Five things on Friday #266

Things of note for the week ending Saturday September 8th, 2018.

Did you know, if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF (eg: a proper intro and probably some more gifs) than reading it here on





aka: the section where YET again James kicks off FToF with ANOTHER GQ profile piece (but it’s another stonker). 

Michelle Yeoh is a badass. A bloody good actor. An incredible athlete. And above all, seemingly a super lovely woman.

Definitely take some time out of your day and read this fantastic interview.

Bonus thing: While we’re are it, ‘In conversation with Kathleen Turner‘ is also worth gifting your eyeballs to for a good reading; there is SOLID GOLD to be found in this one. 



This article (edit: it’s a section from a book), written by former professor and now facilitator and consultant, Robin DiAngelo, goes into the real experiences she has come up against when running diversity training for white people in the USA. 

Unpacking superiority, fragility, and more – it is provocative and prompts self-examination. 

A recommended read. 



Full disclosure: I was asked to contribute to a piece for this last week and missed the deadline (Sorry Stephen!) this section is some of what I wrote and some further thinking. 

Did you see/miss this?

It’s been all over the trades these past two weeks and I’m kind of unsure what ELSE there is to say about it.

Oh how people cried!

People blamed: the Instagrammerthe clientthe briefthe platform… and of course, it being a big Twitter viral thing, everyone piled in and had a pop or a moan

Truly, what else is there to say about the poorly briefed, poorly executed, and poorly received Listerine activity also known as ‘#BringOutTheBold’. 

Last year, Marshall Manson and I wrote about ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ (slide 43 onwards). It theorised, and not without evidence, that for influencer marketing to succeed in the future then it would require brand marketers [and their agency partners] to take more ownership over influencer activity.

The point being, per the late 1800s economic theory the trend referenced, when it is in everyone’s interest to pull as much as they can from the opportunity available, no one will maintain that opportunity, and the well [of money, from brands] will run dry. After this week’s epic moan-a-thon, you can see it happening.

Let’s address the blame game (it’s stuff like this that makes me question the sanity of my entire industry at times).

First, it is entirely wrong to place any blame at the feet of the influencer. Entirely wrong. 

Here is a person is out to make money from their craft. If a brand wants to throw money at that, then fair play. If the armchair critiques literally pressed their thumbs two, maybe three more times then they would’ve seen that, irrespective of product placement, Scarlett London’s ENTIRE FEED is clearly the work of someone who enjoys creating quaint hyper-real model shots – and that’s entirely OK because this is their choice and their Instagram account is theirs and they can do whatever they want with it.

IMPORTANT POINT: Those choices also include the moment when brands want to stick a product in because y’know because that’s how they make money. Cool? Cool. 

SECOND IMPORTANT POINT: If anything, Scarlett London should be applauded for being able to get a mouthwash brand to pay for something that the poster does every day:

‘I post whimsical photos of my life with balloons’
‘Here’s some money’
‘I post whimsical photos of my life that now feature mouthwash’

👏👏👏👏 👏

Next up, you want to ridicule someone/something (because maybe, just maybe, you can’t move off the sofa today without feeling clever because you said something cutting about someone/something you’ve never met or worked on then OK) then ridicule the brand. This whole ‘bring out the bold’ campaign point is just so… blergh. Somewhere someone at Listerine wrote several PowerPoint presentations talking about the value of Influencer Marketing. Meetings were had. Budget was pitched for, allocated, and spent. And this is what they’ve ended up with. 

I don’t understand it. 

The (my) problem with marketing generally is that idiots ruin it for everyone else. A mouthwash commissioning content that barely speaks to their brand strapline of MAKE BOLD CHOICES (which, when you think about it, is almost the exact opposite of what you want a mouthwash for – surely a better line would be ‘MAKE THE SMELL OF LAST NIGHT’S BOLD CHOICES GO AWAY’) is terrible. And the problem is – as Marshall and I extolled at the back end of last year – content creators will keep content creating. It’s up to brands and agencies to both understand how to work with influencers and WHEN. Or else you’ll end up with stuff like this and the tragedy will be that influencer marketing will end for everyone. 




I love everything about this.

‘But James! The brand preference has dropped so suddenly!’

‘Yeah, piss off – sales are UP

“Consumers don’t think how they feel. They don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say” – David Ogilvy. 



I love this for so many reasons. 

1. They noticed a gap for art and filled it. 
2. They noticed a lack of Asian diversity on display in McDonald’s and fixed it. 
3. The BTS video is brilliant – watch it.
4. AFAIK, this photo is still hanging.
5. I used to work at McDonald’s – and the idea of something like this happening at my own store puts a huge grin on my face (especially given the amount of OTHER STUFF that went on while I worked there – ask me about that over a pint some time).

Well done everyone.

Gold stars all round.



If you’re new here, the section known as THE ESSENTIALS is about highlighting the stories that continue to come to light in regards to the #MeToo movement. It’s been here since it began and will remain so until it ends. 

This week, your essential reads are:

  1. Ronan Farrow on how without the first amendment, #MeToo would’ve been denied oxygen.
  2. The rush to rehabilitate Louis CK (reading this reminded me: if you haven’t yet, please watch Nanette, you’ll find it on Netlfix).
  3. This is bigger than Argentino




Like the end credits of Bad Influence that you had to record and hit the ‘still’ button the VCR to read the lot… the bonus section is coming atcha in five, four, three…



  1. That time Bradley Cooper played the Elephant Man and just made faces.
  2. Searching for the Angel that held me on Westminster Bridge (this is a heartwarming read)
  3. Structuring Strategic Storytelling (read this, plannery folk).
  4. Losing Earth: the decade we almost stopped climate change (sobering)
  5. Related to THING ONE above, this is an amazing Thread.
  6. Yellow Stripey Things: A Comprehensive Guide.
  7. First degree BMW burns from Audi.
  8. I went to the ROMEO + JULIET Secret Cinema nd had a GOOD TIME. Also: Baz Luhrmann (you can actually see me in the background of that second shot – brilliant).
  9. The best football club in the world‘ – hard to argue.
  10. A super simple – and screamingly obvious – design choice where someone just went ‘Yeah but why do we do it like that?’ – big fan. 
  11. The Facebook Story problem (good reading, as ever).
  12. I lost a pitch and talked about it (because the world would be a better place if we acknowledged failure from time to time). The replies are a mixture of friends, idiots, and mansplainers (sharing for the sheer comedy).  
  13. I’ve probably shared this before BUT DID YOU KNOW: the plural of anecdote is actually data? Bet you didn’t.
  14. Another AR is here and alive in 2018 proof point.
  15. Bob Hoffman: ‘Are you deluded?’
  16. Finally, Rob Blackie is worth a follow on Twitter. Consistently smart with an analytical eye for details that many miss. Do it. 


Until next time…

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x