Monday, July 31, 2006

ThoughtSpurs (again)

"The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory."

Aldo Gucci - 1938

Yet another reminder that a great business is founded on a sound idea.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


BrandWorld won the prestigeous New Zealand Marketing Magazine award for Business to Business on Thursday night with Family Health Diary, following on the heels of Eating Well in the same category last year. Pleased for the team (my office is in the BrandWorld office, though I sold my share in the company in 2001), and chuffed to have created both brands for the company.

I'm hoping Idealog magazine does as well in the Magazine publisher's Association awards when they roll around next year. We weren't eligble to enter this year.

On to bigger and better things now. Considering launching a theatre company. Something a bit different. We'll see, might be too high risk. A couple of other projects pending…

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Back to school

This morning I spoke to an assembly at Orewa College, north of Auckland. The topic was choosing careers. I told my own story, of leaving school when I was 15, armed with University Entrance, working in a plastics factory on the night shift (read my previous blog about that experience - Character), how I returned to study (though not graphic design–as I had always imagined–but the dark arts of advertising and marketing. The twists and turns of my career, in agencies (large and small), IT and publishing of one kind and another.

My message, be prepared. Get an education, gain command of a domain (whether it is marketing, communications, science or sport) and refresh it over time. Make contact with other realms - if you are in science, make time for the arts, and vice versa. Be flexible. Change will happen. None of the tasks I learned in the early days of my advertising exist today and the skills I have acquired along the way, particularly in the digital arena have been essential for keeping the wind in my sails. Be adaptable. "If you don't like change you'll like irrelevance even less."

Looking out at the sea of faces I felt optimistic. Allowing for the desparate shyness of some teenagers-I have learned never to ask a direct question of an individual in a group–and the hormone filled cockiness of others (did I see myself out there in the crowd?).

If I had one concern it was the poor show of hands for enthusiasm for technology and science, compared with plenty for sport.

I'm working on honing a more formal presentation for high schools. Generation TXT kids need pictures and movies and short bites.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Don't be chicken

I have a new computer. I am very pleased with it - a MacBook Pro.
It comes bundled with some funky software called Photobooth which served to remind me just how juvenile I can be.

Aside from the very sexy aesthetic (LOVE the silky keys), I also invested in an Airport wireless base station. Technology is a wonderful thing. I have been muddling by with old equipment as my iBook's screen died, then the power supply to my old WallStreet Powerbook burst into flame. I will try not to drive my car over the top of it (as I did with my Titanium G4).

Haven't been particularly well over the past few days. I will never again scoff at news reports that chicken can be dangerous if not cooked or handled carefully.
Of course few days spent close to the toilet is hardly comparable with the undeclared war on civilians in Lebanon.

Speak up. Standing mutely by is unacceptable.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Shine on you crazy diamond.

One of the extraordinary things about visiting Wellington is how often pointed remarks are made about my home port - which is Auckland. Gush as I might about how engaging Wellington is…and it is… lowering my guard would leave leave me open to petty barbs. Not only did people I know feel the inclination to set the record straight about the superiority of the Capital, and the infamy of Auckland, but also anyone from shopkeepers to the otherwise very well trained coat-check guy at TePapa. A little harsh, I thought. I am, after all, quite benign. Interesting none-the-less. A spot of participant observation in my ongoing anthropological expedition through life.

I had been visitng to speak to the assembled clients of Baldwins, the Intellectual property attorneys, who sponsor my magazine, Idealog. Vincent Heeringa, one of business partners in the venture and I reprised a double act we had earlier performed in Auckland. Our presentation was a light-hearted romp through some of the concepts associated with the creative economy–a list of 10 rules to which one might adhere in these rapidly changing times.The reception was warm - in absolute contrast to the weather outside, which had earlier given a number of the passengers on my flight what can only be described as 'brown trouser moments'as we landed in the vortex that is Wellington's Airport. Is that a partisan dig? Oh well, …I am safely seated at the computer in my office on Auckland's gloriously sunny Viaduct Harbour (pictured below).

Curiously enough I admire Wellington greatly. The concentration of public money in such a small geographic basin makes for an exceptional visitor experience. It reminds me of Melbourne and I would be happy to live for a time in either city.

I have mentioned before that Unity Books is my favourite bookstore. Wellington is home base and Auckland's High Street store is a mere satellite. I had a little free time yesterday so grabbed a set of the new Phaidon Design Classics, plonked myself into a comfy chair and devoured them from covers to covers (it is a 3 volume set and, if Santa Claus is reading this, well, …I've been good,…ok, better than last year…). The music in the store was curiously familiar. I racked my addled brain (I had been out till quite late with the marketing team from Baldwins), and then it came to me…ask the bloke behind the counter.

It was Syd Barrett, whom I had enjoyed as pretentious teenager, experimenting with metaphysical conversations with my mate, Mikael Aldridge (who is now running a division of Ogilvy advertising and is still annoyingly smarter and much more interesting than me). The music was The Madcap Laughs which I owned back when big vinyl CDs were all the rage. The shop guy told me that Barret had taken leave of his existance a couple of days before - a complication of Diabetes - and I felt the twinge of disappointment I often get when people pop their clogs. It's hard not to take it personally, …was it something I said? Still, a vicarious brush with death is better than the real thing and we'll always have The Madcap Laughs. Or rather I will have when it arrives from Amazon.

This is fatigue talking. I should sign off and go home. Friday night, couldn't organise a date to save myself. My son is away playing golf, so, it's just me and rubbish Friday night TV. Might have to have some rubbish food to keep it company. There's nothing like pizza when no one is looking.