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.
Well the last posting got a bit reflective; it started out as one of my many diatribes on the foibles and flaws in the people featured on tv. I love to study anyone who is self-absorbed (and tv is choc full of them) and to then scratch away at their veneer of gloss till I find the shallowness underneath. It sounds cruel but, hey, they set themselves up for some criticism and I mostly try and do it without being unfairly hurtful. And in the last posting I thought I was straying into aiming appearance barbs at people who were just being filmed doing their very caring volunteer work and not seeking celebrity. And I hope we’re better than that. Even if I did feel one person did deserve to have his look at me-ness pricked a tad. Yes SC, I mean you. Continue reading
Yesterday was a little bit of a special day. You see I’m a big sports fan and yesterday afternoon I found myself watching the F1 GP qualifying sessions and between times catching up with England’s progress in the Test match v the W Indies. And then I checked into Sky’s Soccer Saturday and gorged on Jeff Stelling and the footie all afternoon. For the last 3 months we haven’t been able to do any of that of course and it felt decadent and good at the same time. Ah welcome back top level sport that we are pretty darn good at. Do you ever wonder what it must be like doing that if you’re say Scottish or Welsh? Ha! Cheap joke sorry. And not that funny. And a bit offensive. Sorry again. Well slightly amusing.
So as regular readers may know I’m a bit of a creature of habit. And one of the regular features in my life is the early morning routine. Carol and I are early risers and usually downstairs by 6.30am or so. It’s usually a cuppa for Carol then at one minute to 7am it’s Converse sneakers on and I pop out and over to the little Co-op store in the market square to be first through the door to go and pick up my morning paper, the i. And occasionally some milk. Continue reading
Now I’m very conscious that I may have turned off my huge army of female readers with the last posting about 50 year old Yerkshire men in their trunks grappling with each other. So for something a little more contemporary and hopefully a touch more amusing and for all, I was just wondering if you’ve been watching the new programme on C4 A Very British Hotel Chain: Inside Best Western? This show is more fun than you’d expect, though maybe not in the ways intended. Here’s C4’s publicity image of the main characters…
Presumably Best Western thought a three-part series filmed in May last year would be a handy publicity boost for their 265 hotels, with its portraits of the wacky but lovable workforce. But thanks to the coronavirus it now looks more like a portal to a distant far-off time and a completely different business.
It did make me wonder fairly quickly what the point of this series was though. Cut to today and Britain’s largest chain has closed all but 60 or so of its hotels, presumably on a temporary basis, they must hope. And to be fair they are one of the few hotels staying open to give key workers in local authorities a welcome and convenient break from their work tackling the covid crisis. But sadly none of that comes through in this tv series which is very much played for giggles not serious business niggles.
So to the unintentional humour. It’s clear that a career in the leisure business demands a thick skin and eternal optimism and at Best Western’s HQ in York (back again – it could only be set in Yerkshire) they have tons of both. The new CEO Rob Paterson, an ex Aussie footballer, is just David Brent with an ozzie accent. He loves his slogans from the 1980’s with lots of exclamation marks like Beat Yesterday! Own It! Give a Shit! And his dopey staff suck it up with gusto. Mark Stanley, head of hotel development, grins away and loves his staff to tell him how great he is. We saw him revelling in a sales, marketing and revenue conference, as staff were covered in pink gunk for charity. Brilliant! raved Mark, Best Western madness. Actually he might just have out-Brented his CEO.
Mark’s number 2 is ambitious Head of Acquisitions Terii (with two ‘i’s) whose job it is to sign up new hotels to the chain. We find her trying to get Marco White to allow his Rudloe Arms to join up. Marco teases her a little showing off his pixellated sexy artworks and larger than life images of himself to see what reaction he gets from her. But Terii’s (two i’s) made of stern stuff and won’t be put off. I love it, she replies, sniffing the scent of a deal being done.
Then there’s slightly camp and arch Alasdair, the wisecracking but ruthless hotel inspector who follows up on Terii’s (two i’s) new signings. He announced himself as if he were a righteous superhero: I am the hotel inspector. I cannot be bought. More sharply he mentioned that he likes to measure TV screens to see if they are as big as the new hotel claims. I pinched this out of my mother’s knitting box, he says, unfurling a measuring tape. She’s been dead for 20 years. Hard man eh. Then I noticed he’s quite the peacock, wearing wacky glasses and different brightly coloured socks. I wonder if you can spot him in the picture above.
There was also a lady whose name escapes me who’s a Marketing Manager at one of the bigger hotels and she just comes up with barmpot ideas for entertaining guests like creating a rocket ship cabin just off the foyer for people to experience. How it was relevant I just couldn’t fathom. And it was totally crap. Unbelievable. And if you want to see how they magic-ed things up here’s what the whole marketing team supported by the CEO came up with for their Xmas promo campaign. If it makes sense to you, you might just need some therapy…
I was just shocked that they didn’t include the only funny line that exists about our four-legged friends – what do the donkeys on Blackpool beach get for lunch? About half an hour. Now Mark would piss himself at that one: BW donkey jossing, brilliant!
I’m tempted to ask what’s the difference between the BW senior management team and a donkey. They’re all asses but at least the donkey does something useful. Ouch
Well it’s about 3pm and I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not Mr Hancock meets his testing target of 100,000 by today. If he does I’ll stand at the front door wearing lipstick and applaud him loudly tonight. I bet he’s not even presenting the daily briefing. Anyway I’ve had more than enough to say on the subject of politicians recently so I thought I’d talk about something else. Voiceovers.
Well I watched the daily cv-19 briefing at 5pm and noted that the Government are talking confidently about achieving the Health Secretary’s target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month. Hurrah! Except it’s not exactly in terms of actual tests, instead they are now tweaking it to say that they’ll have the capacity to test that number. Ahh. So they’ll have 100,000 cotton buds in stock to take swabs but nowhere near enough nurses and the other medically-trained people to take the tests and process them. It’s not quite the same thing is it?
I’m in awe of the people who are leading the fight against covid-19 in our hospitals and care centres. They aren’t receiving the PPE and testing they need from our bloody Gov’t but they keep working to keep us alive and too many of them are paying the ultimate sacrifice. Never will they be taken for granted again I hope. And let’s not forget our other key workers like postmen, refuse collectors, delivery and transport drivers, retail store workers, teachers and many more who are battling on, keeping essential life still available to us