Wednesday, November 26, 2008

That's what friends are for.

There's an old saying that friends are the people who stick around when its hard. Glad handing ne'er do well butt kissers will be gone at the first sign of heat.

My buddy Ollie has disagreed with me about politics and the green stuff (even though we agree mostly about the green stuff but his spin is a southern hemisphere toilet and mine pines for home in the north).

Ollie has sent me info about Michael McDonough. I'd never consciously heard of the fella, but watching the video on TED I realised that I was familiar with some of McDonough's stuff.

Watch this;

And now were on the same (plastic) page.


25% reduction in advertising personnel predicted

I've just posted an entry on the Idealog blog about dealing with the prospect of being etrenched, downsized, made redundant (or any other charming euphemism that refers to getting sacked from your job you can think of).

How to use gooder grammar

If, like me, you struggle with the complexities of grammar then you may be interested in the New York Times 'After Deadline' section.

After Deadline examines questions of grammar, usage and style encountered by writers and editors of The Times.

It is adapted from a weekly newsroom critique overseen by Philip B. Corbett, the deputy news editor who is also in charge of The Times’s style manual. The goal is not to chastise, but to point out recurring problems and suggest solutions.

Since most writers are likely to encounter similar troubles, we think these observations might interest general readers, too.

On the other hand it may leave your head spinning and relieved that you now have the option of using TXT language. LOL.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


My monkey mind is driving me nuts. Too much to think about. So a timely reminder on the practice of Zazen is helpful.

A nice video. Seems amateur and professional at the same time. How very Zen.

Via Electrolicious

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Walking Bus

This morning I thought I would catch a bus to work. I visited the Maxx website, which has routes and timetables for Auckland public transport.

I entered the start place for the journey near my home and the end point the Smales Farm terminal, where I guessed there would be loads of feeder buses to the city careening along the new bus expressway.

The suggestion offered on the site (above) is that I should walk the 3291 metres to the station, a mere 49 minutes away.

Not really helpful people.

Google gets crafty

I guess this video is really a promotion for Google docs, but it is nice to see that the company spends some effort having a little fun. In a funny way it reminds me of cross-stitch, the folksy craft art that seems to be making something of a comeback - in an ironic, post modern mash-up (check out Subversive Cross-Stitch).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

John Grant has three manifestos

I first encountered John Grant via his first book - The New Marketing Manifesto. I bought a copy from Unity Books in Auckland's High Street - It was an impulse purchase, I confess - one of several (I like d the packaging - anyone who tels you you can't judge a book by its cover is sometimes wrong). I took my purchases to D72, a New York style deli cafe that was impossibly stylish on Freyberg square (now a Pumpkin Patch store - I guess impossibly cool tangerine orange banquettes don't pay enough bills). I ordered a long black coffee and a corned beef sandwich - you know the kind, about the same as an average family roast, thinly sliced and stacked on rye bread with pickles - skewered to hold it together in a tower that Norman Foster would be proud of.

I stayed just long enough to read the book from cover to cover. I was completely energised or innervated, hard to be sure which.

Mr Grant is a thinker and communicator of the highest order. I didn't 'buy' everything in the book. But agreeing isn't thinking. I never thought much of Britain's New Labour - Thatcher in drag - Grant's business helped position them for election.

After Image: Mind-altering Marketing came next and it. too, sparked a line of thought that contributed to my thinking about what I call Non-Fiction advertising.

Then the brilliant The Green Marketing Manifestogreen marketing manifesto by Jogn Grant. If you are at all serious about sustainability, read this.

Now he has a new one and I can't wait to be over-stimulated: Brand Innovation Manifesto: How to Build Brands, Redefine Markets and Defy ConventionsJohn Grant Brand Brand Innovation Manifesto: How to Build Brands, Redefine Markets and Defy Conventions

Review follows

Things that matter

Coudal and partners are a world famous design company. If you had signed up for their email marketing you would have received this:

1. Will we be able to make money?
We're a business. We have mortgages and tuitions to pay. Plus, if we don't make some cash once in a while, how will we feed our habit of continually screwing around?

2. When we're done, will we be proud of the work we've done?
Slaving for months on a project only to not want to show it to anyone when you're finished just plain sucks. No amount of money can make that feel better.

3. Can we learn a little something new along the way?
Executing the project has to make us smarter and help satisfy our curiosity, which we think is our greatest asset.

An elegantly simple summary of what matters, don't you think?

Via Paul Isakson

Johnny Bunko competiton

The Great Johnny Bunko Challenge from DHP on Vimeo.
There's a young chap in Indiana, one Alec Quig, who has written to me about creating a career based on a polymathic degree, from which he has recently graduated. He's an interesting young man and his concerns about going forward in life are the anxieties we all face at crossroads in our lives when we are forced to make choices.

Dan Pink's latest book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need might help:

"From a New York Times, BusinessWeek, and Washington Post bestselling author comes a first-of-its- kind career guide for a new generation of job seekers.There's never been a career guide like it.the fully illustrated story (ingeniously told in Manga form) of a young Everyman just out of college who lands his first job. Johnny Bunko is new to parachute company Boggs Corp., and he stumbles through his early days as a working stiff until a crisis prompts him to find a new job. Step by step he builds a career, illustrating as he does the six core lessons of finding, keeping, and flourishing in satisfying work: There is no plan ,Forget about your weaknesses, Persistence trumps talent, It's not about you ,Make excellent mistakes, Leave an imprint. Smart, engaging, and insightful, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko offers practical advice for anyone looking to start a rewarding career."

Dan Pink's book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
was one of my inspirations from creating Idealog magazine with HB Media.

Alec, if you're reading this - get yourself a copy.

Word Play

The English language is a wonderful thing. I don't know about other languages, but ours seems infinitely plastic; recyclable plastic.

A friend has sent me these twists in the tale, neologisms from the Washington Post (though I have searched the site and can't find the original post).

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus : A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido : All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.) : Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The colour you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

Then there are alternate meanings for common words:

1. coffee , n. the person upon whom one coughs.

2. flabbergasted , adj. appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. abdicate , v. to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. esplanade , v. to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. willy-nilly , adj. impotent.

6. negligent , adj. absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. lymph , v. to walk with a lisp.

8. gargoyle , n. olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. flatulence , n. emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. balderdash , n. a rapidly receding hairline.

11. testicle , n. a humorous question on an exam.

12. rectitude , n. the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. pokemon , n. a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. oyster , n. a person who sprinkles his conversation with

15. Frisbeetarianism , n. the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. circumvent , n. an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Think. Small

IBM Ramac on fork lift vs USB stick
In 1956 IBM introduced the first hard drive. The 305 RAMAC allowed the computer to store data digitally. It weighed a ton (literally) and could store slightly less than 5MB of information. Thumb-sized USB drives will now contain a thousand times more data and are so common place they are often given away as corporate gifts and promotional items.

I may have missed the first shipments of RAMAC, but I vividly remember the first time a PC was delivered to an advertising agency, Brown Christensen, where I worked as a production assistant in 1983. It was a momentous occasion. Only one person in the company knew how to use it - Ross Jackson, then a young suit. He was quite impressed with himself. I recall him explaining that it had a Winchester hard drive. Fair enough, I though, the West was won with Winchesters, how could I fail to be impressed?

What didn't impress me was the arcane strings of code that were required to access and sort of function. Thankfully the Apple Macintosh came along the following year.

While I was working at BC (which was subesequently bought by DDB - then bought back by BC - then sold to and ruined by McCann Erickson), we held the account for Panasonic and Technics brands, which were distributed by Fisher & Paykel. One day a fax machine arrived - via our client's tech connections. It was placed in the telex room. That's right, the firm had a complete room dedicated to sending telexes. Secretaries would remian after hours to communicate with principles in Tokyo or New York. Within a year the telex was gone and the replacement fax was roughly half the size of its predecessor and had actually begun to receive messages, where previously there were few and came far between - no one in our local realm had a fax (which illustrated Metcalf's Law rather well).

Via TechCrunch top 25 days in computing history.

You might be interested in the Times Online archive - which reproduces the actual pages from microfiche (remember them).

Friday, November 21, 2008

How to cull your workforce

I had a message from a friend last night. She's the second person I know directly who has been laid off in the bullrush of gloom that is coming our way.

I've been thinking about how I can help her find a new role (she was the industrial nurse for a major corporate manufacturing business - I guess if they reduce the workforce overall their will be less need for health and safety?) so I am receptive to messages about redundancy and the like.

This piece by Guy Kawasaki via bNet Caught my eye:

The Takeaway: Few things in business are as unpleasant as laying off or firing staff, but as Kawasaki notes it’s an inevitable part of a career in management. He also insists there is a right way to go about it, and offers a dozen in-depths tips - too many to summarize them all here. Among the best are the following:

1. Cut deep and cut once.
Management usually believes that things will get better soon, so it cuts the smallest number of people in anticipation of a miracle. Most of the time, the miracle doesn’t materialize, and the company ends up making multiple cuts. Given the choice, you should cut too deeply and risk the high-quality problem of having to rehire. Multiple cuts are terrible for the morale of the employees who have not been laid off. (The Corner Office’s Steve Tobak agrees.)

2. Move fast.
One hour after your management team discusses the need to lay off employees, the entire company will know that something is happening. Once people “know” a layoff is coming, productivity drops like a rock. You’re either laying people off or you’re not—you should avoid the state of “considering” a layoff.

3. Whack Teddy.
Most executives have hired a friend, a friend of a friend, or a relative as a favor. When a layoff happens, employees will be looking to see what happens to Teddy. “Did he survive the cut or did he go? Is it cronyism or competence that counts at the company?” Make sure that Ted is dead.

4. Don’t ask for pity.
Sometimes managers go to great lengths to show the person they’re laying off (or firing) how hard it is on them. This reminds me of the old definition of chutzpah: A boy murders his parents and then asks the court for leniency because he’s an orphan. The person who suffers is the one being terminated, not the manager.

5. Provide support.
Usually, the people getting laid off aren’t at fault. More likely, it was the fault of top management—the same top management with golden parachutes. Hence, you have a moral obligation to provide services like job counseling, résumé-writing assistance, and job-search help. There are firms that specialize in helping employees during “transitions,” so use them.

If that's not working for you - contact Martin at The Change Factor - he was a hatchet man in Europe for a very large oil company - the smiling assasin. Actually he is a great bloke and probably the leading change management consultant in New Zealand at the moment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To coin a phrase

The term 'cell-phone' has the opposite connotation than the nature and benefits of a mobile phone it implies that you are stuck, or locked in a place. While that might be true with regard to some of the more onerous service contracts available (i-phone users will understand what I mean) a portable phone offers you a great deal of freedom and, these days, is so much more than a phone. Mine is basic, but, even still, it is my alarm clock and camera. Without the names stored on the SIM card I am high and dry (If I haven't called you for a while it may be because I recently lost my old phone).

So, I have a new expression for my cell-phone: It is a self-phone.

Before you know it I will be customising it with dangly bits and a leopard skin patterned rubber case

Monday, November 17, 2008

Outing myself as a hippy

hippy housetruck life for David MacGregor on ThoughtSpurs

I realise that I don't look much like a hippy - in the conventional sense, or the unconventional sense (given that we are talking hippy here).
But I am. I have no desire to live in a conventional house. And frankly, I am sick of consumer society. I want to split, man. Escape to a woody glade somewhere and commune with nature.

It's not about a green agenda and, as far as I know, I don't have any great desire to be a naturist. I just yearn for a simpler life. Where is my copy of Walden by Thoreau.

There's a line in Walden I like, about solitude:

"I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than Walden Pond itself. What company has that lonely lake, I pray?"

And this from my favourite chapter 'The Pond In Winter'

"After a still winter night I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me, which I had been endeavouring to in vain to answer in my sleep. as what - how - where? But there was the dawning Nature , in whom all creatures live, looking in at my broad windows with serene and satisfied face, and no question on her lips. I awoke to an answered question, to Nature and daylight. The snow lying deep on the earth dotted with young pines, and the very slope of the hill on which my house is placed seemed to say. Forward! Nature puts no question, and answers none which we mortals ask. She has long ago taken her resolution."

Anyone know how to make a cool teepee?

Check out Walden (here's an online annotated edition) - My penguin copy is ancient - a 1938 paperback edition from Penguin Illustrated Classics. It has a slip cover - odd concept. I'm a little annoyed - I just split the brittle glue of the spine when I pushed it down to transcribe the passage above. Oh well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Te Radar - National Treasure/taonga*

I've just watched this week's episode of Off The Radar (TV One Sunday, 7.00pm NZT).
Te Radar (Te Radar (Andrew J Lumsden) is an award winning satirist, documentary maker, writer, stage and screen director, and amateur historian. He currently has two top rating TV programmes screening on TV 1, (Off the Radar, and Homegrown - ex his website).

Te radar - ngati pakehaI have to say it is always a thoroughly enjoyable experience. He has the kind of personality and shy charm that kiwis like. His humour is never sarcastic or ironic - it is nice that there isn't even a hint of post-modernism in his style - he is just utterly likeable.

Obviously it is his time, he has two shows on air at the same time and it seems his voice-over talents are in demand as well, he stars (in the way that Eddie Murphy stars in Shrek) in one of the campaigns for McDonalds on air at the moment.

Good on him. Might have to get me a Ngati Pakeha shirt from his website.

*(noun) something prized. ex Maori Dictionery

WikiVideo - kind of...Playing for Change

I came across this piece while looking for information about best practices in teaching (as an extension of marketing communications formats that go beyond the usual realm of spruiking products and into the information/education end of the spectrum). Great site here from educator Angela Maiers

I like the idea of a continuous theme being expressed by different individuals - reminds me of Russell Davies talk about polyphony-if only in broad conceptual terms that will probably only have any significance to me.

From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe. This and other songs such as "One Love" will be released as digital downloads soon; followed by the film soundtrack and DVD early next year.

Sign up at for updates and exclusive content available only to those who...

Join the Movement to help build schools, connect students, and inspire communities in need through music

Via Small Hands Big Ideas

Friday, November 14, 2008

SIA - not Singapore Airlines

SIA the Australian female vocalist

Australia seems to be producing interesting female vocalists. I caught this video on a random channel surf. Like I said - interesting. A little out there. I like the take-it-or-leave-it-angle. I'm picking SIA as a confirmed One & Only (1&O - tm). Might buy some with next week's pocket money.

Watch the clip - tell me what you think.

Just bought the entire Charlie Parr 1922 Album - LOVIN' IT...

On the subject of love, the new Idealog magazine can't be far off. My column is a love-fest.

Looking forward to debriefing my friend, the amazingly talented Monique Rhodes, who has been touring with Kiwi Legend Shona Laing. I want to know what it's like out their in the provinces. I'm thinking of touring with a small business marketing roadshow...

Money, Money, Money...

I am working on a project that revolves around money - particularly how women relate to money. From a study undertaken by Australia research group WIRE I have learned some fascinating insights that really never occurred to me before.

"The overarching finding is that women’s relationship with money is driven by personal life experience.Unless financial information acknowledges and understands this, it will not readily affect this relationship. Fundamentally, gender is pivotal in all areas of providing financial information, programs and products.

For women, emotion, money and family were interwoven. Women felt overwhelmed by what they did not know and embarrassed when they discovered what they had foregone, or that
they had wasted opportunities to become financially literate. The feelings of hopelessness, shame and inadequacy in their finances ran deep across all socio-economic groups.

Women in the study were generally fearful about money. Their lack of financial literacy was a frightening prospect, and many found the language of money to be frightening. Many women in this study did not have either the first hand experience or the ready access to information to make informed decisions. They also lacked confidence and knowledge on how to go about accessing the financial market.
The research found a number of factors influenced the perception of money, including family, class and financial status, and considerations of the ‘privacy of money’.
Besides emotional and social factors, the research identified additional influences on women’s financial behaviour, especially with regard to taking control of finances. Most particular among these was the importance of significant life changes – new employment, divorce or separation, death – in stimulating learning and control for women.

These are often negative events, and extremely stressful stimulators to action. Women too, have a need for money to be ‘visible’, and property is seen as a preferred investment option for many.

• information about a range of topics, including managing money and assets like banking, investments, credit, insurance and taxes

• understanding how financial concepts work,such as the relationship between time and rates,and aggregating assets in insurance

• confidence to plan and to make financial decisions"

The study is interesting and, while it does concentrate on women's issues, the topic of financial literacy probably affects men equally - even if their perceptions are different.

Having just gone through the electoral process, where the economy was high on the agenda, I wonder how much a change in money behaviour could change the economic fortunes of the entire nation?

New Zealanders have amongst the worst savings record in the world. Our personal debt by household is astonishingly high - according to the NZ Reserve Bank "By mid-2006 the outstanding debt of households had increased around five times in dollar terms since 1990, more than doubling as a percentage of households' disposable income." While that might be comparable to the UK, USA and Australia - I don't think we can take reassurance from the fact.

When I think about the positive effects of micro loans given to women in developing countries where the women are discriminated against, effectively denied access to capital - sometimes because their status is that of a minor- I wonder what impact on New Zealand's economy if we could stimulate a far greater understanding of money and how it can work positively to change lives.

Interestingly, one of the criticism of micro-financing has been that it 'privatises public safety-net programs' - but that perspective comes from a highly command and control position - where self determination is seen as less noble than a charitable deed or handout. Handouts are fine, but they encourage dependency. I wonder if financial ignorance in New Zealand has come from just that kind of reliance on welfare state thinking? If one knows there is a regular trickle of assistance, what point is there in imagining that it could be used to grow income or wealth (when the state subsidy reduces or is eliminated if the individual's income increases. It is a cycle of dependency where knowing more about money and personal investment is suppressed by the welfare system. A little extra cash becomes a dangerous thing - if it will kill the golden goose.

I'd like to see a grass-roots programme put in place - or begun spontaneously by women who choose to take responsibility for themselves and their families - maybe some money clubs? Where the topic of discussion and action is to build wealth from the ground up - it could begin with absolute basics and progress through to entrepreneurship.

The funny thing about all of this is that it reminds me of the Swedish economists who wrote Funky Business Forever: How to Enjoy Capitalism (Financial Times)
- they said Marx was right - the proletariat does own the means of production, its just that, somewhere along the way, the old boss got replaced by the new boss. Today individuals and their talents are far more valued by being able to make unregulated/disintermediated connections with like minds. Imagine a revolution of women who end up controlling significant wealth from a low base. Now that would be something to see.

If you are interested, check out Moneytopia

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Work is that thing that takes the available time

procrastination flowchart

Do you ever wonder if you are the only person in the known universe that puts things off until the last minute. I can always find something, if not better, to do then simply more diverting than the job at at hand. I am as easily distracted as a kitten and a piece of string.

I had been wondering if the Internet had amplified my procrastination or simply made it easier. I can't help but wonder whether I would be more productive if I had the self discipline to switch everything off - or whether the stimulus is actually simply part of the way I work (yeah, right! - nice try).

So, during another foray away from my assigned task I came across the chart above (via Idealog). And I feel relieved that I am not alone.

Now, I really must find out the origin of the word Puttanesca.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Apple Design

"It’s a shocking statement for a CEO to say publicly, as Steve has, that the goal of a company isn’t to make money, it’s to make great products…" Jonathan Ive

Any design is only as strong as its weakest element. Much as I love the design of apple products, over the years I have become increasingly frustrated by the poor quality of the hardware.

My MacBook Pro is an essential part of my work and life. Without it I am disconnected, unable to write and design - high and dry, really. Little things can knock me out of the game. At the moment the optical drive on my machine has given up the ghost. Won't slurp up the disk media. It is about six months old. I have been delaying returning it to the store it came from to get a repair because the turn around time will inevitably be linger than is acceptable.

Now the power supply has failed (as I guessed it would, because it is routinely the weakest link). Much as I love the magnet that prevents the machine from being pulled to the floor by accident (I have written off two screens using that method in the past), the wire in seems vulnerable - possibly because it is inevitably twisted or contorted when the power supply is from the right hand side of the unit. My suggestion would be to put an input on both sids, so the cable doesn't have to turn back on itself.

So, I guess I have to go and make my warranty claim. Luckily I have my old faithful on standby and data backed up.

Could be worse, I suppose.

And, don't get me wrong - these are just niggling things. Apple are to be lauded for their design. Jonathan Ive is a legend in the design world and Steve Jobs must be the patron saint.

Seth Godin - Tribes

Seth Godin is a writing machine - since Permission marketing hit the shelves he has cranked out quite a pile of books such as Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable and All Marketers are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World. Some criticise Godin for writing in a simplistic, repetitive way. I wonder if that is part of his formula for success. Easy to read, catchy phrases, isn't that how advertising works?

His thesis in Tribes is that people want to belong, but tribes need leaders and that should be you. The web means you can lead from afar, or the rear - or in your jockey shorts from your spare room.

I like Godin's take on the world. Here is an extract from his blog:

The marketer's attitude

Traditional job requirements: show up, sober. Listen to the boss, lift heavy objects.

Here's what I'd want if I were hiring a marketer:

You're relentlessly positive. You can visualize complex projects and imagine alternative possible outcomes. It's one thing to talk about thinking outside the box, it's quite another to have a long history of doing it successfully. You can ride a unicycle, or can read ancient Greek.

Read the rest

Order from Amazon

Order from Fishpond (NZ)

Seth Godin at TED

These boots were made for walking

Emma Daken is walking the length of New Zealand to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis sufferers.

Good to see the use of social media to promote her cause.

Donate here
.I have.

On the subject of charity; this year I have chosen not to reprise last year's participation in Movemeber. I saw some news reports that suggested there were, shall we say, oddities in the way the Movember charity was established. Apparently the guys who started the fundraising concept were collecting a large percentage of the funds raised as royalty payments for the use of their own 'IP'. I think the matter was resolved in some way but, for me at least, the damage was done - it was a matter of trust.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bob Isherwood leaves Saatchi & Saatchi

Ouch. That's got to hurt. Bob Isherwood is a legend in the world of advertising. He's been guiding the Saatchi creative product for nearly twenty years.

I met him briefly at a Caxton Awards event in North Queensland, remeber thinking he had cool hair for an older chap. Not that I was shallow. It may have been that I was desperately hung-over or near death after running 10kms in the blazing tropical heat while hung-over that skewed by perceptive and intellectual capacity.

It will be tough for Kevin Roberts to replace his partner in the agency. It was, apparently, Isherwood who moved to change the focus of Saatchi from advertising agency to ideas company. Roberts told Ad Age that he won't rush the replacement process, so you will have plenty of time to burnish you CV and reel (or get your web-site up to date - or however creative geniuses present their work these days).

In other news Michael Simons is moving from DraftFCB Sydney to DraftFCB New York as Chief Creative Officer. The Ad Age Creativity story claims he is an Australian Native, but I can say with some confidence, they are wrong. Michael is a Kiwi. His family lived around the corner from mine. Michael used to pick me up in an old VW Kombi van to take me to a youth group in a church hall before he morphed into his role as the leader of the punk band The Scavengers (or the Scavs as they were affectionately referred to - Mike's stage name was Mike Lezbian). He left the band to pursue his advertising career. The remaining members penned the song Mr X (You think you're cool, but we know your not) in a fit of pique at the selling out of their anarchist ideals. It became their only chart hit and remains representative of the late 70s Kiwi ouevre. In his career he returned to New Zealand to head the retail agency Mattingly, where I briefly had some connection with him, though I can't recall the circumstances. He did some memorable work for Air New Zealand while there - using beautiful cinematography and 'the wind beneath my wings' song to evoke a emotional connection with the carrier entirely out of sync with the agency's reputation for shouty retail. In the end the dark forces of said shouty retail won the day and Simons boarded said silver bird for foreign shores and future glory at agencies like W+K before joining FCB.

This mircocosmic glimpse into advertising history was brought to you in the intersts of turning this ship back around away from the 'bergs of politics.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Free Marketing Help

If you know of a promising small business that could use some input in branding, marketing communucations or creative processes then I am offering some free time to consult or coach. No strings, just committing to helping small businesses be more competitive.

Drop me a note. Might be easier if you are based in New Zealand but remote coaching would be ok.

View my Linked-In profile

Friday, November 07, 2008

Book 'em Dano

Got myself a pile of books for the weekend.

My Life with Dylan Thomas - Double drink story by Caitlin Thomas. A memoir of their life together by poet Dylan Thomas' wife. The Mail on Sunday describe it as 'Compelling, if painful reading'.

From the moment they met at a pub in London, drink was the most conspicuous part of the lives of Caitlin and her 'genius poet', Dylan Thomas. It fuelled their sexual adventures, lessened their shyness and enriched their social life. This searing book is Caitlin's story of the passions, the rage and the tragic humour of those years of drink and the toll it took on the lives of two talented people, leaving one of them dead at the age of thirty-nine, and the other alone, penniless and an alcoholic. It is also the memoir of a woman not always likable, but consistently energetic and honest and possessing an indomitable spirit.

Typo - The Last American Typesetter or How I Made/Lost 4 Million Dollars (An Entrepreneur's Education) by David Silverman.

Two months before David Silverman’s 32nd birthday, he visited the Charles Schwab branch in the basement of the World Trade Center to wire his father’s life savings towards the purchase of the Clarinda Typesetting company in Clarinda, Iowa. Typo tells the true story of the Clarinda company’s last rise and fall — and with it one entrepreneur’s story of what it means to take on, run, and ultimately lose an entire life’s work. This book is an American dream run aground, told with humor despite moments of tragedy. The story reveals the impact of losing part of an entire industry and answers questions about how that impacts American business. The reader sees in Clarinda’s fate the potential peril faced by every company, and the lessons learned are applicable to anyone who wants to run his or her own business, succeed in a large corporation, and not be stranded by the reality of shifting markets, outsourcing, and, ultimately, capitalism itself.

Bringing Nothing to the Party - true confessions of a media whore - Paul Carr
Bringing Nothing to the Party: True Confessions of a New Media Whore

As a journalist covering the first boom, Paul Carr spent his life meeting the world's most successful young Internet entrepreneurs. In doing so he came to count many of them amongst his closest friends. These friendships meant he was not only able to attend their press conferences and speak at their events, but also get invited to their ultra-exclusive networking events in London and New York, get drunk at their New Year parties in their luxury Soho apartments and tag along when they threw impromptu parties at strip clubs after raising tens of millions of pounds in funding. And being a lowly hack, rather than a super-hyped new media mogul, Paul was able to enjoy this bizarre world of excess without actually having to be part of it. To help the moguls celebrate raising their millions without having to face the wrath of the venture capitalists himself. There was just one problem. He wanted to be rich and famous too. So, at the age of 25, Paul decided he didn't want to be a spectator any more. He had been harbouring a great project of his own and, with a second Internet boom on the horizon, he decided it was time to do something about it.In 'Bringing Nothing to the Party', Paul uses his unparalleled (and totally uncensored) access to tell the real story of a unique group of hard-partying, high-achieving young entrepreneurs - and his attempts to join them, whatever the cost.

I got them from Unity Books in High Street, Auckland. As I was looking in the window at the oversize art books I noticed a well dressed woman had stooped and was looking too, standing closer than I would have thought usual. But she was kind of attractive so I milked it for as long as I could without being obvious. There's a limit, so I went I went inside. I was hanging by the table with the books the make science interesting books (I well remember the day I bought one about the colour Mauve, which is more interesting than the purple prose title suggests). When I looked up, there she was again. She looked up, smiled and began waving. It had a momentarily surreal effect; right up to the point I realised she wasn't looking deeply into my eyes - or even straight through me in the usual way attractive women do - she was looking over my shoulder at another attractive woman who joined her by the books about evolution, embraced and pranced off together, arm in arm.

The cashier combined my various loyalty cards into one, ensuring to tear up the various dog-eared, incomplete, don't know why I bother, cards.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Good, bad, indifferent

Today I had an interesting experience. I went along to the local Warehouse (the New Zealand answer to Walmart), looking for a Tamagochi for my daughter's 9th birthday - it's her requested gift. The stores I visited on the weekend were all sold out. While there I chose a few things - some foam sabres (don't ask) and a big box of fireworks for Guy Fawkes - yes I know, its all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

At the counter I noticed the cashier refused to give another customer a plastic bag for her purchases: 'We don't do them anymore.' The lady had a number of little things, she was baffled and, I thought, felt a little bullied. I didn't get a bag either.

I came back later in the day with Zoe - she said she wanted a walkie talkie set so she could talk to one of her school friends - hey, you're only nine once. So we found a set she was happy with, picked up some batteries and presented ourselves to the counter. Again, no bag.

Here's the thing. The warehouse are inconveniencing their customers without explaining. It would seem to me an ocassion when a managed conversation with customers would be warranted. The consequence is that we feel victimised or denied. Not a useful position for a significant retailer. Though they are trying to do right, they aren't - and then there's the small matter of the landfill products they sell.

I had a coffee after my first visit to the Warehouse (you should visit the Milford mall - it's quite posh), flipping through MindFood magazine I noted a story about Good brand bottled water - lauding them for their rightiousneous. Ok, small problem - bottled water is the devil's work in New Zealand - tap water is as good as it gets.

Aside from the packaging (the bottles are made from biodegradable stuff - though the sipper tops are not), the energy required to produce the product…the whole shooting match…Bottled water might well be profitable but it is a disastrous product that cannot be considered sustainable under any circumstances. (Read article in Healthy Food Guide)