Like most in this business I am a consummate consumer of media, but
I recognise that I am not necessarily typical of "the market". However,
it doesn't stop one wondering as to the "mindsets" behind some media
Weekend: I receive in the post a missive from Virgin which is in
connection with their "frequent flyer programme". Great to know that I
have been awarded all those air miles - but the body copy of the
statement tells me that some have been taken away because I didn't use
them in the specified time. Well that certainly creates a warm glow of
I also receive a package of junk from Goldfish - with whom I have a
credit card - its tone suggests that I have a "relationship" with them.
If this was so, why does the package go straight into the bin?
Someone phones me and asks: "Would I like a free holiday - there are no
strings and obligations attached". How naive can you get? We all know
that nothing is for free. However, I ask "Why?" The answer: "We are
setting up a new direct holiday company and are looking for clients who
will recommend us - hence the free holiday."
I assume that I have been screened, that someone has got onto some
database and found out all about the travel preferences of my family.
How flattering. When I am then asked for a lot of personal information,
I realise that this is not so - that I am simply a number in a phone
book. I sense a scam and politely say: "No thank you - don't call
Monday: Eurostar to Paris for the day. Waterloo. Some strange
advertising display case with a football in it. Something about 1966.
And connected with The Mirror - or was it ITV? What's it all about?
There is an irritating magazine on my seat - on everyone's seat.
Irritating as I can't find its home - the bin, a good place for
colourful fluff. Paris - it's the posters that greet you - sassy, full
of colour and angles and zippy typography.
Somehow they don't seem intrusive, just part of the street
And, oh my goodness, there is a team washing down the outside of the
frame to a poster site covering a news-stand. Mon Dieu, is there nothing
they won't do to ensure your ad looks good? During the day I visit
Carrefour, which is an assault on the senses. The fresh fish looks
fantastic - it is covered in enough ice to sink my local Sainsbury's.
But I am bombarded with messages. Could someone please give the shelf
wobbler a decent burial?
Tuesday: E-mail is a joy - despite the wall of mail that is forever
being assembled. But at least it is in one place and the delete button
is electronically to hand. The surface mail that I receive is mostly
"sales mail". I think that surface mail is too cheap. If the postal cost
was £50 per piece, maybe those who start out with laudable
objectives would think more about who I am and what I might need.
However, the recycling bin on my desk seems to be happy with the
contributions that I make to it.
Wednesday: A quick scan of some of the press clippings related to our
sponsorship of Ferrari and F1. A Brazilian newspaper called O Globo, and
there is our car (Ferrari) and our logo on the front page - and there is
our ad (making the connection between the win and our fuels and
The editorial seems to be serious in tone, but the news stories appear
to be lively, with pictures that capture human emotions. Why is the
advertising so stilted? Bottles of whisky, lovingly photographed, making
them look like antiques for placing in a museum, not for
Thursday: Heathrow. Why is the covered walkway pod branded HSBC? Am I
about to enter a bank rather than board a plane? Do they have a branch
at the airport? No-one seems to know. Oh, it's all about brand
But isn't context important? Maybe they offered to paint the shabby pod
Harvard Business Review. How do the tag lines in the ads help me? Are
they punch lines? Calls to action? Siebel: "Good service is good
(Thank you for this insight - shame it's not a new one). NetJets: "The
pioneer and worldwide leader in fractional aircraft ownership." (I need
my dictionary for this one.) Merrill: "Ask Merrill." (Why?) Infineon:
"Never stop thinking." (Thank you.) Chopin: "The world's only luxury
potato vodka." (Arresting thought - but a motivation to buy?)
Friday: A new ad medium: messages on the baggage carousel at the
I am captive, but want to be away as soon as possible. Not a positive
Business Life magazine from British Airways. If I needed a new PC or
video-conferencing or a hotel or a car or a mobile phone or internet
software or an office - then the advertising would be a valuable source
of information. Unfortunately, I don't. I, like many business
travellers, am a "corporate" for whom many of these purchasing decisions
have already been made. What a waste.
Asiaweek is an excellent magazine. It captures the East in a way that
escapes publications such as The Economist and Time, but how does the
advertising speak to me? Swissair: "The little extra touches - like
remembering your name." (Shame they get the pronunciation wrong.)
"Pouring your wine, even in economy." (Oh dear - I like to take the
little bottle home.) Citigroup private bank: "Meets my need for global
wealth structuring." (Sounds painful and expensive.) "Responsible for a
person's family and their future generations." (Does this mean they will
pay my son's mobile phone bills?) United Airlines: "Offers all the
comforts of home." (No it doesn't).
Advertising to business people is clearly difficult, but I wonder if the
people who create the work research others in their own offices to see
if it passes the test of "relevance".