Friday, June 20, 2014


I was sent an email hyping the excellent work an agency did for Vauxhall and the England foot ball team - here it is:

Stand Together

And here's the 'behind the scenes' youtube:

Good marketing, a lovely ad, but ... the problem is with the product. I won't espouse on the issues of football in the UK, I know virtually nothing about it. But all the marketing in the world, the best adverts, the greatest creative team, cannot make the ball go in the net on the night.

By investing in 'products' like football, which are so inconsistent, organisations are taking a huge risk. Yet they must pay off. Whether England win or lose, the support is there, so mobilising that support and aligning it with a brand (such as said car manufacturer) must have value.

But given the millions all of this costs, and the fact that the cost of just ONE premium league football player is more than is spent on research for prostate cancer (see here, begs the question - are we not only spending our marketing money in the wrong places, but investing in the wrong things?

But that's people for you - and it's not that I don't want football or any other sport demeaned or downgraded (indeed we should invest in more for our young people), it's just I find it difficult to have a sense of proportion when it comes to the huge amounts of money spent on professional sport - probably because of the sector I work in.

Good luck England! You need the Italians to win - so no more jokes about them retreating, OK?

PS: There's been huge criticism recently of charity leaders' pay. Take a look at this - premier league pay (2011). Made me think.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Like many people, today I am remembering a father who passed away many years ago. He died on a cold January night, when I was only 13, of a heart attack suddenly in the night.

I wonder what I would say to him if I could see him again now? I am now older now than he was when he died - that's weird, I am older than my father.

If I could talk with him, I wouldn't tell him all the things I've done, the things I am proud of, or regret, or even that I wish I'd had a chance to share with him. I think, given a small amount of time with him, I'd like to say thank you.

The things he gave me in life were not material; he gave me a sense of humour - a sense of the ridiculous even.. He gave me a love of words; I love to play on words and meanings, very much as he did. He gave me a love of music, bringing me up on Wagner and Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn.

He also gave me the 'Sheppard nose', which is evident in generations of our family, even through to my distant cousin in Australia.

He gave me the confidence to perform, to love the stage and to be able to speak in public. He taught me how to wiggle my ears. He taught me sayings and jokes that now, listening to 1950s and 1960s radio (Radio 4 Extra), I realise were from The Navy Lark and Round The Horn. They are still funny.

Thank you dad - thank you for giving me things money couldn't buy, and precious gifts that have stayed with me for life and helped make me who I am.

And thanks mum, just in case you thought I'd forgotten your contributions. But you deserve a blog all of your own, let alone a post.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The 6th of June

Today across Europe people are remembering the great sacrifices made at the D-Day landings.

Today is the anniversary of Bobby Kennedy's death.

Today is wedding anniversary. Divorce papers are in my drawer, I just need to get a cheque off the court and we're almost there.

Today is the day I meet my new boss for the first time.

Today is my brother's birthday.

Today some people are remembering the loss of a loved one.

Today will be a joyous celebration of new birth, and of passing.

Today will be a million different things for a million different people. Today will be a good day, a bad day, a sad day, a happy day.

Today I want to thank everyone who believes in human rights, and that freedom is worth fighting for. I want to believe that extremists - whether fascist UK political parties, religious fanatics or dictators - will not win.

Happy birthday Phil.