Sunday, January 10, 2010

Copywriters make bad decision


Image from Beta via The Guardian

Just when you thought things couldn't possibly get any sillier, British advertising agency Beta comes up with this campaign to 'promote the effectiveness of outdoor advertising'. Well, they got that right. It certainly did get noticed. Who's their chief strategist, Don Draper? Wouldn't you love to have been in the meeting that endorsed this idea? You'd certainly pick up a few tips on unorthodox logical progression. You can read the whole thing here in one's beloved Guardian. Possibly not the kind of consciousness-raising activity Betty Friedan had in mind when she sat down to pen The Feminine Mystique all those intellectual light years ago.

The humble London bus enjoys a kind of outdoor water cooler status, regularly confronting the weary travelling public with these sweet little talking point opportunities. One could plonk oneself down next to the woman scrubbing fresh upchuck off her Aquascutum jacket while simultaneously attempting to reorganise her merger negotiation documents, (after her precocious twins indulged themselves in a little spontaneous editing with their irridescent magic markers), and screaming down the phone at their estranged father that Debbie Does Dallas is not suitable entertainment for four-year-olds. One could delicately engage her on the subject of her mothering prowess at the precise moment she spills her Coffee Republic triple espresso onto her beige linen skirt and ladders her tights with a jagged fingernail while trying to mop up the mess with an upchuck-laden tissue. That ought to go down well.

Unfortunately, the opportunity for such fulfilling public discourse has passed. It seems the humourless feminists over at Mumsnet got their collective knickers in a twist and kyboshed the whole campaign. The posters are being replaced with a taunt to football fans reading '1966. It won't happen this year.' Ho, ho, ho. Those clever little Birkenstocks over at the Beta agency certainly know a thing or two about contributing to social harmony.

And the mums of Britain certainly know a thing or two about turning the screw. Not to be merely satisfied with forcing the ads off the streets, Mumsnet has issued an 'apology' to the Beta agency for any inconvience caused. It seems no one was buying Beta's explanation that the posters were intended to 'spark a debate'. Mums have heard porkies like that before. They know Pop-Tarts don't spontaneously combust nor glasses hurl themselves off tables in acts of suicidal despair. The whole thing is hilarious. Here's a sample,

We misunderstood the statement "Agree?" by assuming that this meant that the statement in question was intended to provoke discussion. We now understand that it was ironic casual sexism intended to draw attention to advertising space.

We accept that in some cases that debate slipped into puerile, juvenile and offensive language. And Haikus.

Ouch. Is Mumsnet the new Women's Lib? The Times reported last November that the next British election would be won by the candidates most adept at wooing Mumsnetters. Of all the parties lining up to have a crack at ejecting the unpopular Gordon 'Scrooge McDuck' Brown, (officially uncountable at this stage), Mumsnet have arguably come the closest to shaking his premiership with the ludicrous Biscuitgate affair - a PR disaster where the notoriously procrastinating PM couldn't even give a straight answer to the simple question, 'what is your favourite biscuit?' Mumsnet, who posed the puzzle to a number of politicians were ubiquitously amused. After a cordial exchange of, err, cordial and several varieties of biscuit, a firm bond was established between Downing Street and Mums Central. Politicians were left in no doubt that they had to be on their toes when Mumsnet came a-calling with its tough lines of enquiry. Death by Haiku - there's a fate to make a politician quiver in fear.