Archive for January, 2012
ITIABTWC posted last week about whether a great Creative was made up of the same stuff as a great Creative Director and therefore whether seeing one as the natural progression of the other was actually a sensible idea.
It strikes me that it’s the same in lots of other disciplines, including Planning. It’s a good job I’ve gone freelance as frankly, I’m pretty rubbish at both office politics and managing people so progression up the managerial job ladder towards titles like ‘Planning Director’ or ‘Head of Planning’ was always going to be problematic (but I hope I’m still a pretty good Planner).
It does seem bonkers that the way we reward people for being brilliant at something skill and aptitude specific is by effectively putting them in charge of running HR and finance, thus redirecting their time and attention from the thing they’re recognised as being good at.
image borrowed from here
Of course as Ben’s original post points out, some people are actually better at the managing and politics bits than the core skill. But they are unlikely to be high profile enough to get recognised as a talent to promote into the senior echelons of man management.
Maybe we need to start remunerating by skillset in terms of management ability and/or specialism skill – but not necessarily keep creating roles that require equal brilliance in both.
No wonder our high streets are struggling – they’ve become a shopping assault course.
In my second Planning job one of my clients was a big shopping centre. One of the insights we came up with was that this out of town complex was simply shopping made easier than the high street – it was warm, dry, flat for easy pushing of pushchairs and had free parking. It was also seen by many women as being a lot safer place to shop, chiefly because the security guards and zero tolerance policy towards buskers, beggars and chuggers made it less intimidating and consequently more relaxing.
Anyone who has recently tried to make their way on foot through a city centre will know that ‘relaxing’ is not really an appropriate word to use. Since one of my busiest clients is based in Leeds city centre I’ve been taking the opportunity to run a few errands after meetings but I regularly have to face an assault course of big issue sellers (who, to be fair, are the most polite of all of them), MRS clipboard ladies, lucky heather sellers, buskers, the-end-is-nigh religious types, novelty woolly hat cart traders, leafleteers and chuggers.
Last week in Leeds I was approached by twelve different variations of the above in the time it took me to walk from the car to M&S.
The chuggers are worst of all. Again last week I was walking along when out of the corner of my eye a 6 foot something bloke built like a tank strode towards me shouting “hey, lady in the black coat!”. My first thought was not ‘goodness me, who is that interesting and charming man?’, it was ‘Help’. When another dirty great chugger bloke tried “hey, lady in the stripy grey trousers” a hundred yards further along I’m afraid my reply was most unladylike.
Shopping is supposed to be pleasurable. Not scary. And until city centres put their foot down and clean up their high streets, more and more people will decamp to the safety and reduced stress of out of town shopping. Which means that the stores will follow them.
If we are to believe the trendwatchers and futurists, we’ll all be running our lives by smartphone within a few years, using them for everything from paying for goods to opening our garage doors (thanks for the link Ally).
I have an android smartphone and I’m rather attached to it…but I’ve just declined the upgrade I was due. As well as the cost savings of switching to a SIM only plan I can’t bear the thought of wasting a day of my life trying to get a new smartphone up and running and the possible/probable data loss that would occur as a result of the changeover.
You see, I just don’t quite trust technology. I did a software update on the phone last week that mysteriously and randomly wiped 20% of my contacts. It was only because I refuse to be parted from my backup Filofax that I had a copy of everything.
If I was entirely reliant on my phone as camera, diary, address book, credit card, keys, web browser, email reader, calculator and, erm, phone then my handbag would unquestionably be a lot lighter and smaller. But what if the phone got nicked? Or broke? Or just ran out of battery? My entire life would grind to a halt.
I’m just not sure that the majority of smartphone owners are ready to break away from their other Stuff and trust their lives to the gods of hardware, software and signal.
I was having a look at something/procrastinating on Vevo this morning and got served the new Weightwatchers ad (which came out at the start of the month but had somehow passed me by), by Saatchi & Saatchi.
this is the short version, the long one lasts a full ad break
You can see their point – why should someone who is naturally skinny and/or a gym bunny and/or just doesn’t eat much ever be a great brand ambassador for a brand that helps people change their attitude towards food and lose weight? Alesha hasn’t fought the good fight and won her weight loss medal.
In contrast, Weightwatchers USA has Jennifer Hudson as a front/spokeswoman who went from curvy/a bit unhealthy to less-curvy/healthy with Weightwatchers. They’ve produced this ‘Believe’ ad for 2012:
and even have a compare-and-contrast video:
The UK ad makes a point of only using actual Weightwatchers members who have lost weight on their plan (plus, of course, Alesha), however as a result it also features some pretty awful lip syncing and arm waving. I can totally see what Saatchi were trying to do but I know which country’s efforts would be more likely to inspire me to get down to a meeting (not that I’m on a diet, for the record).
I got an email from Northern restaurant chain Gusto today. Their local outpost is handily located half way between between my house and two close friends so we often choose it as venue and I therefore have their loyalty discount card.
I can see the idea of a diet campaign – they’ll have quiet restaurants in January (mainly because nearly everyone is skint) but also partly because a lot of people are on a health kick and don’t want to spoil it by dining out. So team up with a nutritionist to create a 14 day diet plan that includes a list of dishes off the menu that you *can* enjoy and still lose weight and hopefully drive some extra footfall into the restaurants.
But it all falls apart when you read the bottom of the email or click through to the website. Aside from the fact that I’ve never heard of their celebrity nutritionist (a quick search reveals she’s been on Sky Living), it appears that Gusto want their customers to cough up £20 for the privilege of having a copy of this diet plan.
Entire hardback diet cookbooks don’t cost that much. And the last time I checked, most brands were offering their ‘diet plan that benefits our brand’ info for free. Like (*quickly googles*) Special K, Edam cheese and Activia yoghurts for a start.
Either Gusto have a hugely over-inflated idea of the perceived value it’s customers place on the brand, or they mistakenly saw an opportunity to make a quick buck. Either way, I’ll be very surprised if they shift more than a couple of downloads. Which is a shame as a free diet plan (with perhaps a discount voucher for dining at Gusto in January) would have shifted a heck of a lot more value in dinners.
All in all, it’s a big, fat fail.
I detected a definite shift this year towards homemade gifts, with jam, chutney, Turkish Delight and flavoured vodka all being unwrapped at my house on Christmas Day. Having heard similar stories over the last few days I can only imagine that businesses selling kilner jars and jam pot covers had a bumper December.
From Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas to Lorraine’s Last Minute Christmas, switching on the TV it was easy to get the impression that if you weren’t making your own gifts in 2011, you just weren’t trying.
It’s lovely that people are choosing to go back to basics and put more thought and effort than cash into their gifts, but all this domestic goddessing is slightly tricky to reconcile with my career in an industry whose primary purpose seems to be to get people to buy more Stuff.
I do appreciate that sometimes we create very worthy behaviour change – persuading people to eat more healthily, support charities or drive more sensibly for example. But when it comes down to it, the majority of the British marketing industry’s turnover comes from businesses that sell food, toys, cosmetics, alcohol, furniture and so on. Stuff we might want, but don’t necessarily actually need.
Ok, we do need to eat, but we don’t necessarily need an unlimited supply of Ferrero Rocher, a Heston Christmas Pudding or an Iceland prawn ring in order to celebrate Christmas properly.
Of course you can always reassure yourself that you’re not telling people they need more stuff, you’re just persuading them that should they happen to need item X, your brand is better than the alternatives.
I don’t know yet quite how the two trains of thought fit together. If we’re moving away from consumption as a measure of success and/or affection and towards something more personal and meaningful, what does that mean for the economy? But then there’s the positive impact on the environment to consider too…
My head hurts and I haven’t even tried that flavoured vodka yet.
Update, 02/05/2012 – if this post strikes a chord, you should read this great piece about making people want things vs. making things people want by John Willshire (found via Neil’s April Post of the Month nominations)