First of all, an apology – I have not been contributing here much because I am in the middle of selling my house and moving closer in to London. Any of you who have dealt with British estate agents will have felt my pain. More news on the woes of house buying in the future.
Since my last post there have been lots of interesting things happening like the media being surprised that systematic torture has been occuring in Iraq. I’ve got some news for you its war, that means that its dirty, bloody and thoroughly unpleasant – try reading the works of Wilfred Owen or watching the Battle of Algiers to get a sense of how nasty it can get.
On RTE radio one this morning, they had an expert comment about some CIA torture manuals that had been found. The main themes were that you used peoples fear against themselves – rather than torturing them, use the threat of torture because people had a greater capacity to withstand pain than they realised. Nice.
Sony has launched its Connect service, a rival to Apple’s iTunes Music Service. According to the Washington Post the service is ‘unworthy’ of the corporation who gave us the Walkman(TM). If it gets the kiss of death from Walter Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be more salarymen falling on their swords than a Kurosawa samurai film.
Spare a thought for the ‘performers’ in the adult entertainment industry. According to the Sydney Morning Herald and Reuters, two of the industry’s stars have been found to be HIV+; the first since 1999. Although the mainstream American porn industry has a rigorous testing regime orchestrated by the AIM Foundation where 1,200 stars get tested every three weeks the two people had managed to have sex with 48 other performers since their last test three weeks earlier. A 60-day halt has been called to filming so that anyone who has been in contact with these performers during this time (and their partners etc) can be tested to keep the outbreak under control.
The HIV has been blamed on a non-condom shoot one of the performers was involved in held in Brazil. The industry has been especially conscious of HIV since John Holmes the ‘Elvis of porn’ died of AIDS in the late 1980’s, bringing to an end what many view as the industry’s golden era. What I think is more frightening is the trend towards gonzo, low rent amateur material that is the rising star in the industry since the advent of the web. This part of the business does not undergo the same rigorous regime as its mainstream counterpart is a health timebomb waiting to go off.
While we are on about things of an industrious nature Rainier PR have launched the Cambridge Confidence Index. According to them this will cover both business and quality-of-life issues.
I went to see Zatoichi over the weekend. It is a modern Japanese interpretation of a a series within the Japanese Chambara tradition of films. Zatoichi is similar to the ‘One Armed Swordsman’ of Hong Kong cinema or Django in the spaghetti western genre.
The new version of Zatoichi is much more than an action movie, there are well developed characters and sub-plots and a surreal but effective dance motif that runs throughout the film. Highly recommended viewing.
This also brings me on to a more serious matter. The key to stopping employment migration to cheaper countries according to globalisation ‘experts’ is the creative sectors – at its crudest – foreigners (sic) can work but they can’t innovate. Wrong, wrong – very wrong indeed. The two best films that I have seen this year have come from Asia – (Infernal Affairs – a Hong Kong film with a twisting plot worthy of The Usual Suspects and Zatoichi).
A recent edition of Creative Business (the FT’s media and marketing supplement) highlighted the number of creative teams in London’s top ad agencies that hail from Thailand and South America. The Halifax (a UK bank) has shot many of its television advertisements at a Bollywood studio to keep costs down and domestic electronics firms in China like Haier and Ningbo Bird are giving both Nokia and Motorola mobile phones a pasting in product design and innovation. The market share loss in China is a source of embarrassment for Nokia, more information on this can be found in this Wired Magazine article link. If we are not careful we could find the creative industries going the way of back office and IT jobs. I have posted a bit more about this on AlwaysOn (free registration may be required).
Mixed news on the Apple front, some good – some bad. Someone has developed a proof-of-concept trojan horse for MacOS X to stop MacEvangelists being so smug. OpenOSX have released a free (as in beer) antidote. Mini iPod users have been complaining of cracking sound on the new devices – not exactly cool and the bargain basement eMac has been given a much needed upgrade (however its still really, really bulky).
Actually, the title was total fiction: there is no leiderhosen related content here and I will not be putting any up in the future. I was inspired to write the title after having received a mail from a former colleague of mine – Jacqui. And no I won’t write about Dunlop Greenflash trainers (running shoes to our non-British readers).
Back to reality, I attended a seminar by marketing group these4walls on research versus creativity. These4walls are lovely people and have some groovy video clips here. The evening went well, with the audience plied with a modicum of wine, Becks bier or mineral water (in my case). The crux of much of the discussion revolved around poor problem definition, client realpolitik and ignorance intruding on strategic thought and how innovation can be ‘ironed’ out through research. I decided to pose the question: how do you improve your client? Given that the underlying form of my parts of the discussion was that clients were at the root of many problems. Steps that I have taken in the past have included:
– bringing the client in to sample agency life (I had to skip my three-hour lunch at Hakkasan that day, I couldn’t disappear to the gents to have a line of creative pick-me-up every 15 minutes and had to book some meetings in to pretend that I provided creative input and drove campaigns forward)
– get a feel for the realpolitik clientside and suggesting ways around it in a constructive manner whilst still delivering a programme aimed at providing business benefits (usually for Americans)
– resign the account
As the great PR maestro Larry Weber once said to me “Agency life is great, you work five years and then go in house and demand a fortune. When your in an agency to get to work on a range of clients and if one of them is an asshole you can tell them to go fcuk themselves”. Like the magic shopkeeper in Mr Benn my governor Cathy Pittham appeared and explained that telling a client to perform a sexual act on themselves was a career limiting move. (But I can dare to dream)
In the UK we have holidays on the Friday through to the Monday, so expect little if any content to be added to this blog.
It’s Friday and its been a hellish week with new business pitches, client meetings and an April Fool’s media stunt gone pear-shaped (when a certain national newspaper pulled out at the last minute) – big props to the editorial teams at AlwaysOn and ZDNet for running with it; so allowing us to snatch a last minute draw in the face of certain defeat.
As its the weekend I will be retreating behind the decks fulfilling my true vocation as a reverend in the church of House and the Souvenirs EP from C Side Trax has already a smile on my face and a shimmy in my gait. First up there was a skit advert for a boxed set collection by fictional lounge singer Ricky V Valentine singing hip hop standards such as NWA’s Straight outta Compton and Jay-Z’s Girls Girls Girls.
Then there was an unusual and way cool latin house groover Hugo Maldoro – I know a little Cuban, eerie lonesome vibe to the track but in the box all the same. Its a bargain buy!