Saturday, 29 December 2007

Thrifty Thinking



I've been meaning to post this utterly brilliant piece since I saw it first in Milan at the global creative review I talked about over here. The creative person on this work is Brendan Donnelly and I think he got his casting better than one could really wish for in terms of acting. Now my opinion on this ad doesn't really count until Famous Rob has given his view, because nobody reviews an ad quite like Rob Mortimer.

2007

Its drawing towards the end of the year now and what a year its been - I'll never forget 2007 AD because it came fully loaded with really good people, terrific connections, quality conversation and deeply interesting times - I can't say that about every year. There have been a few turkeys.

All the people I went out of my way to meet this year were both digitally-literate and networked to the hilt. I've been pondering recently that in theory I could go missing, and still feel confident that it wouldn't take me more than a few days to get back up to speed; what's new, where to look, what's interesting, where its developing. I'd probably never ditch Twitter though even if I do try a spell as a Benedictine monk. There's nothing in their rules on a vow of silence preventing an SMS of what I'm doing!

What am I trying to say? I think this augmented extension of the self through the internet, can provide an ability to repair foolishly untended relationships quite quickly. That I think this nascent network in 2007 is invaluable in terms of digitally experiential relationships, and probably seminal in terms of human relationships. There's nothing quite like meeting the characters behind the keyboard. It doesn't matter about the country or the culture.

I think this new social pattern is a different process than say being disconnected from your mates, since you left school and then the internet kicking off and finding Classmates.com or Friendsreunited.com rudely interrupting the illusion we hold of ourselves. The one that we have built in the absence of continuous partial attention reminding us of who we all actually are. I think this says bundles about the difference between the digital natives and the digital immigrants. I find it fascinating that in the future there will be no people like some of us immigrants who have the benefit of both hindsight and I hope a little digital foresight...... But I'm not planning on going anywhere. There's just way too much interesting stuff going on. You could do no better than look at Johnnie Moore's recent post about David Snowdon which reaffirms what I think is a profound change for 21st century communications. There is the notion that we are rewiring our brains to do what they always did best anyway; absorb lots of loosely connected information and build a picture from that which equates to a much closer representation of reality than the one that 20th century hierarchically driven monologue and the militantly linear and didactic process that the scientific method dispensed us.

Oh shit, that sounds like an intellectually conceited mouthful doesn't it? I do go off on one occasionally. Sorry about that. A easier way to understand all this might be to highlight that humans are designed for chit chat. We absorb stuff much better that way.

Anyway I didn't know I was going to go down this path when I set out on this post because I find blogging about communication theory a little bit like complaining about the food not being salty enough when the salt mill is to hand. But I am very grateful that some people have been paying attention because I'm (it should be we, but I don't want to sound like I'm aping Wallpaper), are just a little bit chuffed that Punk Planning made it into Campaign's top ten blogs. We're also deeply indebted to people like Rob Campbell from Musings of an Opinionated Sod for showing the rules and conventions that can be broken, while still being able to spot the corporate/agency stench of bullshit from leagues and furlongs away. Opinionated Sod! We salute you :)

Friday, 28 December 2007

1969


1969 was an ace year. There was Woodstock, Apollo 11 and man first walking on the moon. The first Boing 747 and Concorde flight, test tube fertilisation of human eggs, The Beatles last gig on Apple Records rooftop, John & Yoko conducting their Bed-In, the Stonewall Riots, and the introduction of the ATM as well as the opening of the Beijing Subway, the mass anti Vietnam War demonstrations and don't forget the first message between two computers through Arpanet the forerunner of the internet.

Well anyway I'm biased and so it seems are Kappa. I couldn't resist this just in case the last few posts were a bit too serious, and even though Lauren doesn't like my Puff Charlie look. But the way I see it 1969 is so close to the 70's which is just a mere extension of and adjacent to the 80's. Doddsy knows all about all of them anyway. He was there man.

Beijing Smog



Beijing was immersed in smog for a marathon three or so days till this afternoon, and I thought I'd take a picture of how it looked compared with a clear day earlier in the month that I blogged about over here. There's a lot of schandenfreude in the Western Press over (well over anything Chinese actually) the smog in Beijing in the run up to the Olympics, along with less helpful suggestions that restricting the traffic will have an impact. It doesn't! The smog occurs over the weekends too. It looks very much like its the smokestack industries to the west of Beijing that are responsible for all this. The ones that made the remote controlled toy helicopters you secured for Christmas or filled up the Christmas crackers with plastic toys. Well you know how I feel about buying pointless shit.

I'm quite sure they will restrict these offending polluters around the time of the Beijing Olympics to make sure that our international visitors have a good time, and leave with a postive impression. Before the 15 million of us who live here can get back to doing what we do best. Cleaning the air by breathing it in with our lungs, and making the it sparkle and clean like below.

What I find most daunting is that things are unlikely to change in the short term. China is under pressure to reduce its trade imbalance with the U.S. and all the other countries that consume its vast output at morally questionable prices, I talked about over here. How are they going to do this? Well, part of the answer is that China will subsidise those TV's, personal computers, washing machines, air conditioners and domestically produced mobile phones to its rural/low tier city constituency before it asks the West for something in return. That last article slipped by a lot of people in the mobile phone business. It was released in the Indian press first just before the Christmas break.

Random Retail

I've talked about the China Adidas 'Impossible is nothing' stuff before over here, and Rob raised a really good point about the work not being representational of the international spirit of the Olympic games which is bang on. I haven't seen one mention of another country mentioned in any of the communications for this international event. I think the onus is on the international agencies to have a word with the Chinese clients about this very inward approach to what is after all a celebration of multinational competitive spirit. Age also did a post on the Adidas commercial being derivative of a Visa commerical which is well worth a once-over here.
Personally I think line artwork is lovely stuff at the moment and I'm trying to get across to the teams I'm working with that tonality is crucial in marketing communications. That the messaging is often less important than the way an ad 'feels'.

But really, sports apparel advertising is looking soooo cliched - They are all clinging to lamposts like drunks, including Nike. The main high street in Beijing is dominated by Adidas with 'Impossible is nothing' as you can see above, but on the same high street is a domestic sports brand called Li Ning. Their flagship store is here, and their endline in red at the bottom of the poster below reads 'Anything is Possible'. This is for me the real challenge out here. Persuading brands to find their own voice, and understanding that standing out for the right reasons is a good thing. I'm already seeing a Yin and Yang correctional approach to branding and research... If its too functional that means we need to add emotional. If its too emotional it needs more functional. No it doesn't. It needs what it needs. There's also a philosophical debate to be had over business entities that exist in countries for no other reason than wealth creation. If that's the case then a brands values are all about making money. Period.

Personally I'm all up for the sports brand that talks frankly. Something along the lines of 'We know you stuff your pie-hole with takeaway pizza and corn syrup beverages but you do like to watch matches on the box down the pub with your mates, while wearing some sporty looking kit now and again'. That's a brand voice. Tagline - 'Its impossible, another cheeky half fella?'.


I saw this sign above while wandering around the latest shopping mall to open, and couldn't resist taking a snap. Of course I was thinking about 'her' at the time. She's so... she's so freestyle baby, and she's just for me. Apparently.


Later on I as I descended the escalator in the adjoining department store, I got thinking if this guy could qualify for that whole uncanny valley thing that Russell was talking about. That name though...Hunter Funny.... Most awesome n'est pas?


No post on Beijing retail could get by without some reference to Panasonic's Olympic street theatre on Wanfujing. Seriously, I don't know if Panasonic have ever knowingly had creative tumescence. This (ahem) brand, particularly in Asia (like Canon) suffers from the marketing communications equivalent of a charisma bypass. Whatever you do... Don't stand out! The Canon endline is particularly irritating. 'Delighting you always'. What a pile of shit that is. They so-don't delight people that I challenge anyone to find a delighted Canon user on the whole internet....Ever. At least Panasonic with their 'Ideas for life' are implying that they are just ideas and you wont need them when you're dead, and that they aren't a Volvo.

Last but not least, is it just me that sees a bit of Chinese (yes grasshopper) in the Colonel above? There's a healthy dominance of KFC over McDonalds for number of outlets in China and I'm blaming the atavistic logo! Ha

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Hutong Life

One of the quintessential yet rapidly disappearing Beijing ways of life is the hutong. The hutong is the traditional architectural and communal structure for this style of living and stretches back centuries. Communal living in this style does however often present some harder realities. There are a terrific series of posts on Beijing hutongs including lots of photography over at Beijing Visitor

Recombinant Christmas Culture

Across Asia the desire to get into the Western tradition of Christmas spirit is quite notable. There are variations from country to country. Thailand as a Buddhist country or Indonesia as an practioners of Islam for instance don't celebrate the day itself. Thus Santa Claus (mashed up with Minnie Mouse above) are ubiquitous right across the continent at this time of the year, but often references to biblical characters such as Jesus or characters from the Nativity are erased. Worth a mention was the countdown on Christmas Eve at midnight. The crowd at the nightclub we visited, really went for it with more gusto than I've seen in many European capitals. Its fair to say that Christmas celebrations are beginning to transcend culture as a period of celebration that city dwellers (in the main) can find accessible.

This young lady was hamming up a little at the bar and shortly after left as if nothing had happened. A sort of faux intoxiqué if you like. I've experienced this behaviour across different cultures, genders and age groups and concluded that reasoning with these folk is the same as trying to reason with a drunk - completely unpredictable. Although they know what they are doing, they can play oblivious at any point. I do like the face in bar action going on here. Its the little touches that can convince. Merry Christmas Everyone.


Monday, 24 December 2007

Internet Youth China

I've been taking a look around Beijing and as part of that exploration visiting random internet cafes and enjoying the luxury of being able to observe the customers. It's pure gold getting to know what they are using their computer terminal for, how they behave and what is their internet life through free observation.

As a nomadic planner, I've always done this in internet cafes around the world for the quality of information and even made a point of getting to know the owners of these places to pick up early on digital trends. This is the place where I first learnt that QQ is popular in Asia over 4 years ago from the owner of Bull internet in Hua Hin on Petchakasem road. Its also the place where I first picked up on that Camfrog trend which says so much about the way Asian youths leapfrog the cultural mores of the West in ways that most people are still trying to figure out. For me sitting in internet cafes is a bit like sitting in twenty peoples living rooms as an ethnographer and qualitative researcher all rolled into one. It's pure digital voyeurism and although I'm writing a report on this for a client, I can share with you that I've never seen anything remotely on the scale of the place below.


The usual modus operandi for cyber cafes in Asia (outside of say HK, SG, KR and JP) are that the computers are disparate second hand models still using CRT monitor technology and the places are often screamingly loud (particularly out of school hours) from all the game playing going on. I usually need to wear headphones and listen to music to keep my sanity, if I have work to do, but the place above was unnervingly silent - like walking into a library where the majority of people are studying and not browsing. You can practically feel the thinking going on as if it's an extended digital nervous system. Now this might not seem worth a mention if it wasn't for the sheer scale of the place. The photo doesn't quite do it justice but from where I'm standing on the stairs the length of the room is cavernous and between twenty to thirty rows deep. All of the customers were relaxed and even smoking cigarettes while facing completely uniform terminals and LCD screens with web cam as standard which is more than can be said of many advertising agencies or their clients who haven't cottoned on to the implications of web cam.

There wasn't a peep to be heard. This shot was taken at 1 minute past 9 in the evening. I'd say television's monologue is beginning to look quite stale if this amount of people choose to pay money rather than watch the free state controlled offering. I'd also say that the internet users are some of the most informed customers in China. Worth keeping tabs on, don't you think?

Friday, 21 December 2007

Kitchen Confidential - N96

I did get to handle one of these back in October with the N Series team at The Energy Clinic in Shoreditch, but was contractually obliged to not talk about it. However, now that its been leaked to the blogging media I guess its safe for me to talk about, but at the time I wanted to twitter that I'd just seen one as it looked and felt so nice.

I've had a real chance to evaluate the N95 a lot more since this post, and play with some of the apps that Nokia Beta Labs provide, as well as synch the unit with my Lenovo Thinkpad T61 to use as a PDA. I'm beginning to like it more as a business tool as it synchronizes with my office software. The improvements are mainly in the keypad which are poor on the current model, the flatter and wider screen which I thought was close to bleeding off the edge in the model I held, the user interface display is also cleaner on the N96 and I see there is a double flash now for better night time photography.

I've heard that the 'in-between' 8GB model doesn't reboot automatically and that its faster which are two of the main complaints with the first model but in principle the N96 is looking slicker and sexier. Here are the pics as supplied by www.ubergizmo.com

I still don't rate the camera as responsive enough on the current model. There's no point having 5 megapixels and Carl Zeiss lens if the shots are slow to set up. I speak as someone who does photography a fair bit. I hope that Rob is going to let me have a play with his client's Sony Ericsson K850i because I'd like to know how good the photography is on it.

Update: I'm not on contractually bound 'gardening leave'. You know, one where my former employers ensure I don't speak to client-conflicting future employers contractually. If I was, you can be sure I'd be the last to throw stones in glasshouses.

Communication Breakdown


One of my new resolutions is to reuse paper and plastic cups as often as possible. I thought I'd start with the Starbucks coffee downstairs because its no hassle to rinse their cup and reuse. I also thought I'd reuse the polystyrene cup that McDonalds use to serve their delicious morning coffee that I talked about over here. The first morning I indicated my intention to resue my cup, and the lady at the till said "No, no, no". I nearly broke out into "you don't love me and I know now" but it wasn't the time to be witty so I persisted and she called the manager. I thought the problem had been resolved but instead my breakfast was served like this.


It's not easy being green, I tells ya. Maybe the folks from Responsible China can help out or as the New York Times puts it so well. "Civilization will attain new heights when we all patronize McDonald's and Burger King with our own knives, forks, spoons and plates. Wouldn't fast food be even faster if we brought our own eating equipment and did our own dishes? But then such basic social skills as maintaining our own supply of cutlery and washing our own dishes are beyond most of us once we step outside our own homes.

Kokiriko Bushi

Thursday, 20 December 2007

iPhone Upgrade

Well, it didn't take long for China to crack out a new 'improved' iPhone with extra vibrating feature. I did see a girl using one in McDonalds this morning but now I'm sceptical if it was the real thing. This ties directly into Chris Anderson's Keynote speech on the topics of free and abundance at Nokia World just recently, and which is a must see video presentation over here.



Tip of the hat and thanks to Alvin for alerting me to this.

Lenovo Mobile Phone Advertising

There's lots I could say about this, but before the world screams "lame" take a closer look to the advertising that worked in the 60's and 70's in developed economies where media literacy was about the same as it is in China's cities. I posted about it over here. That doesn't mean I like this kind of commercial, it just means that everything is contextual. As those who know me are well aware of.

Looking for a Planning Director

We're looking for a Planning Director to work in China and run a department, but not directly for me. Which is probably a very good thing. If anyone has any suggestions please leave a comment or go to the 'about me' me section for my email. Japanese recruitment agencies might want to pick up the phone unlike these fools.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Chinese Literacy


Chairman Mao was a prolific reader. It's rumoured he would spend days in bed surrounded by piles of books absorbing a diverse selection ranging from philosophy to politics and religion. If his chosen reading was unavailable he'd plump for anything to hand. One of the observations experienced was that a security guard was reading easily the thickest book I've ever seen a security guard read, anywhere in the world. Over the last couple of weeks, I've noticed there are a number of statues around Beijing celebrating the power of books and reading. The one above is outside the Beijing Books Building and was taken as I walked from Xidan through Tiananmen square to Wanfujing over the weekend. Chinese literacy is one of the highest in Asia at around 90% if the CIA world fact book is to be believed. Speaking of facts, asessments of China were recently downgraded by 40% if you were paying attention to what the U.S. controlled World Bank announced yesterday. Makes me wonder what metrics China would use to measure the U.S.

The smog in Beijing at the moment is rather harsh.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Is this minty?

Most people know that Thailand is my spiritual home and where my daughter waits for me. I've never caught more natural smiles than while walking through Klong Toey market than in any other place on the planet - I've always felt more at home with the underprivileged and the people of Isan than the plutocratic and plundering Bangkok ruling elite such as the former Prime Minister Taksin Shinawatra (Owner of Man City Football Club) who is under investigation for human rights abuses including those 3000 or so extra judicial killings a few years back.

No, I don't mean the smiles that are laid on in the environment of the 'White Collar' classes which you can read more about over here. I mean the smiles that are free, simple, unpretentious and generous of life.

I deeply regret what the West did by selling electrification and the automobile into Siam. An idyllic and rural paradise on earth that can still be glimpsed today in out of town places and where the people in the past, were in harmony with their environment, where they turned from agrarian littering of discarded banana skins and coconuts that decomposed naturally into the environment, to plastic bag throwers that blight most of the cities of S.E. Asia

But this ad I stumbled across earlier is I believe not a showcase example of this wonderful country, and as we talked about over here could well be yet another example of latent racism. Thailand you are bigger and better than this. It is my belief the creatives tried to put the right message in at the beginning, when I thought it was starting to look like a WORLD CLASS AD.



Sunday, 16 December 2007

Friendship Store


I had one of those epiphanies last night that tells me so much about this country I could easily write for days. Near my apartment is a Friendship Store. It's a nondescript department store with a supermarket, but I'd already noticed that things weren't the way you'd expect, after an emergency provisions run last night, I worked out a little more of what the Friendship Store is about.

It's a fragment of unreconstructed Communist China still alive in the 21st century. It's amazing. A state owned enterprise department store, with all the quirks you'd expect from the equivalent of say Debenhams, run by the most prudish and bureaucratic parts of the civil service. It really is a jewel.


The first lasting impression is the lack of customers that make it the most delightful shopping experience I've had outside the Prada Tokyo store. Look at those shopping aisles, gloriously empty of customers! OK, so they don't have every item that one might expect from a supermarket but the luxury of not having to work my way around the hoi polloi is beyond words. I'm convinced I was royalty in my last life ;) However, nestled amongst those state sanctioned goods for sale are the pearls of trade that the elite foreign diplomatic community, for whom these Friendship Stores were created, insisted upon in former times. I believe that at one point it was de rigeur for foreign leaders to do a quick shop here.


Look at that! Out of nowhere I was suddenly confronted with the most expensive tins of fois gras I've ever seen in a supermarket outside of France. Now forgive me but I've long suspected the French keep all the quality gear to themselves, so you kind of know that this sort of treatment by our cousins across the Channel is how they maintained 'cordial relations' with La Chinoise. I've always thought the Brits were a bit narrow minded on gift giving. We might not know how to make good vino but we can always make good pie right?

I then remembered when I was reading this book back here a few months ago that Chairman Mao, was fond of pigging out on the occasional delicacy. It's not beyond the realms of possiblity that any 'surplus' was redistributed into the Friendship Store to flog to the cities' diplomats, and raise some much needed hard currency. The tin just missing out of this shot on the left below cost over 200 Euros! An enormous amount of dosh in this part of the world even to this day. Anyway most of the above is just speculation but my interest to explore the Friendship Store from top to bottom had been precipitated and by yesterday afternoon at four, I had concluded it was well worth it.

I resolved to head to the top floor first, intending to work my way down. Before I even made it to the elevator, I came across the one must-have item I could not have wished more for. I don't quite know how to explain the piece above fully. It's an ancient court piece of beautifully cast porcelain ancient Chinese style letters of the most exquisite shapes set in a fixed surrounding of some indeterminate subsance. It was really beautiful and the sales assistant pointed out my eye for the expensive when she explained it was the oldest and most expensive item she had amongst the usual souvenir items. 23 000 Euros to be precise, and so I had to leave it there. She did let slip however that there is a state owned warehouse of this stuff and they drip feed it through to the store every once in a while. How cool is that? I'll be nipping back there on occasions for sure.

There were also a spread of posters that were more in my price range. I've a bunch of these from the last time I worked in Shanghai, and if my memory serves me correctly, I gave them out to three friends as gifts. I did particularly like this one with advertising for torch batteries. It's a reprint but from the 50's so they aren't quite original.

Then the lady really persisted in trying to sell me one of those stone carved 'royal seal' stamps that every hand written letter writer or person of importance should have. Here she is doing some stamping action on an old business card of mine, with a little one that was still over 2000 Euros.

That red paste on the right is the ink. Here is what it looks like close up on some better and more absorbent paper.


The sales assistant was really trying to get me to buy this. I nearly did too, because the little man on the left is the inspiration for the Beijing Olympics 2008 Logo. I know we all had a bloody good laugh about the logo the other day on that funny cartoon that it breaks my heart not to put up here, in the interests of ahem 'sensitivity', but I was really revved up when I realised there was some history to this little fella and also that the lady was trying to explain that its related to spas and being healthy. Unfortunately as I'm finding out over here, the Chinese way is to sometimes over explain a concept, so I didn't understand her fully in the end. Anyway it was a very tempting buy, but I remembered that I only write handwritten letters when I want to express condolence or love, which is the same thing I guess, and that I'm not really all that important anyway, so I couldn't justify a couple of thousand Euros on it. I do however totally endorse people buying old stuff and not new stuff so if you want a seal just let me know. Also if someone Chinese knows more about the little man, I'm keen to learn.

I then popped into their tailors and the lady working there was keen as mustard to sell me some nice Chinese tailoring, but I couldn't justify buying a summer suit in the Winter. I did get a snap of a photo with Nancy and Ronnie Reagan when they were in town wearing this tailors clobber.

Last off, and with a bit of shopper determination, I found a stash of old movie posters including some that were so kitsche seventies, I became practically tumescent at the sight of them. The one I bought though seemed to be about right before I return later and buy the rest for Christmas presents.


Right I thought, after buying this. Time to get the hell out before I get lathered up into a consumer frenzy of buying shit I want but don't need. The lady and the stamp on the way out had different ideas though, and she collared me before I snuck away, with a full on Socialist half Nelson to buy a complete set of the revolutionary workers matchbox package print collection, from around the time of the cultural revolution. They are a complete story of Mao's life in propaganda artwork, and it was too much to walk away from. I also intend to scan each and everyone and give them back to whoever needs them for whatever purpose on the internet. I got the analogue ones though if anybody wants to buy them once they are scanned. I'm not really into 'stuff' per se. Attachment causes suffering and all that.

Branded Utility



One of the reasons why I like the folk at Anomaly in New York, Piers at PSFK and Zeus Jones in Minneapolis is because of their understanding of where our business is heading. Way too many advertising people are in a state of delusion when it comes to the overall efficacy of the marketing communications that we do. I'd argue that a lot of the wallpaper we paste up conveys a given amount of trust because there's an implicit cost factor when viewing paid up media space. Something along the lines of "If you can purchase that media space and come up with some reasonable production values, then you must be a reasonably reliable brand". That's it folks. We buy trust most of the time.

Most wallpaper is reassuring. If you're not convinced then live in a room stripped of it for a while.

So on Friday after a quintessentially self indulgent and non engaging advertising awards ceremony that almost defined how sclerotic our business has become, I came across a terrific quote on Dino's de.licio.us bookmarks for Robert Stephens, the founder of Geek Squad as saying


I'd be inclined to agree. However there is a momentum in the beginning of this third millennium for marketing as doing. The digital era seems to be ushering in a breed of young folk who have no time for crafted messaging and are intolerant of not getting the information they need in the quickest way possible. I've never seen anything like it before. It only takes a browser to crash a few times and the digital savvy young folk of today delete the free software as if its a cancerous tumour. What happens when Wikipedia or Google's new idea Knol start to do product evaluation? The kids who are mostly digital natives, only want the information and that is a trend that those of us who grew up in the propaganda age (frequency and penetration) of marketing communications need to think long and hard about. The middle path is marketing as doing and there are some great ideas that have been put forward by the folk I mentioned at the beginning, in posts over here, here and here. That doesn't mean I'm anti advertising. It means I'm against bad advertising and for good information delivered cleanly and with the minimum of fuss.

I got thinking about this because I just happened to pass a blood giving bus close to the Xidan shopping area above, and I thought how smart the location was and doing this with a mobile blood donor unit. Somewhere to lie down for 10 minutes and give blood without really interrupting the day, I wanted to donate myself but the nurses didn't speak English. Then I got thinking if Nokia was a brand that could get involved in branded utility activity like this, given that its not too far removed from the traveling roadshows around the rural and semi urban areas that are often done in the mobile phone category over here. You know, communicating a need and helping encourage trial and action.



Later on at Wangfujing I saw them once more. So I thought about it again. I mulled over the notion of 'Connecting People' and it occurred to me that there probably isn't any greater connection than the one being done in the bus above. Probably that's an idea that is too visceral for most people's taste but the notion that the way a brand speaks is the only thing that matters, is the gravy train thinking of 20th century marketing and it's coming to an end as we see people controlling the information they want and continued digital emancipation taking place. I'm guessing the half a billion or so people whose first internet experience will be via the mobile phone will be equally intolerant of dishonest attempts to be interesting as I find people like Sam, Charlie and Adam now are.

I'm sure this makes me seem like I'm taking myself way too seriously and I probably am, so in the interests of not disappearing up my own bottom, here's a couple of pics from last nights clubbing action. First off is Puff Charlie keeping it real for y'all in the White Rabbit China town Lucky Street hood. Stayin' tuff all through the night and standing ma ground outside.

I know Sam can do a much better Ali G than I can but he's not here so that will have to make do. It was looking well mean down in the basement of the club. White riot everywhere and even the bitches were packing heat.

I ask you what has clubbing come to? Seriously though it wasn't a bad night but a less hipper crowd than I was hoping for. The music was better than the previous Friday, and we even slipped out for some of those ace kebabs that the folk from the far Western provinces of China rustle up in the Sanlitun area. They are easily the tastiest meat things on a stick I've ever eaten. I also noticed some stuff about the affluent local Chinese that was worth hanging around for. The Beijing crowd are very much different from the Shanghai lot and I don't think it's reflected in the way advertising is created for them.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

White Rabbit



I'll be here tonight having a listen to the music and watching things closely. I like that line they use. Designed by DJ's not Chivas reps. Encore un fois!

Electric Dreams


I'm annoyed and sorry because I should have posted about this at least a week ago, as it’s a really sexy idea. As ever with Web 3.07 triggers, I've been reminded by a post over at the excellent John Grant's Greenormal to get my shit together, because it’s really important. John who along with Mark Earls' book Herd, published possibly one of the most constructively important marketing books of the millennium so far, also recently did a post on how so many good ideas from the past haven't been utilized properly. I really got thinking about this when Matt Catt turned up to a party in a Sinclair C5 because not only did he tip up (and leave) in the coolest manner ever, but did so in an environmentally responsible way.

Beijing is looking very zippy with these electric bikes come bicycles that I photographed above. They may not look like a Hummer but then only cocks drive Hummers right? I want to look into these funny electric bikes a bit more and possibly buy one because I think they are a terrific urban transport solution.

I think we really messed up when we built our cities around the car and sent our kids into bedrooms instead of out to play. But if we could champion transport ideas like the above and the Sinclair C5 again we'd not have to worry so much about our children getting run over and they'd be able to learn all those social skills that we had a chance to. The ones that prevented us from turning into socially alienated school killers that love to post their dark obsessions on the internet.

OK rant over, but if as one global planner shared with me recently you're one of those advertising types who are in this business for the money can I suggest you buy John’s book or maybe read his blog and see how you can be both a 'legend' and do good at the same time. Otherwise you’re not part of the solution. And I got a problem with that.

Bikes for rent in preparation for the 2008 Olympic visitors outside Jianguomen Subway Station Beijing

Friday, 14 December 2007

Simple Semiotics


Earlier today I took a stroll northwards to the oldest shopping street in Bejing called Wan Fu Jing to think a bit more about retail communications and was confronted by some street advertising by Adidas. They pretty much 'own' the whole high street, which is either OK or just urban spam depending on your perspective. But let's park the media aperture question for a second because a lot of pants gets talked about semiotics in planning and so for a good pub bluff on the subject just ask yourself the question. Why are we unlikely to see this style of ad or the one below, appear during the London 2012 Olympics?

Of course there are still over four years to go and that whole shared endeavour thing might be in vogue by then. Lets see. Shortly afterwards, I nipped into a shopping mall for some noodles and I saw some more retail advertising and signage for a Chinese food chain that might just raise a smile. I am partial to a self referential joke now and again.

C'mon. In China? That's fucking brilliant isn't it? ;)

For the wise master's words (Bruce Lee was both articulate and a gentleman too) see my post on an interview with Mr Lee I posted over here.