Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Novartathon is now is Franglebrook...

One of the types of advertising I enjoy the most is when one company you've never heard of runs ads to tell you it's now changed its name or merged to become another company you've never heard of. This example is particularly noteworthy because they've done it in such an ugly, ham fisted manner.

I'm not sure why Campaign doesn't dispose with their articles and just let FTI Consulting have the whole damn page.

I also don't think they needed to TM their tagline, not much danger anyone else is going to want a line like "Critical thinking at the critical time"...... Could you take yourselves a bit more seriously? Does one of your competitors have the line "Pointless thinking at the worst time possible"?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

TOP SECRET/Subject: America today.

I'm reposting this wonderful article from Tom Friedman because it's even more relevant today than it was when he wrote it 10 months ago.  With what the republicans and the tea-baggers are doing to the standing of the United States, Beijing must be ecstatic. If only they can offload some of that US$ debt they own!

Published: November 30, 2010

While secrets from WikiLeaks were splashed all over the American newspapers, I couldn’t help but wonder: What if China had a WikiLeaker and we could see what its embassy in Washington was reporting about America? 
I suspect the cable would read like this:

Washington Embassy, People’s Republic of China, to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Beijing

TOP SECRET/Subject: America today.
Things are going well here for China. America remains a deeply politically polarized country, which is certainly helpful for our goal of overtaking the U.S. as the world’s most powerful economy and nation. But we’re particularly optimistic because the Americans are polarized over all the wrong things.
There is a willful self-destructiveness in the air here as if America has all the time and money in the world for petty politics. They fight over things like — we are not making this up — how and where an airport security officer can touch them. They are fighting — we are happy to report — over the latest nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. 

It seems as if the Republicans are so interested in weakening President Obama that they are going to scuttle a treaty that would have fostered closer U.S.-Russian cooperation on issues like Iran. And since anything that brings Russia and America closer could end up isolating us, we are grateful to Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona for putting our interests ahead of America’s and blocking Senate ratification of the treaty. The ambassador has invited Senator Kyl and his wife for dinner at Mr. Kao’s Chinese restaurant to praise him for his steadfastness in protecting America’s (read: our) interests.

Americans just had what they call an “election.” Best we could tell it involved one congressman trying to raise more money than the other (all from businesses they are supposed to be regulating) so he could tell bigger lies on TV more often about the other guy before the other guy could do it to him. This leaves us relieved. It means America will do nothing serious to fix its structural problems: a ballooning deficit, declining educational performance, crumbling infrastructure and diminished immigration of new talent.
The ambassador recently took what the Americans call a fast train — the Acela — from Washington to New York City. Our bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin would have made the trip in 90 minutes. His took three hours — and it was on time! Along the way the ambassador used his cellphone to call his embassy office, and in one hour he experienced 12 dropped calls — again, we are not making this up. We have a joke in the embassy: “When someone calls you from China today it sounds like they are next door. And when someone calls you from next door in America, it sounds like they are calling from China!” Those of us who worked in China’s embassy in Zambia often note that Africa’s cellphone service was better than America’s.
But the Americans are oblivious. They travel abroad so rarely that they don’t see how far they are falling behind. Which is why we at the embassy find it funny that Americans are now fighting over how “exceptional” they are. Once again, we are not making this up. On the front page of The Washington Post on Monday there was an article noting that Republicans Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are denouncing Obama for denying “American exceptionalism.” The Americans have replaced working to be exceptional with talking about how exceptional they still are. They don’t seem to understand that you can’t declare yourself “exceptional,” only others can bestow that adjective upon you.
In foreign policy, we see no chance of Obama extricating U.S. forces from Afghanistan. He knows the Republicans will call him a wimp if he does, so America will keep hemorrhaging $190 million a day there. Therefore, America will lack the military means to challenge us anywhere else, particularly on North Korea, where our lunatic friends continue to yank America’s chain every six months so that the Americans have to come and beg us to calm things down. By the time the Americans do get out of Afghanistan, the Afghans will surely hate them so much that China’s mining companies already operating there should be able to buy up the rest of Afghanistan’s rare minerals.
Most of the Republicans just elected to Congress do not believe what their scientists tell them about man-made climate change. America’s politicians are mostly lawyers — not engineers or scientists like ours — so they’ll just say crazy things about science and nobody calls them on it. It’s good. It means they will not support any bill to spur clean energy innovation, which is central to our next five-year plan. And this ensures that our efforts to dominate the wind, solar, nuclear and electric car industries will not be challenged by America.
Finally, record numbers of U.S. high school students are now studying Chinese, which should guarantee us a steady supply of cheap labor that speaks our language here, as we use our $2.3 trillion in reserves to quietly buy up U.S. factories. In sum, things are going well for China in America.
Thank goodness the Americans can’t read our diplomatic cables.
China Embassy Washington

Advertising Scam - the tabloid journalism of our trade...

Think about it.

Tabloid journalism is barely journalism as scam is barely advertising

Tabloid journalism lacks integrity as does scam advertising

Tabloid journalism is clearly filled with dirtly little secrets (not that little) as is the fact that our
industry wastes so much time and money on scam

Tabloid journalism turned a blind eye to questionable practices in the same way that many in our industry turns a blind eye to Scam.

Tabloid journalism serves little public interest as scam serves almost no 'client-interest'

Tabloid journalism's value is essentially tittilation as is Scam's

Tabloid journalism operates on the fringe of the law in the same way that a lot of scam lives on the fringes of the unspoken rules of our business.

Tabloid journalism hides behind the skirts of investigative journalism as Scam hides behind the skirt of the real business of advertising communications.

I think it's time we took on this issue properly as an industry because it's a racket we don't need.

The money wasted on chasing awards with fake work is incredible. The entry charges, the statuettes for all and sundry, the awards night tickets and expenses, not to mention the tens of thousands of man hours all add up to a monstrous number. Cut the Scam, save the money and re-invest it in building the talent you have at the agency with much needed training and support.

Credit to Ogilvy Ukraine for this anti Scam ad - now that should win an award...

"If you a scared motherf%^*&r, go to church" - another great blog from Ben Horowitz

Ben's blog is some of the best stuff I read these days. I especially like how he embeds Snoop into his thinking. I wish I knew how to do that...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The world's oldest branded content idea?

"It's not necessary to change, because survival isn't mandatory"

I've spent a lot of time over the past few months talking with people in the industry about the state of play, and I'm sorry to report that the general consensus is gloomy. Despite this being an incredibly exciting time to be working in the media/communications business, the model seems very broken. Here's a quick laundry list of what I heard.

- Shorter and shorter client relationships
- Increasing shift from retainer to project based relationships
- The rise of procurement
- Intense margin pressures at agencies
- Talent leaving the industry
- Lack of training
- General dissatisfaction in the ranks - "Another weekend in the office"
- Similar dissatisfaction at senior levels "Where else would I move to...they're all the same?"
- Increasing resentment to the culture of awards

On the positive, I heard a lot of excitement over how things could be if we could only work out how to change.

My reason for writing this isn't to be a downer, but to promote a bit more discussion about the future and the changes that need to happen. My endeavor isn't purely charitable. As a small business owner in the industry I'm acutely aware of the need to change and move with the times. As such, getting the debate going can only help me to think ahead.

Lee Clow (TBWA God) famously said the we are living in the most exciting time for our industry since the invention of television. My question is how do we get from today to the place that Mr. Clow has in his head? Any thought welcome.