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Friday, 26 November 2010

“Ignorance is bliss” ... how can firms have learned NOTHING in the last 150 years? Plus the tantalising moment that can transform your profits

The other day I got an email from a firm called AdvertTracker, whose skills either do not include literacy or who do not bother to check their emails for grammatical errors before they send them out.

The copy read:

"This is one product that’s (sic) works equally well for Large Corporations and small SME’s – Increasing the efficiency of your advertising spend –Know for sure what advertising pays AND WHAT DOES NOT!"

Below was a testimonial from Chris Hayden, Chairman, Ford Retail:

“AdvertTracker provides our business with the facts about media cost per call, and call handling performance – as a result both areas have dramatically improved to maximise return from our marketing spend and our sales from phone enquiries”.

I looked to see what AdvertTracker does and was amused and astonished when I found out.

They measure firms’ advertising effectiveness in a way so ludicrously obvious and easy that it is laughable.

Guess what? They count and measure. What they count is phone calls – how many each ad gets, how many are answered, how many ignored and so on.

Then they stick a fancy little page online with a few colourful graphics that tells you what’s happening day to day. It’s like Google Analytics for simpletons.

It is staggering to reflect that direct marketers have been counting and measuring since the days of Queen Victoria, but some fools haven't got round to it.

You don't need to pay anyone else to do this. But AdvertTracker will do well - and deserves to. Not because their prospects are as illiterate as they are but because their service does what anyone spending advertising money should and can do very easily, but so many are either too idle or too thick to.

A chief reason is that their advertising agencies blind them with bullshit about branding and awareness so as to avoid their efforts being properly measured.

I hope AdvertTracker charges like the Light Brigade, because people too stupid to be doing this already deserve to be punished.

There is a massive flaw, of course. Those who measure properly know that the ads which produce the most enquiries don’t always get the most sales. I learned this the hard way in the mid '70's - by going broke.

And even if you get that right, those that get the most sales don’t always get the best roi in terms of long term customer value. But let’s face it, these people need to learn to walk before they can run.

Isn't it amazing, by the way, that one of the world's biggest car makers has only just caught onto this idea? Especially as Henry Ford is one of those alleged to have said "I know half my advertising is wasted - I just don't know which half."

If you have read this far, you may be wondering about the tantalising moment I mentioned.

Well, it is to do with getting more leads off your website. One of your big frustrations must be that you get visitors - but they don't turn into leads.

In Greek mythology Tantalus was forced to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. When he reached for fruit, the branches raised themselves beyond his grasp. When he bent to drink, the water receded before he could get any.

There is a tantalising moment when people are browsing on your site. It is that moment when they are thinking of enquiring - but don't.

Some technology developed by a firm I know prompts visitors to act. For one firm it increased product trials by 400%.

The first time I saw this demonstrated I nearly fell off my chair. Then I suggested it to one of my clients who tested it for 6 months and has gone ahead.

Does this interest you? If so would you like to see how it works?

I don't mean a hard sell face-to face sales pitch. It is a video we did at EADIM last year.

I must warn you, though, that you need 50,000 visitors and an investment of £1,000 a month to make it worth it.

If you'd like to see the video, drop me a line, Drayton@Draytonbird.com saying "video" and I'll bang it up sometime next week.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

“A fool and his money are soon parted” - with an invitation for you

The internet is a bit like the Wild West. Very little law and order - and too many killings by unscrupulous rogues.

I have noted three infallible signs of a likely rip-off. 1. The phrase: “My good friend”. 2. A ludicrous promise only a half-wit would believe. 3. Illiteracy. These are usually accompanied by the word free – which invariably leads pretty soon to a request for money

A good example comes from Mr. Melvin Gonzalez who wisely distances himself from the long reach of the law enforcement agencies by having an address in Ecuador, home of brilliant business breakthroughs.

He says “My good friend Paul Lynch as (sic) just created an AMAZING FREE Training that shows you how he can turn just $5 into HUNDREDS within 60 minutes!”

This leads to a squeeze page with a video explaining how Mr. Lynch wants to “give back to ordinary people” ... and a promise of 1,000s of testimonials (there are 32 in fact).

What is brilliant is that he sounds really genuine. And what is genuinely AMAZING is how Melvin and Paul came to be such good friends, as Paul – from his accent - lives somewhere in the North of England, whereas good ole Mel is safely ensconced just over the border from Peru.

I googled Paul Lynch and found a site called http://www.just2help.co.uk full of misspelt stuff. The list of events they publicise is probably a good guide to where not to go in the next few months as it features the kind of people regularly flamed on The Salty Droid (a site that exposes internet scamsters).

This dodgy stuff works because of three things: 1. People believe what they want to believe 2. The world is full of ill-educated, desperate folk 3. The techniques these people use are as a rule extremely good; you can learn a lot from them.

If you would like to know more about this subject, go to http://www.makepeacetotalpackage.com/drayton-bird/a-sad-story-that-cost-me-money-and-is-far-too-common.html#more-4757

Oh, and as we’re on the subject of stuff for free, here’s something that may interest you - if you’re not sick to death of hearing about it.

Once a month I run a webinar for my EADIM students. I shall be doing a short one tomorrow on creative for inserts.

The usual webinars are not free, but there’s no charge tomorrow as it’s a bit of a test to make sure everyone knows how to use the technology.

I'm going to record it and replay next Monday at 2pm. Would you like to see it? If you're interested, click here. And don't worry. I won't sell you anything. I find people buy if they want to, and don't if they don't.

Monday, 22 November 2010

"When a man speaks of his honour and a woman of her virtue, avoid the former and cultivate the latter." - John Wilkes

Do you like that? I'm not sure it was John Wilkes who said it, but it certainly was someone in the late 18th century.

Anyhow, have you noticed the remarkable discrepancy between what people say they do and how they behave - especially in business.

Dan who did this cartoon makes the point pretty well. I met him in Florida when I was getting my award for not having been stuck in gaol yet.

He tells me:

I Googled the phrase "We value your business" and got 191,000,000 hits from the search. Even for Google, this is a large number.

He comments:

When you actually do get a human on the line, it's like the company has serious Attention Deficit and Disorder issues, which is why the ginormous phone company pictured in the cartoon is called ad&d - note that any resemblance to a real phone company is purely coincidental.

And it's not just the phone companies. Take the credit card companies. When I call them, they ask me to enter my sixteen digit account number. Then, minutes later, when a human picks up the phone, what is the first thing they ask me? They say, "please tell me your sixteen digit account number."

What happened to the one I just keyed into the phone? Apparently the phone system ate it.

Not long ago I bought a house and called a major phone company (let's just say their name rhymed with ad&d) to get phone service. I wasn't asking for anything fancy, just a plain old land line

They told me that they really preferred not to actually set up the service themselves (although they would for about $128) and that I should call their outsourced company called White Picket Fence or something like that if I wanted to actually get a phone installed at a lesser rate.

Amazing! This was the phone company telling me they preferred to not set up phone service
- and they wanted to fob me off to some other company with a meaningless name.

I wasn't doing a home improvement project, I just wanted a plain old land line attached to a plain old black desk phone (with the curly cord that gets all snagged and bunched up). And, they wouldn't even transfer me. They gave me the phone number to dial myself.

Awesome customer service, don't you think. Anyhow, I did actually call White Picket Fence and the whole transaction went downhill from there - but I'll spare you at this point.

If you like the cartoon, Dan's site is www.TheWoodChips.com.

Another website called http://funny-about-money.com, ran a piece headed "Reaching a person at a company that doesn’t want to be reached". This calls for immense reserves of persistence and effort, but if you want to punish a few of these fat idle complacent corporate bastards, have a go, and God bless you.

Don't you think technology is used to excuse or even prevent people from doing a good job far too often?

The Chelsea Library of which I am an avid patron, went high-tech/big cock-up about a year ago.

For reasons only a lunatic would comprehend they put in a machine that's supposed to open the doors when you come in instead of you pushing them open in the normal way. At a time when we're supposed to be saving energy what sense does this make? Have people's hands dropped off? Anyhow, it has not worked for a single day as far as I can make out.

At the same time they installed computers for checking books in and out. They have NEVER worked successfully for more than a few days. So staff who I assume the computers were brought in to replace - why? - have to do what the computers don't besides apologising for what's wrong with the wretched machines.

Incidentally, whatever mysterious machine controls this blog keeps changing the type face at random. Never confuse change with progress.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

An African jolly, lunacy recollected in tranquillity - and the rise of kleptocracy

On the left is Brian Mdluli's beautiful 4 year-old daughter Katlego who was with us for most of the day yesterday.

We went on what turned out to be a 12-hour jaunt in a minibus with Brian, his wife, and 6 friends. Or was it seven? Hard to tell because we travelled in the closest thing to a mobile bar I've ever seen.

I realised I'm getting too old for this - and for no particular reason my mind flew back 29 years or so to a day we took a coach-full of our agency staff down to a very smart country hotel in Sussex.

On the way there we had a drink or two and some nibbles. Some thoughtful soul had cooked a cake with some hash (unknown to us) in it, so what with the odd glass of champagne we were all feeling exceptionally spirited after lunch.

At one point in the afternoon the hotel's owner asked one of our art directors who was browsing in the library and who seemed relatively respectable, "Are you in charge of this rabble?"

"No, they're in the swimming pool."

It was true.

My partner Glenmore and I had jumped in with all our clothes on.

On reflection our little trip yesterday was by comparison downright tranquil.


When we saw the Apartheid Museum on Friday I was reminded what an important role the press -especially a magazine called Drum -played in exposing the dreadful facts in those dark years.

Today they are doing much the same thing. The papers are full of detailed reports of the astonishing corruption and greed of politicians here. One junior politician squandered astounding sums - millions - over a four year period staying at a 5 star hotel because he didn't like his free official residence.

What a lot of good that money - and he is just one example - could do for the millions of desperately poor people here.

He has just been promoted.

A sad betrayal.

By the way: here's the best argument I've ever heard of in favour of marriage. Polygamy is legal here, and I'm told the President gets a few million rand when he takes a new wife.

I have no idea if this is true, but with me it's usually worked out the other way round.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Any time you start to feel sorry for yourself, think about Thomas

Since this is a blog, supposed to be all about deeply fascinating and revealing things that happen to wonderful, senile me, let me tell you that the weather in Johannesburg has been cold, miserable and wet, but is looking better today.

Yesterday we went with Brian Mdluli to visit the place where he was born: Soweto, in Johannesburg. Naturally he took us to see the only street in the world that has had two Nobel Prize winners living on it: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. There is an African restaurant there, so we had lunch, too.

Brian is an exceptionally funny, dynamic and boundlessly hospitable man who runs the South African Direct Marketing Association. He is one of four brothers, all of whom seem to have done pretty well. We met his equally entertaining father, who joined us for lunch.

In retirement he divides his time between playing golf and running various building projects - one of which is next to the restaurant. The building, he told me. interferes with the former.

The worrying thing is, I am sure I was taken to see Soweto last time I was here, but for the life of me I can't remember a damn thing about it. Maybe we just drove through. As a matter of fact I can't even recall exactly when I was here last. I think it was nineteen or twenty years ago. Nelson Mandela was free, and I was taken on a helicopter trip by a pilot who had flown the great man around South Africa.

Today we went to see the Apartheid Museum, which brought back many memories, as I was very obsessed with its miseries when younger.

The museum is extraordinary - the best I have ever seen of that kind. Besides making one deeply ashamed of the disgusting way the whites behaved, the thing that impresses most is what a remarkable man Mandela is. It is astonishing that the country didn't collapse into bloody mayhem in the way Zimbabwe has. His moral authority is the reason.

I was worried last time I came about how the country would do, and I still am.

The gap between rich and poor is no less, and perhaps greater. Every house here of any size or status has electrified fencing round it and lots of signs about security, armed response and so on.

Last night we went to have meal in a restaurant. We were driven there by a taxi driver called Thomas. We asked him which restaurants were good.

"I do not know. I have never been in a restaurant," was his reply.

Way to go here.

On the other hand, from what I have seen it's even worse in many Latin American countries.

It's a rather terrifying indictment of the free world that when I was in Cuba three years ago, despite all the crumbling buildings and the state control things seemed far better for poor people than in, say, Peru or Brazil.

We hope to visit Belo Horizonte in Brazil during the next few months, so I'll give you my impressions then

By the way, if the Demon of blogs has (once again) changed the typeface on this, don't blame me.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Want to succeed? Here's something from my files ...

I've written God knows how many articles. Here's something that ran in a magazine 12 years ago.

It was called "How to succeed in marketing - though not without trying very hard."

You may like it. And then again you may not. Here goes:

You can’t imagine how embarrassing it is to be introduced to people as a “Guru”. I always feel an uneasy sensation that I ought to sit on a bed of nails. However, being known for something rather than nothing is a good idea.

As David Ogilvy noted in his first book, “Confessions of an Advertising Man”, if you wish to succeed in advertising become an expert at something. But it’s no use being an expert unless everyone knows it.

So you must do two things. First, learn so much about your chosen area of expertise that you know at least as much and probably more than anyone you are likely to meet. Second, fool as many people as possible into thinking you are brilliant.

This is achieved quite simply, though - like most good things in life - not without great effort. You must be tireless in acquiring relevant knowledge wherever and whenever you can find it - preferably where other people might never think of looking. And you must communicate that knowledge wherever and whenever worthwhile contacts might see, hear or read you.

So now let me talk about myself - always such fun, don’t you agree? Here’s what I do to manage a modest degree of success in marketing.

First of all, you can’t succeed in our sort of business without what someone called a “well-furnished mind”.

I read every issue of Marketing, Marketing Week, Precision Marketing, The Week, The Spectator, The Oldie, Advertising Age, Direct Response. Who’s Mailing What, Subscription Strategy – and anything I find interesting in newspapers or magazines, particularly The Daily Telegraph, The Evening Standard, The Economist and Fortune.

I also devour anything that catches my attention on trains, planes and my dentist’s waiting room, plus Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair and other things my wife buys.

I watch a lot of TV – ranging from the Discovery Channel to MTV or VHS, not forgetting the glorious Jerry Springer show, plus the occasional film and quite a few videos. And I read a lot of books.

When younger, I went to every conference or event where I thought I might learn something or meet someone interesting. Happily nowadays instead of having to listen to other people shooting their mouths off, I get paid to do it myself. I can only do so because I put in all those years and those long afternoons listening to mostly very bad speakers, hoping from time to time they might say something useful.

So, that, briefly, is how you gain knowledge – though I should add something about unexpected places. One problem with people in marketing, as with most industries, is that they are so busy making a living they never have time to think of anything else.

Do not restrict your acquisition of knowledge to the obvious – e.g., books about business and marketing. Just in the last few weeks I have found very interesting little snippets or observations in odd places. One was a book written 50 years ago by an insurance salesman, one was in the third chapter of War & Peace by Tolstoy, one was an essay by Mark Twain on public speaking.

The ability to learn from these sources enables you to astonish people by your culture and erudition, approach your subject from a slightly different or unexpected perspective, and educate yourself – a process which largely starts after you leave school, not before.

The second part of the recipe I propose is to communicate as much as possible. Again, since 1978 I have written four to six articles every month in a number of publications and countries, but mostly here in the UK.

The most difficult challenge - but in some ways one of the most rewarding things you can do - is to learn to speak in public. You probably know that next to poisonous snakes, this is the thing that terrifies most people more than anything else.

It certainly did me. I was too terrified to speak in front of an audience until I was 41. And when I did I had to be fortified by two large brandies and a couple of Valium. It took me a year to begin to master the art but it was one of the most valuable things I have ever learned. (When I say ‘master’ what I mean is, not to be so terrified that I actually run off the stage).

Again, if you are going to pursue this course you must give it your all. For the last 20 years I have been prepared to talk just about anywhere, to anybody, on any subject. If I didn’t know enough, I had to learn. And it was all in the hope that somebody there might be impressed enough to give me some business or some praise sooner or later, directly or indirectly.

So there you are: one man’s recipe for success. It may not all work for you but I would be amazed if some of it didn’t.

There is one other element which is almost impossible to develop and I didn't mention in the original article.

Try to avoid dealing with shits, cheats, bullies and liars. They are almost impossible to spot and there are quite a few about. One has just cost me an immensely valuable member of staff.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Put on a happy face - or lose your brownie points

Yesterday I had a bit of a nightmare journey from Newark to Heathrow.

The reason was that whoever sold me my usual cheapo flight told me I was on United when I wasn't.

When I arrived at the airport the girl at the United counter said, "No, you're on Continental" and sent me to their counter.

The reason for this, by the way, is that United and Continental are merging. But anyhow, off I scurried to the Continental counter where an unsmiling lady told me I was in the wrong place . "This is the domestic counter."

I am exceptionally good at panicking on these occasions and said, "Will I miss my flight?"

Unsmiling again, she didn't answer my question, just saying, "I can check you in here, then you must go to terminal C on the Air Train."

"Thank you," I replied. "I'm really grateful."

She simply checked me in, once again without a hint of a smile, after which I thanked her once more and scurried off.

Essentially what she did was make me feel like a piece of garbage when I could have been feeling relieved and good.

What a shame - and how stupid. I really appreciated what she did - but she treated me like shit.

I wager that all the people in the head offices of these airlines talk a ton of drivel about being customer focused. There is even a video from the CEO which talks about the merger in the usual boastful way. But I have even greater certainty that none of them try being customers.

Talk is cheap. Training is a better idea.

Airlines all use pretty much the same planes, take the same time to get from A to B, show the same films, feed you as cheaply as they can and so on -- the chief difference is in how welcome they make you feel

On Virgin and BA they smile a lot more than on any of the U.S. airlines. They also have more seats full across the Atlantic. This is not a coincidence. It is a basic business equation.

Most mergers do not create value. They must be managed with great care.

United and Continental have a very brief period in which to get things right. Their staff - who have been having a bad time for years and probably retain little if any faith in management - are saying to themselves, "What are these bozos in head office going to do to get things right?"

Well, if they can't even tell people to smile at customers when they're actually doing a really good job, what hope do they have?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Marketers are interested in marketing trends. Customers aren't

For years I have followed with mingled hilarity and irritation the way marketers, unable for the most part to think for themselves, latch on to each new trend in the hope that it will do their work for them.

For quite a few years many thought something called database marketing would do the trick. It helps, but it won't do the job on its own, largely because most have no idea how to link database with creative.

Then someone came up with CRM.

Oracle used to run ads saying "Have a CRM system in 6 weeks." People pissed away millions because computers can't think for you - and customer relationships (surprise, surprise) revolve around customers. No computer programme will compensate for the experience of talking to someone in Bangalore whose English is not the same as yours and who is working absurd hours to meet insane targets set by his rapacious bosses.

Now we have social media.

New research from World Travel Market says "Social media has only a small and waning influence over travelers’ choice of holidays."

Only one in three UK holidaymakers use sites like TripAdvisor in their research, although more than a third of those who do change their travel plans as a result.

Of the 36% who did use social media sites, two out of three used TripAdvisor, around one-third referred to Facebook and one in five looked at YouTube. Only 17% looked at Twitter.

Travel and tourism chat rooms and forums attracted 28% of the social media users, compared with blogs which accounted for 9%.

WTM concluded that holidaymakers' interest in social media is not as great as the travel and tourism industry thinks. More than 60% of 1,257 senior travel industry professionals questioned said it had influenced their business over the past year.

More than four out of 10 believe social media represents an opportunity for their businesses over the next five years.

WTM chairman Fiona Jeffery said less than a quarter of holidaymakers expect to use social media to book next year's holiday, so its small influence is waning.

All good researchers know that what people expect to do has little to do with what they actually do, so the waning bit may be wrong. But as Ms. Jeffrey says, "The travel and tourism industry plan to invest heavily in social media over the next five years believing it's one of the major opportunities for the industry. This investment could be a waste of time and money as holidaymakers do not appear to rely on social media as much as the industry believes."

The fact is, most normal people have no idea what social media are, and couldn't care less.

But I predict they are here to stay for one simple reason: more and more people have computers. And since they have them, they will use them - until they switch to elaborate phones which do the same job

Monday, 8 November 2010

"Spot ate Cameron's homework" and other useful stuff

I'm down here in Delray Beach, Florida - and don't feel envious. The weather is crap - though somewhat better than the first time I came this way.

That was quite a few years ago, and I had the terrifying experience of being bang slap in the eye of Hurricane Andrew. This time it's just grey and miserable.

I'm here to do a speech at the Early-to-Rise event about one secret of success which almost every marketer ignores - and to get an award for spending so many years in this business without going to jail.

So what is this jamboree like? Having been to God knows how many, I can tell you I am no fan of these affairs. But I am impressed.

The whole thing was kicked off yesterday with a two hour talk from Michael Masterson which was really full of commonsense, simple advice. Now I know where I'm going wrong.

At drinks last night I spent much of my time with MaryEllen Tribby, a very clever lady indeed who was CEO of Early-to-Rise until she started http://workingmomsonly.com just a few months ago.

I thought it was such a bright idea I wrote to her when she started saying so - and being efficient, she remembered me doing so.

Today she did a talk with Michael Masterson called Perception versus Reality - an excellent guide to starting a business, which started with wonderful demolition of all the get rich quick rubbish I get every day.

I made a lot of notes - but saw many people took none. Fools.

She listed five things you need to get started - and gave ten tips, which I'm listing below. They are all simple, and widely ignored

  • Know something personal about someone you want to deal with
  • Be sincere
  • Respond to people quickly
  • Be on time
  • Don't use your family as an excuse if you're late (she's obviously keen on timeliness!) (Great line: "Spot ate Cameron's homework"
  • Be positive
  • Do your research about someone's business if you want to deal with them
  • Don't gossip
  • Give more than you get
  • Just say no if you can't do something
I guess I get about 3 out of 10

She also talked about humble-isation. Good advice to people who start to feel arrogant because they've had a little success

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Stalker responds

The night before last I went to watch my youngest sing at a do for a local beauty queen (not the lady on the left) in East Orange, New Jersey.

To me it was significant - and rather sad, to be honest - that I was the only white face at that gathering. In my view the U.S. is definitely more divided on racial lines than the U.K.

Anyhow, now I'm down in Delray Beach, Florida to entertain with voice and gesture at the annual Early-to-Rise event. I think they're also going to give me an award for staying out of jail for so long.

Meanwhile, back to the matter of photography. The other day Rupert Suren was very dismissive of Joanne Stowell's work.

"What professional," he asked, "cuts off the head of a subject?"

Over the years Rupert has given me quite a few laughs, as he has an fair old fund of knowledge and quite a way with words.

But to be honest Rupert I really don't see much future for you as an expert on photography after that rather acerbic (that's polite for bloody rude) statement.

You really are talking through your lens-cap. As Joanne said, using as an example one of the most famous photographs by one of the very best photographers of the last few decades:

"Someone should tell Helmut Newton he was not professional. Cutting Catherine Deneuve's head and feet off.......... I ask you!"

The fact is, there are scores of examples of such slices off life, as I'm sure Joanne will be delighted to demonstrate.

Big is not better. It is usually just bloody stupid

I worked on Phillips advertising twice. Once I wrote a TV ad that shifted a boatload of car radios they hadn't been able to sell. I wish I had a copy - but I left all examples of my advertising genius on the top deck of a bus 35 years ago.

One thing I noticed about Phillips - as with most large firms - was that they didn't have a clue about advertising. They still don't. Another was that they kept in getting bigger and bigger - but their profits didn't.

I just saw an ad in The Wall Street Journal with the wanky heading "Because there's no place like home, especially when you're sick".

See if you can tease a benefit or reason to keep reading out of that little lot.

The baseline was written by a Jane Austen fan, I guess. It read "PHILLIPS sense and sensibility".

The copy ran:

"Hospitals are excellent establishments. It's just than no-one likes going into them unless they have to. So why not have the hospital come to the patient instead? Getting healthcare at home is a simple solution that makes patients less anxious and hospitals less crowded. Find out more at www.phillips.com/because".

And that's all, folks. All the benefits carefully buried in the copy and no justification for them. Idiots.

There are idiots amok at Verizon, too. But they are not human.

When I got here I wanted to use my US cellphone. It had $6:78 credit. But it didn't work. "You have insufficient credit" said the Dalek machine. No human being to talk to. Just press this and press that.

It turns out the thieving bastards steal all your money if you don't add some at regular intervals. May they rot in hell.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

How thrilling! I have my very own Stalker. But it’s weird. She looks about 3,000 times better than me

Did I ever tell you I met David Bailey? I did, I really did.

It was long before he hit the headlines, in a pub in St. Christopher’s Place, when I had my first job as a group head in London and he was just starting out.

It was 1962, I think, and London was about to start swinging. We were both unknown - and I still am outside the murky world of marketing.

But he, of course, became one of the world’s greatest smudgers. (That was the word for lens artists when he and I were young).

As you probably know, making money out of photography is nigh-on impossible now. Cameras can do just about everything except give you a blow-job, so nobody wants to pay for professional work.

But really capturing people and their lives isn’t done through technology. That takes talent. Which brings me to my Stalker.

I met Joanne Stowell when she was taking the pictures at a friend’s wedding at the Marbella Club. She has a different approach. She’s a stalker. She watches people like a hawk and follows them around to get those unguarded moments, those revealing shots.

You can see some of the shots she took at EADIM here. To be honest, I don't like the one of me - but she does. Maybe it looks better in the dark.

Anyhow unless you’re blind or devoid of taste, you can see she has real talent. You’ll find her at www.yourpaparazzi.co.uk if you want really special pictures. As you will see from the picture of the Scandinavian gentlema
n on her first page, she knows quite a few interesting people - which makes it quite surprising that she's so reasonable

And as you can't see, besides having more talent she looks a lot better than me. But then nowadays most people do.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The question is, which one is the comedian?

There were two interesting things about Marty Stein, my art director in the mid-60's - or at any rate two I'm talking about here.

First, he was the fastest guy ever at churning out grease-pencil roughs.

This was useful because in those days it helped if you could draw. If you could draw fast, even better. Marty could churn out layouts faster than I could have ideas. Nether of us was much good, to be honest, but there you are.

Second, back home in New York he once had Andy Warhol working for him, drawing shoes.

You will recall that Warhol said that one day everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. This is pretty much how long most of the successful contestants on the X factor last. I should tell you, by the way, that I don't really like the X factor and American Idol and all those shows, but they do exercise a grisly fascination, rather like those quiz shows where people answer trick questions like, "What is your first name?"

Take, for instance the man above grinning like a hyena - a Brazilian called Wagner. I caught sight (and unfortunately sound) of him by accident the other night, and was struck by his resemblance to the more serious looking man below, an excellent comedian called Bill Bailey.

Good luck to Wagner, but he does to music what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans. I listened to him in disbelief. Any similarity between the noise he was making and the tune it was based on was extremely distant.

The question is, why did none of the judges mention this? Are they all deaf?

To be fair to him though, he was bloody hilarious. Mr. Bailey must look to his laurels.

Super-strength ad horseshit in an email from an Aussie recruitment business

I don't know why it is, but ever since I first went to Australia 39 years ago I've noticed two things: you see some of the best advertising in the world there - and some of the most appallingly pretentious bilge.

Falling calamitously into the latter category is an email I just received from a recruitment business which was until now (I think) called The Recruitment Business or it could have been Creative People. I'm not sure because their devastatingly modern html email design had both phrases at the top.

It announced with sickening pretentiousness Our bold new rebrand (in sans serif lowercase, naturally.)

I narrowly failed to piss myself with excitement before forging on to read "It was something we needed to do" - a bit like having a wank, I guess - "we've got that little bigger than when we set out in 1997. And as a global company we needed a name and brand that reflects what we do best"

What they do best, quite clearly, is mince happily right up their own arseholes and talk total crap.

But I digress. You're just dying to know their new name aren't you? I won't keep you in suspense a second longer. It is "become better connected" .

Well, you can't fault that, can you? It's suitably global and gets 10 marks out of ten for cliché with a gold star for concealing the nature of the business.

Recruitment people are the estate agents of business - but doing a far less necessary job.

They make far too much for doing far too little. They sit neatly between employees too idle, stupid and illiterate to find out where they want to work and write for jobs and employers too idle, stupid and illiterate to advertise intelligently for employees.

They are also, as you can see, as crammed full of shit as a boat loaded with would-be immigrants from Indonesia to the the land of Oz.

It is not always easy to find the right house, but there are precious few competent employees, very few firms worth working for, and all it takes is a little effort on either side to sort something acceptable out.

In fact among very best pieces of work I ever did were a letter I wrote to David Ogilvy to get a job and an ad I wrote to get new employees. Both worked exceptionally well, as did an email I wrote yesterday offering easy terms and a big discount off the price of next year's EADIM.

If early results are any guide we'll be sold out 6 months in advance. Maybe we should run it in Sydney:-) I haven't been there for over two years.