My name is David Sadler-Smith and I am a Genericolic

whiskey
I was putting together a bio for myself and reviewing a selection of my work trying to get a sense of what really sets me apart from others. An easy task I thought, so I started wading through the ad material, DM’s, brochures, PR etc. that I had created over the years looking for what stood out. It was during this self-examination (which is never pleasant as I tend to end up asking the question – what difference has my life works actually made to people?) I was taken aback by the amount of Generic content that I had created. Generic content …bloated copy lines, superfluous visuals, elaborate typesetting etc. etc. … all the stuff we use to frame and guild our story.
What really shook me was the Generic stuff seemed to be growing to the point where in some cases it appeared to be the story (non- story might be a more appropriate term)… I had become a Genericolic.

A good test for Genericolicism is to remove your name or logo from a piece of communication material (websites are particularly good places to start) and replace it with a competitors and see if you notice the difference.

It was after a quick scoot around online and reviewing others web content that it became clear to me that Genericolicism was widespread and I was in fact part of an epidemic. Corporate website and marketing material was awash with.

“an extensive range of strategies and solutions to unnamed problems covering every market sector. Putting the customer first and leveraging untold levels of expertise in whatever subject matter might interest you… your problem our solution… in partnership together”

Here’s a real one “We can help you to seamlessly integrate data to inform business decisions and actions in ways that allow your team to respond faster to evolving business priorities. We can advise you how to innovate using data and analytics, how to drive excellence in operations, and how to deliver modern data & analytics platforms.” … that’s IBM

Generic content isn’t a bad thing (thank god… as I seem to earn living creating it) and it is often an essential framing element to any communications. A story needs context and its relevance and usefulness needs to be easily decoded by the audience. What makes something different however, can be quite subtle and is easily choked by the contextual stuff and the so-what.

Whether you are on your way to becoming Genericolic or like me you have the full blown disease here are 4 things you should consider doing.

  1. Admit you are sufferer – only then can you truly separate out the Generic content from the Heroic stuff
  2. Don’t go cold turkey – Generic copy is not bad… it’s just not the story, not even the glue… it’s just a framework. Yes… build your framework but save your creativity for what makes your story different and useful to others.
  3. Apply the test for Genericolicism to every piece of work you do.
  4. Join the mailing list – there is strength in numbers and there’s always relief to be had when you learn about others that are suffering more than you.

As a sufferer it’s not all bad news. There maybe no cure and you may just have to accept that on occasions your prolific skill to spout marketing fluff will be leveraged across multiple communications platforms… oh shit, but like all good addictions you will be able to spot yours and the Generocism of others a mile off and it could be just that which sets you apart when you’re next presenting your ideas or life’s work to a prospective client or employer.

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What does it all mean?

This morning’s Google doodle celebrates Freudian psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach’s 129th birthday with an interactive version of his famous inkblot test.

I’ve been staring into the ink blot below to see if I can discover anything interesting about myself.

Hermann Rorschach - ink blot test

Hermann Rorschach – ink blot test

I’m finding myself strangely drawn to this little chaps big eyes… hmm, what does say about me… I guess it means I’m an eye man… curiously I feel certain that the his beak should be a little lower.

Having read that back I’m now feeling anxious about referring to the little fella as a guy!!! Better get back on the couch.

Oh mamma don’t cry

Tough words…

Oh Mamma do not cry—Immaculate Queen of Heaven sup­port me always

O Mamo nie płacz nie Niebios Przeczysta Królowo Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie

…”oh mamma do not cry… immaculate queen of heaven support me always” The line is from a piece of classical music by Henryk Gorecki… the words are sung in polish… it’s a beautiful but haunting piece of music… so much so that it got me curious about it’s origin. The story behind the this line, as I discovered, was even more haunting. The text was found on a cell wall at the Gestapo’s headquarters in Zadopane… beneath is the signature of Helena Wanda Blazusiakówna, and the words “18 years old, imprisoned since 26 September 1944.”

Gorecki wrote “She does not despair, does not cry, does not scream for revenge. She does not think about herself; whether she deserves her fate or not. Instead, she only thinks about her mother: because it is her mother who will experience true despair. This inscription was something extraordinary.” 

As I get older I seem to become less immune to the pain of others… funny that… I thought age was providing me with a crusty intolerant surface. Can you have both?

Anyway… if you’re feeling a bit melancholic and need a shift in perspective, have a listen. The piece will sound very familiar as it has been widely used…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miLV0o4AhE4

Free thinker or organised controller

Some might say “a well ordered desk makes for a well ordered mind.” Hallmark Cards maybe. I’d hazard a guess that any quote extolling the virtue of being organized will be from a far less interesting source than Einstein.

Einstein or Bush

Here’s to a cluttered desk

Free thinking vs organised control. I think you need an element of both… but control should be the sidekick… on its own it will get you nowhere.

Looking at my desk I might be about to make an important discovery. What’s your desk saying about you?

Cuadrilla Vs Swampy… WTF

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from Cuadrilla that fire breathing mythical creature of the 1960/70’s B movie fame but like everything else from our past he seems to have been revived. I was never exactly sure whether he was a force for good or was a baddie. But this time around he appears to have been resurrected on behalf of the poor consumer struggling to pay the gas bill… excellent.

cuadrilla energy exploration

For the past few years we’ve had to rely on organisations like OFGEM – a toothless litter critter created by the government – to champion our cause for lower energy bills, but not anymore, we now have our very own fire breathing 100ft energy creating monster from the B movies… Cuadrilla. In the 70’s I seem to remember Cuadrilla obtained his power from biting on electricity power lines… oh, that could be a showstopper…  might add to our problems. But we needn’t worry, just like other 70’s revivals he’s been improved and no longer feeds on the power grid… his new superfood is a fast growing share price and government subsidies. So I guess that makes him green too. And like all superhero fire breathing monsters he has a special weapon the Frack… WTF.

It appears however that the Frack or Fracking is a little controversial… but hey, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get a subtle answer to our energy crisis from a creature with a name like Cuadrilla.

So as Cuadrilla trawls across our green and pleasant land should we care that the ground shakes a little and there’s the occasional accidental blaze caused by his fire breathing shrill. Personally I’m a little weary but maybe it might be worth it for the low cost gas that he promises.

But like all superheroes Cuadrilla has a nemesis… Swampy… this little fella claims to be one of us and fights for the good of mankind. But can we trust him? After all it turns out that Swampy is the bastard child of Dr Middleclass and Miss Nimby. His image is not helped by a group of grubby looking disciples that have the same hippie based outlook probably born out of a background of wealth and privilege. I doubt that any of them have ever had to worry about the cost of gas and keeping warm during a cold winter.

Swampy gets his power by praying on our fears and conscious whilst reassuring us that he knows best… his special weapon is the promise of Armageddon if he doesn’t get his way. Sounds like a cult religion to me.

So where should my loyalty and support sit. Personally I’m not a Swampy fan, I like my heroes to be strong, reassuring and something to aspire to… for me Swampy is a weaselly character who has a poisonous message of negativity and doom. The world today has been shaped by exploration and pushing boundaries. What would the world look like if our decisions were based on the fear of the unknown and doing nothing because we’re too scared?  I like that Swampy prods my conscious and raises questions – but is that really his motive. To me it seems that he and his disciples crave the power to decide what’s best for others without a clue of what others have to do to get by… including paying the gas bill.

So that leaves me with Cuadrilla the people’s fire breathing cheap energy giving dinosaur. I’m not totally comfortable with a hero that seems to rely on brute force and fire. Maybe he just needs a makeover …a softer image and a new name, how about Barney the Fracking Dinosaur. Ahh…WTF

When is a man’s home really his castle?

When we’re up against it and it feels that everyone is conspiring against us, the sight of your house is a reassuring one and wouldn’t it be nice if you really could pull up the drawbridge and forget all your troubles if only for a few blissful hours.

But at what point do you feel the need to actually turn your house into a castle.

I took the snapshot below from the side of a dual carriageway on my commute. The house is one of those bland 70’s chalet style properties… nothing remarkable so far except there’s a transformation taking place… this house really is being turned into a castle. Not sure if he’s going to build a moat… in fact I’d hazard a guess he’s more at home laying a driveway than moating… is moating a word? Sounds like a night time activity… dogging in a ditch maybe.

Castle

An Englishman’s home… really

So why has this chap decided to pull up the drawbridge?

I could have asked him in person, as shortly after taking my first pic he came out of his castle and was crossing the road looking as though he wanted to have a chat with me… maybe he wanted to offer me the chance to purchase a few sprigs of lucky heather – I was thinking I might need some. Looking at his expression however, I’d hazard a guess that he was preparing to offer me some renovation work… and I wouldn’t be getting a quote for the work he had in mind.

Got to dash…

Rescued on a wipe clean couch

I see this sign quite a bit at the moment on the M25. Free recovery… Await rescue. Kind of appealing in a non motorway setting… some might say a little romantic.

Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for

But if you’re unfortunate enough to be sitting in your chariot broken down on the M25 and feeling grateful for the prospect of a free rescue… you may want to think again.

Sitting in your car stranded in the road works is very unpleasant and you’d think I’d be grateful for a free rescue but as a guy, being rescued is emotionally a little uncomfortable…

…in “normal” life when things go wrong you tend to get some sympathy – warm looks and maybe a hug. But that doesn’t happen when you’ve inconvenienced a fellow motorway traveller by adding a 15 minute delay to his journey.

So I’m sitting there apologising to everyone that chooses to look, with their hate filled eyes, into my car as they pass me by. I’m mumbling expletives to myself as I patiently wait to be rescued. Eventually my knight in shining armour arrives… not on his trusty steed, he’s riding an over-sized tow truck, the kind of truck that tows other trucks. And my knight… he’s not wearing his traditional shiny armour his chosen protection is a thick layer of body fat squeezed into a grubby boiler suit which has been fully waterproofed by layers of grease.

“I bet you’re glad to see me” says Stevo. He quickly hooks up my ride to the Beast (the tow truck) – his words not mine – he gives me a wink and gestures me towards the front of the truck. I look back at my baby, she is now attached to the Beast’s giant hook. It looks as though she’s about to be dragged back to its  cave where she’ll be violated by a selection of greasy attachments belonging to Beast… not a romantic scene. And me… well Stevo tells me I’ll be riding up top! As I climb into the cab I could feel a wave of sympathy from other road warriors… yes death was the punishment they had wished for but this scene, and what might ensue, looked a little too harsh… after all it could be one of them next time.

Up top in the cab, it looks, feels and smells more like a beasts mouth. I’m sitting on what appears to be a couch upholstered in “wipe clean” black plastic…  a very convenient surface Stevo told me later. At this point I felt the need to remind myself that I too am a man… but did that actually matter to Stevo.

Fortunately there’s not much chat up top – not much anything infact – we just listen to Rod Stewart banging out “The first cut is the deepest” and “If loving you is wrong I don’t want to be right”. Stevo’s about the same age as me but that’s where the common ground ends. Clearly we went down different paths at a very early age. Stevo’s path was more a trip around the block than a journey, stopping off at the corner shop to get fags, picking up his wife Kaz at the pub and buying a scratchcard as an investment for his future. Whereas mine has been a path and journey that has taken me to the great unknown, a place where anything is possible and where dreams are made real… ironically the M25 has now reunited me with Stevo; we’re the same age and in the same place but I’m the one broken down.

Thankfully a motorway rescue is short affair… we pull into the next motorway service station, Stevo looks at me “there you go that wasn’t too painful was it” he jumps out the cab and lights up a fag. I gingerly climb out of the Beasts mouth and Stevo gives me a wink… really was that necessary? “Let’s get your girl off the Beast’s hook”.  I walk around the front of the Beast trying not to make eye contact with its headlights. The beast was huge and grubby… I’m sure it was smiling. We gently lowered my baby off the hook, which was now curiously very hot, and released her from the Beasts grip. It may have only been a 3 minute ride but she didn’t look the same girl. I got this feeling that she rather enjoyed being on the back of the Beast, bumping and vibrating along on his giant hook … would she ever be able to respond to me in the same way. Thankfully my own experience with Stevo was a little less traumatic… and maybe we’re a little more alike than I first thought, after all, I spend much of my time going around the “M25” block. Maybe I should invest in a scratchcard and some wipe clean material for life’s spillages.