Monday 31 March 2008

And the answer is...

Well, it wasn't cigarettes, chocolate, perm lotion or any other kind of beauty potion: the glamorous skier was advertising Polydor, as are the delightful little people above.
Was it a yodelling number? Were those prototype CDs on the end of her ski sticks? We'll probably never know...

Sunday 30 March 2008

Flying Fiasco

Relative to many other travellers, we were some of the lucky ones yesterday. We arrived in Frankfurt with our undamaged bags only two hours later than scheduled yesterday evening.

As we walked through the baggage hall, relatively unscathed, I was reminded that it is almost twelve years since I came to Germany. On that occasion, my bag was chewed up somewhere in the system but British Airways dealt with the matter promptly and efficiently and, because they were British Airways, I forgave them. I have been forgiving them with increasing frequency over the last twelve years for everything from the tail-plane design fiasco to taking away the Concorde from the roundabout at Heathrow.

I believe that the store of goodwill that I have for British Airways is larger than most. Nearly twenty years ago, BA was the first account I worked on as a new Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi. I associate the brand British Airways with those heady days still: with flying on Concorde back from New York, with fantastic conferences in Ireland and on Jersey, with my Gold Executive card. To me, British Airways is still imbued with that 1980s glamour of endless champagne and stunning TV commercials directed by Hollywood superstars.

But I am in a tiny majority. My son has zero goodwill towards British Airways. He has forgotten that sometime in the past BA gave out comics to children. He only knows that Lufthansa still bother to give kiddies something to pass the time away and BA don't. That Lufthansa at least rustle up a sandwich instead of BA's miniscule bag of guinea pig food. That BA managed to churn up his favourite trolley before his eyes last year and didn't really apologise. Before the opening of Terminal 5 he watched a rather self-congratulatory film of the new Terminal, seemingly populated by some rather creepy Dr Who-style cyber people which gave him bad dreams. After the opening of Terminal 5 there was a man in a purple shirt called something like Willy Wonka making excuses for the chaos. At the check-in yesterday, he implored the British Airways lady "not to lose our bags". He had a good giggle at the article in "Business Life" that we read together in the plane as it was announced in mid-flight that "not all the baggage made it to the plane". In case you're interested, the article starts with the oddly prophetic words "there's something not quite right about Heathrow's new Terminal 5..."

I expect that British Airways will weather the storm and after all, does it really matter what a seven-year-old thinks? But perhaps they should take heed: my goodwill is all wrapped up in British Airways' past whereas his lack of it is their future.

Thursday 20 March 2008

Doughnuts out, chocolates in!

Easter is early this year, as the bad weather warnings keep reminding us. In fact, I heard on the radio this morning that it's going to be the coldest Easter here since records began. But while you're freezing your toes off looking for Easter eggs behind the snowman in the garden, please spare a thought for the poor old retailers here. An early Easter has meant a logistical challenge on an epic scale.

Christmas with its accompaniment of chocolate Santas, baubles and Lebkuchen had to give way very quickly to the silliness of Fasching - and those giant football costumes seen above can take up rather a lot of space. And hardly was that over when the chocolate Easter bunnies started turning up in force. The manufacturers are not exactly making it easy, either. Not content with simple bunnies in milk chocolate, they are available in dark, white, diabetic and even cow pattern versions. And there are plenty of new products, too. My son demanded that I buy something that could politely be described as a "crossover innovation" and cynically described as "cashing-in" - an "Easter Egg Hunt" with chocolate eggs behind numbered doors in the style of an Advent calendar. I resisted.

The stores have had to be very nifty indeed to keep up with all this and most of them have risen to the challenge in true German efficient style. After all, who would really want to have the Easter bunnies rubbing noses with the leftover cow pattern Santas behind a clown's hat?

Having started this blog, I'm going to go all quiet next week. But I promise I'll be back with the answer to what the glamorous skier is advertising. At least she'll be happy this Easter!

Tuesday 18 March 2008

You know it's time to start blogging when...

I had one of those rather disconcerting experiences on Sunday whereby everyday memories and part of my past became the subject for an exhibition in a museum. Luckily, this was "one step removed" as the memories and past were not actually mine, but my husband's.

We visited an exhibition of advertising and packaging from the last 100 years and amongst the enamel signs, copperplate invoices and monochrome cardboard record sleeves were plenty of exhibits from the more recent past.

Brands like Florida Boy, Salamander shoes and Imi washing powder (from whence comes my husband's nickname) are not that familiar to me but there were one or two "global" brands knocking around, even in the 1960s: Lux soap with a wonderful Austin-Powers-"Fembot"- style lady on the packaging - who I am sure adorned the UK packaging, too. Talking of ladies, I wonder if anyone can guess what the Gwen Stefani-esque skier on the poster is advertising. Answers in the comments, please: I'll let you know next time.

On the subject of time and the past, I was having a conversation with a non-native English speaker yesterday about the difference between "contemporary" and "modern", in relation to positioning a brand. My view was that it's a question of taste. I have never liked "contemporary" myself, probably because it used to appear as one of three adjectives in the "mood and tone" box on the creative brief when I started in advertising - or that it appears, along with "professional", in every other Mission Statement these days. And it just sounds plain pretentious, if that isn't an oxymoron. Modern is more direct, more inclusive, more of a statement. But that's just my view.

Watch this space

Suffice to say, something will be happening here very soon. Promise.