CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE; The media always stalks an ad story, so join their game

According to the latest silly survey on advertising, men are fed up with being portrayed by advertisers as downtrodden in the boardroom and sex objects. Come again?

According to the latest silly survey on advertising, men are fed up with

being portrayed by advertisers as downtrodden in the boardroom and sex

objects. Come again?



Lots of media people phoned Campaign about it. A nice hack from

Birmingham was typical: ‘Is it a story or what? What ads are they

talking about?’ I wasn’t much help. I dredged up the crass Cherie Lunghi

Kenco coffee ads (downtrodden in boardroom) and maybe Levi’s and Flash

(sex objects). We both agreed it wasn’t really much of a story, and then

he said he had to do it anyway, so could I try to agree with the

findings?



If you managed to wade through the Sunday Times’s top 100 ‘underpaid-

overpaid’ bosses list, you won’t have seen even one ‘underpaid’ head

woman honcho listed, because there weren’t any women reported as being

in charge. And that’s the truth about the boardroom. Which is why, I

suppose, the ‘joke’ is legitimate - imagine the outrage if the Kenco

roles were reversed.



And, let’s be honest, what male do you know, even in these reconstructed

(what does that mean?) times, who is going to come home to his partner

in the evening, watch a hunky male on telly and start complaining: ‘Tsk!

Will you look at that? I’m just sick and tired of being portrayed as a

sex object.’ Where do they find their respondents?



But there is a lesson agencies can learn from all this; and it’s one

that some are strangely resistant to. Simply put, the media are a

pushover. Most advertising ‘trends’ are formed on the back of one or two

commercials. Remember ‘new man’? Our office poll recalls only the bloke

driving his kid to sleep around the block for Rover. The only other ads

we could come up with (Bisto, McDonald’s) feature ‘new man’ in what is

sadly a dysfunctional family, i.e. he’s separated.



We may be sick of reading about advertising in the papers, but then

we’re not representative of the great British public, which happily laps

it up. Sometimes it’s obvious why. There’s no great mystery about the

coverage Wonderbra has generated - how many of the stories that appear

do not have an accompanying huge visual? However, Papa and Nicole are a

different ballgame, as are ads as diverse as Tango, Oxo, Gold Blend,

John Smith’s and PG Tips.



Sex and shock ads are the easy route to media coverage, but they are not

the only way. Agencies often phone Campaign to whinge about their

profile or lack of coverage, and bleat about the likes of Howell Henry

Chaldecott Lury and M&C Saatchi. The answer is simple. Messrs Howell and

Saatchi (and all who sail with them) have made careers - their own and

their clients - through playing the media. And the key to their success?

Well, interesting work helps, but the real key is returning journalists’

phone calls.