Hello, Tomorrow???


Few days back, Emirates published the opening of its new commercial and had the world anticipating and guessing what could be its amazing continuation.

“Who was this enigmatic Sir?” was the question being asked all over social media, all over the world.

Some speculated it was an old ‘Friends’ cast; some were even convinced it was ‘Brad Pitt’.

Imagination flowed, as it should have.

Stories were built…beautiful ones.

I, from my side, was expecting the start of an Epic, à la Nespresso campaign, featuring George Clooney and Jean Dujardin.

I was expecting Emirates to leap into awesomeness, and make us dream. Something only Emirates could do.

I could not expect less from the world’s best airlines.


Then came 5pm yesterday, the much anticipated reveal rendez-vouz.

I was on the road and as soon as I stopped at traffic lights, I reached for my phone with such a ridiculous enthusiasm and…

Here was the ‘KID’.

The enthusiasm that started few days back, turned 20 seconds later, into a jaw dropping disappointment.

The Epic I had in mind turned out to be a trip into lame-land.

This much anticipated ad stank of ‘ticked marketing boxes’.

I could almost hear the brand teams shouting out in the background:

‘Let’s add a kid, it would be so cute…and emotional…oh and let’s make him dream of becoming a pilot…. an Emirates pilot!’

‘Where is my family…. Families constitute 56% of our passengers, WE NEED TO HAVE A FAMILY!’

‘What about Economy Class??? We need to highlight that our Economy class is comfortable…”


What I was hoping to be one of the best ads of the month, turned out to be a trip into the mundane, a story where ‘Jen’ is so comfortable in Economy that she doesn’t want to return to her First Class Cabin….

Seriously Emirates? Who will buy this?

I have been flying Emirates for the past 20 years. It is my favorite Airlines, and probably the worlds’ too.

You had a chance to build an epic and become the World’s best advertiser and inspire us a bit more. Make us dream like only you could. But instead, you succumbed to these boxes that needed to be ticked.

I will keep hoping that one day, your communication will be as good as the amazing experience you offer…

Maybe, tomorrow???


The Human Attention Span

Keeping anyone’s attention online is getting harder and harder. Video that are anywhere between 60-90 seconds are considered a nightmare. 

To keep your audience’s attention, your content needs to get right to it, no more teasers and build ups, the reality is, no one has the time for it. 

Check out this infographic below, the numbers may depress you.

to summarize, before I lose you:

  • Average attention span is 8 SECONDS…8…which is shorter than a goldfish
  • Average time you spend on your phone scrolling away is 3 hours, 16 minutes a day
  • When visiting a website you will read on average up to 20% of the content…28% if you’re lucky

This means:

  • Your message should be clear, short and sweet, accessible (easy to find, it’s not a treasure hunt!)
  • Rich rich rich rich media and nothing but rich media, few are those who want to read 


Postmortem of mediocrity.


Bob died of a massive heart attack. The funeral director bathed him, brushed back his hair, touched up his face and  dressed him up in a finely cut suit and Gucci shoes. Bob was ready to face the world one last time. But Bob is as dead as a door nail. And if he were left out any longer, rigor mortis would kick in and he would rot and stink. Sadly, the suit and the shoes will not help (Sorry, Gucci).
Now let me tell you that Bob is actually an ad, a TVC or a direct mailer. And the soul is an idea. Without the soul, no matter what it wears, it will stink and get buried in the graveyard of sameness.
Such is the power of an idea. You can cloak its absence with gimmicks, execution style, and with a litany of rationales. But let’s not kid ourselves – it’s dead.
So why is it so difficult to instil ideas? Believe you me, it’s not rocket science to come up with one. It takes the same amount of time to do a ‘crappy’ ad as it does to do something that’s memorable and stands out. You hunt for images and fonts. You spend hours trying different backgrounds. What’s the point in flogging a dead horse?
If a client’s aversion to ideas is what’s stopping you from infusing an idea into your every day work then you need to understand the true meaning of an idea.
An idea is not a bizarre, abstract and cryptic puzzle that you pride yourself in while everyone around you doesn’t get it. If that’s your definition of an idea then you are in the wrong profession. Maybe you should paint. There’s a huge market for abstract art – people don’t understand it but pay a king’s ransom to own it.
The ideas that I am talking about are simple truths born out of insights. It’s the originality and power of how it is presented.
It’s what happens when we shed all the frills that adorn our egos and start looking at consumers as real people. We tell stories, we make them laugh, cry, sing, question the status quo.
When your core idea is steeped in the essence of the brand, chances are the client wouldn’t reject it. But you cannot arrive at path-breaking ideas if you haven’t understood the brief. Don’t just read it. Question it. Believe in it. A brief is like a stereogram, if you look at it long and hard you will see an idea taking shape. And the more you immerse yourself in it, the clearer it will get. Look for gold nuggets. Push for insights. Find the many ways in which the product can enrich lives then dramatise them.
Breathe life into your work and it will live in people’s minds.
And, if you do it with all your heart, become immortal in a hall of fame…

That uncomfortable beautiful feeling

great ideas



The client was cool. The brand was amazing.

We saw an opportunity and got excited.

We cracked the idea and felt good about it.

We presented the full plan with enthusiasm.

We sold it really well.

Client liked it. It was a good route.


We killed it the next morning.


What happened overnight?

It just happened that the client liked it. It was a good route.

He didn’t question or challenge anything.

He smiled, satisfied, as if we read his mind.

He was too comfortable.

He could easily link the idea to what his product stands for.

He could surely see the sales potential.


Was this what we were really looking for? A happy & comfortable client?

Was this the ultimate idea that would connect with people.

Was this the next big one that would blow your mind away.

Our idea was good and the client liked it.

With a tiny ‘i’, a lower case ‘g’ and a boring little ‘l’.


There are 3 types of Great Ideas:

  • The ‘how come we didn’t think about it’ ones.
  • The ‘I wish we thought about it first’ ones.
  • The ‘fuck! These guys must be on something’ ones.

Being in the presence of greatness leaves you unsettled, a tad uncomfortable, speechless for a few seconds,

sometimes  for minutes….

It leaves you with a bit of discomfort, like when you are face to face with an unexpectedly gorgeous woman.


gorgeous woman


A great idea happens when your instinct tells you yes, but you’re not too sure…it takes a bit of time, then it overwhelms you.

The more open-minded, risk taker, experienced you are, the quicker the gap between discomfort & excitement narrows.

Good ideas sink immediately into your mind

Great ideas play with it at first. Then they blow it away.



It is simple. A great idea is one that goes beyond your comfort zone.

It takes you places you’ve never been. It defies the usual, the norm, the mundane.

It defies the brief. And takes it to a better place.


The reason we killed our first idea, was because it was approved on the spot.

It didn’t leave our client with a bit of discomfort. It was too safe and good.

We usually don’t settle for that, especially when we see the opportunity and when the client is up for it.


So next time your client smiles but tells you he needs some time to absorb & assimilate the work he just saw,

rest assured that you did a great job.

Trends in Consumer Banking.


Source: https://www.123rf.com

Like other sectors, Banks have always been boosting and incorporating new high-tech systems to make banking easier for consumers and to enable their transition. Here are some developing technology and design changes that are shaping today’s transition in the Banking Sector.


The bricks-and-mortar locations where banks traditionally conduct business in person with their customers are going through a big period of transformation.

Banks are closing branches, relocating branches, shrinking the square footage of branches and moving branches into shopping-center spaces to be closer to their consumer. They’re also changing the nature of services that banks offer customers at branches.

Transactions, which have been the backbone of branches, are migrating out of the branch and into other channels – Mobile apps, online, ATMs and other technology influences are taking the transactions out of the branch itself. “Intelligent ATMs” offer more transaction services or video screens that can connect customers to live tellers at call centers.


As transactions move out of branches, tellers must become less transaction-oriented and more focused on sales of bank products and services.

Even their job titles have changed from teller to personal banker, and now, universal banker. This new position describes branch employees who not only process transactions but also pitch products and services to customers through cross-selling and up-selling.


Early on, banks experimented with mobile, website-based banking services. But the trend today is toward mobile banking apps designed to deliver banking services via a smartphone.

Most banking apps allow customers to check account balances, review transactions, transfer funds from one account to another within the bank and pay bills within the bank or externally.

The big unknown is the extent to which mobile banking apps also will allow customers to complete transactions that are harder to authenticate remotely.


The risk of identity theft creates the incentive for consumers to take responsibility for the safety and security of their personal financial information. Whether that means a password-protected cellphone or one with virus protection, consumers have to be smart users of technology.

Banks are doing their part, too. One trend is stricter authentication systems that require more than a simple username and uncomplicated password to access a bank account.

But banks today don’t stop with authentication. Many are taking “a layered approach” that begins with authentication and adds plenty of other security systems.

“It’s like securing a house, you want strong locks, but you shouldn’t stop at the locks.”


Transaction security, in particular, will continue to be a challenge.

The magnetic strip, or “mag stripe,” found on the back of most debit cards and credit cards is old technology. The new tech, already widely used in Europe, involves a so-called EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip, which is much more secure than a mag stripe. The EMV chip produces unique coding for each transaction and transfers some of the liability for fraudulent transactions from banks to retailers.

Some past data breaches (for example target in the U.S) may have been prevented by having more robust card technology.

“I think we could see some drastic changes in the way we bank and the way the card is used”


Despite the ubiquity of plastic payment options, consumers still use cash and coin to pay for plenty of goods and services, particularly when small dollar amounts are involved. And much of that cash and coin passes through bank accounts at some point or another.

That could change as new payment technologies, like smartphone wallets and virtual currencies, make a run at displacing the cash and coin.

Banks offer some of these technologies, but many other nonbank companies also do it. That could mean some stiff competition in cash-replacement, technology-based services.

Source: http://www.bankrate.com

Stop Thinking, Start Feeling …

Top tips for writing great briefs:

1) Don’t over think things.
2) Release yourself from the tyranny of conscious thought
3) Express everything in a simple yet interesting way
4) Something that allows people to ‘feel’ not ‘be told’
5) Turn functional into exciting
6) Ignore details and distractions and focus on clarity
7) Briefs that are exciting, infectious and ‘bursting with possible’
8) A proposition that opens doors rather than creates small boxes

The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The reason I mention this is because recently I came across a quote that seemed to explain why these 2 subjects are inherently linked:

You see the problem I have is that I often think too much about something.

OK, that’s wrong, we should never undermine the ability to think something through with rigour and purpose … it’s just that sometimes, in my focused state [I know, amazing eh!] I find it almost impossible to express all that I’ve learnt and had to consider in a simple – yet interesting – way.

And that’s where music helps and why that quote is so good.

You see once I’ve worked out the context of what I’m trying to convey, I basically look for songs that have that theme in their title and then just listen to them.

I know that sounds utterly ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how often…

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What does Obesity have to do with Advertising?

Peter Attia

This talk is interesting not only from a nutrition & health perspective (it might lead to a debunking of some long held beliefs about obesity & diabetes) but because of the scientific thought process behind it which we could learn from. It shows a willingness to challenge the pre-accepted hypothesis and to develop empathy with a situation rather than just passing quick judgement.

It is a demonstration of open minds, courage to throw out yesterday’s hypothesis, and a recognition that scientific truth isn’t final but constantly evolving.

So how can we learn from this for our own industry? For me there are two points:

First, although advertising is not a science but we should try to make it so – for example we search for an insight just like researchers looking for Cholinesterase inhibitors treating Alzheimers. The difference is that we shouldn’t debate, procrastinate and pontificate over it but instead invest in a true process of discovery.

Second, even when we do uncover an amazing insight, the enchantment of great advertising is not actually the insight itself but about taking a straight forward insight and turning it into something amazing.

The point is that ultimately advertising is an entertainment / creative & social industry. Maybe we shouldn’t be over-thinking creativity and searching for a holy grail, and instead just letting go of our inhibitions and enjoying ourselves (just like when we watch something that engages us). Let’s be honest with ourselves – these days whether a campaign for a noble humanitarian cause or the next big Soda campaign, the life span of an idea is a few days / weeks with a # before something else takes its place. So let’s be nimble, let’s be flexible, let’s search for entertaining ideas rather than unequivocal truths because there are very few unequivocal truths in the world, but many points of connection.

I’d like to leave you with this message from Joi Ito. If innovation has been broken down and democratized, then it’s right for advertising to be also broken down and democratised. The future is about not getting bogged down in words and statements and more about quick prototyping, experimenting, learning to trust the team and building on each others ideas. This doesn’t take the responsibility off strategic rigour, but it recognises that advertising just like Science and Innovation is about experimenting, coming up with quick iterations, building and breaking hypothesis and then getting to the point where we can make a creative leap to something fresh yet useful.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Those that do.


Maker is a documentary about people who make stuff. It is what I was referring to in the post about the Transition Economy.

I’m happy that the trend was identified and termed more eloquently by others ;) The project is definately worth checking out on Kickstarter and supporting.

Be happy.


A Half-Baked Reflection On Influence

The world is teeming with people we refer to as “influencers”.  Marketeers and advertisers will befriend influencers when launching a new product or a campaign in order to gain access to their entourage. We try to gain their favor in order to reach out to those who look up to them.

The word ‘influence’ comes from an Old French astrological term meaning “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny”. It’s no coincidence that ‘influence’, originally exerted by the stars, is nowadays exerted by ‘stars’ of a different kind.

Influenza’ comes from Medieval Latin influentia, meaning  “a flowing in”, which also refers to the stars, since influenza was believed to have occult or astral influence.

It’s the similarity between influencer-the-star and influenza-the-disease that strikes me as interesting — the concept of influence as an epidemic, in the etymological as well as metaphorical sense.

Are we influenced out of conviction or out of contagion? Do influencers convince us, or do we only want so desperately to be like these stars that we succumb to (and fall ill with) their opinions? The mechanics of ‘influence’ are worth a deeper study, perhaps elsewhere.

The ‘Socialmediazation’ Of Life

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 2.20.03 PM

“You should tweet that!”

You’ve probably received this advice from someone in response to something you said; something admittedly not as profound as your friend made it seem. It’s only normal to ask someone to tweet what they just said, of course. It’s akin to the knee-jerk reflex when the doctor taps your tendon with a hammer.

“You should tweet that!” That’s the new, natural ending to a conversation. That’s evolution, baby.


Your napkin sits lightly on your lap. Crumbs on the table tell of your skirmishes with the bread sticks and butter. In your peripheral vision you spot the waiter approaching with a tray. You turn to your friends to express your joy about the food’s arrival.

But then,

As the waiter comes closer, three out of the four people at the table have already pulled out their phones to Instagram their plates. It’s the new saying grace, the new “بسم الله” before you eat.


Were you at the Metallica concert? Did you check in on Foursquare? Did you then upload photos of yourself to Facebook, standing in a sea of ebbing humanity, with the stage (and maybe even James Hetfield) behind you, miles away, the size of a pinhead?

If you did, then inspect those photos for a moment. Inspect the background, notice smart phone screens in the air as hundreds, thousands (who’s counting, right?) of people are taking videos of the concert with one hand as the other hand flashes the sign of the horn.

Your photos document this convergence of an outdated “heavy metal” hand gesture with the more contemporary addiction to documentation.

An addiction to the ‘socialmediazation’ of life.

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 2.20.15 PM


Kik it, Vine it, upload it to YouTube. Or pin it, GIF it, tag it, share it. Send it out like a ripple; a digital echo diffusing into the vast virtual space. It’s all exhibitionists and voyeurs out there. Feed them.

But when you’re finished, right before your phone battery runs out, or just as your dried-up eyes start begging you to go to sleep, ask yourself these:

Were you really there in that moment? Did you ‘experience’ it?

Or were you too busy reporting it to the internet? Did you really want to be there, or did you just want to be able to say you were there; to show off  how much life you’re living? Did you feel anything or were you too preoccupied with publishing the fun you were ‘having’?

Come back. The moment needs you.


PS: At a public art exhibition on JBR two months back, a lovely European violinist performed on the sidewalk in a flowing red dress, her melancholic melodies riding on the night’s lazy seaside breeze. As people passed by, they snapped photos or took videos of this rare presence. They stood there just long enough for the photo/video before moving on to the next ‘thing’. No one stopped to actually listen or watch her perform.