Category: Blog

Sometimes perfect isn’t good

There was a fury over England’s disallowed goal in the World Cup Round of Sixteen, back in 2010.

And a fury over Argentina’s offside goal.

And a fury over soft free kicks awarded to diving Italians.

All worthy of fury. If you follow England. Or Mexico. Or logic.

But I don’t believe the answer is video replays or another official on the pitch.
All that will do is make it easier to get the answer right.
It will let dispassion into the game.

And football needs passion.

It has skills. But, it is no more skilled than other sports – every sport has its specialised skills (anachronistic as some may be).

It has a sense of Us against Them. But, its supporters are no more parochial.

One thing football has going for it is emotion.
The fans do get more emotional – because of the human element. Because, in any competition – local, national, international – someone’s getting robbed by a bad refereeing decision.

Take away the emotion and it risks becoming just another code.

Allow stoppages – to consult video refereeing – and it’ll become a snore-fest.

The Round Ball Game is the world’s biggest game because it has an in-built passion generator.
They give their community something to get enraged about.

It’s something every other brand in the world could learn from.

Don’t try too hard to be perfect.

If you do, what will your customers get passionate about?


Originally published by Brand Clarity as “Why one referee is best”, in July 2010

Even writers have heroes

David Abbott is dead.

And I am sad.

With the exception of one man, he, above all others, shaped my career as a writer.

And that one exception was a student of Abbott’s.

So the point may be moot.

Like so many others, I pored over his entry in The Craft of Copywriting, copying his writing technique, feet on the desk, slightly tilted chair, pen tipped to my lips in a woeful attempt to mirror his inimitable style.

I was enchanted with his daredevil acts of writing, “If the welding isn’t strong enough, the car will fall on the writer”.

I couldn’t wait for the latest D&AD Annual, knowing there would be an Abbott or two to worship, for the grace of a well-turned headline or the simple shock in a carefully crafted sentence, “When the Government killed the dog licence they left us to kill the dogs.”

A photocopy of his Chivas Father’s Day ad stayed with me through five interstate moves and a divorce. “Because a red Rudge bicycle once made me the happiest boy in the street.”

His, “Or buy a Volvo” ad is as iconic as Bernbach’s “Lemon”. And perhaps more copied. Aping an Abbott ad seems, sometimes, to be a national sport for lesser writers.

Whenever I had to defend the use of more than twenty words in a press ad, I would turn to a Sainsbury’s ad and triumph, “Which of these words would you remove?”

He made me want to be a better writer.

He still does.

All I can do, like so many others, is bow my head over my keyboard.

And try harder.


Originally published by Brand Clarity, May, 2015