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Saturday, 30 January 2010

On sundry stabbings - and why occasionally someone makes me feel I'm not wasting my time

You can safely say that doing business my way is not quite how they do it in those agencies with receptions that look like restaurants.

I just had a comic exchange with an old acquaintance (and new client if we ever get our shit together) about the dramas of domestic life.

I think I managed to top his stories by saying that "As someone who has been stabbed by one ex-wife and one ex-mistress and still has a scar on his face from another who hit an artery I laugh at your puny adventures."

But to change the subject entirely, a year or so ago a Croatian TV interviewer asked me why I'm still in this bloody business. I replied as best I could, but this email which I got yesterday gives the best reason of all.

Hi Drayton

I wanted to send you a personal note (well as personal as an email can be) to thank you for inspiring me in my career.

Let me explain.

25 years ago I was a copywriting rookie at Sun Alliance. A graduate on that slippery road of irrelevant brilliance...ideas aplenty, most of them useless. Thankfully this was accompanied by an overwhelming desire to learn.

I was sent on a 2 day direct marketing conference in London. Almost by accident I meandered into a seminar you were running. I can remember feeling daunted but intrigued by you and I became completely engrossed in what you had to say.

On a screen you flashed up examples of adverts - good, bad, horrendous and brilliant. I squirmed when you thoroughly denounced an advert by Sun Alliance. Thank god I had not written it.

Then you flashed an advert, a simple classified ad for a B&B in the Dales that spun a beautiful story in just one paragraph. You pointed out the descriptions and the words and told us that great copywriting began with simplicity and relevance, with compelling descriptions and more. I wonder if you can remember?

Over the years I have never, ever forgotten your brilliant advice. I love telling stories and getting paid for them and I have mentioned your name on countless occasions when talking to people about the art of copywriting. I still feel like a rookie, just an older one!

I found you on Twitter and started following you. This galvanised me into writing to you.

I get a few like this. Sorry if it's a bit maudlin of me to quote that one, but last week was mostly crap, and it cheered me up no end. I still use that example, too. Good things don't age.

Thanks for taking the trouble, Dee.

Thank you, Robert who sent me this ...

Friday, 29 January 2010

A voice from the past: Mother Teresa, David Ogilvy - and me

I am the most disorganised, forgetful, dozy person you could ever fear to meet - as a shocked glance at my desk would reveal.

But I always take comfort from a sign Bill Phillips, one of my old bosses, had in his office: "A neat stall is the sign of a dead horse."

Anyhow, among the debris in our converted brothel of a basement office (yes; it really was once a house of pleasure) are some video tapes in formats unused since the Stone Age, most of which I've never looked at.

(Are you getting a little curious?)

Yesterday I started watching one I had not seen in over 20 years and never watched in full. I didn't even know I had it, but it brought back one of the most deeply satisfying experiences of my professional life.

It was 1989. I had just arrived in the Ogilvy office in Bombay, and the receptionist said, "Oh, all the directors are watching a video of Mr. Ogilvy. In I walked and sat down in the dark.

David was talking at a training programme for senior executives, and I had barely settled down when he started talking about me - and about an account we worked on together where we doubled the billings within a year.

I can't repeat what he said - too embarrassing - but talk about perfect timing. I walked in, sat down with people I barely knew - and got an immediate testimonial from the boss. It was like all my Christmases had come at once.

Before you get bored by this crowing, I should tell you that he said a great deal more.

If you want to know what it was like to work for the best advertising man - and certainly the most inspiring - on the planet, well this shows you. He was pretty old at the time, but my God, what a presence.

And one of the best things was that he was extremely funny, with a wonderful line about Mother Teresa.

I'm going to go through the entire recording - and quite a few others I found lying around in the basement where I lurk and put some bits up for you.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

"Make money while you sleep" - and other half-truths

If you can't steal from your relatives, who can you steal from?

"Originality is the most dangerous sin in the advertiser's lexicon," said Rosser Reeves, and - taking him at his word his brother in law David Ogilvy happily quoted this in "Confessions of an Advertising Man" and everywhere else for years after without attribution.

I was reminded of this when I saw a hoary old favourite re-emerge for the umpteenth time on one of those scamsters' twitter pages. "Make money while you sleep" it promised. Why be original when you can steal? Of course, even the best of misrepresentations works better if you can improve it - perhaps by saying "Make $452 to $3,217 a month extra while you sleep". Even a half-truth is improved by precision.

One of the world's best copywriters reproved me a while ago for being too modest I ignored him; it is an English thing. Then someone came to see me yesterday and repeated the criticism. If I have to boast a little in this fatuous world of legends and superstars I will say this: I probably know more good stuff to copy than anyone.

I first saw this "while you sleep" line used by Ed Axel one of the rather roguish American copywriters I met in the early '60's. He had a great ad for a product called "Slumberslim", with the headline: "Lose weight while you sleep through the miracle of auto-oxidation"

I said, "What's auto-oxidation, Ed?" "Sweating, kid - sweating," he replied. Ed had the greatest-ever guarantee: "Just tear the cover off this book and send it back to me to get your money back." I think he went off to Scandinavia to become a pioneer in the world of porn.

Lots of those guys were just brilliant. There was Monroe Kane, whose lawyer probably made more money than him for keeping out of serious trouble. Gene Schwartz was another. As Denny Hatch observed, I think in "Million Dollar Mailings", a lot of his stuff was very close to the mark. Gene asked me to write copy for him, and gave me a job to do. I came up with a line almost identical to the one he'd already written and decided I wasn't good enough.

Gene explained the trick with these outrageous promises: you sold a book, not a product, and based your incredible claims on what the author said. Joe Karbo, who also asked me to write for him was another master. His "Lazy Man's Way to Get Rich" - which must be one of the most copied headlines was just a book half on self motivation and half on how to get into the mail order business.

I learned a lot from that book. Dreaming of what you want does work. But not as well or as quickly as these crooks tell you, believe me. And remember the old Polish curse: may your dreams come true.

Now I guess I should make some outrageous claims about my Get Rich Slow programme as it gets perilously close to being launched. Instead I will just tell you that if I can swing it the free drinks will be on me when you register - which you can't yet because my website still sucks, and I need a decent microphone for my webinars.

There I go again. This modesty will be the death of me.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Public profligacy: an address reveals so much about the Blair-Brown project

If you want to know why Britain is the last major economy to crawl ever so slightly out of recession (and don't hold your breath), just stroll down London's Piccadilly past some of the most expensive real estate on earth.

There you will find the palatial offices of The Qualifications and Curriculum Agency.

These jokers are, they risibly claim, "at the heart of England's education system. Our job will be to develop the curriculum, improve and deliver assessments, and review and reform qualifications."

Fat chance. They hired an Australian boss at between £175,000 and £180,000 who flew back and forth at our expense - £153,900 for his home and air fares to Australia plus a £203,000 pension. He then hired an American firm on a £156 million five year contract who proceeded to screw things up right royally.

So incompetent are these people at everything except wasting public money (like the government as a whole) that in the last few days over 3,000 people joined an online group "The AQA unit 4 biology exam (25/1/2010) was a disgrace!" within 24 hours.

The question is, why the hell do these utterly useless bodies, which we managed without for centuries, need posh offices? In fact even this bunch of incompetents are going to move to somewhere more sensible. But they are only one of 1,162 such bodies that cost us £64 billion, around £2,550 per household per annum. What could you do with an extra £50 a week?

If we want to climb out of recession it requires no great thought, no "strategies", no "initiatives" and, please, no more bloody "vows" - just a determined drive to get rid of these parasites. I see little sign of that from Cameron with his silly prison ship schemes (bring back transportation!) Somebody I know tells me the Tories are all "off with the fairies". Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

A good start would be to make sure that public employees have the same pension rights and the same salary increases (or decreases) as the rest of us.

Now, the next thing to keep an eye on is this: the Bliar, the Toad and the man of Straw have all been proven to have made or backed falsehoods that took this country illegally into war. Will the supine, corrupt bunch of trough-hounds who currently pollute the northern end of the Palace of Westminster punish them?

Not a hope in hell.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Where my money goes: dental agony and a little journey into Promiseland

Some spend their money on fine wines. Others go cruising or skiing. Still yet others invest in rare motor cars, paintings and antiques.

But what money I have left after my last divorce (score: Wife 34; Bird 0) tends to flow in the direction of my dentist, the worthy Tariq Idris. My bridges, implants, flying buttresses and so on are a monument to his ingenuity, and that of his predecessor.

So after three hours at his hands yesterday you couldn't get much sense out of me due to protracted agony. I was cheered up no end though by my new hobby - reading the outrageous claims of those who specialise in putting you in what rogue salesmen I worked with when young called Promiseland.

One heading was "Is this a scam?" followed by ingenious protestations of good faith and the usual cavalcade of testimonials. But the one that got the biscuit contained the following stream of wondrous pr0mises:

Not only is my friend Jeff "Herschy" Schwerdt giving you a Cash Flow Supercharger, he's handed you the keys to his Viral Submitter software, helping drive traffic to your own Cash Flow Funnel.

Wouldn't you like all that stuff, friends?

In case you have doubts I shall start shortly be launching my Prehistoric Unsupercharged No-Miracles Get Rich Slow But Sure alternative which works on the old-fashioned basis: you have to do a little work.

Among other things I will be analysing how all these schemes work. There is much to be learnt because they are all based on sound principles, even if their promises are a little high flown.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

How to destroy enterprise – a little tale from Rome about how good intentions have evil consequences

“That government is best which governs the least,” said Thoreau.

Forget the Bliar’s greed and mendacity and the low machinations of the Bullying Toad: that is the chief reason why I hate the current and last British administrations, which have spewed out an infinitely greater amount of legislation in a shorter time than all previous ones – and left the country in utter chaos and confusion.

They have followed the European model of telling people what to do, and given a chance they would go further. The same applies to Cameron by the look of it, who seems like a sort of sub-Blair. But no matter how good your intentions, this doesn’t work.

A friend who runs a business in Rome finds her job a nightmare because of laws that make it all but impossible for you to fire people – and thus very unwilling to hire anyone in the first place. Not conducive to building a business, right?

Not long ago she reluctantly did hire someone who looked good but who after a few weeks started idling on the job. Why not? She thought she was safe. To get rid of her my friend had to devote countless hours when she should have been running the business to monitoring how long this woman spent in the toilet, how many minutes she was late, how long she took for lunch. All trivial and demeaning wasted time.

Another friend in Bari has been offered jobs – but with no security, or “off the books” - because employers just don’t want to be tied up by these well-intentioned but self-defeating laws.

Adam Smith said "It is the highest impertinence and presumption in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense... They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.”

Libertarians claim we should not interfere with capitalist rapacity. Smith did not agree. He thought decisions should not be left to “merchants and manufacturers” and such as bankers and their clients, especially where this “might endanger the security of the whole society.”

Which it certainly has, though Barack Obama’s proposals ignore what actually caused the trouble - and may well do again.

Friday, 22 January 2010

"Make a Fresh Start in the New Year with the highest level Strategic Leadership Qualification available". What????

Do you ever see things and do a quick double take because you can't believe what you saw?

I often do, as when I read the heading above, which then told me the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 7 award in Strategic Leadership costs from only £500. Isn't that just great? I can be a leader for £500!

This, like so much on the internet, is sheer, unadulterated moonshine. Having led one or two organisations, usually in exactly the wrong direction, I am here to tell you that no £500 diploma would have been much good to Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Attila the Hun or any other of those types. It took me 21 years of trial, error and study to become even an indifferent leader.

Actually I find the idea of this Institute ludicrous, and have a strong feeling that the only people to do well out of it in the New Year will be those who run it.

Another thing that caught my eye just now was a headline from an Aussie ad magazine that read, "Ad industry vows greater online transparency". A great example of how to be simultanously pompous and completely incomprehensible. No wonder advertising is in trouble.

Have you noticed how the word "vows" often precedes a lie? Yesterday I saw the Ineffectual Toad "vows" to protect Cadbury's workers. How? Just as the day before I wondered how Smoothy Cameron is only going to have "elite" teachers. Where will he find them? From amongst all those who've been so badly educated since his hero the despicable money-mad Bliar made "education, education, education" his top priority 13 years ago?

Rogues and politicians (what's the difference?) only get away with these lies because most people don't stop and think.

This reminds me, yesterday there was a minor kerfuffle on one of these online anorak forums about a video I posted. In it I said nearly websites make up to 5 basic, crass mistakes which we cure in a few weeks for far too little money. Some fool with too little work to do pointed out that the website this led to had missed quite a few tricks in the wonderful realm of SEO and all that jazz.

I immediately recalled George Bernard Shaw's joke about the man who "seized the wrong end of the stick and belaboured his opponent with it." This is because it wasn't a website, but a landing page with a specific purpose; it was put together literally in minutes; its only job was to get enquiries; and it did that admirably well (unlike most of the ideas I've had over the years).

What was a real hoot was that the nitpicker who was talking such uninformed drivel makes every one of these basic errors on his own site. Another wag said I looked like Donald Duck on the video, which may well be true, but didn't stop it doing a great job.

Next time I'm going to wear a Pippa Pig costume (I LOVE you, Pippa. Honest. I have a great picture of you in Peter Jones ... but that's enough romance for today).

If you click below you can see my Donald Duck, and the offending page too. I admit it is pretty ropey - but it was done even quicker than the landing page. (Isn't Donald Duck rhyming slang for something or other?)

See the page here

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Congratulations or kicks in the teeth? What do you think these bozos deserve?

My friend Michael Rhodes tells me the leading US internet retailers sent 12% more marketing emails in 2009 than they did the year before, at an average of 132 emails to each subscriber, according to a new analysis by Smith-Harmon.

Now, ask yourself. Is that good? What should you conclude?

Should you say, "Wow, these guys are really getting to grips with the internet?" Or, "Stupid bastards. Who wants to hear from a bloody shop nearly 3 times a week? Doesn't life have more to offer?"

I know what I think.

It's just like the way TV spots in the US drive you mad with endless, dreary, boring repetition. Quantity will never beat quality. As my old boss said (better than anyone else, as usual) "You cannot bore people into buying".

He also said that nobody should ever write advertising copy until they have spent two years doing direct response. I did it the other way round; I was an advertising creative director before I really got to grips with direct marketing.

When I did I learned one thing these buggers don't know: that people's attention and reponse to messages decreases VERY fast with repetition. Rosser Reeves, only begetter of the USP, wrote about this in "Reality in Advertising". But most of these advertising bozos don't read books. They practice with other people's money.

When will they ever learn?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Got to love some of the stuff you get in the vast Cyberslum we all inhabit

Turning aside reluctantly from a rather forceful injunction by my new friend Eugene Schroeder who says I've "got to bed more chicks in 2010" I scanned this message from a lady in California who works as a "Database Manger".

A bit of a puzzle, really. Isn't a manger something animals eat out of? Is this just another inflammatory sexual invitation, but of a perverse, subtly coded nature?

It seems not, because she asks me if I'm in "a new business generation crisis" pointing out helpfully that "all these strategies - time limits, milestone scheduling, assigning a PoC, etc. - are very effective, but they're worthless if you can't impose an effective marketing partner who can be a one stop shop solutions provider for you."

What I want to know is, what does that rivulet of drivel mean? How do you "impose" a marketing partner. What is the mysterious power of milestones scheduling? How have I ever managed this far without assigning a PoC? What is she talking about, this silly cow in a manger?

I'm never going to get the hang of this marketing stuff. If I want a "one stop shop solutions provider" I'd probably have more funr with Maritza Aldrich (lovely name) who helpfully promised me just now that "You will get BIGGER with this Free trial". What do you think, friends?

Just so you know what a dreadful bunch of low-lifes some of my clients are ...

The following glorious piece of bad taste was sent to me by someone we've done the odd job for. I really do sometimes wonder where we find them.

A US army platoon was marching north of Fallujah when they came upon an Iraqi insurgent, badly injured and unconscious.

On the opposite side of the road was a British soldier in a similar but less serious state. The soldier was conscious and alert and as first aid was given to both men the platoon leader asked the injured soldier what had happened.

The soldier reported, "I was moving north along this highway and coming south was a heavily armed insurgent. We saw each other and both took cover in the ditches along the road.

I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein was a miserable, low-life scum bag who'd got what he deserved, and he yelled back that Gordon Brown is a fat, useless, lying one-eyed porridge wog and Lord Mandelson is a pillow biting old whoopsie.

So I said that Osama Bin Laden dresses and ponces about like a frigid, hatchet-faced dyke. He retaliated by yelling, "Oh yeah? Well, so does Harriet Harman!"

And, there we were shaking hands in the middle of the road when a fucking bus hit the pair of us."

If you have the same appalling sense of humour as my old client, pay on time, and need better results and good advice without being financially raped in the process, e-mail me at drayton@draytonbird.com. We should get on well.

This seductive invitation is limited by time as I am unbelievably old, and stringently limited by number (just four clients wanted) as I am involved in everything we do and very busy**.

Of course, you may conclude that I'm not too bright, as I mentioned this golden opportunity casually the other day but failed to stick in my email address - but if you go to www.draytonbird.com you'll find lots of testimonials, many of which I didn't write myself.

** Busy doing what? Putting the final touches to Commonsense Marketing - but I have this rather old-fashioned idea that I should not just pontificate but work on real stuff every day.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Can't count, can't organise - and exceedingly unpleasant, too. Yes, it's the Brutish McToad

It is nearly twenty years since a BBC driver told me that of all the people he had had to ferry back and forth, Brown - then in opposition where he should have stayed - was among the most obnoxious and bullying.

So in a Sunday Times report today I was pleased to see the Witless Toad described as "brutish." As to his competence, a former director general of a Whitehall department observed about what happens under his government:

"All the worst bits of policy making come from the centre. It’s these people who think you change the world by publishing a strategy. And you don’t change a thing by publishing a strategy, it makes no difference whatsoever."

File that under "I told you so".

The report from which this came is what journalists tend to call "a devastating indictment" of the Toad and all his ways by a phalanx of top Civil Servants. Predictably, the response from the FuhrerToadBunker was "We will obviously study the report with interest. But we do not accept the conclusion."

I think I've quoted Cromwell on this attitude before: "Consider in the bowels of Christ that ye may be wrong."

Surely it is impossible to make any progress in human affairs without realising you are mistaken. But really astonishes about Brown is his utter incapacity in areas where he should, surely, as a man who was in charge of a nation's finances for ten years, be impeccable - like doing his sums.

His and the egregious Ed Balls' recent proposal to give 270,000 of the nation's poorest families free computers is a typical example of what happens. Forget the fact that right now this country, in greater debt than ever before in its history, should be conserving money, not spending it. Forget the fact that so many of the recipients of his largesse have difficulty in reading and writing, let alone mathematics.

What is really worrying is that his costings would disgrace the average trainee book-keeper. When any idiot knows that a computer can be picked up for £300 - and probably a lot less if you're buying in bulk, he was proposing to spend over £1,000 a head on this latest vote-catching wheeze.

Just sheer, old-fashioned, witless incompetence.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

File under "fancy that" - news from the planet jargon

Want to see the trivial exalted to the point of lunacy? Read this:

"Your business card is a vital part of your brand armoury. It has to do both an instant job in telling your new potential life-changing encounter about you, how you can make a difference, and ideally any future aspirations - and also be a legacy item, to live on without you, weeks, months and even years after the encounter." - Andy Green, "Effective Personal Communications".

Life-changing? Legacy item? Calm down, dear, don't get too excited. It's a little piece of card, not a heavenly visitation.

After which eruption of super-jargon, back to the real world of marketing. Being unable to deliver any life changing encounters and very busy spreading the Gospel, this year I only want 4 new serious clients.

If you want results without the hassle, and with a fair few laughs let me know what ails you. We're not too hot on the business card front, though.

To those loveable souls who helped me last month - a confession and one or two promises

When I was performing to utter indifference punctuated by occasional snorts of derision in my first school play I recall being told that dress rehearsals are usually a disaster.

So it was with my trial of Commonsense Marketing last month. The idea, if you recall, was to offer you something a bit better than the sort of thing typified by an email I just got - "Is it this easy? Simple data entry earns up to $924.73 a day" - because it bloody well isn't.

I thought - and still do - that out there there must be a few hundred people who recognise bullshit when they see it, and would like to learn from the ghastly mistakes I made and the odd triumph I enjoyed over the last 50 years in what I now reckon is 50 countries.

I also hoped that there might be a few people who realise that there is life outside the internet; there are still people watching TV commercials, reading ads, opening and replying to direct mail, filling in questionnaires - and so on.

And so it proved. There is intelligent life out there. Thee is room for serious stuff. Quite a few of you are bright enough to recognise and dismiss lies when you read them, and hanker for the genuine article. E mails I sent out got up to 27% opening rate at the beginning of December and I recruited enough of you to teach me how to do better.

So I'd like to thank everyone who gallantly volunteered to give it a try and do one thing I learned is essential: tell you what the results were - especially as I shall spend most of tomorrow filming stuff for you.

1. Everything did indeed go wrong. Despite our prior tests, people didn't receive emails about what was happening about money and when I was running seminars. My friends who attended the EADIM course in London were neglected. The first webinar was a disaster. My pricing was up the spout. My explanations of the deal were confusing. Timing was wrong for people in Australia and New Zealand. And just to distract me, at the same time one or two clients screwed me around for serious money

2. But despite it all, most of you who bravely persevered loved it. Thank you! And thank you, too those who didn't for telling me what you really want. You are all individuals, so your views differed, but I shall try to accommodate as many as possible.

3. Some people wanted a structured A to Z course. I shall be filming the start of that in the morning (though it is morning now, I realise) analysing what marketing is really all about with revealing examples and how to set about it.

4. Others asked for analysis of creative work. I shall give you it. Not just in one medium, but many. TV commercials, direct mail, websites, ads - the lot. Not just selling to consumers but to businesses. Not just British or US, but from all over the world, aimed at all sorts of customers and selling all sorts of products and services at all sorts of prices. Tomorrow I shall be analysing a piece I wrote which doubled the membership of a supporters group at a world-famous Soccer club.

5. Some asked what relevance the interviews I planned would have. I can only say that if you can't learn anything from spending time with some of the world's most imaginative and successful marketers - some of whom have never revealed their secrets - poor you. For example in the past month I have set up interviews with a friend in Santa Monica making big money in the ONLY type of advertising that's currently flourishing, with another in Hawaii who is, quite simply, a REAL marketing legend, and with a man here in London who will explain why one medium which most people are not using at all is going to transform marketing.

Some of you asked if there would be an affiliate programmne. The answer is yes. And one man asked what I could give you that two other experts he named couldn't. The answer was simple: neither of them had worked for a major brand in their lives. They just sell "I'll make you rich" stuff they mostly picked up in seminars. Oh, and I am entertaining, so they tell me. Why should getting better not be fun?

That's enough from me now. It's 4 30 am in London, and time to go to sleep. Keep an eye open if you're interested. More to come.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Your profiling madness test ... from my friend who lectures on intelligence. See how you score ...

Well, it seems my last post may have been based on a hoax -- but much was based on sense to me.

This is from my old friend, partner and boozing chum Glenmore Trenear-Harvey. I believe a lot of it applies to the U.K.

He said he'd received this from his old friend, a former senior American intelligence officer, adding "I agree with him totally".


A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to themselves.

Absolutely No Profiling! Pause a moment, reflect back, and take the following multiple choice test.

These are actual events from history. They really happened! Do you remember?


1 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by:
a. Superman
b. Jay Leno
c. Harry Potter
d. A Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40

2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by :
a. Olga Korbut
b. Sitting Bull
c. Arnold Schwarzenegger
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

3. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by:
a. Lost Norwegians
b. Elvis
c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

4. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
a. John Dillinger
b. The King of Sweden
c. The Boy Scouts
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

5. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
a. A pizza delivery boy
b. Pee Wee Herman
c. Geraldo Rivera
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

6. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old, American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by:
a. The Smurfs
b. Davey Jones
c. The Little Mermaid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

7. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens , and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by:
a. Captain Kidd
b. Charles Lindberg
c. Mother Teresa
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

8. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
a. Scooby Doo
b. The Tooth Fairy
c. The Sundance Kid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

9. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:
a. Richard Simmons
b Grandma Moses
c. Michael Jordan
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

10. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzaniawere bombed by:
a.. Mr. Rogers
b. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill's women problems
c. The World Wrestling Federation
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

11. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers.
Thousands of people were killed by:
a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
b. The Supreme Court of Florida
c. Mr Bean
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

12. In 2002 the United States fought a war inAfghanistan against:
a. Enron
b. The Lutheran Church
c. The NFL
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

13. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
a. Bonnie and Clyde
b. Captain Kangaroo
c. Billy Graham
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

No, I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you? So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 and 40 alone lest they be guilty of profiling.

Let's send this to as many people as we can so that the Gloria Aldreds and other dunder-headed attorneys and Federal Justices that want to thwart common sense, feel ashamed of themselves -- if they have any such sense.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

When you've stopped laughing about Mr. Exploding Underpants, read this

This was sent to me by that excellent copywriter Andy Owen - though it's nothing to do with marketing.

Frankly, having seen what's happened here, I think it makes eminent sense and is not just scaremongering - though it is scary. I am old enough to remember hiding in a bomb shelter during the second world war.

Juval Aviv was the Israeli Agent upon whom the movie ' Munich ' was based. He was Golda Meir's bodyguard, and was appointed to bring to justice the Palestinian terrorists who took Israeli athletes hostage and killed them during the Munich Olympic Games.

In a lecture in New York City he said things we all need to know -- but that the U.S. government - or any other - has not yet revealed.

He predicted the London subway bombing on the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News stating publicly that it would happen within a week. O'Reilly laughed, and mocked him saying in a week he wanted him back on the show.

Within a week the attack took place. I remember that day very well.

Juval Aviv gave intelligence (via what he had gathered in Israel and the Middle East ) to the Bush Administration about 9/11, a month before it occurred. His report specifically said they would use planes as bombs and target high profile buildings and monuments.

Congress has since hired him as a security consultant.

Now for his future predictions. He predicts the next terrorist attack on the U.S. will occur within the next few months.

Forget hijacking airplanes, because he says terrorists will NEVER try and hijack a plane again as they know the people onboard will never go down quietly again. Aviv believes our airport security is a joke - that we have been reactive rather than proactive in developing genuinely effective strategies.

For example:

1) Airport technology is outdated. We look for metal when the new explosives are made of plastic.

2) Some idiot tried to light his shoe on fire. Because of that, now everyone has to take off their shoes.

3) A group of idiots tried to bring aboard liquid explosives. Now we can't bring liquids on board. He says he's waiting for some suicidal maniac to pour liquid explosive on his underwear; at which point, security will have us all traveling naked! (See my post last week)

Every strategy used is reactive. We only focus on security when people are heading to the gates.

Aviv says if a terrorist attack targets airports in the future, they will target busy times on the front end of the airport when/where people are checking in. (Remember the Glasgow bomber?)

It would be easy for someone to take two suitcases of explosives, walk up to a busy check-in line, ask a person next to them to watch their bags for a minute while they run to the restroom or get a drink, and then detonate the bags BEFORE security even gets involved.

In Israel, security checks bags BEFORE people can even ENTER the airport.

Aviv says the next terrorist attack in America is imminent and will involve suicide bombers and non-suicide bombers in places where large groups of people congregate. (i.e., Disneyland, Las Vegas casinos, big cities (New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc.) and it will include shopping malls, subways in rush hour, train stations, etc., as well as rural America (the hinterlands ( Wyoming , Montana , etc.).

The attack will be characterized by simultaneous detonations around the country (terrorists like big impact), involving at least 5-8 cities, including rural areas.

Aviv says terrorists won't need to use suicide bombers in many of the larger cities, because at places like the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, they can valet park a car loaded with explosives and walk away.

Aviv says all of the above is well known in intelligence circles, but the U. S. Government does not want to 'alarm American citizens' with the facts. The world is quickly going to become 'a different place', and issues like global warming and political correctness will become totally irrelevant.

On an encouraging note, he says that Americans don't have to be concerned about being nuked. Aviv says the terrorists who want to destroy America will not use sophisticated weapons. They like to use suicide as a front-line approach. It's cheap, it's easy, it's effective; and they have an infinite abundance of young militants more than willing to 'meet their destiny'.

He also says the next level of terrorists, over which America should be most concerned, will not be coming from abroad. But will be, instead, 'homegrown', having attended and been educated in schools and universities in the U.S.

(It seems to me that too many are indoctrinated in Britain, where people like the thugs who insulted dead British soldiers in Luton are not dealt with properly by idiot magistrates. In a parallel case in Saudi Arabia they'd probably have been beheaded. And incidentally, if you want Sharia law, live in Pakistan,Sudan or Nigeria).

He says to look for 'students' who frequently travel back and forth to the Middle East . These young terrorists will be most dangerous because they will speak English, will fully understand the habits of Americans; but that Americans won't know/understand a thing about them.

Aviv says that Americans are unaware and uneducated about the terrorist threats we will inevitably face. America still has only a handful of Arabic and Farsi speaking people in intelligence networks, and it is critical that we change that fact SOON.

So, what can America do to protect itself?

Aviv says the U.S. needs to stop relying on satellites and technology for intelligence and instead, follow Israel's, Ireland's and England's hands-on examples of human intelligence, from an infiltration perspective and to pay attention to, and trust 'aware' citizens to help.

However, the U. S. government continues to treat its citizens like babies. It thinks they 'can't handle the truth' and will panic if they understand the realities of terrorism. Aviv says this is a deadly mistake.

Aviv recently carried out a security test for Congress by placing an empty briefcase in five well-traveled spots in five major cities.

The results?

Not one person called 911 or sought a policeman to check it out. In Chicago, someone tried to steal the briefcase!

In comparison, Aviv says that citizens of Israel are so well 'trained' that an unattended bag or package would be reported in seconds by citizen(s) who know to publicly shout, 'Unattended Bag!' The area would be quickly and calmly cleared by the citizens themselves.

Unfortunately, America hasn't been yet 'hurt enough' by terrorism for their government to fully understand the need to educate its citizens or for the government to understand that it's their citizens who are, inevitably, the best first-line of defense against terrorism.

Aviv also was concerned about the high number of children in America who were in preschool and kindergarten after 9/11, who were 'lost' without parents being able to pick them up, and about schools that had no plan in place to best care for the students until parents could get there. In New York City , this was days, in some cases!)

He stresses the importance of having a plan agreed upon within your family, of how to respond in the event of a terrorist emergency. He urges parents to contact their children's schools and demand that the schools too, develop plans of actions, just as they do in Israel .

Does your family know what to do if you can't contact one another by phone? Where would you gather in an emergency? He says we should all have a plan that is easy enough for even our youngest children to remember and follow.

Aviv says that the U. S. government has a plan, that in the event of another terrorist attack, EVERYONE's ability to use cell phones, blackberries, etc., will immediately be cut-off, as this is the terrorists' preferred communication source and often the way their bombs are detonated.

How will you communicate with your loved ones in the event you cannot speak to each other?

If you believe what you have just read, you should send it to every concerned parent, guardian, grandparents, uncles, aunts, whomever. Besides sharing this via e-mail, he suggests you discuss it with whomever it makes sense to. Make contingency plans with those you care about. Better that you have plans in place, and never have to use them, than have no plans in place, and find you needed them.

He ends rather frighteningly with: If you choose not to share this, or not to have a plan in place, and nothing ever occurs -- good for you!

However, if something does happen, and even more, it directly affects you and your loved ones, then this will haunt you forever.

Strong stuff. More later.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Two intriguing product launches worth study

First, a confession: I'm getting schizophrenic.

This blog's content is split somewhat haphazardly. Partly ravings, moans, comments, jokes, reminiscences and general vituperation; partly stuff about business and marketing.

So I'm going to cut it in half. Those of you who - like me - are torn between rage and hilarity at what goes on in the world can revel in my ruminations on life in general. And those who - like me - are also desperate money-grubbers of the low and vulgar sort can read the other. Or, both.

When I get my head round it I will formalise this schism.

To change the subject, astounding sums of money have been made online in recent years, and nowhere more than in the Magic Grotto of The Product Launch. This is a sort of commercial striptease you're no doubt all familiar with.

I'm watching two with great interest right now, because they use segmentation. This is hardly a new idea - pretty basic targeting really. However, few on-line marketers have bothered with it. They were making too much money from what I call spray-gun marketing: spew out tons of stuff and enough will stick to make it work.

Today, though we have two fascinating launches going on. One, aimed at "Working Moms", will reveal how they can make tons of moolah without driving their family mad. Its heroine is MaryEllen Tribby who has worked for people like Forbes and Weiss Research with the most amazing results.

The other is aimed at those with a social conscience and a greed for gold (which pretty much covers all of us). This is from Shel Horowitz with Jay Levinson, the Guerilla Marketing whiz. Some of the proceeds will go to Muhammad Yunus’s marvellous Grameen project, which lends money to poor people who can't otherwise get credit. I recall his original borrowers were poor village women in Bangladesh who astonished all the sceptics by being amazingly diligent in repaying loans.

Shel Horowitz demonstrates something I have long believed and said: benevolence and self-interest march hand in hand.

As a footnote, Shel says Jay thought up the Marlboro Man. Not really. As any student of Watkins' 100 Best Advertisements book knows, Draper Daniels was the man behind that. I met Draper in 1961 when I worked at Leo Burnett. Dryly funny, and a great copywriter: he had two ads in the 100 best.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

The Slithey Toad's inspired new pre-election strategy at work

Gordon Brown called Alastair Darling into his office one day and said, 'Alastair, I have the answer to Cameron. We're going to win back Middle England'.

'Brilliant, PM! What's the plan?' said Darling.

'Well' said Brown 'we'll get ourselves two of those long Barbour coats, some proper wellies, a stick and a flat cap - and a dog, unless we can get Harriet Harman to come. Then we'll really look the part. We'll go to a nice old country pub, in Much Something or other and show we really enjoy the countryside.

'Right PM' said Darling. So a few days later, all kitted out and with the requisite hound - a Labrador - at heel, they set off. Eventually they arrive in a quiet little village and find a lovely country pub and go in and up to the bar.

'Good evening Landlord, two pints of your best ale, from the wood please' said Brown.

'Good evening, Prime Minister' said the landlord, 'two pints of best it is, coming up'

Brown & Darling stood leaning on the bar contemplating new taxes, nodding now and again to those who came in for a drink, whilst the dog lay quietly at their feet.

Suddenly the door from the adjacent bar opened and in came a grizzled old shepherd, complete with crook. He walked up to the Labrador, lifted its tail with his crook, looked underneath, shrugged his shoulders and walked back to the other bar.

A few moments later, in came a wizened farmer who followed the same procedure, to the bewilderment of Brown and Darling. People of all ages and gender followed suit over the next hour. Eventually, unable to stand it any longer, Darling called the landlord over. 'Tell me' said Darling, 'Why did all those people come in and look under the dog's tail like that? Is it an old country custom?

'Good Lord no,' said the landlord. 'Someone told them there was a Labrador in this bar with two arseholes.'

(Thanks, Noel).

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Weird shit going on here - don't confuse change with improvement - well, not yet, anyhow

You know those silly signs you sometimes see? A building is getting tarted up and they say something like, "Please forgive our appearance while we do ... whatever ... but soon you'll see our wonderful new etc., etc."

Then nothing happens for months before something not much better than the original appears ...

This is not to be confused with those inane corporate jerk-offs initiated by navel-gazers in the marketing department. You know the kind I mean. They pay consultants like Wolff Olins* £68 million to dream up a new name like Expensis complete with hideous logo plastered everywhere to confuse you and a new set of prices to piss you off ...

Which all goes to show you should never confuse change with improvement, and leads me to ask forgiveness if you suddenly see this blog festooned with videos of musicians playing in bars in Indonesia rather than me talking rubbish about the meaning of life ...

The thing is, I suddenly find I have all kinds of stuff floating around in Cyberloonydom so if I don't get it all to look vaguely similar even I will start to wonder who I am.

Accordingly, then, please forgive my appearance etc., etc. because everything is going to be wonderful ... and if you believe that, you'll believe anything, as the Duke of Wellington said when a man came up and asked him if he was Mr. Smith ...

* The criminals responsible for the astoundingly ugly 2012 Olymics logo

Friday, 8 January 2010

Smoke up your arse from those Internet Marketing Liars – Were YOU ever caught? Amen to Michel Fortin's comments - extra thought

I’m amazed at the cons that go on every day on the internet.

I spend a little time studying them, because you can learn so much. They all start with one fact I learned years ago. People believe what they want to believe.

So I’ve just spent half an hour listening to the utterly sincere, heartrendingly touching pitch from one of those guys who - like most of them - promises to liberate you from the slavery of working for a living. And, like most of them starts with the touching tale of how he was starving in a trailer park until ... Shazam! - he stumbled on this amazing system that will make YOU rich.

It was “freedom from work forever” – that sort of thing. It was brilliant. You saw how many $$$ you can make each month. You saw the wonderful life this guy leads, his adorable wife and kids, he stammered nervously - couldn't possibly be anything but a real guy like you and me - in fact he used every trick in the book to touch your greedy, foolish, credulous heart.

Then you saw how easy it is, and what an astounding deal you’re going to get. Not $5,000. Not $2,000. No, a mere $997 for this set of DVDs and a couple of booklets that cost, oh, at LEAST $5 to produce. In fact he told you everything you need to know - except the two things that are essential: what to sell and where to find your customers.

This reminded me of something excellent from Michel Fortin the other day. I've edited it slightly because old Michel does go on a bit for a guy who criticises long copy. He predicted:

'We’re going to see more and more marketing prin ciples, strategies and tactics applied to the Internet. More and more outside of Internet marketing, particularly outside the bizoppy, make-​​money arenas.

I’m talking about real businesses selling real stuff using real marketing strategies. And by “real” I don’t mean just physical products and hard goods. I include digital products.

I’m talking about businesses that sell non-​​Internet-​​marketing stuff. To me, too many products appear like ponzi schemes, where someone teaches how to make money online, and the way they make their money is by selling their make-​​money product.

No. I mean real stuff. Not snake-​​oil. Not “secrets.” Not “how to get a gazillion visitors or make a gazillion dollars overnight.” And certainly not circular, “Make money by becoming an affiliate of my make-​​money product!”

I sure hope he's right, because I'm going to spend the next year running round the world in the hope that there just might be enough people around who want to make money the old fashioned way.

EXTRA: after I drafted this at some insane hour this morning I heard about something Nick Usborne wrote explaining why this crap works so well. Some of the crooks I met in the '60's talked about putting people in "Promise Land". Quite so.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pepsi gets smart - and not before half time

As my Aussie pal Malcolm Auld first pointed out to me, the largest single discharge of effluent into the U.S. sewage system coincides with the most expensive TV commercials of the year - half time at the Superbowl.

This year Pepsi is saving millions advertising on the Super Bowl to invest in a better idea - a "Refresh Everything" campaign that asks people to suggest ideas to make the world a better place, promising $20 million to fund the winning causes.

That is what I call smart. Shame about their disgusting drink, though.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The unforeseen benefits of terrorism bring new meaning to the phrase "take-off"

More smoke up your arse from those Internet Marketing Liars – Were YOU ever caught? Amen to this from Michel Fortin

I’m amazed at the cons that go on every day on the internet.

I spend a little time studying them, because you can learn so much. They all start with one fact I learned years ago. People believe what they want to believe.

So I’ve just spent half an hour listening to the utterly sincere, heartrendingly touching pitch from one of those guys who - like most of them - promises to liberate you from the slavery of working for a living. And, like most of them starts with the touching tale of how he was starving in a trailer park until ... Shazam! - he stumbled on this amazing system that will make YOU rich.

It was “freedom from work forever” – that sort of thing. It was brilliant. You saw how many $$$ you can make each month. You saw the wonderful life this guy leads, his adorable wife and kids, he stammered nervously - couldn't possibly be anything but a real guy like you and me - in fact he used every trick in the book to touch your greedy, foolish, credulous heart.

Then you saw how easy it is, and what an astounding deal you’re going to get. Not $5,000. Not $2,000. No, a mere $997 for this set of DVDs and a couple of booklets that cost, oh, at LEAST $5 to produce. In fact he told you everything you need to know - except the two things that are essential: what to sell and where to find your customers.

This reminded me of something excellent from Michel Fortin the other day. I've edited it slightly because old Michel does go on a bit for a guy who criticises long copy. He predicted:

'We’re going to see more and more marketing prin­ciples, strategies and tactics applied to the Internet. More and more outside of Internet marketing, particularly outside the bizoppy, make-​​money arenas.

I’m talking about real businesses selling real stuff using real marketing strategies. And by “real” I don’t mean just physical products and hard goods. I include digital products.

I’m talking about businesses that sell non-​​Internet-​​marketing stuff. To me, too many products appear like ponzi schemes, where someone teaches how to make money online, and the way they make their money is by selling their make-​​money product.

No. I mean real stuff. Not snake-​​oil. Not “secrets.” Not “how to get a gazillion visitors or make a gazillion dollars overnight.” And certainly not circular, “Make money by becoming an affiliate of my make-​​money product!”

I sure hope he's right, because I'm going to spend the next year running round the world in the hope that there just might be enough people around who want to make money the old fashioned way.

We shall see.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Feet in the oven, head in the fridge?

The most amusing demolition of statistical tripe may be the joke that if my feet are in the oven and my head in the fridge my temperature may be on average normal.

I was reminded of this on seeing that web expert Gerry McGovern says the ideal length for a page on a regular web site (not a landing page) is 300 words. 50% of visitors will read all a 300-word page, but only 5% will scan 1,000 words.

"Ideal" meaning what?

The question is, which readers will read the longer copy; and which the shorter? And which among them will be most interested? No prizes for guessing - and heaven preserve us from experts.

Monday, 4 January 2010

How I got eaten by alligators - a true story, with a penis thrown in

Nearly twenty years ago I did a couple of talks at American Express in New York. In fact if I crane my neck I can see the video tapes of one of them from my desk in our sordid basement.

Anyhow my jokes went down well enough for them to ask me to create a training programme for their senior people. This I did with rave reviews - after the first day 100% of the delegates said they would recommend it to their colleagues. So I went on whizzing around the world for them until some politically correct twerp complained about my language, and the whole adventure ended.

My clients there were three wonderful ladies, and eventually I heard from one of them about five years ago. She was writing a book, and could she use my name for the main villain?

Thus it was that I appeared in The Ivy Chronicles, by Karen Quinn. In it I meet a nasty end, being eaten by alligators, which to be honest may not entirely explain why it became a best seller - the first of several she has written. Last time I heard it was being made into a film. Fame at last?

Karen is extremely funny as you'll see if you go to http://karenquinn.net/category/blog.

I don't know anyone else who would have an entry headed "Meet me under the Penis at the Time Warner Center."

What an admirable woman!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Crazy thinking on Twitter about Wikipedia

I am getting lots of invitations - as no doubt you are - from people to follow them on twitter.

Most twitterings are witterings, but since I hardly ever get invited to anything nowadays (sad little chap) I tend to say yes.

Thus it was that I ended up looking through some figures about Wikipedia's fundraiser, aimed at raising $7.5 million. They were immensely frustrating because figures are meaningless unless you can see the copy they refer to, so I started reading the comments at the bottom.

One read: "Am I the only one, or is there something somewhat gross about engineering messages to extract the greatest possible donations? Maybe this is standard practice in fundraising, maybe it’s the right thing to do ... but something about it doesn’t sit quite right."

The writer was only one of those who said more or less the same thing.

I was immediately reminded of a Catholic doctrine called invincible ignorance, then recalled that ludicrous U.S. party of the 1850's called the Know Nothings, which essentially objected to new immigrants.

What is implicit in the idea of NOT trying to get the most possible funds for a charity? If everyone thought that way charities that have saved millions of lives would all have closed down.

In fact, on the basis that we should never test what works and what doesn't, all human progress, starting with the discovery of fire or how to escape an angry sabre-toothed tiger would never have got started.

All human knowledge derives from finding a better way; and the only means of doing so derives from asking "what if?" - then putting something to the test.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year's Day Games in Kabul - from a marketer I REALLY admire

I somehow doubt whether all that many able copywriters are currently serving as soldiers of fortune in Afghanistan, but Greg Waggett is.

These photos were taken by him in Kabul on New Year's Day. They show the players and spectators of a game called Bushkazi which has been been played in Afghanistan for hundreds of years. It's bit like Polo, except the ball is a headless dead goat or calf, and the players (and spectators) are not at all like the ones Prince Charles used to play with.

I have met some interesting characters in my time, but none to compare with - or whom I admire more - than Greg, who was introduced to me by David Ogilvy (who else?) and who ran an agency in Cambridge - graveyard of many a hope - where his talents were entirely wasted on the local business population.

Here are some of Greg's notes on this quaint local sport. "Forget health and safety for the horses - and riders. It makes polo look like something for Goldilocks and it makes horses as Ascot knows them look like Bambi. These are war-horses. In short, a savage and thrilling spectacle. Even the spectators get a whipping if the 'ref' thinks you are getting too close. And if you are in the way of the horses when they unexpectedly change direction, then tough!"

What I particularly love is Greg's first shot of what I presume is the Official Photographer standing taking shots with his phone at what seems to me a range entirely too close to the action for comfort.

Next time you're agonizing over your adwords, spare a thought for Greg. And next time you're wondering whether we should have got involved in Afghanistan, remember what the locals do for fun - then compare it with golf, and take note of what the spectators carry.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A new year joke. Don't all laugh at once

I found this in a magnificent book of old Punch Cartoons given to me by my ex-wife and friend Pam.

The book has convinced me that few things wear as badly as yesterday's jokes. But it does contain an enormous amount of fascinating social history - and some subjects seem funny to all generations.

There's a remarkable number of jokes about downtrodden husbands and other traditional subjects. This one from John Leech - which did make me smile slightly - dates back over 150 years. Since my son Nick has just got engaged to a beautiful girl from Dundee, and the new year is always associated with Scotland, it seems pretty timely, and has nothing to do with the fact that I have a Scots client who owes me a few thousand quid.

Having got that off my chest, a happy New Year to all of you.