do about life, the universe and everything. But I'll still speak up if I have to, even in interviews.

It'd be pretty piss poor if they hired me and I was a sanitised version of myself. No chance. I'm not quite Rob's angry belief, but I can be opinionated, certainly.

And speaking up (when it's considered and the right time) should be a blessing - if it stops shit ads and comms, definitely. I can't be any other way.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Don't it always seem to go...

"They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Dont it always seem to go
That you dont know what you've got
'Till its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot"

Belated IPA Talk Thoughts..

The IPA talk was fascinating; always good to hear two heavyweights duke it out.

But, as Chris Forrest rightly pointed out, there wasn't enough blood on the walls; just a little bit of blog bad mouthing (sitting next to Richard was an experience - it is his write up on the site).

To me, the whole thing played out as a bit of a caricature of what we were supposed to think; John L had a very clear start and finish - Blogs are bad - encourage lazy thinking - could corrupt juniors - examples - examples from his own career - conclusion. Whereas Mr Grant (and I don't think he'd disagree) winged it a little more, using a few specific case studies (which escape me at the moment, but I know one of them was to do with America and how ridiculous American friends of his found the whole debate).

John L 'won' the debate in that he was able to convert more people to his side. For what it's worth, I think he made some valid points about those senior people with blogs; as they will be looked to as a source of inspiration/advice inherently, they must be careful about what they post. Valid point....buuuut..

I really don't think people on the outside looking in are quite so naive. Yes, obviously they will be doe eyed and a little bit clueless about what the job actually is - but surely not so dense as to think that is ALL the job. If you don't notice the bit on the job description which says 'analysing markets', frankly, you shouldn't be a planner.

John G made a very important point about trade magazines; arguably, if you only had those to rely on (which you did in the past), surely it makes you just as idealistic as some of the ad blogs out there; the world would be filled with long lunches, champagne and lovely clients, as well as a hefty expense budget and very little actual work. Not so.. more like a week spent finding out the numbers about boilers and the 'Home Emergency Market'. Sexiness, you soon find, has very little impact on the balance sheet - unless of course you have founded your entire career on being eye candy (which, sadly, I could never do).

As for my point of view; well, the letter to Campaign and the very fact I have a blog should give you some idea of where my sympathies lie.

Though I'm writing this in my lunch break, the accessing of information and ideas can only be a good thing; John L didn't dispute this (how could he?), but still - blogs, and ad blogs are a force for good... when done at the appropriate time. They can help spark ideas, lateral thought and provoke debate.

Which is surely all anyone wants from Advertising.
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