Tag Archives: marketing communications

How Neruda let me be innovative

24 Jun

Last week I went to see a movie and there weren’t any super heroes in it.

Wait a second … there was a super hero but he didn’t have tights, a mask and a logo emblazoned on his muscular chest. No. This super hero was a middle aged, portly man with thinning hair. His super powers weren’t your usual mix but instead consisted of words and phrases and phrasing. The hero was a poet. The movie was Neruda. 


It was a beautiful film but not easy to follow. It was a portrait of a poet and a politician from Chile set in the 1950’s and it was a crime drama. Neruda was a member of the Communist Party (along with Pablo Picasso) who idealised communism as an ideal and an antidote to fascism. Of course these intellectuals were to be proved wrong when the walls went up but at the time it was about equality for all. When the government decreed that Neruda was to be arrested, he begrudgingly fled. The crime drama was the chase by a young detective who had his own back story.


Neruda performed his poems throughout the movie and that’s what opened the gates for me. During the movie, (which was subtitled), I listened to and read the words and i felt free. A lot of the poems were about love.

Neruda was romantic and seductive.

I’ve never been a great reader of poetry and to be honest it baffles me.

I just know that the words sometimes clash and when they do there’s a spark of freedom. Freedom opens the mind and can lead to innovative thoughts.

When was the last time you felt free?

Anchorman 2. When is too much marketing too much?

15 Jan


I love Will Ferrell and I think Steve Carell is a genius. This newish brand of just plain silly comedy out of the US is funny. And in my book, any excuse for a laugh. I was really looking forward to seeing Anchorman 2 with my family. The first Anchorman was great. And I know Will Ferrell is not to everyone’s taste.

But when I first heard about the 2nd Anchorman instalment I was kind of excited.

And then I heard about it, and I heard about it, and I heard about it again.

Transit ads on buses. The usual internet blitz. Cardboard moustaches. A hell of a roadshow. Youtube ads and trailers.

Saw the film and loved it.

But guess what?

The box office results have been disappointing.

What could have gone wrong? A stellar cast. Great script. Funny as …

No. Too much marketing!

To quote the Steven Zeitchik’s Los Angeles Times story (December 23, 2013)

‘That heaping plate of Ron Burgundy over the past few months (there was also that anchoring of news in North Dakota, the relentless Dodge Durango commercials, the Newseum exhibition, the underwear cross-promotion) made people feel like they had gotten their fill of the character.’

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being repeatedly bashed over the head.

Be strategic and subtle. Plan your marketing. Give ’em time to breathe.

But let them know you’re there.

Anyway … I loved the film!

Who is my customer

3 Sep

I met a young designer who created ‘mood boards’ for a global US fashion/apparel business. Mood boards are about colours and fabrics and accessories such as buttons etc. The fashion designers stock in trade and the fashion buyer’s guide to new season’s offerings. She told me that this company had an ‘ideal’ customer.

The ideal customer was a 30 something professional single male with a Golden Retriever dog. Sounds awfully simplistic doesn’t it?

If you think about it in target segmentation terms it says a lot in one small description.

Single = money to spend (lifestyle)

Professional = high earner/well educated (demographics)

Male = gender (demographics)

Golden Retriever dog = outdoorsy/sporty/casual

Whether you believe that your customers can be segmented as easily as this, try it.

Visualise your ideal customer/s.

And build on it from there.

The key to success in business in knowing who your customers are (and how they might change!)


Staring at a blank page

2 Sep

blank page

I found this piece of paper in a file and it got me wondering. Writers sometimes get writer’s block. They can’t get started. And often the harder they try the more blank they become.

In George Plimpton’s fascinating Paris Review series, a number of famous writers were interviewed about their techniques. This was about how do you write everyday with the kids screaming, your wife leaving, a revolucion going on, a 1st book best seller to better.

Amazingly enough some writers copy out tracts of the bible to get started, some sharpen pencils, others still drink a lot and smoke endless cigarettes (a different era I suppose.) The issue is how do you get started?

It can be a problem for people in business to get fresh ideas or even an accurate idea of what their business actually does for their customers. It’s also difficult to get noticed in the crowded cyber world where attention spans are short and customers can shop around and read reviews online.

It takes a fresh pair of eyes to do that. Daily regeneration and a childlike curiosity of life which when you think about it is quite amazing.