Category

CREATIVITY

Category

I am torn.

Really, I am.

Fast Fashion.

Primark, Matalan and similar Fast Fashion brands cancelled 2.4 billion dollars worth of clothing orders from Bangladesh once the Covid-19 crisis began to accelerate.

The result?

Starving workers.

Starving families.

The solution?

https://loststock.co

Loststock

Loststock will send you 3 or 4 pieces of clothing.

From the stockpile of (no longer) Matalan and Primark clothing.

In 4 to 6 weeks.

For £35.

And that.

Apparently.

Will feed a worker and their family for a week.

And if there is 2.4 billion dollars worth of orders sat there.

Then they can process around 6 million orders.

Torn. 

I’m torn though.

Because Primark and Matalan are the people that create the kind of clothing of which less than 20% are actually worn.

The kind of clothing that 70% of which becomes landfill within 3 years.

The kind of clothing that, amazingly, 30% of which never reaches the consumer anyway.

Because for some people.

Fashion moves faster than the clothing can.

Broken.

So all I am hearing from Loststock.

Is a cry for help to mend a broken, broken business.

A business that.

Even when it is working as it is designed to work.

It is broken anyway.

And all I am hearing from Primark and Matalan.

Is that they are double-bastards.

Bastards because they really don’t care about the environment and care little about the consumer habits they were encouraging pre-covid 19.

And double bastards because they clearly care even less about their supply chain than we once thought.

The Future.

I don’t know what to do best for the future.

I am torn because a little bit of me feels like these bad behaving brands are sat there.

Arms crossed.

Whilst Loststock try to solve their problems for them.

I am torn because.

Whilst I feel compelled to help.

I really don’t want to buy the shit clothes that have been commissioned.

And I don’t want to build a bridge for the factories.

From where they are now.

To the other side of Covid-19.

So that Primark and Matalan can pick up from where they left oiff on 6 months time.

So yes.

I am torn.

Really, I am.

More here:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/apr/02/fashion-brands-cancellations-of-24bn-orders-catastrophic-for-bangladesh

PIONEERS is a portraiture photography exhibition I did.

It toured several venues around the North of England in 2019.

The word PIO(NE)ERS quietly anchoring the subjects in their hometowns in the North East (NE) of England.

20 Portraits.

PIONEERS portraits are deeply personal.

Many reveal aspects of the subject not normally shared.

Those chosen as sitters are from.

Or have impacted positively.

The North East of England.

They are achievers.

Considered by many to be adventurous.

Charismatic.

And inspirational.

They are known for their fearless creativity and often-unpredictable approach to doing business.

They dare to be different.

And they are as generous and supportive as they are successful and memorable.

Some of them you’ll know.

Some you won’t.

Either way.

Here they are: https://www.mychael.co.uk/pioneers/.

I’m experimenting with swinging.

Desperate times.

Desperate measures.

Swinger.

Here’s how I describe it.

At https://www.mychael.co.uk/swinger/

Half awake.

Half arsed.

Half truths.

swinger is 15 minutes of early morning chatter at the half-way point of my weekly, Friday morning run.

Every Friday at 6am I stand on Newcastle’s Swing Bridge, watching the sun rise and filming a 15 minute monologue about whatever comes to mind.

So if you’ve never tried swinging – now’s your chance.

Email swinger@mychael.co.uk and let me know when you’d like to join me.

Thank you.

I was there this morning.

With Colin.

(And Colin.

By the way.

Is my dog).

Roger Blight was in my team of Brand Consultants.

At the first Brand Consultancy that I founded, Violet Bick.

Roger Blight.

Before Roger and I worked together.

Roger had been Financial Director of Nike (UK).

He was with Nike for 18 years through much of the 80’s and 90’s .

So Roger worked at a comparatively small Nike at the beginning.

And the stories Roger told about how Nike grew.

Are as important now as they were 40 years ago.

From 3 to 1.

Nike were third in the world behind Reebok and Adidas when the 1991 recession hit.

Adidas and Reebok, fearful of the future, adjusted brand communication and (amongst other things) reduced advertising spend.

They held their breath.

Roger and Nike didn’t.

They kept on investing budget, time and energy.

They kept the brand breathing.

And Nike leapfrogged them both to emerge as the global number 1 just a few years later.

Business as Usual. 

OK, so it’s not ‘Business as Usual’ at the moment.

But – more than we think – it really is ‘Consumers as Usual’.

Consumers today are the same people they were 6 months ago.

They’ll still be fundamentally the same in a couple of years.

And there is always a gap between what consumers say they will do and what they actually do.

Especially when data is gathered in exceptional times.

Don’t Pause (Completely).

So shift shape and shift gear yes.

But don’t pause completely.

Don’t hold your breath.

Because you may not last very long at all if you do.

Endnote. 

OK.

OK.

I have to add an endnote to this apparently simple bit of, ‘keep spending (budget, energy and/or time)’ advice.

As well as my apparently simple observation that ‘people stay the same no matter what’.

Especially because I am the Founder of Always Wear Red.

A brand dedicated to changing the way consumers buy clothing.

Banking on (and influencing) morphing consumer priorities.

Look…

All I am saying is be careful of these two things:

  1. Be careful you don’t make the mistake of seeing the world how you’d like it to be – instead of how it really is.
  2. Be careful you don’t make any long term decisions for your brand based on what people are feeling, saying and doing right now.

So if it sounds like I am zigging and zagging a bit with this subject.

I am.

And if it sounds like I am almost ‘advising myself’.

And reminding myself to be careful of the two things I’ve mentioned just above, too.

I am.

Important.

This is important.

Because, in summary, whilst there will be some behavioural changes in your customer base because of the virus.

History tells us that the change us unlikely to be anywhere near as extreme as you imagine.

And it is also unlikely to last anywhere near a long as you’d imagine either.

If you want to chat about this, please email me at hello@mychael.co.uk as a get-go.

You’re welcome anytime.

I sent one of my clients a love letter this week.

Exploring the best things for them to do in 2020.

With regards to business and brand communication.

In the context of my role as a brand chap.

And a much-changed, virus-impacted world.

Data.

It’s not possible for me to suggest what everyone should do.

But it is possible to highlight trends and information that everyone should be cognisant of.

Here’s (some of) what I wrote:

…in the meantime, here are two things for you to ponder. On top of our impending chats about the Brand Framework and Adcepts etc.

Deep Recession, Brand and Business Communication.

Historically, when deep recessions and/or global crises happen, businesses of all kinds and sizes – pause.

It’s understandable. But historical data shows that, without exception, it is also exactly the wrong thing to do.

So, to my two points. And by the way this is not just my opinion and experience. If you were to read the narrative from infinitely more recognised and renowned voices than mine (Mark Ritson, Dave Trott et al), the message is the same.

1. To stop communicating altogether is a big mistake. The most powerful brands and brand owners in the word – P&G for example – actually increase or at the very least maintain energy and spend. Knowing that in the space created by the other choices in the market’s inactivity, they will achieve a far greater eSOV (Excess Share of Voice). The strategy should be slightly different, but not much. And certainly not like this tactical rubbish: https://www.50odd.co.uk/invisible/.

2. On the other side of this dark period, so (let’s say) 2022, the world will be largely the same as it was in 2019. This is something that data shows – without exception or outliers – after every global crisis. So those that think (wishfully) that the world will change dramatically in this way or that, are wrong. As is anyone that is asking how we all feel right now, and then developing any medium to long term brand strategy around the findings. In short, a strong brand’s brand strategy remains largely unchanged. Because good brands know that brand is playing the long game. Even through a pandemic. We can explore short term marketing campaigns of course. But they will be designed to end as we come through this unusual but temporary period. Because as the situation changes back, so too will the consumer…

My comments are just that.

Comments.

But have a think.

Are these comments relevant to you, too?

Change.

The world has changed.

But this will pass.

And one thing I do know.

Is that it will be harder for you to switch back on from complete disconnection.

Than it will be to accelerate on from the place in the consumer’s mind that – right now – you worked hard to hold on to.

This will pass.

Be ready.

I like things like this.

Because they can be accessed by everyone.

And because they feel safe.

Welcoming.

And inclusive.

Poetry. 

I’m not a big fan of poetry, really.

I’m not a big fan in that, I probably wouldn’t sit and read a load of it.

But I am a massive fan of what I think poetry represents.

Self-expression.

Improved confidence.

Storytelling.

Acceptance.

Creativity.

Connection.

And that is why I think this website is brilliant.

Power Poetry.

Worth a look.

It sounds a bit random.

But it’s because I notice things.

I notice when Grand Designs is on the telly.

I notice when there’s some clever architect showing off some impressive drawings.

Asking us to imagine her or his vision.

I notice not just what the drawing is of.

I notice the drawing itself.

The actual pen marks, I mean.

The buildings.

The landscape.

The people.

The trees.

Art.

I see it as an art form, you see.

These beautiful little sketches.

Perfectly executed.

Yet seemingly so effortless.

Raw.

And sketchy.

I just like them.

Trees. 

So I was really interested when architects Foster and Partners decided to help us with tree drawing.

Need a new hobby?

Try this.

Who do you think you’re talking to?

Opinion Formers?

Or Opinion Followers?

Opinion Formers.

Opinion Formers.

They are the kinds of people that are hungry for.

And that seek out.

Unusual ideas, approaches and people.

Opinion Formers seek out the outrageous and the brave.

Opinion Formers seek out the new and the interesting.

Then, from everything that they observe.

And everything that they learn.

They germinate then transmit fresh, new ideas, approaches and opinions.

Very often siting and/or reframing what they have learned from the unusual, outrageous, brave, new and interesting people they chose to listen to.

Opinion Followers.

Opinion Followers are happy to soak up what everyone else soaks up.

They tend not to question things too much.

They just want know ‘what’s going on’.

Opinion Formers versus Opinion Followers.

If you have something to say.

Something unusual, outrageous, brave, new and interesting.

And you want to reach people with your notions.

And change things with your notions.

Seek out Opinion Formers.

Because Opinion Formers become an actual channel for you.

And as each Opinion Formers comes with their own Opinion Followers.

Plus the attention of other Opinion Formers.

Your messages travel further.

Braver.

If all you do is talk to Opinion Followers.

You’ll grow your reach slowly and organically I suppose.

But Opinion Followers don’t have much of an audience.

So it’s all a bit.

Well.

Slow.

And it is not in the nature of an Opinion Follower to site and/or reframe what they have learned from the unusual, outrageous, brave, new and interesting people they chose to listen to.

They’ll nod politely.

And make you feel you have something to say.

But they won’t challenge you.

And so it follows that you have to be a bit braver if you choose to converse with Opinion Formers.

Because Opinion Formers ask more questions.

What do you mean?

What do you mean?

What do you mean?

So you’d better have a good answer.

Opinions. 

If you have an opinion.

And you think your opinion matters.

Behave like an Opinion Former.

That means being unusual, outrageous, brave, new and interesting.

And look to converse with other Opinion Formers.

Other unusual, outrageous, brave, new and interesting people.

That way.

You have the potential not only to change your world.

But you really do have the potential to change the world, too.

Here’s a great question to ask yourself.

Particularly as we are pausing.

And because.

At some point.

You’ll be going back to work.

Do or Keep?

That job you’re going back to.

Yes.

That one.

When you really think about it.

When you are back there.

Will you be spending most of your time trying your absolute best to do your job?

As well as you can.

Or will you be you spending most of your time trying your absolute best to keep your job?

If it’s the first one only, you may very well be in the right place.

If it’s the second one only.

You may very well be in the wrong one.

Both.

The Covid-19 situation shifts the significance of the question quite a bit.

Because so many people will be prioritising keeping their jobs in the short term.

But I’d maintain that.

(And this is hard).

If you project forward to what you see as your and our best chance of normality.

6.

12.

Or 18 months ahead.

And you predict that you’d still be spending all your time trying your absolute best to keep your job.

Then as soon you can muster the strength.

(That’s up to you).

And craft the opportunity.

(That’s up to you also).

Leave.

And do something else.