Posts filed under ‘society’
Have you had a play with the BBC’s new class calculator yet?
Looking at the categories, most of the Planners I’ve met would slot neatly into the Technical Middle Class box:
But when I tried with my own data, I came out as Established Middle Class, probably because thanks to my horsey friends I could tick almost every box on the ‘do you know people who work in these jobs’ question:
So then I put my Dad’s data through it and HE came out as Technical Middle Class, even though he’s the least emerging culture, social media type person I’ve know.
In light of this, I think I can surmise that this still isn’t a perfect classification system – and I don’t think briefing a recruiter to head off into a supermarket with a clipboard to find me some Technical Middle Class mums aged 25-45 would go down that well…
I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for a while about what I see as the broad perception among the health, diet and fitness profession that being fit & healthy = going to the gym.
Apart from the super fit fitness fans and some of my Dad’s 60+ mates (who seem to use the gym as a pub type social club with exercise as a minor added bonus), I don’t know many people who actually enjoy going to the gym. Which seems to me to be the problem.
If you enjoy something, you’ll keep doing it. You’ll make an effort even when you’re tired, or busy, or it’s raining sideways. But if you don’t really enjoy it you’ll go less frequently and eventually stop – witness the massive influx of new members to gyms every January who quickly drop off again – the first year gym membership drop out rate has been variously estimated from 30-40% (The Independent) to 60-70% (The Mail).
We do seem to be gradually shifting from a ‘diet and lose weight quickly’ message to a ‘lifetime of healthy eating habits’ approach, but apart from a bit of Change 4 Life 150 active minutes messaging the Powers That Be don’t seem to have addressed the issue of finding exercise activities that people actually enjoy and will keep up.
Thanks to regular horse riding (some of it side saddle) I’m fairly fit (and halfway to a six pack) yet I haven’t darkened the doors of a gym in ten years. I keep at it because I really enjoy it. It was the same with most of the older ladies I used to meet at my tap dancing class who turned out once a week without fail for a giggle and a dance.
You have to find something you love. It might be the gym, but it equally might be swimming, jogging, canoeing, hill walking, bellydancing or mountain biking.
With Change 4 Life funding unfrozen, it feels like now would be a great time for a ‘try something new (and keep it up)’ campaign from them. Or maybe this is an opportunity for a brand to step up and claim the territory (and moral high ground). Nestle did ‘Get Set Go Free’ last year but that talked about trial, not lifestyle.
I really think there’s an opportunity here – or has someone just done this and I’ve missed it?
I own a pair of shoes, specifically purchased ‘for work’, that I can barely walk in.
This wouldn’t have happened to me when I started work twelve plus years ago. Back then, Smart Work Shoes for Women could be divided neatly up into four categories:
Flats – in the pre ballet shoe era, we’re mainly talking loafers
Kitten heels – for women who hadn’t quite mastered major heel height or had a lot of dashing about to do
2 inch heels – standard work height and sturdy enough to run for trains, up the stairs etc.
Anything over 3 inches was strictly reserved for Going Out and 4 inches plus was left to pop stars and drag queens.
The reason I’ve ended up with 90s-drag-queen-height work heels is that in contrast to everything else in the shop, they looked quite practical. Someone in charge seems to have decided that in the case of heels, bigger is better (especially if you add a platform sole for extra oomph). But the women of Britain (at least the ones for whom smart footwear is a necessity for at least part of the working week) are hobbling around in unsuitable, unsupportive footwear that they can barely walk in.
photo from here
As the fabulous Caitlin Moran puts it in How To Be a Woman, she merely wants shoes that a) she can dance in and b) will allow her to run away from a murderer, should one suddenly decide to give chase.
Of course, the higher the heel, the thinner you’re supposed to look. But I’m not sure that looking thin, while wobbling around and wincing from pain is really an impressive look for the boardroom…
Update, same day (should really have remembered this before posting) – in last weekend’s Sunday Times, high heel king Christian Louboutin plays off the discomfort of high heels against the empowerment and awareness that comes from holding your body differently. Well, I can’t be the only Planner to have popped on a fierce pair of heels before a particularly tricky client meeting.
I’m becoming increasingly interested in not so much what we think about other people/places/things – but how we see ourselves.
My Dad’s friends (in their 60s and 70s) are constantly telling him (and me) that they can’t possibly be as old as the other people their age look. It isn’t because they’re vain – they just don’t feel that old.
I certainly don’t feel like I’m in my mid 30s. In my head I’m stuck somewhere around 24 at the moment. I look at women my age with two or three children and really can’t get my head round the fact that we’re the same age. Obviously they’re two pregnancies, a lot of sleepless nights and only-five-minutes-to-get-ready-this-morning behind me in the looks department, but even so. They just seem so much more grown up, so very much older than me.
Which makes it very hard to worry about things like pensions and joint health when in your head you don’t feel like you’ve even really grown up yet.
We had a couple of elderly relatives to stay last month. I watched these ladies (both in their early 80s) nattering away, giggling and gossiping and I realised they could just as easily be 20somethings at Starbucks working their way through the latest issue of Heat. Then they told me about how being a widow meant the disappointment of not having anyone to dance with at tea dances, which to be honest is equally applicable to modern singletons at the average wedding when the slow dances come on.
It would be very easy to fall into the trap of writing creative briefs aimed at people as others see them – when in fact we should be considering how they see themselves.
I stumbled across some interesting stuff about, well, Stuff recently while I was working on a project.
It seems that Stuff can be a key barrier to making decisions and taking action. Having too much Stuff literally overwhelms our ability to make logical, considered decisions. House full of decades of clutter? Moving house becomes a much bigger deal. Wardrobe bursting at the seams? Choosing an outfit for work gets complicated.
It seems that only by organising and streamlining our Stuff can we start to organise and simplify our own lives. Of course, there is a huge industry out there offering storage solutions but this I’m not talking about having places to put Stuff, it’s more about deciding what to do with it all.
Ebay, car boot sales and freecycle have all done their bit over the last decade to help clear out domestic clutter, but it seems to me that there must be a lot of households buying more Stuff they don’t need because they actually already own something similar. We had a mini clear out at home last year (only two draws and a couple of cupboards) and unearthed five staplers and 13,000 staples.
I would like to point out that this is NOT my house
From an environmental impact point of view, obviously buying less new Stuff is A Good Thing, but from a marketing point of view, we obviously have clients with their own Stuff they’d like help shifting more of. I think perhaps we need to find a way of diverting communications resources to finding new homes or new uses for unwanted Stuff, so that we can give people the head space to decide what they really need or want.
Trendwatchers have been talking about Simplifiers for a couple of years, who are looking to collect new experiences rather than more Stuff. I think there are a lot more potential Simplifiers out there who might need a helping hand on the path to simplicity.
There’s a great piece in yesterday’s Sunday Times (paywall I’m afraid) about Swiss bank UBS’s new and extremely comprehensive 43 page dress code guide, which reportedly covers everything from recommendations on heel height and makeup to appropriate underwear and socks.
At first I was muttering darkly about UBS’s well paid professionals presumably being bright enough to make their own clothing choices. Then it struck me that if someone thought a dress code guide was actually needed (aside from the obvious then-we-can’t-get-sued-for-firing-someone-for-wearing-sexy-clothes angle) then perhaps the UBS staff really did need a sartorial nudge in the right direction.
Then I remembered the new business pitch where a colleague turned up wearing an orange, short, strapless cocktail dress and matching orange patent skyscraper heels, accessorised by copious quantities of cleavage. The main client decision maker was unfortunately a) female b) a conservative dresser and c) clearly unimpressed. So I wasn’t all that surprised when we lost the pitch.
Which in turn reminded me of the time a few years back when a board director took me to one side and asked me how I thought the staff would react if they brought in a ‘black and white clothes only’ uniform policy. I had to tell him that unless he was planning on accompanying this with a one-off £400 minimum wardrobe supplement payment, there would be outright rebellion in the ranks due to all the extra black and white work clothes suddenly required.
pic from here
It’s a minefield. I was at a pitch last week where the girls wore tasteful, modest shift dresses and the blokes were in suits. The client however turned up in jeans and a leather jacket. Perhaps all clients should include a ‘dress code’ section in their pitch briefs?
If there’s been a theme to the fluffier (non royal wedding related) UK news over the past couple of weeks, it’s been People Power.
From X Factor Wagner protest votes and Gillian McKeith’s 6th I’m a Celebrity trial in a row to the John Lewis cold doggy, People Power has been setting the agenda.
It seems that the Age of Conversation really is upon us and the viewing public aren’t prepared to accept either the storylines prescribed by reality TV – or anything else in the public domain they view as in some way not quite right.
I get the feeling that we will soon look back fondly on the days of the BACC and being mainly concerned with having to prove stuff was truthful. Now we have to keep every interest group, pressure group and hobbyist in the country happy. At the same time.
Perhaps this will mean we’re going to have to stop shouting at everyone (media strategy = X Factor ad break + more TVRs) and have more conversations with individual interest groups. Because you can’t make everyone happy, all of the time.
And perhaps, this is how things should have been all along?
Via Wikipedia, I stumbled across the staggering estimation that 100,000 pupils each year in the UK leave school ‘functionally illiterate’ – i.e. they cannot read or write well enough to deal with the everyday requirements of life in our society.
This prompted me to start thinking about all the adults I know who have literacy issues.
I have three relatives (all successful business men) who are rather challenged in that department and rely on their wives and secretaries to effectively interpret for them. These men were failed by their village school around half a century ago – and yet we’re still churning out teenagers who don’t have the tools to cope, especially in today’s fast moving world where online form filling is taking over and the days of the secretary and stay-at-home wife are on the way out.
Then there’s another relative who is very literate, but takes three times longer than everyone else to read stuff as I think he might be an undiagnosed dyslexic. Therefore he reads on a ‘need to know’ basis rather than for pleasure.
My point is, if we’re churning out 100,000 people a year that struggle with literacy (and at least with the older generation this appears to cross class and wealth boundaries) – how much of your target audience just won’t be able to read your carefully crafted, copy heavy campaign?
And don’t get me started on how, with the aid of a few lessons at the local library, everyone in Britain (however illiterate they may be) is supposed to be online by 2012…
At last week’s SupNorth we were talking about choosing the appropriate digital platform to communicate with your target audience (aka ‘the answer isn’t always an iphone app’).
But I raised the thought that trying to use digital channels at all for some audiences is still inappropriate. I’ve posted before about my 70-something technophobe Dad who is technically online but in reality uses me as a secretarial envoy to the internet. He gets quite miffed when Radio 4 merrily asks their listeners to text in or get extra content online as he has yet to master text messaging or anything computer related beyond the ‘on’ button.
I don’t believe this is down to him not being interested in mastering a whole new skill set or being too bloody minded to go with the flow – I truly believe that his generation will find it much, much harder than even the 60-something baby boomers to adopt and adapt to new technologies. The 70 and 80-somethings in the UK today grew up in an era when life was slower – and crucially life changed more slowly. Many 70 year olds today never had to use a computer at any point in their working lives.
The idea of a machine that more-or-less works most of the time so long as you do things that are basically counter-intuitive (click ‘start’ to switch off, hover over things to reveal hidden menus) and rely on invisible links to other temperamental systems is almost beyond comprehension for some of them.
Not everyone of course, there are lots of 70-somethings out there with the time, inclination and aptitude to master each new technology as it comes along. But there are those who wish that everything would stand still for a minute (or preferably go backwards) as not only do they lack the time and techno-joy to master the subject but they are so far behind they now have almost no hope of ever catching up.
I think Martha Lane Fox and her People’s Taskforce are a little naive in their attempt to get the whole nation online. Some of our older citizens are never going to be able to make that jump. So we have to either continue to provide offline access to online services, or we have to offer the kind of secretarial technology translation services I provide to my Dad on a national level.