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?

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.


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.