The Prestige Worldwide Stress Test

The movie Step Brothers is a straight up chuckle fest.

Brennan Huff and Dale Doback are two 40 year old losers still living at home.

When Brennan’s mum Nancy and Dale’s Dad Robert meet, fall in love and get married, they’re forced to live together as step brothers.

Hilarity ensues.

But, their failure to launch catches up with them when Nancy and Robert plan to retire and sail around the world.

Our two kidults are forced to find jobs, make alternative living arrangements and attend therapy.

But, they aren’t going down without a fight and hatch a plan to harness their talents and make a bucket load of cash in the process.

Prestige Worldwide.

Not a band you understand.

That’s been done before.

More like a global music corporation…

Which they pitch to potential investors at a family birthday:

“We thought we’d roll out a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity.

Happy birthday, Derek.


Prestige Worldwide,wide, wide, wide.

Prestige Worldwide.

The first word in entertainment.

First word.


Financial portfolios.



Black leather gloves.

Research and development.

Putting in the man-hours to study the science of what you need.

Last week we put Liquid Paper on a bee……and it died.




Possibly you”.

Before offering up the premiere of their first music video.

Now you can’t fault their ambition.

But, as a business plan it’s patently ludicrous.

Of course it is. It’s a comedy movie starring Will Ferrell.

But, it’s an easy trap for real life would-be entrepreneurs to fall into.

You see it everywhere. Dissatisfaction with cubicle life can make people crazy.

And they start with the wacky ideas. Anything to exit the rat race.

Artisan muesli, more craft beer, cupcakes that are going to make more than pin money.

And people quit their jobs to pursue something pie-in-the-sky, burning through a pile of cash.

But, you don’t have to give up on that dream.

Just be a bit more sensible is all.

Case in point.

Nike founder Phil Knight didn’t create a global empire out of nothing.

He spent years selling training shoes out of a van at track meets before taking the plunge.

Minecraft was a bedroom side project  before it could stand on its own.

Which brings up back to Brennan and Dale.

Ultimately they do get a business off the ground.

Just not the one they imagined.

Prestige Worldwide becomes an entertainment company that runs karaoke events.

Not the global music corporation they naively envisioned. But an enterprise they can build from the ground up that’s better suited to their experience and talents.

A sensible sideways step, rather than a full on leap into the dark.

So, yeah, let’s do this.

Slowly and carefully. Building from the ground up.

And from there you can take on the world.

Occupation – Stunt C**K

Nerdy and unassuming, Louis Theroux is just so disarming.

Whether he’s hanging out with TV evangelists, conspiracy theorists or swingers, he’s soon immersed in their world.

And when they accept him as one of their own, the revelations to camera are astonishing.

Remember Thor Templar self-titled Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate who claimed to have dispatched more than 20 alien invaders?

Or paranoid survivalist Bo Gritz preparing for global catastrophe?

Check them out again if you fancy a chuckle.

I was thinking about Louis today as I had to explain my job for the umpteenth time.

An occupational hazard for any copywriter.

“So, if I invent something you can legally protect my work right?”

“Err, no. That’s copyright. I’m the other kind”.

“What other kind?”

Then it dawned on me. I know exactly how to get this across.

In one of the early episodes Louis offers an insightful look at the adult movie business.

Yup the one with JJ Michaels, the diminutive ex-fighter pilot with a love of monster action figures turned porn star.

JJ aside, what chiefly sticks in my mind is the very niche role someone has to perform if things go wrong on set.

Waiting in the wings should the money shot fail to materialise is a very special individual – the stunt cock.

I kid you not.

Probably not an occupation you’d find on the drop down list when you’re renewing your car insurance, but a real, actual job nonetheless.

It must be every stud’s nightmare. Fail to deliver the critical moment and someone else has to step in…

And unedifying as it may seem, this is kind of what I do.

Just in a marketing sense I hasten to add.

You see, people often hand me something that isn’t performing.

A sales letter with a limp response rate.

Or a bunch of e-shots getting ignored.

I take the place of the original writer, and it becomes a rescue job, making sure those words hit the mark.

Yes I’m unseen and uncredited, but it wouldn’t be a wrap without me.

So, let’s have that conversation again.

Err, no. That’s copyright. I’m the other kind”.

“What other kind?”

“A copywriter. Y’know, like a stunt cock…”




Urgency in Copy – Make it a Scramble Like Transfer Deadline Day

It’s almost 5pm.

And for clubs in football’s Premier League, the transfer window is about to slam shut.

Fail to land that missing piece of the jigsaw:

Tricky winger, midfield maestro or defensive stalwart.

And it’s gonna be a long, hard season.

As the clock ticks down, the market goes bat shit crazy as clubs try to get multi-million pound deals over the line.

A mad scramble as compelling as any match day.

And it’s this same sense of urgency you want in your copy.

A countdown to secure that killer deal.

As well as a fear of missing out.

OK, let’s get to work.

First up you need to think about your wording.

Phrases like: act now, don’t delay and call today are only going to help your cause.

An exclamation mark or two is OK, but don’t go overboard.

OK, now we’re warming up.

Next, create your own transfer window frenzy with a time-limited offer.

Sprinkle in messages about a flash sale, or limited stock or something that’s only available to the first 100 folks who get in touch.

And finally, heed those scuppered transfer deals of yore.

Where a faulty fax machine or missed flight saw time run out.

Avoid calamity for your customers by making it easy to buy.

Tell them exactly what they need to do.

And by that I mean hold their hand all the way.

So don’t just send them to your home page if you sell online.

Point them at the contact form they need to complete to respond to your offer.

That way they can’t get lost and give up along the way.

Get it right and deal done.

In the words of Alan Partridge:

“Back of the net”.



What’s Wrong with a Kiss Boy? A Marketing Lesson from Monty Python

A bunch of unseen Monty Python sketches have just surfaced.

They were discovered in Michael Palin’s archives and include story lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail left on the cutting room floor:

An amorous Pink Knight and bizarrely a Wild West bookshop scene.

Not sure how they were going to shoehorn that one in…

The Pythons made a bunch of great movies back in the day.

The last one, 1983’s The Meaning of Life, is the one that sticks in my mind.

Yup, the one with Mr. Creosote.

One more wafer thin mint?

OMG, here it comes…

But, projectile vomit aside.

The film also contains a wonderful marketing parable.

That brands need to pay attention if they’re going to succeed.

Do you remember the scene with John Cleese as a teacher in a sex ed class?

And his wife joins him for a demonstration.

Stripping off he asks young charges how they think he should proceed.

And in their youthful ignorance, they forget about foreplay entirely.

“What’s wrong with a kiss, boy, hmm?

Why not start her off with a nice kiss?

You don’t have to go leaping straight for the clitoris like a bull at the gate.

Give her a kiss, boy!”

Which is how an awful lot of companies market their products.


Instead of just bashing me over the head with product-led advertising.

You see a sale is kind of like a date.

But, all too often, when a brand should be buying you a drink and getting to know you.

They’re like that bull at the gate, moving in to try and seal the deal.

Today, there are more commercial messages competing for our attention than ever before.

Thousands and thousands every single day.

That’s a lot of brands waving their arms around.

Which means the temptation (and trap) is to shout even louder.

But, the first hint of a pitch and you’re naturally turned off.

Example – think about the last networking event you went to.

There’s always that one person there.

Bam, straight into sales mode.

And you just tune it out before shuffling away…

Or those brands on social media, using it as just another platform for ads.

Buy our product, selling fast, buy now.

Click through and you’re directed to a product page with more of the same.

No thanks.

Those bounce rates must be horrible…

Here’s the thing.

To be successful today, brands need to master the art of indirect selling framed in the form of a story.

And here’s a great example of what I mean.

If this was a naked pitch for a marketing training course, it would never have gotten my attention.

Instead it takes a gentler and smarter approach.

The author uses a story to set the mood – establishing himself as a likeable and credible person.

The article piques your interest and gets you thinking about the benefits of qualifications.

Yes, you still need to ask for the order, but when the pitch comes at the end, it feels entirely natural.

Not an inappropriate lunge at your bits.

So, there you have it.

Slow down, take your time, warm your prospects up.

And storytelling is the way to go.