Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Give me a parachute. No, make it two.


Once upon a time in a land not that far, far away people the world over could produce exciting and innovative work. They could push the boundaries of their imagination and create works of great joy and vision for all to behold. But then a dark, dark figure appeared on the horizon. His shadow cast far and wide and the world cowered in his wake. The Dark Lord of Accountability had arrived and proceeded to use his evil powers to grip the world in fear.

No longer would we need to think beyond the obvious, or be challenged by an idea. No more the sweet nectar of the untried, the surprising or the fantastical. Under the watchful eye of their dark master the tick box tickers would rule the world.

Management teams, focus groups and members of every department would have to agree on every aspect of every idea produced and should just one man, woman or child be less than convinced then the whole sorry idea shall be strangled and choked until every last drop of oxygen has drained from its body and left a quivering wreck of what might have been.

From that day forth we had to ensure that every backside was covered, every reputation left untarnished and every career left unthreatened. If there was the slightest chance of offence, then a safety net must be offered. Any possible chance that an imaginary sub set of society will not understand an idea unless it is spelt out in language so clear a two year old could get it then a back-up plan must be offered. And if, God forbid, there was any sign of the idea being even remotely memorable, engaging or effective then in the name of all that’s holy we should offer an alternative so safe it would make a Volvo look like a motorbike made of axes.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Brief (pending approval)

The world seems to have gone process mad. In keeping with this I have put together a brief to help re-introduce a little sanity. I have distributed it, following the correct procedures, and it has now come back with a few requested amends from the ‘team’.

Why are we communicating?
We are communicating because a large percentage of the working population are sick and tired of process driven, top down, time inefficient, ego massaging nonsense. People would like to get on with their jobs in the most effective manner possible and be treated with the respect they have spent their career earning.

Not right. We are communicating to reinforce the brand message that systems equal success. Remember, ‘Lots of cooks make the broth better.’ Please revise.

What are we trying to communicate?
We are tying to communicate that if we all stop and think things through clearly and without prejudice we can make the working process easier, more efficient and then everyone will feel happier and the end results will be better.

Not right. We would like to communicate that the obvious answer is the best answer. We need to get across that employees shouldn’t question anything, but simply follow procedure to produce average work that is easy to sell.

Who is our target audience?
Our target audience is anybody who has an ounce of common sense.

Not right. This is way to general, be more specific. Try something like this.
Our target audience is Peter. Peter is a Caucasian, dark-skinned male from the south west of England, somewhere near Yorkshire. He guards his age but is somewhere between 21-55. He has forged a successful career in the IT/public sector, working as a higher, intermediate managerial administrative clerical worker with developed manual skills. He is as happy fixing a car as he is seeking spiritual enlightenment at the weekend. He is single but in a long-term relationship. He has no children but lots of nephews and nieces who he dotes on like a parent. He likes beer, wine, spirits, abstinence, sport of any kind, driving, walking, reading all books and likes watching any type of TV programme or film as long as it is entertaining/informative, action-packed, romantic, long or short. He is hard nosed and takes no prisoners, but has a soft spot for the weaker members of society.
This type of specific targeting will help us connect better with the target audience.

What is the best way to communicate this?
Talking to each other.

Not right. Let’s not simply talk to ‘each other’, be more ambitious. Let’s talk to our key demographic who are ABC1CD2 high/low achieving, independently minded but easily led decision makers with personality variables. Consider other media. How about a facebook campaign or a hilarious but corporately relevant and correctly branded viral video?

Requirements.
Some common sense.

No, no, no. We need a series of meetings with various members of the team at different times and to ensure the whole process is as drawn out, unproductive and frustrating as possible. Only by utilising this important corporate tool will we be able to meet the demands of today’s business model.

Timings
ASAP

Unrealistic. Some time before the financial year-end.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Too much information

Just recently I deleted over two and half thousand unread emails from a couple of my accounts. That’s two and a half thousand useless and completely redundant pieces of information that will never be read, never be looked at and never be acted upon. The contents were so pointless, banal, dishonest or self-serving that they didn’t even warrant the physical exertion of a click on the delete button until that point. However, all that has happened is that they have now been replaced by several hundred more messages of digital nothingness. At some point I will have to spend another hour or so of my life deleting them all, only for more to arrive and so the whole sorry cycle will continue until I have a mental or nervous breakdown, throw my computer out the window and start living my life as a hermit underneath a motorway bridge with just cheap cider, cardboard boxes and vermin for company.

However it’s not just emails telling me that a network problem in Budapest has been resolved, Voyage holidays have a fantastic sale on, I am entitled to claim back thousands of pounds on an accident I don’t remember having, lots of single women are just waiting to meet me or that I can extend the length of my penis. No, life is just one long succession of pointless messages being fired at me like some kind of scattergun shit spreader. Do I really need to know that MFI still have a sale on (when don’t they?), or that my Chicken Tikka Masala needs to be served hot? Do I need to know that my local councillor has fixed a pot hole in the road, an X Factor contestant has had a hard life, Katie Price has never been happier, Katie Price has never been sadder, objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear, my cup of tea ‘may contain traces of nuts’. Do I really need to be told to look left? Look right. Buy now. Pay later. I really don’t want to be poked by a friend of a friend of a friend. Who cares that M & Ms melt in your mouth not in your hand, Friday night is music night, a duck’s quack doesn’t echo, cats like Felix like Felix or that Christina Aguilera doesn’t know where the Cannes film festival is being held.

Add to this the ever-increasing mediums for all this information. Once upon a time there were three TV stations. Now there are thousands that are either repeating what was once shown on the three channels that used to be enough, or trying to entice us into an inevitable downward spiral of despair that is the world of TV poker/bingo or online shopping. As for the printed word, we are now drowning under a tidal wave of paper covered in more shit than an alcoholic’s boxer shorts. Just to add to the data diarrhoea, you are now nobody unless you have your own celebrity magazine. Oprah Winfrey and the likes of Gordon Ramsey, Rio Ferdinand and Jamie ‘I’m so sincere and good, really I am’ bloody Oliver all have their own magazines. Who the hell reads a Jamie Oliver magazine? Contents: Jamie’s recipes. Jamie’s gossip. Jamie’s advice page for sad fat people who like Pizza and chicken nuggets. Jamie’s driving tips and Jamie’s spot the odd one out between Jamie, Jamie, Jamie and Gordon.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Notes to an advertiser

A few comments from somebody who works in advertising, but also remembers they are a member of the public.

1) Tomorrow’s technology today, is by its very essence, today’s technology today.
2) Innovation does not have a human face. And if it did, I’m sure it would be a very smug one that deserves a slap.
3) You are not freedom. You are not strength. You are not technology. You are not such stuff as dreams are made of. You are an overpaid actor talking nonsense from a script and selling your soul for the Yankee dollar. Bank balance 1 – Integrity 0
4) Social networking is just what it says. ‘Social’. It is not corporate. If a product says it has 56,382 facebook friends then it is probably because that product and their advertising agency have 56,382 employees between them.
5) A flash mob began as an anti establishment fun activity. By the people for the people. Not by a corporation for its customers. If you try to do a branded version you stand a very real danger of looking monumentally stupid. (Yes I’m looking at you here Dr Pepper)
6) Brand advertising that doesn’t include a product had better include at least a product truth. Otherwise it is nothing more than a bunch of egos tugging each other off.
7) Your product is not New and Improved. It is either New or Improved, it can’t be both.
8) If your product is now suddenly twice as good as it was, then it must have been really shit before. You know, when you told us it was great.
9) If I am buying a shampoo I neither know nor care what Pentipepsides are. You know I don’t know what they are, and I know you know I don’t know what they are. I also know you don’t know what Pentipepsides are either, so let’s stop kidding ourselves.
10) Fun size means small, which means I, as a consumer, get less. What’s fun about that?

This post is bought to you by Toilet Duck. Please join us at Toiletduckisyour bestfriend/facebook/twitter/myspace/snailmail

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Gr8t post innit?

As me get older an’ everytin’ me want to stay feelin’ young, yeah. So me got ta tinkin’ dat it be time me got down wid da young uns, Yo! Age is just a state a mind, yeah. And me got da mind of da yoof, innit. So me gone and got me some well good jeans yeah, dat hang round me thighs so me can hardly walk and dat, widout lookin’ like some kinda constipated duck, ya get me?

Me also gonna’ stop pluggin’ me headphones into me phone, so all dem oldies can hear what me listen to as me walk down da street listenin’ to me Ragga, innit. After that yeah, me gonna’ buy me one of them hoodies and start lookin’ menacin’ an that.

Me bought a sk8board, but me did a move that was well wrong and now me got a slightly disloc8ted shoulder, so me give it up and me spend me spare time wid a good book, or a well wicked documentary on BBC4.

Me an me bloods is meetin l8ter to hang out round the shoppin’ centre an drink Stella and sneer at people an that. But first me has to mow me lawn, as it is getting well out of hand innit? Yesterday me went to get me ear pierced with a well-wicked jewel ting, but it didn’t really go wid me ear hair. Which was well shit.

Me homie buzzed on da phone earlier to arrange a meet at Maccy D’s for a burger kindathing. But me had to give him the big whatever cos I already had a nice antipasti of mozzarella, chilli and lemon crostini so me was well stuffed.

He said “No worries bro, that’s life.”

I said “Yo, Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be. Innit?”

He said “Bollocks!” which me thought was well sick.

Anyway, me gotta’ go now, me has a mash-up to put up on youtube an’ shit, but first me gonna treat myself to a facial scrub before having a light nap.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Friday Fun

I have Ranters block again, so here are some people looking silly.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Just pass on by

For no particular reason, I thought I would do this post as an homage to this rather lovely McDonalds commercial.

To the gaggling teen
Snarling and mean
In his sagging jeans
Worn round their thighs, so obscene
Just pass on by

And the delinquent types
And ‘awight bruv’ types
And listen to their music without headphones tikes
Just pass on by

Those rabbiting on their phone
As if they’re alone
Talking about their boyfriends
Loudly having a moan
Just pass on by

To the knuckle-draggers
And over-confident braggers
And intelligence flaggers
Just pass on by

The arrogant shop assistant
So annoyingly persistent
So much fury I’d like to vent
And their noses to dent
Just pass on by

And the cold callers
Those far away jawlers
Whose scripts are flawless
But whose pitch appal us
Just pass on by

And the thieving bank
Who would rather you sank
And give you a spank
And make you walk the plank
Just pass on by

And the colleagues who shout
And preen and pout
And prance about
And perception of nought
Whose ideas they tout and ignorance they flout
Please, just pass on by

There’s a rant for everyone

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The estate of Rant Lee Yieung

Dear Reader, let me introduce myself. I am Yew R. A. Liu Ser, Principal Assurance manager for the China Trust Commercial Bank in China. I have asked an honest friend coming to the UK to write this post on my behalf. I am getting in touch with you as an honest and noble man, regarding the estate of  Rant Lee Yieung and his investment placed under our banks management 10 years ago.

I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this post confidential and respect the integrity of the information you come by as a result of this post, although it is completely honest. In the year 2000 Mr Rant Lee Yieung came into our very honest and distinguished bank. He said he had a portfolio of some £12 he wished us to invest on his behalf. We invested this money in honest and very profitable opportunities like squirrel breeding and alchemy. The profits and interest on this account now mean we have a sum of £125,000,000 in our very honest bank.

It is my sad duty to tell you that Mr. Rant Lee Yieung died recently in a bizarre and sexually ambitious pineapple incident. He had no immediate next of kin, and you dear reader, have a one in four chance of being the closest thing he had to family. In fact he even mentioned you once in a moment of Saki induced introspection.

To check if you qualify for the figure of £125,000,000 (minus legal fees) from our very honest bank, simply send us your full name, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, account number and sort code as proof of identity.

To ensure that the money gets to you as soon as possible, we must act quickly. Please send me your details by return, and please keep this correspondence confidential and not tell anyone like the police. This is for tax reasons.

Just think what you can buy with £125,000,000. A new future for your family, a big house, lots of cars, maybe as many rabbits as you want. Perhaps some drugs, immoral but adventurous members of the opposite sex, illegal immigrants, the list goes on and on.

I await your response. Best and honest regards, Yew R. A. Liu Ser

Thursday, 8 July 2010

An angel touched me and then my dog died.

Perusing the bookshelves of WH Smiths or Waterstones recently is like being bombarded with a shower of saccharine sorrow. There are rows of tragic true-life stories with titles like ‘Don’t tell Mummy.’ ‘The little prisoner.’ And ‘Ewww, Daddy. What’s THAT?’

I don’t mean to trivialise the true stories in question, or the therapeutic effect of writing these books, but what I do find distasteful is the way they are now being turned into a brand. They all look the same and someone; somewhere is making tearfuls of money from them. Abused children the world over won’t know who to talk to first, a social worker or a book agent. Sad, blonde-haired, cherubic children against white backgrounds with a wispy typeface stare out, imploring you to spend £7.99 of your money to share in their pain.

I don’t profess to have ever read one of these books, but as they seem to be quite popular at the moment I thought I would write a post in a similar vein.

What follows is a true story.

‘It was a cold Monday morning and it hit me. Bang. I had left my cup of tea to stew too long. It would now be ruined, cold and there was no going back. The cup would be stained, much like my soul and try as I might the tea could never be saved. The damage would be irreconcilable and I would never know the pleasure that simple cup of tea would offer. I sunk to my knees, with my head in my hands and wept. Wept like I’d never wept before, the truth dawning on me in waves of sadness as the tears flowed from my eyes like a torrent of rain on the coldest, wettest, bleakest day.

Slowly, unsteadily at first, I stood. My knees buckled a little, but I was determined to stand, and stand I did. This was just another hurdle in a life of sorrow and I would be strong. I would beat it. One day. I had to, there was simply no other option. The week before I had put on some toast and again forgotten about it, only realising when it was cold and brittle and I had gotten over that. I would get over this. Wouldn’t I?

What hurt more than the defiled cup of PG Tips was the fact my family knew about it. They had known all along and done nothing. Choosing to ignore the tragedy befalling my cup. They had seen the stewing tea and carried on with their lives as if nothing was wrong. All this had happened behind closed curtains. A house of horror in a sleepy suburban town, the neighbours blissfully unaware of what was going on under their noses. Had just one of them noticed anything suspicious, made a call to the authorities, it could all have turned out so very differently. But no, I was alone. Just me and that soiled cup of tea, staring at me, teasing me hurting me in every sinew of my body.

But then, all at once, I turned a corner. I heard a click and was suddenly bathed in a warm light and then it happened. I was touched by an angel; it sounds incredible I know, but I was touched by an angel. And then she spoke. “Get out of the way.” She said, and suddenly all became clear. Get out of the way of the negativity and hurt. Let the sunshine back into your life and stop worrying about the tea. I could wash the cup, perhaps even add a little bleach and leave it to soak. I could boil the kettle and make another cup of tea.

Hallelujah and rejoice I was saved.

Those days are behind me now, and although I will never forget the hurt, I will move on. I will be strong. I will survive. I will have another cup of tea.’

Thursday, 1 July 2010