Adwatch: Gaviscon - 'Throat fireman'

I saw a poster on the Underground the other day for a philosophy course. I always fancied myself as a philosopher, but the course clashed with my hair-styling classes. So I thought I would use some philosophy in this week's column instead.

Bear with me while I grow a long beard and adopt an intelligent stance.

This week, it is the retailers that have bludgeoned their way into the nation's psyche with their wall-to-wall commercials. Don't get me wrong, I'm an Eddie Grant fan, but if I hear Electric Avenue one more time, I swear I will go to Currys and smash every one of its windows. All Eddie has to do now is get Stannah Stairlifts to use I Don't Wanna Dance and a comeback is assured.

But is it really only brands backed by enormous budgets that stick in mind?

What about a familiar grocery brand such as Hellmann's? It is running ads at the moment, but is obliged to hand over huge chunks of its advertising budget to the retailers for trade promotions. So, even if it tried to induce prompted awareness with a mallet, people would not remember it.

Unless of course it had a 'thing'. Direct Line has a 'thing' - a little red phone on wheels. O2 has its bubbles and now Gaviscon has some animated firemen who put out a fire in somebody's gut.

The thing about 'things' is that they are indestructible. Once inserted into the brain, they are impossible to delete. It is why I can't remember my mother's birthday or children's names, but can remember that bloody red phone on wheels.

In these days of integration, 'things' are really taking off. For Gaviscon, I can see firemen on the website, on packaging, on the streets huddled around a makeshift fire holding out for a better deal.

Firemen are a neat idea and to beat Currys, with presumably a lot less spend, is an achievement.

What can be deduced from all of this? To get into people's minds you will need either significant amounts of cash or some little white firemen. Time for a lie down.

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