Why Unilever are the greatest marketers (company?) on the planet right now . . .

Ok that may be taking it a little far I suppose but really they can’t be far off. Following the massive success of the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign that has been hailed as one of the greatest campaigns in living memory it has now started Project Sunlight. If you haven’t seen Dove sketches then firstly you aren’t on the internet access side of the universe and second you are missing out of stellar marketing, so just watch!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk

I watched the video for Project Sunlight last week and I must say it’s just another step further into marketing genius from Keith Weed and the Unilever marketers again. They really have found a place in the soft spot of real people and are now milking it for all its worth. Now if this were any other company I would be slating them, or praising them, for taking a piece of human emotion and profiting off of it, but this company is different.

Unilever is actually doing it, they are doing the good that so many company spurt out at press cons and conferences, Unilever are living a sustainability plan every single day no matter the cost. Paul Polman is leading the next generation of business models into a sustainable future. He is an example to those around him who tell us the good they are trying to do but actually all they are doing is making sure the PR looks good.

He has taken a stand in his business, with his suppliers and his products to focus on bringing us brand that are not only world class in quality but are from sustainable sources, are helping people stay safe and healthy and are creating a better future than the one we have now. I’ve heard him say it, I’ve seen his business actively living it and its why adverts like this are so powerful because for the first time we actually have a big business ‘walking the talk’

Watch this and tell me it doesn’t hit a nerve!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWTVCkvQzY8

Now don’t get me wrong, this is no ‘for nonprofit’ organization. They make a lot of money, they have shareholders, they have a board and they have targets like everyone else. All of this marketing is design to sell more and to make more, BUT and the most important BUT is that they are actually doing it in a good way. They are the only business making a difference on this type of scale across the world.

Now if you’re standing at a shelf and you are going to buy a brand, surely, without question, you want it to come from a company like their and not the competition?

That ladies and gentlemen is a world class marketing business. Hats off to them!

Experience travel . . .

I read such a cool article the other day on the ever brilliant cool hunter about travel, that just sums up my love if it.

Some people don’t get me and why I love to travel so much, but to experience different things, in different places, different cultures, foods, drinks, people and so on is just the most incredible thing for me. I fell like each time I experience something new, especially out of my comfort zone, I gain a new perspective on things, a fresh eye and probably a better understanding of myself.

So when I found this Aman resort that is basically built out of the waiting quarters from the 1000 year old Beijing Summer Palace there was no question other than when. You see the resort is not only inside these almost ancient houses, redone to modern luxury standards of course, but with the feeling of old China. China without the people, the chaos, but replaced with simple elegance and subtle decadence of dynasty’s long gone and forgotten in this booming metropolis.

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The best part, I think though, is at any time you can call the resort team and they will navigate you to the secret door which leads right into the summer palace grounds, a place that from 9 – 5 during the day is a mess of families, groups, children screaming, tourist’s touring, people eating, drinking and messing around this man-made lake overlooked by the magnificent summer palace itself BUT outside of these hours it’s a magically quiet, calm and serene place. A place that if you wake up at sunset and run the 6 or 7km course around it, over ancient half-moon bridges, through the corridors of hand painted scenes and past the antique building and shrines it fills you with the most incredible feeling of past and present.

This is what I mean by experiencing travel. Don’t get me wrong I’m no health freak, the tasting menu in the signature French / Chinese fusion restaurant and bottle of vino from burgundy was a little more my speed but you get what I mean.

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As it is I get to experience almost all of these things with the most important person of all but every now and again I get to experience things with friends or family that make it just that much more special.

I had been to the Great Wall as a kid and apparently I said to my parents that I want to bring my children to it one day, I’ve never said that about anything else in my life. I don’t remember saying that but I do remember the impact the wall had on me, I was eager to see if it would hold the same feeling.

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I can honestly say standing on top of the Great Wall with a bunch of people I have loved for many years has to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The feeling you get standing, overlooking, walking, thinking, climbing is unparalleled. I think it is really one of the most special places in the world for me.

That’s without the sledding from top to bottom 😉

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To conclude the experience to sit in the side car of an American / Tongan entrepreneur who has been living in Beijing for 10 years and to see the city at night through his eyes and on his bike was incredible!

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This is what I mean by experience travel. These are the kinds of things that impact your soul and stay with you as memories forever. These are the experiences that grow you as a citizen of this planet and allow you fresh perspective on the world around!

 

 

 

 

 

Place of hope, despair, absolute wealth and absolute poverty . . .

Every time I go to India (for context – almost always for business and to Mumbai) I come away with the strangest feeling of inspiration. While it may sound slightly contrived or clichéd it’s completely true. You see our business deals with retailers, of all sizes, in all places. From massive hypers and wholesalers to tiny one container / room stores selling a mix of half cases to the local residents. The reason I’m telling you this is because I get to see a lot of areas, good and bad, when I go to India.

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I can help but find myself smiling when I’m standing outside a ‘store’ with the owner sleeping behind the counter, a family of flies buzzing on and around him, waiting for his fresh milk delivery that will be poured into a 50 liter steel drum and labeled out to the customers on their way home from work.

The reason I feel like this is because when I look around I see vibrancy, energy and a soul of people that cannot be defeated, cannot see failure and will survive to make their lives better. They are happy and content with what they have and more often than not it is less than nothing. They will try any way any plan and any path to improve their lives. There is the most powerful underlying feeling of self-improvement which I have yet to come across as a general feeling in any country in the world. As always it make me irritated with the general entitled attitude of South Africans in general!

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This time though I saw a different side of India. I headed up to Rajasthan to experience a bit of regal majesty, what I found was a history of extraordinary wealth and power, but somehow the ability to continue to survive and thrive in a modern context.

The other side of India is so luxurious it takes your breath away. When you enter the city of Udaipur you quickly realize the pre-modern rulers of this place had a similar taste for decadence that I do! There is the City Palace used for formal events, stays and the like (today it stands a magnificent 1000 meter long building).

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Then there is the palace built for the sole purpose of having parties on the lake. The lake i forgot mention is completely man made. Imagine a time with no machines, bulldozers, graders etc and trying to build a lake?

The dome like structure in the middle is where Shah Jahan (the guy who built the Taj Mahal) lived for a long time while exiled by his father and this is where, they say, he got his inspiration for the Taj.

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Then finally (well there is also a monsoon Palace up on the mountain because, well, you know, one cant be in ones normal palaces when it rains now can one?!) the magnificent Lake Palace that is now rented and renovated by the Taj Hotel group and is a hotel. You know when you check in on a ‘dock’ and a boat arrives to take you to your corner suite that its going to be on hell of an experience!

The small boat off the hotel is the Spa :)

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A 5 hour drive through rural India, a few monkeys, alot of tiny villages, many cows in the road, one elephant and many many cows in the road later we arrived at the Jain Temple at Ranakpur. An 800 year old temple that is hand-carved out of marble. Each and every square in inch is carved in a unique and delicately detailed way. The highlight of which is the 1444 pillars each carved from top to bottom rising into the most spectacular circular domes.

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Onward to Jodhpur, the blue city, after the temple!

Driving through the tiny narrow roads of the old city you start to wonder if you will end up sold for body parts at some point but all of a sudden two quick turns and arrival at the incredible boutique hotel called the RAAS. Checked in and into the double story hotel room with a balcony, the view from which literally made my jaw drop. Over the pool and dinner setting up over the city and onto the Great Fort of the the city. Built into and onto the mountain this towering show of stregth and greatness is one of the most mind-blowing things (I’ve said that a lot this trip!) I’ve ever seen!

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Inside the fort you start to realize the genius of design built to protect a city and its people for eternity, and it did! In fact the city walls were never even breached let alone the fort itself. Now it serves as a museum to the past and to the kings that once occupied it.

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Jodhpurs own Taj Mahal made totally from white marble
Jodhpurs own Taj Mahal made totally from white marble
Jodhpurs own Taj Mahal made totally from white marble
Jodhpurs own Taj Mahal made totally from white marble
This is why they call it the blue city!
This is why they call it the blue city!
Th most famous man in India (by number of photos)
Th most famous man in India (by number of photos)
The kings bedroom!
The kings bedroom!
The kings private strip club - literally!
The kings private strip club – literally!

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The last and perhaps most decadent part of this excursion was Umaid Bhawan Palace. Currently home to the royals of this part (the left side) and the Tajj Hotel (the right side). Literally sharing the same roof as a royal fam!

This palace / hotel is truly spectacular and my few photos here dont do it justice (in fact not to any of the above!) but have a look at these and go to the hotels website!

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The view from one of three balconies in our suite!
The view from one of three balconies in our suite!
The courtyard outside our suite!
The courtyard outside our suite!

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For many more and better pics you can go see most of em here!

The state of the Manchester United nation . . .

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN ABOUT A WEEK AGO AND CERTAINLY BEFORE THE WONDERFUL VICTORY OVER THE FAR TOO SMUG ARSENAL!

I’m not a good loser, I fucking hate it, it’s that simple but I am a pretty good winner I think. I don’t really gloat, out loud, or violently abuse the losing side, during the game yes, but once victory is sure there is something to be said about quiet enjoyment of it.

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This is why I find it so amazing that every person I know who has supported a team that has stood in Man United’s shadow for the last twenty odd years as I’ve supported them, is now smug with United’s currently transition struggles. I find it incredible that those Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and whatever relegation contenders are supporters there is some supreme delight in the currently embattled United side. I never realized just how down trodden you all were all this time.

I also find it incredible how disastrous this picture of sudden gloom has been depicted.

This is the adjustment period, it may take a season, maybe two maybe three but fans on both sides of the fence if they know anything about football will understand this. We are building the next generation of United greats, it doesn’t simply happen.

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While I can understand how the other teams fans are enjoying seeing United nowhere near the top of the log I cannot believe how pathetically the United fans are taking this period. The lack of support and faith in club that has delivered pretty much everything we have asked for 20 years must now stand and deliver or face brutal abuse? This doesn’t seem like the club and the supporters I’m part of. We are not City, Chelsea or the like that want to immediately buy success, we fight for it, we build it through sweat, hard work and years and years of practicing and pushing ourselves.  If you think this simply can be switched on or off you firstly know nothing about sport and second about building a great legacy.

I hope that the powers that be at Old Trafford are constantly giving this message to David Moyes.

As my father used to tell me this is a marathon, not a sprint. We are building for a generation, in this view the last 10 games mean less than nothing. It reminds me of the 04/05 season when United finished out of the top 3 or 4 and everyone was calling for Sit Alex’s head. It’s amazing what ‘support means nowadays.

We should be ashamed when we hear boo’s echoing around Old Trafford, this is not what we do as part of this great club.

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Can we be frustrated, angry and disappointed at results, absolutely no question. Can we debate and disagree over signings made and lost and a lack of cohesion, sure. We are supporters, that’s what we do, we argue over decisions and substitutions, we bemoan the referee and his decisions and we scream at the opposition but we never, ever at Manchester United outwardly project a negative image of our club and of our players. We are Manchester United and we stand by each other all of the way through the good and the bad and if we look at the last quarter of a century we are pretty damn lucky with what they have given us.