Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thus spake Zarathustra.

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, whether real or mythical, was the founder of the faith that preceded Islam in Central Asia and Iran.

He possibly lived sometime between 1000 BC and 1500 BC but no one really knows.

Zoroastrianism was the first faith to propose the concept of an invisible, omnipotent god.

It is also known as a fire worshipping faith, as the followers were asked to pray towards the direction of light.

Fire was a light that they could control, more than the sun or moon, so their temples always contained continually burning fires.

We have seen many examples of Zoroastrianism throughout our travels in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran and we have heard many interesting ideas about its origins.

This faith is still practiced covertly in Iran and more openly in India.

Many Zoroastrian temples and buildings are adorned with a base-relief carving of a winged figure known as Fravashi or Guardian Spirit. He was regarded as the spirit who reached their deity Ahura Mazda.

Zoroastrianism is also known as Mazdaism and as Magism from the name of their ancient priests, the Magi.

The Three Wise Men were thought to be Zoroastrian and to come from Kashan, south of Tehran.

Zoroastrianism is said to have influenced Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

I find it amazing that all these religions appear to be at odds with each other, yet they have so much in common.

A good dose of comedy might cure the spread
of boring advertising.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Last weekend we went to two different shows that were part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

I had forgotten just how well a comedian can hold a mirror up to society and reflect our silly side.

Good advertising can do the same thing, only with a commercial message attached.

If we laugh at a joke in an ad, and that joke is relevant to the product, then there is a far better chance that we will remember that ad and therefore the product.

One of the acts we saw was Ronny Chieng, a Malaysian comedian who was educated in Melbourne. Ronny had that wonderful ability to be both self deprecating and an astute observer of human nature.

He could poke fun at himself while making fun of his audience.

Many advertisers take themselves and their brands too seriously. This results in boring, predictable advertising that tries too hard.

More ad men and marketers should learn the art of comedy. Maybe they might produce better ads, that sell more products, without boring us senseless.


Ronny Chieng

Ronny Chieng

Korea, the yin and yang.
Seoul and Hwaseong Haenggung.

Monday, September 30th, 2013

The concept of yin-yang is used to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world and yet interrelate to one another.

That perfectly describes Korea.

It’s therefore no wonder that the Korean flag uses yin-yang to symbolise balance within the country and its people.

Black and white, night and day, male and female, red and green, old and new.

Opposites is what South Korea is all about, especially when you consider the difference between the North and South.

Seoul is also a city of contrasts. You often see an old Korean palace, from the 17th Century, set against a backdrop of a towering steel and glass skyscraper.

It’s hard to find a rubbish bin yet the streets are free from litter.

We arrived as the Mid-Autumn Festival was in full swing in the streets around our hotel in the Insadong area. The Hotel Sunbee is well located and close to the palaces, restaurants, bars and the Metro.

On our first full day we took the ‘Hop-on-hop-off’ bus tour to get a good perspective of the city. It rained in the late afternoon so we didn’t do too much ‘hopping off’. On the two occasions that we did get off the bus we visited Gyeongbokgung Palace, first built in 1395 and then reconstructed in 1867, and Gwanghwamun Gate and stood beneath the impressive statue of King Sejong the Great, 1397-1450. At Gyeongbokgung Palace we bought a ‘Combination Ticket’ which gave us access to five sites.

The following day we visited Jongmyo Shrine, built in 1394 and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. We arrived just in time for the English guided tour. From there we walked along Cheonggyecheon or ‘The Stream’, an artery of life set below the madness of the city streets.

Contemporary architecture is a feature of Seoul and there is no better example than the new City Hall. This is literarily ‘New Wave’ architecture and when you see it set against the Old City Hall you can see how well the old and new complement each other.

More yin-yang.

Later that afternoon we arrived at Deokstgung, one of the Five Grand Palaces built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. This time, we were just in time, for the changing of the guard, a colorful display of  command shouting, drum pounding and band marching. The palace was a little more subdued with beautifully crafted traditional Korean architecture and and a quaint, western inspired, pavilion designed by a Russian architect at the turn of the last century.

The following morning we had a guided tour arranged and visited the Korean Folk Village at Hwaseong Haenggung and then travelled a few minutes down the road to Suwon Hwaseong Fortress.

The Korean Folk Village is as much a film set as a museum as many of the famous Korean historical dramas are shot here.

It’s also a great place to bring bus loads of Korean school kids for an outing. There were hundreds of them, all in their brightly coloured uniforms, having a wonderful time. When it came to lunchtime they all sat in neat rows and quietly ate their meal.

The Fortress was built to protect the main city and originally ran for kilometers around it, now there is only a small section remaining.

The next day we visited the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace, another UNESCO World Heritage site and also built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). Unfortunately it rained again and we had to shelter under the very wide eaves of the garden buildings as we moved around. It continued raining as we moved from the garden to the palace but at least there was a bit more shelter there.

We went to find a shopping mall but instead discovered Seoul Central Railway Station built in 1927 and with many similarities to Flinders Street Station, built 73 years earlier. Inside we discovered an avant-garde typographic exhibition, ‘Typojanchi 2013’, with three floors of exhibits covering 50 years of experimental typography.

On our final morning, after a stuff up with our hotel transfer we managed to get to Yongsan Station with just a minute to spare, for our high speed train ride to Jeonju in the south west.

But even that had its upside.

A walk in the park.

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Park Güell was built in the years 1900 to 1914 as a real estate development by Count Eusebi Güell. It was established on Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain) and intended to be an escape, for the well-to-do, from the smoggy atmosphere of industrial Barcelona.

The development was a total failure with only two housed being built there.

Anton Gaudí designed the park and the accompanying architecture, with its network or pedestrian footpaths, roads and viaducts.

The organic nature of Gaudí’s design is everywhere.

Gaudí was coerced, by the Count, into buying one of the two houses and lived there for 20 years. It’s now Casa Museu Gaudí and houses some of his furniture design and personal items.

Like a lot of Barcelona in the off-season, Park Güell is in a state of repair with workers, jack-hammers and High-Vis jackets everywhere.

We have visited the park before but decided it would be a good place to try out my new Sony DSC-RX100, miniature camera.

I wanted to see how versatile the new camera was, test it out under different light conditions and then compare it with my Sony a55 SLR.

We walked around Park Güell for several hours, I took 79 shots with my original SLR and 119 with its new, younger sibling.

It was a great walk in the park and I was pleasantly surprised with the snaps from the new camera as well.

Our run in with the law.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

This has nothing to do with advertising, marketing, photography or anything else I usually blog about.

So that’s a first.

On our ill-fated trip from Antalya to Göreme, where we nearly missed the bus, we met Dilaver at the bus station.

We met him again at our convenience stop during the middle of the night. He was on a different bus but traveling in the same direction.

We thought no more about this chance encounter until he turned up at our hotel in Göreme. He had tracked us down and wanted to have us back to his house, in the next village, for dinner on Wednesday.

Unfortunately we were due to leave on the Tuesday so we politely declined.

All this was communicated with his broken English and our non existent Turkish.

Not to be put off by this he decided to show us some of the sites that were off the tourist beat.

We went racing around the Cappadocian country side in his little Russian car, up and down dirt roads and reversing along major highways.

The communication between us was elementary and this was highlighted in a most unconventional way.

We told him we had visited Gallipoli and got into a discussion about how ferocious the fighting had been there.

He then produced a small service revolver and removed two bullets from the clip and touched them together.

We both immediately realised what he was demonstrating, recalling the story we had heard about bullets colliding mid air during the heat of the Gallipoli battle.

Now Dilaver is a Turkish policeman and one of the warmest, most welcoming people we have met.

We hope that any further brushes with the law will be equally rewarding.

When I’m sixty-four.

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

When Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in 1967, I rushed out to get the album.

I still have it.

One of the songs that intrigued me most was When I’m Sixty-Four, by Paul McCartney. I was interested in it, not for the lyrics or the music, but the idea that anyone could be that old.

Even my father wasn’t 64.

Looking back on the words, it’s easy to see that they were written in a very different time to now.

A time before Email, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

A time before iPhones, iPads and MacBooks.

Hell, even a time before Apple.

When I get older losing my hair,

Many years from now,

Will you still be sending me a valentine

Birthday greetings bottle of wine?

If I’d been out till quarter to three

Would you lock the door,

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

When I’m sixty-four?

oo oo oo oo oo oo oo oooo

You’ll be older too, (ah ah ah ah ah)

And if you say the word,

I could stay with you.

I could be handy mending a fuse

When your lights have gone.

You can knit a sweater by the fireside

Sunday mornings go for a ride.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,

Who could ask for more?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

When I’m sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage

In the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear

We shall scrimp and save

Grandchildren on your knee

Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line,

Stating point of view.

Indicate precisely what you mean to say

Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.

Give me your answer, fill in a form

Mine for evermore

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

When I’m sixty-four?


When I’m Sixty-Four was recorded in December 1966.

I Was Only Nineteen, but that’s another song.

The man who made history, is history.

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Steve Jobs was a modern day Leonardo da Vinci, a technical visionary with an aesthetic taste for art, design and typography.
Every time I turn on my Mac, answer my iPhone or listen to my iPod, I will think of him.

Nothing changes.

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Back in the day, when we were travelling in Europe, you would get your supplies of paper towels and toilet paper from the loos along the way.

I found this sign in the public convenience at Minnipa, South Australia.

It seems that nothing has changed, except the locals have now realised where all the paper products have been going.

Warm and fuzzy marketing.

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Marketing 101 states that a brand needs to connect with the consumer.

This can happen on many levels.

In the 50s and 60s the ugly VW Beetle was made acceptable by advertising that was honest and used self-deprecating humour to highlight its benefits.

One of the longest running campaigns of all time, Dulux, employs the lovability of an Old English Sheep Dog.

Not so lovable but just as effective is Sam Kekovich for Aussie Lamb, now into his eighth year.

The one thing they have in common is this ability to find a place in the consumer’s heart.

Apparently the same format is employed by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund).

A recent SBS documentary, ‘Conservation’s Dirty Secrets’ has revealed the marketing strategy of the WWF is all about promoting an emotional connection with certain animals. These are known as ‘charismatic mega fauna’.

Animals such as lions, tigers, apes, Polar bears and of course the WWF’s trademark, Giant Panda.

Oceans cover 71% of the world’s surface, yet just 1% is protected. Apart from whales and turtles very little is mentioned about the conservation of marine life, yet many ocean species are also in grave danger of extinction. Not to mention the thousands of cold-blooded, land based creatures that are also under threat.

The truth is they are just not cuddly enough.

I wonder what the impact on donations would be if the WWF logo looked like this?

“I’ve got a mate”

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

This is great for the person who has the mate and probably great for the mate but it can be very costly for business.

“I’ve got a mate” is usually associated with a client who has a mate who he believes will be able to save him money by getting a job done more cheaply.

The opposite is usually true.

The mate probably doesn’t want the job, because he knows he will have to do it for cost.

He therefore cuts corners, doesn’t ask questions and just wants to get the job out of the way.

He might be the totally wrong person for the job but does it because he’s a mate.

He could even be charging far more for the job because he isn’t set up to handle it.

But yet he still goes ahead, because he’s a mate.

So many jobs that are handled by mates turn to disaster.

It’s not the mate’s fault but a misguided belief, by his mate, that paying the right money to get a job done professionally isn’t good business.

How do I know all this?

My mate told me.