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This why we need special rooms to be innovative

10 Jun

innovation cave

One of the myths around innovation is that you need some kind of ‘special conditions’ to bring out the creative in you. See the Google workplace and just about every ad agency in the known universe.

I love these rooms with their funny pics and pinball machines and pool tables.

And I like how I get to wear my jeans – wow I feel so free!

Hang on there … I’ve got an idea coming. Here it is.

No wait. It’s stopped somewhere up the line to get some new passengers on board.

The names of those passengers are Mr Tired, Ms Bored, Mr Lazy and the Count of no account.

We’re all creative and we don’t need any special conditions to think of new ways. Just some energy and imagination.

Pioneers of Digital Influence

13 Apr

The Smart Set

The Smart Set was a magazine that was founded in 1900 for and about New York’s social elite, The magazine evolved into an expression of popular modernism and it’s heyday went from 1913 through 1922.

It had a literary side publishing some of the best authors of the day (including Joyce and Conrad) and gave F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby) his start.

Subtitled “A Magazine of Cleverness” The Smart Set never gave up its aim to entertain, to win a large audience, and to make money through advertising.

Thoroughly modern

The magazine covers (see above) are images depicting modern women. The flappers and ‘it’ girls who made the news and social pages of the day through there ‘shocking’ displays that went against the moral norms of the day. They smoked and drank and used colourful language. In that way they were liberated some might argue. But that’s not the point.

Digital influencers and advertising dollars

These were the pioneers of today’s online digital influencers who garner huge crowds of followers just by posting a pic or a little message on their instagram pages. They are trend setters (sometimes) or trend followers but they have built a brand image around themselves by understanding what their ‘tribe’ want, need and often just aspire to.

And when they attract large numbers of followers, that translates into advertising dollars.

So things haven’t changed that much – just the mediums.

and the hipsters just look like Ned Kelly.


Breathe easy …

9 Oct

Tic Tacs for Trump

Lessons learned from House of Cards

28 Dec

House of CardsHouse of Cards is an American remake of a BBC drama featuring the oh so Machiavellian Francis Urquhart or old FU (BBC) renamed for the US series as Francis Underwood and starring Kevin Spacey.

Both series are well made and gripping in a politico thriller kind of way. And Kevin Spacey is just amazing playing an amoral, unethical and complex Washington power broker.

One of the main characters is a young journalist with an eye for breaking news which she isn’t even getting close to on the big, traditional newspaper she works for.

Sick of covering C grade stories, she hungers for something more.

She is also aware that traditional print newspapers are losing ground to online forms of news.

Without giving the plot away, she finds herself being a conduit for real news. She talks the editor into running her stories. She gets some recognition. She leaves the paper to join an online blog.

Here’s the lesson I learnt from A House of Cards:

“Will it get me in 8 seconds?” The blog editor asks her regarding a proposed post

“That’s all we have.”

8 seconds to hook the reader.

Can you hook them in 8 seconds or less? I’m sure I lost you in the first paragraph.

Now I don’t think that short grabs work for everything. Long copy works for some products and some stories. People still like to read.

Think it through. What are your key objectives?

And, here’s to old FU!


Merry Christmas 2013

24 Dec

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas 2013 to all my clients, contacts, friends and family.

And not necessarily in that order.

Have a happy and safe Christmas.

Simon Rodie


The treasurer’s report

20 Dec

Robert Benchley was a famous columnist (along with pal Dorothy Parker) and a member of the Algonquin Set.

After World War I, Vanity Fair writers and Algonquin regulars Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Robert E. Sherwood began lunching at The Algonquin.

In 1919, they gathered in the Rose Room with some literary friends to welcome back acerbic critic Alexander Woollcott from his service as a war correspondent. It proved so enjoyable that someone suggested it become a daily event. This led to a daily exchange of ideas, opinions, and often-savage wit that has enriched the world’s literary life. George S. Kaufman, Heywood Broun, and Edna Ferber were also in this August assembly, which strongly influenced writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Perhaps their greatest contribution was the founding of The New Yorker magazine.

The Treasurer’s Report (1928) is a comedy sketch, made into a short film, written and performed by Robert Benchley.

Or, how not to make a presentation!

I love it. Take it out! Part 2

22 Sep


What was exciting about working in this environment was the chance to watch the words, art direction, talent and production all culminate in an ad campaign. I watched our agency put in a new government with a real US style campaign and I overheard the Chairman telling the future Prime Minister what he was doing wrong.

During this time I had the chance to pitch myself for a place in a highly thought of creative school. It was simply called The Copy School. I wrote a radio ad featuring myself as an ideas cowboy riding into town. I was good but I was green, ending with a Sam Elliott (Big Lebowski) narrator/Voice Over saying nice colour green. That got me over the edge and I was accepted with 10 others into this elite school. Each week we would attend an agency and be hands on trained by the top CD’s who would give us a practical assignment … an ad to write.

One of them, a man who went on to become a best selling author quoted Dr Samuel Johnson as saying ‘What doth please the mightly, do strike out.’ Dr Johnson or his biographer Boswell. I think he took some paraphrasing liberties there but I got the message.

What we love. What we think is sparkling copy. What we think is clever may not be right for the product or the audience. David Ogilvy was tight on the rules of writing.

It’s good to keep that in mind and not be married to our words.

It’s a lesson I never forgot.

Oscar Wilde famously quipped:

I worked very hard today. This morning I put in a comma and this afternoon I took it out.

Newsletters that tell stories

3 Sep

310112 AAS A4 NL (Page 1)

Newsletters like this one from advanced anaesthesia specialists are a great way to differentiate, take ‘thought’ leadership within a category, build your brand, promote your business and sell, which after all, is the ultimate goal for any business … to make a profit!

Here’s the thing … newsletters must have some news not just a bunch of products. Newsletters tell stories.

Great … let’s do it.

Here’s the other thing … who cares?

Question: Do you understand who your customers are? Do you know what they think, hope for and need?

The rise of Social Media illustrates the fact that everyone wants to be loved, admired, supported and recognised.

Effective business communications 1st take customers seriously. They add content that tells stories customers want to read and that’s not always about product x or service y.

Newsletters like all marketing communications must have been through the so what test. Try some in house research. Involve your team. Ask your customers!

Create newsletters that hit the spot!


31 Jul

My first blog post is dedicated to my father, Bill Rodie – a feature writer and all round Sydney newspaperman, later to become one of the city’s 1st PR consultants. Originally from New Zealand, Bill worked for a number of newspapers including Smith’s Weekly, and was great friends with poet Kenneth Slessor.

To quote George Blaikies’ book, Remember Smith’s Weekly, “Rodie, before coming to Smith’s, had been a romantic adventurer from New Zealand, who had wandered the South Seas with Errol Flynn, pursuing a try anything once policy. Four white dots under his right eye showed where the prongs of a fork had hit bone when the wielder had intended to drive them through his eye. In the depths of the depression he took a job as a footman in Government House, Sydney, and on leaving, wrote a cheerful series of  articles about hard times in the palace.”

At a time when culinary advice came from the Country Women’s Association and a roast leg of lamb was about the best you could expect in many households (still is really…) Bill was a gourmet who loved to cook and a wine connoisseur before it was fashionable.

Ted Moloney’s “Oh For a French Wife” cookbook came out in the late 1950’s – long before our own blockbuster reality cooking shows. My mother and father spent their honeymoon with Maurice OShea, creator and founder of McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant, Lovedale.

I didn’t meet Bill. Well I did but I was a baby. Wish i had. I think we may have been alike in some ways. This blog is dedicated to you dad! And to my son Max, my other role model.