Hello there. Yes it’s another post on thatandywhiteblog and guess what? It’s late again isn’t it? Some things just never change do they? Well yes, actually they do. And they do right here, right now. There’s a great big change this week and it’s this. This week, this isn’t going to be a particularly advertising-based blog, oh no. The reason being that I haven’t really done much particularly advertising-based stuff this week. This week I have been concentrating chiefly on my mid-life crisis, which has consisted primarily of throwing myself back into the world of Rock and Roll and performance. Sadly there’s been no sex and drugs to speak of as yet but the Rock and, indeed Roll has proceeded at a fair old pace. The Saturday just past saw the first public appearance of the new line-up of popular beat combo The Weimaraners. When I say ‘new line-up’ I basically mean the old line-up but with the addition of me, standing at the front and shouting into a microphone a bit. I was going to say ‘singing’ but, as we are a kind of old-school, ( I would have said ‘old skool’ but that’s a bit new-skool ), ‘punk’ popular beat combo, the ‘singing’ part is open to question and debate.
Now I realise that this is probably of very little interest to any of you, dear readers but it’s been a revelation to me. Well, actually not that much of a revelation if, like me, you’ve just clipped the hump of mid-forties and are lumbering headlong towards fifty- but a revelation nonetheless. And it’s this. There’s loads of us out there. Loads and loads of mid-forties people who lack the almost unbearably hep status of the check shirts, artful beards, avant-garde haircuts, macbooks and NHS specs that mill about the urban landscape, pinballing off each other to land in the respective high-score, extra ball, replay, bars of the Northern Quarter and beyond, yet have actually lived pretty interesting lives and probably played an active role in some pretty interesting times. A fair bit happened in the late ’70′s you know, not least in advertising and stuff. ( Oops. I said this wasn’t going to be an advertising-based blog. I lied. Sue me. )
Look around you at the iconography that’s colouring all those Northern Quarter bars. Listen to the jukeboxes, count the Clash and Ramones Tshirts then ask the wearers to name you three tracks and tell you the venues where they saw the bands play. You probably won’t get that far. You see, while this may sound like the sour grapes and flat snakebite of the elderly, past-it punk, there’s many a fine tune played on an old fiddle. Or to put it another way, there’s a load of great designers, art-directors, ( and copywriters ), out there who sometimes get overlooked in the pursuit of modernity, yoof and the next new thing. Yes, yes, I know it sounds bitter again but bear with me. The fact is, quite a few of those, ( us ), people were banging out ideas and concepts with marker pens on layout pads before it was possible to make the weakest thought look like the latest masterpiece with the aid of an apple mac and bit of photoshopping.
Don’t get me wrong, all the possibilities that these ‘new’ tools have opened up are doubtlessly fabulous and I’m not suggesting for a moment that we all adopt rose-coloured bi-focals to gaze longingly at the past. What I am saying though, is that all us creatives of a certain age stop moping around and moaning that the future’s too digital and hi-tech for our old bones and think about what got us into the business in the first place. Ideas. And, more than that, the skills that enabled us to make those ideas work without the aid of a gazillion megabytes of technology nailed to our frontal lobes. There’s also the vague possiblity that in the years we’ve been in the game, we may have learnt some fairly worthwhile stuff too. Just a thought.
In fact, here’s another thought. We may not fit into the skinny jeans anymore but we do still fit into the Creative Department.
Hello there. Well what can I say? I know you’re used to it by now but I really can’t apologise enough for the unforgivable absence of thatandywhiteblog for the past week or so. I’ve been working again you see. Yes, working. Doing a bit of that copywriting thing. It’s all very nice of course and it does mean that Harriet may get a change from the usual piece of coal and tangerine this Christmas but it plays havoc with one’s blogging you know. Anyway, least said soonest mended and all that so, on with this new post.
I’ve had a bit of a problem with it to be honest, you see I’ve got another TV ad that’s been driving me slightly mental for a while but I can’t find a bloody clip of it anywhere. It’s that new First Direct Bank ad. You know, the one with the Arthur Smith voiceover and that bloody woman prattling on about how no-one in her call centre is anything like anyone else who works in a bank call centre. It all starts off with a little school scenario and our call centre imbecile as a child, talking about how whales communicate. We’re then whisked forward through time to today, where she has surpassed all expectations of her natural gifts to attain the position of answering a phone in a call centre. Only an evolutionary step or two behind the whale song that perhaps inspired her to follow a career in communications. The point is though that, once she’s got her hands on said phone she seems to just want to have a bit of a natter, rather than perhaps doing a spot of banking-related stuff. I really don’t reckon her style is going to inspire that much confidence in the bank’s account holder. Here’s a little scenario.
Caller: ” Hello there, I seem to have a bit of a problem with my account, I wonder if you could help?”
Imbecile: ” Eeeee, I’m like a fish out of water me! ”
Caller: ” Oh, right, yeah. Well, the thing is, £164,000 seems to have been spent on my card in a branch of Argos and a Wetherspoons in Durham. ”
Imbecile: ” We’re not like all them people at them other banks us you know, hee hee hee hee! ”
Caller: ” ooooo kaaay. Is there someone else I could speak to? A manager perhaps? It is rather urgent.
Imbecile: ” Oooh, I don’t know who’s turn it is to be manager today. I thought it was Maureen but she’s got the cakes today so it can’t be, can it? It could be Julie but she’s doing Tracey’s nails so I don’t think it’s her.”
Caller: “Look, I really, really need to get this sorted. My overdraft is going to be impossible to pay back, I’ll have debt collectors at my door, I could lose my house and someone is obviously still using my card. Please do something, the stress is playing havoc with my pregnant wife she’s in tears now, for god’s sake, help me.
Imbecile: ” We’re all as daft as brushes here you know. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Caller: Oh fuck it. *click*
You see, It’s all well and good having lovely chatty people working the phones at a Pet Shop or a Caterers or a Wedding Dress makers maybe but when I call the bank, I don’t really want some light hearted banter with a ‘fish out of water’, I want someone who’s going to sort out whatever I need sorting out, like now. I don’t actually phone my bank unless I really, really need to. So, when I do, I don’t want to shoot the breeze with a Jane Horrocks/Gracie Fields soundalike with an infant school knowledge of marine mammals. I want Judi Dench in full ‘Q’ mode arranging the painful, merciless death of whichever twat screwed up my direct debit to United Utilities, thus giving them the rights to take possession of my genitalia and first-born man-child. I want ruthless efficiency from my bank. I want a faceless, soulless, infallible machine, relentlessly grinding through numbers to make my pitiful income cover my outgoings every month. And beyond that I don’t care. I don’t care if my bank is populated by lovely, caring, funny individuals. In fact, that’s the last thing I want. I want a roomful of hugely unpopular, socially inept outcasts labouring over my account because that’s the only thing they have left to do with their wretched, empty, friendless lives. That way maybe they’ll bloody do it right every now and then.
And just one last gripe about that bloody ‘fish out of water’ thing. Apart from the fact that it’s just a stupid way to describe someone who’s going to handle your finances, if it’s meant to tie back to that ‘how whales talk’ twaddle at the start of the ad, it’s even more bloody stupid. Whales aren’t fish. They’re bloody mammals.
Hello there. Well, another week has passed and it’s time for another thatandywhiteblog post isn’t it? The thing is, I’m finding less and less to write about in this crazy old world of Advertising that we live in. I suppose I could go for some industry insider gossip or something but ‘The Drum‘ seems to pretty much have that covered. If you want to know who’s media spend is going where, which account exec has just jumped ship or which North West ( and Scotland ) Agency has just ‘restructured’ ( folded ), then that’s the place to go. If you want to know who’s hanging out where, why and with whom, then just take a peek at Twitter. Thanks to ‘foursquare‘ and such other meeja friendly iPhone apps, you’ll pretty much know which Northern Quarter bar will be packed to the gills with checked shirts, beards, shoulder bags, black-framed pseudo NHS glasses, avant-garde haircuts and ever so slightly too loud cries of recognition and slightly desperate bonhomie. I, for one, couldn’t live without foursquare. I haven’t got it of course but, by having a quick glance at Twitter, I can check on the whereabouts of those people who have and avoid those locations as I would the plague.
Twitter is also THE place to find out where the hip and happening events are taking place all across Manchester and beyond. There’s always a tweet or two from the movers and shakers, ( PR reps, ‘event’ companies and spouses thereof ), squealing, ‘Totally in The Flouncing Ladyboy and it’s BANGING’ or ‘I’m ALL OVER a Manchester Egg in the totally vamped-out Pig and Herring, POW!’. So, if you want to be in the thick, ( and I do mean thick ), of the industry’s sweeties then you better get yourself there. In the interests of research, ( and the mistaken belief that there was a free bar ), a friend and I, ( Yes, I do have friends. Well ok, a friend ), decided to visit one such event last week. It was the launch of The North Pole Bar, a brand new bar in the shadow of the splendid Urbis building. Well, I say brand new bar. It was actually a bit like walking into a conservatory that had somehow been lifted from a garden in Prestbury and then had a Scout Hut nailed onto the back of it. My friend and I, as highly respected Manchester copywriters were, of course, VIP guests. Which means I’d had an email asking if I’d like to come and when I ticked YES I became a VIP. I’m still not sure what differentiated a VIP night from a commoners night though. I can only assume it was the free paper cup of mulled wine and the gaggle of bescarved and be-clipboarded people at the door taking names.
It was quite nice inside to be honest. There was a mock fireplace with tellies showing a roaring fire, nice sofas, arty white pretend moose, ( reindeer? ), heads on the walls and even a handy gibbet by the buffet for if it all got too much. In fact, it could have been lovely if they hadn’t let all those bloody awful people with checked shirts, beards, shoulder bags, black-framed pseudo NHS glasses, avant-garde haircuts and ever so slightly too loud cries of recognition and slightly desperate bonhomie in.
Hello there. Well it’s been a funny old week at thatandywhiteblog towers. Not funny, hilarious you understand, just funny as in odd. Peculiar even. Nothing in the world of advertising has inspired me to write a blog post since my last little rant at SEO and stuff a while ago. I haven’t even seen any completely terrible TV ads to have a self-indulgent swipe at. Not that I’ve seen any completely brilliant ones either, of course. Oh, hang on. I do like that new one for HP Printers with the baby whizzing around in it’s little stroller thing. You know, this one.
Not that I’m entirely convinced that it’s a concept as such. I don’t really see how the whizzy baby relates to the product in any way, the line about ‘sending stuff from anywhere’ feels a little bit like a justification for the visual rather than a coherent idea. Rather like that idea had been knocking about in the creatives’ head waiting for a product to nail it to. Still, it’s a nice little film isn’t it?
In the absence of great advertising debates, I’ve been hanging about on Twitter a bit though. Hold on, let me rephrase that. As part of my duties as a Manchester copywriter, I’ve been doing a lot of research into social media and exploring how interaction on the net can influence brand directions and decision-making. There. That’s better. Bloody hell though, it’s been really kicking off on there. In between @chrisevans and @Lordsugar retweeting all the reviews about how brilliant/life-changing/inspiring their respective books are and all the Xfactor debates it appears that @stephenfry has made a bit of a dick of himself. As a respected expert on matters of female sexuality, ( as well as being a respected expert on everybloodything else in the entire bloody world ), he’s ventured the opinion that women aren’t really all that keen on sex, ( and there was me thinking that I was just crap at it ), and only put up with the whole hideous ordeal as it’s an essential part of getting a man and keeping a relationship. Well I’m glad we’ve sorted that out Stephen. This has, of course, led to the inevitable hysterical backlash, ( or is it a twitlash? Or a twatlish? I never really know all the Twitter terminology. Or is that Twerminology? Oh bollocks, you know what I mean ), with the result that Stephen has apparently thrown his iPhone out of his luxuriously appointed Silver Cross classic pram and decided to leave Twitter. This has, of course, led to another inevitable hysterical backlash/twitlash/twatlish/whatever, with the world of twitter, ( tworld? ), throwing up it’s arms in anguish at the horror of it all. How will they all cope without the musings of Stephen Fry? What will there be to talk about, to debate, to discuss without Stephen? Jesus. It makes one wonder, doesn’t it? Well it makes me wonder. And what it makes me wonder is this. What’s going on in people’s lives that they can spend all that time on Twitter anyway? And what is it that’s lacking from those lives that they can get so fired up about what totally unrelated people say about completely unrelated topics? That’s a rhetorical question by the way. Unless of course you know a totally unequivocal answer. In which case, please send it to me via the ‘comments’ thing at the top of this post. Smartarse.
There was one real bright spot on there though. If any of you have seen the new window displays that Selfridges have come up with, you’ll know about the ripples their new concept, ‘inspired by childhood memories and designed to awaken the inner child’, has caused. You see, that ‘inspiration’ seemed to consist almost entirely of the wholesale theft of Frank Sidebottom’s head.
Not bad timing really, as Frank’s creator, Chris Seivey, passed away not so long ago. Well, thanks to sustained pressure from the Twitter community, ( Twommunity? No, that doesn’t work at all, does it ), Selfridges have finally buckled and, without admitting any form of plagiarism of course, have donated £10,000 pounds to Chris’ estate. Which is nice.
Oh, and I did tweet something myself while I was there. It’s my latest business venture, a venture I’m confident will finally eradicate all memories of my last, frankly disastrous, business venture, the mobile golf course. Here it is. For December I will be creating a whole new concept. It’s a marquee, fully kitted out with DJ booth, dancefloor, flashing lights and mirror ball. For now is the Winter of my disco tent.
So there you have it. My considered and ultimately worthless opinion on that whole Twitter thing. Told you it had been a funny old week, didn’t I? And I also told you it wasn’t funny hilarious so don’t give me a hard time about another fairly mundane post, ok?