Tuesday, May 29, 2012

While I'm on the photography theme...

Great little ad. All the hallmarks of nice work. Inside enough that only the target audience gets it, humor, surprise, simplicity and an insight.

A Legendary Interview with Henri Cartier-Bresson

I love Cartier-Bresson and I somewhat like Charlie Rose - when he's not being a pompous ass; which is most of the time. This interview brings these two things together wonderfully. Cartier-Bresson has Rose on the back foot the whole way through, refusing to pick up on his hopeless pandering and constantly catching him out with 90 degree twists and turns.

Charlie: "Is there a moment for you that you know when to snap?"
Henri: :When the subject takes me"

Charlie: "Did surrealism affect your photography?"
Henri: "I don't know I've never thought about it...."

Charlie: "You were very young (at the time of Surrealism)"
Henri: "I don't know what young means. You are alive, or not!"

Charlie: "the brain is young, and the heart is young..."
Henri: "I'm an anarchist!"

Charlie: "You're an anarchist, in what way?"
Henri: "I'll answer only in front of the police"

Charlie: "something must have aede you want to be a photographer..."
Henri: "[exasperated]  I don't consider myself a photographer"

Henri: "I was always very lucky because I always had in my hip pocket...[he taps his back pocket]"
Charlie: "Money?"
Henri: "NO. Film"

Charlie: "Why do you do it? You shoot photography because it's what you do"
Henri: "Because it's quicker than drawing"

Even if you don't like photography, watch this master at work. A modest giant in the world of art and photography and, by the looks of it, a lovely man. He's also pretty sozzled by the end of the interview.


Henri Cartier Bresson on Charlie Rose

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This just in!

The nature of news is changing, more dramatically than I imagined.

I love the 'pigs' commercial from BBH for the Guardian in London. I like it most because it very succinctly sums up in 60 seconds the new world of news that we live in. I'll let you check out the spot for yourself, but the idea behind it is that news is a far more participatory thing than ever before and the 'conversation' can, in the end, drive the story - wolf dies, pigs arrested, pigs admit to insurance fraud, public outrage over housing crisis all leading to banking reform.

This has happened, on a smaller scale, in Singapore this week. Ma Chi, a financial advisor from mainland China crashed his SGD 1.8m Ferrari into a taxi early Saturday morning killing himself, the taxi driver and his Japanese passenger. This simple traffic accident has kicked off an intense debate covering the country's immigration policy, the rising cost of living driven by the recent influx of foreigners and the widening income divide in Singapore. There has not been that much in the press about this - beyond the emerging facts. This story has been driven largely online and largely via social media with people sharing, commenting and contributing to the story. This is increasingly the way that news is going to be. It's a blend of reportage and commentary from (what we used to call) the reader or viewer.

It's a fascinating evolution of a concept (news) that we seem to see as quite static. Look around. It's really not.  Let's see where the Ferrari and the taxi driver story goes next, but don't bank on it being driven solely by the traditional news sources and channels that we know and love.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Malvinasgate II

Further to my earlier post on the Falklands ad controversy. I read that the Argentine government had, in fact, commissioned the ad to be made. I felt bad about my post and realized that I'd got it wrong. I've been busy this week and  didn't have time to take the post down - and anyhow, none read it because I didn't forward it on to my Twitter feed or onto Facebook.

Good job I was busy.

It turns out that the agency were not being entirely truthful and neither was the Olympic dude who starred in the ad when he revised his earlier statement and said that the ad was in fact made for the govt. Now they have yet again revised their position and admitted that is was 'spec work' that was then shopped around - as I'd first suspected.

It's a golden rule of any business, when you're caught, don't try to lie your way out of it; you'll get found out eventually and it'll be all the worse.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

China For An Hour (a week)

Just had a lovely dinner with David Topolewski who runs a really interesting technology firm in Beijing (www.qooco.com) and we talked a lot about what we saw as America's problems from a long way away here in Asia.

I brought up the Tom Friedman's idea of being "China for a day" - the ever smug Friedman's (in this case entirely valid) notion that China gets to make mandated smart decisions because of their complete lack of democracy and how, in small doses, it makes for some super smart plays. We agreed that America needs something radical like this to change because, as David said, "reform takes decades, innovation is far more immediate".

We then got on to Singapore politics and I pointed out that while many don't like the Singaporean system because it's far from democratic, it does work. David pointed out that in the 50's Singapore's GDP per cap was the same as Jamaica's, now look at us today. Like it or not, Singapore's mix of semi-democracy, nation building and ruthless single minded vision has worked pretty damn well.

I don't think Singapore is "China for a day". But, I do think Singapore is "China for an hour a week" and, like it or not, it's worked. The kinds of bold, long term strategies that real change demands, don't get done in this world of 49%/51% politics. Maybe it's not everyone's cup of tea, but right now my Singapore Dollar is higher than ever, the property market is on fire, GDP is higher than ever, unemployment is 2.1%, we just got voted the third most popular place in the world to live and we're about to overtake Macau in terms of gambling revenue.  This is a remarkable and interesting place, and people who still talk of us in terms of caning people and banning chewing gum would do well to think again!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


To be up-front. This isn't a pop at Y&R. I worked there and we had our differences, but this isn't me bashing my former agency - honest.  This is about an industry problem of scam and fake work.

Now that we hear more about this story a slightly different picture emerges. I'm only going on what I've read, so forgive me if the picture changes again. From the reports, the agency paid for the film to be shot, and importantly, there was NO CLIENT. That's right. The government did not request for this film, it was shot by the agency on-spec.

The athlete was interviewed on Al-Jazeera and he said he was told by the agency that there was no buyer for the ad, but they would seek one once it was made. He was then told, two months later "there was a chance the Argentine government might be interested".

So, this is clearly scam, created by the agency and then shopped around to anyone who would be willing to sign an awards entry and put their name behind it.

I've nothing against great creative work, but scam is a blight on our industry. It distracts us from the real work, it takes up valuable time and resource from the fee paying side of the business, it gives creatives a false sense of worth and sometimes (like this time) it really screws you over.

Only in organizations that are awards obsessed can this happen. It's a shame for the people involved who were, likely, just following orders. But it's symptomatic of a bigger issue - the cycle of awards and scam.

For the record. I personally think it's time the UK seriously negotiated with Argentina to give back the Falklands. However, since the discovery of oil off the coast, the chances of that are slim. Shame. I also thought it was a beautiful piece of film, so maybe that's some consolation as you look for your next job.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fruit Merger

Why doesn't Apple buy Blackberry?

They've got the cash and, surely, their packed data technology would help those of us why switch phones when traveling to avoid the crippling data roaming charges. They are strong still in the enterprise space where Apple surely has big ambitions. While Blackberry messenger would be a great trojan horse for iOS in markets like Indonesia and the Philippines where it's huge. BM might also help augment what is a slightly confused (to me) messaging/IM strategy for Apple right now - esp. in in context of the many new 'free' messaging services (what's app etc.)

I'm not saying Apple is buying RIM and you should get the stock while it's lounging at an eight year low. But maybe it's an idea. Mind you, the last time I made a stock tip (Nokia) it was less than successful!