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Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

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Firstly, is it boring to talk about how agencies need to change, how the structure put in place in the 1950s might not be the best way to handle such a fragmented 2007 and that possible conspiracy theory that if agencies were honest the whole industry would crack at the top due to the severe profits of large agencies being through traditional TV (whilst it still has an important place it has to fundamentally change in terms of creative and media format i.e. Gorilla and IPTV). 

Still boring? Yeah well, I know but still I think I’ll have a go at Brand Image vs Brand Innovation as we still seem to be far off it. Inspired by the legend that is John Grant I can’t help but feel, WTF are we doing? We spend so much time, resource and money in producing a glossy frame when we don’t think about the actual picture at all. What I mean by this  is that we strive to make polished advertising messages however when we get brand/product facing we are let down by shoddy service or poor product and therefore this makes any ‘image’ we have tried to create totally null and void.

An example was today when I went to pay in a cheque at my local NatWest branch, whilst I understand that they say they open at 9.30am they could clearly see that there was a queue gathering outside and almost out of spite a member of staff stood inside until the clock hit directly 9.30am. I then approached the cash desk, two people were sat there, I approached one directly only to be told, ‘nah mate’…..well why the FUCK are you sat at the cash desk alluding that you might for a second be up for doing your job? Count the pennies either behind a screen or away from where people will believe that you’re sat there for a reason. This experience really clashed strongly with their current advertising – all about how they are human centric, customer caring and service based. So a total waste of money building an image that is utterly false and transparent to a marketing bull shit savvy public. 

So where then? Well surely seeing as we claim to be king of consumer knowledge we should be advising our clients on innovation rather than false motivation. If we are meant to be advising our clients to the best of our ability surely we should be telling them where they are faltering on their delivery or how to innovate in order to gain market share? But that’s for brand consultancies I hear you cry? Is it? If it is then how are there so many brands (big brands) which are failing to deliver on their promise? If it is then surely they can’t be very good at it?  

The long incomprehensible ramblings I’m trying to get to is that our current business model is quite literally screwed. We provide pictures whether it be on TV or on a computer or on a billboard making a promise that simply isn’t true. I’m not trying to be all sanctimonious, I love what we do, I just think we’re working back to front. The ability for us to add value is getting less (based on the consumer facing service failing) and we try and justify that value through (if we’re honest) dubious measurement methods.

So I’d like to change, getting closer to client’s business, bringing innovation to the table and using consumer knowledge to create real and tangible change (as opposed to suitable tone of voice) and then a true and honest brand image which in turn generates the good stuff. I’m aware that certain agencies have worked towards this, having a say in packaging, tone of voice, events, customer services but they’re case studies of inspiration as opposed to the norm right now. Anton xxx 

p.s. AHHH, it’s just happened again, I go into the Bagel Factory as I’m quite a fan, buy a bagel, hand over my loyalty card to be stamped and then told, ‘we don’t do that anymore’ ‘so what do you do?’ ‘nothing’ Had I not paid I would have spun on my heel. This is the kind of arrogance that brands think they can still wield,  with Tesco Express, Pret and Eat on nearly every corner should Mr Bagel Factory be somewhat a bit wiser? I can see the next ‘honest’ print campaign: ‘Really tasty bagels from a really unappreciative company’ or ‘Fuck you very much for your loyal custom’.

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Human beings are both intrinsically tribal and hypocritical. What we criticize in others is often a reflection of flaws we see in our own characters that we choose to ignore. And this post is about that very subject.

The advertising community, like every other human community is essentially a collection of tribes. I could go into a monologue on the social history of humans, but the majority of you guys know more about it than me, so I’ll cut to the chase.

There is a tendency, particular now in the web 2.0 / social-media / digital world we live in to take the sword to ‘traditional advertising agencies’ – the companies built by people whose names adorn their logos and walls to this day. They don’t really get digital, they still think the 30 second spot is the zenith of communications, they try to push ads onto MySpace senselessly and still think they occupy the intellectual elite with their Oxbridge degrees and old boy meetups. They have become the enemy.

The hero of the piece, as some would like to tell is the the mobile startup, the perfectly differentiated company, staffed with radical free thinkers who don’t know or care about the boundaries and boxes that define traditional advertising. They are at the forefront of the push to make comms more organic and are altogether full of goodness.

So you have the good guys and the bad guys, locked in a titanic struggle. The traditionals are arrogant and closed-minded, while the new kids on the block are the exact opposite.

In painting this picture, a slice of the so called savior sect have turned into total assholes. Totally. They’ve become everything that they accuse the traditional advertising community of being. Arrogant, a closed group who laugh with disdain at everything the others do. ‘The traditionals don’t go to cool conferences, they wear jeans and blazers and they really really cannot do good work’. The saviors have become everything that they said they weren’t.

The purpose of this post isn’t to name names, I’ll leave that to the tabloids. Or even to say who’s right and who’s not, because the truth, as is always the case lies somewhere in between. What I’m trying to get at (while on the last train from London to Birmingham) is that advertising as a community – and a small community at that, is facing tough enough times as it is. We’re up against a formidable enemy: the limits of the human brain’s bandwidth – our inability to process more than a certain amount of messages. To slice ourselves up into little cliques and paint the others as the enemy is not really the best course of action. Bear in mind that a healthy, competitive rivalry is not what I’m talking about, it’s the acid-laden ‘we’re better than them’ sanctimonious bullshit that makes me (and I haven’t had a ‘proper’ agency job yet) think ‘do these people not listen to themselves talk?’. Both sides are guilty of it, but I find it ironic that each side claims supremacy but essentially is the same. They are both, in their own capacity trying to make their work better. Some (and please note I said some, not all) attitudes need a little readjustment.

The people who really get it, and they are out there in droves, the silent majority as it were, are able to articulate their differences in a rational and persuasive manner that makes it extremely hard not to respect their opinions (no matter what you think of them personally), because they have conviction in themselves but are gracious enough to realize that they don’t know it all. They are open to new thoughts and experiences – they take the cliche ‘a good idea can come from anywhere’, and really live it. Not just pay it lip service and move on.

There will always be intra and inter agency politics, that’s a human trait, to be tribal. And we will always see everything through the lens of our insecurites. Let’s remember that this industry is maybe one of the most stimulating because of it’s purpose and its people. To slice and dice it to put yourself on a pedestal at the expense of others is a childish, adolescent act of insecurity. And as someone who is still coming out of his childhood and adolescence, these aren’t traits that we need to propagate and use to identify ourselves with.

I don’t know at this point whether I’m getting across what I set out to, because I’m just writing what I’m thinking, without thinking about it. This is the best industry by far to work in, like Anton says it has the coolest and most varied people around. To turn it into a school popularity contest would be a shame, because that is not what advertising and ultimately the people who work in it are about. I wish I could think of a cool strapline to sum it all up, but I’m tired and this is probably the most coherency I can summon at this time. I hope it’s enough to say what I wanted to.

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Before I start this isn’t destroying those who network or enjoy it. It’s my humble view of why I care not to be a social butterfly with my occupational gain in mind. This could very well be a downfall of mine and as a result I may suffer in the future for having such a belief in an industry which is obviously quite populated with considerable top end favours being exchanged. So, shamelessly indulgent of me with no delusions of anyone being interested (I just care to write it down in a public place) why I don’t like networking and a type who network? Well, it’s again a fault of mine. I have this social flaw of being completely unable to act interested in anyone I spot with the pretense of verbally climbing the career pole all over their greasy little hands or like to spray those around them with their suspicious achievements.

Now Sam, Sam is gifted, he can quite gracefully (even with an American accent) work and charm the room and come across engaged with all those he passes. He’ll introduce me to a group, one will lean forward shake my hand give a nod, the overtly thin short lady to my left scopes me out, assesses my worth, forces a smile and tries to start a conversation with someone else, as karma would have it no one is interested in her so she pretends to read a new text message. A rather jittery researcher introduces himself to me. He gives me a card, I explain I didn’t bring any and the group all chuckle to themselves ‘didn’t bring a card’ they snigger. Sorry, last time I checked I wasn’t here to fckn flyer. I move away, partly because I would rather socialize with a disgruntled rattle snake than with these just human group that for some reason I’m in the same room as. Sam is still doing a great job, I sneer when he looks over, I’m going for a cigarette.

Outside, at last, free from feeling guilty that I won’t pretend that just because someone is talking on a raised stage it must be of gospel quality. A man barges past me, pacing up and down, talking on an ear blue tooth thing, I step around him so that I can’t see the side with the blue tooth so I can see what looks like him talking to himself, I imagine he’s insane and smile, he’s loud enough for me to hear which of course is on purpose and given the inane content could be convincing that he is in fact a mentalist. I sigh, I look back seeing lots of heads snapping back, mouths gaped open with exaggerated laughing. My spine shudders, I can’t do it, I won’t do it. A planner I use to work with stands next to me and lights a cigarette. At last, salvation. We chat about how much we hate these things, that certain speakers were great and some were, well, let’s just say not really as great as all the camera flashes will have them believe. Either way, we’re out of the office which seems the best thing right now.

Time to go back in, I spot the skinny little women chatting to one of the speakers as he nervously looks past her, waiting to have his cue to get mike-d up. Her rude compose with me and now her desperation with what she sees as an opportunity is in my eyes the very shallow, self serving and dishonest reason I don’t like these things. I’m filled with disdain for such people, I don’t trust them, I don’t like them….and I have a chip on my shoulder with those who play an arrogant card with me and alas it’s usually true to say that these were brought up in the ‘old skool’ and probably don’t ‘get it’. I’m told that she’s on the way out and that that neither office she applied to within her network want her due to being impossible to work with. I understand now why she’s putting so much effort into keeping this poor guy’s attention and dismissed abruptly anyone who can’t give her a helping hand. Mad blue tooth man barges past, still rabbiting to himself, maybe he’s in his own world of 24 and clearly has just learnt that a bomb is placed within this venue. That can be the only reason for the urgency, that or he’s just gagging to get to the front, open his gills and take in everything he’s told to.

The day goes on, some drag, some engage, some I’ve worked with and do in fact talk to, I enjoy their natural and good way. There is no glazed greed in their eyes, they are funny, they are natural, there is no agenda, they usually turn into friends who I would never dream of calling up for a career opportunity for the very reason they are friends.

But did I ‘network’? No Sir, I certainly did not, I had conversations with no ambition of gain but for the interest and enjoyment of my fellow tise men and women and to my detriment it maybe, so I’ll grim and bare that punishment if and when I feel the consequences. But if you feel the same way at such events which sporn this behaviour, look outside for the ones smoking and sighing with their backs against the wall, curled up spitting venomous comments

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…come outside and network with us..

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We’re trying to get our heads around something. What exactly is the role of an industry trade magazine/website/forum? Is it to report in a factual way about events from with a BBC methodology and thus provide two sides to a story or is it to report on those which the editorial team have a relationship with and facts are replaced with subjective opinion?

We would think the former would be the responsible way to go. Lets take Brand Republic, the love child of Campaign and its approach to Publicis.

http://www.brandrepublic.com/forums/showthread/68e2bc8a-0061-4d8b-9638-be3ea32bd189

As a host of news and events for the industry it seems strange that some of its editorial team took great pleasure in an agency’s demise which essentially has involved redundancies, troubled lives and a brave set of people fighting at the coal face when all the chips are down.

Surely as an industry information source you would think that it’s the responsibility of Brand Republic to give support to London’s 4th largest agency which has carved many a milestone in the UK’s rich advertising history we enjoy today.

Nope, those at Brand Republic decide to laugh and cheer like a load of dribbling paparazzi at a car crash:

“Agencies cease to exist all the time either by merger or failure. Even really good agencies and Publicis – former home of MFI and Asda – is not one of those. HHCL, GGT, Ammirati Puris Lintas and Bozell to name a few. They have no divine right to exist “

“…the merger of APL and Lowe is very much what this looks like. I had pretty much forgotten about DMB&B, its funny how quick big ad brands disappear”

Whilst this provoked a few aggressive retorts that were unnecessary it surely is irresponsible for what is essentially a news site to get involved with such barbaric and snearing views. When does journalism stop being factual and when does it start having an opinion?

In our view – never, it’s not its job and it’s not its reason for being. Now Brand Republic may claim that these comments were said in a forum and therefore are exempt from such reporting scrutiny. WRONG. It’s merely a host of the main advertising forum around and as such still has a responsibility to (mereley) moderate and moderate alone, unless they are scraping the barrel for content and therefore require provocative and controversial comments to get arguments started – either way, the responsible brand that is Brand Republic is now seen as being an unreliable source due to allowing itself to get caught up in such a debate and throw around what they claim to be true – that Publicis should disappear due to lacking creative talent. Hmm, funny that seeing as they won 2 pencils at the D&AD Awards the evening prior to Brand Republic’s comments. Maybe more time researching facts than slinging mud is required.

But how nice of the First in Advertising, Marketing, Media and PR to share their views. Maybe they would like to share those views with all of those at Publicis.

 

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“Ya ya that idea is sooo media transferable” “How many markets can we conceive this campaign in successfully?” “I need that ATL TVC ASAP”

It’s quite shameful but I’ve actually said maybe one of those comments before…and been punished via humiliation for it. The thing is when leaving university after studying marketing you have such academic and conceptual bullshit rammed down your throat that unless every sentence in your dissertation has paradigm in it, you’re screwed.

I’ve also been in meetings with clients before where it’s total jargon frenzy. That’s ok, if you have a marketing background, you go into account management and then you meet marketing people everyone likes to have a wee go on complicated marketing speak.

But good old Schramm of the 70s just used terms such as sender, message, receiver, noise and created the cornerstone of marketing theory and now everyone takes the piss.

I think it’s just really a case of appreciating who you’re talking to. Creatives have been burnt many a time for being off brief and like to point at account services for not briefing them correctly. I think in future I’ll keep it simple: “Make it looks like the TV ad”.

Client’s will think you’re a bit of a retard if you just point and talk like a 5 year old fresh out of the Early Learning Centre so I’ll up the tempo there I think “We’ve captured the conceptual elements of your brief and transformed them into a visual and information based journey”

Sorry, I only decided to have this rant as I’ve just been kicked out of a creative’s office for using the TVC comment instead of ‘tele ad’….I’m off to draw dot to dot and get in the mind frame.

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Getting Better

Some things really piss me off, and usually you’ll find that things that piss you off make you do stuff more than things that make you insanely happy. Par example, if you have great service on a flight (and that can mean anything you want) you’re not really as likely to write a letter to the airline’s customer relations department as you are if you say, saw a flight attendant (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) spitting in your food. Comprende?

Anyway what’s really getting to me is the almost across the board lack of talent that is filtering through the funnels of unholy HR departments. I mean some of the new starters coming in really really really really are not good enough. Really. Enthusiasm? None. Passion? Less. Attitude? Yes please. Now look, attitude is great, we love attitude and like to think we have > our fair share. BUT, and this is a big butt, you have to back it up. Cash those proverbial cheques that your mouth is writing, if you will.

So what am I talking about? I’m talking about giving a damn, not in a hang a flag off Big Ben type of way (although that is mega cool) but in a ‘be interested about what you do’ type of way. And realising that you have to pay your dues in the land of ad. And (and there’s a lot of and in this post, so I apologise) to be fair and honest and other cliched type things, it’s really not that hard if you’re interested. Since everyone loves a list, here’s a very simple step by step guide to getting better at your job.

Read – if you can’t, learn how to, and read about what’s going on, and not just the pages 2-3 of Campaign to see if your damn agency is in there this week. Chances are it has nothing to do with you so get over it.
Look – Central London is full of everything ad so look and think about what you’re looking at from your (soon to be) educated communication related senses
Listen – To everything. That pretty much covers it.
Think – About what you’re reading, looking at, listening to etc.

We’re all in the communications business, so all the ways in which communications happens should be your business.

And please for the love of God, don’t expect that because you’re an Oxbridge graduate, the world and it’s dog owe you something. You’re owed nothing baby. Not a strand of anything. One of the AdLads went to Oxbridge and the head up your butt factor is astounding. Get over yourself and pull your head out your backside, it’s a great day today.

Finally, if you ‘fell into advertising’ and don’t really fancy it, get out. They’re plenty of people who’ll do a better job. Just because you’ve been in it for x number of years doesn’t mean you can’t be replaced. Working in this industry is a privilege, not a right. Treat it like it is. And maybe we’ll all get better at doing it.

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Wednesday’s Rant

Don’t you just hate how some people in agencies are so fckn Twee? Of course you can find these people all over the shop and in different industries but that doesn’t make it any easier when I have to sit there, listening with my spine curling in on itself.

We should unite as Adlads and ban any banter about diets, Thailand, gyms, typical Monday questions such as ‘how was your weekend?’ and anything associated with family. Urgh it’s sick man. Furthermore, anyone who has teeth that look like they’ve just been clinically cleaned is either A. Getting paid more than me or B. A soulless fool. Either way these people must be removed in a nasty and violent manner.

Don’t get me started on those who come in and start to discuss the status of London’s transport. Move somewhere else then you docile worm where you get 3 busses turning up back to back every 3 hours and nothing in between.

I’m just ranting due to my disillusion that I may be in an industry with kudos, sigh.

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