Category

CREATIVITY

Category

This lady came up to me the other day.

She was quite – well – big.

She was large.

She’d overheard me talking about bigger women.

And I’d, apparently, used the word ‘fat’ as a descriptive term.

She said to me,

I heard you talking about bigger women.

And you used the word ‘fat’.

You shouldn’t say that.

It’s ‘fattist’.

I glanced over at the lady and, noticing that she herself was quite large responded:

Fattist?

I’m not the fattist.

You’re the fattest.

Now; that didn’t happen.

Because it’s a joke.

Written by Jimmy Carr.

But it’s still quite funny.

At least – I think it is?

The Line.

There are a set of words that I avoid.

A set of words that describe approach, attitude and mindset.

These words include:

  • Nasty
  • Bitter
  • Cruel
  • Bullying

Anything said or done that is driven by one of these things or similar is, I think, wrong.

Because of the intent.

However even if there is no bad intent then, sometimes, something can still be wrong.

The wrong side of The Line.

The line of what is, and what is not, acceptable.

Tricky. 

It’s tricky though.

Because I happen to think that Jimmy Carr’s ‘fattist’ joke is the right side of The Line.

I think it’s fine.

But you know what, would I tell that joke to a larger lady that I didn’t know that well?

No.

I wouldn’t.

So maybe, in actual fact, this joke is the wrong side of the line after all?

This is very confusing.

Is the rule (something like) if you wouldn’t say something to anyone, any time then it’s the wrong side of the line by definition?

Or – as an adult – can I use my discretion?

Or – because I may use discretion yet the person I tell my joke to may not – does that mean that I shouldn’t tell the joke?

For fear that it will be retold inappropriately.

Hmmm.

I am not sure what the answer is.

I don’t want to say nothing at all.

I love creativity in all things.

Including writing and storytelling.

Free flowing picture painting to make people smile or cry or think.

So, for now, I’ll avoid those words I mentioned earlier and carry on telling stories.

Conscious that, I think, stories that sit on or around The Line are very often the best stories of all.

In business.

These days.

If you’re in the middle.

You’re in trouble.

The Middle. 

‘The middle’ means trying to appeal to everyone.

It means riding on coat tails.

Playing safe.

Re-hashing.

Being boring.

Not innovating.

Not evolving.

Not being creative.

Not thinking differently.

Not standing for anything.

Having no strong, clear, consistent opinion.

Not leading in – well – anything.

Or over-leveraging a brand ‘here’ just because it worked ‘there’ so it becomes so diluted that it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Jamie Oliver, for example.

The middle is rubbish.

Supermarkets.

Waitrose I get.

They say:

Hi. We’re expensive. So we’re not in the middle. We’re at the top. We believe in paying a bit more for a bit more. We’ve been at the top since day one. We know what we stand for. We’re authentic. So if you want a treat, come to us. We’re good quality. We’ll continue to innovate and be ready for you when you do come. And if you’re worried about spend, pay for us from your ‘going-out-leisure-pot’. Stay in a bit more. Leave the expensive restaurants alone for a while.

Aldi and Lidl I get.

They say:

Hi. We try hard to be cheap. We believe in cheap. We’ve been trying since day one. We’re authentic. It’s cool over here at the bottom. We’re so bloody good at being cheap these days though that you find some really great quality and interesting things at our place, too. We can sacrifice margin even further in some key areas now you see, because we’re increasing volume so effectively. You’ll find some real diamonds that you can’t get anywhere else. We’re funky and interesting. You might come for your weekly shop and walk out with a bloody tent or a multi-story carpark for matchbox cars at some strangely low price. It’s fun at our place! A bit crazy and unpredictable in every way but one – we’re still cheap!

ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are in the middle.

They say pretty much the same as each other.

They copy each other.

They try to launch their ‘back to the eighties’ pricing images before one of the others does.

They’re tactical.

Because they have no discernible strategy.

They react to what they think we want.

So they don’t come across as authentic.

I don’t know what they believe in.

Because they’re in the middle.

So they flick-flack from one boring, expensive, blend-in campaign to the next.

(Unless they’re trying to buy each other of course.

Thinking that scale will help).

The Middle.

Don’t sit in the middle.

It’s lazy.

It’s ordinary.

And it’s average.

And when markets get bored.

(As they will).

Because you have nothing new or interesting to say.

It’s a really bad place to be.

Just ask Jamie Oliver.

There’s a lot to be said for doing nothing.

Even though you’re never really doing nothing, of course.

Theres always something going on.

In your head.

And more often than not – the something that goes on in your head when you’re doing nothing is really quite something!

Somethings from Nothing

The excellent Somethings from Nothing that happen in my head when I am doing nothing include:

  • Bad ideas.
  • Good ideas.
  • Remembering to call someone that I said I’d call. Then calling.
  • Actually fucking reading one or two of those emails I’ve saved in my inbox to read. That I don’t read.
  • Doing a favour for someone, unprompted. And without expecting thanks.
  • Remembering something funny about something that happened within the last week or so. And laughing.
  • Thinking about how boring and shit certain corners of my life are, wondering why the hell I am doing them in the first place, and deciding therefore to stop doing them.
  • Remembering how lucky I am.
  • Identifying toxins in my life and frowning and silently shaking my head at how stupid I am to binge. (Alcohol. Netflix. Crisps. Looking at websites that force me to then try to remember where the bloody ‘Clear Browsing History’ thing is).
  • Looking at the most important things in the whole world and being thankful. Trees. Rain. Animals. People. Fresh air. My education and freedom. I could go on and on and on (and so could you, of course).

And so it is that I have a new slogan for life.

It is:

‘Nothing is the new Something’.

I thought of it just now.

When I was doing nothing.

Here is a useful tool for you.

If you run a business and you work with, or you have hired, creative people.

This is particularly poignant if you are working with external creative people that you are paying money to.

For creative solutions.

It’s called:

The Crap Creative Reality Check.

Creativity in Life.

Creatives are, really, the best people in the world.

And they will become increasingly valuable.

Because pure creativity is gold.

No amount of Artificial Intelligence, robotics, mechanisation or automation can, nor ever will, duplicate the purest and most magical creativity of the human mind.

So nurture it in your children.

Nurture it in yourself.

Today.

No matter how old you are.

Think back to how you were at aged 3 or 4 (if you can remember).

Or look at how children you know about that age create – now.

It’s incredible.

Pure.

Fearless.

Weird (weird is good, remember).

And powerful.

Creativity in Business.

Creativity in business is so, so important also.

It will make you different.

Because pure creativity does not follow.

It leads.

It takes risks.

It is pioneering.

It stands out.

It is memorable because it is different and it is fun!

It makes us feel good.

And so many business leaders are DULL…

…AS…

…SHIT…

…when it comes to being creative.

So thank goodness for creatives in business!

The Crap Creative Reality Check.

However.

Creatives in business needs to be checked and managed.

So that’s why I have invented (drum roll):

The Crap Creative Reality Check.

This tool will stop you and your business getting carried away with crap creative ideas.

And crap creative people.

Once you open yourself up to creativity, your business can fly!

But if you do it wrong – you’re screwed.

It’ll cost you a lot of time and money.

For nothing.

Beware.

Beware ideas that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside but – commercially – do absolutely fuck  all.

They will eat your marketing budget and contribute nothing to your brand.

Leaving you frustrated, annoyed and confused.

This applies to all business communications including adverts, blogs, presentations, creative copy, social posts, brochures and more.

So, here is…

The Crap Creative Reality Check.

5 things to ask yourself BEFORE you invest in developing creative notions through to creative content.

1. What’s the one message I want people to remember?
2. Is the message about our brand, or our category as a whole?
3. Is the work coherent? Does it ‘fit’ with our wider business communications, both tactically and strategically? (Both where it is now and where it’s going).
4. Could the message, and/or the method by which we are communicating it, be simpler?
5. If this media was seen without our logo, would people still know it was us?

Ask yourself these things and you may be OK.

Warning Signs. 

The warning signs of a crap creative are as follows.

Imagine in your mind that you are getting married.

And you are working with the most gesticulating, loud, frilly shirted, sweet smelling, bouncy and annoying Wedding Planner on the planet.

He (and it is a ‘he’ in my imagination) calls you and your wife/husband/whatever ‘dahing’ and holds you by the upper arms a lot and stares you in the eye.

Telling you why his ideas are, ‘just perfect’.

And what it is going to cost you.

He’s forgotten that its your wedding and not just his opportunity spend shitloads of YOUR money on an experience he wants, of course.

And – you just know – that if the big day is a shit day, it will be everyone else’s fault but his.

The worlds shittest wedding planner is like the world’s shittest creative in your business.

They don’t care about the 5 things in my ‘Crap Creative Reality Check’.

And they don’t care about you.

So get rid!

I was looking through books online this week.

One evening.

On goodreads.com there are some great books.

And some even better reviews.

Here is my favourite review so far.

It’s two short sentences and I reckon you’ll know the book just from the review.

Let’s see:

There is nothing I want more than to be able to reach downstairs for a biscuit whilst in bed.

Lucky bastard.

Heartfelt!

And funny.

I like a challenge.

Doing things that are bloody hard.

I think this is me rebelling against the run-of-the-mill.

And the obvious.

And the ordinary.

Always Wear Red. 

As you may know, I am in the middle of narrowing down my clothing label Always Wear Red to hand knits only.

I was building relationships with wonderful makers around the UK making lots of different brilliant things.

But I was spreading myself too thinly.

And as I crave true excellence in just one thing.

I had to choose where to focus.

And I choose hand knits.

Hard. 

The main reason I chose hand knits is because hand knitting, of course, can’t be automated.

And even if some clever machine materialised that could create hand knits.

Well, I wouldn’t want one of them.

I want hand knits that have been knitted by hand.

But building a brand around this is hard.

Bloody Hard.

In fact, it’s bloody hard.

Quality control.

Consistency.

Costing.

Pricing.

Scaling.

But, I think, that is the main reason that I am doing it.

And because, when I was researching, I couldn’t find any dedicated, specialist hand knitting brand that committed to that one thing.

That adored that one thing.

Wanting to master it.

And wanting to protect the craft.

And paying the makers, the knitters, well.

Ethically, boldly, confidently and with interesting, contemporary design twists and storytelling.

I spent quite a while looking.

Looking for the world’s best brand for adorable hand knits.

Hand knits that couples fight over.

Hand knits that children want handed down to them from their parents.

And because I couldn’t find someone committed to doing this.

I decided that someone really should commit.

And that that someone – should be me.

Here’s how we’re looking so far: https://www.50odd.co.uk/hard/.

I wrote a book a couple of weeks ago.

And released it it digital format online.

For free.

A.BRAND

It’s called A.BRAND.

Here’s how I describe it in the foreword:

A.BRAND is an easy to digest, fast and practical business guide.

It’s for business owners that want to be brand owners. Because brand-rich businesses –are rich businesses.

A.BRAND can be read end-to-end in under an hour. Or it’s a useful go-to.

It’ll feed conversation, and support informed decision making around how to get help with brand building and communication.

Some of the most important and interesting brand, marketing and design conversations revolve around a simple A or B.

Here are 20.

If you’d like a copy, please go to www.angelfysh.com and add your email address to the A.NEWSLETTER signup.

You’ll then get your copy of A.BRAND for immediate download.

It’ll give you the confidence to address issues relating to your Brand Building and Brand Communications – properly.

Thank you.

Great adverts are well paced.

They draw you in.

They contain exactly the right thing at exactly the right second.

So you stay engaged.

And watch to the end.

One Message.

Great ads are also aware that every single thing in the ad revolves around just one message.

One simple thing.

One simple, memorable thing.

Brand.

And great ads focus on an ownable thing.

Something that is about that brand’s offering.

Something they alone want to be famous for.

Not the entire category’s offering.

So they stand out.

Not blend in.

Emotion.

Great ads are emotional too.

They are funny.

Or sad.

Or hard hitting.

Or, if they are really good, they are more than one of these things.

In under 30, 60 or 90 seconds.

Quality.

Great ads are also beautifully produced.

The simple things are just right.

They are clear about what they are portraying.

They are smart enough to put clarity before creativity.

Perfect. 

Here’s a perfect example.

From 2010.

(Go to https://www.50odd.co.uk/adverts/).

(You’ll smile.

And you’ll remember the brand.

And you’ll remember the one thing the brand owner wants you to remember about the brand, too.

Perfect!)

 

A number of people played Sting songs.

In front of Sting.

At the Polar Music Prize ceremony in 2017.

Sting. 

The camera flicks between the performer and Sting.

As he sits in the audience with his wife Trudie Styler.

The cameras capture his reaction.

And Trudie’s.

Gregory and José

Gregory Porter covers ‘It’s Probably Me’.

And it’s pretty good.

José Feliciano covers perhaps Sting and the Police’s greatest tune, ‘Every Breath You Take’.

And it’s a bit shit.

Honestly.

It’s not good.

Reaction.

Anyhow, take a look if you have 10 minutes.

And by ‘look’ I mean look at Mr. Sumner’s face.

As he takes in both versions of his creations.

Sometimes, it’s tricky to hide how you really feel.

(Go to https://www.50odd.co.uk/sting/ if you’re reading this in your email).

 

 

Today.

I am fishing.

Fishing. 

I am fishing for feedback.

Please.

I want to know what you think about 50odd.co.uk.

What I write.

How I write.

What you think there could be more of.

What you think there could be less of.

And maybe even (because I am genuinely not sure) what 50odd.co.uk actually is.

To you.

Me. 

All of that said.

I will continue to write for me.

50odd is, and will remain, a creative outlet for me.

‘Writing Tourettes’.

If there is such a thing.

And an extension of me.

In the same way that, I suppose, the best bands write music for themselves.

Think Nirvana.

Not Milli Vanilli.

And you’ll get where I’m coming from.

Thank you.

So thank you in advance.

I am interested.

In the good.

And the bad.

Comment below.

Or please email michael@50odd.co.uk.