I am a big fan of Apple. I have been forever and at 49 years old, one of my claims to fame is that I have never owned a PC of any description. I had a few Nokia phones in the early days but that’s about it. I have been Apple through and through since around 1989.
But I won’t be joining the masses in buying the rather overpriced Apple Watch. I simply can’t see the point. It alerts you to what your phone is doing in your pocket and you’ll look like a dick if you talk to it (who really uses Siri other than to make it tell you jokes?). You’ll very quickly give up checking all of the notifications as they are so frequent anyway with five email and even more social media accounts on my phone. What’s compounds the misery is that being on Bluetooth all day will only make the battery life even more useless again. It’s bad enough having to charge my iPhone twice a day, but my watch too?
No, sorry Apple. This is a step too far for me. It’s not making my life easier. I’ll stick with my simple mechanical watch that tells the time. It doesn’t try and multi-task or be my personal assistant and it manages to wind itself just by being on my wrist. No batteries, reliable as you like and it glows in the dark so I can read it at night.
In the old days (of not many years ago), if you did okay in your A Levels you went to university. Better grades meant a better university and a better university meant a better job for life. Right?
With successive governments targeting more and more young people going to university there is a danger of doing more harm than good. You create half a generation who feel like they have failed – even if they were never destined to be academic – and you create a false hope in those that do complete degrees that they should automatically have a right to a graduate level job which pays more than the equivalent job with no degree entry qualification.
I think this has all changed. With the introduction of paid tertiary education for all, graduation taxation and prospective debts which will last a lifetime, it begins to offer more exciting alternatives to the conventional red brick university route. A ski season or two seems remarkably cheap by comparison. You earn, whilst you learn to live away from home and render yourself far more employable and have an amazing experience at the same time.
Travelling the world alone or in groups, will undoubtedly broaden your mind, enhance your experience and make you far more employable than a peer who has just done a degree whilst living at home. In my design agency days we were far more interested in whether someone as interesting than if they were qualified. Expedia’s ‘Travel yourself interesting’ campaign was brilliant (and won lots of awards)
This generation of young people will work longer, be healthier, live longer and see more of the world than we ever will. They’ll see medical changes that hadn’t even been dreamt of in science fiction, so why does forcing them into a school grading and exam system from year six onwards make sense? Why not encourage offsetting tertiary education for a few years to see the world and experience a bit of life before they have to decide what they want to do for the rest of it.
At eleven, I still wanted to be an astronaut or a train driver and yet this is when the average student has to begin to decide what their future holds. I’m not sure your average 18 year old facing a 60 year working career can know, or should be forced to decide what shape their life will take. So, why not let them take a few years?
A 25 year old that’s seen the world, seen poverty in a third world country first hand, slept on a beach, skied for a year and maybe had to work some terrible jobs to make ends meet and has a far better chance of being driven to succeed and really KNOWING what they want to do than an eleven year old who’s only been to Disneyland.
There’s been lots of talk about Jeremy Clarkson and his behaviour, but this post is about the Top Gear brand itself and BBC’s ownership.
Back in 2009 Andy Wilman, Executive Producer, Clarkson’s mate and Old Reptonian school chum said he thought the series was nearer the beginning than the end. He also said that the three presenters were playing to their cartoon characters a bit too much. So the end of the series and the current format in the UK is hardly a surprise. I stopped watching in around 2011, when it became totally formulaic. 22 years with little change is just too much for any brand let alone a TV format. Madonna has had at least four reinventions in the same period and a bit of a slip at the Brits to keep her front of mind.
So the BBC have a decision to make. Start the next series with a new lead presenter and the other two presenters, or reinvent the whole thing?
For me, they have to let the current series and the current format die. Let Clarkson walk away and give the chance for the brand in the UK to regenerate. Clarkson no longer has any form of ownership as he sold his shareholding back to the BBC in 2012, he hardly needs the money anyway, and we all need a break from him and his cronies.
It’s the TV version of crop rotation. Let the brand lie fallow for a few years to find a new format again and spring back brighter than ever, having been created for a new audience.
For the BBC, their income is reasonably secure as the brand is already licensed to the US, Australia, Russia and Korea and there are plenty of licensed spin-offs generating income. I’m sure the repeats will grace our screens for many years to come. But if they keep flogging the current format, like the Golden Goose, it will whither and die anyway.
Go on BBC, do us a favour. Come out and confidently tell us that you are resting the brand and will recommission it in the future with a new format. I believe it’s the only way Top Gear can regain any credibility and build an appeal to a new, younger audience. After all, the car market is not the same as 22 years ago and it’ll certainly be very different in another 22 years. So take the chance to create something new and every bit as fresh as this used to be.
One of the most important elements of creating a brand is deciding who your audience is. Most of us think we know intuitively. And yet for me, really putting the work in here is often overlooked. The more you understand the needs, thoughts, desires and motivations of your REAL audience, the more fully you can wrap the brand around them. You create something they need before they realise they need it, rather than reacting to others.
So, in the last few weeks, Google have just admitted with Google Glass that they got this audience definition completely wrong at launch. It was aimed at techies and geeks. All of us have probably laughed at someone at a trade show talking to their glasses whilst recording everything they see?
So whilst there has been some celebration in it being scrapped as it has been unpopular with consumers for reasons of privacy invasion, its real use was in a professional environment.
With the need for medical staff to both protect themselves from litigation and bring in external help when they need it, Glass is perfect. It allows a paramedic at a scene to call upon external expertise in an instant. Who would laugh at that? And it also allows a doctor to record every part of a procedure and log it with a patient’s records, in case anything goes wrong, or more positively if anything unexpectedly goes right and they can refer back as to why.
So, good on Google for admitting their mistake and repositioning. It’s not often a product that was given such a big launch and failed is given a second chance. In the longer term, I can see this, or its derivative, becoming standard headwear for anyone who has to deal with the general public.
For years I’ve been avoiding avidly watching ‘The Apprentice’. Last time I watched it, I saw them attempt a dreadful rebrand of Margate. But this week, I was asked to give it another go and I found myself hating it even more.
The group had the task of creating a new dessert product to sell into the major supermarket groups and the team who did worse only managed to create and sell 15,000 units in their allotted few days, whereas the winners sold 23,500. So why do I think this is so wrong?
1. The competitors behaviour in the boardroom was horrific. Initially they worked as teams but were encouraged and delighted by the fact that they should back stab their other team members in front of “Lord’ Sugar. I’ve been in business for a long time and maybe I’m the naive one, but a situation where the other person has to lose for you to be able to win is not a situation I recognise or respect. I don’t believe it sustains good business.
2. ‘Lord Sugar’s’ feigned ignorance was appalling. He sneered at one of the competitors for referring to their target audience as ‘grazers’ If he genuinely didn’t understand this term, is he qualified to judge such a programme?
3. The situation itself was completely ridiculous. For young people to believe that it’s the norm to pop into a development kitchen and create a new dessert without even a nod towards costing it up properly (more Saffron anyone?) is bad enough, but for them to carry on the myth by pretending they had secured pitches in front of Tesco and Waitrose is even more ridiculous. For them to pretend that they then ordered units without any production ability or drawn out negotiation just perpetuates the stupidity.
4. And then it came to the judging. The esteemed ‘Lord’ Sugar decided who he wanted to belittle first. A young lady with an idea about a healthy eating restaurant chain emanating from Sunderland was literally laughed out of the boardroom. But what had changed? That was the business idea she had pitched to get onto the programme, so when did it suddenly become something worth ridicule? It was nasty and spiteful and all to do with bullying on TV. She had been set up for that fall since she agreed to join the programme.
For me, business is built on the old fashioned values of mutual respect, trust and hard work. Throw in some luck and grasping the good opportunities that present themselves, whilst knowing which ones to pass over, is the difference between success and failure.
The Apprentice is X Factor business. Nothing to do with ANY of these business values and everything to do with creating shocking TV and making money at any cost, despite how many people you harm on the way. If this is the impression we give young people about how business behaves, in my opinion, very few of them will choose to join us. Those that do will be horrendous colleagues trained in the very worst of business behaviour.
This isn’t an apprenticeship, It’s an ugly beauty parade that’s causing harm to the future of business.
My colleague from Notts TV Hollie Brookes sent this over to me and whilst on the surface there are no real surprises – young people prefer Vines and dominate the user stats, it does start to show that there’s an indication of more significant changes ahead.
There are a few key points in this for me.
1. It’s not just a great way for marketeers to target teens, it’s also indicative of their falling attention spans and that means we need to consider where else this impacts.
For example, does this imply that the education system needs to consider a move towards teaching through very short video clips?
2. Does it mean that there is a general move away from long copy text? I know from my own stats on here that if I write more than 200 words, the readership drops off very quickly.
3. But look at the opportunities it presents too. The big one for me, is the question as to whether Vines could become the new mnemonics as a potential way to teach? Could the looping, repetitive nature of Vines be a great way to reinforce simple messages?
It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security with social media.
We’ve lured a world famous actor to come and be our ‘face’ and recreate the look of Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolfe.
We’ve produced a great series of TV ads with our new character ‘Mr Wolf’. They are genuinely different ads for the space in which Direct Line operate.
And then they throw it to the real wolves by using sponsored posts all over Facebook and their existing customers get hold of it.
There are have been 224 comments in the first 14 hours and as far as I can see, every single one of them retells a story of how they have been badly treated by Direct Line or commenting on Harvey Keitel’s decision to work in the insurance market.
For me, this can be nothing but bad for the Direct Line brand. Assuming most people have 250 friends on Facebook, these negative comments have already been seen by at least 50,000 people with a negative endorsement. If you add the 223 shares, this problem could be much worse than it first looks.
Compare this to the number of views on YouTube (only 3,573 after eight days) and you can see that the negative power has been at least FIFTEEN times more effective at reaching people. It may have gone viral, but hardly the type of viral they were hoping for.
Social media is both friend and foe. If you open yourself up to comments and feedback on such a public platform you need to be 100% sure you can cope with the responses. The old adage of ‘never asking a question you don’t already know the answer to’ may have been a prudent way of thinking before they ran this campaign.
I suspect a few people in the team at Saatchi (who produced the campaign) will be getting an ear bashing for their decision to try and amplify the positive effect of their advertising spend by engaging with Facebook and REAL customers.
We all love Paypal don’t we? They are friendly, quirky, simple and make all of our lives easier. The ad says so.
Or so they claim.
As a seller they have a brilliant seller protection programme, that protects you from chargebacks. So far so good.
But it happened to me on my data business that I recently sold. A person in the US paid £799 for a copy of my full business database, added all of the checks and balances required to pay with a credit card online. My system sent them the email with the download code and they duly downloaded it – even to the area of the city the card was registered in.
And two hours later they started a claim for a chargeback.
It’s okay i’m protected by Paypal’s first class cheeky, chirpy seller protection programme aren’t I?
But no. I’m not. Because I didn’t POST them a disk with the data on it.
So Paypal, a business that has grown entirely to serve the digital economy in which we trade, does not protect sales of items that can be paid for and transferred digitally.
It’s all clearly explained in paragraph 11.6 on page 12 of their 31 page terms and conditions that we’ve all read. Right?
How can they get away with it?
Well, apparently as the goods I sold weren’t ‘tangible’ they had no value.
Any brand that has a truth which is that far from a users reality will soon get found out. It’s an untrustworthy, rotten way to do business.
So be warned. If you are selling a service, a download a digital file or anything that won’t go in a good old fashioned letter box, then maybe Paypal isn’t for you. I’m not using them for my next business, I think i’ll give Sage Pay a try instead.
This was a little talk that my good friend Simon Egan and myself delivered at Blooloop Live – the best Industry event for themed attractions across the world. Whilst there is a bit of messing about in it, there’s lots of sensible points hidden in there too.