Friday, 20 July 2007


A couple of nights ago I met up with the Creativistan gang at The Commercial Tavern. It was good to catch up with London's young creative talent and get an idea for people who I may one day be working with. If you are looking for a creative break in advertising you should really make an effort to meet Wal who organises these things because he's got a bright future ahead of him and is a social hub for young creative talent. One small criticism aimed squarely at the British creative wannabes of adland is that none of you were present on this night and frankly were conspicuous by your absence. I met Germans, Scandinavians, French, Baltic States, Italians, Russians and more, all speaking spot-on English but no Brits; which tells me something about our ability to broaden the creative gene pool. I've said it before that homogenous advertising agency cultures produce homogeneous work. I think there were three planners there, that I knew of which confirms something about 3rd Millenium Planners too. We're a much more social bunch than the old guard because there really is no better social research than socialising.

And on that subject of research, I met a young man outside The Commercial Tavern who worked as global research for insights with Nokia. I've been rattling on a bit lately how Nokia have their shit together because of their ability to embrace social sciences into the corporation and putting people over profits as the objective which of course is a more profitable long term strategy as I wrote about over here and which you can watch a related online video over here.

Anyway we got talking about Motorola who are clearly having a hard time of things over in Chicago. Knocked off their number two spot by Samsung for market share and having just posted their second quarterly loss I guess the iPhone is starting to look like a corporation killer. I hear the CEO is on his way out too, no doubt with one of those Platinum Parachutes that the American corporation magnificently rewards failure at the highest level.

I started to recall when the Motorola Razr arrived because it was a huge hit in Asia - absolutely massive and unprecedented. The first one I saw belonged to my German boss while we were running around The Philippines, Indonesia, Malayasia and Thailand. I was fascinated how he had developed an automatic reflex to keep the screen clean of smudges, flicking the screen open, wiping, check and closing; a case of techno design-lust I guess.

Nobody could deny that for style it was a killer phone and for a time it was THE must-have accessory. But what struck me later when I got talking to Jens about the product, provided me with a valuable insight. He told me that the camera was rubbish, the interface so difficult to use that he didn't bother to learn all the functions, and that the only reason for purchasing it was style. Style of course is great but style over substance is a long term problem. Pretty much like putting money before people I guess. So 100 million phones later the Razr has been gang raped into submission by the relentless demand for volume sales and profits by Motorola and is now less of a supermodel and more of a crack whore thrown into a mobile tariff plan for free. I believe even the chavs are reluctant to be seen with them these days. Ironic really if the Razr phone is responsible for Motorola slashing their corporate wrists.

Update: I first saw the RAZR in Penang, Malaysia where Motorola have a plant manufacturing wireless radio products. It was just after the Tsunami which clipped the island I was on so that was around January 2005.


  1. How on earth does one gang rape a cellphone?

    No, wait... I don't want to know.

    "Motorola as digital Burberry: discuss"

  2. And Burberry is only a hop skip and a jump from Pierre Cardin Dan ;)

  3. I was in Asia when the RAZR struck and my god you're right - it created a tsunami of desire - motivating more consideration of their brand than all their advertising put together.

    As usual, this ignited the 'greed gene' in Motorola Corporate and instead of taking the lessons [both good and bad] from the V3 and then addressing that in their new phones - they went for the path of least resistence and kept producing more and more V3 clones that basically had miniscule differences from the ones before because they wanted to maximise the gravy train they had shockingly found themselves on.

    I remember sitting in a Motorola conference where it was obvious they believed their own shit when they announced one of their business strategies was giving their phones names with 3 or 4 letters only AS IT WAS PROVEN TO BE COOL!

    Oh for fucks sake!

    I wonder when the smug smile got wiped off their face ... when they saw their competitors had launched the phones they should have followed the RZR with or when they realised consumer loyalty was based on a look rather than a brand [a look that had been replicated within months]

    I am convinced GREED and EGO are 2 of the most dangerous elements in business today - Nokia suffered for a while [especially in their reluctance to launch clamshells - even though Asia slavers over them] - but Motorola seem to still be in their post orgasmic zone, even though their customers have got up, showered and fucked off to another lover.

    Oh ... and yahboo sucks there were so few planners there, probably think they no it all already. Bit like Motorola's management eh!

  4. "even though their customers have got up, showered and fucked off to another lover"

    This is possibly the most evocative brand quote I've ever read Rob. I'm chuckling like nuts over here..Nice one.

    And yes. GREED & EGO are the corporations Achilles heel. Walmart is starting to auto digest on making profits its reason for being.

  5. it was a great night. pity some cunt nicked my ipod and your bag, mate.

  6. Hurrah. The first use of the Cunt word on my blog. And its me ol mucker Lauren :)

  7. Lets hope my Mum doesn't read this blog eh Lauren!

  8. Lets hope my Mum doesn't read this blog eh Lauren!

  9. dear mrs c. if you read young charles' blog, or mine, please forgive me. i'm young and immature, extremely uncouth and had been having a thoroughly shit day that day. i'm sure you understand and i promise i'll keep it in check in the future. i also promise to continue not swearing on rob's blog. love lauren xx

  10. The main problem Motorola have had for years is that their interface is so rubbish and user unfriendly that people never buy a second motorola.

    Everyone I know who has ever owned one says they are awful to use.

  11. I wouldn't worry Lauren. I'm convinced my mother doesn't read my emails I send.

    Rob - Yes the interface isn't right. I recall particularly the question to confirm sending an SMS is highly irritating to its users.