Life just bites you on the ass sometimes.
I’ve been trying to write this for ages: since receiving the phone call a couple of days before Christmas; since working on releasing the shock and pain and disbelief at the news; since writing that first condolence card; since the first time I could get together with my oldest friends face-to-face to share the wtf-ness; since standing blacked up and bare faced nursing a whiskey and hearing his Dad desperate for some insight, any scrap, at the wake, as to why.
Since, since, since.
I lived my 20’s in a little run down terrace in what is now SOGO, but was then the cheapest place we could find. It was dark, falling to pieces and smelled in the damp, but filled with what became a chosen family, and for me, a true home.
None of us had money, but we were all working doing stuff we loved- art, music, architecture, design. We all were good at creating something out of nothing: the kitchen transformed from a peeling crack lab into a place where mermaids played; a bare wall turned into an ever moving pop gallery of avant cards; a back yard that hosted now famous ‘drinks by the pool’ parties where the blow up wader was just an excuse for ridiculous cocktails and costumes.
There was dancing. Cooking. A million late night conversations. A million bottles of red wine. One very scrappy cat. Sometimes the dishes didn’t get done. People peeled out as they met their partners, or their career took them off to different horizons and eventually the place got sold and we moved on.
That was sometime ago. It lasted about 7 years and felt like forever.
I thought everyone had grown up since then. Not me, obviously, but other people had mortgages and businesses and children and partners. Eventually I only saw some in back yards, with tired eyes and gentle, humorous self deprecating stories of the domestic hurdy-gurdy their lives had become. Tucked in, I thought. Safe, I believed. Happy, I dreamed.
I can’t remember the last time I told my friend I loved him. That he was important to me. That knowing him has made my life better every day since I met him. That his take on silly and serious and determined and disciplined was a benchmark for me. That I respected his work, was totally crazy about his choice of partner and his children, in awe of his practice and held deep affection for the past we shared and held a desire to co-create memories for the rest of our lives.
Now I won’t get that chance. He is gone. He took himself off the merry-go-round. I don’t know why. No one seems to. I will never understand. I’m trying to come to terms with that. I’m not looking for a silver lining. It’s just crap.
Sometimes we let go of the gold in our lives, the people that we love, to pan for shiny trash. Sometimes the people that we think we know are very very good at hiding their pain. Sometimes the things we don’t say haunt us.
Since. Sometimes. Say it.
I love it when you come across a sweeping statement that just takes your breath away.
In Australia there’s been a doozy this week- which you can follow here, particularly if you think that humor is a good way of addressing misogyny….
Anyhoo…and before I get well distracted….
I came across a notion that UX didn’t exist before digital – that the spirit utility, interaction and participation was ‘invented’ by introducing digital to brands.
It might be surprising that the discipline of mapping out optimal interactions between humans, machines and contexts has been around since the 1940’s. Participatory design’s been around since the ’60s.
I can’t help but agree with Jon Steel’s refutation of the statement
…these days everything has changed, planning has to change because advertising has changed, nothing is the way it used to be, everything is digital now and if you propose anything other than digital solutions then you’re old-fashioned and generally hopeless…you should drag your sorry old ass out of the business and work somewhere else.
I believe that’s completely wrong, because in the end in an analogue world, in a digital world the key to success is understanding the basics of human communication.
In order to most effectively influence a group of people “you don’t target them you engage them as willing accomplices”
I think the best brands have always inspired individuals to become willing accomplices…
Mr Steel also mentions the amazing work of Howard Gossage in the 1950s.
In short the example of Gossage has never been more possible to follow and more needed, particularly as dreary advertising drifts from our televisions to the places we spend time online, his idea that you should never confuse the product and the message becomes even more powerful. Howard would build his messages around something he thought would interest people and then weave the product into this story – the first international paper airplane competition for Scientific American being a brilliant example.
If you haven’t the slightest clue what all the fuss is about ….it would not be an exaggeration to say that Howard Gossage:
1) Invented interactive advertising (as opposed to direct response advertising) in which the audience is invited to get involved with the brand’s life and participate in its activities
2) Invented the idea of creating communities of interest around topics and then galvanizing those people into action through advertising
3) Invented the PR stunt as a marketing tool using advertising to catalyse and popularise the activity
4) Created the fee based remuneration model in place of the widely used but utterly discredited commission system
5) Invented the independent media planning agency with the Kick Back agency
6) Discovered Marshall McLuan and made him a household name in ‘60s America, a man who predicted the rise of the connected global village that we all live in today
7) Saved the Grand Canyon from flooding with advertising that changed the way that environmental campaigning forever
8) Helped create the modern environmental organisation and both named and housed the Friends of the Earth
9)Helped start the anti-globalisation movement
10) And almost won independence for Anguilla
And so to wrap up this rather long rant:
- If a brand wants want people to play with (and they do)
- What do we need people to do?
- Why would they do it?
- What are we going to make or do that will enable them to do it?
Filed under: The Rules
It is a planner/ creative strategist/ maker-upperer-with-rigor’s job to introduce people to things they don’t know.
One of your goals might be to create those moments and to make it safe (and fun!) for people to say ‘Hey, I didn’t know that’.
Try not to be a douche about having more knowledge than others. Strength requires responsibility and using your smarts to punch people in the face makes you a bully.
Celebrate and contribute to growth instead.
Filed under: Get Friendly
Penguins speak to me for so many reasons, and as a totem they embody my own aspirations
to launch into the unknown and ‘tee-hee’ while I’m doing it
to refine my six word story, “breathe. it will all be ok”
to something silly, active, positive and whimsical
and bring that mantra to the point of most powerful reduction
Filed under: Digital Strategy
Over at Paul Mcenany’s blog this week
As many of you know, I’m a big believer that the better the problem, the more likely you are to get to work that works. Wrongheaded problems leave us in a ditch. Boring problems invite uninspired solutions. And when you only ask advertising questions, unsurprisingly – you get lots of advertising answers. The best of the best understand the value in taking the time to get the question right.
Love the thinking in Paul’s presentation I got a load of value. I wonder, though, if it’s always time that is the missing component in getting the problem right.
One of my favorite stories of getting the problem right is this one:
Sainsbury’s planned to grow revenue by £2.5 billion, a huge target made tangible by redefining it as an extra £1.14 per transaction. Previously, Sainsbury’s had been trying to create a big change in behaviour amongst a small number of high-spending customers of other supermarkets. Now it proposed a small change in behaviour amongst a big number of existing and potential customers. Research showed that people were ‘sleep shopping’ because they found supermarket shopping routine. The strategy centred around earning the required extra £1.14 per transaction by building the brand around simple food ideas. The slogan was ‘Try something new today’, but the idea behind it permeated Sainsbury’s business, informing management ethos, point-of-sale creative and advertising campaigns. The idea helped accelerate Sainsbury’s growth, attracting 1.5 million extra customers, increasing profit by 43% to £380 million and growing revenue by £1.8 billion over two years – ahead of the three-year target.
What I like about this case is that not only was the question about behavior change (what would we need to get people to do to grow by 2.5 billion), but the stimulus for the question was held within the value of the owned media of the brand- the amount of customer interactions inside their retail environment.
So to reimagine Paul’s statement:
The best of the best understand that getting the question right delivers value.
An Australian example of this:
In 1813 Governor Lachlan Macquarie overcame an acute currency shortage by purchasing Spanish silver dollars (then worth five shillings), punching out the centres and creating two new coins – the ‘Holey Dollar’ (valued at five shillings) and the Dump (valued at one shilling and three pence). This single move not only doubled the number of coins in circulation but increased their total worth by 25 per cent and prevented the coins from leaving the colony.
Last night a holey dollar was sold $for 410,000 and 1813 New South Wales Colonial Dump sold for $100,000.
Filed under: Great Stuff
I renewed my complete crush on Jay Smooth’s smart styling hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine today, which started for me waaaaay back in 2008 when I asked
Is he talking about politics, rap or the nature of masculinity? Or all three?
It reminded me what a talent Jay is- and kicking around his ‘allow me to reintroduce myself‘ section he demonstrated over and over again that we’re not alone:
and then I remembered:
procrastination is a lot like masturbation a lot of fun until the moment you realize you’re just fucking yourself
and got back to work.
We were put here as witnesses to the miracle of life. We see the stars, and we want them. We are beholden to give back to the universe…. If we make landfall on another star system, we become immortal. Ray Bradbury Speech to National School Board Association (1995)
Ray Bradbury died today. I love his work: his defense of books, his fight against censorship, and above all the notions of the miraculous future that would unfold before my eyes as I grew. He was one of the writers that made me excited about the future, made me more conscious of the dark dehumanizing side of technology, one of the architects of the “What Ifs” that still guide my daily creative explorations and the provider of some of the more accessible componentry of my moral compass.
Here’s one of my favourites, I posted this to David Gillespie just the other day: Doing is Being
Doing is being.
To have done’s not enough.
To stuff yourself with doing — that’s the game.
To name yourself each hour by what’s done,
To tabulate your time at sunset’s gun
And find yourself in acts
You could not know before the facts
You wooed from secret self, which much needs wooing,
So doing brings it out,
Kills doubt by simply jumping, rushing, running
Forth to be
The new-discovered me.
To not do is to die,
Or lie about and lie about the things
You just might do some day.
Away with that!
Tomorrow empty stays
If no man plays it into being
With his motioned way of seeing.
Let your body lead your mind –
Blood the guide dog to the blind;
So then practice and rehearse
To find heart-soul’s universe,
Knowing that by moving/seeing
Proves for all time: Doing’s being!