Jonathan Staines

Sometimes I have worthwhile thoughts about brands, language, marketing and advertising. Any views expressed are entirely my own and nothing to do with anyone I work for or have worked for in the past.
You can follow me on Twitter if you like — @jonstart

A Great British Brand

Like many strong brands, Russell Brand divides opinion. It’s easy to deride him. Just choose your epithet. Libidinous lightweight. Naive dilettante. Political poseur. Amoral chancer. Degenerate Essex Boy. You can belittle him but it’s difficult to ignore him. As a degenerate Essex boy myself, I like him. He’s a great British brand that others could learn from. Read more on A Great British Brand…


I thought I’d try to write a blog in the style of the venerable Mr T.
I’m well aware that it may lack his erudition, wit and insight.
I make no promises. After all: it’s only me.
I’m just copying Dave Trott’s typographic idiosyncrasies because I like to muck around with words.


Now with added ‘personality’.

Innocent have got a lot to answer for. Now you can’t move in a supermarket for super-cute FMCG brands, asking if you ‘fancy a cuppa?’ and talking to you as if they’re your best friend leaving you a note on the fridge door. The words ‘tone of voice’ now fill me with dread. Read more on Now with added ‘personality’….

Brainstorms are likely. Take shelter.

I once heard someone leading a brainstorm say, “There’s no such thing as a bad idea…”. Ever since that, I’ve been sure that brainstorms are a bad idea.

Here are some other bad ideas: square wheels, sunglasses made out of cheese, umbrellas fashioned from toilet paper. Suggesting these ideas in the context of a brainstorm would not make them good ideas. To use some technical terminology, they’d still be crap and pointless.

Read more on Brainstorms are likely. Take shelter….

Do you value your opinion?

One of the most difficult aspects of working on the brand-advertising-marketing spectrum is the management of opinion. There’s even something ironic about writing this blog. It is ‘merely’ my opinion.

I am wary when I hear someone saying ‘Oh, that’s just subjective’. It’s fashionable to seek compromise and consensus but what isn’t subjective? I would argue that there’s really no such thing as objectivity. If someone believes that the moon is made out of ping pong balls and wallpaper paste, then for them at least, that’s the absolute truth. Read more on Do you value your opinion?…

John Lewis. Christmas. Time for a naïveté play?

Let’s imagine you’re a big, successful British brand. A famous one. A much admired one. A much-loved one. Let’s imagine that it’s coming up to Christmas and you have several million pounds to spend. Let’s say…oooh…£6 million. Read more on John Lewis. Christmas. Time for a naïveté play?…

Barclays: yep, we’ve even got ‘the internet’!!

Hi there. We’re Barclays Bank and we’ve noticed quite a few people seem to be using the ‘internet’ nowadays. Many, many ordinary people are doing things ‘online’. On computers. It’s really catching on and it’s not just youngsters choosing to go ‘online’. People are also using portable phones and these other ones called ‘smartphones’. They are called that because they look nice but smart also means ‘clever’ in American. So, actually they are ‘clever phones’ but smart sounds nicer. Read more on Barclays: yep, we’ve even got ‘the internet’!!…

RIP Lou Reed. Fortune favours the brave.

Okay, it’s only an old ad from 1993.

But ‘Dunlop — Tested for the Unexpected’ is a very famous piece of television advertising for good reason. Yes, the budgets were possibly bigger then. Yes, the ad is brash, wild and melodramatic. It’s still a brilliant piece of film making. Let’s not forget that it’s also twenty years old. I think it’s stood the test of time. What a way to advertise something as mundane and utilitarian as car tyres…

Read more on RIP Lou Reed. Fortune favours the brave….

Teach yourself advertising

My parents were both primary school teachers. It’s a noble profession and teachers earn much less than doctors, lawyers and other professionals. I was a teacher once too. The lack of a decent salary was the main reason I left and decided to use my love of words and ideas in the somewhat less noble profession of marketing. I confess that I’ve never looked back particularly wistfully at my life in front of the whiteboard. Read more on Teach yourself advertising…

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