Maternal brands – how deep is the love?


Andrex – part of my life since 1969. Image courtesy of Mezhopking

My father recently bought a new car and almost immediately ran the battery down because he left the hazard warning lights on all night.

Anyway, he was telling me this story when suddenly he said he had sorted the problem by calling the RAC out. He might as well have told me that he was sleeping with a woman that was not my mother.

The RAC! That is not how we were brought up! We were an AA family, always have been, always will be. I was shattered. What next? Swinging? Gun crime? Voting Tory?

The AA is what I call a maternal brand. I was brought up with it and like my other maternal brands I find it familiar and comforting.

And alongside Persil, Fairy Liquid, Andrex, Anchor butter and Heinz tomato ketchup, I choose it without consideration of the alternatives and without substitution.

Having the keys to a brand, that for sufficient numbers of people is a maternal brand, should be a licence to print money.

But these brands are under a new threat beyond the traditional own label foe.

They are under threat because they don’t believe in the stuff we believe in, indeed they often don’t believe in anything.

Ethnicity – adland’s forgotten mission

magpie 2.jpg

There is only one creature more obsesssed with shiny new things than the marketing community. Image courtesy of Amkhosla.

At the Future Marketing Summit I talked about the way people in marketing exhibit acute neophilia – a love of the new.

This is all well and good, but a the result of this is that we charge in to new places, spaces and technologies without the slightest idea of what the rules are, whether they add value to our client’s business or critically whether we are invited.

And then we get bored and forget about it transfixed by the next new thing.

And what happens is we over estimate the short term impact of new things and underestimate their long term impact (e-commerce, PVRs, web 2.0, social media, China and the like). Incidentally Ray Amara calls this behaviour the first law of technology.

I call it marketing’s Attention Deficit Disorder.

And one of the things I worry that we got bored of and which could have had a far more significant impact on real people, is ethnicity.

Separated by a common language


The Wassily chair, designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925 – anyone remember any ads made that year? Image courtesy of Alex Terzich.

My first love is design.

I got into advertising by accident. I was all set to become an industrial designer, when irresistable lure of Geography took me away from the path of righteousness (which is another story).

And a love of design is handy these days since it is looming ever larger in the lives of advertising people.

For one thing identity is no longer content to sit in the bottom right hand corner of the ads but demands to play a bigger role – sometimes with brilliant results (the Guardian) and sometimes in less edifying form (O2). We have to recognise that identity rich advertising is here to stay and that ads that ignore identity feel somehow distant from the brand.

We are also starting to see the value of design in-house
not just to dress up weak ideas but as a distinct practice allowing us to extend our role within Client businesses.

Finally I think we all admire the way that designers make stuff at every stage of the process when so often our ideas exist simply as words on paper right down to the point of production. Designers know that producing stuff means that they win clients over on a very emotional level.

But anyone in advertising or design that has worked closely with the other will know that a truely collaborative relationship is not easy.

Part of the problem is that, just like the relatioship between the US and UK, advertising and design are separated by a common language.

Sorry Mum

I know I seem obsessed with Persil.

But here is how to make proper Dirt is Good advertising rather than the tat on our tellies. It is for Ala Omo, which is the equivalent of Persil in Argentina. It works because it turns the intellectual concept of dirt being good into something very tangiable and visceral, it is advertising that you become involved in rather than advertising you view. The endline is interesting too, it translates as “What they learn stays, dirty goes away”.

And guess what you are going to think every time you are about to bollock your kids for getting grubby? “What an arsehole I am”.

If you click through I have put up an English translation. If you don’t speak Spanish I recommend you read it first.

Thanks to Adstructure who posted the ad and translation and put me onto this.

Come on BBH sort it out.

Future Marketing Summit scaled


Hillary and Tenzing enjoying a hearty cup of beef tea while scaling their own summit. Image courtesy of

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of chair in a panel session on technology at the Future Marketing Summit in London. With me were Steve Henry (creative legend and ex-employer), Rory Sutherland (Ogilvy supremo), Amelia Torode (VCCP’s digital chief) and David Grebert (P&G’s future guru on advertising and instore experience). We were a little light on technologists to be honest but I rather enjoyed myself having these brains at my beck and call.

It is always a pain as a facilitator that you can’t lob in your own point of view so I make sure I pissed all over the subject to before hand in my introduction. I talked about the need to retain the magic and delight that new technology brings back to marketing, my preference for tech’ that amplifies brand ideas and the need for us to be more modest when approaching new technology and media.

You can download the speech (if you are a regular reader don’t expect too much you haven’t seen here already) while the slides are on a slideshare (which you won’t be able to see if you are reading this as a feed).

Advertising is not a profession


Ede and Ravenscroft of Chancery Lane, specialists in gowns, wigs and other legal paraphernalia. Photo courtesy of avtost

People still seem very keen to join advertising agencies, and in particular to become planners. And why not its a brilliant job.

One of the key questions is always how to get in. Since on the outside this can seem an utterly impenetrable industry.

And just to save anyone the trouble of traipsing to Clerkenwell for a nasty cup of coffee to ask me in person, the truth is I don’t know.

There isn’t a formal way in because there are no qualifications whatsoever that you need to have under your belt to do this job.

And that is because it is a trade and not a profession.

Another nail in the coffin for CRM

La traviata.jpg

Violetta meets her consumptive end in La Traviata. Image courtesy of Steven Ford.

One of the great delights of advancing middle-age is that you can decide that some things are just not your cup of tea.

You can say categorically that you just can’t be doing with them. You’ve tried them, often repeatedly and you just don’t like them.

I feel that way about opera. I love virtually all performing arts, but I hate opera. In fact I genuinely believe that there are two types of people in the world, people that don’t like opera and liars.

And I have come to the same conclusion about Customer Relationship Marketing or CRM as the acronym freaks like to call it.

Dynamic micro brands


The Swallow tailed hummingbird. Like most dynamic micro brands they are small agile and very fast. Image courtesy of Flavio Cruvinel Brandao

So, I have been obsessing recently about cool and funky little brands like Method, Hendricks, Riverford Organic Vegetables, Dorset Cereals, Good Energy and the like.

And I thought I might draw some conclusions about what is going on and the things that unite them.

The intention is to provide some learning for other brand owners, especially when they are approaching NPD projects.

The Brand Catwalk – Dorset Cereals

Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset. Location for THAT ad. Image courtesy of Andy Latt

I don’t know what I love most about the uber premium breakfast cereal brand, Dorset Cereals – the idea, the product, the packaging or the online experience. So you are just going to have to endure me whittering on about all of them.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...