Thursday, 1 December 2011

The dustman and the supermum

Planners in Germany have a regular spot in the trade magazine New Business, under the title Strategy Corner. The last two articles have interested me, as there seems to be a direct connection between them.

In "The Dustman as Role Model", Bärbel Boy discovers that the public standing of people who work in advertising in Germany is on the bottom rung, below that of politicians and bankers. Cheery stuff. And, what's more, our reputation has worsened over time. Cheerier still is that the dustman is the rising star - well, cheery for dustmen, at least.

And, this week, in "Women - the real economic power", Anne Brit Maier shows how the portrayal of women in advertising has shifted all of a mm or two over the last 50 years. The cliche of Supermum with her baby and laptop is every bit as unrealistic as the perfect Hausfrau of the 1960s.

I think it's telling that both of these women have founded their own Planning agencies and don't work for any of the multi-nationals. Because I'm convinced there is a direct connection between these findings. I expect half the people that were interviewed about reputations were women. As Bärbel Boy points out, there is sometimes a feeling of living in a navel-gazing hermetically-sealed capsule when it comes to German advertising agencies - not all, but many - rather like living in "2nd Life" (what was that?) and about as relevant and interesting to the outside world.

So, come on, German agencies! Over on YouTube, the John Lewis Christmas Commercial from the UK has over 3m clicks and is hotly debated all over Mumsnet and beyond. It's about time we stopped churning out yet more cliches for the dustman's bin.

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