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Friday, 30 September 2011

The funniest direct marketing speech ever - and James Hammond

I cannot say the words direct marketing often reduce me to paroxysms of mirth.

However, a speech I saw a few years ago did.

It was at a direct marketing awards event which I attended because someone else was paying.

To be honest the idea of giving awards for direct marketing always seemed to me a bit ludicrous - rather like giving prizes for sewage disposal. It's just a job, and somebody has to do it.

But I was glad I went to this event, because the speaker expressed my views, but in wonderfully witty fashion.

He stood up and said, more or less "We all, no matter how humble, have ambitions in life ... things we aspire to ... things we dream may happen to us one day if we are very lucky... And my dream has always been to present the annual DMA awards for direct marketing."

After that he really took the piss.

Stephen Fry was, of course, the man who made me laugh - and usually does whenever I see him. Anyhow, on Sunday night on BBC2 at 90 p .m. Mr. Fry is talking (of all things) about call centres -

And for a fleeting instant my colleague James Hammond, he who wrote Branding Your Business - one of the very few sensible books about the subject - will be putting in his two cents' worth, I think on the subject of accents. He's the one on the left in the picture, and you can meet him if you come to EADIM.

I have mentioned that you ought to be there, haven't I? If you are still playing with the idea, just email me, Drayton@Draytonbird.com and I will lay before your wondering eyes an assortment of suggestions.

Which reminds me, a man from India rang me up yesterday to tell me there was something wrong with my computer, which there isn't.

I'm afraid I wasn't very polite, though I do feel sorry for these poor people who are usually underpaid, given impossible targets and badly briefed with lousy scripts - besides being barely comprehensible.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Something buckshee after the usual touches of the ludicrous – including Beauty and the Beasts

I had a couple of good laughs the other day – one about a love triangle, the other about a predictable display of political hypocrisy from the younger Milipede.

The first was a story about the wife of an MP who stole his mistress’s kitten, which has not been seen since.

Life is so often unfair don’t you think? A malicious soul might think the main female human characters, both carrying a fair amount of surplus avoirdupois could apply with every hope of success to play the Ugly Sisters and the MP looks well, weird. The kitten, on the other hand, is (or was) rather beautiful. In fact she was called Beauty, poor thing.

Young Ed was, I see, ladling out the schmaltz at his party conference – which if they keep him on may be a pre-emptive wake - about his dear old mum and dad, and calling for a less predatory society.

Perhaps he could set an example by donating the extra dosh he and his brother managed to finagle by avoiding tax when they inherited their dear old mum and dad’s house.

I apologise if all that sounded a bit waspish, but I had a bit of a thick head when I drafted it, kindly donated by a client who bought the extra, fatal pint when I wasn’t looking.

He also told me I wasn’t promoting my EADIM event with enough zeal, which reminded me that I haven’t said much about it at all here, and even worse, haven’t even mentioned something some people may really appreciate.

It is called buckshee advice. If you don’t know what buckshee means, watch this.

If you’ve got any question about your business that is driving you crazy, this is a chance to get some well-informed answers.

The question is, what is my buckshee ­advice worth?

One answer is that I normally charge £1,000 an hour for one to one advice.

But the truth is, only you can give the right answer. And to arrive at it you have to ask yourself the right question.

That question is this: how much would it be worth to you to solve that problem that’s driving you crazy?

· You could be wondering why your website doesn’t make you any money.

· You could be wondering why nobody replies to your emails

· You could be wondering that SEO you coughed up so much money for has made little or no difference

· You could be wondering why your direct mail flops.

· You could be doing well, but wonder how you could do better (the best people always do)

· You could even wonder whether you’re in the right business

Over the years my partners and I have helped just about every kind of business you can think of, and maybe some you couldn’t.

In the audience on that day will be a man who has built the second largest business of its kind in one of the largest countries in Europe – in a viciously competitive market.

He says he owes it all to an old video of me making a speech at Brighton University about how to market properly.

Maybe I can help you too.

So think how much the right advice could be worth to you – then come and get it “buckshee”.

I would be amazed if it’s not worth more than the cost of your attendance at EADIM.

Just to remind you what buckshee is all about, here’s that video again.

And if you just want to come for that day, well we can cut a deal for you if you hurry (seats are limited as The Cavendish is a boutique hotel).

Alternatively, you can always carry on as usual and hope the current economic nightmare doesn’t wipe you out.

If you’d like to attend, just email Chloe@Draytonbird.com one word: Buckshee.

P.S. And if you don't know what schmaltz is, it is yiddish slang for phoney sentiment.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Transcendental bollocks: the new hocus-pocus … or the rise of hyper-garbage

Don’t you think it strange that someone you never heard of with not the slightest talent - just a desire to make a fool of themselves in a show you’d never want to watch - is called a “star”.

Yet such was the case when yesterday I was ploughing my way through my copy of the free paper, Metro. It referred to a participant in the exceptionally nasty TV show Big Brother.

I call this linguistic inflation and it’s everywhere.

It’s what they used to call hocus-pocus: words used to make things seem more important (and therefore valuable) than they are.

Take the new army of the overpaid. Senior bean-counters have become Chief Financial Officers. Managing directors are now Chief Executive Officers. The closest parallel I can think of is the uniformed commissionaires who used to stand outside cinemas – such a joke they were the staple of cartoonists.

Or take this new thing you’re aware of – even an old fogey like me is aware of – where you point your phone at a tag and find out about something.

It’s been around for quite a while but only now is it becoming really important as it depends on enough smart phones being around – with enough people who know how to use them (count me out for the moment; I’m just learning).

But if you were to believe something I read last night this is so much more. It means I can “engage in a richer, more immersive experience than was previously possible in today's highly efficient commerce environment.”

It sounds like one of those dunk the whole body baptism jobs, don't you think? But with a little less general ecstasy.

I’m actually planning to test it myself for something I sell, but I’m pretty sure that sort of tripe does more harm than it helps.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Logo insanity stalks the land - and Mr. Miliband moves us all to tears

How does design affect results?

Take the 2011 Olympics logo - the visual equivalent of dogshit on a pavement. It's hard to believe it can have done anything but harm, managing as it does to combine so deftly the hideous with the incomprehensible.

This thought occurred to me because yesterday I read - or was it a freakish dream? - that the Labour Party, currently having a back-slapping get-together in Scotland, has been discussing its logo, a pretty red rose.

This visual masterpiece was introduced by Peter "where did all your millions come from, dearie?" - Mandelson. I doubt that it resonates much among the kilt-wearing faithful or the rugby players of Wales, but I doubt even more that cosmetic changes would help.

There was talk about whether the rose should have thorns on its stalk or no stalk at all, it seems. This is the sort of bilge that should be kept for meetings among advertising agency poseurs, but the fact is that no symbol can make much difference to the facts.

These are that with the unions about to run amok the Labour party is likely to end up in deep sewage for at least a decade. Last time they tried this on they let in Mrs Thatcher. But when eventually the country was fed up with the Tories nothing could have helped John Major - a much underrated man - as he came up against one of the best liars of the last century - the Great Bliar.

Nothing can undo the folly of the Brown years. And nothing can overcome the fact that Ed Miliband has all the charisma of a supermarket check out operator.

The only hope lies in Cameron doing something exceptionally stupid - always on the cards.

But you do have to wonder about someone so remote from reality as our boy Ed, who in a quite exceptionally deranged speech said of The Great McToad:

"He has an incredible legacy: he improved the lives of millions of people here and around the world.

I am proud to call him my friend. We should pay tribute today to Gordon Brown for his leadership of our party and our country."

After that came a steady trickle of oratorical vomit:

"I remember visiting Gordon at his home in Fife and looking over the River Forth where my father served in the Royal Navy during the war.

Along with my mum, he came as a refugee from the Nazis and built a life here.

It was his values - it is my mum’s values - that explain why I am standing on this stage today."

And so on.

I wonder how many who heard that had read Alastair Darling's damning description of what Brown is really like.

Or for that matter how many reflected that little Jug Ears is there not because of his Mum and Dad but because with the help of the unions he demolished his brother's chances.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sheer delight and a dash of misery from Bill Bryson

Schubert and Beethoven were walking down a street one day when they heard someone playing Mozart.

Beethoven turned to his companion and said "You and I will never write anything that good."

I feel about the same every time I read Bill Bryson. I think I have read all his books and they fill me with a melange of joy and depression.

Joy because he writes so bloody well; depression because I don't. I think one of his best qualities is the way he manages to find so many funny anecdotes.

His latest, "Home", tells the story of Sir John Lubbock, a friend of Charles Darwin, who among other excellent things is responsible for Bank Holidays, which came in when previously the average British worker only got Sundays and Christmas off.

(Come to think of it, when I started the working week was five and half days long).

Lubbock also saved Stonehenge for us when it was about to be shipped off in bits to America.

But what endears him most to me is his eccentricity. He once spent three months trying to teach his dog to read.

How excellent!

Maybe someone should try to find out how he went about it. It might help in some of our schools.

Friday, 23 September 2011

A timely message bearing in mind the antics of Mr.Tindall

Who said rugby players weren't intelligent?

Jono Gibbs, Chiefs "Nobody in Rugby should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."

Phil Waugh "We actually got the winning try three minutes from the end but then they scored."

Jerry Collins "I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body."

Tony Brown "That kick was absolutely unique, except for the one before it which was identical."

Rodney So'ialo, Hurricanes, on University "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes."

Colin Cooper, Hurricanes head coach."You guys line up alphabetically by height." And, "You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle."

Chris Masoe (Hurricanes) on whether he had visited the Pyramids during his visit to Egypt ."I can't really remember the names of the clubs that we went to."

Colin Cooper on Paul Tito "He's a guy who gets up at six o'clock in the morning regardless of what time it is."

Kevin Senio ( Auckland ), on Night Rugby vs Day Games "It's basically the same, just darker."

David Nucifora ( Auckland ) talking about Troy Flavell "I told him, 'Son, what is it with you... Is it ignorance or apathy?' He said, 'David, I don't know and I don't care.'

David Holwell (Hurricanes) when asked about the upcoming season: "I want to reach for 150 or 200 points this season, whichever comes first."

Ma'a Nonu "Colin has done a bit of mental arithmetic with a calculator."

Tana Umaga "I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father."

Doc Mayhew "Sure there have been injuries and deaths in rugby, but none of them serious."

Anton Oliver "If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again."

Ewan McKenzie "I never comment on referees and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat."

Murray Mexted (clearly a contender for Mastermind):

(1) "Andy Ellis the 21 year old, who turned 22 a few weeks ago"

(2) "He scored that try after only 22 seconds - totally against the run of play."

(3) "I would not say he (Rico Gear) is the best left winger in the Super14, but there are none better."

(4) "Well, either side could win it, or it could be a draw."

(5) "Strangely, in slow motion replay, the ball seemed to hang in the air for even longer."

AND THE "Piece de resistance'

Murray Deaker: "Have you ever thought of writing your autobiography?" Tana Umaga "On what?"

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Google hypocrisy: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

One sure way to get slapped by Google is having, crude, hand drawn arrows on a page with not much content.

I love them because they work a treat. Anything that interrupts visually does.

Google hates them because “they don’t enrich the user's experience”. So what was on yesterday's Google screen?

A bloody great big scrawled arrow to promote google+. Well, fancy that.

Was my experience enriched? Yes. I laughed, and remembered this:

"Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue - Oscar Wilde, I think.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

How the wrong tone (plus a dash of illiteracy and a little overpromise) can kill your copy. And why I like recessions

Well, I had an excellent evening yesterday with Sarah Shaw Tatoun who used to be the pub critic of a Prague publication. The job of my dreams

But before that I finished drafting a long interview piece for Australia's Direct mag, including this about how marketers are responding to the recession.

Many have switched more and more online (I have, for a start – 80% of my work and 95% of my own promotion is online).

Unfortunately very few have the faintest idea what they‘re doing and are easily seduced by promises that one magic bullet will solve all problems. Once it was the database; then it was CRM. Now it’s adwords or SEO.

It’s no use winning on search if what people end up on – your site or landing page - doesn’t harvest names. It’s no use harvesting names if you don’t sell to them.

I quite like recessions. They kill the foolish and encourage the canny; people are forced to try and get better results, which happens to be a speciality of mine.

But on the matter of tone mentioned in the heading, here is how not to get a reply - from me, anyhow.

It is a message from someone improbably called Sofia Rockims, who equally improbably claims to have a university education.

Hello Mate,

We have a SEO discount offer going for the following package: -

1: Want to increase your Google ranking?
2: Want to get huge twitter followers and facebook Fans?
3: Want effective text for your website? Also Increase the social media presences.
4: We are a professional SEO company and can get you top ten google results for top five keywords of your choice within three months, with complete solutions for all your problems.
5: We also build websites... if you are interested please let me know?

Our Best rates for this are: - USD $199 per month per project at beginning of every month. if you are interested please let me know?

Why would I let someone who can't write presentable English loose on the text of one of my websites? Do you think that an attractive woman (which Sofia allegedly and improbably is in Facebook) would call someone they never met "mate"?

In any case few things irritate me more than idiots I've never met calling me mate - it kills any faint interest even before I start reading.

I think "Sofia" is a male working from a dark room somewhere in Uttar Pradesh. The automatic response is, "How about you kiss my arse, for starters?"

Monday, 19 September 2011

The blind leading the blind

Someone I never heard of just invited me to a "leadership development programme" starting with the usual bow to management-bollocks.

"Engaged employees deliver constantly better performance in business". What's the matter with the married ones?

More to the point, why do people who have never led anyone anywhere, except maybe up the odd beckoning creek think themselves qualified to teach others how to go about it?

And by the way, we don't need that many leaders. the ones we have seem to be fucking things up just fine.

H. L. Mencken strikes a chord with me: "The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology."

Here's another, since I mentioned our current leaders.

"A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker."

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Uriah Heap invades the kitchen. “Would you prefer your dish slimy, oily or just grovelling, Sir?”

Perhaps the first money I can recall making was cooking in my parents’ restaurant.

I made pork chops stuffed with ham, sage and cheese. Very few deaths were reported.

The restaurant which was above the pub was in the Good Food Guide from its very first year – 1952 – and I have always been a keen trencherman. So much so that I once wrote a piece for the Ogilvy house magazine entitled I lunch for England.

Back in 1952, Britain was pretty much hell for gourmets - few of my mother's dishes would get through the first round now, though her steak, kidney and oyster pie was pretty special, as was her Lancashire hot pot.

Now, however, the food is pretty good – though absurdly overpriced. (£100 a head? come off it).

One thing that mars Britain’s gastronomic revival (we were very good in medieval times) is the tripe served up by critics, who seem to delight in showy ignorance of the English language.

One word they all love is “unctuous”. Christopher Hirst in the Independent used it to describe some of the grub at The Black Swan in Helmsley – one of the only 20 British restaurants which has been in the Guide Michelin since its first issue a century ago.

Unctuous means ingratiating, sycophantic, obsequious, grovelling, smug, phoney, slimy, smarmy creepy or oily.

Uriah Heap was quintessentially unctuous, but I’m not sure I want my first course to be.

(If you want a phenomenally good meal at a sane price, go to Flinty Red, down the road from me in Bristol.)

Friday, 16 September 2011

Research reveals yet another blinding glimpse of the obvious - if you know anything about selling,

My friend Michael Rhodes is the most diligent researcher into the weird and wacky world of the internet I know.

Yesterday he sent me a piece headed "Mixed Feelings – How To Cultivate Emotional Engagement In Web Design" from a blog called kissmetrics.

As you can expect from the headline, it is replete with all the usual jargon. "Psychology suggests" it reveals, "that most people buy according to how they feel about a product (their emotions) rather than logic."

Well, you won't get very far in this world if you don't know that everything human beings do is driven by emotion. They go on to say "Cultivating an emotional bond with your customers is important—and it’s becoming more difficult to do. If your website isn’t tuned to resonate with your audience’s emotions, you could be losing business."

Any competent copywriter knows that emotion beats logic every time, I have no idea why it should be any more difficult now than it was, nor have I seen any indication that it is. I find it rather easy, to be honest. However, if you avoid phrases like tuned to resonate, it's a good start.

Anyhow the blog showed a chart based on Plutchik's Wheel of emotion - rather useful for those who don't understand which emotions make people do things. If you can't read it, look on the internet - Plutchik is not the most common name. Crazy name, crazy guy ...

Meanwhile, if you want sell shed-loads of stuff, you have to understand one rather tricky element, to explain which, here's a little video.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Well, do you really give a f**k? This little graph, clearly based on years of rigorous academic study, may give you the answer

A friend from South Africa occasionally sends me stuff that brings a wry smile, a quiet chortle or even a joyous belly-laugh.

But this particular fruit of his research brought me to the startling realisation that I really am very odd indeed.

Not only do I give a fuck - I do so with greater fury and vehemence as every year passes.

Maybe I should seek help. Or pay to get a banker or politician run over. I must give it some thought.

Anyhow, just as I'm about to plumb the murkiest depths of gloom I always find something comes along to cheer me up.

The other day I saw my more or less crazy but brilliant friend Jo Stowell who has just had a beautiful book of her photos produced.

The rather excellent copy at the beginning is, in my considered view, one of the best examples of that sort of this I have ever seen, possibly because I wrote it.

But I was not responsible for the extraordinarily good design. I don't have the talent. But I believe it was by a lady called Annabelle, who I have never met or even spoken to.

She works with a printer called EPC Direct, www.epcdirect.co.uk - and I've never heard of them before either. They are lucky to have her.

Don't know how true it is - but it's bloody funny

Judy Wallman, a genealogy researcher in southern California, was looking into her family tree. She discovered that Senator Harry Reid's great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.

Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory.

On the back of the picture is this: 'Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

So Judy recently e-mailed Senator Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.

Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch:

"Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

I think this is all made up, but would you trust Harry Reid? The face is the mirror of the soul.

Talking of which I derived great joy from the story - definitely true - about our own dear Chancellor of the Exchequer's coke-snorting fun and games with a lady of the night. What a total dick he looks in the pictures. I wouldn't trust him to run a whelk stall, let alone what's left of our tattered.economy.

On the other hand, how could he do worse than the Bliar and Twat McBroon?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Is truth stranger than fiction? Here's another dash of religious fervour - true this time

Curvin O'Riellly who used to work at Ogilvy and before that Y & R tells a true story relating to the one I posted earlier:

This reminds me of something that happened years ago at Y&R.

My creative director, Tony Isidore, and a couple of his partners, Bob Elgort and Marv Lefkowitz, had created an absolutely sensational campaign for the NY Urban Coalition. The tagline was famous: “Give jobs. Give money. Give a damn.”

Predictably, the network censors objected to the word “damn.” So the agency said, “Okay, tell you what. Go see Father O’What’s His Name (I was never told his name) at the archdiocese.”

The good father talked with the network censors, nodding his understanding of their problem with the word “damn.”

“You know,” he said in his brogue as he leaned forward, “I too have been having a problem with ‘damn.’ I think it’s completely inappropriate for a cause as serious as the Urban Coalition. I think the tagline should be ‘Give a shit.’”

What a pleasure to see idiot censors done down for a change.

A little religious enthusiasm from my friend George

A crusty old man walks into the local Catholic church and says to the secretary, "I would like to join this damn church."

The astonished woman replies, "I beg your pardon, Sir. I must have misunderstood you. What did you say?"

"Listen up, damn it. I said I want to join this damn church!"

"I'm very sorry sir, but that kind of language is not tolerated in this church."

The secretary leaves her desk and goes into the priest's study to inform him of her situation. The priest agrees that the secretary does not have to listen to that foul language.

They both return to her office and the priest asks the old geezer, "Sir, what seems to be the problem here?"

"There is no damn problem," the man says. "I just won 20 million dollars in the damn lottery and I want to join this damn church to get rid of some of this damn money."

"I see," said the priest. "And is this bitch giving you a hard time?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Getting sex when you're ugly - and a tale of my imcompetence

Someone wise once said that life is not only stranger than you imagine, it is stranger than you can imagine.

My friend George Machun, trapped in the deadening toils of academe at San Francisco State University, recently put up some photographs of stupid things done by idiots. One of them was a picture of a gas stove on which some fool had put an electric kettle.

Well, I actually did that in his house in San Francisco and nearly burnt the place down. George and I worked together for years in Hong Kong, Portugal, California and various places in South America. He is a splendid chap, but has to be corrected occasionally

For instance, he recently put up this quotation: A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." "That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

I had to point out to him that it was actually John Wilkes who made the remark, and he didn't say "an unspeakable disease" - he said "the pox". By Disraeli's time they had mistresses but didn't talk about them.

I think it was to Lord Sandwich - a famous lecher - that Wilkes addressed the remark.

Wilkes was famously ugly, with a squint, famously funny and famously successful with women. When someone asked him how he did it, he replied, "It takes me ten minutes to talk away my face."

Monday, 5 September 2011

God's holy trousers! Your brilliant wit can cause real problems. I think it cost me a client

The other day John Walsh let fly a blast of condemnation in The Independent about the latest Diesel campaign, which he headed A dose of something unlovely.

Here's what he said:

Do you ever see an advertisement that really turns your head? I recently did, and not in a good way. I nearly crashed the motor while driving past a bus-stop hoarding that featured the new fragrance from Diesel.

It showed a tempestuous-looking naked woman clutching to herself a giant, heart-shaped bottle of pink perfume. It was called Loverdose.

Who in the name of God's holy trousers thought that a good name for a perfume? What marketing department brainstorm produced that misbegotten collection of syllables? But wait, here are the product notes: "Loverdose ... represents a woman who is sexy, playful and irresistible. She receives an overdose of love from those around her, but she wants more. She desires pleasure, adrenaline and passion."

Oh I get it, it's an overdose of love, do you see? Although, when you see the word, you don't pronounce it "Loaver-dose" do you? You'd say "Love-a-dose" as in the phrase, "Would you love a dose of the clap?" The marketing people go on to tell us that the Loverdose bottle "represents a beautiful but deadly weapon of seduction". I think I'll pass, thanks.

Now John is not a stupid man, but it has clearly escaped his attention that Diesel advertising, which has been running for a good ten years, takes the piss out of the kind of ludicrous claims many ads make.

All this was lost on him. He is not a likely Diesel customer.

It reminded me of one of my own many stupid mistakes. Years ago I went to see the boss of a new firm called Telephone Warehouse. I was met at reception by a man whose face I couldn't quite place.

Then I realised it was Ernest Saunders, former marketing head of Guinness, and a notorious name in his day. He was advising the new company. He introduced himself, adding, "I've been reading your book. Very interesting."

I was flattered; but I've never been able to handle compliments and often pass them off with a joke. So I replied, "Why, can't you sleep?"

This shaft of wit was lost on Mr. Saunders, and I suspect I blew my chances with that firm there and then.

By the way, here's the Diesel TV spot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UyWfun8HY0&NR=1