I like breakfast in bed.
I love getting flowers.
I am a present-fiend.
And because I’m a mum, all these things come (generally!) in a tidy and pleasurable package on Mother’s Day.
But I really hate the above clip.
When it comes to this year’s crop of Christmas ads, forget John Lewis (I’ve had it with marketers trying to make me cry), Tesco and Sainsbury (who thought ageing and bad ‘hand-held’ footage was a good idea?? And I can’t be the only one who’s struggled to differentiate between the two) and even the celeb-endorsed spots from the likes of M&S and Morrisons (isn’t Dec, the other half of Ant, a bit of a podge now?).
What’s doing it for me this year are two spots, partly because both tie into one clear insight that we all (even those who aren’t dyed-in-the-wool cynics like me) know to be true: that the season of goodwill has now become a competitive, commercial and me-first festival. Mainly though, I think they’re a cut above the rest because they touch a very real and pragmatic cord, and make me smile in the process.
Check out Samsung’s clean, clever and simple ‘Ultimate dinner party weapon’ print ad for its fridges, running currently in the UK press and through Cheil UK.
And my personal winner so far – Harvey Nichols’ Sorry, I spent it on myself spot, through Adam&EveDDB. (By the by, for those who don’t know, Adam&EveDDB also did the John Lewis ad, so hats off for versatility as well as seminal expression of insight).
Importantly, both pieces work – I covet the fridge (even though I can’t see much of it), and Harvey Nicks – your showcase of goodies (especially that gorgeous dress) makes it even harder to resist the temptation to spend it on myself…
I’m inspired on a daily basis – by clients, by campaigns, by friends and family, as well as the behaviour of strangers. (I’m also bored, annoyed, or frustrated by the same people just as often, so I’m not a gullible pushover by any means.) However subliminally, I’m attracted to people who have a different perspective on life, who challenge and discuss and debate so that I can engage, and eventually edit down to a view that works for me. At least that’s the case in every area of my life bar one. In cyberspace, the editorial gene that’s a natural given in every other part of my existence goes awol.
I have more than 33,000 emails in my work inbox, I subscribe to every newsletter and bulletin, I am that sad person who looks out for the Twitter counter, and I spend an average of 2 hours each evening reading bulletins (isn’t Pocket just great?) and surfing cyberspace on my iPad. Much to my partner’s annoyance, I tweet on dates and What’s App has become my latest go-to button on my mobile for every spare second.
So, inspired by Cheil’s Daniele Fiandaca, I’m doing a digital detox. I’ll be switching off my mobile and turningaway from the tablet in the middle of February. Before anyone breaks out in a cold sweat, I should add that this detox will be much less in duration than the 3 weeks Daniele did – a measly four days over a long weekend.
But I’ll be making a point of taking a digital holiday regularly and I’m not alone in needing some unadulterated me-time. A mate recently posted on FaceBook that she was drastically ‘editing’ her list of friends as part of a digital springclean, while another has deleted all her personal social media accounts to make time for what she calls ‘real life’. They’re in good company – Kate Moss is ‘rocking the new lo-fi trend’ according to Grazia magazine, while the Guardian last week reported 600,000 leaving Facebook in one month alone. And of course the emergence of digital detox clinics at the start of this year has seen every other lifestyle reporter snaffle up the freebie.
Don’t get me wrong – at Velvet, digital is part of our DNA. We see amazing work come from our clients that has real relevance, that entertains and engages its target market. We see the hard impact it can make on bottom lines. In most instances, we see it done outstandingly well. As professionals, there’s no question that digital has made keeping up with the news agenda – a vital prerequisite for anyone working in media – easier and quicker than it’s ever been.
Like everyone around me, I revel in this life of continuous connection that has come to seem so normal. But an digital edit is long overdue, because I revel far more in face-to-face interaction, in the art of conversation, and yes, in quiet and uninterrupted reflection.
Of all the comments – and there have been many in most of adland’s leading titles – on Asda’s Christmas ad, Jamie Matthews’ (CEO of Initials Marketing) point of view seems to me the most sensible: “With the exception of the last scene and line, Asda’s Christmas ad is pretty spot on. The majority of Asda’s shopper base is mums, so the ad does a pretty good job of hero-ing mum in a set of scenes that are both realistic and to which most families can relate. We expect the ad to end on a scene with the family doing something for mum to thank her…but no…they’re all sat in front of the telly, and dad pipes up with ‘what’s for tea love’! which is perhaps where it gets into warm water slightly on the sexism front. But hey, it’s Christmas and no doubt dad would have got a good slap if they had filmed the next scene…Move on!” I like it not just because Initials is a client – lots of our other clients have perfectly pertinent views on this subject. It’s more that I can’t help thinking we’ve made a mountain out of a molehill with this (apologies to the 79+ Mumsnetters who are still arguing the toss over this). Yes, it’s sexist. Yes, it portrays women as drudges to their families. And the ‘man’ of the house is presented as a helpless and utter doofus. But so what? For all the enlightened households in the land where domesticity is shared, there are more where the Asda portrayal is an all-too tiring reality. But Christmas ads are generally all about stereotypes (I can’t think of one which doesn’t have the obligatory snowflakes/tinsel/wrapping paper/cute child/snowman – just pick the festive imagery you think works best for your brand) and this one is no different. So as Jamie says: move on.
Top marks to the landlords at The Thirsty Bear on London’s Stamford St.
Not only do they run a fine boozer – friendly staff and good beer, what more could you ask?– but they’re also switched on enough to let the punters pull their own pints with a corking (groan!) piece of retail technology. Pick up your electronic tab card from the lovely peeps behind the bar, swipe it on one of the 20 tables that house these taps, and it releases the beer. Swipe it again to tot up what you’ve had, and settle up back at the bar. Add the fact that you can use iPads to order food and drinks other than the tap beer, book slots at the pool table and operate the jukebox, and you have the makings of a truly genius retail/leisure concept.
Provides a whole new arena for self-service payment technologies, and perhaps even cuts queues – and is definitely my sort of digital ubiquity.
First appeared on The Drum
Last Wednesday, an email was sent to Sky News journalists instructing them not to retweet stories by other journalists and to check with the newsdesk first before breaking their own stories on Twitter. How odd for a broadcaster that has done so much to drive its social media creds – and how wrong.
A basic tenet of journalism is freedom of speech, and a basic tenet of social media is that it is immediate and largely without rules. Good journalism is based on debate and acknowledging the views of others even if you disagree with those views. And the best journalism is about communicating a rounded picture, that presents both sides of a debate and leaves the reader to make up his/her own mind. This move from Sky News smacks of dumbing down debate and the healthy exchange of opinion.
When Apple launched its iPhone, the tech journalists refined their opinions of it in part through Twitter debate – it was an admirable demonstration of their shared expertise, and even if you were in the minority that wanted nothing to do with Apple, it was exhilarating to track. And it’s just one, small, demonstration of the all-inclusive contribution Twitter makes to a story.
(photo courtesy of Example’s website, here)
I spent an inordinate amount of my journalistic career writing about promotional marketing in its purest and most creative sense – and still believe that the right promotion, based on a Big Idea with brand relevance, beats advertising hands down when it comes to the raison d’etre of marketing – shifting boxes.
I’ve seen a fair few outstanding campaigns across the marketing sphere, and while Elastoplast’s tie-in with Example might not make it into my lifetime Top 10, it certainly gets the nod this week. Check it out here.
I’ve mentioned my recent penchant for policemen briefly here before.
Well last night, I came across something that made me ecstatic. (Not in a smutty or extra-marital way, I hasten to add. That would be too much information, much too soon.)
No, last night, whilst watching that inimitable wide boy Jamie Oliver (sadly sans whites), I came across an ad for Uniformdating.com. Now the ad itself is nothing to write home, or indeed here, about. There are no frills, and definitely no thrills.
But it’s my ad of the week for a few very simple reasons.
First, it triggered a moment of clarity for me: it’s not only policemen, it’s uniforms per se that are doing it for me at present. Phew.
Second, I have a weakness for the underdog, and Uniformdating.com is a niche challenger to the main stream players. Its ad says as much. No Vaseline-smeared soft-tint lens on corny coupledom, rather incongruously backed by what I’m sure are irrefutable stats on ever-lasting lurve, a la e-Harmony.com. And certainly no random, kooky Match.com warbling (pass the bucket, please).
For Uniformdating.com, it’s graphics all the way. It’s not over-produced by any stretch of the imagination; it’s just really basic, colourful graphics. For which you could read honesty – or no cash.
Last, because it doesn’t go down the obvious route of hunky uniformed men (and women too, natch), my imagination ran riot across all the uniforms that could possibly populate Uniformdating.com: policemen yes, but also soldiers, sailors, pilots, doctors, dentists and nurses, firemen, air stewards/esses, even postmen and milkmen. Which got me wondering where the common-or-garden uniform fetishist would draw the line? Traffic wardens, I reckon.
All of which, in a longwinded way, bears witness to a basic adland truism: the award-winning spots may have cash splashed all over them, but reaching the target market isn’t always about the money.
(Go on, log on. You know you want to.)
Sodcasting: the term, according to urban legend, was coined in Pascale Wyse’s Wyse Words column in the excellent Guardian Weekend magazine in 2007 and defined thus: ‘Music, on a crowded bus, coming from the speaker on a mobile phone. Sodcasters are terrified of not being noticed, so they spray their audio wee around the place like tomcats.’
Oh how vehemently I agree. Having been victim to sodcasters for three days running now, I can unequivocally state that it is not cool to play opera to the world at large on the tinny speakers of your shitty phone. In fact, it’s not cool to play anything that might otherwise pass as a perfectly acceptable tune aloud on your mobile phone, any time, any place, whatever your age.
I mention age not because I have been finding men in uniform increasingly attractive of late (more of that in another blog perhaps) but because according to sodcasting exponent Dean ‘Dexplicit’ Harriott, age is key to understanding sodcasting. Given air time on Radio 4 recently, he said it’s ‘great fun to be listening to music while travelling with your friends. Where else can young people enjoy music together without a car or club?’
Actually, there are plenty of places – the sanctity of their own bedrooms being one arena that springs to mind.
But I don’t think the fact that I find this audio intrusion socially unacceptable (indeed, to the extent that I’m backing a Sheffield group that’s lobbying the council to ban it) means that I’m too old to ‘geddit’. I didn’t think much of ghetto blasters or transistor radios in public either. Which yes, makes me square, but at least not intrusive.