Browsing Month January, 2011

The folly of youth.

January 31st, 2011 // 7:42 pm @ // One Comment

Hello there. Yes, it’s that time again. “What time, andy?” you may well ask and I may well say, “Late. That’s what time.”. Yes, it’s the late thatandywhiteblog again. Not ‘late’ as in ‘dead’ of course, ( although you may have your own opinions on that ), ‘late’ as in “Oh no, it’s time I  wrote another blog post, it’s been ages since the last one.” late.

Anyway, enough of all that, we’ve established that I’ve been a tad slow off the mark with the blog lately and I can only apologise. I’ve been a bit busy that’s all. However, in the midst of this busy period and while waiting for copy to be read and approved and all that, I’ve been doing a spot of tweeting and some reading of the tweets of others.  While doing this, I read one of Dave Trott’s little tweets which led me to a great post by a blogger known as ‘The Ad Contrarian’. I particularly loved the post as it neatly parallels and slots in with a post I wrote a while back, entitled ‘The old ones‘. In that post I was having a slight moan about the way ad agencies seem to be obsessed with youth, possibly to their detriment. What I was talking about though was that Creative Departments today seem to be populated exclusively by callow youths, barely able to grow the essential facial accoutrements of the professional 21st Century ‘creative’. Obviously they have no problem with the asymmetric hairstyle but the heavily stylised beard or soul patch can be a source of almost unbearable angst. I also pondered the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, a few of us slightly*  ( *much ) older creatives might have the occasional opinion worth hearing.

Well it seems that the Creative Department isn’t the only place where youth is considered the be all and end all – and possibly not the only place where that assumption is completely mistaken. The ad contrarian writes rather beautifully, ( you can read his stuff here ), about how Marketing Departments continually aim absolutely everything squarely at the youth market without necessarily stopping to think if they’re doing the right thing. He points out that this phenomenon has its roots in the 1960s, a time when advertising was beginning to be viewed as a science, an art and generally a very exciting thing indeed. ( Have a look at ‘MadMen‘ on the telly. It looks like advertising was bloody great then. And drinking. And smoking. And sexual promiscuity. Oh for a time machine eh? ).

However, in the 1960s there was a solid reason to aim products and advertising at youth. There were bloody gazillions of them. It was the decade of the ‘baby boomers’, a time when there was a sudden explosion of kids just turning 18 and earning their own money to spend on stuff of their choosing. It was a huge market so it made perfect sense to start selling to that huge market, with huge advertising designed and written with them in mind. The problem now though is that Ad agencies are still doing just that, when that time has passed and that market no longer has anything like the spending power it used to have. In fact, as The Ad Contrarian explains, over 75% of the wealth in this country is in the banks and the pockets of over 50s. So why all the focus on youth? Naturally, advertising to the youth market means making funky, exciting ( potentially award winning ) ads. Scouring youtube, twitter, facebook and the like for the latest virals and capturing all the excitement therein to steal, sorry, take inspiration from and create the hottest ad campaign ever.  You can see the attraction can’t you? But is it really working? Who’s buying what we’re selling?

Now, as a Manchester copywriter, I’m not for a moment suggesting that we all stop looking to the future and aim our ads at ladies and gentlemen in leisure slacks with expandable waistbands. Nor am I saying that we should start considering  campaigns that utilise the available space on the side of a Stannah Stairlift or walk in bath. No, what I’m trying to convey is that Yoof isn’t necessarily where it’s all at. Man. There’s a massive market out there of the over forties, a socio-economic group I’m right in the middle of, and we’re not just sitting at home watching re-runs of Inspector Morse and adjusting our dentures either. We’re going out to the cinema, to galleries, to restaurants, to gigs. We’re calling each other on our iPhones, we’re buying all the cds, dvds, clothes, trainers, boots and questionable hats that we couldn’t necessarily afford in our teens. We’re doing, ( and buying ) all kinds of stuff. Ok, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re in one of the ‘creative’ professions and are perhaps more likely to be spending money on the kind of things I’ve just listed but the simple fact is that there are millions of people in their forties and fifties with the kind of spending power that Marketing Departments should be salivating over. Yet an inordinate amount of energy ( and budget ) seems to be going on a market that simply doesn’t warrant that kind of concentration anymore.

Once again, of course, this leads me back to my original thoughts on the subject. If we need to advertise to people in their forties and fifties then who’s best placed to understand what those people want? A creative department made up exclusively of awesome twenty somethings or one that contains a few people who live and breathe that market? You may call me biased, ( Not all at once. Jeeeeeesus ), there’s every possibilty that I am but, while I firmly believe that the advertising business constantly needs new blood to stay creative, stay exciting, there’s still a place for us old gits.

We’ve been there, seen it, done it and bought the Tshirt. The important thing is though that we’ll buy another. And probably an expensive pair of jeans to go with it.

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Mistaken indemnity.

January 21st, 2011 // 3:07 pm @ // One Comment

Hello there. Today I start the blog post with heavy heart. It’s nothing to do with all the weight I’ve put on over the past month, ( though that, of course, has left me substantially heavier in many areas ), no, I have a heavy heart today because I feel I may have made a terrible mistake and now I feel honour bound to admit it. It’s all about those ‘Morethan Freeman’, More Than insurance ads. You see, a week or so ago, I slagged them off quite forcefully on this very page and I now feel I may have gone off a little too early, perhaps not given them the chance they deserved. And no John, it’s got nothing to do with your smartarse blog.  ( Although I do rather like John’s smartarse blog. )

It’s got to do with seeing them a bit more often, seeing the rest of the ads in the series and acknowledging that they get much better when viewed as an evolving campaign. I particularly like this one, the pet insurance ad.

It all works doesn’t it? The ‘hairy heartbeat’, the ‘castanets of calamity’ are lovely bits of copywriting and, all of a sudden, the elements of the ad that I’d accused of being lazy and ill-conceived make perfect nonsense. All the little details they’ve thrown into the ads are great too. The overweight cat, Morethan’s desert boots and socks left on the lawn, the man himself, trousers rolled, standing in the bird bath with his coffee and a particularly well cast terrier under his arm. I’ve started to love it all and to look at the rest of the ads with a newly found admiration for all the quirky little unnecessary, yet essential, touches.

So, I admit it. I was wrong. The Morethan Freeman ads are actually very nice, very funny, beautifully constructed and I’ve been a fool.

I can, however, feel rather pleased with myself for proving one very popular theory to be completely false. They say that it takes a big man to admit he was wrong. And, as anyone who knows me will be glad to attest, I’m a very small man indeed.

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Premature e-publication

January 13th, 2011 // 2:48 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. If you’re a regular visitor to thatandywhiteblog, ( and if not, why bloody not? ), you may have noticed that a post has suddenly disappeared. Yes, ‘the future is um, written’, has had to go into cold storage for a little while. The reason for this little change is simple and it’s all my own fault. You see, it mainly consisted of a little article I just wrote for Eight:48 magazine and I’d stuck it up here on the blog before the magazine had come out. Which is not only a bit silly of me but, frankly, it’s very bad manners on my part.

Anyway, rather than just leaving anyone to wonder why the blog seemd to have suddenly gone back in time, I thought I’d just offer an explanation. While I’m here though, I’d like to draw your attention to Eight:48, the magazine and its website, which you’ll find here. They’re both rather lovely you see and full of the kind of stuff that, if you’re at all interested in design and copywriting, ( and you really should be ) you ought to be having a look at. The magazine itself is beautiful. I had issue 2 delivered, as I’d missed number 1, and it kept me enthralled for half a day. It’s in the format of a small newspaper which is, in itself, a lovely thing and it contained enough really rather gorgeous images to paper half the wall of my ‘office’ ( I use the term ‘office’ loosely but it sounds better than ‘that area in the house which contains my desk, pc, printer, phones and enough shite to fill three skips’ ). Now obviously I’m going to be a bit keen on a publication that I’m in, it’s natural, but it really isn’t just that. After all, I’ve never asked any of you to subscribe to any of the mail order catalogues I’ve written reams of stuff for. Even though I could have pointed you at some really top end garden furniture on more than one occasion had I chosen to. It’s just I get a bit excited about quality printed stuff in these times of online publications and the slow erosion of things you can actually hold in your hands, hang on your walls or roll naked in, should the feeling take you.

I mean, have a look at all this.

See? It’s all rather beautiful isn’t it? What’s more, it’s the kind of thing that gives you a swift poke in the ribs, kick up the backside and a little wake-up call to the kind of design that’s going on all around us, without necessarily popping up in the mainstream media.

So, if you’re looking around for a little inspiration or perhaps the subscription’s up on your Exchange & Mart, you should maybe have a quick look at Eight:48.*

You could do a lot worse.

*( other design magazines and websites are also available. )

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Merry war, Christmas is over.

January 4th, 2011 // 4:00 pm @ // 6 Comments

HELLO THERE. Sorry to shout but I’ve been away so long I thought I’d better make my presence felt. First of all, how are you? Had a good Christmas? New Year? Yes? Oh good. Me too thanks. Oh, you know, quiet. Family and all that stuff. Still, good to be back isn’t it? It isn’t? Oh well, suit yourself. Come on, it’s a brand new year and there’s lots to look forward to. More VAT on everything, more libraries closing down, loads of charities losing funding and a shitload of shit new ads all over your telly. Great innit?

Looking on Twitter, ( as I have done lots over the Christmas break ), it seems the TV ad that’s really getting on everyone’s twits at the moment is that new ‘More Than Freeman’ spot. ( Well three spots actually but I can’t be arsed with more than one of them. )

Everyone seems to have an opinion on it. Sadly, the reaction I’ve had has been that kind of speechless despair usually reserved for terrorist atrocities, natural disasters, famine and the like. Quite simply, I don’t know where to start with it. Everything, every single thing about the ad leaves me open-mouthed and bewildered.  The impression’s dodgy enough but when you want to wax eloquent with what is essentially long copy in the voiceover, taking care over the words might be nice. I mean, it’s all a bit cack-handed isn’t it? What does that ‘whole red army marching back to Moscow’ bit actually mean? It doesn’t really suggest anything roof-tile related to me. More it seemed a good line at the time so may as well use it, which seems to be a bit of a theme. I feel sure that somewhere within the guilty agency or even client side ‘More Than Freeman’ was a completely brilliant gag. For about 15 seconds. How it ever became the huge production it now is completely beyond me. Perhaps when I can bring myself to leave the ad on without changing the channel I’ll ‘get it’ and form a more coherent statement that I can put on the blog. Till then I’ll continue banging my head on my desk and considering a career outside of advertising.

In all honesty though, I think I’ve found one that’s much, much worse. It’s the new Co-operative campaign, brought to us, ( it pains me to say ), by TWBA Manchester. In these things the two, equally detestable, halves of a couple give us a list of all the things they hate about shopping and all the things they’d rather be doing. That is to say, walking hand in hand along a rainy beach, throwing each other up in the air or, heaven forfend, having sex. Apparently, shopping at the co-op will somehow mean that you miss all the shitty stuff and have loads of walks, loads of throwing about and loads of middle-aged sex. It’s just not right is it? And, having looked at the pair of them, I’d really, really sooner be down the shops.

(TBWA Manchester reveals multimillion pound local Co-operative campaign from How-Do.co.uk on Vimeo ).

And another thing. I don’t like the way that bloke calls me ‘darling’ at the beginning and ‘gorgeous’ at the end. Perv.

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