WELCOME TO THE DRAYTON BIRD BLOG - Commonsense about marketing, business and life

Leave now if easily shocked or politically correct. Otherwise, please leave your comments. Statements such as "brilliant", "hugely perceptive", "what a splendid man" and "can I buy you dinner at the restaurant of your choice" are all greeted with glee.

If you like, I'll e-mail you each new dollop of drivel when I publish it. Just click here to subscribe. If you want to succeed faster, get my 101 helpful marketing ideas, one every 3 days. People love them - maybe because they're free. Go to www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com and register. You also a get a free copy of the best marketing book ever written

Monday, 30 November 2009

I lied ... but not as much as these two bastards

I swore I'd be asking for real live, loveable guinea pigs today ... but relax: it'll be tomorrow. Sod the internet.

Meanwhile, now we know for sure that two lying shits caused the deaths of over 100,000 Iraquis and quite a few of ours too, here's something they even found funny when I was in Peru: http://www.draytonbird.net/draytons_blog/mylove.wmv

Turn up the sound, and shed a silent tear.

Friday, 27 November 2009

My idea of hell

I just got one of those emails that remind me how glad I am I don't work for an "organisation". It gave "details of our guide to holding reviews for your executive team."

It only takes the words "executive team" to start the nausea. Then the message went on:

Topics covered in the Video Seminar include:

- Suggestions for how to structure the reviews
- The step-by-step process
- Key questions to ask each member of the team (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, COO)
- How to encourage excellence in the executive team
- Case Study

Samples of the types of questions answered in the video seminar include:

- What are the most crucial aspects of the CEO's role in performance reviews? Who else is involved in developing and issuing the review?
- What are the most commonly cited benefits of performance reviews? What are the disadvantages?
- Which aspect of the review process do CEOs find the most challenging?
- What are the basic components of a well organized review process? Which criteria are used for reviewing members of the executive team?
- What is the best format for discussing the review with the executive? When is a group or peer-review process appropriate? How is this conducted?
- What leadership skills can CEOs use to encourage excellence in the executive team? What leadership skills do you like to see used by the executive team?
- How does the review process help to establish personal or career goals? Why is this important to developing excellence?

And so on. Great if you're a CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, COO, TWAT or some other set of initials. But what if you're a human being? Sounds like hell to me. The polar opposite of what I think most people look forward to - and I will offer.

What never fails to make me laugh is all this guff about "leadership skills".

When December, season of alcohol, remorse and let's hope we survive next year approaches, I shall cut down on the commercials and dial up the bad jokes.

The great Guinea Pig search begins on Monday

I'll explain that festive Guinea pig in a moment, but this is your chance to exercise your right to democracy, folks.

You may never had the chance to vote for the demented Haggis who has ruined us all. You may never have had the chance to vote for the Belgian who will be telling us where to stick our Euros. You'll certainly never have the chance to decide which country we invade next. But you do have the chance to vote on whether I'm mad or not.

That inspiring preamble relates to what I wrote last week about my new Commonsense Marketing Programme. I asked people to say maybe if they were interested and also started emailing everyone on my database - so if you read this and are on that you'll have heard from me twice. Sorry to be a bore!

The reaction to all this has astounded me, to be honest. Hundreds and hundreds have replied - about 10% and as much as 24% open rate, if these things interest you - and we haven't finished counting. A few have just said "I'm in" before I've got the ordering process sorted out. But I should admit that this is not an idea that popped into my mind. I've been agonising over it for over two years.

The big problem was, as ever in marketing, positioning. I didn't want to offer yet another "Dream yourself rich in 11 minutes just like truckdriver Irving Buttswoggle did last week" load of drivel. But I didn't want to do one of those dire corporate things that induce catatonic trance within 20 minutes. I just wanted to do something like what I've been doing for umpteen years that would work for everyone from the lonely entrepreneur to all those poor buggers trapped in the great corporate desert who want to make things happen. In other words, make it practical, make it entertaining and make it relevant to everyone from top to bottom

And if you're reading this and wondering what the hell I'm talking about, go here and you can vote on the three elements of my idea
If you have trouble, write to my resident webloon, Al@draytonbird.com - we have had problems with folk on G-mail

Anyhow, next Monday I shall be asking for real live Guinea Pigs who want to try it for 28 days free to see what they think. I've already learned a ton from the comments of everyone who saw the videos - two people said things today that have made me change my mind. But I'm sure I'll learn even more.

So, thanks a million to all of you who took the trouble to vote.

This is for my old friend ... he knows who he is ...

This, which is apparently a Russian wedding photo is one of the most watched images lately. I can't imagine why. The girls in the office thought it was horrible, but the guy in the picture seems to be smiling for some reason. Maybe it's the champagne

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Jeremy Clarkson they wouldn't print … I LOVE it!

This is the one the Sunday Times wouldn’t print. Maybe because it says what we all think?

"Get me a rope before Mandelson wipes us all out"

I've given the matter a great deal of thought all week, and I'm afraid I've decided that it's no good putting Peter Mandelson in a prison. I'm afraid he will have to be tied to the front of a van and driven round the country until he isn't alive any more.

He announced last week that middle-class children will simply not be allowed into the country's top universities even if they have 4,000 A-levels, because all the places will be taken by Albanians and guillemots and whatever other stupid bandwagon the conniving idiot has leapt onto.

I hate Peter Mandelson. I hate his fondness for extremely pale blue jeans and I hate that preposterous moustache he used to sport in the days when he didn't bother trying to cover up his left-wing fanaticism. I hate the way he quite literally lords it over us even though he's resigned in disgrace twice, and now holds an important decision-making job for which he was not elected. Mostly, though, I hate him because his one-man war on the bright and the witty and the successful means that half my friends now seem to be taking leave of their senses.

There's talk of emigration in the air. It's everywhere I go. Parties. Work. In the supermarket. My daughter is working herself half to death to get good grades at GSCE and can't see the point because she won't be going to university, because she doesn't have a beak or flippers or a qualification in washing windscreens at the lights. She wonders, often, why we don't live in America.

Then you have the chaps and chapesses who can't stand the constant raids on their wallets and their privacy. They can't understand why they are taxed at 50% on their income and then taxed again for driving into the nation's capital. They can't understand what happened to the hunt for the weapons of mass destruction. They can't understand anything. They see the Highway Wombles in those brand new 4x4s that they paid for, and they see the M4 bus lane and they see the speed cameras and the community support officers and they see the Albanians stealing their wheelbarrows and nothing can be done because it's racist.

And they see Alistair Darling handing over £4,350 of their money to not sort out the banking crisis that he doesn't understand because he's a small-town solicitor, and they see the stupid war on drugs and the war on drink and the war on smoking and the war on hunting and the war on fun and the war on scientists and the obsession with the climate and the price of train fares soaring past £1,000 and the Guardian power-brokers getting uppity about one shot baboon and not uppity at all about all the dead soldiers in Afghanistan, and how they got rid of Blair only to find the lying twerp is now going to come back even more powerful than ever, and they think, "I've had enough of this. I'm off."

It's a lovely idea, to get out of this stupid, Fairtrade, Brown-stained, Mandelson-skewed, equal-opportunities, multicultural, carbon-neutral, trendily left, regionally assembled, big-government, trilingual, mosque-drenched, all-the-pigs-are-equal, property-is-theft hellhole and set up shop somewhere else. But where?

You can't go to France because you need to complete 17 forms in triplicate every time you want to build a greenhouse, and you can't go to Switzerland because you will be reported to your neighbours by the police and subsequently shot in the head if you don't sweep your lawn properly, and you can't go to Italy because you'll soon tire of waking up in the morning to find a horse's head in your bed because you forgot to give a man called Don a bundle of used notes for "organising" a plumber.

You can't go to Australia because it's full of things that will eat you, you can't go to New Zealand because they don't accept anyone who is more than 40 and you can't go to Monte Carlo because they don't accept anyone who has less than 40 mill. And you can't go to Spain because you're not called Del and you weren't involved in the Walthamstow blag. And you can't go to Germany ... because you just can't.

The Caribbean sounds tempting, but there is no work, which means that one day, whether you like it or not, you'll end up like all the other expats, with a nose like a burst beetroot, wondering if it's okay to have a small sharpener at 10 in the morning. And, as I keep explaining to my daughter, we can't go to America because if you catch a cold over there, the health system is designed in such a way that you end up without a house. Or dead.

Canada's full of people pretending to be French, South Africa's too risky, Russia's worse and everywhere else is too full of snow, too full of flies or too full of people who want to cut your head off on the internet. So you can dream all you like about upping sticks and moving to a country that doesn't help itself to half of everything you earn and then spend the money it gets on bus lanes and advertisements about the dangers of salt. But wherever you go you'll wind up an alcoholic or dead or bored or in a cellar, in an orange jumpsuit, gently wetting yourself on the web. All of these things are worse than being persecuted for eating a sandwich at the wheel.

I see no reason to be miserable. Yes, Britain now is worse than it's been for decades, but the lunatics who've made it so ghastly are on their way out. Soon, they will be back in Hackney with their South African nuclear-free peace polenta. And instead the show will be run by a bloke whose dad has a wallpaper shop and possibly, terrifyingly, a twerp in Belgium whose fruitless game of hunt-the-WMD has netted him £15m on the lecture circuit. [Obviously written before Rumpy Pumpy got the job].

So actually I do see a reason to be miserable. Which is why I think it's a good idea to tie Peter Mandelson to a van. Such an act would be cruel and barbaric and inhuman. But it would at least cheer everyone up a bit in the meantime.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

What two great writers had in common with grandpa Bird

How many modern writers have given as much pleasure as P. G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler?

Chandler was perhaps the best crime novelist ever; and he had a huge influence, inspiring films like Chinatown and many others. Wodehouse began as a writer of musicals, which may be why his stuff works so well on TV.

A while ago I learned to my childish pleasure that both went to Dulwich College at the same time as my grandfather. And this summer I was thrilled to bits when one of my relatives gave me this picture. In the middle holding the cup is P .G. Wodehouse (though with his name misspelt) and second on the top right is Grandpa.

Their Headmaster, A. H. Gilkes - clearly a great teacher – must have influenced the boys considerably. He gave no quarter to "word sophistry or posing" according to Chandler's biographer Tom Hiney. Maybe that is why both these great writers have such a satisfyingly simple style.

Conversely you will notice that word sophistry and posing are de rigeur for the marketing drones who fill meetings and documents with turgid oceans of polysyllabic tripe. Maybe they help in getting ahead and extracting money from weak minds, impressed by what they don’t understand. Look through almost any marketing document and you find that for wordy drivel it is in the same class as any politician's speeches. This is a shame, as many who do not have weak minds care a lot about clear writing.

In a survey some years ago, US business leaders were asked what change they would most like to see. They didn't talk about accounting or strategy. Mostly they pleaded: "can't someone teach people to write better?"

Since neary all business writing is aimed, one way or another, at clarifying or persuading someone of something, this is important. Good writing is not easy - I've been struggling at it for decades - but it is simple.

Here are seven pointers.

  1. Never use a word more than you need.
  2. Don’t use a long word if a short one will do.
  3. Don’t use jargon.
  4. Don’t use clichés.
  5. Edit at least five times.
  6. Read out loud for sense.
  7. Study Chandler and Wodehouse to see how it’s done.

File this under "Who gives a fuck": another total wank from Wolff, Olins

Those of you who are connoisseurs of ugliness will know that a few million have been pissed away on the astoundingly ugly British Olympics logo, which is the visual equivalent of dog shit.

Now I see the corporate idiots who mismanage AOL (fondly known to those who have suffered from their service as Arseholes On Line) have found their design soul-mates by getting the same firm to design a new logo.

You can just see what masquerades as thinking behind this. Quite simply, some boardroom monkey got sold a bill of goods under the heading of "rebranding". CorporoTwats just love rebranding because it calls for so much less thought or effort than trying to produce a better service than their competitors. You just pay some wankers in ponytails to do a new design and - hey, all the punters are just bound to say - "Ah. AOL have a new logo. Let's all forget about the shit service they gave me and switch back to them." Right? Wrong.

This little piece of witless marketing masturbation was announced as follows. "To coincide with its de-coupling from Time Warner and its shares being offered on the NYSE, AOL is unveiling a new logo. Designed by Wolff Olins, the new ID re-imagines AOL as Aol.".

Re-imagines? Re-imagines? What utter bollocks. Anyhow, the period in "Aol." is part of the logo, not just to tell you that a sentence has ended; and the lower case letters "are designed to be viewed against a backdrop of different images."

Aol. says its new logo is "a simple, confident logotype, revealed by ever-changing images. It's one consistent logo with countless ways to reveal." To reveal what? Probably the vast, echoing vacuum that passes for strategy in their business.

Angels and ministers of grace defend us from such tripehounds.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

This picture says all you need to know about this wretched poser and the troops he betrayed

Not all MBAs are evil ...

If only more people listened to the advice of "Not hiring MBAs" began one comment I got yesterday. It was from Phillip Burmeister who told the story of a mine in South Africa that had to close thanks to bunch of newly employed MBAs screwing it up. They never thought they needed to include driveways for trucks to the extract the ore... That was after they fired all the mining engineers because the engineers didn't know enough about business.

The second from Brian Steele told the tale of the MBA boss in the West Country who was so “busy pouring out spreadsheets by the dozen that he missed the fact that the company was losing money hand over fist and after a blazing row I left as did most of my team. Just six months later the business went into liquidation with almost 80 good people losing their jobs. As you might imagine I'm not over keen on MBAs although I'm sure there are a few good ones about.”

He’s right there. My old boss Sir Martin Sorrell has a Harvard MBA, if my memory serves me right. But that is not what impressed me about him. He has three far more important characteristics besides native talent. First, he never gives up even when most people would go into a corner and curl up. Second, he works astoundingly hard. Third, he always replies almost immediately to messages - or he has to mine - which is astounding in someone so busy running round the world.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Watch out, Google’s about. Keep an eye on this … or risk failure

The picture has nothing to do with Google. It's me in the Old London bar in Minsk last Sunday, and it's there just because I like it.

Now to business, with a statistic for you.

The penetration of mobile phones in Romania is 130%. Yes. More mobiles than people.

How about home computers? A fraction of that.

Don't think Romania has nothing to do with you? It’s the same everywhere. More mobiles than computers. Usually a lot more.

While you think about that, here’s a little quiz.

1. Which is easier to use? A computer or a phone?

2. Which is quickest to turn on?

3. Is it easier to respond via text or via e-mail?

4. Are you always as close to your computer as you are to your phone?

5. Can the mobile now do many things a computer can?

6. How soon before it can do all – and more?

The answers to those questions explain why last week I did a video interview with Henry Cazalet whose business is text marketing.

I think anyone who misses the boat on this will end up like a lot of those who failed to realise the implications of the internet. On the street.

I was greatly intrigued by what Henry said - especially the figures on what happens if you add text response to your ads, and I will be putting the interview out as part of the Commonsense Marketing Programme I mentioned on Friday. These interviews are all with people who can help you do better - or avoid doing worse.

Now, here's what my friend Glenmore told me about Google’s latest venture, which is relevant, to say the least.

They’re going to launch a system offering free calls - along with what sounds like a hell of a handset.

For the first time, one company will control everything from the software in users’ phones to the services they use to make calls and surf the web.

The Googlephone will have a large touchscreen display and a processor almost twice as fast as Apple’s iPhone 3GS.

Interesting times.

And thank you again for so many replies to my Friday blog. I e-mailed the oldest part of my helpful ideas list and got a very high response.

Many of you wanted a clearer idea of what I was on about. You can do so if you go to http://www.draytonbird.net/dbl/index.asp. You will see 3 very short videos there If you vote, you'll then get more details.

Then if you're still interested, well, I will be looking for a few real live guinea pigs soon** I should say that we already have a few people who want to ahead anyhow, so let me know if you're interested.

** When I was lecturing in Peru a few years ago I discovered that the national dish is guinea pig. Like a cross between chicken and rabbit. Not bad, but I wouldn't make a habit of it.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Tales of Minsk, plus a golden oldie from that fount of jokes, GTH

First of all, thanks to everyone who responded to my little plea yesterday. And if you were thinking of doing so but didn't get round to it, please do. All contributions gratefully received.

Enough of that. When I got to Minsk on Friday the greeting at the Visa office reminded me of my first visit to the old USSR 29 years ago, when the very idea that the customer might be right was anathema.

A deeply unpleasant little bureaucrat who clearly hadn't had sex with anything except unwashed domestic animals for many months told me that the document I produced was the wrong one, and I had to pay lots of money to come in and "this is very bad".

He was unmoved by the fact that the said turgid form was downloaded from their own consulate's website and there was a facsimile posted not twenty yards from where his skinny little arse was plonked. My worries (am I going straight back to London without making a speech?) only subsided when the lovely Olga Parkhimovich came in with some dollars to rescue me.

The first night was a drinks get-together chiefly notable for the astonishing quantities of brandy two local businessmen on my table managed to get through. It reminded me of Dr. Johnson's adage. "Claret is for boys, port is for men: but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy".

The audience yesterday was amazingly enthusiastic, except for one or two professors from business schools who were furious because I always make marketing seem simple, when their entire racket is based on making it seem complicated. Neither of the two most famous business schools I have spoken at could promote or run a seminar properly. One I have been dealing with recently (allegedly one of the world's top three) can't even manage to arrange a meeting as far as I can see.

At a press conference yesterday someone asked what three pieces of advice I would give to local businessmen. I said: 1. Measure everything. 2. Ban meetings. 3. Never hire MBAs.

Someone asked me about the last bit, which I confess is a little extreme. I said, "Because they are taught to run things before they have done them."

But leaving that aside, here's an oldie my pal Glenmore sent me.

A father walks into a market with his young son. The kid is holding a 50 pence coin. Suddenly, the boy starts choking, going blue in the face.
The father realizes the boy has swallowed the coin and starts panicking, shouting for help. A well dressed, attractive, but serious-looking woman in a blue business suit is sitting at a coffee bar in the market, reading her newspaper and sipping a cup of coffee.

At the sound of the commotion, she looks up, puts her coffee cup down on the saucer, neatly folds the newspaper and places it on the counter, gets up from her seat and makes her way, unhurried, across the market.. Reaching the boy, the woman carefully takes hold of his testicles and starts to squeeze, gently at first and then ever more firmly.
After a few seconds the boy convulses violently and coughs up the coin, which the woman deftly catches in her free hand. Releasing the boy, the woman hands the money to the father and walks back to her seat without saying a word.

As soon as he is sure his son has suffered no lasting ill effects, the father rushes over to the woman and starts thanking her saying, "I've never seen anybody do anything like that before, it was fantastic.. Are you a doctor?" No," the woman replies, "I work for the Income Tax."

I suspect that as we spend the next few years coughing up to pay for the Brooding Toad's awe-inspiring hubris and incompetence that little joke will take on a certain poignancy. And of course, the higher tax rates will themselves discourage entrepreneurship.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Am I the slowest, doziest direct marketer of all time?

If you've ever put off doing something you know you should have done, you'll understand what I'm about to confess to.

In 1984 when I was in Sydney, the head of the Australian Direct Marketing Association said “Why don’t you turn your Commonsense Direct Marketing book into a course?”

"Good idea", I said - and immediately did nothing.

So, 25 years and about 200,000 copies and five editions in 17 languages later I've got round to creating Drayton Bird’s Commonsense Marketing programme.

It's based not just on the book, but on my 101 helpful marketing ideas which some of you may get, my other books and everything I’ve learned wandering aimlessly around the world picking up ideas.

It’s basically an internet course, with a few twists you may like. I only hope a few people think it’s worth paying for.

Do you think it might interest you or your colleagues?

I’d love to know, because that helpful Australian was not the last to suggest the idea – quite a few others have since.

If you e-mail me at Drayton@draytonbird.com and say "maybe" I’ll tell you more - and there is a lot more, including monthly interviews with some of the world’s most successful marketers, and monthly seminars.

(Come to think of it, this little wheeze will give you a whole year’s good stuff on everything from why text messages may be the next big thing to how one man made £300 million from direct marketing – for less than you’d pay for one dreary chart and slogan-infested corporate seminar).

What do you think? The idea's not original - but the content will be, I promise you.

So just write back with the one word “Maybe” I’ll tell you more. But I won’t pester you.


I'm off to Minsk in Belarus at some insane hour of the morning tomorrow, and my hostess Natalia says it will be my Golden Jubilee -- it'll be the 50th country I've spoken in.

Whoever would have thought it? Not me, for sure.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The man who never had a proper job

Those of you who live in foreign parts won't relate to this, but there was a controversy not long ago about whether the train robber Biggs should have been released from jail as it looked as though he would die of cancer.

The Home Secretary, a person called Jack Straw, overruled the decision of the parole board, whose chairman has just said that he was wrong, and "allowed politics to cloud his judgement."

This is among the funnier things I have read recently. Jack Straw has never done a proper day's work in his life but politics from the day he became head of the National Students Union. He has no way of making judgments other than politics. He has never had a real job.

Talking of which, the ability of those who run things to get things wrong never ceases to amaze and astound. On the one hand it is decided that a little boy who has spent all his life here and speaks nothing but English is to be sent to the Congo where they spend most of their time killing each other and speak French. The reasoning behind this heartless decision is almost certainly that he is black and "they" thought nobody would kick up a fuss.

On the other - as I commented the other day - a baby killer is sent home with £4,500 pocket money as some kind of thank you. Does anyone in charge ever apply commonsense?

I am currently reading Dickens' Little Dorrit - and am ashamed I never did before. In it a government department called the Circumlocution Office features heavily. Its purpose - which it pursues with prodigious skill - is "not to get things done" and to perpetuate injustice. How little Britain has changed since 1856! Remove the rest of the plot and you've got The Toad's Playground.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Here's the best thing I've read on typography in ages


Thanks, Michael Rhodes - who sends me a constant stream of good stuff.

Hey, folks, did I finally do a link properly? Am I useless, or what? No need to answer. Bring back quill and parchment!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Now why do you suppose nobody believes them?

Years ago I decorated an American Express committee that reviewed their financial services marketing. Fortunately for them someone far wiser was also involved - Lester Wunderman.

I always recall him commenting on constant discounting, "You are training your prospects to expect bribes".

This came to mind when I saw that despite the endless propaganda of those who run things, most British people think Global Warming is a load of old bollocks.

The reason is perfectly clear.

Gordon Brown, the Bliar, Cameron - and many of the others - are habitual, incessant, condescending, unrepentant, bare-faced liars. So any sane person must assume whatever they say is untrue. They lie about everything else. Why not this?

Anyhow, actions speak louder than words. If a smarmy oaf like Al Gore or a tax-dodger like Bono flies round the world in a private jet to tell you carbon emissions are killing the universe you have to assume they're as full of shit as Christmas turkeys.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

How to encourage law breaking and restrain trade: and other Eurowanks

Did you know there is a new European law about to come in - and it cannot be stopped now - that will prevent anyone putting cookies on a site?

This brilliant idea will of course among other things make it impossible for you to measure the results of your internet marketing. It will also - if everyone follows the rules - actually encourage bad marketing, as you won't know enough about prospects and customers to talk to them in a relevant fashion.

There is an excellent piece about it by a Pinsent Mason lawyer which starts with a wonderful remark: A law that demands consent to internet cookies has been approved and will be in force across the EU within 18 months. It is so breathtakingly stupid that the normally law-abiding business may be tempted to bend the rules to breaking point.

You can find the whole piece at www.out-law.com/default.aspx?page=10510. However, my partner Marta has some interesting comments. She used to be in the internet gaming business and said that based on her experience this may play out like this:

1. Firms will move their HQs to places where this law does not apply - e. g. Andorra.

2. European governments will lose massive amounts of tax revenue

3. They will rescind the law.

Here are two reasons why I really don't like the idea of a United States of Europe.

First, I never voted for any of these people. Second, nothing they do encourages trade. For instance, their tariff protection is killing poor third world countries. This is also true of the U.S., by the way. What happens is in the following five lunatic steps:

1. We raise import taxes against their stuff.

2. Their economies decline.

3. We send billions in aid and give to aid charities.

4. Their kleptomaniac rulers steal it.

5. Our idiot politicians fly round the world to conferences where they decide how much more aid these crooks should get.

Brilliant, eh?

Mathematical progress - Thanks to Ian Waring

1. Teaching maths in 1970

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

2. Teaching Maths In 1980

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100. His cost of production is 80% of the price. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Maths In 1990

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100. His cost of production is £80. How much was his profit?

4. Teaching Maths In 2000

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100. His cost of production is £80 and his profit is £20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Maths In 2005

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. Your assignment: Discuss how the birds and squirrels might feel as the logger cuts down their homes just for a measly profit of £20.

6.. Teaching Maths In 2009

A logger is arrested trying to cut down a tree as it may be offensive to any ethnic or religious group not consulted in the felling licence. He is fined £100 as his chainsaw is in breach of Health and Safety legislation, deemed too dangerous as it could cut something. He has used the chainsaw for over 20 years without incident but he does not have the correct certificate of competence and is therefore considered to be a recidivist and habitual criminal. His DNA is sampled and his details circulated throughout all government agencies.

He protests and is taken to court and fined another £100 because he is such an easy target. When released he returns to find Gypsies have cut down half his wood to build a camp on his land. He tries to throw them off but is arrested, prosecuted for harassing an ethnic minority, imprisoned and fined a further £100.

While he is in jail the Gypsies cut down the rest of his wood and sell it on the black market for £100 cash. They have a BBQ of native wildlife and depart leaving behind several tons of rubbish and asbestos sheeting.

The forester is warned that failure to clear the fly tipped rubbish immediately at his own cost is an offence. He complains and is arrested for environmental pollution, breach of the peace and invoiced £12,000 plus VAT for safe disposal costs by a regulated government contractor.

Your assignment: How many times is the logger going to have to be arrested and fined before he realises he is never going to make £20 profit by hard work, give up, sign on the dole and live off the state for the rest of his life?

7. Teaching Maths In 2010

A logger doesn’t sell a truckload of timber because he can’t get a loan to buy a new truck as his bank - Lloyds, of course - has spent all his and their money on a derivative of securitised debt related to sub-prime mortgages in America and lost the lot with just enough government money left to pay a few million pound bonuses to senior directors and the traders who made the biggest losses.

The Government borrows more money to give to the bankers as bonuses are not cheap. The parliamentarians feel they are missing out and claim what's left on expenses and allowances. The logger struggles to pay the £1,200 road tax on his old truck. However, as it was built in the 1970s it no longer meets the emissions regulations and he is forced to scrap it.

Enterprising East European loggers buy the truck from the scrap merchant and put it back on the road. They undercut everyone on price for haulage and send their cash back home, while claiming social security benefits for themselves and their relatives. When questioned they speak no English and it is easier to deport them at the government’s expense.

Following a holiday back home they return with different names and a few girls and start again in a lucrative branch of the entertainment business. The logger protests, is accused of being a bigoted racist and fined £1,500.

Unlike most fairy tales this is close to the truth. Two days ago my cash card was stolen by some ingenious souls. The lady at Lloyds said: "It's terrible round here. There are gangs of East Europeans doing this all the time. Always go inside to get cash."

What the story demonstrates, of course, is that government policy has systematically ruined education, killed enterprise, discouraged hard work and encouraged us to see all immigrants as crooks, which most are not - as anyone who, like me, has employed a Polish plumber, knows.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Shadow over substance ...

For years I have been quoting the Duke of Wellington's reply when somebody asked him to what he owed his victories.

He replied, "Attention to detail".

Every day I see things and say to myself, "All grand gestures - no attention to detail. Nobody has thought exactly how this will be done."

This occurred to me in Lloyds bank yesterday. I waited for about 8 minutes to see someone, during which I spotted a little notice saying they aim to serve people within 4 minutes. They rarely do, because nobody has worked out how this magic target will be reached. In fact I just bet there were meetings where people said, "Should we make it 3 minutes? Or maybe 5? What do you think, Henry?"

Amusingly, the lady I saw told me people love their advertising. They probably love the smart new branch, too. But you know what I want in a bank? I don't want smart branches or pretty ads. I want to get in, do my business, and get out. Fast. It's not a bloody cocktail bar, for Gods' sake.

In the notice I saw it said that to reach this plucked-out-of-thin-air 4 minute target staff were going to work different hours, or stagger their lunch breaks to make it happen. My heart goes out to them, poorly paid victims of promises made by "strategists" who have no idea how they will be kept and think clever ads and fancy premises matter more than service.

The plain fact is there just weren't enough of them in the branch. It's the same in every bank I deal with. Fire a few head office drones - starting with all the people who screwed everything up in the first place and hire more bodies on the ground is my advice.**

Incidentally, can anyone tell me why Eric Daniels who so comprehensively destroyed Lloyds, has not only not been fired, but paid £3.8 million to stay on? That was my money - via the government. Why should you and I pay the twat? Is there any other world where failure is rewarded with more money? How many useful staff would that money pay for?

The first bank to adopt the Ryanair approach - give people the essentials and nothing else efficiently and cheaply - will clean up.

You can see this everywhere you look.

The Brooding Toad and Cameron McPhoney say they will do this and do that - as the Bliar did before them - but don't say how. No attention to detail and no sense of priorities because they have spent most of their lives in promise land, where magic wands do the trick.

** Years ago the chairman of a big advertising agency where I was one of the creative directors asked me how I would make it more profitable. I said "Fire every third person. It'll make no difference to the results and concentrate the minds of the ones left."

In public services, I would apply that remedy plus another. Get rid of all the people measuring things, filling in forms, engaged in politically correct crap and keep the ones doing things.


Just as I was about to put this up I saw a piece in the paper about immigration. Gordon Brown said he really "gets it" and "I am going to make statement." You really get it??? What parallel universe are you in? Do you never read the papers? People have been hopping mad about this for years. Ever heard of the BNP? Their entire policy is based on your failure to "get it". Making a statement doesn't mean it happens, you buffoon. You have to DO something.

The Toad and Cameron live in that dream world where photo-opportunities, initiatives and policies are confused with action.

Unfortunately, on the rare occasions when something is done it is almost invariably wrong. For instance in the twelve years since the Blessed Saviour Tone came in there have been more laws and regulations introduced than in the entire 20th century - mostly ill-drafted or unnecessary or replacing perfectly adequate ones that were already there. Net result? Chaos. Confusion worse confounded.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

On the matter of social media, this made me smile

I got a tweety message from a guy who wants me to follow him. His description of himself read: "ISMA founding member. Certified Social Media Specialist".

Two thoughts occurred to me. 1. Start worrying when they start an Institute. It means six guys got together and thought, "Let's start an Institute. That'll make it look respectable enough to start taking serious money off people".

And when something that's been around for about ten minutes starts having "Certified Specialists" you're in real trouble. Who certifies these specialists? Another six guys who think, "Hmmm. If you're "certified" - well, that sounds great, doesn't it? Up go the fees, right."

Which reminds me. Can any of you remember the days before there was a coaching industry? You know, when a coach was somebody who was very good at something ... so good they could tell other people how to do it? Now you just have to be good at coaching.

George Bernard Shaw said it: "Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach." Like most aphorisms, not entirely true, but worth thinking about nest time somebody offers to "mentor" or "coach" you.

Sorry, but too many of these people are really good at one thing only. Taking money off you.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

What the greatest fraud in history can teach you about marketing

There is no more perceptive, wise or helpful commentator on marketing's many lunacies than Denny Hatch.

Here is an extract from his latest.

I never really understood exclusivity until Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme put a spotlight on it. As Laurence Leamer wrote in The Huffington Post:

"It was an honor having him handle your fortune. He didn't take just anybody. He turned down all kinds of people, and that made you want to give the man even more of your money. When he took your fortune, he told you that he would tell you nothing about how he achieved his returns. He was a god. He had the Midas touch."

Web sites have been built on this exclusivity thing. Among them: Gilt.com, RueLaLa.com and HauteLook.com. They offer to “members only” the same upmarket designer merchandise sold by Saks, but at deeply discounted sale prices during specific time periods.

Saks is fighting back with an exclusive online “private event” that the CEO of HauteLook.com calls “the new way of retail.”

It ain’t new.

Saks is engaging in a technique as old as the hills. It’s called good, ol'-fashioned, time-tested, accountable direct marketing.

Go now and read the rest at http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/advertising-goes-high-tech-its-data-arithmetic-and-its-time-414303.html.

I'm afraid he quotes one of my most appalling jokes - but apart from that it's all pure gold.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

My Aussie renegade client Rod Laird sent this little piece of get to the point communication

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Oh, and by the way, fellow cynics ...

My old Ogilvy Direct colleague George Machun who has been languishing disguised as an academic at SF State University sent me this.


If it doesn't make you laugh, you're on the wrong blog

The mystery of Twittermania - and just about every other fad - explained

Greetings from Bucharest, where I'm sitting with a couple of colleagues in what I guess must be the penthouse flat, since we're on the top floor. Shame about the hot water system.

Anyhow I just stuck this picture up because it explains exactly why most people do the things they do.

Years ago when the dotcom euphoria was raging I used to ask audiences how many of them had websites.

Most would raise their hands. Then I would ask two more questions. First, could they tell me why they had a website; and second, what exactly their website was doing for them in the way of business.

This used to get a lot of blank looks. The answers, of course were: 1. "because everyone else has one" and 2. "I have no idea."

This is still largely true, and applies to most things marketers do. They institute CRM programmes without the vaguest idea what they will do for them - or even what the initials stand for; they decide "digital" is the thing - and for a glorious few, golden years from which I profited, direct marketing was all the rage.

All this was prompted by a very funny and perceptive piece from the estimable Ken McCarthy called "How to get big numbers on Twitter (or anything else)" from which I quote here

As soon as people see numbers, a few things happen to their brains.

1. They marvel at people with REALLY BIG NUMBERS
2. They look at their own puny numbers and despair
3. They look for ways to get more numbers

It seems like there are a few tried and true ways to get big numbers on Twitter.

1. Be on TV (or be an already fantastically well known brand.)
2. Have a big list from some other source and relentlessly ask your list members to follow you
3. Be a Twitter, social media and/or tech expert who spends a big chunk of his or her time in front of audiences that have super high densities of Twitter users flashing their Twitter address and relentlessly ask your list members to follow you.

There may be some exceptions to this rule, but I don’t see them in the upper listings.

Why people follow

People seem to follow for five reasons:

1. They’re collectors (a nice word for “pack rats”) and if it’s free, they want a lot of them
2. They’re followers and like having icons of their favorite celebrities on their profile page
3. They’re status seekers and want to be seen following “cool” people
4. They’ve been guilt tripped into following a friend or acquaintance (usually by their own minds)
5. They’d like to guilt-trip someone else into following them (to increase their own number of followers.)

It’s these last two that I find really interesting: “Please follow me.” “Thanks for following me.”

We’ve left the land of the rational and gone deep into the social brain on this one (i.e. back to high school.)

There’s a bit of the old MLM mentality in play too:

“You follow me and I’ll follow you and we’ll both have one more follower and that will make us more attractive so we’ll both be more likely to get more followers who will do the same…and somehow this will all end up with all of us making money.”

What really made me laugh in Ken's piece is a line he repeats three times:
Follow Ken on Twitter:http://www.Twitter.com/kenmccarthy

Don't follow me, though. I'm just as lost as you are.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Sex in schools? Watch out, Ed's about!

When I whizzed off to New York the last thing I recall was reading about how teachers are spending their time making sure little kids are not being racists to each other.

This was no doubt another initiative from the supernaturally brilliant "Ed" Balls, our education "supremo". The man never stops, does he? No sooner did I land in London this morning than I saw the great man has instituted a new rule for schools: 5 year olds are to be taught all about sex'n'drugs.

Did any of you British readers vote for that? Thought not. But there's nothing like getting them off to flying start, eh, "Ed"?

But would it not be just faintly more useful to concentrate a little more on teaching the poor little buggers to read, write and add up before they leave school and join the great unemployable swamp you've helped to create?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Compare this with the people running the banks

Do any of you read The Motley Fool? By far the best thing of its kind, my partner Marta introduced it to me.

Today there was a piece about the best way to evaluate a possible investment.

Essentially it said that the best businesses tend to be the ones in which the owner has a big stake.

But it also talked about the attitude to running a business, as follows:

Costco Wholesale CEO Jim Sinegal has repeatedly resisted raising his salary, even though the company's compensation committee has suggested that he is underpaid. When Costco ran into some "improprieties" about options backdating, Sinegal and CFO Richard Galanti voluntarily forfeited their bonuses. That's the epitome of stewardship -- taking full responsibility and putting shareholders first.

Interesting, when you compare it with the behaviour of the two shits who ran RBS and Northern Rock, isn't it?

Here's a good joke my partner Al sent me

On a flight from Glasgow to London, the aircraft hit some turbulence and suddenly dropped like a stone for what seemed like an eternity. Stomachs in throats, gasps and screams from all the passengers until the aircraft stopped dropping and resumed its flight.

The eerie silence immediately after this was broken by howls of laughter from the passengers when a toddler at the front of the plane, who shouted at the top of his voice "AGAIN, AGAIN, AGAIN!"

Monday, 2 November 2009

As I'm in New York, here's a fitting story

A woman and her ten-year-old son were riding in a cab in New York City,
it was raining and all the hookers were standing under the awnings.

"Mom," said the boy, "what are all those women doing?"

"They're waiting for their husbands to get off work," she replied.

The cabbie turns around and says, "Geez lady, why don't you tell him
the truth?

They're hookers, boy! They have sex with men for money."

The little boy's eyes get wide and he says, "Is that true, Mom?"

His mother, glaring hard at the cabbie, answers in the affirmative.

After a few minutes, the kid asks, "Mom, what happens to the babies
those women have?"

"They become cab drivers," she said.