Adverts making the news is weird.
It’s backwards, yet somehow we’re still interested enough to read about it and have an opinion about it.
So what’s the deal with the New Churchill? Are the ad bosses “snowflakes”? Has the world gone mad? And why is an advert headline news?
1. The advert is headline news because adverts make up a large part of our culture now.
We live in a world where brands are inescapable, and even their marketing becomes noteworthy to us. Not content with being what we buy, adverts manage to become our entertainment as well.
(*For more on this, read Bonfire of the Brands, by Neil Boorman – it’s really eye-opening.)
It’s also worth noting that this new advert is purely feelings based. There’s no attempt to use words or offers to persuade you. This company is going all out on feel-good simplicity. Marketing and brand image is the entirety of this advert.
Seems what they think about the new generation of people who buy car insurance is that they’re stressed and overloaded with information….and distressingly, they’re right.
They did their job well.
I did enjoy the 30 seconds of calm.
Which was then instantly followed by disillusion: one side effect of heavy capitalism that’s somewhat harder to wash away with gimmicks.
2. Your news is being fed to you by companies
From the range of coverage the news received, this was pulled-off by a savvy PR team. This isn’t a story “reported” by newspapers, but sent to them, complete with quotes, information, and a “clever” angle.
The advert was covered by the national papers The Telegraph, the Sun and the Daily Star, as well as several smaller news sites, all sharing a similar length, the same information and quotes. (My favourite? The claim that the dog is “now CGI”, despite previous 2016 adverts depicting a CGI puppet having animated conversations with tyres etc. clearly contradicting this claim.)
The final nail in the coffin? Finding the full press release copy on marketing sites such as CampaignLive.
PR isn’t a secret, but it’s something people outside of the bubble rarely find out about, even when it’s this blatant.
3. Outrage sells; there’s no such thing as bad press.
There’s a really good reason to take a “millennials have ruined this” approach. It’s why I care enough to write about it, and why thousands of others cared enough to tweet about it.
An insurance brand changing their mascot is dull, but pitting “chilled out millennials” against a “gritty traditional icon of Britain” is another story.
“YOU’RE ALL SNOWFLAKES” I yell on the front page as they try and alter my favourite “gritty” antihero, the dog from the insurance adverts that says “oh yes… oh yes” pic.twitter.com/QWy11vJ04X
— James Felton (@JimMFelton) October 5, 2019
It’s a story manufactured to sell things to you. It’s pervasive in our current climate, and if you want an excellent (but lengthy) examination of it, I suggest Peter Coffin’s “The Outrage“, where he really pulls it into sharp focus. It’s long, but I’d argue it’s worth it.
4. Flat-Faced dogs should not be getting any extra publicity, BTW.
With increasing awareness of the health problems of Brachycephalic dogs (“The only time these dogs are not in some degree of respiratory distress is when you have them intubated under anaesthetic.”), I wonder if breeders of pugs and bulldogs are rooting for the insurance brand.
If they make bulldogs popular again, it would be bad news for the dog , but great news for people insistent on still breeding them.
It’s a reminder – Corporate responsibility goes as far as it’s demanded to; and not an inch further.
5. Marketing is safer than real journalism
Funny how this makes headline news, whilst a PM’s heel turn only warrants a tiny star that could easily be missed:
Boris Johnson, liar and career politician who’s currently the Prime Minister over-seeing Brexit. said he would rather be dead in a ditch than ask for an extension from the EU. Yet on Friday, he changed his mind, and it became an option again. It’s not a great look, and it undermines his integrity still further.
You can’t ignore news of the prime minister, can you?
So drama-loving Star came up with the solution to disguise that story in a tiny star that looks like a price sticker, in a truly outstanding stealth move…hidden by a ridiculous “snowflake” vs. gammon baiting marketing headline. It really is the whole package.
For the Daily Star, Boris’s flamboyant and determined lies are the kind of Britishness it loves to support. Of course, by Sunday, it has already forgotten the tiny blue sticker, and is back to marketing a “Do or Die Brexit”:
Conclusion: The media is run by Marketing companies, and it’s easier for everyone that way.
It gives newspapers easy, fun, safe content to write about and get people needlessly riled up against each other. It gives dangerously unhealthy breeds further publicity, despite the suffering it causes. It gives an excuse to not think about complicated facts, or awkward current affairs. It gives companies free advertising, and discourages consumers from thinking about their choices rationally by linking products to their identities.
It’s far easier to go along with this if you don’t know what is happening. It’s easier to ignore it if you think that companies can’t hurt you. It’s safer to believe that no one is trying to manipulate you. Unfortunately, that’s not the truth.
- Don’t underestimate the impact of advertising. Enjoy it if you want to, and then remember to base your financial decisions on the information you find, not the feelings you have. Companies rely on you choosing the easy path, not on offering a good product or by being good, but just by “looking” good.
- Remember who your enemy is. It’s not someone who liked an old form of an advertising dog. That’s not a real divide. Only you can decide what values are important to pit yourself against someone, don’t let a newspaper decide that for you.
- Look at what isn’t being said, by a variety of sources. Every paper has an angle they don’t want to talk about. Make sure you look at a variety of sources, so you can see what might be being hidden from you.
Thanks for reading 🙂
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More posts like this:
- Who’s In Control of Your Ad-Break?
- 3 Ways to Browse Mindfully and Make Your Internet Better
- True Life: I was a SJW University Student
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