Vamos Portugal!


Words are no longer enough

How can three presidents say the same thing, spanning well over a decade and yet not have the balls do do anything about it?  How much leverage must one lobby group have for this to happen?

My sister lives in the US, in Connecticut no less and she is having to have conversations with her school about how they can prevent a massacre from happening.

I look across the pond and I think “What fu*king kind of world even contemplates such conversations with primary schools?”.   How is that a school’s responsibility?

They are fighting the wrong problem and promoting the wrong kind of solution.  Teachers carrying guns, bulletproof glass etc won’t stop this from happening again.  The problem isn’t that schools are ill equipped, it’s that there are crazy fu*kers out there who have been allowed to amass an arsenal of weapons for little money and with little fuss.

Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.  And if you allow every bozo to carry a gun, sooner or later one of them is going to kill someone.  The only solution is to stop them having such easy access – be that through making weapons or bullets more expensive to doing some basic background checks (i.e. has this person been in prison before / do they have a history of mental illness or short temper?).

The right to bear arms is supposed to be about self defence but the types of weapons that are available to purchase are beyond the means of reasonable self defence – they are military weapons that have no place in a modern, civilised society.

The time for talking is over.  The world is watching America.

A truth that’s difficult to dispute

Tolerance-Bumper-Sticker-(7103)I’m not religious in any sense, yet somehow I found myself recently spending about 3 hours on YouTube watching both Richard Hawkins and Christopher Hitchens take on many religious people with their views.  It made for some very interesting and at times amusing debate,  but the most poignant point was this

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
― Steven Weinberg

A letter for originality

The below is a letter attributed to Bill Bernbach during his days at Grey.

It is very much a precursor to the Jerry Maguire letter.  In it he pleads for creativity and originality above tick-boxing and processes.  It is a clearly passionate letter and I have italicised the passages that stand out for me.  I suggest that if you are in a creative industry, you print it and pin it to your wall.

Dear ___________:

Our agency is getting big. That’s something to be happy about. But it’s something to worry about, too, and I don’t mind telling you I’m damned worried. I’m worried that we’re going to fall into the trap of bigness, that we’re going to worship techniques instead of substance, that we’re going to follow history instead of making it, that we’re going to be drowned by superficialities instead of buoyed up by solid fundamentals. I’m worried lest hardening of the creative arteries begin to set in.

There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules. They can tell you that people in an ad will get you greater readership. They can tell you that a sentence should be this sort or that long. They can tell you that body copy should be broken up for easier reading. They can give you fact after fact after fact. They are the scientists of advertising. But there’s one little rub. Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.

It’s that creative spark that I’m so jealous of for our agency and that I am so desperately fearful of losing. I don’t want academicians. I don’t want scientists. I don’t want people who do the right things. I want people who do inspiring things.

In the past year I must have interviewed about 80 people – writers and artists. Many of them were from the so-called giants of the agency field. It was appalling to see how few of these people were genuinely creative. Sure, they had advertising know-how. Yes, they were up on advertising technique.

But look beneath the technique and what did you find? A sameness, a mental weariness, a mediocrity of ideas. But they could defend every ad on the basis that it obeyed the rules of advertising. It was like worshiping a ritual instead of the God.

All this is not to say that technique is unimportant. Superior technical skill will man a good man better. But the danger is a preoccupation with technical skill or the mistaking of technical skill for creative ability.

The danger lies in the temptation to buy routinized men who have a formula for advertising.  The danger lies In the natural tendency to go after tried-and-true talent that will not make us stand out in competition but rather make us look like all the others.

If we are to advance we must emerge as a distinctive personality. We must develop our own philosophy and not have the advertising philosophy of others imposed on us.

Let us blaze new trails. Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art, and good writing can be good selling.

Bill Bernbach

When PR wins over policies

So the government has once again backed down on one of its proposed policies as a result of public outcry and a perception of being soft on crime.

This must be the 3rd or 4th back reversal the government has performed in the little time it has been around all of which have been off the back of getting a bit of flack from voters about them.

I have a couple of issues with this:

  1. They were chosen to make decisions so make them, don’t dither.
  2. They need to man up. Criticism of any and everything is part and parcel of the job.  Give in too many times and people stop believing that (a) you know what you are doing and (b) you will actually follow through with any proposals
  3. They need to be honest about why they made the decisions they did – don’t hide behind spin.  Stop treating us like kids and give us the truth and the objective reasons why you believe this is right.  Your ideas are much more likely to be accepted if there is a perceived genuine will to improve things.  And even if they are not, at least they will be more respected.

In today’s world of increased transparency, we need our politicians to catch up and open up.  You want a Big Society, then include it don’t alienate or antagonise it.

Despite not leaning right or left when it comes to politics, there are some politicians who seem quite genuine and Ken Clarke is one of them.  Despite not always agreeing with him, you can see what his thinking was and he is fairly open and honest about it.  But if the price you get for it is to get chastised from left, right and centre then no wonder people respond by spinning things into incomprehensible psycho-babble.

I remember someone (Charlie Brooker I think) saying that because there is now such outcry at any opportunity, politicians are becoming vapid, with nothing to say on politics and policies and the lines between parties is fading away.  Is that really the political system we want?

At the end of the day you get what you deserve, and at the moment we are getting the crap governing we are creating with constant PR battles.

(Note: I don’t buy this ‘we didn’t vote for this coalition’ argument.  You know the system, how it works.  Sometimes this happens.  Now let them do their job.  If they f**k up, kick them out at the next election)

1/4 of the year is gone – how am I doing with my resolutions?

We’re a quarter of the way into the year and therefore into my timeline to achieve my resolutions.

How am I doing?

  • Blog once a week (at least) – Blown this one out of the water with a blog a day in March. I’m actually going to slow down for fear of getting repetitive and allow me to do some of the other resolutions
  • Tweet once a day (at least) – been doing well on this one and have also been trying to be a bit more active than just tweeting and retweeting by conversing with @cheelau, @logbennett, @gilroyhq, @abrightnewway and @luhrsadvertising.  This is something I aim to continue doing so if you follow me and fancy a chat, I’m game
  • Become more patient with the kids (if they let me) – I’ve been doing well despite one or two hiccups
  • Make a concerted effort to reduce on the swearing – By my standards, March was a very tame month so I would consider it a success
  • Film more family memories – yes, been doing well here… April should also be a good month with lots of birthday and activities
  • Get eldest riding a bike without stabilisers – weather still not good enough
  • Go camping at least twice – I’m a fair weather camper, say no more.  I will book something though as my membership runs out in June.  Planning something in May or June so I may need to revise this one to ‘at least once’
  • Organise a reunion with friends from Portugal who I have not seen for 20 years – Portugal holiday timing will be around June so April will be the time to plan
  • Become mayor of somewhere on Fourquare/Gowalla (my own home or workplace not included) – I’ve given up on Gowalla but this week I have managed to get 5 mayorships (one is work but the others are supermarkets and coffee shops)
  • Get to Wii Fit age of 37 – not been on the Wii too much this month but have started exercising so would like to think it would have a positive effect
  • De-clutter the house – House was de-cluttered in February but quickly cluttered again.  Wife has promised to help to sort this out (she’s a hoarder) during the bank holidays we have in April
  • Sell something at a car boot sale – as above
  • Move house – heavily reliant on ‘De-cluttering the house’ but still on the cards
  • Get on a Segway (easy one as a ride on one was a Xmas present, but still valid I think) – Done in February
  • (NEW) Take kids swimming on a regular basis – we started this two weeks ago with no success, but persevered and last week was better
  • (NEW) Read a book a month – considering the only time this can happen is in the evenings I hope I’m not over-reaching.  Will try a mix of professional and non-professional books as I find to much of one or the other a bit boring after a while.  BTW, this is not 12 books in 8 months, it is 8 books in 8 months!
  • (NEW) – limit myself to a maximum of two coffees per day.  My expresso consumption has got to the point of 4 doubles a day – not good for the heart and gives me insomnia

Fingers crossed for a good April!

Is a Dream School the solution?

A new series has recently started here in the UK – Jamie’s Dream School. It documents a project by Jamie Oliver.  His project is about trying to ‘save’ some disaffected youths by getting them interested in their education once again. His plan is to do this by using some ‘stellar’ names such as David Starkey, Alistair Campbell and Ellen McArthur.

The first episode aired a few days ago and the full episode is posted below.

I think this is an extremely noble undertaking by Jamie.  Regular readers of the blog will know that I have a ‘thing’ for education – I fell it is one of the pillars of our upbringing and therefore wider society.  And the current system isn’t working.

And whilst the programme makes for good TV and I will no doubt be watching the rest of the series I am left wondering – what exactly will this prove?

Will it show that schools should look to hire professionals rather than teachers? That schools should provide an endless array of disciplines for students to pick and choose from?

There are many challenges for the current system to overcome – lack of quality/passionate teachers; lack of discipline and power given to teachers; too much focus on targets; not enough support for individual needs.  Some of these could be answered by legislation, stronger headteachers and partnerships with private sector (where part time apprenticeships could replace lessons on particular subjects).

Will Jamie’s series go on to answer these?  I don’t know, but in the meantime it is well worth a watch and I will keep posting the episodes (assuming they are good and have a subject matter worth discussing!).

New Year’s resolutions – March progress report

So we’ve rolled into March and I’ve been trying to keep to the resolutions I made at the beginning of the year.

Below is my progress on making this

  • Blog once a week (at least) – check
  • Tweet once a day (at least) – double check
  • Become more patient with the kids (if they let me) – this is going well for me (and I promise I’m not spending less time with them in an effort to nail it)
  • Make a concerted effort to reduce on the swearing – February was an ok month, swearing was limited although it was sometimes used unnecessarily
  • Film more family memories – we had a b’day this month so we have been filming a bit
  • Get eldest riding a bike without stabilisers – weather still not good enough
  • Go camping at least twice – I’m a fair weather camper, say no more.  I will book something though as my membership runs out in June
  • Organise a reunion with friends from Portugal who I have not seen for 20 years – not even thought about this one or when I’m going to Portugal
  • Become mayor of somewhere on Fourquare/Gowalla (my own home or workplace not included) – Leading the board at local Tesco and Costa and I created a couple of spots in Walton, so earning some explorer badges
  • Get to Wii Fit age of 37 – doing so so here… one time I was at 31, but an hour later I was back to 45
  • Declutter the house – House virtually decluttered and garage sorted, but needs a bit more
  • Sell something at a car boot sale – as above
  • Move house – heavily reliant on ‘Decluttering the house’ but still on the cards
  • Get on a Segway (easy one as a ride on one was a Xmas present, but still valid I think) – Nailed – see below

(Clearly the 2nd image isn’t me – it’s my wife but she was too scared to stop once she got on it and take a picture of me, so the nice photo of the yellow bib is all I have!)

New update in early April!

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