Friday, October 13, 2006

It's not who you know, but who you owe (or don't?).

Just asking, so's I can get this straight.

Ignoring for now that the amount in dollars would tend to indicate the savings may not be solely within these fair shores, how much did 'we' contribute so 'they' could save it?

It's just that I recall this was raised a while ago, and never heard an answer.

While I'm the last to get sniffy about funding, especially on the small matter of paybacks, why does a major multi-million multinational fmcg need help of this nature in the first place? I must move in the wrong circles.

The most abused word in English (currently)?

I like this question mark lark. Or rather, perhaps I should say: is this question mark lark the new black?

No? Well, if it isn't, I reckon the word 'innovate' (and its various nouns, etc) is.

It just crops up everywhere. In this case it's an ad for a job. But it could be a fund, or a policy or whatever.

Thing is, as far as I can make out, as soon as you see that word the last thing anyone connected with it actually wants to find turning up on the doorstep is anything actually innovative. Because, by definition, it hasn't bee seen or done or heard of before. Which is scary, when you have a career based on measuring, assessing, gatekeeping, valuing and backside-covering to protect.

And I keep getting suckered. I get told that what's being looked for is a new way of thinking, or that they want to break the mould, or they need a fresh mind, and when I go off and craft something that's on brief but off-beat, they go all 'but that's not what we're used to getting' on me.

I actually applied for a Creative Innovation grant once, and having spent days on it was rather disappointed that my proposal wasn't favoured. The reason? It was too creative and innovative. That'll teach me. At least it should have.

Money for nothing, but the drinks are... being toasted in ad land!

I am jealous. I figured out a while ago that there was money to be made in them thar green hills.

But rather than stick with what I knew, which was ads, I got into publishing, because I wanted to make a difference as well.

So far, it's still a struggle, but glimmers are showing.

However, as a creative person and ex-agency owner, I weep at the amount of money being poured into CSR ads... with few making sense to me, let alone seeming intended to make a real difference. Anyone recall AIDAR? That's Grab (Attention) - Stimulate (Interest &/Or) Desire - Provoke (Action/Response)!

TVCs, DPS and Full and Half-page 4c extravaganzas with production costs alone in the 10s if not 100's or thousands, all in media that add millions to the budget, and saying what.. to whom?

I love the discipline of posters. Eight words or less, complemented by a picture, to tell a story. Yes, copy can be necessary to add to the sales pitch.

But what, exactly, do you get from 'Taking the lead by putting nature first?" Note the ? I guess they are not sure.

Or, how about "If someone says environment, what springs to mind?" Er, green stuff. Pretty picture. Turn the page. I'm sure they have challenges, but may day gets better how?

Gis' some, please. And we'll even rewrite them for nothing actually talk to a targeted audience plus have a benefit that may provoke a response, too.

You never know, you may sell something, too. I assume that's what they're for?

It just won't... should be washed

I'm mucking about with self-promo at the moment. All electronic obviously, for reasons of cost but mainly we don't have anyone's addresses, and of course we'd like to keep the junk mail burden to a minimum.

But we do accept that some is necessary. Marketing and jobs depend on it. I also enjoy a good piece of DM if it's well targeted, creative and useful.

Which brings me to mail washing. I'm on my own now. So while I don't mind getting something for me, it does strike one as frustrating when you get multiples. Now I've just noticed on this there is a way to cancel the duds, and it is an 0800 number so I hope it's free. Frankly I'd prefer a URL, and a simple code-based deletion system, like an online unsubscribe. But here's a laugh.. I just dialed it - 0800 15 14 14 - and.. it doesn't work. So the next option is to .. send it back by mail! D'Oh.

Maybe.... we should draw up a central service to make these things work properly. Like the e/F/TPS, but not to stop such things, but manage them centrally. A plan?

ps: These all came as you see them. Flapping about with no plastic sleeve. How was that possible, and why can't the rest do it?

My esteemed self

I think I've got it wrong, but a friend recently gave me the definition of an 'expert' as 'a has been who is little more than a drip'.

I was (poorly, obviously) reminded of this by one of the flood (well, a few - another 3rd party service now under review) of replies to a press release I did to the nation's media regarding our upcoming show and what we'll have on display.

Naturally this was not someone buying, but in this case selling... the opportunity to sell me as an 'expert' when the media need a quick bon mot or quote.

I have to say I was, and am, tempted. But I did call them up to say I was not really an expert, but more an well-informed and opinionated sod. 'Perfect,' they said.

Due flattery (and a sale) aside, I am thinking of proceeding. Obviously there is the opportunity for coverage, but so long as I clearly outline where I am coming from (and this gets accepted and acknowledged by the media... another story) I think there is a case for a bit of consumer advocacy that is not 'expert', and proud to be so.

Because most experts fall into camps, and while this makes for good slanging matches, it does not serve the large number of us who really don't know, but are able to arrive at some kind of a decision (even if it is not black or white) if enough 'What if's' are thrown in.

Of course, there is the down side.

But, by George, damn the torpedoes... I think I'll do it!

Stealing from Peter to pay Pa.. Who, Exactly?

Why doesn't this - Row over renewable energy scheme - surprise me?

"A promised £10m to help fund projects like wind power... [but] it has emerged schemes to promote double-glazing and insulation are to be cut to fund it."

Do what!!!? This is huge. And if a BBC environement correspodent comes flat out and criticised it, then everyone knows it.

Classic case of hype winning over what's right. Nil points.

How to succeed in the UK: leave!

Last night I attended a talk held in our very own little town, by a true giant of British Innovation and Manufacturing, Edwin Atkin. It was he who created, developed, built-up and eventually sold the Avent brand.

For a man just past 60 who is now worth a few hundred million £, and fresh from dinner with David Cameron the night before, he was truly charming, fascinating, honest, opinionated and indeed earthy at times. I was inspired, but also slightly depressed.

In a broad-ranging, note-free lecture indispersed with several Q&As, he laid out how he succeeded and how he thought others could still. But it came with some less than thrilling predictions and rather startling advice. His adventures with authorities, banks and the like had us in stitches, especially when he could turn the tables on someone who thought they could stop him or rip him off and tell 'em to 'stick it where de sun don't shine'. Often that took a lot of moral and indeed financial courage, despite his obvious security as a businessman, both personally and financially. He is one of the few who I believe when they say 'that's not how I do businesss' (when referring to sharp practice). Make no mistake, he is no softy, and is as sharp as a knife, but he is also someone who retains a sense of honour (and humour) and knows that making a difference does not need to mean abandoning your principles and simply making all you can, as quickly as you can.

He is now semi-retired, and one reason is the erosion of the entrepreneurial spirit by PC mania and bean counters in authority and businesss. He effectively got out before the going gets more tricky. Not good for the likes of me, but he remained encouraging to keep trying. The other shocker was the simple advice to leave the UK to do it. That doesn't mean abandoning it as a market, but to stop thinking of it as the main focus. His gaze was cast West to the USA. This is potentially momentous, but having lived and worked around the globe, I share his belief that this country internally has a remarkably overrated view of itself. Trouble is, this is where my family is, and hopping on a plane to Chicago is not quite an option at the moment.

Worse, other than the opportunity to share such an evening in convivial and intimate surroundings, I am not exactly in networking central. His advice to that was 'get out more'. Well, as he kindly said 'please get in touch', I most certainly will. Who knows who he may be able to introduce me to to get us the business complement we need. Too late for the British Invention Show next week I suspect, but with luck a great possible contact and maybe even mentor for the future.