Sunday 29 November 2009


I seem to be on a bit of a "wimmin" theme at the moment. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not normally one to get a bee in my bonnet about sexism but very occasionally I read something that grates just a touch.

The Marketing Society recently celebrated 50 years with a huge jolly and awards all round. The accolade for The Greatest Contributor to Marketing was taken by A G Lafley of P & G.

In his video acceptance speech, he reportedly referred to P & G's customers as "she", which was thought to be patronising by many of those present.

I'm with them. It may sound harmless enough, and may even reflect that fact that more than 50% of P & G's sales are probably accounted for by women. But there's something behind the deliberate use of "she" that suggests a whole attitude, which I fear still prevails at the higher echelons of the likes of Procter & Gamble.

However much they try to "embrace" the 21st century, social media and all the rest, you get the feeling that many of these companies would feel much more comfortable in the golden age of the 1950s when TV advertising was the brave new world and the "consumer" - the good little woman at home - prayed in thanks every day at the altar of the great household god with his wonder products that made her life easier.

Monday 23 November 2009

Belittled Women

Apparently, "bizarre sexist adverts" are doing the e-mail rounds in the pre-Christmas flurry. The Times has pulled out a few of these to compile a "Top 10", on top of the 1001 "noughties" Top 10s that are already hitting the press faster than you can say "Millenium".
But back to the sexist ads. There are none I'd call truly bizarre. Most are quaint, not terribly good and nothing for any right-minded Mad Woman to get herself in a tizz about. I actually thought the one for Dormeyer was pretty clever and could work today if it was for beauty and fashion items rather than household appliances - with a heavy dose of irony, obviously!
That's the thing. Terribly earnest young ad people seem to think all this stuff was for real. I'm sure that much of it was tongue firmly in cheek, the Tipalet ad being a prime example. Can anyone tell me how this is in any way more "bizarre" or primitive in its idea than the Lynx/Ax campaign?

Wednesday 18 November 2009

With my rucksack in the Bauhaus

I'm working on a branding project at the moment and have noticed the reluctance of my German colleagues when it comes to names derived in some way from the German language.

Of course, there are some very good reasons for this, which I wrote about a few years back here. And you can see it clearly when you look at Top Global Brands - those that use names like Siemens, Porsche or Allianz hail from many years back while relative newcomers go for something more neutral such as SAP.

It's also apparent in the playground where there aren't too many Gudruns, Brunhilds, Helmuts and Gottfrieds running around these days - the more "all-purpose European" names such as Lena and Lukas are more prevalent.

In fact, the only ones who are really allowed to get away with good old-fashioned German names are bands or fashion brands, where a touch of irony is implied. Or non-Germans, like the New Zealand production house Krafthaus - check out the ironic militaristic imagery and gothic typeface here.

German is such a wonderful language that it does seem that some German brands are missing out on an opportunity here, if it's all handled in the right way. After all, "Vorsprung durch Technik" didn't do too bady for Audi.

Wednesday 11 November 2009


I've gone and done it! After twenty years on a PC I am defecting to the Other Side. Since Saturday, I am now part of the Apple lot, too.

I can already see that my technical defection is going to be one of those journeys (bleurgh!) that resemble my real defection to Germany.

There is the euphoria, the high when you make the decision and do it, followed by a period of intense frustration where nothing, but nothing goes right. Then you come to your senses and there follows a long period of learning and mastery before you finally come out at the Other Side, which becomes the new norm.

I am neck-deep in frustration as I type this - on my trusty old PC, naturally, and expect I'll be playing the Double Agent for some time yet.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

The Renaissance Plan

The APG Creative Strategy Awards a few weeks back brought with them much discussion in the UK trade press about the Future of Planning.
And what a future it is! The official word is that "it's a good time to be a planner" and even that "Planners will be the creative directors of the future" (Giles Hedger, Leo Burnett). I recently received an email asking if I knew of any suitable applicants for a "Planning Gig." Planning, it seems, is the new Rock 'n Roll.
But we're not going to get by with our trusty old tools of the trade. No, the Planner of the Future is going to have to embrace (sic) all manner of new Planning Channels from Content Planning to Channel Planning to Cultural Planning to Behavioural Planning to Real-Time Planning (is there also Unreal-Time planning?) to Micro Planning to Creative Planning.
Gosh. I felt quite overwhelmed when I realised the enormity of what my job entails. And wondered if I'm going to be able to get to grips with it. But then I remembered various projects I'd been involved in - many of them in the last century. A portfolio anlaysis for a drinks giant done up to Management Consultancy standard but for no extra cost. A delve into neurophysiology and the human memory in a paper to disprove that "ads have to be recalled to be effective". An anthropological essay on mother and baby relationships and baby care in African markets.
It's great that Planning is getting itself heard and on the agenda and that's there's such confidence in the industry as to its future. But most of us - including Planners of the Past - have always been polymaths.