Things of note for the week ending Friday July 21st, 2023
It’s Thursday as I start this newsletter. 21:45. Kids break up from school tomorrow and I’ve got a few days off to hang – and we have no plans.
There is no way this newsletter is going out tonight.
Reviewing the links this evening I mean, they’re good (they’re ALWAYS good, right?) but there’s a particular lengthy noodle I’m still tugging on that I don’t think is ready yet. I might change my mind. We’ll see.
Actually, no (it’s now Friday. I’ve slept and) I’ve changed my mind. Let’s do this now.
Here’s the thing:
I keep coming back to the same question:
‘What do we want from social media?’
I’ve asked it a few times here and I’ve asked it across multiple platforms since. I’m still sorting through – and looking for more – answers.
You can reply on:
Twitter (you can still reply there, I will see it)
and on Substack Notes.
If you read FTOF via email then hit reply and tell me your answer. If you read this in the Substack app, then leave a comment.
The point is: I’m still looking for answers. Gia Milinovich comes close to one of the best answers I’ve read in a while (see Thing 5) but I’m about 500 or so words into another noodle that I might finish this weekend – with your input please – that I’ll post or publish here when it’s done.
Your input is wanted. Your input is welcome.
What else can I tell you?
Yes. That’s right – you can still find me on Threads. It’s my main platform of choice – Linkedin is for work stuff, Bluesky is intermittent for now and so I’m going all in on being a Thread-head.
Twitter is [still] done for me. The owner is an edge-lord. He uses money from your advertising to pay accused sex traffickers to continue using the site. So I’m out.
And when it comes to the game of which billionaire I like the least, Threads is where I’d prefer to be.
Shall we check back in three months?
PS. Threads Pro Tip of the week?
If you’re looking for people to follow, head to the search function and scroll aaaaaall the way down. The recommendations get better the further you go. Try it!
Right, where were we? Ah yes, THE THINGS!
1. LET’S START WITH SOME GORGEOUS ADS FROM MAYNARDS
Look at these!
The implied ‘these are for kids but we’re using old toys because they’re for big kids too – probably/mainly’ use of the little figurines!
I think they’re gorgeous.
Well done Maynard’s and VCCP.
Bonus points for breathing life into an old tagline too.
2. DO NOT EVER MISS YOUR CHILDREN’S SPORTS DAY FOR A PITCH
I mean I can’t believe I’m saying this but just don’t do this.
Are we really doing this?
Looks like we are!
Come with me on a journey of imagination.
Imagine you sit in a company that helps brands choose their advertising agency.
Imagine you have an ability to speak to brands and help them understand what it means for these advertising agencies to pitch in the ways that they do.
Imagine that because of this position you hold, your main selling point is that there should no concerns from any agencies of being mistreated or dealt with unfairly.
You know adland likes to pull out all the stops for the big pitches. But you’ve also heard the stories about burnout. You’ve read about the recent high turnover of junior staff. And you’ve probably seen some stuff about ‘the cost of living crisis’ too.
Agency wellbeing should be important to you.
Now imagine you’re being asked for a comment about the toll pitching can take on an ad agency (and let’s be clear: when we say ‘an ad agency’ – we aren’t talking about the business, we’re talking about actual people. Real people with real lives).
Imagine this is your moment to talk about how brands can help agencies. With healthy timelines, reasonable asks, and even pitch fees.
What do you think you might say?
Well, when Campaign Magazine asked the question, the AAR Group thought it might be a good idea to say this:
“Pitch fees were never intended to cover an agency’s cost of pitching – the time, materials and resource costs,” Phillips says. “What pitch fees are, and how we describe them at the AAR, is ‘beer and pizza money’.
“It’s a thank you to the agency team for having to miss their children’s school sports day, a thank you for coming back from holiday a day early to attend the final pitch presentation, it’s a thank you for staying late and working weekends.”
Before we get into it, let’s talk about some realities.
I have worked late hours and weekends on pitches. If you’re reading this and you work in advertising then you almost certainly have done the same too.
Doing extra hours or days from the office (I even took my kids with me once – I have a superb photo couplet of the Ogilvy great and good gathered in a boardroom at Sea Containers discussing some finer pitch details and behind us is my son, dressed like a pirate, who I couldn’t get childcare for when I needed it – we made a day of it), working from home, or even in hotel rooms overseas (running a London pitch while you’re in Sydney has its benefits) – you name it.
If the time was needed, we were there.
The working late bit is part of the job. Good agencies offer time off in lieu (aka TOIL) for that time spent. Others might just take the team out for a massive post-pitch lunch/dinner/piss-up to celebrate a job well done (win or lose). The best ones do both.
The nature of the job – or at least the jobs I’ve had – mean that the best work is done when the whole team can be brought together and left alone from other work to get on with the job in hand. On rare occasions, that happens during normal working hours.
The point is:
Is it right? Probably not.
Can it be done better? Absolutely.
Are agencies trying to fix it? In most cases, I would like to think so.
I have never had to cancel holiday a day early (although McCann once did that to a mate – ‘thanks pricks!’) and I have never missed sports day for a pitch. The agencies I’ve worked at haven’t asked that of me – and wouldn’t expect it either.
And even if I did, to think for one second that I personally would see any of that ‘pitch fee’ as a way of a thank you is so obscenely detached from any version of the truth of what working in advertising looks like, I am stunned the AAR haven’t rushed out a statement to correct the record.
It’s a thank you to the agency team for having to miss their children’s school sports day.
A THANK YOU! Horrendous.
Honestly it makes me want to throw up.
If you’re recommending agencies that do this, you’re doing it wrong.
If you’re normalising this for brands, you’re doing it wrong.
If you think it’s an OK thing to put in the ad industry’s trade magazine then my goodness, you are doing it wrong.
You only need to look at the replies and quote tweets of the first tweet to clock this statement to see the whiplash from the industry.
Out of touch.
A good time as any to re-read Linds Redding’s ‘A short lesson in perspective’.
My only question now is this: why would an agency trust the AAR now?
Update: it turns out the AAR did respond (but only to one of the more popular Linkedin posts about this). You can make of that (and the subsequent replies) what you will. Funny how it’s only been liked by people from the AAR.
3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING
This week’s section starting with the author’s realisation that Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition (Mega Drive / Genesis edition) is now available on on Switch. Yes!
What is up, gamers.
Got a fair bit to cover off this week.
August 22nd through August 25th, a small number of us from Diva (myself included) will be in Köln, Germany for Europe’s largest games event, Gamescom.
Are you going? Want to grab coffee and a chat? Let me knoooooooow.
There’s a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie coming out…
(side: anyone remember the TMNT being called the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the UK? They thought if UK kids heard of turtles being ninjas, they might actually start high-kicking each other and throwing ninja stars at school – absolutely mental)
…TMNT: Mutant Mayhem.
And while the film looks amazing (watch the trailer!) the Roblox ‘immersive trailer’ experience is… er… a novel way of watching a trailer I guess?
I mean, there’s some behind the scenes stuff and actor interviews in there and it says there’s more to come too (‘battle tycoon’ mode launches next month) but currently this doesn’t make much that much sense to me.
Don’t get me wrong, building it in Roblox means you automatically get more daily uniques than say Decentraland or Sandbox get in a month (combined).
But still. This feels lazy. I like it but I don’t love it – and I hope the game bit (launching August 2nd) is good. Or else it’s a wasted opp.
Check out the TMNT ‘immersive trailer experience’ on Roblox.
Game News Bites
Ukie has published updated ‘guiding principles’ on lootboxes. Don’t know how I feel about this. I have a strong bias towards lootboxes being gambling. Are principles useful if they’re unenforceable? Don’t know don’t know. What I do know is that a lot of work into this and a bunch of well-meaning games people want to get this right so government doesn’t have to legislate but still. I gotta ask: why are we protecting lootboxes?
Note: at the time of publishing Ukie’s website seems to be down. Hopefully up again by the time you read this.
Related: funny how this scaremongering headline dropped around the same time huh? The numbers (when you did into them) are tiny. See here.
I’ve been talking about Netflix in games for a while now (if you didn’t know, your Netflix mobile app has a games section – go look) and Netflix has quietly been building the offering (both licensing titles and buying up indie studios) while it holds fire on any kind of marketing efforts. I enjoyed this primer from The Ringer on the status of this project. You might too. Plus, there are some proper bangers on Netflix Games.
Almost 90 percent of classic games are ‘critically endangered,’ say archivists – so how do you save them?
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 got a story trailer at SDCC last night (can’t do film panels if there are no actors eh) and it looks great. I also really liked the reveal trailer for the special edition hardware. Nice job.
What am I playing?
Well, it’s been quite a mental week at work. A Bristol trip by way of Leamington Spa, an RFI delivery and a day off thrown in for good measure (that’s today – hi), the only time I’ve had to game has been on FFXVI.
Having not played an FF since the GameCube, I don’t have much of an idea of what to expect so when I told a pal about a particularly epic battle (escalation after escalation after escalation) they were like ‘Yeah, that’s FF’ – the story is ace and if you’re playing it, I’ve just got to the bit that says ‘Press L3 and R3 to accept the truth’
What are you playing?
4. GOODBYE META QUEST PRO, WE HARDLY KNEW YE
The Meta Quest Pro.
Announced in …checks notes… October 2022 and seen on TV screens as recently as April this year –
– seems like it might not be long for this world.
I wrote about the launch of this thing back in FTOF #339. At the time I said something like:
Let’s take a moment and pour one out for the agency reps at FB/Meta who have undoubtedly already been tasked with trying to sell this thing to literally any
mugbrand that will listen.
It’s not their fault, they have bills to pay, and virtual mouths to feed. Maybe ask them to blink twice if they need help? Which they’ll be able to do with the shiny new headset!
Keep an eye on the trades now as well. Who will stare back and do nothing and who will be first to wade into the dead-eyed swamp of the brands-in-the-metaverse bandwagon?
And hey. Here we are and ZDNet is reporting Meta’s flagship headset (along with plans for any second generation version) is dead.
Now this is not to say Meta is out of the headset market. Not by any stretch. The Quest 2 is also reportedly being discontinued. It just means that all bets are on the Quest 3 (and everything that comes thereafter).
Just do one thing really well, right?
5. FAME AS PSYCHOLOGICAL MUKBANG
What is fame?
I’m paraphrasing a bit but I’m sure I heard someone – a celeb I think – say something like this recently:
‘Fame is a tasty poison. You can take a swig and swirl it around in your mouth but be sure to spit it out and move on. If you swallow it, it’s game over.’
One of my favourite writers and thinkers, and author of the substack, has been exploring the topic (for a good while but has revisited it again) and arrives at a grotesque if not worrying conclusion (see also: why I gave up Instagram – I didn’t like the reflection it made me seek).
From Hollywood to Twitter and every follower and fan-based platform inbetween, Gia’s writing is on point.
Reflective of our online culture of sycophancy or incendiary rage, ‘FAME’ is provocative af and my recommendation of the week.
Be sure to spit on your way out.
THIS IS THE BONUS SECTION. BONUS LINKS THAT BUMP US OVER FIVE THINGS BUT DUE TO TIMING AND SELF-IMPOSED WRITING RESTRICTIONS ARE LIMITED TO PITHY COMMENTARY ONLY.
The excellent this week is worth your time. The latest edition’s theme is psychological safety and features some corkers. The Roblox story is particularly awful.
I’m going to go right ahead and recommend another substack, this time it’s . Their latest edition is about Regrets. Hearing the audio excerpts to go along with these insights really bring it home. Go read/listen.
I nearly managed to get to the end of the newsletter without mentioning Barbie but stay with me, this isn’t about the marketing! It’s about the music. I really liked this culture piece from the Beeb about how the Barbie soundtrack was put together. You might too.
‘Threads is filled with dark patterns’ – no, it isn’t.
‘I tried to buy a post on TechCrunch.com’ – this is great.
The pinnacle of Batman animation: the Mask of the Phantasm is getting a 4k rerelease. Relevant to some you, definitely.
Kids built Croydon in Minecraft. Amaze.
Advertisers want ads on Threads. Threads users want features. FIGHT!
20 years of podcasts – here are some of the best (any list that starts with ‘The Worst Idea of All Time’ – one of my personal faves – has to get a mention).
Any excuse to spend more time with the brilliant Ms Marvel.
Tracy Chapman and ‘complicated conversations’ in Nashville (they mean racist).
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. MIND THE GAP.
The OREO x Xbox campaign keeps winning. It picked up a bunch of awards at the New York Festivals awards this week – including its first Grand Prix of the year.
I’m going to sign off and hit send on this thing. It’s 13:50 on Friday July 21st 2023 and Five things on Friday is going out on time.
I should take Fridays off more often.
Have a great weekend gang,
Whatley out x