The World Cup fiasco has had at least one beneficial consequence -
the welcome outbreak of daft ideas on the Red Tops after years of
I know that the prayer mats didn’t seem to help all that much in the end
but prayer is sometimes like that. It is still a joy to see The Sun
managing to be really silly again, as if Kelvin MacKenzie had been
kissed by a prince, woken up and immediately started barking mad
instructions just like in the old days. Without such spectacularly good
marketing wheezes it will be time to get out the prayer mats for the
Of course, the danger is that you can go too far, just as Kelvin used to
do, and start asking if Tony Blair is the most dangerous man in
That is just too implausible because everyone knows that role has
already been filled by David Beckham. It is also not clear whether
prayer mats are equally suitable for all occasions. The Mirror catch-up
idea - the Beckham Dartboard - has undoubtedly got more social resonance
at the moment than the Wimbledon prayer mat, a device that perhaps
should be reserved for the really big occasion, such as the penalty
shoot-out against the Germans in the final of the European Championship
in two years’ time.
In the meantime, perhaps Marketing could produce its own prayer mats for
the entire marketing community to kneel on in a moment of quiet
reflection on how stupid they all were to completely underestimate the
power of football and the World Cup. It is not as if they hadn’t been
The changes in the demographics of football, the growing interest of
women, the inevitability of gigantic audiences on ITV if England did
anything more forceful than wander onto the pitch. And what do they do?
They spend all their money in April and May when there is no
international football with the result that Carlton can hardly give away
the ad slots in one of the most thrilling games there has ever been. And
they call this media planning?
As an act of solidarity I am going to rush home every evening to watch
the Discovery Channel because it had the wit to insert ads, presumably
bargain-basement ads, right in the middle of the footie.
After a suitable period of quiet reflection by those who caused media
inflation in May and deflation in June, all involved should be banned
from whingeing about the poor performance of ITV or how expensive
airtime is, at least until the start of the football season.
Then, like Vinnie Jones, they can carry out a spot of community service
- looking at the marketing opportunities presented by the massive
goodwill created by another satisfyingly honourable England failure.
It has to be spelled out clearly and, even then, the message doesn’t
always get through. Football this year is going to have an even higher
profile than last and is going to attract more interest, attention and
spectators from an increasingly upmarket audience.
Even the daftest tabloid knows that. It’s time for the marketing
community to begin scoring.
Raymond Snoddy is media editor of The Times.