Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Hallmark moment (nope)

Birthdays. Including administration.
My son was writing a card for a party he went to this afternoon.

The first I knew of it, he'd got two wrong (by writing "Dear <own name>" in them fgs!).

So he started another one.

Which had "You're 7!" type things all over the front of it (moral of that particular story, don't bloody buy too far in advance - it was one for his cousin, <not-same-name-as-party-boy-unfortunately>, who will be seven in June).
He'd managed to write "Dear <party-boy-name>" in that one.

Wonderful!  Except <party-boy> is going to be eight.

So I made him write "<party-boy>" after the "Dear" on one of the ones he'd already got wrong - fortunately he'd written "Dear" on one line, then "<own-name>" underneath - and then "from" before "<own-name". It's all a bit squished up above where it says Happy Birthday, but never mind.  (CLEAR AS MUD, RIGHT?!)

Then I gave him the envelope for the card, which he wrote <party-boy> on.

But it was too small for the card (even though I had held it up and measured it against the card - wtf happened there, did the card grow, the envelope shrink OR WHAT?!!), so I got him the right one and, finally, he has a correctly-written card in the right-sized envelope.

THIS, THIS is why my life is difficult - and I am laughing at it all, because really - ffs, "write a card" - how hard can that be?!

Monday, 23 April 2012

"Proud Sponsor Of Mums". No. Really No.

This evening, I saw an advert.

One of those nostalgia-filled ones with the mawkish music that attempt to twang your childhood memory heartstrings, trying to make you fair vibrate with lost-youth yearnings and then empty your wallets in the general direction of the cynical fuckers who made the ad.

Vodafone have tried it with Yoda.
Yodafone. Heh.
Because we all need a little help from a Jedi Master to use a mobile phone, seemingly.  Complicated they are, fail you will, young Padawan.  Or something.  I think I missed the point of the ad.  Yoda's going to help me transfer my contacts if I buy a new phone. In my estimation, gone down he has.  Although, being an animated creation, he probably loses no sleep over that.

But on to tonight's festival of sentimental bullshit and the bubbling rage it provoked in me.

Procter & Gamble (now restyled as P&G, possibly fearing that the "Proctologist & Gambler" undertones of their actual name didn't make a particularly appealing brand - I mean, who wants to take chances with their colorectal specialist these days?) have a new campaign.

And it pulls together all those wonderful brand marketing wins:
  • young child trying hard
  • slightly older child trying hard
  • young man succeeding
  • his mother sobbing tears of happiness that she'd mopped all the wounds, dried his tears when he didn't win and whipped the lad every time he said, "But, Mum, I don't even like running!"
  • the Olympics
Obligatory swelling music accompanies a series of clips from a young athlete's life, his mother, as the P&G strapline would have it, "never the focus but always there".

And then a load of P&G product logos and the killer slogan at the end, "P&G - Proud sponsor of mums".

Proud...sponsor...of...mums.  There's a website and everything.  All about how mums are the "boss" of P&G.  Some marketing fanny or other from the company had this to say:
"We're using our voice to celebrate and reward mums and recognise their sacrifices."
A bigger load of patronising horseshit I'd be hard-pushed to find.  A company that makes nappies, washing powder and face cream wants to use their "voice" to sponsor mums?  Because mums are the sum total of nappies, washing powder and face cream and want a company that makes them to celebrate them, of COURSE.

The fanny continued:
"Today's consumers expect transparency, authenticity and honesty from the products they buy and the companies that make them and unifying all of our brands into a holistic advertising campaign is the perfect way to meet this expectation and grow our business."
Are P&G going to sponsor me to be a mum?  Is my life changed, enriched, rewarded by knowing that a big company has a voice they're using to say, "Hey, Mums are pretty cool, you know!"

Because none of us knew that, did we?  Not a clue that our mums need to be celebrated, until a company that makes soap told us.  Thank FUCK for P&G.

I'm looking forward to the next P&G campaign.  I'm told they're focusing on religion for it and toying with the slogan "P&G - the Pope's Catholic, because we let him be" and one for woodland creatures, with the strapline, "P&G - Bears can shit in our wood, we're magnanimous like that".

There's a wider point here.  Brands in general are so focused and keen on getting our attention that they have become like the irksome bell-end you avoid in the pub, because they're earnest and a bit cunty and don't half bang on about how brilliant they are.  They are shitting themselves that nobody watches adverts any more because we all have on-demand telly squirted directly onto our retinas by ever-so-clever tellyboxes and mobile devices which neatly snip out anything that might be trying to sell something to us.  Because, of course, unless we see a clever bastard slick as fuck advertising campaign for, er, soap, we will forget it exists and the whole world will end up smelling of knob cheese and sebum.

But there is nothing more lazy and patronising than a brand that tries to sell to "mums".  We are not a homogeneous group of passive creatures, grateful that a brand is using its voice to appreciate us.  Well, some of you might be - but this one isn't.  And that rather neatly proves my case.  I don't want to be thanked by a company simply for having procreated.  If I'm doing a good job as a mum, that's its own reward - and my children will appreciate me.  If I'm not, then, frankly, a brand shouldn't be celebrating me anyway.

So, P&G, stop trying to shoehorn your marketing spewings into the relationship I have with my children. Quit with your authentic soft focus nostalgia flatulence and simply say, "Here is some soap powder/face cream.  We think it's jolly good and it smells nice too.  You might like to try it next time you see it in a shop somewhere."

Bill Hicks, where are you?

PS - I'm open to sponsorship deals from household names.  Because I like irony.  And goldy.  And silvery.  And, my favourite, papery-with-the-Queen's-head-on.  Interested?