Monika’s Musings

miscellaneous tidbits on marketing, advertising, and life in general

(Cultural) Misunderstandings


As someone with a background in communications, I am particularly interested in and fascinated by miscommunication. Today I’ll tell you one of my most favorite stories.

When I was at university, I was always looking for ways to actually avoid studying. Therefore, I was quite active in many extracurricular activities and it was only natural that I became part of the Student Government Association. 

My school was great for many reasons, one of the top ones being its small, but very diverse student body: we had more than 100 nationalities. 

The SGA consisted of three Bulgarians (eh, well …), one American, one French-Haitian and one Iranian. And somehow we found a common language. Well, most of the times.

One day I walked into the office, only to find our SGA vice-president really grumpy. To my Hello she replied with something along the lines of You’re a mess. Oh, wait, no you’re OK, I’m a mess. And so are half the other members of the exec council… Apparently!

The only adequate reply to this was a dumb look on my part; then she handed me a piece of paper. The following was written on it:

Monika – OK

Philippa – OK

Jen – mess

Kam – mess

Neal – OK

Maria – mess.

It was also written in my handwriting (which I think my friend had failed to notice). Jen was super pissed off that someone was calling her a mess, and my boisterous laughter definitely didn’t help … until I explained.

See, the previous night I had to call my team to let them know an early morning meeting would be cancelled. I jotted our names on a piece of paper. Next to me, and the ones I actually managed to get a hold of, I put OK. Next to the others – I put mess. Abbreviated for (left) message that is.

On focus groups


I am and I believe I’ll always be a fan of marketing research. The more the better, including focus groups.

However, when it comes to focus groups, I am always mindful of the opinions of two great men:

1) Henry Ford: “Had I listened to focus groups, I would have made a fantastic carriage.”

2) Sergio Zyman: “Make sure you don’t ask stupid questions at focus groups. For exapmle – if you ask ‘Why don’t you drink more Coke’, you might get an answer ‘Cause I don’t feel like it, dude!”

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Spoiler: this is what happens when you fire your agency


In today’s world where creativity is put on a high pedestal and there is a severe competition between the banks for every lev out there, I came across this:


For those of you who still aren’t fluent in Bulgarian, the text says: ” Deposit 1+2+3. Short-term deposits in BGN, EUR and USD. The indicated interest rates are annual, for BGN deposits”.

So there. You tell me if you understand something. What’s the term of the “short-term” deposit? Do 1, 2 and 3 indicate the months you deposit your money for? If it is just one [short term] deposit, why 1, 2 and 3? Which interest rate corresponds to which term? WHAT does this tell me???

Why does Cibank (formerly known as EiBank) think it made a smart decision by doing this ad in-house? Did it? I sure hope so! (If not, I hope they fired their agency.) And, if they did do it in-house, do they really think it was a good idea to save a couple hundred Euro for this to come out?

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