My subject for today is something so apparently trivial that I am
hesitating before plucking up the courage to write about it. Even so, it
is having such a profound effect on people’s lives, and absorbing so
many column inches, that despite the fact I realise that it is absurdly
unimportant, I have to dive in.
My topic is the Spice Girls.
A prediction: they will not last very much longer. They are too extreme
and although their influence will remain, it will do so only in a very
Before you abandon this column, think about what happened to the two
extreme portrayals of men so eagerly embraced by advertisers in recent
years. First there was New Man, as epitomised by Gillette and Rover, a
reaction against insensitive man. Then came New Lad, reacting against
New Man by unashamedly devoting himself to drinking, birding and sport -
take your pick from Club 18-30, Loaded and Umbro. Now, neither New Man
nor New Lad seems appropriate. Why not watch football, drink beer and be
a bit caring as well? Logic suggests that, by the same token, the Spice
Girls will soon come to represent a female personality with only one
facet and interest in them will wane as quickly as it grew.
I am indebted to Dan O’Donoghue of Publicis for this insight, which
forms part of his agency’s proprietary research tool, Context Analysis.
It’s nice to have the chance to read a piece of research based more on
judgment and instinct than massaged statistics, and one that is not so
general as to be meaningless.
In the latter category, did you know, for example, that the more you
enjoy a TV programme the warmer you are likely to feel about the
commercials that appear inside or around it? Bet you’d never worked that
one out for yourselves?
Makes you feel sorry for the poor clients who have to sit through that
sort of thing every week.