What if: Planners had Books?

Okay, they have plenty of books. "The Branding Gene," "50 Twitters that Changed the World," "Strategists are from Mars, Tacticians are from Venus," or whatever*. But I mean, y'know, books! Le portfolio, darling.

Why not? It's a fantastic system for creatives. They get to take their ideas and make physical product that serves their purposes even better than a CV - it not only says something about them, but provides a real demonstration; "if you hire me, I will basically give you stuff like this for money".

Just how did such a system come about? Necessity, I'm guessing. They can't go to an agency they want to work for and say "I have a level 3 in creativity, for here is my certificate". The portfolio is the solution to the problem of selling ideas.

But what does a planner sell? Well, ideas. So why not a portfolio for them?

These are the thoughts I had when I started to make my own book. Or perhaps that stuff above is what planning does best, some juicy post-rationalisation. All I know is that creatives got to carry cool books around with them that meant a lot to them - said who they were, what they did. And picked up chicks. I wanted one.

Thankfully, an art director with a vision and some serious Quark skills (mad props, Shwan) agreed it might work, and helped me out - and so , when it came to interview time, I had evidence of my thoughts to show. And something enticing to leave behind, after I'd left.

Did they read it that much? I don't know... but it was a good conversation piece - and more than that, it helped me realise that yes, I can think of interesting things and talk about them. And yes, I might be right for this business.

It's all in the book.

*fictional. But I wouldn't be surprised!


Everyone's favourite engagement - the Trail of Breadcrumbs

Walking along a road in Farnham the other day, I stumbled across this little gem!

Gasp! An intriguing prospect indeed. I took a picture for the sake of interest, but I didn't do anything more. But then I saw another one, in the town centre... then another! Then four more! Each one with a piece of jewellery, or a handbag, or whatnot. What could it possibly mean? "Do not return" naturally indicates there was probably nothing to return - well that's my lame excuse for not finding anything.

So what was the purpose of the number (which I've smeared out, but perhaps the experiment would be better served if I didn't)? I called it to find out:

Ring, ring.

Ring, ring.


"Hello, and thank you for calling. Please leave your response to this poster"


Huh? My response? Well, my response was to call the number I guess. But the number did nothing to provoke a further action - it didn't give me any criteria to guide my reaction. Was I supposed to say whether I liked it? If I'd found an item? A personal story? I usually like to play along with stuff like this and response in character, but in this case I didn't know what that would be. At least when Danny Wallace scattered his number about London he attached the message "Let's have a conversation". People knew what they were getting, sort of.

I've got a hunch that this stuff was connected to the Art College. Maybe the responses they wanted were just a lot of 'I'm confused' messages. Hopefully other people plucked up the courage to give them!

...but it goes to show that in any conversation, you need not just to be able to hold your end up, but to give the other participant the guidelines to want to do his part to.

What would you have said?


Conscience Clea(red)

On the 25th November, Starbucks unveiled its new campaign for the US and Canada. Really nice in connection with Christmas, right? Not so nice in connection with World Aids Day, which is what it's actually about. Ouch! I wonder if the copywriter's gonna be a little (red) faced over this? A whiff of client writing, I reckon...

(red) is something of a success story right now, between catching the wave of philanthro-branding (alongside Fairtrade), and being very careful in its associations (phones, The Gap, the right sort of celebs). This campaign, unfortunate strapline aside, will almost certainly be a moderate success: the facebook event for this 1st December promotion currently has 531,000 attendees.

Looking closer, some of those have only joined to use the group as a forum for their grievances:

"...maybe I'd reconsider if they didn't support authoritarian regimes, if their coffee was fair trade certified, or if they didn't practice semi-legal union-busting techniques"

Quite, Stacy. Whatever Starbucks' practices may or may not be (and I'm certainly not qualified to know), lots of people still have an anti-capitalist attitude towards them - and against that, what this promotion amounts to is a 5 cents donation towards AIDS charities, for each cup of coffee.

Isn't that about... 3p? Thruppence on a £2 coffee? And beyond that, there's the nature of (red) to consider. From joinred.com:

"(RED) is not a charity. It's a business model designed to create awareness and a sustainable flow of money from the private sector into the Global Fund, to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. Consumers buy (PRODUCT) RED, and at no cost to them, money is sent directly to the Global Fund."

(red) isn't a charity. But neither is Starbucks! And the people that buy this won't, in a personal sense, be 'giving' much to charity. What they will be doing is expressing a notional support for the idea, like we all do with badges, or T-shirts - and incidentally, you can bet that the cups this coffee comes in are branded to bits.

So perhaps Starbucks are doing the right thing here? They're a business. They've partnered with a business. Both are experts on branding, image and aspiration. Your purchase will perform the function of showing you in a certain light, without too much of the markup associated with a significant charity donation. If people actually want to give any real money I guess they'll just go and do it.


thanks, http://forums.somethingawful.com people. I love you.

Append: Stacy writes back to say that 'anti-capitalist' is something of a slur and certainly, I can understand it might touch a nerve in America! Lets pretend I'm a better writer and that I actually put 'responsible-consumerist' instead :)


That Gross Oversimplification

Man, that is some Web 3.1-level satire right there.

But seriously, does this signal the end of the 'everything shop'? And should we be glad of that?


People Of The Now 1 - some electricians

Let's start as we mean to go on - with people.

A pair of electricians visit the house to repair a broken lightswitch:

Electrician: Aren't your fish a bit big for that tank?
Me: Uh, I've heard that they grow to fit their environment. I guess we couldn't get another one.
E: Heh.
M: Anyway, I bet you visit some really wild houses. With, like, 50 cats or something.
E: Oh yeah! What about that weird guy?
Another Electrician: *working* Oh yeah...
E: This guy, the three days we were round, was sitting in his chair right, completely naked except for a t-shirt!
M: God.
E: And not a big one. Think he saw what those young people wear and like, took it too far.
M: Yeah, that's-
AE: All fixed mate. The switch wasn't screwed in properly.
M: Thanks guys. Tea?
E: Nah, best be off.

I'd be willing to bet they've seen far far weirder stuff in their time... George Formby's "When I'm Cleaning Windows" was bang on the money. Perhaps I'm entering into the wrong game with this marketing thing?