Conventional. Normal. Safe. Stale. Mediocre. Uninspiring. Anti-innovation. Corporate. Remarkably unremarkable. It’s exactly what you expect it to be: just another fucking shade of grey.

A few days ago, the King of Pop, Justin Bieber launched his new single: “All Around the World.” Within ten hours, PSY (the guy who did Gangnam Style) released his next single: “Gentleman.” As the ratings battle unfolded, I found myself being taught a lesson I would never, ever forget. To understand what I am about to say, you need to do a bit of pop research:


Justin Bieber is pop’s lush prince. Plucked from Youtube and signed by Usher before he even had hair on his little pop sack. Present day, he’s topped the American Billboard Charts with three consecutive albums and sold around 15 million records worldwide. He’s worked with people like: Will Smith, Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey. For some reason, the world’s A-list are queuing up to kiss his spotty little botty. His ascent to fame is unparalleled. His 37 million Twitter followers put him above Barack Obama, making him the most followed person on planet Earth.

He has world-famous writers and producers. He’s backed up by hundreds of millions of marketing Dollars. His label paid the Gross Domestic Product of Kenya to radio stations, to smash his single mercilessly across the world’s airways. His video checks all the boxes. The screaming “Beliebers.” The world tour. The token black guy. He’s clean cut. Preys to God. He sings, he dances, he farts Chanel. If you pulled down his Calvins, you wouldn’t see genitalia. Genitals are imperfect. You would simply see a smooth zone. Like a Ken doll. He did get caught smoking weed once, but let’s not toss a turd in J-dog’s praiseworthy punchbowl.
PSY is a sweaty, bloated, forty-something Asian guy. He doesn’t speak English; 95% of his lyrics are Korean. He cannot sing. His suits are shit. His dancing is self-deprecating. His music is neither new, nor innovative. He has 94% less followers on Twitter. He’s signed to a domestic record label, with no global reach, and a marketing budget that isn’t worth the steam off Bieber’s piss.

All the evidence suggests that this is not a fair fight. This is Mike Tyson, with perfect rectal health, fighting my little, old nan, with furious diarrhoea. I am Jack’s brown ankles. And yet, at the time of writing, Bieber has 9.5 Million views, while PSY has 223 Million. This isn’t just a bad day at the office. The powerful music industry in the world… And he’s pumping babe.

In the past, record bosses, newspaper editors, TV broadcasters – basically, the companies that controlled communication - controlled the content. You watched whatever they allowed you to watch. We are witnessing a revolution. A new paradigm, in which we are the Head of Global Talent. Facebook, Twitter, the Internet has gifted us the power. It’s put it in our index fingers. We click, we watch, and four seconds later, we share. We used to pick from an extremely restrictive, pre-determined menu. Now we pick up our mice, and write the menu ourselves. This isn’t about some sweaty Korean guy whipping down a pop star’s jock strap. This is about the old guard losing control of the system. The world’s most powerful music industry and a billion dollars of conventional weaponry could not get the job done. The corporation is dying. Now we decide what to put in our heads. The ramifications of this are mind-blowing. It’s exciting shit.

He didn’t come from a vagina, he was built in a science lab, by record label bosses, with beards. Justin Bieber is perfect pop technology. How can he be destroyed at the polls, by someone who gets everything so badly wrong?

Perhaps we like different. Perhaps we value the unconventional. Perhaps we admire weird. Perhaps shock is better than apathy. Perhaps we are all freaks. Is it possible that our world is so centre line, when something different comes along, we have to gravitate? Look into a field of sheep. What do you see? Now spray paint one pink. Hi Babe.

Do you ever crave something bland? Does innovation come from doing the same shit? Does mediocrity inspire you? Has one piece of centre line marketing ever made you feel one god damn thing? Or is it sterile, flaccid, dead from the neck down? The centre line is a disease. The blueprint of an unexamined life.

The Fitness Industry is centre line pornography. Walk into a gym in Kazakhstan and you’re going to be met with the same tired bullshit. Apples and tape measures. “Find your greatness.” “You’re beautiful.” “There is no finish line.” Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. Tired. Unimaginative. Lame. Pass. Me. The. Gun. Babe. No one ever questions it. No one ever stops and says: “Hang on a minute… Isn’t this all just a load of disingenuous bollocks?” We all just swallow it down. The Fitness industry is Justin Bieber.

With such a nasty, spirited diatribe, it may surprise you to know that people, consciously or sub-consciously, almost always move toward the centre line. Anyone who doesn’t tread that path is on borrowed time. Socrates, Jesus, Pythagoras, Copernicus, Galileo. “Every wise spirit that ever took flesh.” How did we treat them? We mocked them, we discredited them and we murdered them. Then of course, we celebrate them. How fucked up is that?

If you’re going to rock boats, disrupt equilibriums and assault the general intellect then you better grab your coat, coz there’s a shit storm on it’s way. Plato said we live in a cave. If something’s different to what we know, we violently oppose it. We forgive children who are afraid of the dark, and in one of life’s tragic ironies, we grow up to be afraid of the light. Everyone reads this and thinks: “he isn’t talking about me,” but I probably am. The human condition is defaulted to preserve the status quo. Some smart fucker once said that to be content, a human being needs to hear that change is on the way; that’s all they really want. Opening the mind is far too dangerous a proposition for most. It’s interesting to me that the centre line holds us back in every conceivable way, and yet we cling to it like a life raft. We have fallen in love with our comfort zone. Stockholm syndrome.

“Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are usually the ones that do.”
~ Steve Jobs
We built Circuit Factory with a rebellious DNA. We campaigned for men with breasts, we put outrageous slogans up on banners and we stuck our middle fingers up to McDonalds, Shape Mag and all the other assholes that are ruining the view. We always were a different colour (mainly rainbow). We certainly aren’t everyone’s favourite, but we are real; and that to us, is far more important.

Every month, I feel mounting pressure to move toward the centre line. People who genuinely mean well, offering up their advice. It’s always “calm down,” “stay on topic,” and “get back to basics.” Translation: Get me some apples and some tape measures, stat. I’ve never once been advised to: “stay bold.” Here’s what I believe: Toning it down would probably be the last mistake we ever get the chance to make. When a company starts acting out of character, the reaper gets frisky. Blackberry sold great email phones with keypads. Their products were the choice of professionals, and they became one of the most successful companies in the world. Then they bring out the “Playbook,” and a touchscreen iPhone rip off. Now they’re dead. Microsoft were desktop computers and Microsoft Excel. They were a serious company, full of nerds. Then they bring out the “Surface” and got a movie producer to make the commercials with a load of break-dancers. Microsoft selling tablets with break-dancers. Does this feel like Microsoft to you? It’s like your dad talking to your mates about his sex life. Justin Bieber was this wholesome all-American kid, who couldn’t melt butter in his mouth, if his bible depended on it. Now he’s this white guy who dresses like a black guy, and then fights with the paparazzi. Where do you think his career is going?

“Know thyself.” ~ Plato

Microsoft, Blackberry and Bieber did not follow Plato’s advice. If you start acting all out of character, you are essentially extending your middle finger to everyone that matters. That’s why you’ll never see Circuit Factory using tape measures and apples, and if you do, pop your black tie on, coz we are dead in the diet water.
Our campaigns are made up of several components. A blog, artworks, FB Covers and a video. Each part looks and feels the same, so they converge to deliver a single, cohesive message. Our last campaign consisted of a blog, artworks, some absolutely disgusting FB covers, and no video. People loved the Transformation pictures, but the campaign that housed them was a hideous, floppy looking mess. (And no, I am not describing my willy.)

Why?

The FB Covers were bad because I had no designer, but the video was entirely my fault. I did actually make a video. I spent ages on it and was really proud of the result. It was bold, innovative and thoroughly ridiculous; everything a CF video should be. We were uploaded and ready to go, and then, to my immortal shame, I decided not to press the button. Why? I can’t even believe I am going to type this. I didn’t release it because I was worried about offending people.

I let doubt into my pathetic little head. Once inside, it felt like acid burning through plastic. It chipped away until my brain couldn’t take it anymore. White flag. I threw the campaign, the brand and everything I knew was right, under the fucking bus because in that instant, I couldn’t find my testicles. A game-changing campaign with unbelievable potential was completely wasted. I played it safe. I walked the centre line. I failed. I am Jack’s complete sense of inadequacy.

The PSY-Bieber showdown flicked the lights on. I will not make the same mistake again. When you believe in something, you stand by it, whether it pisses people off or not. “Taking offense” is nothing more than someone else’s opinion. We could put out pictures of models eating broccoli. That wouldn’t offend anyone, but it wouldn’t interest anyone either. I’d rather lay down something provocative and edgy, that has real value to the right people, than some limp grey bullshit that has no value to anyone at all. This video will offend some, but that does not make it is wrong. This is SOCIAL media. It’s supposed to be bums and willies. Corporate takes place in the office, not your bedroom. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. No one’s duct taping your head towards the screen. Go and click on some cats.

“It’s now very common to hear people say “I’m offended by that” as if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more than a whine. I find that offensive. It has no meaning. It has no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I am offended by that.” Well… so fucking what?” ~ Stephen Fry
So we are most definitely going to stay bold, stay foolish and stay as far away from the centre line as we can possibly get.

I’m just off to upload a picture of my bottom and in the meantime, why don’t you check out the video that had me so divided?