Hello there. Goodness me, it’s been a while again, hasn’t it? Well you know how it is, sometimes there’s just not much to say about the advertising we wade through on a daily basis, is there? Well, nothing all that interesting at least.
There is, however, one new trend that’s been troubling me lately. And that’s the overwhelming desire in the heart of so many ad campaigns to almost, but not quite, say the word “fuck”. I suppose it all started with that courageous, ground-breaking, tiresome, ultimately soul-crunching French Connection campaign where courageous, ground-breaking, tiresome and ultimately soul-crunching ad agency BMB’s Trevor Beattie created that wonderful “fcuk” thing. Now there’s no denying that, at the time, that campaign gave a lacklustre brand a much-needed kick up the asre, spawned a thousand T-shirts and got BMB and particularly Trevor Beattie a whole lot of publicity.
However, many, many years later, that self-same breathtakingly original idea is now cropping up everywhere. The latest offenders being Booking.com with their “booking dot yeah!” payoff and, even more worryingly, Toyota’s “Go Fun Yourself!” ads for the previously swear-free and highly inoffensive Aygo. A cute little runabout that seems more likely to fetch your slippers than to tell you to go do anything remotely untoward to yourself.
What’s it all about though, eh? Is this what we’ve come to? Is this really what the best, and doubtlessly most highly paid, creative brains in the business can come up with? I mean, that Aygo campaign is by Saatchi’s for fcuk’s sake. And the Booking.com campaign is by an agency I’ve long admired, Wieden & Kennedy. Fortunately their Amsterdam office is ultimately responsible so perhaps we can put it down to the ready availability of cheap drugs around those parts.
The point I’m desperately trying to make though is, is this work actually any good? Is it really that creative, or even all that interesting? Surely we’ve moved a little beyond those days in the queue for school dinners when the rebels amongst us would ask for “A fork and knife” as quickly as possible, in the hope that it would sound like “A fucking knife”. Surely the client and, more importantly, the audience deserve a little more respect than a cheap playground gag.
Well that’s my opinion anyway, for what it’s worth, and I’m sticking with it. Feel free to disagree, obviously. There’s every possibility that you love both those ads and that’s your absolute right.
Of course, if you do, you can also go fun yourself.
Funning dot yeah!
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.