The good will out

Been reading a lot of refreshingly down-to-earth stuff about advertising and marketing lately. Perhaps we’ve come full circle in the sense that the circlejerk of content marketing and all things digital is shuddering to a halt and we’re getting back to the basics – achieving results for clients by helping their brands stand out.

Here’s the latest piece, a lament about how much bullshit is spouted by digital marketing experts:

However we express it, our challenge isn’t a new one. It is the same one that faced the programme makers who first made television and the producers who first made movies before them. We have to get an audience. But did that great pioneering content creator Cecil B DeMille say: ‘Social activation for content amplification and outreach via an integrated network of human experience strategists is the future’? No he did not. He said: ’The public is always right’.

Never work with animals

I remember seeing this film when I was a kid. I thought it was great. The Economist has the scoop on the batshit crazy backstory:

Warned by experts of the lunacy of directing upwards of 30 lions, Ms Hedren and Mr Marshall resolved to train a four-legged cast themselves at their Beverly Hills home. Accumulating ever more lions, they founded an entire sanctuary, the Shambala Preserve, 40 miles from Los Angeles. There, over the course of five years, Ms Hedren and Mr Marshall, an executive producer flush from “The Exorcist”, shot “Roar”. They faced the obstacles that might be expected—70 bloody attacks that injured lead actors and crew (Mr Marshall needed treatment for gangrene), and scalped their cinematographer—as well as others that sound like messages from God: floods, wildfires and feline disease.


However, it was an Everton substitute, Kevin Mirallas, who came from the Greek League for a tenth of what United spunked on the wombat-faced Argentinian cross-country runner, who settled the game once and for all.

There’s no finer football writer than this guy.

The (marketing) fallacy of our time

Giles Hedger, Leo Burnett’s chief strategy officer, has articulated very precisely my feelings about the delusions of today’s tech-obsessed marketer:

The error is more than a technical miscalculation – it is a complete spiritual misdirect. It is not confined to a core of native technologists; it is everywhere and it is fundamental. It is the belief that brand-building can be reduced to a binary essence in which there are just ones and zeros and none of the captivating maybes; the belief that creative hypothesis can be replaced by optimisation; and the belief that marketing contract can be stripped of all its joyful subjectivity until all that remains between consumer and brand is transaction. It is the fallacy of our time.

Stuff marketers say

The Trebor brand manager had this to say about Wieden + Kennedy’s new campaign for its mints:

It will encourage shoppers to pick up a pack of Trebor by highlighting its great taste and heritage.

Maybe there’s more ads to come where taste and heritage get highlighted but this just looks like a bit of pointless surrealism to me.

Good times

Warriors returning from battle were handed oliphants filled with wine and told that if they could drink without spilling a drop, their wives had been faithful.

From a New York Times’ review of The Medieval Oliphant. Now you know that oliphants are musical instruments fashioned from tusks and apparently used for drinking.

‘Exhausting’ doesn’t cover it

Educated parents engage in a non-stop Socratic dialogue with their children, helping them to make up their own minds about right and wrong, true and false, wise and foolish. This is exhausting, so it helps to have a reliable spouse with whom to share the burden, not to mention cleaners, nannies and cash for trips to the theatre.

Working-class parents, who have less spare capacity, are more likely to demand that their kids simply obey them. In the short run this saves time; in the long run it prevents the kids from learning to organise their own lives or think for themselves. Poor parenting is thus a barrier to social mobility, and is becoming more so as the world grows more complex and the rewards for superior cognitive skills increase.

From The Economist.

That’s mine, that is

This wonderful but somewhat chilling William Dalrymple piece on the antics of the East India Company made me think of the time I was relieved of a toy gun I was trying to sell at a car boot sale. A young Gypsy boy approached my table, picked up said gun and proclaimed: ‘That’s mine, that is’ and promptly wandered off with it.

Seems like the East India Company had much the same attitude to the treasures they came across during their hostile takeover of the Indian sub-continent:

In many ways the EIC was a model of corporate efficiency: 100 years into its history, it had only 35 permanent employees in its head office. Nevertheless, that skeleton staff executed a corporate coup unparalleled in history: the military conquest, subjugation and plunder of vast tracts of southern Asia. It almost certainly remains the supreme act of corporate violence in world history. For all the power wielded today by the world’s largest corporations – whether ExxonMobil, Walmart or Google – they are tame beasts compared with the ravaging territorial appetites of the militarised East India Company.

‘I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can.’

Oliver Sacks writing in the New York Times about coming ‘face to face with death':

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

Words to live by.