Wednesday, September 30, 2009

FlashForward F*ck off

(There's some swearing in this post, but no one's forcing you to read it.)

Funny story, I start watching Casino Royale on Channel 7 on Sunday night.

The film starts, and I've not noticed a small icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. Mrs AerHead points it out to me, and there, in all its shameless glory, it is.

Oh, f*ck me, FlashForward is on tomorrow night. Wowsers, it's on at 8.30pm. Thank you very much shameless icon. I did not know that. Thanks, and now please vacate my TV screen.

Mrs AerHead is absolutely livid. This little icon, trying desparately to be polite in the bottom right corner, remains there the whole time, during a fight, a chase scene, even during a brilliant scene where Daniel Craig actually runs through a wall. I love that scene, it's just so crap.

Then there's an ad break. And a reminder ad that FlashForward is on tomorrow night. Yes, you've told us. Monday night. 8.30pm. I might watch, I might not. I am not, however, a completely unforgetful goldfish of a pr*ck. F*ck off.

The film starts again. Phew! The icon isn't there. Then I glance over at my cat, Alan, who is doing something cute with a ball of aluminium foil. Pretending it's a mouse from the future, or some such.

Guess what happens next? If you've guessed that Alan starts doing the robot dance, you've guessed wrong (but I love your thinking). What happens next is much, much worse. The polite little shameless f*ck of an icon is back on the screen!

What's that? Oh, FlashForward is on tomorrow night, oh great... useful. 8.30pm, just after tea-time, that's good. Thanks for the tip. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah - all the f*cking time, that's all. Now, f*ck off shameless little repetitive greaseball of an icon, my cat's more entertaining than you, and she's a girl cat with a boy's name. My cat = my rules.

This continues. There's another ad break, the film returns sans icon, Alan has gone outside for a wee and a bit of a scratch. Now, geez, it will not return will it?

Not the cat, the icon.

Will it return? I will not have to smash the TV through a real wall in an expensive though satisfying pastiche of the crap scene I love in Casino Royale will I? Will the TV smash through the wall, or will it smash against the wall? Will it break? What is it about Daniel Craig's body that enables it to go through walls that my telly couldn't?

Oh, I might have to find out, because there it is again. Sitting there politely is the icon, pointing out its bland information to all those who didn't see it earlier; all those cretins who enjoy joining films half an hour after they've started, and didn't know that FlashForward was on 8.30pm on Monday night. Lot's of those types about you know, normally found sitting on park benches grinning at pigeons, throwing pieces of bread from their snot-crusted wrists.

So I'm a bit annoyed about all this. And it reminded me a bit of the annoyance I felt after reading the crystal ball gazing by Another Advertising W*nker, who postulated on the potential growth of apps on TV. Crap breakfast shows I can cope with. Because I don't watch them.

But films? Jeez, ad breaks are bad enough, so if this is what we can expect I will be getting rid of my TV altogether because the few things I want to watch I will gladly pay for. This is base, stupid, gutless marketing. Repeat ad nauseum. Puke.

So, of course I knew FlashForward was on. And, much like the participants of the Milgram experiment who knew they were administering a fatal electrical shock to someone else, I obeyed authority (the icon) and watched anyway.

But I didn't get beyond the opening ten minutes because I was tired and bored, and I didn't really believe that real people actually speak like that. So I read a good book, had a glass of vino, and picked up Alan from the psychologist.

And you know what else: F*ck FlashForward.

*** Update ***

5 minutes after writing this, FlashForward started following me on Twitter. When is it on again?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

War is good for us

In essence, war is good for our collective mental health.

Why do I think this? Well to explain further, let me start off with the classic analogy-builder of all business strategy: sport.

Whether or not you understand English football (the game where you use your feet to kick the ball), you'll be familiar with a wide variety of business analogies that take their inspiration from this most noble of sports.

On the sports field, you're not interested in some high falutin' CEO who needs to engage a company with 100,000 employees. You're watching a team of 11 men, inspired by one manager, who needs to engage and motivate them to kick a ball for 90 minutes and win every game, again and again and again.

Then you look at stories like this. You see, it's a news item that incorporates business and football and engagement all in one mix, to produce something that could be studied at business schools the world over for many years to come.

Imagine. You live in Herzogenaurach, Germany, and you either work for Puma or Adidas. There's a feud, between the two brothers who own each company. So you work for one, and you've picck your side on the corporate battlefield.

More importantly, there's a football match between teh two companies, and you're forced to side on the football field too. How perfect!

You see, if every organisation had such direct competitiveness, wouldn't it be easier to build that seige mentality, that unity, that sense of purpose and of winning?

Back onto the English football theme, if you play for Manchester United, you know everyone hates you (and for good reason - ahem), so you bond together better as a unit, and you build long-term success.

It's like the statistic (where?) that shows that warring regions, where there is a clearly defined enemy, contain people with far better mental health. Why? Because these people share a common sense of identity and community, agreeing about what is right and wrong. They build links with those around them against a common enemy.

Translate that into work - could you do build such a level of engagement?

Or would it just be easy if all companies were like Adidas or Puma in Herzogenaurach, Germany?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Yay, the market's rebounding (up a rocky 1% gradient).

Hey, I'm no doomsayer. I'll have a go at anything and I'll work bloody hard to achieve results. But everyone today's been talking about the job market bouncing back. And I think we need to get some perspective.

Because guess what? My figures don't show that.

You see, we measure the volume and value of recruitment ads our clients are running in Australia. We do this on a weekly basis, and guess what else? Our weekly figures show a decline of somewhere in the region of 35% for last week compared with the previous.

(*Ok, a caveat here, we always get weekly blips. My point is, don't uncork the champers just yet, because we're in for a rocky road ahead.)

All of this is on the back of a feeling within the agency (and the industry as a whole) that we've hit the bottom. Yes, strategic projects are ticking along nicely, positive conversations are on-going, and the smart employers are think about how to better engage their people (and recruit more best-fit ones) in time for the upturn.
Hell, some clients already have plans for optimising growth and taking on their competitors (those are the clients I love best).

But note: this doesn't mean we immediately start hoying up the fireworks and having a drunken recruitment industry knees-up on Bondi Beach . A huge vertical Apollo launch of a rebound this is not. More like a strong slog up a 1% gradient, with a reduced-size peleton.

In the US, The Department of Labor released a report on Friday showing job cuts in August were lower than they've been in recent months. But - so says the Associated Press - a deeper look at the data shows it will take millions of new jobs to get America back in the black.

Australia isn't in as much strife as the US. Over here, we have a robust financial system that's allowed us something of a soft landing. And, with the demographic shifts (that won't change overnight), I predict a return to a very tight labour market.
But this is going to be long uphill struggle, and I don't reckon we'll get back to our starting buoyancy until late 2010 at the earliest.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Employers over-reliance on job boards

Just got out of a really interesting analysis of the future of Australian job boards with the Sales Director of MyCareer, Matt Newcomb.

What really caught my attention was Matt's point that the main reason employers rely on job boards is because they haven't invested in their own careers sites. In short, if every Australian employer built a decent careers site, the internet tools already exist to attract and bring in the individuals the employers want.

Fits in with a lot of other research I've read, including an expert in this particular area, Michael Specht who has in the past analysed how lacking many Australian careers sites are in functionality, content, navigation, url, and so on.

But Matt's point was put into stark terms by the growth of vertical aggregators who can bring together all the information an individual might want to receive. Tradittionally, job sites (and, indeed, employers) have a view that they simply stick something online, shout about it, and expect candidates to find it.

That stands in stark contrast to the trends in the way the Australian population actually uses online media - which is all about receiving the information you want, in the format you prefer, at a the precise time you want it.

And if we know that approximately 2/3 of the global population use social networks, job sites and employers are addressing engagement of top talent in completely the wrong way.

In Australia, the demographics that caused a candidate-short market less than a year ago still persist. In the months to come, we'll return to a market where employers need to again be more innovative in attracting and engaging more of the best candidates. Employers can only do this by investing in long term strategies, importantly including the one place you know candidates will go to to apply - your corporate careers site.

If employers actively invest in their own careers websites (and think long-term about engagement, rather than bums-on-seats), they will be able steal a competitive advantage in the future.