Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Planning Commandments

As inspired by Charles' blog post yesterday. My thoughts on 10 planning commandments.

1. If thou does not question the morality of advertising now and again, you shouldn't be in planning

2. If there is no client that you would rather resign than work on, you shouldn't be in planning

3. If you feel happier about a small pay rise than producing world class work, you shouldn't be in planning

4. Always be nice

5. Always be honest

6. Treat people as people, not consumers

7. Never stop learning

8. No matter how good or clever it is, a strategy that only produces bad (or ineffective) work is bad strategy

9. Learn to both love and be wary of research, treat it with respect but never without scrutiny

10. Don't hold onto thoughts and ideas for yourself. Sharing promotes caring.

Crappy Customer Service Part XXVI

I hate ranting about bad customer service but I have experience so much of it recently that it needs doing.

I find it staggering how many online retailers forget that the whole point of online is doing things quickly; sites for whom 24 hours is an appropriate time for an email response.

Today's pain in the fucking backside is - A download gaming site owned by the media company IGN.

Anyone who uses Steam will know that outside of sales, buying download games costs a fortune compared to instore or boxed prices; but D2D had a couple of brilliant offers on Dirt 2 and Split/Second.

I ordered the games and went to pay for them, but mistakenly used a credit card that had been cancelled. They don't accept cdebit cards so my wife retried using her credit card. It came up that I needed to contact them, so (with no telephone number around) I emailed them.


The next day an email arrived saying they were looking into it... Several hours later an email said I should retry the purchase. So I went to do so, except that the offer had finished and the games were now 4 times the price, and they hadn't saved the basket at all.

I emailed back explaining this, and (16hours later) got an (admittedly very polite) email saying: "I regret the sale you are inquiring about has ended. We have many exciting sale prices for games on a regular basis, with many top titles to choose from, so please check back often!"

Yeah... you can fuck right off, I'm going to Steam.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lovely and refreshing

Lovely Mexican ad for Coca cola showing how the bad outweighs the good in the world.

You know us so well...

I do find it irritating when ads claim to know exactly what we want (I might be in advertising but I am still a customer and viewer), even more so when they do so despite the claim being blatantly untrue.

Sure, there are plenty of people who would like their air freshener to be shaped like a plastic version of a stone; but enough to make a key line out of the phrase "If you could design your air freshener..."

What did they do, carry out a quant survey of 300 housewives and say If you designed your air freshener, how would it look? To which 151 people said "Like a cheap plastic copy of a stone... even though my living room has no real stones."

By all means tell us it's the nicest looking air freshener around, that it fits neatly into your room, it doesn't look like an air freshener. All those things are valid. But really, to imply that a piece of grey plastic is what we would create is just damn annoying... unless you have some good evidence to back it up!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thumbdercats are loose

Being on holiday I didn't see this ad until late last week, but it was worth the wait. As a loyal user of Cravendale I was quite sad to see the Cow, cyclist and pirate go; they gave the brand a lovely playfulness.

While the latest ad is a little more traditional in its' make up (reminding a bit of the old 'so good the cows want it back' ads), it absolutely works in giving the brand a leading yet silly tone of voice.

At first glance it felt like using cats was a concession that 'this thing will be online, so what do people watch online?' Yet the humour, detail and execution lets the campaign avoid any notions of being contrived.

Any cat fan knows that their cat would clearly like to take over the world. There is no exaggeration at all, but Bertrum Thumbcat is being used in a witty way that reminds me a little of the excellent Pinky and the Brain. Cats are fascinating creatures, and I hope the campaign continues to explore this (as they are doing online) and avoids falling into the trap of repeating itself.

You just cannot argue with advertising like this. (Especially now the cats are read up on military strategy)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Totally Awful

Some ads are just bad, some are really bad. Some just pass by without doing much, while others make you want to rip your hair out. (Those of you who have any left)

It takes something however to make an ad that is so bad that it makes me consider not buying a brand I have been loyal to for over a decade; just to object to being made to watch it.

Unlike the ads for Colgate sensitive, which (whilst being flat and direct) told a new piece of information that was interesting to learn, and were at least a bit interesting; the new Colgate Total ad commits too many sins to be forgivable.

It's flat and direct, it looks dubbed, it features a hideously bad personal trial mechanic, it has nothing to engage the viewer with at all.

The brand has a history of straightforward ads, but this is the weakest I can remember. The old stuff about 'More dentists use Colgate Total' was genuinely interesting and persuasive, the demonstration of how Colgate Sensitive stops tooth pain was informative... this just feels like being lectured.

When people talk about the internet and how a one-way monologue is no longer relevant; it is this kind of stuff that they are talking about.

I won't subject you to it, so here (about 3 ads in) is a better ad from the brand in 1995.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Planner in Hong Kong Part 3 - Gawp!

One thing that happens a lot north of the touristy areas is staring. I was stared at at, a lot. In the New territories towns you get people glancing in surprise, in China however it was something else altogether.

In Shaoguan (on an exertion with a guide who spoke no English) kids chuckle and point, people turn their heads in surprise, and old ladies give you evil eyes... really scary evil eyes.
In fact whilst at a scenic tourist attraction (a giant penis shaped rock, I kid you not) two girls started taking pictures by the shop we were in. Turns out they were taking a picture of me... hah.
So Kai Lai asked if they would like a proper photo with me, to which they giggled and said yes. So each took a photo with me. In one I did the China/Hong Kong pose of doing a V sign (Victory, not sod off), which made them fall about laughing.

I almost wish I had been there the day after to see the local paper, page 14 "Westerner spotted in town!"

Some photos:
The amazing Guangzhao South train station, plus Chinglish
The penis shaped stone

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Planner in Hong Kong Part 2

Part 2 - I am here!

I don't know if you've ever been to Hong Kong, but if not I imagine your expectation of it is a little like New York, this huge metropolis of skyscrapers; and you'd be partly right. Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than New York, and has more people living above the 14th floor than anywhere in the world. Here, a town is five blocks of flats, a shopping centre and a school.

Yet there is another world that is a short trip away. Within 20 miles or so you have the beaches and mountains of Aberdeen, the business bustle of Central, the mad ex-pat buzz of Soho, the gaudy fake Rolexery of Kowloon and the local life of the New Territories.

It's the latter where we would be staying. A small village about 300 yards from the border with the China restricted zone, where the town of Sha Tau Kok includes a road where one side is China and one side is Hong Kong.

The village is probably what you expect old Hong Kong to be like, small areas of little communities with old houses (mostly knocked down now, Hong Kong has little place for the old as there is so little space). Positioned next to a big hill/small mountain it's an amazing place to be, with the edges of the sea visible from just a few hundred yards away.

To get to Hong Kong island, I have to get a 30 min bus to Sheung Shui, then take the East rail line almost all the way down to Kowloon, then change to the MTR, then change lines again. It took us about 90minutes to get back last time we went there...

Picture is the village bus stop - From

A Planner in Hong Kong Part 1

Almost two weeks in Hong Kong now, and the days are flying past. I shall be writing about the experience over the next week or so, feel free to read or ignore at your leisure!

Part 1 - Flying!

Now I hope not to jinx this as I am yet to fly back at time of writing, but my journey here left me extremely impressed with Qatar Airways. Great service and excellent food made the journey as comfy as it could be for someone who's legs are too long for economy class.

I wanted to fly Virgin Atlantic after the great experience we had last time, but I think so far Qatar are pipping it.

The food was great (for air travel), it tasted good and didn't have the texture of polystyrene. The seats were comfortable and had a little more leg room than I remember on some other flights.

The little thing that said it all for me was the blanket. On most airlines they are these horrible wool/nylon static monstrosities that feel cheap and nasty. On Qatar they were soft and fluffy as a kitten that has just been machine washed with Comfort softener.

The service was excellent too, friendly staff who were happy to help out the whole way through the flight.

I also finally got to see The Social Network too. Great film.