Archive for November, 2008
I popped down the motorway to the Good Food Show in Birmingham on Wednesday on a bit of a spying mission to see which brands were putting serious money into the event.
The surprising thing was how few of the big brands had turned up. Nescafe Collections had some great experiential activity going on (and a very slick team delivering it) and Carte D’or and Muller were giving away free ice cream and yoghurt respectively like there was no tomorrow.
But apart from that it was like the World’s Biggest Farmers Market, with regional producers flogging product like there was no such word as recession. Some punters had even brought large wheelie suitcases with them to cart their purchases around. The only real brands that were doing well out of the shopathon were ones like Rachel’s Organic, who were doing a roaring trade in four-yogurts-and-a-little-coolbag for £6.
Red marks go to Country Life for having the most annoying sampling team I’ve ever met and Black Magic (the retro chocs) for spending (what was presumably a lot of) money on a branded seating area for sampling and then failing to actually brand it beyond a single cardboard standee. Also to swimmer Sharron Davies who was on the Bernard Matthews stand being ignored by everyone and looking bored.
I don’t think we’ll be recommending to our clients that they buy into the Good Food Show next year. Unless we can find a way of rebranding them as regional producers and knocking up some mini coolbags…
This week’s issue of The Publican (‘Proud of Pubs’) carries a Food Report supplement, sponsored by Nestle Professional, the foodservice arm of Nestle that represents Maggi , Nescafe and lots of well known confectionary brands like KitKat.
It looks like the sponsor also got a couple of pages of ads as part of the deal. Maybe someone just sent the wrong file by accident, but I’m not sure Publicans are the right audience to aim your ‘meets school food trust guidelines’ Maggi products as endorsed by the Menu Planner at Doncaster Schools Catering…
PS Don’t miss my pun-tastic ’12 Tips of Christmas’ feature in the same issue :-)
A fun column from Jeremy Clarkson in today’s Sunday Times who suggests we think of anyone you know and they’ll slot neatly into one of the characters from Winnie-the-Pooh.
He points out that this handy classification system negates the need for any other kind of segmentation, tribe or Acorn group, allowing the nation’s bee keepers to direct mail every Pooh in the country. And that recruiting becomes much simpler when it is clear that an Eeyore will never make it as a children’s entertainer and Tiggers will be rubbish plasterers.
You can find out which Winnie the Pooh character you are by taking this quiz. I’m apparently a Kanga…
I’m guessing that 100 people (about half the office) have moved desks in the last 48 hours. We shuffle around so often that it’s a finely tuned machine. The blue packing crates arrive, the skip and recycling bins are filled, the moving muscle shifts furniture and IT switch everyone’s phones and computers round overnight.
I wonder if this constant rearranging is exclusively an agency trait. Its certainly been the case at every agency I’ve worked at. As a result I’ve always had a minimalist working area, my philosophy being to hang on to only as much as you can get in a set of desk draws and a single packing crate.
So maybe this constant rearranging has at its heart the perennial problem of storage in today’s designed-to-be-paperless-but-actually-drowning-under-paper office. If you move people often enough they can’t hoard stuff.
PS I have not moved. Still stuck outside the men’s loos.
I’ve been trying really hard to think of something non-grumpy to post.
So I came up with a ‘Reasons for AdLand to be cheerful’ list:
1) 26 working days ‘till the Christmas break!
2) New economic conditions mean client briefs are more likely to have simple, measurable objectives, like ‘sell more stuff as soon as possible please’.
3) If someone you work with is both rubbish at their job and universally disliked, there’s a good chance they’ll get made redundant soon.
4) Your client will be pathetically grateful if you make him/her look good in front of their boss.
5) Hopefully an end to draw-out pitch processes. Clients will have to get it turned round and appointed within a few weeks or the market will have shifted so far that the brief is irrelevant.
6) Barclaycard Waterslide. Enjoy the last of the Big Brand Ads that doesn’t feature the words reduction, value or discount.
7) Anything you are thinking of buying that falls into the ‘nice to have’ category should be cheaper now than it was 12 months ago. This includes subscriptions, Christmas party venues and training. If it isn’t cheaper, start negotiating.
8) Conferences. With a few exceptions, finally revealed for the extremely expensive and time consuming networking opportunity they really are.
9) January sales in December = cut price Christmas shopping.
Noisy Decent Graphics is hosting a series of expert guest posts on how design agencies should deal with the recession.
While I’m not pretending to have a similar solution for Planners, there are clearly some major challenges we are already having to navigate our way round:
- any data more than a week old is now questionable in view of the speed of financial change going on and it’s impact on attitudes and behaviour. So TGI, last year’s U&A and the qual from September need to be treated with caution
- but there isn’t a lot of spare cash sloshing about to spend on fresh insight
- and we’re going to have to work harder than ever to justify both the value we add to the agency and the Planning fees we charge to clients
Which might mean that any Planner with a good understanding of basic psychology is going to be most adaptable to the new status quo. (OK, all Planners should ideally already possess this, but let’s be realistic.) In the absence of reliable data, understanding the impact of mental processes on behaviour has got to be a good place to start from.
Time to dig out the old text books then.
Sorry for the silence this week – I’m up to my eyeballs in a Big Pitch.
Making the most of some peace and quiet (and the free wifi) on the train back up north this morning, I decided that I’m not going to take any of the Very Important Pitch work home this weekend. I just think my subconscious needs time to digest everything. Perhaps we underestimate just how much of our thinking and decision making is enhanced by allowing ourselves the time and space to ruminate.
Just a thought, normal service will resume in a few days.
Working my way through The Sunday Times today I paused at the horoscope page. Its not that I buy into all that, just that it’s interesting to see if my ‘stars’ have any resemblance to what’s actually going on in my life.
There are some big changes afoot at work early next week and my stars read:
‘Others may insist challenging situations are best tackled the moment they arise. However, your instincts are correctly telling you that dealing wisely with the sudden and frequently confusing developments triggered by complex aspect involving Saturn and the unruly Uranus during the week’s first half will require time and a clearer perspective. Events influence everybody, so sorting out what’s important to you versus other’s requirements won’t be easy. Disruption is inevitable so take each day as it comes and you’ll be prepared when previously rigid situations open up, giving you an opportunity to undertake changes or begin new projects that only recently nobody would even discuss.’
I was impressed…until I read the other star signs:
Leo – Certain areas of your life need to be reorganised. This isn’t news. Over the past month or so, sudden, perplexing developments have made it clear that practical, financial or business matters can’t remain as they are.
Sagittarius – Your biggest challenges in dealing with the chaos that accompanies extremely difficult planetary activity on Monday and Tuesday is to trust your instincts.
Virgo – Tuesday’s move by your ruler, Mercury to accent new ideas is well timed.
In fact, re-reading all the horoscopes, it appears that every single star sign can expect to see major life changes on Monday and Tuesday of next week, due to ‘significant planetary activity’. Does Shelly Von Strunckel know something that the BBC’s Robert Peston doesn’t?