Two adverts that irritate the s*** out of me

It’s the perfect time for ranting as I’m still feeling a bit poorly, so I thought I’d highlight two television adverts currently irritating the hell out of me.

First up, is the PG Tips homage to a Morecombe and Wise sketch, mainly because it’s so completely irrelevant to me, but seems to be on constant repeat at the moment on the channels I tend to watch. Especially Film 4, completely distracting me from whichever movie I’m watching.

  • I’m in my (very early) 30s, and Morecombe and Wise had pretty much peaked before my time
  • Even then, the PG Tips ad isn’t as good as I remember the original sketch being.
  • But most of all, I don’t drink tea, and neither does my partner.

I realise the last point marks me as being outside of the target demographic of the tea industry, and so they won’t count me as being a huge loss or influential. There are currently two packets of tea in the house, both of which have probably been here since we moved in – one posh packet which my parents probably brought with them out of desperation, and one cheap packet for any guests who didn’t fancy the posh stuff.

But the fact I’m not a tea-makers target is exactly my point. I’ll never buy it. I’ll never talk to anyone about buying it. And I don’t have the necessary technology to avoid it. So why inflict it on me?

But that’s just a case of traditional irrelevance – there’s a far worse offender out there:

Oh Sweet Lord.

It comes from Norwich Union, soon to be renamed as Aviva, as it’s part of the Aviva group and known under that name internationally. So changing the name might make sense from an efficiency point of view, particularly when job cuts are being repeatedly announced.

But what I don’t get, and I’m trying not to use the word ‘brand’ to join Mark Earls, is the way it has been done. For starters, they’ve had to pay Bruce Willis, Elle MacPherson, Alice Cooper and Ringo Star to talk about how they wouldn’t have had fame and fortune without changing their name.

That’s right. Forget starring in Die Hard, or being part of the Beatles. Or any inference their stardom is down to talent, luck and making the right career choices. After all, if only Molly Ringwald had changed her name, rather than turning down the lead roles in Pretty Woman and Ghost, for example. I won’t even mention Engelbert Humperdinck.

Or the fact that most actors in the UK change their names due to Equity rules stating there can’t be two performers with the same name.

We get a voiceover telling us how changing our name can allow us to become who we want to be, and that Norwich Union is becoming Aviva after over 200 years of the same name. (My first thought was the confusion with the bus company, Arriva, that served my hometown)

But what it doesn’t tell us is what NU/Aviva wants to be.

There’s no reasoning, no belief, and nothing to make anyone think this is more than an attempt to save money on headed stationary.

Why couldn’t they use the name change to publish a clear belief which might benefit consumers, and could be easily said and repeated? ‘We’re changing the name, and making sure you never wait longer than 30 seconds in a phone queue’ for example, or ‘We’re changing the name be more efficient, so we can lower our prices by 5% when you renew’. Or even just some honesty ‘We’re changing the name to save some money and stay in business in tough times – so you don’t lose your insurance cover when you might need it’.

Has no-one else ever watched Crazy People?

Can large companies do Web 2.0?

Usually in the newspaper business, The Guardian is heralded as the most Web 2.0, new media savvy example.

And usually, they exhibit fairly good awareness, such as quoting me on a recent widget ‘scam’ which I fell for.

And yet, within the space of a few days, they’ve gone and made a has of something as simple as publishing a blog about a 19-year-old going travelling. You can see the offending blog and uproar, here. (I picked up on it thanks to the nice people at NixonMcInnes)

For those who don’t want to jump, here’s the summary.

All of this could have been avoided by Max admitting who his dad was from the start and putting up with some ribbing. It could also have been mitigated by Max responding to comments and admitting his background. And it could still have been rescued if comments hadn’t been closed.

All of this seems blindingly obvious, but I’m guessing that there are plenty of people at The Guardian who would also think the same, and have probably read The Cluetrain Manifesto, and believe in honesty and openness.

The issue it raises for me is whether it’s possible to scale the understanding that an individual blogger, or a small team can have about social media and how it works, and expand that out to an entire brand, business or company? And can it happen to the level that events like this would not just be avoided, but wouldn’t even occur to people? Is there a large scale firm who achieves it? I’m going to avoid putting my own personal opinion on this, as I want to hear other opinions, but my job title probably gives a big clue as to what I think…