Now I spent 20 years as a marketeer in the telecoms industry heading up numerous activities in sponsorship, PR, dealer and channel management, promotions, literature and PoS, digital activity, website development, corporate hospitality, events and exhibitions, and, not least, advertising. I say not least because advertising usually attracted the largest share of a company’s marketing budget and yet it happened to be the least likeable element of the marketing mix for me. Probably because my personal control was somewhat subjugated by the influence of the expensive advertising agency we usually employed. And they worked hard to keep the whole subject of advertising a dark art only capable of being understood by their extensive team of creatives, media planners, media buyers, client liaison people (bag men and mostly sassy women), talent negotiators, and senior exec’s who only surfaced when it was contract renewal time or when you were being critical of the agency’s work. And then they had a secret hotline to your MD.
I think I might have made a decent forensic examiner once upon a time as I notice little things which are a little odd (and sometimes amusing too). For example I’m watching the Quest tv channel on Dplay quite a lot and some of their programmes are sponsored by Argentinian wine brand Trivento. Their marketing team have devised a series of idents – little promo ads – that appear in the commercial breaks promoting the idea that drinking Trivento sets you off on some ‘bold discoveries’. I know, it’s an over-blown idea; where I’m from that’s just a euphemism for getting pissed. I think there are 8 in the series and all are twaddle but the one that makes me smile is a shot of a surfer girl who says something inane before heading off to go surfing. It’s not so much what she says that makes me smile it’s her sense of direction. Have a look at this video and you’ll see her run to the right then suddenly she veers left as if she’s noticed a better bit of sea to aim for.
Well it may not win the award for outstanding comedy performance at the Bafta’s but it never fails to make me chuckle. Little things, like I said.
bafta paulie (did I ever tell you I’ve got two of the little brass winkers?)
There have been lots of tv ads which have capitalised on the covid crisis to position companies as the most caring of brands. You’ve seen them – that Co-op one with Marcus Rashford aimed at driving donations to food redistribution charity FareShare is a classic. It’s not his woodenness that jars so much as the creative thinking behind the need to create empathy with the viewer. The charitable purpose is absolutely fantastic but that over-familiarity bit where the bloke goes ‘You’re on mute Rashy’ makes me squirm. Check it out…
Well it’s ages since I did a posting on a really laughable tv ad but I’ve found one for you dear readers. It’s for Renault’s new electric car range, specifically the Renault Zoe. Now it’s a very nicely produced ad and the background music is spot on, whilst the characters are believable and the creative idea of showing things which ought to be electric being powered by little combustion engines puffing out exhaust smoke, is simply brilliant. So what’s my problem with the ad? Well it’s the female voice-over and she has just about the most ridiculous French accent I’ve ever heard. Like a refugee from ‘Allo ‘Allo. Have a listen (or as we say in Franglais avoir une ecoute)….
See what I mean? It’s the best laugh I’ve had since scouser Joey Barton started speaking English with a faux French accent whilst playing for Marseille and that Yorkshire dipshtick Shteve McLaren adopted a Dutch accent in hish tv interviewsch whilst managing Twente. As they say in Peckham, Bonnet de douche my old son…
Another posting about tv – this ones all about Suzuki cars’ newest marketing partnership. They have a long-standing sponsorship association with ITV Saturday night entertainment programmes or, put more simply, shows featuring the ubiquitous Ant & Dec. And to back it up they formed an advertising link up with the duo themselves showing them driving around in their cars meeting fans etc for use as break bumper ads around the lads’ shows. I always thought that was pretty lazy thinking. Why target the same audience twice? But all that changed when Ant only went and crashed his actual car (not a Suzuki) whilst pissed and his addictions became public knowledge. Hence a year out of the public eye recovering at the Priory, which kind of created an Ant-sized hole in the Suzuki partnership strategy.
Well you kinda had to experience the 70’s, the decade that fashion forgot so they say and the years of the creepy DJ’s and prawn cocktails, to comment on it. Well it was a notable decade for me – the one in which I had long hair, went to Uni, grew a moustache, got married, started my 30 year career in BT, moved to London, had our 3 lovely daughters (well one born in 1980), moved onto the property ladder, and by the end of it lost the moustache and much of my hair and gave up competitive football. Ahh I loved those 10 years, even the loon trousers and the glam rock music. Continue reading
I’ve written in the past about the use of celebrities in tv ads and admitted that we did the same thing at Cellnet, which became O2, in using Joan Collins and John Cleese in two really great ads…and Nigel Mansell and Brian Clough in some pretty wooden ones. I was also in the marketing team at BT, though well-removed from the decision-making process, when it was agreed to use S Club 7 to front their use-the-phone-more ads. I still shudder at the memory whilst Bob Hoskins is probably still spinning in his grave. It would have been good to walk…away from that deal. Continue reading
I tell you what’s bloody odd, that tv advert for power utility company SSE. It features an orang utan (!) going up and down escalators apparently signifying a fresh look at electricity supply. If I was going to ask somebody to cast a fresh pair of eyes over the attributes of the various energy companies I’d definitely pick an orange-coloured primate to do it. No I wouldn’t; it’s a frigging stupid notion. Nor would I use one of the great love songs, When I Fall in Love, by Nat King Cole as the musical soundtrack because absolutely no-one is in love with any of the energy suppliers in the UK, the grasping, expensive bar-stewards. It’s almost like they’re taking the monkey juice. If you think I’m being unkind take a look at let me know I’ve got it wrong…
I’ll tell you another weird ad; that latest one for moneysupermarket.com where there’s a blerk with a bum as big as Kim Kardashian’s, in tight shorts and high heels (and a jacket, nice shirt and tie incongrously) twerking away in front of a woman carrying two dogs and who looks like Sharon Osbourne’s Spitting Image puppet. I suspect it’s poking fun at our sexist attitudes but I actually find it quite difficult to watch. More to the point it wouldn’t encourage me to go and check out the company’s utility/insurance comparison website because, as we now know, it’d make more sense to go and chat with an ape. Confused.com? Check it out…
Finally I can remember back in the very early days of Cellnet (now O2) my great boss BMc managed to convince the then hottest female actress in the world, Joan Collins, to do a tv commercial for us based on the idea that she ‘didn’t do ads’. He taught me to aim high. Almost 30 years later I shouldn’t be surprised to see that celebrity endorsement is still a key advertising plank. And speaking of wooden, what is Kevin Bacon doing promoting mobile network EE? The same thing that Joan was doing all those years ago, earning a pile of money for 30 secs of work. But it’s sad to see an actor as fine as Harvey Keitel reprising his Winston Wolf character from one of my favourite films, Pulp Fiction, for some crappy ads for Direct Line insurance. I guess nothing changes and money still talks eh. But it’s still weird to see him doing the ads with jobbing actors and crummy pay-off lines. He looks like he’s enjoying it as much as if he had anal warts…