Media: A Moment with Marquis

My curious, plural life occasionally throws up some truly weird juxtapositions. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I dashed from the IPA Touchpoints launch to the machinations of the National Readership Survey board meeting to my 11-year-old's end-of-term "talent contest" at school. There, my head still buzzing with researchy stuff, I was astonished to watch my boy strut his stuff as the lead singer of pre-teen sensation Boiling Point (good name, that), belting out their version of Smoke on the Water (dow, dow, dow ... dow, dow, di-dow). I felt as if I'd passed from one dimension into another.

Which reminds me of an equally startling juxtaposition. There is a massive Victorian church - St Paul's - in the middle of the mayhem that is Hammersmith.

In recent weeks, the scaffolding that clambers up one side of the building has sprouted a truly massive poster ad for iPod. It completely dominates the eyeline if you are driving in from the M4.

Many of you are bound to have noticed it. One agency chairman of my acquaintance had certainly spotted it too, and told me that his father would be spinning in his grave at the sacrilege of the all-too-temporal iPod plastered all over the spiritual haven of St Paul's. Should the site not be used for promoting church attendance instead? It could hardly fail to attract attention - perhaps even from on high - and might be more, er ... in keeping.

My first thought was that it was indeed a truly naff piece of media placement: the planner must have had a taste and sensitivity bypass. But another trip into town made me see the poster in a completely different light - a road to Damascus moment, perhaps?

It struck me that it was not ghastly at all - it was inspiredly wacky, brilliantly zigging while everyone else zagged. An iPod on a church says to me that it is for absolutely everyone (even the people inside). For the first time, it made me really want to own an iPod.

But more than that, it said something rather good about St Paul's in Hammersmith. Something rather cooler, perhaps, than an earnest, trying-too-hard entreaty to come to church. I thought I had better check it out (is there anything your fearless columnist will not do?). The St Paul's Hammersmith website (yes, it really exists) could not be more cheery and welcoming - far more iPod than fire and brimstone.

So, good for St Paul's Hammersmith and good for iPod. Only one question remains, then - where to put Church of England advertising: double-page spread in Zoo, maybe?


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