That’s a wrap


On this day in 1969 the Beatles released their final studio album, Abbey Road.  Although Let it Be came out in 1970 it was recorded before Abbey Road.

The album was an immediate hit.  George Harrison released his best music.  The album cover caused a permanent traffic jam, and continues to do so.

That was pretty much the end of the Beatles, and the end of the 1960’s.


Battle Dress


This is the dress that shocked the world.  Known popularly as the “Derby Day Dress” or the “White Shift Dress” worn by Jean Shrimpton on Australian Derby Day, Oct 30th, 1965.

Shrimpton, AKA “The Shrimp” was the world’s first supermodel.  She was contracted to judge racegoers fashions at the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival in 1965.  For reference she was paid £2,000 for this contract at a time when the Beatles earned £1,500 for their Australian tour.

Shrimpton was on contract with DuPont who were promoting a new acrylic fabric.  When it turned out that there was a shortage of the fabric for the dress design Jean told her dressmaker to just make it shorter, as nobody would notice.

She then turned up for Derby Day wearing no hat, no gloves and no stockings.  The Australian Fashion community and the conservative bourgeois classes were outraged.  The paparazzi had a field day.  The incident sparked a media frenzy as Shrimpton was condemned and insulted by one side, while the British press rounded up to support her.  They described her as a “Petunia in a garden of onions”.

For young Australian girls it signaled the arrival of the Swinging Sixties.

By today’s standards the dress seems almost conservative.  It is hard now to understand the levels of outrage sparked by the wearing of a simple white shift dress.

But it reminds me of a time when Dublin Theatre goers rioted upon the utterance of Synge’s lines “It’s Pegeen I’m seeking only and what’d I care if you brought me a drift of chosen females, standing in their shifts itself maybe, from this place to the Eastern World?”  His play, “The Playboy of the Western World” caused as much of a sensation in Ireland as Jean Shrimpton did in Australia.

A shift is an Irish term for an undergarment, a night dress or a slip.  The line is a reference to a tale from Irish folklore when Cúchullainn was in such a rage following a battle that the king could not allow him to enter the palace.  Instead he sent thirty maidens clad only in their shifts out onto the plain.  The great warrior was shocked and embarrassed, he blushed, lowered his eyes to the ground, and the battle rage drained from him.

What is funny today is that the term “Shift” in Ireland now has distinct sexual connotations.  When Irish boys and girls go nightclubbing they are hoping for a “shift”.  Depending on circumstances a shift could mean anything from a kiss to full on sexual intercourse.

Digital Junk Mail


In the world of digital marketing there is a fine line between annoying people and communicating your brand to them in an engaging manner.  Are you interacting with your customer, or intruding?   If you get it right you build customer loyalty, get it wrong and your customer may cut you off from further contact, or they may even leave.

Too often the designers of digital marketing campaigns do things just because they have the information and the can physically do it.  You know it, the customer knows it, and it is lazy marketing.  Quite simply it is the digital equivalent of junk mail.

If you sit down and think about what you are doing, and think about it from the customers viewpoint, you can come up with something better.  But it is really worth putting some thought into these issues.  If you are not prepared to devote marketing resources to digital campaigns you may be better off not doing anything.  At least that way you don’t annoy your customers.

Case in point, it is my birthday today.

I got a text first thing this morning from my brother saying ‘Happy Birthday’.  That’s nice, warm, engaging.  He ain’t heavy.  I smiled, I texted back a thanks.  It’s what families do.

A short time later I received another text saying “Happy Birthday from O2! We hope you have a great day and thanks for being a loyal customer.  From O2.  Opt out 1800 946102

I thought to myself “Screw you.  You don’t give a rat’s ass about me or that it’s my birthday.  You took these details from me when you created my mobile phone account and you have a computer routine that automatically tosses this garbage out“.  So guess what?  I took their advice and opted out.  Now they have lost this communications option.  Why?  Laziness.  This is not an engaging customer communication.  This is digital junk mail.

I opened up my email and found another “Happy Birthday” greeting, this time from Topaz, who give me prize competition entries when I buy Home Heating oil.  Topaz sent me a song, “She Loves You” because that was the No.1 song on the day I was born.  “Yeah, yeah, yeah” it’s already in your head.  Ear worm for today.  I played the song and had a smile.  Then I picked up the phone and ordered oil for the winter.

Somebody in Topaz is doing their homework.  They are trying to figure out what kind of birthday greeting will engage their customers.  Both O2 and Topaz have pretty much the same data.  One company failed miserably and the other succeeded.

Something interesting happens customers when they get into their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  They become more and more self-assured, frank, outspoken and they really know what they do and do not want.  If you want to be critical you could say that we become demanding and opinionated, grumpy old gits.  Well, here is a message to all you young digital marketers out there, it’s only going to get worse.  Because now the digital savvy are becoming grumpy old gits.  The computer literate generation, the A: prompters, the pre-windows users have come of age.  You have nowhere to hide.

On Aging; Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly, like a sack upon a shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering. I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me! Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it, otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching and my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor: Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling, don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy and every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then, a little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

Prepare for Battle


BBDO, the ad agency, published a piece of research called “The Ritual Masters” which identified a set of daily rituals that provide humans with structure in our day.

Rituals are transformational.  They move us from one phase of existence to another.  Marriage is a ritual that moves us from a state of being single, to a state of being a couple.  In our daily lives our rituals may not mark such significant transitions, but daily rituals remain very important.  Perhaps more important than the big, infrequent ones, the rites of passage.  Where would we be without small daily rituals?

The first ritual we perform every day they call “Preparing for Battle”.  It is the process of transforming ourselves from a dream/sleep state into an energised, active, waking state, ready to go out and take on the world.  Dreaming and Sleeping are states which allow the id to project itself, to wander in the world of the possible, to imagine and fantasise.  Our inner child can play the game of “what if”.

When we wake we must rapidly move the id closer to the ego, and engage with the cold hard real world of facts, hard surfaces, life commitments, taxes, bills to pay, places to go before I sleep.  The morning ritual is a group of activities we perform which wake us up and ground the id.

The most common  task is brushing teeth, performed by 82% of people around the world.  Brushing of teeth could be the most unifying act performed by humans of all races, ages and status all round the world.  If you want to identify with everyone, talk about the experience of brushing teeth.

Next most common, in diminishing order of importance are taking a shower or bath (74%), having something to eat/drink (74%), talking   to a family member/partner (54%), checking e-mail (54%),   shaving (male – 53%), putting on makeup (female – 47%), watching TV/listening to   radio (45%) and reading a newspaper (38%). Notice anything missing?  Well, they forgot to mention getting dressed!

If you examine all the possible combinations for putting on the average 9 clothing & jewellery items, the permutations are enormous.  The human brain cannot handle the stress of making decisions every morning, so we follow a routine.  Same sock on same foot.   Same leg goes into the same side (left or right) every morning.  Dressing is like a well rehearsed dance, same moves every time.

Many of the actions we take every morning are almost automated they are so routine.

Breakfast is the most boring meal of the day.  Look at the foods we eat.  Oatmeal, maize, bran, toast, eggs, simple foods, basic foods, unchallenging foods.  Who prepares and eats a roast chicken dinner or a vindaloo curry for breakfast?  (Last nights leftovers excepted)

So every morning we gird our loins, like putting on a suit of armour to do battle with the big bad world.  When you open your door and step out of your house you need to be ready for business!  But sometimes, when you are riding on the bus, you may slip back a little into that cosy warm womblike dream state, for just a few minutes more.

A day in the life:  by John Lennon & Paul McCartney

I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords.

I saw a film today, oh boy
The English Army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
but I just had to look
Having read the book
I’d love to turn you on

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
and somebody spoke and I went into a dream

I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.
I’d love to turn you on

It was 20 years ago today!

My son is studying music in school for his leaving cert. One of the musical scores on the syllabus is the Beatles Album: Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. How cool is that? Well, cool for me. But for him I guess you have to put it in perspective.

Sergeant Pepper was released in 1967, when I was 4 years old, so it formed part of the musical DNA of my upbringing. But my son is 17. For him this should be just a 46 year old album. It would be like me in 1979 having to study music written in 1933. Would I have rejoiced if my school told me I would be learning the musical score from “Flying down to Rio” starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire? Would that have got my hands clappin’ and my feet tappin’? Not exactly. I was listening to Blondie, The Boomtown Rats, Pink Floyd, Ian Dury, the Police, the Undertones and Thin Lizzy.

But here is the incredible thing. Yes! He is excited. He is interested. It is a mark of the enduring influence of the Beatles that those funky kids today dig that groove because those cool sounds are so gear. OK slang language has definitely seen a seismic shift, but the music lives on.

1966/67 was the heyday of the rivalry between the Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Jimi Hendrix was at the height of his career. “Dazed and Confused” was released by Jake Holmes. Bob Dylan followed on his “Blonde on Blonde” album by releasing a greatest hits LP. Van Morrison went solo and released “Brown Eyed Girl”. The Doors broke onto the scene with their debut and then “Music from the Big Pink” by the Band came out in 1968.

In this context you can appreciate that Sgt Peppers hit the charts at the very pinnacle of the creative explosion of 60’s music experimentation. It was a great time to be alive. Of course, if you remember it, you weren’t there 

Within you and without you: by George Harrison

We were talking-about the space between us all
And the people-who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth-then it’s far too late-when they pass away.

We were talking-about the love we all could share-when we find it
To try our best to hold it there-with our love
With our love-we could save the world-if they only knew.

Try to realize it’s all within yourself
No-one else can make you change
And to see you’re really only very small,
And life flows ON within you and without you.

We were talking-about the love that’s gone so cold and the people,
Who gain the world and lose their soul-
They don’t know-they can’t see-are you one of them?

When you’ve seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there-
And the time will come when you see
we’re all one, and life flows on within you and without you.Image