Sunday 24 August 2008

The Economist - Digital Nomads

"Every morning, when I get up say around 6.30 or 7.00, I go to my God, which sits in my kitchen and I have a two minute word with him, asking him to reduce my broadband costs which we have to incur every month" - I love Indians.

Saturday 23 August 2008

Breakfast at Sulimeys

I absolutely love this. Afer a few thousand hours of watching MTV in the 90's I'm pretty much burned out with chicks shaking their booty to tell me that something is hot, cool or sexy. Also I find putting myself out to listen to new music is tough in a Youtube format even if it's excellent content from people I trust to click through
I want to listen to new stuff with people, to get their opinion, feel some context and that's difficult if nobody is around or has time to spare. These three elderly music reviewers are just great. Joe on the right is open minded and thoughtful for an old codger. Ann seems a bit uncouth and lacks real depth but she is sparky and everybody's opinion counts. Bill is a bit in between and I guess balances things out a bit.
What's great for me is that they take an easy to click away format through to proper engagement. Of course that's because it's me we're talking about and maybe a lot of young people will find it a tortuous way to listen to music. I'm just glad that the elderly get a crack at the whip in a way that isn't charitably forced. It just works for me. What do you think?

Via Jamie at Freshen me up

Friday 22 August 2008

Warte Bis September

This is Nils and he's waiting until September. The Kaiser thinks it's for Ikea but whoever it is they've just gone and nailed advertising on the internet. You can call Nils on +49 40 22 61 11 61 to ask him why, in any language. It's one of the best bits of digital I've seen since the Uniqlo thing. Again simplicity is best.

Via Marcus


Yeah OK maybe this changes things. But it's the planner that can admit their mistakes that moves things on. She was kinda hot too.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Planner Wanted In Shanghai

A friend of mine has asked if I can put the feelers out for the following role:

Aside from just saying 'hi'.....I'm actually writing to see if you know a planner that might fancy a stint at XXX agency Shanghai?  They are looking for  a solid operator with 5 years plus experience in planning. Can't reveal the client at this stage but its a multinational brand and would occupy 90% of their time.

Drop me an email which is in the 'about me' section of this blog if it's interesting and I'll put you in touch.

Smile - You're on Camera

One of the first bust ups I had with the Red Bull pitch that we won was the use of this visual. I rejected it on the basis that it used women who aren't the main customer group, but more importantly because it is everything about branding in China that is wrong wrong wrong. It's easy for marketing people in China to look at the smiley happy people in Western FMCG advertising and think that's the way to do it, but what invariably comes out in China is a thick smear of unvarnished schmaltz. The notion of portraying anything approaching real life is anathema to the marketing heads in China including Li Ning who hasn't got a clue that the branding part is the dramatization of the blood pumping through an organisation, not some laquered image projection.


These girls are the Olympic hostesses. They are trained to smile and it's this training that is the problem. Not the solution. The Chinese bless them, have had a tragic modern history, that like the Russians is bloody and dripping in carnage juice not to mention infused with suspicion and fear. Nobody could really deny it, even the Chinese, but they choose to ignore it collectively white wash over what makes them who they are today. That's where it goes wrong.
So you can see that the smile is part of the Olympic orchestrated image. The idea put in front of me (yes this is the level of creative in China we often see) was that after a hard days working at their smile, a gal just needs to take a swig on her Red Bull to make it through the day. Of course the idea is risible and explains why I often want to just write the fucking scripts myself but just to be professional I pointed out that the reasons for rejection were, it wasn't female, it wasn't blue collar enough (lorry drivers are often paid a subsidy to drink Red Bull and not fall asleep at the wheel) and most important of all, that the smile did not come from the HEART. A synthetic smile is exactly what I expect Li Ning to insist upon and make no mistake he doesn't undertand that it's all about saying 'fucking hell, I failed' that makes a brand.

It's not just Li Ning. It's the entire country. 1.3 Billion population and despite loving them hugely for so many things, I've yet to come across one Chinese entrepreneur, or brand visionary who has the balls to embrace their flaws and their run with it.
There are reasons for this and I'll explain some of those in some later posts.
But in the mean time I'd also like to see a Western agency that can see past their noses and their short term immediate profits (show me one ad, just one ad) that knows it's all about saying no to clients who are often under immense pressure to deliver the synthetic goods, on time and on budget. What most Western agencies don't realise is that this is an economic bubble we're living in and that doesn't justify running with what I think is so often some of the weakest creativity I've ever come across and I think I've worked in more countries than most. 

One of my predictions however is that just like punk emerging from the ashes of a charred British society I anticipate an unleashing of the creative Chinese spirit once this amazing country hits harder times. When it's not all about the money because there will be less of it about. 

For the time being though most are on the oxyacetylane rampant consumerism which the smarter people in the West know has a logic that predicts and defines it's own end with a simplicity that will leaving most people gasping......or choking if you wish.

Sunday 17 August 2008

Made in England

Currently trekking across the Americas from Mexico to Canada along the continental divide is Cookie from Made in England. Along with his mate Paul he's been blogging the journey and they are both (after what seems like forever) just over the halfway mark now. It's terrific blogging and he and Paul are both doing it for Charity which you can check out over here 
Just as exciting is that if he makes it back to London, Cookie has one of the best digital graphic design blogs that I know of. You can still sponsor him mile for mile as it's not certain that he's going to make it with his toes disintegrating as we speak, thus saving yourself a couple of dollars you cheap skates ;)

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Sell the sizzle

I think it's the Swedish who have an expression for food that isn't  rude and translates as "the food was adequate". Anyway this is the closest Pizza restaurant to me in Beijing.

Film & Music Matter

Age picks up on a piece of film that is ace.

Sunday 10 August 2008

Olympic Cycling

Making my way back home earlier I was caught in a road block and managed to catch some Olympic cycling on the N95 camera. I've encountered some of the teams training around Tiananmen square early in the morning and like this ride-by they are a fearsome experience of pedal power and swooshing noise as they rush by. Nothing like my sedate ambling even on my electric bike.

In this clip they are approaching me and have just emerged from the West heading East out of the fog/pollution on Changan Avenue, with the famous Chairman Mao portrait to their left on the north side of Tiananmen Sqaure which must be quite an inspiring sight for those at the peak of their careers in Beijing this Olympics.

Friday 8 August 2008


Marie was a good sport on my last night in California and we had a terrific meal on Huntington Beach before I caught my flight back to Beijing. It was however a real insight into what it means for aging populations and I learnt a heap of stuff I should have known about anyway to put into context for my work. I see here today that there's another contribution to playful elderly that is definitely worth a read. Marie is a bit scared of emails but I've opened up the playing field by sending her video mails through Eyejot.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Paris Hilton

See more funny videos at Funny or Die
When I read Alex Bogusky talking about Paris Hilton's intelligence in this Fast Company interview I thought it an interesting comment, and now I've seen the video I actually think she comes across as articulate and in control. See for yourself.

Zaproot & T. Boone Pickens

While in the States recently T. Boone Pickens (say it like you're wearing a Stetson) was buying an awful lot of mind share in the media with his plan to shift the U.S. economy off oil. A noble effort  considering he'd made his fortune by sucking the finite resource out of the ground all his life, but better late than never I thought. Zaproot's Jessica Wlliamson presents an alternative case by pressing different buttons. Make your own mind up. 

Sneak Preview: Beijing Olympics 2008 - The Cube and The Birds Nest


Pics via Focus China.

I've been twittering for a few days about the lack of foreigners in town and tonight intend to hit a few hot spots to see if it's just around Tiananmen and the Forbidden City where apart from Olympic Officials and Journalists they are definitely thin on the ground. I'm reminded of Baudrillard's simulacra that if enough people see it on televison around the world, then maybe its an international event. Simulacra or othewise.

Geotility & Cerambycidae Lamiinae Aristolobia Horridula

There's a long and funny (with hindsight) story about how this creature managed to become part of my life for about 12 hours but the reason for putting it out there again is Faris has come up with a really nice term for a concept that I've loosely talked about for a while in a slightly different context and I've been using this picture to explain it. Faris calls it Geotility and its the linking of geographical or location based data with pretty much everything else. I'm particularly interested in the information that is accumulated through social media sites although as I've also indicated elsewhere, it's us who should be in control of that information not the social networking sites who should really act as a broker in any transactional exchange model rather than message pusher. More pull than push (Fuzzy logic?)

So the insect CerambycidaeLamiinae Aristolobia Horridula above came into my life unexpectedly a couple of years back in the Tropics and managed to turn it upside down in such a way that really freaked me at the time but the remaining question I had once it had gone away is, what was it? I showed it to a few knowledgeable people who have lived in Thailand for years but no one recognised it and so I was left mystified as to how I could find out apart from emailing it to entomologists and hoping they might know.

It was only later I realised what could be the future of social media and networking when I saw this guy crouched on the ground taking photographs of insects. I didn't actually know what he was up to at first but once I'd asked (he was cataloguing the decline and fall of insect populations on Wimbledon common from climate change) it became clear that he could help me. I might have missed this guy if he'd just been walking by but what occurred to me as a really useful utility for social media is that if I could have a status update on anyone of my social media sites that I was looking for an entomologist and this chap belonged to one, albeit willing to share information as his status too, then it might prove to be a useful connection builder. What if I could exchange my status as a blogger with some traffic to promote his activities in return for some professional help on bug finding?

Where I think Geotility gets really interesting though are the day to day needs of for example people like students at school. I can envisage a situation whereby a student who is poor at maths may well benefit from seeking advice from a maths student who is weaker at literature, a subject the first student is stronger at. Wouldn't it be great to put those people together in places where time is traditionally wasted like train stations, parks, bus stops or any one of the places that we travel through and are now able to broadcast our location along with needs and wants?

There are thousands of examples I can think of that would particularly be useful for those who would prefer to borrow items than buy wasteful and damaging products to the environment and climate. I'm thinking about John Grant's power drill library that he talks about in his book The Green Marketing Manifesto (a book every planner should read) . Anyway hats off to to Faris for giving it a terrific name. I think it will be a massive concept. Particularly when oil hits 200 bucks a barrel.

Which it will.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Old School

I've had to chuck away the Wilkinson Sword Quattro I bought because after a week or so's stubble it clogs up. Anyway I spotted this in Walmart earlier and thought a back to basics might be interesting to investigate.

Monday 4 August 2008

Friday 1 August 2008

Follow Your Instinct

Just follow it. The ad is in your hands (don't forget to click in the Youtube video to direct the narrative - It's a new format)

Via Digicynic

Dengue Fever

I read about these guys a while back and loved the description of Pschedelic Khmer surf rock. Cambodia is quite special to me as most of my close Thai friends are Khmer in ethnic origin living close to the border and speak Khmer around me. It's also quite timely  after the border dispute over what is obviously a Khmer temple (the architecture speaks for itself) with Thailand bullying Cambodia and flexing its nationalistic muscles (when involving weaker neighbours) over the disputed territory.

Anyway I  was just awoken from a jet lag catch up sleep to the track 'Seeing Hands' and was catapulted back into some amazing nights in Phnom Penh and road trips to Angor Wat in Siem Reap. Khmer Culture is still such a mystery in many ways but here's a bit of recombinant music culture from Dengue Fever on Myspace that stretches from the surfing coast of Los Angeles to the Heart of Darkness. Click on the track called Singing Hands.

It's so good to hear that this music is also connecting in Cambodia with a generation that haven't heard this genre since the late sixites as both the music and the people  were all obliterated in the genocide and insanity of Pol Pot's ultra communist agrarian revolution with the Khmer Rouge. I feel I need to stop off in Phnom Penh sooner than I realised on long delayed trip I need to make to Vietnam. It's on the way I guess. Read about Dengue Fever over here if the music grabs you.
Tenuous link picture of me struggling with a surf board last week ;)