Wednesday, February 4, 2015

HTC cuts the cord from previous tagline "Quietly Brilliant" in the best way possible; with an ad that's loudly stupid...

I've worked with HTC on three occasions now and each one felt like an entirely different company. The last experience resulted in the memorable Robert Downey spot which, although baffling, was nothing if not interesting.

This latest effort is just mind boggling. As my friend Jonny Lang says, this is what you get when you fire the agency and do it all in house.

It's hardly like HTC needs any more problems right now. Real shame, nice product, curious company but they just don't seem to be able to stay on course.

16 Things, from Andreessen Horowitz

Some tremendous stuff from the chaps at Andreessen Horowitz around trends and stuff they're thinking about in 2015.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Spikes finally SCAM free for the first year. D.O. would be proud.

Absolutely NO sign of scam at the Spikes this year with print finalists from some of the region's most respected and high profile clients, such as
- FRIENDS OF NATURE, Shanghai - Anti-disposable chopstick campaign
- TOUCH CYBER WELLNESS, Singapore - campaign to make people Cyber-better I presume!
- MR ZHAO PESTICIDES, Shanghai - some of China's finest pesticides!
- 3M's PET HAIR ROLLER, Shanghai - an innovative first, targeting animals directly through print
- TAIWAN UFOLOGY SOCIETY, Shanghai - they are trying to use advertising to make contact with extra-terrestrial life I'm guessing
- WORLD SURPRISE TRAVEL AGENCY, Thailand - I'm hoping the surprise is that there is no surprise!
- And awards perennial and huge advertiser PENGUIN BOOKS is back again with a big campaign for its audio books in China. 
- THE INDIAN DEBATING UNION, Shanghai - apparently the pitch for this took 2yrs as they couldn't decide which agency they liked best.
And my favorite
- FRIENDS OF THE ASIAN ELEPHANT, Thailand - a campaign giving a big FU to the African Elephant I presume!
Good to see the stationary/writing implement category is booming with campaigns from all the big boys
- A.W. FABER-CASTELL, Hong Kong. 
Clearly the wooden writing & highlighter implement market in HK is very competitive these days.
And, of course, the Guinness ad that ran once in IS magazine, because Singapore's a small country and you only really need to run an ad once as a result.
Well done to our industry for punching ourselves in the balls once again!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Twelve Months A Thief

Once this whole ordeal is over, and I'm free to tell all, I'll entertain you with the real story of what's been going on with our little private equity dabble for the last year or so. It involves any number of authorities, legal bodies, law enforcement and much much more. I've given my first police statement, spoken to a senior advisor to the Prince of Wales, I've frozen bank accounts and generally been a massive dog with a bone. I thought, mainly for my own edification and entertainment, I'd write a few things I have learned in the hope that it helps people not fall into the same trap that me and Adrey did.

1. No matter what, get it in writing.
2. Use a lawyer EARLY; it's a whole lot cheaper than using one LATE!
3. In the words of President Reagan "Trust, but verify"
4. Don't be distracted by the shiny object; treat all things with equal skepticism
5. Never underestimate people or what they're capable of
6. As my Dad used to say "Never a borrower nor a lender be"
7. It's as old as time, but seriously, don't go into business with friends
8. Blood is thicker than water, but it turns out that money is a whole lot thicker!
9. Time does not really heal, it just numbs the pain!
10. Life really is uncertain and can change in the blink of an eye
11. Get a good accountant and a good lawyer
13. Befriend a powerful mason
14. In the attempted words of George W Bush "Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me... You can't get fooled again!"
15. Revenge is a dish best served by a legal representative of the court!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Snappy Book Title # 758

There's nothing like a single minded idea.....

I'm not sure which message this rather attractive pack is shouting at me works the best.

I'm intrigued by the nature of anything that's Jet-Puffed - especially marshmallow.

I trust it will make me fatter because it's from Kraft.

I'm unsure about the 'Still 7oz' message unless there's been something in the press that I've missed about Jef-Puffed marshmallow creme potentially reducing its serving size.

I love that it's a shatterproof jar - in my opinions, all jars should be.

'America's favorite' does re-enforce the "will make you fatter" message, so that's good.

Way to go the committee of marketers and pack designers that bolted this frankenstein's monster together.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Doing some research for a project I'm working on and came across this lovely bit of insight into Engineers! Beautiful!!

Engineers Explained

People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other people. This can be frustrating to the nontechnical people who have to deal with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to understand their motivations. This chapter will teach you everything you need to know. I learned their customs and mannerisms by observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned about the great apes, but without the hassle of grooming.
Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word "engineer" is greatly overused. If there's somebody in your life who you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give him this test to discern the truth.


You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked. You...

    A. Straighten it.
    B. Ignore it.
    C. Buy a CAD system and spend the next six months designing a solar-powered, self-adjusting picture frame while often stating aloud your belief that the inventor of the nail was a total moron.
The correct answer is "C" but partial credit can be given to anybody who writes "It depends" in the margin of the test or simply blames the whole stupid thing on "Marketing."


Engineers have different objectives when it comes to social interaction.
"Normal" people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from social interaction:

  • Stimulating and thought-provoking conversation
  • Important social contacts
  • A feeling of connectedness with other humans
In contrast to "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:
  • Get it over with as soon as possible.
  • Avoid getting invited to something unpleasant.
  • Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of all subjects.


To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two categories: (1)things that need to be fixed, and (2)things that will need to be fixed after you've had a few minutes to play with them. Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems. Normal people don't understand this concept; they believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.
No engineer looks at a television remote control without wondering what it would take to turn it into a stun gun. No engineer can take a shower without wondering if some sort of Teflon coating would make showering unnecessary. To the engineer, the world is a toy box full of sub-optimized and feature-poor toys.


Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. If no appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste.


Engineers love all of the "Star Trek" television shows and movies. It's a small wonder, since the engineers on the starship Enterprise are portrayed as heroes, occasionally even having sex with aliens. This is much more glamorous than the real life of an engineer, which consists of hiding from the universe and having sex without the participation of other life forms.


Dating is never easy for engineers. A normal person will employ various indirect and duplicitous methods to create a false impression of attractiveness. Engineers are incapable of placing appearance above function.
Fortunately, engineers have an ace in the hole. They are widely recognized as superior marriage material: intelligent, dependable, employed, honest, and handy around the house. While it's true that many normal people would prefer not to date an engineer, most normal people harbor an intense desire to mate with them, thus producing engineer-like children who will have high-paying jobs long before losing their virginity.
Male engineers reach their peak of sexual attractiveness later than normal men, becoming irresistible erotic dynamos in their mid thirties to late forties. Just look at these examples of sexually irresistible men in technical professions:

  • Bill Gates.
  • MacGyver.
  • Etcetera.
Female engineers become irresistible at the age of consent and remain that way until about thirty minutes after their clinical death. Longer if it's a warm day.


Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That's why it's a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can't handle the truth.
Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. They say things that sound like lies but technically are not because nobody could be expected to believe them. The complete list of engineer lies is listed below.

    "I won't change anything without asking you first."
    "I'll return your hard-to-find cable tomorrow."
    "I have to have new equipment to do my job."
    "I'm not jealous of your new computer."


Engineers are notoriously frugal. This is not because of cheapness or mean spirit; it is simply because every spending situation is simply a problem in optimization, that is, "How can I escape this situation while retaining the greatest amount of cash?"


If there is one trait that best defines an engineer it is the ability to concentrate on one subject to the complete exclusion of everything else in the environment. This sometimes causes engineers to be pronounced dead prematurely. Some funeral homes in high-tech areas have started checking resumes before processing the bodies. Anybody with a degree in electrical engineering or experience in computer programming is propped up in the lounge for a few days just to see if he or she snaps out of it.


Engineers hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever they can. This is understandable, given that when an engineer makes one little mistake, the media will treat it like it's a big deal or something.


  • Hindenberg.
  • Space Shuttle Challenger.
  • SPANet(tm)
  • Hubble space telescope.
  • Apollo 13.
  • Titanic.
  • Ford Pinto.
  • Corvair.
The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks something like this:

    RISK: Public humiliation and the death of thousands of innocent people
    REWARD: A certificate of appreciation in a handsome plastic frame.
Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance of risks and rewards and decide that risk is not a good thing. The best way to avoid risk is by advising that any activity is technically impossible for reasons that are far too complicated to explain.
If that approach is not sufficient to halt a project, then the engineer will fall back to a second line of defense: "It's technically possible but it will cost too much."


Ego-wise, two things are important to engineers:
  1. How smart they are.
  2. How many cool devices they own.
The fastest way to get an engineer to solve a problem is to declare that the problem is unsolvable. No engineer can walk away from an unsolvable problem until it's solved. No illness or distraction is sufficient to get the engineer off the case. These types of challenges quickly become personal - a battle between the engineer and the laws of nature.
Engineers will go without food and hygiene for days to solve a problem. (Other times just because they forgot.) And when they succeed in solving the problem they will experience an ego rush that is better than sex- and I'm including the kind of sex where other people are involved.
Nothing is more threatening to the engineer than the suggestion that somebody has more technical skill. Normal people sometimes use that knowledge as a lever to extract more work from the engineer. When an engineer says that something can't be done (a code phrase that means it's not fun to do), some clever normal people have learned to glance at the engineer with a look of compassion and pity and say something along these lines: "I'll ask Bob to figure it out. He knows how to solve difficult technical problems."
At that point it is a good idea for the normal person to not stand between the engineer and the problem. The engineer will set upon the problem like a starved Chihuahua on a pork chop.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Just because you can do something, doesn't make it a good idea!

I haven't looked too deeply into it, but at first glance this seems to be my new most favorite-ist "just because technology allows you to do something, doesn't make it a good idea". I think the Coke brand of late has done some great stuff, this feels like not that. I'm not sure what the idea in general has to do with the Coke brand. I'm not sure how truly interesting getting people to support one of the wacky teams is. I'm not sure how convinced people will be that this is anything other than a pre-conceived group of linked videos and hardly an interactive experience. Judging by the fact the site went down mid-game all round seems like not a great idea. Anyhow, the post game analysis might prove me wrong and I'm sure some of my friends at Coke will put me entirely straight on this too!! They also seem to have upset the Arab community (and I guess cowboys, badlanders and showgirls) at the same time. Doh!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Social Media@work

Lots of interesting stuff here about harnessing social media for business. I think we're going to see a lot more about how social can help businesses communicate and share more freely and usefully in 2013. Email is becoming, in my mind, less and less useful. It's a blunt object given where technology is at. An internal social media network that's always on and allows real time collaboration (what a horrible expression) seems much more human and useful than the ping-pong ball that email's become.

Check out

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blackberry & Apple

I still think BB is a steal for Apple. Take that packet data platform and use it to create new markets for low cost data communications. Please!

BB10 launch

Slightly late New Year Resolutions

I'm not making too many personal New Year's Resolutions this year as I kind of know what happens to those. So my New Years Resolution is to make work resolutions instead.

Here they are, maybe they'll be of interest, to the 3 people who read this!

1. I'm going to try to get back to 2003: I think I've always been a bit on the ADD side of life and the enormous opportunities afforded to my 'distraction' by the Internet - now on ALL your devices - is a real and present danger to my capability to concentrate. As such, to the extent its possible, I'm going to try to turn the clock back a decade. I'm going with the paper calendar/diary, I'm going to try to work on the filofax a bit more, we're painting the office with Ideapaint (brilliant stuff - it's like whiteboard paint) and I'm going to try to compartmentalize thing much better. Which leads me to point 2.

2. I'm going to adopt a page from the Republican primary candidates' book: - stay with me on this. Remember when they all stood on the stage and said they wouldn't take $1 of tax increases for $10 of spending cuts, well my idea is along those lines. Currently, I spend $10 of time looking for interesting things to read and about $1 actually reading them. This reading deficit has to be stopped and to stop it I've decided to not raise the book ceiling - ok, maybe I'm going a bit over the top with the political analogy. Anyhow, I'm going to try to reduce the time spent finding things to go into Evernote and Readability and increase the time spent reading the stuff I send there. The 'waterboatman' (a UK insect - google it) way of skating over stuff has got too much for me. It's that and/or Ritalin.

3. Pomodoro:

4. The Cloud: Right now I lug around a laptop, iPhone, iPad and a separate hard drive because I can't bear the thought of not having that file I need at that particular moment. My solution is to shell out $100 for unlimited cloud space and make that work for me. The problem is (and it's a huge problem that I don't see anyone talking about) is that, as best I can tell, all the cloud providers only let you upload files and NOT files in pre-ordained folders. For me that means all of my files going into one big unmanaged folder where I won't have a clue how to find them. Once I find a solution to this, everything is cloud bound.

5. Evernote: Use it smarter:   HBR on Evernote

6. More face time: over the last few years I've got more connected with people and, at the same time, much less familiar with them. I'm going to make an effort to do less back and forth txt/email and a bit more coffee talk!

7. Stronger lines in the sand: esp. when you work for yourself, the likely hood of work and play mushing together is much higher. What, at first, seems like the freedom to sleep in and work from home of a morning, soon becomes, working (or talking about work) all the waking hours you have. Maybe this is the same working for a big company (I seem to remember it was like that), either way with 24/7 communications it's certainly more likely than it was when we were just at the mercy of that bastard blinking Blackberry light.

8. Stop: I find there's not a moment in the day when I'm not pumping something into my eyes and ears - I used to read a paper, now I read 10 at a time in tiny snippets. I used to listen to music, now I listen to dozens of podcasts a week. Maybe, for an hour a day I could not listen to anything or read or watch anything. Ok, that's ridiculous, maybe for 15 minutes a day, maybe I even give it a name "the dark times' or something and I just go have a diet coke and scribble on a piece of paper.

9. Photography: I love photography and I used to shoot 2 or 3 rolls of film a week. Now, partly because of my laziness, partly because of the lack of darkroom and partly because of the pervasiveness of cameras, photography has lost its specialness to me. I guess when everyone does something it somehow become less special. Anyhow, it's time to dust off the Hasselblad and get back into something I enjoyed so much - I even got a new tripod for Xmas.

10. Can't think of another: and they are all starting to sounds like the same uber-resolution which is to kick the tech/device/internet addiction. That's going to be easier said than done. Off to take my bedtime Ritalin!!!

Now your condition has a name

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes. If only I'd known this a decade or two earlier, much would have been clearer.

Kind of makes sense

Sophie Schmidt in N. Korea

Bit busy so am making up for it with just posting some interesting stuff. Will get more opinionated when I have a moment to vent!

Eric Schmidt's daughter in N. Korea

Jetsons 2030

Thanks to Jonny Lang for sending this to me. A fascinating view on the world in 2030 from the National Intelligence Council in the US. This should be in every planner's Evernote.

Global Trends 2030