It’s Make or Break For America. Australia Too.


And it’s taken a legendary President (and perhaps, Vaclav Smil) to make us aware of this reality!


I became aware of Vaclav Smil only when Bill Gates showed us what his library looked like online – a few years ago. One of the  books in his library that I decided to try out was by the Russian-born Smil. What struck me about this incredible man was his observation on the economic woes of many of the industrialised nations. “We sold the lower middle class out the moment we decided to outsource manufacturing and production.” Think about how significant and true this observation is. The people least able o adapt to the punishing pace of globalisation are the lower middle class. And, we sold ‘em out! You, me and the party in power at the time.


I was delighted therefore to learn of Obama’s Maker Faire. It’s a nod to the ones who make things, the ones who create real wealth while doing so.


It’s an initiative not dissimilar to Telstra’s sponsorship of Muru, an accelerator that gives Aussies with ideas – the means to carry them out.  Maker Faire recognises the harsh reality of how wealth is created. Not just by dreaming, but doing – or  making as well –   as President Obama would say.



 Or about the great stuff Telstra is doing with Muru here at


I was not paid by President Obama or Telstra to write this post. But you know what – I sure wish I was!



Sorry Hong Leong – but I won’t be refinancing with you


Recently the finance company Hong Leong ran this dreadful ad using the character of a Philippina maid played by a male Chinese actor in HongKong.

It makes me wonder when people will understand that the most hurtful thing you can do to a community is stereotype them.

Everything about the ad is wrong. It’s portrayal of some Asian ethnicities as subservient to others – disgraceful and I think soon to be untrue anyway given trends. The portrayal of the helper as inept – the very people we trust our children with or I do mine anyway. And the sheer insensitivity of the script. Have indeed relationships deteriorated to such a level that communication between two asian ethnic races is is not possible even in a theatrical context (ie an ad!).

I think the Furore is fairly well justified. Hong Leong is certainly one bank I won’t be refinancing with.



Only a Dick would set up an anti-Obama organisation

Republicans are hard work. Dick Cheney is evidence of that. Looks like his daughter Liza is no exception. The two have set up the anti Obama organisation. Their gripe (near unbelievable given Cheney’s involvement in the war against Iraq which has failed thus far to uncover any weapons of mass destruction!) is that Obama misled the nation! Weakened it too.

Now America’s enemies no longer fear it (this is a problem… fear young Cheney …did you not know that it leads to the dark side?).

What’s astonishing is not just the rodeo approach of the Cheney’s to the somewhat explosive global situation we’re in at the moment (and yes my reference was to ISIS!). It’s also their ignorance and blindness to the olive branch being offered for the first time in years by Iran who Cheney still brands an enemy of the state. Unbelievable.

Cheney’s views are as dangerous as the arrogance with which he holds them. America is no longer a world force he claims. Why indeed, should it be is the question, given the levels political rhetoric has sunk to.

What’s ultimately in distress. Media.


Shocked to learn from a blog post by Rob Campbell (Wieden) where a Louis Vuitton ad ended up – on a sex offender app in the US!

Media agencies have  been selling crap to clients for too long. Disguising it in a multitude of terms like arbitrage (what Wall Street engages in when it wishes to be particularly destructive), value add, negotiated outcomes, distress buys and so on.

Truth is all those clever buys that conceal information and get you reach for free (Right Media used to be one) result in you losing control over your communication and where it appears. This is precisely what has happened to Louis Vuitton who suddenly find themselves in less than desirable company.

When I was in Singapore, I handled SAXO – a premium, European financial services brand. As an agency (I worked for Euro RSCG at the time; Host – in Australia) we’d done some very powerful ads that positioned the brand as a a ‘high end option for people who were ‘serious’ about trading – people who had no qualms losing $100,000 on a  trade provided they made it up in a week or so.

Many of the ads, we later discovered were appearing in the most unusual of places – like women’s  lingerie sites for example – and not even the good ones!. What the client had been sold was an outrageous promise that “in the new world (whatever that’s supposed to be), you don’t pay for reach, you just pay for the clicks that ensue as a result of it.

Quotas  needed to be met. Kpi’s were based on delivery of impressions not impact. The consequence was crap – one of the labels that Campbell uses to describe the media strategy developed for Vuitton in his original post on ‘media algorithms gone mad’ – viewable here –


The Abbot Government Finally Sees Power For What It Is. A Myth.

Fortunes rise, fortunes fall – all in the blink of an eye. Is this Australia’s first double dissolution – given there is now a legal case foo it? I don’t think it will be. Particularly since this is a climate where preference for Labour to lead the country is 53%. However it is certainly a humbling development for Tony Abbot and Joe Hockey. They must surely now realise what we all ultimately do. Power is a myth. One never worth believing in. 

Was steve jobs right in castigating marketing and branding?

Steve Jobs recently made these comments on branding and marketing.

Was he justified in doing so?

I think so.

And nowhere, do I feel his comments weigh more than in the telecommunications industry.

Really, the people who operate this industry must believe the consumer is a moron – rather than their wife.

Singtel, started 2014 in Singapore with the laudable, yet somewhat unachievable, goal of being “the most loved brand in the country.”

Their campaign didn’t get off to a very promising start as their customers howled in protest at their CEO’s suggestion that they should be charged for Whatsapp!

Still, Singtel isn’t all that bad as a company – at least not in Australia where it’s known as Singtel Optus. The company’s product offering here is a lot better, and fairer, compared to arch rival Telstra.

When it comes to data dongles, as one example, for instance,Telstra gives you 3 GB for $99 – prepaid. If you sign up to a 2 year plan (why is everyone into bondage these days?) they’ll increase your monthly allowance to 8 GB

In contrast, Optus will give you 5 GB for 69, prepaid, that’s 2GB extra for a whole $30 less!

What makes Telstra feel compelled to charge more and deliver less?

Whether it’s the company’s marketing, or brand, they are the reasons why Steve Jobs hates both – as no doubt – consumers do, too!